Odds and ends number 106

I think you know the drill by now…more items (generally) from my e-mail that pique my interest enough to devote anywhere from a few sentences to a few paragraphs to them. Ready? Let’s go!

Why grifters matter

While I used to love the idea and concept of the TEA Party Express, somewhere along the line they went from being a help to the cause to a hindrance that leeches up valuable resources better suited for local and state races where people can make an impact.

That was the case with a recent e-mail that asked, “Ready to work your tail off to elect a bunch of bland, Democrat-lite Republicans in 2022? Me neither.”

The “me” in question is Sal Russo, a familiar operative with the TPX. And they are targeting three seats next year: Mark Kelly in Arizona, Raphael Warnock in Georgia, and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire. Of the three, Hassan is the only one who has served a full term as the other two won special elections last year.

They were looking for $50,ooo, and I can picture how they will spend it: negative ads against the incumbents. Obviously it’s too soon to know which candidates will run in these primary races and perhaps they will get involved to try and tip the scales to, say, a Herschel Walker in Georgia. But as we found out over the last several cycles, the conservative flavor of the day today is the “bland, Democrat-lite Republican” a term or two down the road. Yet that $50,000 could help elect 15 or 20 local conservatives to local races where they can truly be the grassroots. Why fatten the pockets of political consultants?

Start the bus!

As you probably remember, the Tea Party Express made its name by running month-long bus tours across the country. Well, back in August the United Steelworkers did the same thing trying to get the Biden infrastructure bill passed.

This short little tour only lasted a few days and had stops in Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – essentially places with steel manufacturing. But the fact I only heard about it because I’m still on the Alliance for American Manufacturing mailing list means that the union workers have been abandoned by Big Media and the Biden administration (but I repeat myself) as the wrong kind of Democrats.

Flooding the zone

And further speaking of political consultant groups, there are two that are sowing the seeds of destruction in Virginia.

According to this recent piece by the Capital Research Center, two far-left groups have somehow put together the scratch to send out 2 million vote-by-mail applications to selected Virginia voters. About 20 percent of them are destined for one county, Fairfax County. (That place is crazy-left and full of pencil-pushers, as I’ve found out in dealing with them over the last 18 months or so.)

The Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information are to blame for this. In the words of CRC’s Hayden Ludwig, “These groups use IRS rules permitting 501(c) nonprofits to engage in nonpartisan voter registration as a cloak for their blatantly partisan operations. VPC’s website proudly states that it wants to turn out more ‘young people, people of color and unmarried women’—a voting bloc that gave more than 60 percent of its votes for Biden in 2020 and contains 73 percent of all unregistered voters nationwide.” (Emphasis in original.) So it’s not just ANY voter to whom their message is intended or participation solicited.

Unfortunately, these are the electoral blocs most likely to vote against their own self-interest, in this case backing political hack and former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe in his bid to return for a second bite of the apple to destroy that state once and for all. As Ludwig concludes, “Using nonprofits to conduct huge voter registration drives is only one component in the Left’s plan to effectively federalize future elections using vote by mail. This is the new norm in American politics, and sadly for democracy, it’s here to stay.” It is indeed here to stay, but if those on the side of common sense properly educate these voters as to better alternatives it doesn’t have to be that way.

Virginia is a bellwether state in the fact that it has its state elections in odd-numbered years. We knew the potential of a TEA Party wave in 2010 because both Virginia and New Jersey elected GOP governors in 2009, so the messaging is clear for 2022 based on November’s results. If the Democrats stuff the ballot box it makes it look like their agenda has broad support and discourages conservatives, or leads them to foolish investments as in the grifter case above.

Blowing away the windmills

In their haste to provide so-called “renewable” (read: expensive and unreliable) energy for the masses, the federal government is cutting corners and not telling the whole story. That’s the conclusion of David Stevenson, the Director of the Center for Energy & Environmental Policy, which is part of the Caesar Rodney Institute.

His piece, which conveniently also appeared at the Real Clear Energy website, details a litany of problems with offshore wind that are both environmental and practical. While environmentalists deny that viewshed is an issue during the day, the required lighting for navigation will certainly be seen from the shore at night. And the disruption to the ocean bottom is certainly on a scale with drilling for oil and natural gas, with far less payoff in terms of reliable energy. As Stevenson notes, “The lack of answers to so many critical questions is a direct result of BOEM releasing a ‘Final Environmental Impact Statement’ just nine days after accepting the developer’s permit request. BOEM has provided a target-rich arena for litigation.” That seems like a real rush job – imagine the howling if such a timetable was used for the Keystone XL pipeline.

I honestly believe both wind turbines and oil rigs can co-exist in the ocean, but if I can have only one give me the reliable solution.

She’s back in the running

Because I had this baked in the cake for awhile I figured it could be an “odds and ends” piece. Still, last week we learned that the Delaware GOP is closer to filling out its statewide ballot. It’s now official that 2020 gubernatorial candidate Julianne Murray is running to be the next Attorney General for the state of Delaware. (She even kept the same URL and just changed the content.)

One interesting tidbit in the Delaware Live story was that, “win or lose,” she will not run for governor in 2024, even though it would be an open seat as John Carney is term-limited. Unlike Lee Murphy, who never has seemed to find a political race he couldn’t run, Julianne must figure the only way she runs again is as an incumbent, and that makes sense from a professional and personal standpoint.

Since I don’t see a primary challenge for Julianne in the works, it’s likely she would take on current AG Kathy Jennings, a Democrat first elected in 2018 with 61% of the vote. The last Republican AG was current GOP party chair Jane Brady, first elected Attorney General in 1994 and serving two-plus terms before being succeeded by a Democrat appointee in 2005 when she became a judge. Since then there’s been a succession of Democrats in the office, most notably the late Joseph R. Biden III, best known as “Beau” Biden.

15 minute syndrome

There was a piece from Erick Erickson last week where he related:

The (Gabby Petito) story broke a week ago.  It sailed past me until my sixteen-year-old daughter asked what I thought about it.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  My wife, the next day, came home from the gym to ask about it.  A twenty-something young woman at her gym was talking about it.  None of the women over thirty had heard about it.

Erick Erickson, “Regarding Gabby Petito,” September 23, 2021.

If it weren’t for social media, I wouldn’t have known about it either. Sadly, there are probably dozens of similar stories playing out every year but because Gabby Petito had more of a self-created social media following this caught peoples’ attention. Add in the fact that the prime suspect boyfriend is missing as well and now the story has legs.

It’s a case where your mileage may vary, but I grew up in a place and era with a daily big-city newspaper in our paper box that covered “important” local, national, and world news. A distilled version of that national and world content made the network news at 6:30 with Walter Cronkite (that was the station my parents watched) while a shorter version of the “important” local news and on-the-scene reporting was on the 6:00 local news. (For several years we only had two local newscasts; the then-ABC station finally started their local newscast when I was about 10.) The noon local news was more human interest stuff tailored to the stay-at-home moms along with a few headlines and weather and served as the bridge between game shows and soap operas.

We also had a couple very local newspapers that covered news in the rural county where I lived, and it was a BIG deal when I was in one of those papers for some academic achievement. My mom and dad probably still have a few of those clippings, so do I somewhere.

My point in bringing up this personal history is that our expectations of what is and isn’t news were completely changed by the 24/7 news cycle and the internet. And because people can now make and produce their own news content, like me writing on this blog, things like newspaper articles aren’t so treasured. Now if a child wins some honor the parental units plaster it all over their social media. (That may be how we first knew Gabby Petito.)

Bringing it back to Petito’s disappearance and eventual demise, it’s less likely a story like hers would have made the cut back in the era when we had 30 minutes of national news a day. Certainly it would be a sensation in her hometown, but those stories really had to have a hook to be aired on a wider scale.

Yet now we miss the forest for the trees – certainly her family deserves prayers for comfort in their loss and her boyfriend has some ‘splainin to do if he’s still alive and they ever catch up to him if he is, but is the Petito tale a story that has gravitas or impact in our lives? Or is it just a diversion brought forth by a media monster that inhales these stories as content so it doesn’t have to investigate real issues that affect a much larger audience than Petito’s family and social media circle?

I’m going to let you mull on that as I close out this edition of odds and ends.

My carbon offset

Once in awhile you gotta have a light-hearted stack of stuff, and this falls in the category.

The other day I got this as an e-mail from a lady (at least, that’s what I presume based on the name) named Suzy Nguyen from an NGO called 8 Billion Trees. You know I love it when people ask for my opinion!

Hi there,

Hope you’re doing well! 

I’m Suzy from 8 Billion Trees – a tree planting and wildlife conservation organization (NGO).

I’m reaching out to share my story and hope that you would help me spread the words to your audiences/readers so we can together make a change our planet desperately needs! 

We’re living in a critical time of global warming issue, and we HUMANS are the major cause who are responsible for this. We are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth’s temperature by burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests, and farming livestock. But more than that, do you know that everything you do and consume in daily life can add up to your personal Carbon & Ecological Footprint? And all that together is destroying Earth’s environment.  

