Immigration: “The issue is never the issue.”

By Cathy Keim

Editor’s note: Once again, Cathy is combining her series on immigration with more coverage of the Turning the Tides conference earlier this month.

James (Jim) Simpson, an investigative journalist, followed Clare Lopez’s talk with equally distressing information. He has a short book called The Red-Green Axis Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America, which is available online for free.

Simpson began with the statement, “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” The issue only matters as a means to advance the Left’s true agenda. This hit me as particularly eye-opening for those who could not connect the dots between the continual, never-ending string of social ills which we have been forced to endure for the last fifty years. The attack on the family through no-fault divorce, the sexual revolution, women’s lib, and abortion has morphed into the gay issue and then transgender concerns. Never satisfied with the concessions wrung from an exhausted public, the issues just keep on coming, ever weakening and degrading our culture.

Now the issue is immigration. Adhering to the quote, it is easy to see that the elites are not pushing through immigration because they care about the people. They care about how immigrants further the elites’ quest for power and wealth.

Jim listed six ways that refugee resettlement and immigration undermine us.

  1.  Dilutes American culture
  2. Undermines the rule of law
  3. Sucks up welfare resources
  4. Creates chaos: racial/ethnic tension, fiscal stress, unemployment
  5. Cultivates loyal voters for leftist politicians seeking permanent majority
  6. Refugee Resettlement is a vehicle for Hijra

A new fact that I had not heard before was that the UN at the 1976 Conference on Human Settlements laid the groundwork for Agenda 21.

The universal goals were to abolish private property, seek “equitable” distribution of land, resources, and populations worldwide, and a foundation for open borders agenda.

Jim traced out the sanctuary movement from from its beginning when radical leftists were assisting Salvadorans fleeing civil war to the tragic death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco last year. In addition, Simpson researched and came up with the following crime statistics about aliens:

  • 22% of U.S. prison population in 2009 were aliens.
  • The annual incarceration costs were approximately $6 billion.
  • Between 2004 – 2008 249,000 aliens were convicted: 25,064 for murder, 69,929 for sex crimes, 14,788 for kidnapping, and 213,047 assaults.
  • In North Carolina in 2014: 752 illegals arrested on a total of 3,696 sex crime charges against children.

Jim pointed out that while attention is on the Syrian refugee issue right now, there are many other programs such as Temporary Protected Status, asylum seekers, parole, and visa waivers adding up to more than 100,000 Syrians here since 2012.

He then listed the Volunteer Agencies (VOLAGs) that are government contractors to bring in the refugees. He contends that radical leftists infiltrated the VOLAGS. They are not Christians despite their names, they are not religious, and they are not charitable, Simpson added.

I agree with Jim on this. The VOLAGs bring in refugees and deposit them in inner-city slums where they are left to shift for themselves. They often place warring groups next door to each other with no regard for safety. Added to the mix is the fact that the people that already live there are struggling for jobs without being undercut by cheap immigrant labor. Many times the refugees don’t even know how to use indoor plumbing, electricity, or a modern kitchen. The VOLAGs are paid by the head so they are only interested in bringing in as many people as they can, not in helping the ones already here to acclimate.

Jim listed some of the refugee problems that the communities that host them must address. Manchester, NH, has 82 languages. Amarillo, TX, has 911 calls in 36 languages. In Minnesota the Somali unemployment rate is 21%. In Texas, 25% of skin tests are positive for TB. Then add in gangs, drugs, and terrorism to this troubling mix.

The White House Task Force on New Americans pushes “Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees” where the “welcoming” goal is to force Americans to accept mass immigration and the welcoming method is “Culture Shaping” where we “recognize the role everyone must play in furthering the integration of recent immigrants.”

(I wrote a piece on the White House Task Force on New Americans back in March.)

Jim Simpson ate lunch at my table, so I was able to question him further on some of his ideas. He pointed out that the communists have always used proxies to fight their wars when they could. He felt that the jihadists are the new proxies for the communists in the current situation, and made a compelling case for his theory.

It certainly explains why the leftists in our government are so eager to join sides with the Muslim Brotherhood and its numerous affiliates despite the rather glaring disparity between the progressives’ rhetoric and the Muslim Brotherhood’s anti-feminist, anti-gay agenda. How can the feminists swallow their vociferous promotion for equal rights and not peep about the horrors of female genital mutilation, honor killings, women being treated as property by men, and as being less than equal in worth to a man? Or how can progressives not complain about gay rights in Muslim controlled areas?

