Campaign for…Republicans?

Sometimes politics makes strange bedfellows. Take, for instance, the Cecil County Campaign for Liberty and the Cecil County Republican Party.

On Friday I received separate e-mail messages from Bob Willick of the C4L and the county’s Republican Chair Chris Zeauskas imploring me to attend a town hall meeting in Bel Air featuring our Congressman, Andy Harris. In no uncertain terms, though, the two political leaders were upset that Harris voted for the omnibus budget bill. (I’m not thrilled about it, either.)

But what I noticed about the dueling e-mails was their reliance on a single set of themes. Notice that both used the examples of Rep. Barbara Lee and Paul Riechoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to make their case, and they share a lot of similar bullet points.

Of course, I didn’t get to the townhall meeting last night to find out what was said – perhaps some of my readers from in and around Bel Air can clue me in because this coverage was rather tepid – but one point Harrishad previously made in his defense was a provision for the Eastern Shore’s seafood industry.

Even one of Andy’s Democratic opponents was skeptical. Bill Tilghman posted on his Facebook page:

Tonight the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan Omnibus appropriations bill that funds the government through September. This is a good thing, but it will be only temporary if partisanship reigns supreme in the future. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Yet, while these e-mails use a lot of the same rhetoric, there is a point made in both which bears repeating. Willick lamented the changes Washington seems to make:

Andy Harris pledged to us that he would change Washington. Instead Рit changed him.

Zeauskas, though, was far more lengthy in his criticism:

The last thing this Country and the State of Maryland needs is another politician that will place their political aspirations over principle.

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Republican or Democrat.

If our Republican Party stands for nothing, that’s bad.

But what’s worse?

A Republican Party that stands for exactly the same thing as the Democrats.

The greatest lie ever told in politics is that good people are obligated to support the lesser of two evils.

I joined our Republican Party because I was inspired by our principles and ideas.

Freedom is an inspirational idea.

When we don’t fight for our principles we drive people away from our Party.

Think about it.

After this vote for Obamacare, how many people are motivated to put everything on the line to help Andy Harris next election?

How many Tea Party activists will be motivated to donate and volunteer for Rep. Harris?

As an elected Republican official, how am I going to rally the troops to fight for a Big Government Republican?

Voting for Obamacare and spending hikes isn’t the way to grow the Republican Party.

(snip)

I can’t look someone from Cecil County in the eyes and explain away Andy Harris’s vote.

How could any elected official, especially a Republican, vote to fund a bungled roll out of Obamacare, to continue the destruction of the American healthcare system?

I’m embarrassed today for our Party.

As an elected Republican Party official, it’s my job to promote our Republican Party, but I won’t promote Obamacare or give cover to a Republican who votes for this.

Too many families are being hurt by this radical government action.

We deserve better.

And we expect better from our only Republican Congressman here in Maryland.

Now this point I can completely see, since there are times our elected Republican officials in our county seem to lose their way. But unless and until they draw a primary opponent, we are pretty much stuck with them. In the case of Harris, do you honestly think Tilghman or fellow Democrat John LaFerla would vote no to this?

I think a big part of the problem with the Republicans in Washington is that they are scared of the wrong thing. I can almost guarantee you that, in the back of Andy’s mind, there’s that memory of how much Republicans were blamed for the government shutdown last October and all the supposed ill effects of the sequester before that. So when the deal was made, his calculation (with the inclusion of the seafood worker provision) was that it was the best deal we could get and the country would not have to go through this whole nightmare for a second time next month.

Now I’m sure the political junkies are yelling at their computer that I’m wrong, but I also realize that 90-plus percent of voters aren’t that much into politics and they get their news from sources who are quick to blame Republicans for all the nation’s ills. In that respect, I think Andy has gone Washington but he’s still a long way from Wayne Gilchrest territory – as the de facto leader of Maryland Republicans, I believe the thinking was he’s going to have to appeal to the center a little bit to help his fellows out come November.

I don’t think this justifies the poor vote, but since we have no other options our best course is to give him the courage to return to the form he had in the Maryland Senate, where he would occasionally stand alone on the side of right. Perhaps giving him some Republican company from Maryland next year will be of assistance.

And if Andy wants my space to explain himself, I can always use guest opinion.

An oversimplification, and where it may lead

In all the hoopla over the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake this week – along with several statewide race announcements – an item from one of my favorite local political hotbeds was more or less overlooked.

But a few days ago I received an e-mail warning me about a proposed shooting ban in Cecil County. Sponsored by Councilman Alan McCarthy the bill would, in the words of Mike Dawson of the Republicans of Cecil Political Action Committee:

…ban shooting in Cecil County and leave law abiding citizens defenseless against criminals attempting to harm them or their property.

McCarthy defended his position, noting in the Cecil Daily that he had “numerous requests from citizens” about such legislation after the death of a ten-year-old girl on New Year’s Eve from a stray bullet, and pointing out on the Cecil Times website that this was only to “stimulate a discussion.” The council member also added he was seeking the family’s permission to attach her name to the law.

Undoubtedly, what happened in Cecil County was a tragic accident. It surprises me, though, that we haven’t already advanced enough in ballistics and microstamping to determine the origin of the shot which killed Aaliyah Destiny Boyer and file appropriate charges against the shooter. I’m not a lawyer (and don’t play one on TV) but I would think that’s grounds for negligent homicide.

Yet in his diatribe against the proposal, Dawson notes that:

(I)f you are defending yourself on your property against an intruder be sure to think about what direction you’re shooting and get permission from your neighbor first.

I’m sure the burglar will wait for you while you get permission from your surrounding neighbors and double check that you’re not 150 yards from a school!

It’s also pointed out that the law would only affect unincorporated areas of the county, which would tend to have the larger proportion of gun owners.

However, the other aspect which piqued my interest was reading that McCarthy’s proposal was based on a law in Harford County. Obviously that’s David Craig country, so the question whether the law was passed during his term is an important one. But a quick Google search led me to the Harford County code, and the corresponding law section (260-4) was apparently passed way back in 1985. At that time, Craig was still involved with local government so he’s off the hook here.

Perhaps a better question to ask, though, is whether anyone has been charged with violating the Harford County law? Obviously there was a purpose for its introduction, and it’s likely McCarthy had some idea the law was on the books there. But there are thousands of laws which are written but either aren’t enforced or simply not enforceable. Many of those are the same “feelgood” legislation which has a person’s name attached to it.

Because there was no formal introduction of legislation – yet – by McCarthy, the question remains purely theoretical. It doesn’t seem like a law which needs to be on the books because, as opponents point out, it’s the sort of law ripe for abuse by overzealous prosecutors – the sort of plea bargain count dangled by a state’s attorney in front of an otherwise innocent defendant who can’t afford to risk trial on some other charge. No one is concerned about gunfire being too close to a school when an intruder bent on harming you or your family is breaking into your home.

I suppose the lessons we can learn from McCarthy’s law are to have steady aim and shoot for center of mass so stray bullets don’t cross onto someone else’s property.