As an NGO that specializes and deeply cares about climate change and influences people to be more aware of our impacts on the planet, we have created a Carbon Pollutant Calculator – a FREE tool for anyone to use. The calculator allows someone to find their personal Carbon & Ecological Footprint and have an understanding of crucial steps in lowering their carbon emissions, as well as taking responsibility for the footprints we’re all contributing to. Yes, it’s a nasty consequence of modern life. 

You can easily calculate your own Footprint here: https://8billiontrees.com/carbon-offsets-credits/carbon-ecological-footprint-calculators/  

And don’t forget to take some time to read our complete guideline to Carbon Offsets: https://8billiontrees.com/carbon-offsets-credits/ 

I’d love to hear what you think!

Yep, that was their e-mail.

I’m not so sure she will love to hear what I think, but I love to respond to people like this. First of all, I found out that I’m in the top 3 percent in the world when it comes to carbon emissions – their handy-dandy calculator estimated my annual carbon footprint to be 27.78 tons. (Damn, what a slacker I am.) Supposedly, the average for a “global citizen” is 5.29 tons, but since I do productive service work for a living promoting commerce and helping people achieve their dreams in front of an energy-hogging computer and enjoy a 21st century lifestyle with a plethora of labor-saving devices and technology, I think I’ll proudly wear that badge of gluttony.

(That’s why I kept the links in the letter – hopefully I have readers who can beat me on their calculator.)

Now don’t get me wrong: I have zero problem with them planting trees. After all, I grew up in the region of the country where, legend has it, Johnny Appleseed planted thousands of them as a traveling missionary. If 8BT wants to take money donated to them and plant trees with it, I’m good with that. (Even if they come across to some people as a scam.) But when they go on to explain carbon offsets, that’s where the issues begin.

(There’s one interesting section of this diatribe where they go through the various types of renewable energy. It’s interesting to see how little is actually produced despite all the press.)

However, the issue isn’t really with them but with how the concept of offsetting carbon is put into practice through the hand of government. (8 Billion Trees isn’t completely clean of this, though, as they do work with some state-level governments around the globe.) As government does it, the concept is used as a tool of wealth redistribution that keeps busy a cadre of pencil-pushers who could otherwise find more useful work.

And if reducing carbon was truly their goal, they would embrace nuclear energy because it doesn’t use any carbon. (Granted, there has to be some measure of redundancy when their plants close for maintenance, but if there were more nuclear plants we could easily rotate those periods into the loop.) I lived many years getting power from a nuclear plant and we were none the poorer for it.

Now I know I will get an argument from so-called experts who swear up and down that Big Oil got all sorts of subsidies over the years and the handouts and carveouts for renewables are only leveling the playing field. They also say that oil and natural gas are toxins that harm the environment if spilled, which can be true in the immediate timeframe although the earth does a decent job of healing itself over time.

But these same advocates tend to gloss over the detrimental effects of solar panels, which require tons of rare earth materials which are both toxic and hard to come by globally (unless your name is China) as well as covering acres and acres of otherwise productive land. And wind turbines? Forget that their disposal often requires burial in a landfill (taking up space needed for our everyday waste), their low-frequency noise has been linked to health issues, and they are hazardous to aviary health.

And in both cases, cloudy and calm days produce no energy whereas fossil fuels burn regardless of the weather. Their biggest issue seems to be transmission, as Texas found out. (Then again, it stopped the windmills, too.)

So I wish Suzy the best of luck planting trees. I think I have plenty enough in my yard to do the job, and (as an added bonus) some even bear fruit.

Odds and ends number 103

The e-mail box is filling up fast these days, so after just a month I felt the need to relieve some of that pressure, as it were. Plus I just felt like writing something over the weekend (how’s that for honesty?)

As I have said probably 100 times or so in the past, these are dollops of bloggy goodness which aren’t promoted to a post but deserve some sort of mention, whether a few sentences or a handful of paragraphs.

The protectionist racket

I’ve referred to this man and group many times in the past, but the Alliance for American Manufacturing and their president Scott Paul are nothing if not consistent. After the February job numbers came out, Paul had this to say:

It’s good to see factory job growth resume after January’s slump, but the pace must pick up. At this rate, recovering all the manufacturing jobs lost during the pandemic will take more than two years.

That’s why it is so important for Congress and the Biden administration to speedily complete the short-term COVID-19 rescue package, and then shift to work on a sustained, robust public investment in infrastructure, clean energy, and innovation.

One thing to point out here: January goods imports were the highest on record. Made in America procurement efforts and the rebuilding of domestic supply chains couldn’t come at a better time.

Alliance for American Manufacturing press release, March 5, 2021.

I always appreciate their perspective; Lord knows their hearts are in the right place. But what has always concerned me about the AAM’s steadfast support of protectionism is what I call the Trabant effect, named after the East German car that vanished once the Berlin Wall came down and former denizens of that communist regime could buy other cars that were thirty years more advanced.

I believe we have better workers than China could ever have, although it’s worth noting that China didn’t start eating our lunch until they adopted a hybrid mix of totalitarian government with just enough capitalism to keep people from starving. There are certainly some in the wealthy category in China, but they aren’t self-made – they have to have some connection to the ruling party in order to succeed.

Even without taxpayer “investment” in infrastructure we have enough of a market to create massive wealth, if the government would just get out of the way. That’s where I often part with the AAM, which is an extension of several steelworker unions.

Illustrating absurdity

We all know that Joe Biden has made a mockery of a situation that President Trump was quickly gaining control of: border security and illegal immigration. But when you see things in graphic form, as the Heritage Foundation has put together, the changes are brought into perspective.

It’s sad that, out of 22 policy areas the Heritage Foundation has identified, that Biden and his cronies have made changes to all but two, taking us in the wrong direction. Once upon a time America was supposed to have 11 million illegal immigrants, but I would posit that number is twice that now and may be triple or quadruple that by the time Biden is through.

The problem with strategists

I’ve liked Bobby Jindal for a long time, but I think he has a poor choice in writing partners sometimes.

Perhaps I should have had a clue when the piece appeared in Newsweek, which isn’t exactly a conservative publication, but he and a “Republican strategist” by the name of Alex Castellanos opined there on “Separating Trump from Trumpism.” I had not heard of the latter previously, so when it was noted in the bio that he had worked on four different Presidential campaigns, I was curious to know which four – turns out he was busy for awhile since the list was Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Jeb! Bush. So we’re basically talking a classic #NeverTrump personality here along with a guy whose behind was kicked by The Donald in the 2016 campaign.

I sort of gleaned the direction they were heading when they warned, “Unless the GOP creates an alternative version of Trumpism, without Trump, he’ll be back.” However, there is a little wheat among the chaff here:

Republicans must jettison Trump’s demeanor, but pick up where Trump’s policies left off. They should fight the concentration of political and economic power that has benefitted technology and financial giants, gather allies to force China to compete economically on a level playing field and reshape the government’s spending, immigration, trade and tax policies to benefit the working class. They can show how an open economy, bottom-up growth and limited government can empower and enrich working-class Americans more than any old, top-down, artificial program. These policies will benefit working-class and all Americans willing to invest their labor and talents towards living even bigger American dreams.

Bobby Jindal and Alex Castellanos, “Separating Trump from Trumpism is Key to the GOP’s Future,” Newsweek, March 1, 2021.

There was a lot about Trumpism that I liked, including the unvarnished patriotism, the willingness to be pro-life, and the complete honesty in dealing with the elites and media. Those of us in the heartland didn’t like either of those groups, but we weren’t seeing any push back from the GOP despite its goading by the TEA Party, among others. It almost makes you wonder who wanted him out more – the Democrats or the elites who still count themselves Republicans in the same vein as Dole, the Bushes, and Mitt Romney.

Stick to writing your own stuff, Bobby – that is, if you want to keep the little bit of relevancy you have. You have the lanes figured out correctly, although in this case I hope you eventually choose the right path.

Although, on second thought, since you’re now pushing for a huge federal infrastructure bill like Joe Biden is, maybe it’s too late.

Placating Woke-O Haram

To Erick Erickson, there is a new religion:

Secularism is, in fact, a religion.  It has sacraments like support for abortion rights.  It has tithing in which secular adherents give money to various political and social causes.  It has liturgies in the new speak of wokeness.  It has theological tracts and church services as rally and protest and Episcopal mass.  It has even spurred the rise of terrorist zealots and the new censorious social justice warriors I have taken to calling Woke-O Haram.

Erick Erickson, “Secular Indulgences,” March 11, 2021.

The initial comparison Erickson makes is the Catholic Church at the time of Martin Luther, which is somewhat appropriate. But the indulgences once sold to pay for St. Peter’s Basilica are now being extorted from businesses in a perverse form of wealth redistribution from industrialized nations to those on the other end of the scale – that is, whatever’s left after those in charge of the redistribution take their cut.