We go back to the quote that Jim started with, “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” The progressives believe that they will use the Islamists to destroy America and then they, the progressives, will be in charge.

I am not so sure that the Islamists agree with that conclusion, but it is undeniable that the progressives in our country are working hand in hand with the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR, and numerous other entities to undermine our country.

I will close with a quote from Frank Gaffney and remind you that you can read Jim’s book online. The final chapter is especially helpful in listing ideas of how to respond to this threat.

Center for Security Policy President, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. states:

Jim Simpson has done a characteristically exacting investigation of the extent to which the red-green axis – the radical left, with its activists, contractors, philanthropies and friends in the Obama administration, and Islamic supremacists – have joined forces to use U.S. refugee resettlement programs as a prime means to achieve the ‘fundamental transformation’ of America. His expose is particularly timely against the backdrop of the government sponsored effort to ‘Welcome New Americans’ and suppress those who understand the imperative of “resisting” the migration to and colonization of this country, or hijra, that Shariah-adherent Muslim believed they are required to undertake.

Immigration: the concern about security

January 14, 2016 · Posted in Cathy Keim, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · 2 Comments 

By Cathy Keim

Editor’s note: Not only is this a second installment of coverage of last weekend’s Turning the Tides Conference, but it resumes her occasional series on immigration. Here are the earlier installments on immigration and the previous coverage of Turning the Tides.

Clare Lopez gave a riveting presentation on Saturday morning under the National Security Concerns segment, along with Ann Corcoran and Jim Simpson. I want to focus on Ms. Lopez’s talk first because she set the stage for understanding many of the security concerns that face our nation.

Lopez was an operations officer for the CIA for twenty years, serving domestically and abroad. She is a private consultant now specializing in Islam, counter-terrorism, Iran, and the Middle East.

In her remarks, Lopez noted that Islam is a complete way of life, a totalitarian socio-political system governed by a strict juridical framework called shariah. It has a religious component and relies on force to convert and expand. Islam means submission and Muslim means one who submits, said Lopez. stressing that the whole system hangs together on the individual submitting to shariah.

As I see it, it’s not just a metaphysical contemplation of eternity as we traditionally think of religion. The religious component of Islam adds to the intensity of some of its adherents.

To me, Allah is not a loving personal God who sent his son Jesus Christ to redeem the lost; rather, Allah is an impersonal, detached deity and the only way for a person to be sure of paradise is to die as a martyr for the cause. Now that is a powerful motivator.

The secular elite in our government refuse to acknowledge that Islam is a political system and prefer to call it a religion of peace, thus compounding the lie that it is only a religion and that it is peaceful. The elites are importing Muslims just as fast as they can, despite the obvious contradiction between the concept of free citizens and submission to shariah. These two ideas cannot be forced into the same framework. They cannot coexist, no matter how many Priuses drive by with “Coexist” bumper stickers.

Our First Amendment right to freedom of religion is being misused to protect the importation of shariah as a religious “right.” Communism was not protected under the First Amendment as a religion because it is a totalitarian system of government. Back in the 1950s and 1960s our public schools taught courses to explain the differences between communism and our values. Sadly, now Islam is being taught in our schools as a religion of peace rather than the vile totalitarian repressive system that it is.

Returning to Ms. Lopez’s presentation, she noted many of our progressive leaders search for the answer as to why they hate us. The answer is clear, although they carefully avoid it: free societies stand in the way of a caliphate under shariah law.

“An Islamic Caliphate in 7 Easy Steps,” a slide presented by Ms. Lopez, is based on a must-read article that was written in 2005 on the future of terrorism. The article is a review of the book al-Zarqawi – al-Qaida’s Second Generation, by Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein.

Hussein writes, “I interviewed a whole range of al-Qaida members with different ideologies to get an idea of how the war between the terrorists and Washington would develop in the future.” The resulting seven steps are prescient when viewed from 2016.

  • 1st Phase: 2000-2003 – “the awakening”
  • 2nd Phase: 2003-2006 – “Opening Eyes”
  • 3rd Phase: 2007-2010 – “Arising & Standing Up”
  • 4th Phase: 2010-2013 – collapse of hated Arab governments (Arab Spring)
  • 5th Phase: 2013-2016 – Declaration of the caliphate
  • 6th Phase – Total confrontation
  • 7th Phase – Definitive Victory, predicted by the year 2020

Remember this article was written in 2005, so the terrorists were able to assess the first phase which was already completed at that point.