And the funny thing about this whole climate change enigma is that there is no control mechanism. We cannot predict with certainty how the weather will be a month out, so who can believe that doing whatever job-killing, income-robbing scheme Radical Green dreams up will make a significant dent? And when it falls short of predictions – as it always does – then the problem will be that we didn’t do enough, not that the whole idea we could have an effect was bullshit from the start.

It’s like the cynical philosophy I’ve come to embrace in my adult life: government is not in the business of solving problems, for if the solutions they came up with worked, there wouldn’t be a need for them. For government, job preservation is the true Job One. Believers in Radical Green are the same way, so they come up with wilder schemes and excuses to justify their beliefs.

The national impact races

Had I thought more about the post I did on the Laurel school board election, I would have quoted an e-mail I received from iVoter Guide:

Many of the problems that threaten our nation today can be traced to years of misplaced priorities in our public schools. Our children are not learning how to become citizens who appreciate, defend, and cultivate the values and principles our nation was founded upon. This responsibility and power rests with our school boards—positions largely overlooked by the general public, but captured by Leftist organizations and special interest groups who have exercised their influence over our children for far too long.

The good news is, with relatively few votes compared to higher office elections, the trajectory of our school boards and the nation can start to change when principled candidates are elected. This is why iVoterGuide is launching a trial program to equip Christian and conservative voters to engage in these high-impact elections. (Link in original.)

Debbie Wuthnow, “From the Classroom to Congress: Your Schools Matter,” iVoterGuide e-mail, March 4, 2021.

In this case, they are doing a test run of 20 Texas school districts to see how well their voter information program translates to that level. Yet, bringing it back to my school district as an example, it’s hard to find much on these races because the participants (particularly the incumbents) know the race is more on name recognition and who you know rather than on particular issues the schools are dealing with. Most of what information I found the last time I went through this a year ago came from a lengthy profile on the race in the Laurel Star newspaper.

Common sense and sunshine in Delaware?

I suspect he’s lining himself up for bigger things down the road, and he’s not even my representative, but State Rep. Bryan Shupe has a good idea.

HCR10 would require the Delaware General Assembly to stream and videotape proceedings, to include committee meetings. That’s important because those meetings are where the sausage is ground – legislation is generally massaged at the committee level and the horsetrading to get things passed should be a matter of public record.

The fact that the bill has a “modest” amount of co-sponsors, however, tells me the state’s legislative body would rather keep things behind closed doors. (In reality, the bill has five Senate sponsors and co-sponsors along with 11 from the House. Among the group, three are Democrats and the rest Republican.)

I get that the behavior may change because legislators may play more to the camera, but subsequent elections can correct that problem. We should have more transparency in the First State, not less.

One final Palm Sunday item

My original story for this last slot was Delaware-related, but I decided to promote it to a full piece. Instead, as our church was retold today, Jesus had a tough week beginning on the first Palm Sunday.

As it turned out, Erick Erickson wrote on the subject today, so I’ll close with him.

Today is Palm Sunday, the day in which Christians remember Jesus’s final entry into Jerusalem. He entered as a king with people laying palm branches before him. Given the population of the day, it is very, very likely that many who hailed him as a king on Palm Sunday were yelling “crucify him” on Good Friday.

(…)

The moral laws of Christianity are not the laws you follow to get eternal life. They are the moral laws you follow out of love for Christ as you feel him transforming you. As you become more Christ like through the regeneration he sparks in you, you want to be more like Christ. You become more Christlike over time, but you know if you fail you are forgiven. If you fall short, you have grace. Your sin fights back against the regeneration but the regeneration continues.

Two thousand years ago today, Christ Jesus entered Jerusalem a conquering king. But he promised no revolution of strength. He said the strong would be weak and the weak would be strong. He upended the secular paradigms and, for that, the world killed him.

Erick Erickson, “Hail the King. Kill Him.” March 28, 2021.

You may have had a bad week at some point, but just bear in mind that our Lord made flesh knew how his week would end yet still went through with it. This is a good piece because it’s yet another reminder that God has this.

A waste of energy (and money)

I’ve been mulling this post over long enough to have it almost lose relevance because the initial subject matter became law a week or so ago. (Then it got pushed back once again with the passing of Rush Limbaugh.) Originally I was going to post about Delaware’s Senate Bill 33, an ill-considered measure that both extends and expands the renewable energy portfolio that Delaware (among many other non-thinking states) is saddled with. Now we are supposed to have 40% of our energy come from renewable sources by 2035.

How it really works, however, is that the state’s utilities fork over money to the state (via a market-style entity) in lieu of attaining the percentage required. For example, I’m a customer of the Delaware Electric Co-op, which has a shade over 100,000 customers in the state. In recent years they have created a solar farm that now services up to 1,000 homes – but that’s still way short of the required 2.25% amount for the current regulations, let alone the future. I had the good news of a proposed 3% rate cut come with my bill last month, but I can see the state taking that away thanks to their waste of a bill.

(When you talk to an environmentalist wacko, remember these pertinent questions: what exactly is the optimum, average climate? And who’s to say we’re not on a trend toward it regardless of the folly of believing mankind can do a thing about changing that direction?)

What put this back first and foremost on my mind, though, was the situation in Texas. The Lone Star State has been walloped by a “once-in-a-century” winter storm this past weekend, leaving piles of snow and temperatures well below freezing all the way to the Mexican border. Their problem in this case is that the Texas electrical grid (which is pretty much self-contained) depends heavily on wind, solar, and natural gas for its power. Unfortunately, the wind turbines are frozen in place, the solar panels are under a foot of snow, and the natural gas isn’t moving through the pipeline system at the necessary quantity to make up the shortfall from the lack of wind power in particular. You could say it was the perfect storm.

(It’s interesting how the proponents of wind power try to shift the blame. Not to say it’s all wind’s fault, but they will probably be the last to recover.)

Of course, here in Delaware we are more accustomed to stormy weather in all seasons thanks to occasional snow storms, nor’easters, and tropical storms that come throughout the year. So unlike Texas, which bakes during their hot, steamy summers (great for solar, so-so for wind) and normally has temperate winters where wind energy can make a small dent, Delaware isn’t perfectly suited for either type of renewable. Yet the powers that be seem to be determined to waste acres of valuable farmland to create solar fields and wish to pollute the viewshed off our beaches with wind turbines that will need to be replaced in just a few decades. Again I note that once upon a time, windmills were what the farmers depended on – only to drop them like a bad habit once rural electrification became available. It was cost-effective and (most of all) more reliable.

We seem to have a backwards state here. Things which can be dependable sources of energy, such as natural gas or oil which may be available in commercially viable amounts offshore – well, we can’t even do the seismic testing to find out if there’s any there. But to site wind turbines – yeah, go right ahead even though it may be millions of dollars spent to power a few thousand homes.

Let’s face facts: if it weren’t for ill-advised carveouts like a “renewable energy portfolio” we wouldn’t be wasting our time dealing with solar or wind power. We could be conducting research into nuclear power and methods to make it more accessible, or exploring for new natural gas deposits. After all, we have to use those to back up the unreliable renewables that make running an electrical grid more unpredictable than it needs to be.

Instead of a Senate Bill 33, the smart play for Delaware would be to scrap those mandates entirely. But the Left can’t stand losing that sort of money or power, regardless of how much of a setback these restrictions provide to hard-working families trying to improve their lot.

The folly of pursuing ‘equity’

This is another of those posts that began as an odd or end, but thanks to subsequent events was promoted to become a full post.

A few weeks back I received my annual pitch from the American Institute of Architects to rejoin their august body. Bear in mind I was an AIA member for about a decade beginning when I received my architecture license in the mid-1990s until about a year or so after I moved down here. Unfortunately, the usefulness of the AIA Chesapeake Bay chapter was much less than that of AIA Toledo, so I allowed my membership to lapse.

Moreover, as the needs of the architecture business have remained relatively steady over the 35 years (!) since I embarked on my life’s journey in the profession, the AIA has departed significantly from those needs into the weeds of political correctness. One line in their pitch multifold postcard, under the heading of “Champion architects & the profession” summed this up well:

Government advocacy, a campaign to fight climate change and inequities in the built environment, and public awareness efforts influence meaningful change and create a better business landscape for architects.

AIA mailing.

The only government advocacy we need is to give us a decent statute of repose. (Delaware has one of the better ones at 6 years, while Maryland lags behind with 10.) I’d also be happy if they eliminated the unnecessary demands for continuing education, which was something the AIA advocated for when I was active in the group. Brick, stone, steel, and wood don’t change much, and any architect worth his salt should know the building codes pretty well despite the fact they update every three years. (I see CE as a money-making racket, just like the intern development program that’s now in place. That was the reason I took my exam when I did.)

So forget about climate change, since we can’t do a damn thing about it. What we can do is advocate for energy-efficient buildings but let’s allow the market to decide what is best. And my (admittedly limited) research into the term “inequities in the built environment” seems to indicate a preference for the concepts of so-called “smart growth” where everyone is to be packed like sardines into the urban core. Maybe some of us prefer and enjoy living in rural areas.

Finally, if you want to make things easier and more profitable for the architectural profession, can you advocate for fewer regulations and hoops to jump through? There are certain jurisdictions we deal with that seem to have cornered the market on red tape for picayune reasons. It’s almost like they demand their tribute before you get their seal of approval, and clients aren’t always willing to pay for our time and trouble.

Speaking of so-called climate change and hoops to jump through, I would love to have someone explain to me why Delaware is trying to extend these stupid wealth transfers from utilities to state coffers better known as renewable energy portfolio standards? In this session SB33 is already through the Senate, where it passed on a 13-8 vote that was almost partisan in nature (Senator Ennis crossed over to vote with the GOP, giving him an early lead on the Top Blue Dog Award next year when I do the monoblogue Accountability Project for Delaware.)

If natural gas is cutting our emissions in such a way that we are exceeding the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement – even though we were properly out of it for a brief period until that fool Joe Biden painted “sucker” back on our collective forehead – then why are we even bothering with wind and solar power that is, on its face, unavailable at all hours of the day and times of the year? (For example, it’s a sunny day as I write this, but the sun angle isn’t optimal. And I haven’t even discussed the environmental issues when these components reach the end of their lifespan.) If anything, it may be a good time to do a little bit of exploration in Delaware to see if we have gas or oil deposits under our sandbar. It’s not likely the Marcellus Shale comes this far east, but somewhere along the line I thought I saw there was a minor shale field under the Eastern Shore and southern Delaware.

I like to live in a rural area and I like my electricity to be relatively inexpensive. So we really don’t need to have these so-called improvements that basically accrue to the state’s coffers and not ours come into our collective lives.

And now that I’ve done this post I can place my AIA solicitation where it properly belongs – in the circular file.

Odds and ends number 101

And the next hundred begins…

As always, it’s a compilation of items requiring somewhere between a couple sentences to a few paragraphs. Think of it as bite-sized dollops of blogging goodness that serve to clean out my e-mail box.

On evidence and faith

While he can be maddening politically, I enjoy reading Erick Erickson’s treatises on religion. He made a brilliant argument regarding evidence and faith that I wanted to share.

It also bolsters a point about the origins of our nation, and the philosophy of those who founded it. We are several generations removed from the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, et. al. but we have enough empirical evidence and writings of theirs to believe that a) they existed, and b) they had a particular political philosophy in mind when they created our nation. It’s something that should be easy to interpret by any jurist willing to read and understand their words, as opposed to making things up as they go along.

Yet, as Erick points out in a subsequent post, it’s worth remembering that God’s got this.

The success of China

It’s not often that I discuss year-old information in a new light, but here’s a case where new info has made the story evergreen thanks to the discovery of a relationship between Rep. Eric Swalwell and a Chinese national, Fang “Christine” Fang. I certainly can’t argue with the premise of the author.

A recurring minor theme within this enterprise is the desire to bring more manufacturing and production back to America because, simply put, we couldn’t trust a nation-state which points missiles at us. Unfortunately, big business and big media love the potential of 1.4 billion up-and-coming customers more than the markets that made them successful. Now we may be saddled with a president who is essentially in Beijing’s pocket, which may be the death knell for American world dominance – and when it’s us against the world, we can only put up a fight for so long before we are worn down, sort of like the Axis powers in World War II or the Confederates against the Union in our War Between the States. Whether Donald Trump was the summer of 1942 for the former or the march to Gettysburg for the latter remains to be seen.

What I can tell you is that it seems China is indeed getting their money’s worth from our elites.

Thoughts on redistricting, and so forth

One rear-guard action available to Republicans at the state level is redistricting. While I personally want districts that are compact and contiguous, this can be achieved while reducing the Democrats’ oversized influence in certain states and regions. In 2020, the GOP gained control of a plurality when it came to drawing House districts.

On a corollary subject, J. Christian Adams makes a case that the election fraud wasn’t in the counting but the fists on the scale produced by scads of dark money “assisting” certain big-city boards of election in encouraging the vote to get out. His theory also “explains how the GOP was so successful everywhere… except at the top of the ticket.  A flood of blue votes gushing out of deep blue urban areas has a statewide effect only for statewide candidates. It doesn’t affect legislative races outside of the cities.”

He also opines, “In case you still don’t follow: Hundreds of millions of private charitable dollars flowed into key urban county election offices in battleground states. The same private philanthropic largess did not reach red counties. Urban counties were able to revolutionize government election offices into Joe Biden turnout machines.” Even if Trump received 20 percent of the black vote instead of 10 percent, the fact that 100,000 more blacks voted may have made him a loser. (Emphasis mine.)

But by not backing Trump, Sam Faddis believes the Republicans are heading the way of the Whigs. To the extent that Trump’s base represents a mixture of the TEA Party and populist elements in the country, this is true. But having to lean on Trumpism to achieve the conservative goal of limiting government is a precarious perch indeed.

A lack of juice

It’s a little bit maddening, this headlong rush by car makers to embrace electric car technology when the infrastructure to support it is slow in coming: unless you want to invest in a personal charging station, how useful is an electric car for a cross-country jaunt?

So I thought it was a bit funny when Elon Musk (you know, the guy who owns Tesla) said there wasn’t enough electrical capacity right now for a world full of electric cars. But when Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda chimed in, that caught people’s attention.

As I have said for many moons, there are two problems with the bulk of our “renewable” energy: the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. And guess what they have to use for backup plants? Yep, natural gas, often extracted by that eeeeeeeevil practice of fracking. (Well, except in Maryland and other states stupid enough to throw away economic potential.)

We have plenty of oil and a robust infrastructure to get it where it needs to go – in my case it’s usually the RoFo I pass on the way to/from work, but in a pinch there’s another station a couple miles away in Sharptown. A few minutes to fill up and I’m good to go for another 300 miles or more.

On the other hand, I have to charge my cell phone a few hours overnight to keep it viable for the next day, day after day. And I want a car like that? No thanks.

A unique New Year’s resolution

Self-serving as it may be, my friends at Ammo.com had a good idea for a New Year’s resolution: start a gun club. As they say:

There’s never a bad time to start a gun club, but there are maybe better times than others. With an emerging global medical police state, the spectre of the most anti-Second Amendment administration in history hanging over the United States, and recurring left-wing riots, now is perhaps the ideal time to start thinking less in terms of gun rights exercised individually and more in terms of collective preparation.

“How to Build a Gun Club: A Guide to Organizing and Starting Your Own Local Gun Club”, Sam Jacobs, Ammo.com.

I will say, though: around here I think they make you jump through a lot of hoops. I recently worked on drawings for a gun club as part of my “real” job and it seemed like there were a lot of unnecessary roadblocks put in place for a building that was existing in a rural, out-of-the-way location. My thinking was that was simply because it was a gun club.

If you can’t build one, though, you can still join one. I had some fun the last time I stopped by a local gun range back in August, and it wasn’t just the hot and cold running politicians during Delaware’s primary season.

Maybe my resolution should be to better work on my Second Amendment rights.

The other resolution will be to keep collecting stuff for the 102nd rendition of odds and ends, coming sometime in the future if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.

Odds and ends number 100

Hey, a milestone!

The “odds and ends” concept is almost as old as monoblogue itself – my first one, actually called “Odds and year ends,” came back on December 26, 2005. monoblogue was all of 25 days old then, a babe in the woods of the World Wide Web. (It was post #20 on this website; this one will be #5,137.) In re-reading that one after all these years, I found it was a very Maryland-centric post. And what makes it perfectly fitting is that my plan was to make this a Delaware-centric post since I had used most of my other stuff pre-election and held the items for the First State back.

So as has always been the rule, we have things I handle in a couple sentences to a few paragraphs – a series of mini-posts, if you will.

A taxpayer money waste

Did you know the state of Delaware is suing energy companies claiming “Defendants, major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have
known for nearly half a century that unrestricted production and use of fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate.”

(…)

“Defendants have known for decades that climate change impacts could be catastrophic, and that only a narrow window existed to take action before the consequences would be irreversible.”

If you really want to bother reading all 218 pages of the lawsuit be my guest, but the upshot is best described by the Caesar Rodney Institute’s David T. Stevenson, who wrote, “The suit is likely to meet the same fate as a similar lawsuit in New York that simply wasted taxpayer money.” CRI’s Stevenson instead compares the supposed future effects of so-called manmade climate change to the tangible effects of fossil fuels on societal development.

It’s true Delaware is a low-lying state, but it’s also true that sea levels have been rising for several decades, long before the first SUV was sold or widget factory was built. But to demand both compensatory and punitive damages from a host of energy companies – which would cut into their R & D budget and increase consumer costs – is in and of itself a waste of valuable energy and time. If it ever comes to the jury trial they demand, I pray that we get 12 sober-minded people who laugh this suit right out of court.

Robbing the livelihood

It’s been a bone of contention for many: what was originally billed as a state of emergency to “flatten the curve” has now almost become a way of life as our ongoing state of emergency in Delaware was quietly extended yet again on the Friday before Halloween (and the election.)

I did a little bit of traveling around the bottom part of the state this weekend and noticed some of the missing businesses. After a summer tourist season ruined by our reaction to the CCP virus, it may indeed be the winter of our discontent and there’s no better place to spend it than Delaware, right Governor Carney?

Since the Delaware General Assembly will be returning with an even stronger Democrat majority in the Senate, it’s to be expected that employer mandates will be among the items discussed. But as A Better Delaware observes, that can be very counterproductive to businesses already struggling to survive:

The cost of the health care provided to the employee does not result in more productivity or value of that employee at their firm. By adding this cost, it is more likely that incomes will be lowered in order for the total value of the employee to remain the same, even with additional costly mandates. Sometimes, the cost of these mandates results in layoffs so that the company can afford to provide them to the remaining employees.

“Employer mandates: mandating job and income loss,” A Better Delaware, October 2, 2020.

Instead, what they suggest is a private-sector solution: “either establish insurance plans that would cover short-term disability or paid family leave plans or allowing lower-income hourly workers to choose if they would want to convert overtime pay to paid leave.” The flexibility allowed by this would be beneficial, particularly as some may wish to enhance their allotted vacation time in this manner. I made an agreement like that last year with my employer to trade overtime for vacation hours I used later on to extend my year-end holiday by a couple days.

Time for public input

As I noted above, the state’s state of emergency was extended yet again by Governor Carney. But the folks at CRI believe this shouldn’t just be his call.

Instead, they believe what’s necessary is a three-day emergency session of the General Assembly, focused on the following:

  • Debate and negotiate a time limit for Executive Emergency Power, such as two or three months after which Legislative approval is needed for any extension.
  • Debate and negotiate specific metrics for re-opening the economy and return to in-person school classes based upon hospitalizations, not cases.

A state of emergency is not meant to be a perpetual grant of power, although politicians of all stripes have been known to abuse the declaration for things that aren’t immediate impediments to public safety, such as the opioid crisis. It’s important, but not to the level of a state of emergency. We flattened the curve and have learned a lot about the CCP virus, and in a cynical way it did its job because otherwise Donald Trump cruises to re-election and China continues to have a worthy adversary instead of a pocketed leader.

(ahem) It’s time for economy to get back to work so we can deal with all the abuse it might be about to take from the incoming Harris/Biden regime.

One last tax question

Should Delaware relent and adopt a sales tax?

This was another item considered by the CRI folks over the last few weeks, and their data bears out my armchair observations as someone who’s lived close by the border for 16 years. Since we don’t collect sales tax, strictly speaking this puts Delaware’s border-area retailers at an advantage. (Technically, residents of Maryland, Pennsylvania, et. al. are supposed to remit the sales tax they would have paid in-state after buying in Delaware but I’ve yet to meet one who does.)

But if you assume that Delaware takes in $2.89 billion from the retail industry, a 3% sales tax would give the state $86.7 million. However, when you compare that to the possible retail jobs and revenue lost by eliminating the state’s “tax-free” status, the net would be much smaller and could become a negative – a negative that increases the closer the state comes to matching its neighbors’ sales tax rates, which range from 6% in Maryland to 6.6% in New Jersey. (By comparison, these rates are among the lowest in the nation, so perhaps Delaware is a tempering factor for those states, too.)

Retail is a tough enough business, though. Why make it harder for those in the First State?

And last…it’s that time of year

Every year it seems I have a post about items made in the USA. Our fine friends at the Alliance for American Manufacturing continue to chug along with their list, and they’ve been looking for suggestions over the last month or so. The list usually comes out just in time for Black Friday, although this year may be different. (There’s still time to squeeze in a last-minute idea, I’ll bet.)

Admittedly, sometimes it’s a bit of a reach as last year‘s Delaware item was RAPA scrapple, but previous years they’ve featured Delaware self-employed crafters for baby-related items and unglazed clay bakeware, giving those small businesses a hand. I’d be very curious to see what they come up with this year.

And I’ll be very curious to see what I come up with for items for the next odds and ends, which begins the second hundred if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.

A new way to vacuum from our wallets

Over the years from time to time I have written about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate compact ostensibly to address climate change (under the mistaken belief mankind can significantly affect that natural phenomenon) but one which in reality acts as a wealth redistributor in most of its member states.

But thanks to the sharp-eyed folks at the Delaware Freedom Coalition – who noticed a small article in one of the New Jersey Patch websites (they’re still around?) – we now know that these same states and three others (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) are trying to do the same thing with your gasoline. In the words of the Connecticut-based Hartford Courant, which is linked in the Patch article:

The concept calls for a regional cap-and-trade plan that would raise money that would be used to combat climate change at a time when President Donald Trump’s administration is seeking to weaken standards for automobile emissions. For example, the money would help in improving electric-car charging and investing in mass transit as ways to reduce emissions.

“Connecticut among states studying regional gas tax,” Christopher Keating, Hartford Courant, October 25, 2019.

[In an unrelated move, Delaware Rep. Krista Griffith already proposed a measure this year to allow the public usage of state-owned electric car charging stations, a bill that fell one Senate vote short of passage (two Senators were absent at the time of the vote.) That’s certain to come back in 2020, but the proceeds from this proposed gas tax could be earmarked to reimburse state agencies for a similar public use.]

However, this wouldn’t be a per-gallon tax or a sales tax on gasoline, the methods by which most of us pay our automotive toll to the state. Instead, it appears (according to published reports here and here) that the toll would be paid at the wholesale level, which has led that industry to oppose the new tax. If it were adopted, though, they have suggested some improvements. Otherwise, much like RGGI member state utilities are saddled with the additional cost and red tape of compliance, the petroleum industry will become the new whipping boy for Radical Green.

This is just another case of passing the buck. And as Forbes contributor David Blackmon opines, “we see states like these twelve spending tens of millions of dollars and years upon years studying and developing deceptive approaches like this in order to give governors and other politicians the political cover they need to still be re-elected after voting the new, hidden tax into law.” Now in states like Maryland and (unfortunately) Delaware, there are enough people who have been fooled to keep voting in these people regardless of what they do or “accomplish” in office on so-called climate change. But the concept could fall apart if enough states balk at the idea, and public comment has been surprisingly fierce against the idea once people are made aware of it. (Apparently people in Maine are since that small state provides the majority of public comments.)

If people wish to purchase electric cars, part of the consideration has to be the infrastructure (or lack thereof) for refueling as well as other needs. Setting aside the environmental impact that these expanded batteries create and the subsidies required to make the industry successful – never mind this proposed carveout – the other issue is that an electric car simply replaces a conventional car on roads which must be maintained on a system of highways desperately needing expansion and streamlining in some places. Here in Sussex County that covers everything from local needs like a bridge crossing of the Nanticoke River between Sharptown and Seaford to replace the old and unreliable Woodland Ferry and a combined U.S. 113/State Route 24 Millsboro bypass to regional concerns like the extension of an interstate-grade highway from south of Dover to Salisbury along the U.S. 13 corridor. (Since it wouldn’t be a loop highway, call it I-195.)

One advantage of a gas tax is that, when it’s properly allocated toward highway maintenance and expansion – and not toward bike paths, mass transit subsidies, or the yawning chasm of a state’s general fund – it serves as a user fee not unlike that of crossing the Bay Bridge or a toll road. You pay your fee, you get your service whether it’s traversing Chesapeake Bay or avoiding umpteen traffic lights and speed limit changes between Dover and Wilmington. Unfortunately, too many governmental entitles see these taxes as revenue they can spend as they please whether it’s in the spirit in which the tax is collected or not. Moreover, undefined revenue becomes yet another method of patching holes in the budget, and yes I’m looking at you Martin O’Malley.

So it’s prudent to be skeptical at best about the collection and usage of this tax, especially since the participants misunderstand the problem and try to avoid dealing with the real issues. If you want to raise the gas tax, be honest about it and use it to fix roads, not address an issue the world can’t solve.

Coattails tucked into his pants

So let’s talk about Larry Hogan, shall we?

I’m going to start way back in 2009. People tend to forget Larry actually had his eye on running for Governor back then and was briefly in the running until he deferred to his old boss and allowed him to get his doors blown off by Martin O’Malley. (Of course, I chose better in that primary, too.)

After the 2010 Ehrlich debacle – an election where the TEA Party wave somehow missed all of Maryland except for the Eastern Shore – you just had to know that Hogan, a vocal critic of Martin O’Malley during his brief time in the race, would figure out some way to stay in the headlines; thus, Change Maryland was born. I thought it was a great idea.

But when Hogan actually completed the fait accompli of getting into the 2014 open seat Governor’s race, I found he was great at articulating what he was against but not so much what he was for. Given a good field to choose from and one where all the contenders (save Hogan) spelled out their agenda, I supported someone else in the Republican primary but we got Larry. Of course, the rest is history.

I’m going to talk about two memories of Hogan from the campaign and how those issues were resolved.

As the O’Malley administration was heading out of town, one last-minute priority of theirs was an attempt to saddle our farmers with new phosphorus management rules that were basically written by the environmentalist wackos of the state. Hours after being sworn in, Hogan beat a deadline and pulled the regs – much to the chagrin of Radical Green.

But barely a month later, Hogan basically put the same thing into effect with a little bit of window dressing. I will grant that it was in the face of a bill with those same regulations in them but it also put the General Assembly on notice that Hogan could be rolled. And boy, was he ever when he reneged on a promise to eliminate the MOM-imposed moratorium on fracking in Maryland and sold the panhandle of the state down the river by endorsing a ban.

Aside from eliminating some tolls and reallocating money that could have been needlessly wasted on a light-rail boondoggle in Baltimore known as the Red Line, it’s really hard to compile a list of quantifiable, significant Hogan accomplishments but easy to find where he capitulated. We still have to pay for the Purple Line (not to mention a huge subsidy for the D.C. Metro), the “rain tax” repeal really wasn’t one, we got stuck with competing versions of paid sick leave (from a supposedly “business-friendly” governor) and on and on. Even at the end of this term, when he was free to use his veto pen because the terms of legislators were ending and there would be no override votes, he still let a lot of bad stuff through.

But I was still planning on holding my nose really, really tight and voting for Hogan, until he sold Tony Campbell out. That was the last straw. So I looked into Shawn Quinn. Lord knows there is a lot of his platform I didn’t agree with, but there is one key philosophy where Quinn and I are in complete agreement: when it comes to education, money should follow the child.

So thanks to all the betrayals and broken promises, Larry Hogan managed to lose my vote and Shawn Quinn received it – a little bit of unexpected help. No doubt Larry doesn’t really care because he won and now he’s a lame duck until he decides to run for something else (U.S. Senate in 2022?) but look at what he lost. He may blame Donald Trump, but I think Hogan’s reliance on Democrat votes bit him in the behind when it came to downballot races like the ballyhooed “Drive for Five” with state senators. Cases in point:

In District 3B, Bill Folden won with 7,522 votes in 2014 but lost with 8,775 votes this time.

In District 9B, Bob Flanagan won with 8,202 votes in 2014 but lost with 8,311 votes this time.

District 29B’s Deb Rey won last time with 5,334 votes but this time had 6,281 and still lost. That one sucked because Deb was always in the running to be one of my monoblogue Accountability Project Legislative All-Stars and achieved that goal twice, 2016 and 2017.

Glen Glass led all of District 34A with 10,779 votes in 2014 and may lose as the third-place finisher with 11.564 this time. He’s 19 votes out of second.

Glass was a Legislative All-Star way back in 2012 but was more comfortably average of late – still, a significant loss. Senate seat loser Gail Bates was also an All-Star as a Delegate in 2011 – I lost a total of three. One piece of great news, though: two-time mAP Legislator of the Year Joseph Boteler is back in the fold as he was one of three winners in District 8 (and the lone Republican, a net loss of one from the three-seat district), squeezing out Cluster.

Meanwhile, Hogan ran ahead of his 2014 pace in every county. Ironically, Anthony Brown would have killed for the 917,484 votes received by Ben Jealous, as that total would have won it for him four years ago – instead Jealous lost by over 300,000 votes.

But if you do a top 6/bottom 6 list of Hogan gains, it’s rather telling about the electorate.

Top 6 gainers:

  1. Prince George’s – up 13.3 percentage points
  2. Baltimore City – up 10.0 percentage points
  3. Kent – up 9.1 percentage points
  4. Talbot – up 8.0 percentage points
  5. Allegany – up 7.9 percentage points
  6. Montgomery – up 7.9 percentage points

Out of all those counties, though, there was not one Republican gain in the General Assembly because among these are the three most dominant Democrat counties in Maryland – only Allegany, Kent, and Talbot had GOP representatives prior to 2018 and all were re-elected.

Bottom 6 gainers:

  1. Cecil – up 0.4 percentage points
  2. Harford – up 0.9 percentage points
  3. Carroll – up 1.4 percentage points
  4. Baltimore – up 2.7 percentage points
  5. Charles – up 2.9 percentage points
  6. Anne Arundel – up 3.0 percentage points

In those six counties, the GOP lost Delegate seats in several districts: 8 (appointee Joe Cluster lost his election bid), 30A (Herb McMillan retired), 34A (Glen Glass lost his re-election), and 42B (Susan Aumann retired). St. Mary’s County (Delegate Deb Rey, District 29B) fell just outside this bottom 6 list and she paid the price, too. Also losing: Frederick County’s Bill Folden (District 3B) and Bob Flanagan from Howard County (District 9B) – epitomes of suburbia.

The GOP did grab Jim Brochin’s old Senate District 42 seat in Baltimore County as Delegate Chris West vacated a District 42B seat to move up, but that was tempered by the loss of the Senate District 9 seat held by Gail Bates, who was defeated in Howard County. That seat also has a small portion of Carroll County, one of my bottom 6. And of course everyone knows that MBC won in District 38, which I will get to in due course.

As more proof that Larry Hogan was the most popular Democrat in the race, let’s compare federal offices from 2014 to 2018:

  • Andy Harris (District 1, Maryland’s only GOP representative) fell from 70.4% of the vote in 2014 to just 60.3% this year. On the other hand:
  • Dutch Ruppersberger (District 2) gained from 61.3% to 65.7%, a 4.4 point increase.
  • John Sarbanes (District 3) gained from 59.5% to 68.6%, a 9.1 point increase.
  • Steny Hoyer (District 5) gained from 64% to 69.9%, a 5.9 point increase.
  • Elijah Cummings (District 7) gained from 69.9% to 76.1%, a 6.2 point increase.

In the apples to oranges category as there was a change in the office between 2014 and 2018:

  • District 4: Donna Edwards had 70.2% four years ago, Anthony Brown (running for re-election) got 77.6%.
  • District 6: John Delaney had 49.7% four years ago, but this time David Trone was elected with 57.6%. Republican Amie Hoeber lost to Delaney with 40.1% in the Presidential year of 2016 (typically high turnout) and only had 39.4% for an open seat this time.
  • District 8: Chris Van Hollen had 60.7% in 2014, Jamie Raskin (running for re-election) got 66.8%.

We always knew a Republican needed Democrat votes to survive statewide in Maryland, but the lack of coattails Larry Hogan had for his titular party was more than ridiculous. Their only two wins were in districts that were already primed for the GOP – District 42 had 2 of 3 GOP Delegates and a moderate Democrat Senator, while District 38 was all Republican aside from the Democrat Jim Mathias, who succeeded a longtime Republican Senator. I’m sure local Democrats are kicking themselves for not challenging Carl Anderton because they may well have won the seat back in this climate.

Indeed, the victory of MBC and the fact our other state legislative incumbents were unopposed or drew token, underfunded opposition was perhaps the only thing local Wicomico County Republicans could cheer about. Out of all the Delegate races locally, the only semi-constant was District 38A’s Charles Otto. While he had more votes this time around, he lost 1 percentage point and fell below 60 percent. Despite the fact his district no longer includes Wicomico, he is often present at local party events.

Looking at District 38, Jim Mathias actually drew more votes than he had in 2014 overall, although it appears he will be right about even in Somerset County. (As of this writing, Jim is 71 votes shy of his 2014 total there.) MBC playing Mathias nearly even (six votes’ difference) there in Somerset was one key, and her domination in Worcester County was the other. Compared to his 2014 race against former Delegate Mike McDermott, Mathias lost 1.6 percentage points in Wicomico, but plummeted 6.3 points in Worcester and 5.8 points in Somerset.

Locally, perhaps the biggest mistake Democrats made was not convincing Jack Heath to run in their primary. For all the angst about his independent bid, you have to call it a failure when Heath outspent his Democrat opponent by a margin of $20,556.63 to $1,266.66. (Bob Culver spent $21,616.99 through the final reporting cycle so financially the race was even between Heath and Culver.) Yet the race wasn’t even close between Culver and Democrat John Hamilton, as Bob won by 19 points with Heath barely breaking into the twenties with 21% – 28 points behind Culver. In other words, Democrats were so determined to elect their own they didn’t inform themselves about qualifications or readiness for office – they just saw the word “Democrat” and filled in the oval. Had he run as a Democrat, Jack could have won (or come much closer) since I suspect he split the Democrat vote.

Yet the GOP has to take some blame locally, too. I’m not sure their candidate recruitment was up to par this time around: two of their primary candidates had scrapes with the law, and while one of them was defeated in the primary the other was unopposed. I know that party preference is to avoid primaries, but I don’t think voters were served well when Julie Brewington didn’t withdraw prior to the primary, allowing the Central Committee to select a candidate with less baggage. She was one I withheld my vote from; instead I wrote in my friend Cathy Keim – who should have been on County Council in 2011 to succeed the late Bob Caldwell because all of us on the Central Committee except the one also running for the job, who recused herself, voted for Cathy. That was a County Council seat needlessly lost, and they were already looking at a tough district race in a heavily D district that, predictably, went for the Democrat. (And a loony-tunes lefty he is, too – grab a hold tight to your wallet and private property rights.) So the previous 6-1 margin for Republicans is now a scant 4-3, with one less-than-trustworthy vote on the R side and a Board of Education lackey there to boot, too. The only two R’s I can trust to generally look out for my interests now are Marc Kilmer and Joe Holloway. (Funny, but things never change.)

Then we had another candidate who refused to knock on doors, and I told him that’s how you win votes. (Ask Carl Anderton or MBC.) Great guy, very qualified for what is essentially an administrative post, but lost by about 2,300 votes (or doors he didn’t knock on.) Now that his opponent is in, good luck winning that office until he retires, just like Mike Lewis or Karen Lemon are lifers where they are at.

And for all that work we did to have an elected school board, I can’t say I’m pleased with the results. Out of seven spots, the two at-large winners were the ones on the teacher union’s “apple ballot” – an automatic vote for their opponents in my book – and we also got a longtime board member when the Republican who was on that ballot could no longer campaign because she took a county job. So right there are three votes for the status quo – or worse. I believe, however, that Gene Malone was the last Republican BoE appointee and, having served with both John Palmer and Ann Suthowski on the Central Committee I think they will be relatively conservative (although Ann may be a squish on the wasteful mandatory pre-K idea.)

The fate of the school board, then, is coming down to District 3. David Goslee, Sr. (who I also know from serving with him on the WCRCC) is literally hanging on by the skin of his teeth – 9 votes separate him and his opponent, who is another mandatory pre-K supporter. I’m putting out the bat-signal to my friend and cohort Cathy Keim – watch that race like a hawk, I don’t want them to “find” another box of provisional votes someplace.

That pretty much covers my ballot. It wasn’t a straight R ticket, since there were a couple Democrats who were unopposed that were worth my vote to retain. (Same for the unopposed Republicans, by the way.) I just wish the person at the top would not have broken the little trust I had in him.

Two more quick thoughts: for all we heard about the “progressive” movement locally, they mainly got spanked at the ballot box. But it could be worse: they could be Republicans in Delaware – who now have literally no statewide offices after the lost the couple they had and saw their deficit in both House and Senate increase by one seat, a casualty list that included both their Minority Whips. Hey, maybe Larry Hogan can move there in time for 2020 and that election.

Is the answer blowin’ in the wind?

Of late I’ve heard a lot of talk about energy in various forms and how they will be affecting this Eastern Shore of ours. While I write mainly on political items, longtime readers know I have an interest in energy-related issues as well.

So if you read social media, you’ll find that one thing I enjoy doing is setting those who inhabit the left side of the political aisle straight on the reality of the situation – particularly when it comes to energy. I’m going to borrow something as not letting good writing go to waste and then build from that, since there are other facets I’d like to explore, too.

This was something I wrote to Congressional candidate Allison Galbraith – say what you will about her politics, she is well-engaged on social media. Galbraith recently linked a story from WMDT about a proposed offshore wind study, to which I most recently responded:

You’re making a giant leap of faith that we as mankind can slow down sea level rise. As for having houses underwater, that’s a risk one takes for having waterfront property – just like those who build along a hurricane-prone coastline.

My point is that, based on their merits as far as reliability goes, wind and solar are not ready for usage on a large scale. If one wants to invest their money in solar panels for their house or a windmill out back, great – have at it. (Personally, I don’t think these sources should be mandated, but the issue is properly a state-level issue and in our case that’s where it was determined – my beef is with Annapolis, not Washington. I don’t like ethanol subsidies either and that was a different story, dictated from on high.) But the problems come in being tied to the overall electrical grid, which is already a balancing act due to the vagaries of weather and usage.

If some smart entrepreneur wanted a good problem to study, she or he would figure out a way to level out the output gained from these systems so that solar power could be used at night and wind power on humid, still days. (Notice there are few windmills in the Deep South.) We advance technology insofar as the actual turbines and collector panels, but don’t consider that storage aspect of it as much – therein lies the benefits of fossil fuels, which are a vast storehouse of the energy we need that’s been sitting there for eons until extracted for our use. On a day like today wind would be good but there’s not much demand; meanwhile, those with solar panels are hurting because the weather is so bad.

We have been blessed with abundant resources, so why keep them in the ground?

In looking at my response, the ethanol “subsidies” are actually carveouts – the EPA mandates a certain amount to be blended into the gasoline supply each year. Be that as it may…

The electrical grid aspect was something I hadn’t really considered until recently, when I did my most recent “odds and ends” piece. Thanks to a series of posts by the Capital Research Center, I learned that one key problem with renewables is their effect on the electrical grid. Since their output isn’t as predictable as that of standard power plants, there’s often a problem with mobilizing the most efficient resources. Certainly a bright, sunny summer day is great for solar power production but that also means a natural gas plant has to be temporarily put offline, then restarted once the sun goes down. However, the next day could prove to be one which suddenly turns stormy, meaning yet another cycle of starting and stopping a fossil fuel plant. Obviously, the advantage of fossil fuels comes from the constant supply, with the X-factor only being the price paid for each megawatt-hour. Wind power presents a similar problem: you can have times when the wind is just right for a constant portion of the supply, but they are few and far between, and unpredictable. While their trade association begs to differ, the fact is that there too few breakdowns in conventional sources (not to mention a critical dependence on the carveout of a federal tax subsidy specifically for these projects) for wind to be more than a bit player – certainly not to the extent some states attempt to mandate it.

(Another great source of energy industry writing I carried for a time were the columns of Marita Noon, including this one on the wind industry. She’s since remarried and retired from the writing game. It turns out my loss was the city of Lubbock’s gain – Marita’s current avocation is something she’s long been interested in, rehabbing houses for resale.)

Essentially, Allison’s job as of late has been to be the loyal opposition to our Congressman, Andy Harris. He listened to the concerns of Ocean City regarding their tourism and repeated their case that the offshore wind project the state of Maryland has tried to site off Ocean City is close enough to mar the natural beauty of the beachfront view. While the industry and its supporters contend the windmills will be too small to clearly see, they’ve never contended the lights on the turbines would not be visible overnight. (Hint: they would be – a sea of red lights flashing on the horizon. This may be true at 26 miles as well.)

On another front in the progressive ranks, opposition has sprung up to a natural gas pipeline that would run through the Eastern Shore of Maryland from north to south. As described by the Delmarva Pipeline Company when the project was announced last year:

The project will provide these regions and their residents, who have historically been without access to natural gas and the associated benefits, with access to affordable, clean-burning, and abundant natural gas supplies to help meet the growing environmental need for cleaner fuels for power generation for industrial and commercial customers. In the future, local distribution companies will be able to provide home heating, hot water, and other domestic uses.

The proposed pipeline would tie into an existing pipeline near Rising Sun, Maryland, head east for a short distance, then run southward right along the border between Delaware and Maryland before terminating at a point in Accomack County, Virginia. At this time the only natural gas pipeline access on this part of the Eastern Shore are small areas from downtown Salisbury and the town of Berlin in Worcester County northward into Delaware along the U.S. 13 and U.S. 113 corridors, respectively. On the Mid-Shore there is a branch line that runs westward from Bridgeville, Delaware to serve Easton, Maryland. Aside from that, there’s nothing south of the I-95 corridor serving the Eastern Shore. (Delaware has the three feeder pipes that terminate in Maryland to serve Sussex County.)

According to news reports, it’s a $1.25 billion private investment that will finally open up natural gas service to areas not served on the Eastern Shore. So what’s not to like? Well, apparently there is a group against it.

While their comment about possible leakage falls a little flat because it’s a gas pipeline and not oil, their real argument is served up by a sentence from a release by Blue Wicomico, which is a slate running for the local Democratic Central Committee. “If we invest in new fossil fuel infrastructure projects like this pipeline,” they whine, “it will discourage investment in the future like renewable energy projects that will bring much-needed jobs and economic growth to the region.”

Look, if you want to invest in green energy, there’s nothing stopping you. The fact that few will do so without the government goosing the system, though, tells me that the rewards aren’t enough for the risks.

And about that job creation? As Paul Rich, the Director of Project Management for U.S. Wind, testified before the Maryland Public Service Commission:

Due to the nascent stage of development of the U.S. Offshore Wind Industry, much of the highest technological components will have to initially be imported from manufacturing facilities in Europe. Components such as turbine generators, manufactured blades, and transmission cables will be most economically sourced from existing facilities in Europe.

If you’re counting on that job creation for the Eastern Shore or for Maryland in general, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

So let’s get to work building that pipeline, which is slated for completion in late 2020. Give those who don’t have it access to another reliable energy source.

An interesting perspective on Harvey

This is going to be another one of those “unless you’ve just crawled out from under a rock” posts, because that’s about the only way you wouldn’t be submerged in coverage of Hurricane Harvey and its aftereffects on the Houston region in Texas. If you thought Noah was just a Biblical character and the story of the Ark simply a parable, imagine what 40 straight days and nights of rain could do…less than a week’s worth dumped over 50 inches on some hapless portions of Texas.

Anyway, there’s an estimate that Houston was bathed in nearly 20 trillion gallons of water, and if I recall my formula correctly a cubic foot holds roughly 7 1/2 gallons – thus, an area of 2.6 trillion square feet would have been submerged one foot deep. In turn, that works out to an area 1,632,993 feet on each side, which equals 309 miles – 95,653 square miles, to be exact. Imagine not just Maryland and Delaware under a foot of water, but all of Pennsylvania and the majority of Virginia as well. Put another way, under that same deluge all of Maryland would be drowned beneath about 10 feet of water.

What make this relevant is an article written by Jon Cassidy in the American Spectator that I came across. When people talk about planning it piques my interest for obvious reasons: architecture is my chosen profession, but I know just enough about land planning and civil engineering to be dangerous – one area I learned a little bit about in the position I have now (albeit when I had my first bite of the apple a decade ago) was the technique required for doing stormwater management and other civil work. Coming here from Ohio I found out stormwater management is a BIG f’ing deal in Maryland, much more so than in my home state.

This is important because the blame for the extreme flooding in and around Houston is being placed on the rampant growth and large amounts of impermeable surface in that area. But, as Cassidy writes, development is many orders of magnitude shy of being the primary cause:

The idea that pavement is to blame for Houston’s flooding is, to put it simply, idiotic, even comical. The daily journalists on their deadlines haven’t had time to realize how out of their depth they are, but the (Texas) Tribune has no excuse for its shoddy reporting. The committees that awarded those prizes should be ashamed of their inability to spot the obvious hole in the narrative, which has been there all along.

The turf surrounding Houston is not, in the words of the county official the Tribune singled out for abuse, a “magic sponge.” Yes, it absorbs some water. Yes, of course, impermeable surfaces produce runoff. But no, absolutely not, no way, no how, could the clay and sandy soil around Houston have absorbed this deluge. The poor absorptive capacity of our soil is a matter of record, but that didn’t really matter. Even if our turf had the absorptive capacity of the Shamwow, Hurricane Harvey would have overwhelmed it.

study by the Harris County Flood Control District, which focused on the same Cypress Creek region that interested the Tribune, found that a residential development with 50 percent impervious cover would indeed absorb less water, creating more runoff. To be precise, the development would absorb exactly 1.79 inches less rainfall than an undeveloped property. But we got hit with up to 51.88 inches of rain during Hurricane Harvey. That’s more than rainy Seattle got all last year.

So even if the Tribune had had its anti-development agenda fully realized, it would have made no difference. The soil would have absorbed the first couple inches of rainfall, and the next 50 inches still would have had to go somewhere. Back in 1935, when the area was almost entirely covered by natural wetlands, it still got flooded.

Cassidy has an unlikely ally in Charles Marohn, the creator of a website called Strong Towns. (It’s often cited by the mayor of Salisbury, who seems to be an advocate of so-called “smart growth.”)

Harvey is not normal times. We can’t look at this event the way we look at other flooding events. The devastation in Houston from Hurricane Harvey is not the result of the accumulation of many bad decisions. It was simply a huge storm.

The Texas A&M research I highlighted above suggests reckless wetland filling robbed Houston of 4 billion gallons of stormwater storage capacity. For context, the Washington Post is reporting now that Harvey dumped 19 trillion gallons on Texas—a large portion of that hitting the Houston area. That means that, had those wetlands never been filled, they could have accommodated at most .02-.1% of the water that fell in Harvey.

Exactly. Soil has a carrying capacity of drainage, and some soils drain better than others. If you’ve spent any amount of time in Florida, you’ll know it rains nearly every day but the soil drains quickly because it’s quite sandy. Places with a lot of clay, though, aren’t as fortunate. To manage stormwater, the common technique involves collecting the overflow from impermeable areas and placing it in retention ponds where it can be released for drainage in a controlled fashion. It’s why you often see bodies of water along roads, highways, and inside developments – they’re not necessarily there for looks, but as catchbasins.

Of course, not every area has managed stormwater and in times of extreme weather they flood. During Superstorm Sandy in 2012, a large part of downtown Salisbury flooded, causing damage to several buildings. Other parts of town are often under water after a heavy rainfall of 4″ or more, with one significant headache being the closing of Business Route 13 at its intersection with Priscilla Street, adjacent to a large pond.

But even the best techniques would fail under a deluge like Harvey, and that’s the point. We design for 10- and 100-year flood events, but it’s prohibitively expensive and, frankly, unnecessary to worry about 500- or 1000-year events like Harvey may have been. Those cases are truly acts of God and the best we can do for those is pray for minimal loss of life. We can rebuild a building, but we can’t get the 30-odd victims of Harvey back.

Back to routine: Here at this residence, we’re getting set for one last school year. With the distractions of summer over, it will finally be time for me to get serious about writing once again. While it’s looking more like a wrap by the middle of 2018 rather than the spring, I’m still thinking I have a good start on The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party, and with recent developments there may be an entirely new hook to expound upon as I increase the word count.

So I haven’t forgotten. However, I also want to get a little bit into the 2018 campaign and perhaps get back to doing this blogging more often than a couple times a month. We will see.

But the year of my discontent seems to be closing – not that I miss being politically active, but going forward I’m not going to studiously avoid it, either. (I will miss the WCRC Crab Feast, though, but only because my grandson’s first birthday is being celebrated that day. Family first.) If nothing works its way onto my calendar for that Saturday I might make the Lincoln Day Dinner in October.

So that’s a brief update. All those impatient because I do other stuff besides politics may get their wish as baseball season winds down.

The mid-Atlantic may be getting back into the game

This is one of those posts it took me a few days to write as life intervened, but it turns out to be a happy accident in this case.

While I’m certainly not been the biggest fan of Donald Trump as President overall, he has had his moments. Today he’s given Radical Green a conniption fit just by announcing he will make a formal declaration on whether we will remain in the Paris Climate Agreement tomorrow afternoon. It’s expected he will decide to withdraw, but there’s also a school of thought that believes it’s just a negotiating ploy to give America a better bargain than Barack Obama negotiated.

In the meantime, it looks like another of those moments may be the rebirth of something that was strangled in the crib during the last administration when they overreacted to the comparatively rare Deepwater Horizon disaster by eliminating the prospect of oil exploration off the mid-Atlantic coast.

In order to get to that point, though, a necessary step is to do seismic surveying. Remember when the environmentalists had a cow awhile back because they were talking about doing this for oil exploration, and it got everyone’s knickers in a wad all up and down the coast? Well, it turns out doing this can serve a lot of other interests as well, at least according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke:

“Seismic surveying helps a variety of federal and state partners better understand our nation’s offshore areas, including locating offshore hazards, siting of wind turbines, as well as offshore energy development,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Allowing this scientific pursuit enables us to safely identify and evaluate resources that belong to the American people. This will play an important role in the President’s strategy to create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign energy resources.”

The last G&G seismic data for the Mid- and South-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OSC) were gathered more than 30 years ago when technology was not as advanced as today. Aside from providing data on potential offshore oil and gas resources, seismic surveys are also used to site offshore wind structures, locate potential seafloor hazards, locate potential sand and gravel resources for beach replenishment activities, and locate potential archaeological resources. Data from seismic surveys also assists the Department in determining Fair Market Value of offshore resources.

It was also over 30 years ago that a series of exploratory oil wells were drilled and capped off the New Jersey and Delmarva coastline, with the closest to us being about 80 miles ESE of Ocean City. At the time it was determined this was essentially a dry hole, but the exercise was useful as a study of the ocean floor and substrate below. So if the same is true now, I wonder why the environmentalists are so afraid of exploratory drilling and seismic surveying? Maybe because they know as well as I do that there’s a significant amount of oil out there, and it would keep the price of oil affordable enough to undercut the subsidies needed to keep renewables competitive?

And last week’s update from Energy Tomorrow was doubly interesting because not only did it have the release regarding the seismic surveying, it also had a small news item that pointed to a new, soon-to-be-released (and peer-reviewed) three-year study that concluded fracking has no effect on groundwater. (Are you listening, Larry Hogan? There’s still time to reconsider your foolish ban on fracking in this state before your election next year.)

Of course, the study authors did have a caveat to their findings:

In contrast to groundwater samples that showed no evidence of anthropogenic contamination, the chemistry and isotope ratios of surface waters (n = 8) near known spills or leaks occurring at disposal sites mimicked the composition of Marcellus flowback fluids, and show direct evidence for impact on surface water by fluids accidentally released from nearby shale-gas well pads and oil and gas wastewater disposal sites.

Now I know the Radical Green folks will be going “SEE! SEE! I BET YOU CAN LIGHT THAT WATER ON FIRE!!!” However, it seems to me one could easily have the same contaminating type of effect from a sanitary sewer overflow, underground tank leak, or EPA incident. The key words are “accidentally released,” and companies that want to stay in the business have a duty and legal obligation to be as careful as possible.

But this blows away one key argument from fracking opponents, not that they are much for using logic anyway.

With the right mindset and private-sector infrastructure investment, this region of the country could finally be energy self-sufficient on its own. The job created could be yours.