Hussein then states:

“The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby “awakening” Muslims. The first phase was judged by the strategists and masterminds behind al-Qaida as very successful. The battle field was opened up and the Americans and their allies became a closer and easier target.”

Lopez noted the network is banking on recruiting young men during this period. Iraq should become the center for all global operations, with an “army” set up there and bases established in other Arabic states.

Phase 3 may have not occurred exactly on schedule, but certainly seems to be happening now.

“There will be a focus on Syria,” prophesies Hussein, based on what his sources told him. The fighting cadres are supposedly already prepared and some are in Iraq. Attacks on Turkey and — even more explosive — in Israel are predicted. Al-Qaida’s masterminds hope that attacks on Israel will help the terrorist group become a recognized organization. The author also believes that countries neighboring Iraq, such as Jordan, are also in danger.”

The Arab Spring was the name the media gave to Phase 4 which resulted in “the creeping loss of the regimes’ power (that) will lead to a steady growth in strength within al-Qaida.”

Phase 5 will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared. ISIS declared the caliphate in June of 2014.

That brings us to the present day of total confrontation.

Jihad is being waged physically with attacks all over the globe, continued Claire. A subtler approach is the infiltration of our culture by hijra, or immigration.

This is a concept deeply embedded into Islam, one that I believe actually works quite well. The Muslim armies wreak havoc displacing people who flee to other lands bringing Islam with them. The “refugees” currently are thousands of young men who are invading western countries. They then set up “no go zones” in their new countries to serve as the beachhead for the new caliphate. They provide manpower for attacks locally and subvert the government by bankrupting it through the use of welfare and social services. Widespread corruption in our welfare system has been reported. The Muslims see it as a form of tax, jizya, that nonbelievers must pay to Muslims. So naïve western countries are paying the jizya to their superiors (or so the Muslims see it). As they increase, they then demand accommodation to their beliefs, thus introducing shariah law into the society.

Finally, Lopez noted that anywhere that a Muslim pledges allegiance to the caliphate becomes a beachhead for ISIS. Mosques are the command and control centers for this total confrontation.

The plan to defeat America is not through terrorism but to build a domestic Muslim movement that claims adherents, occupies territory, and challenges the existing government and society for authority.

The three stages of jihad according to Lopez are:

  1. Immigrate into western nations.
  2. Infiltrate western governments.
  3. Establish the Caliphate and implement shariah law.

The mosque is the nerve center of a Muslim community. It is a house of prayer, worship, ceremony, and for collecting the zakat (required contributions). It is also an Islamic beachhead in enemy territory, a recruitment, indoctrination, and training center. It is the command and control center for jihad. Raids on Paris mosques as of December 2, 2015 resulted in French authorities seizing 334 weapons, including 145 long guns and 34 “weapons of war” (military-grade weapons), jihadist literature, and IS videos.

It was a sobering presentation of facts we all had seen, but hadn’t been presented in such a manner. Given the roadmap that’s been placed in front of us and the progress radical Islamists have made on their plan, it’s more clear to me that we need to halt immigration now. Just as it would have been insanity to import adherents to the Nazi ideology during World War II, it is insanity to import adherents to Islam now.

Turning the tide on Benghazi

By Cathy Keim

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of Cathy’s coverage of last weekend’s Turning the Tides Conference.

I was able to attend the Maryland Citizen Action Network Conference (better known as Turning the Tides) on January 8-9, 2016, in Annapolis, MD. I had missed the last couple of years due to schedule conflicts, so I was happy that I was able to go this year. I have always enjoyed the MDCAN conference and this year was no different.

Friday evening started out with a dinner and talk by Kris “Tanto” Paronto, one of the Benghazi 6. Kris walked us through the 13 hours of Benghazi. He kept our attention as he described the situation in Libya, his role as a Global Response Staff employee for the CIA providing security for personnel in austere environments, and the actions that he and his fellow team members took to save lives that night even though they were told to stand down by the CIA chief in Benghazi.

Kris, Mark “Oz” Geist, and John “Tig” Tiegen have gone public to bring attention to Benghazi. Mitchell Zuckoff wrote a book based on their account called 13 Hours – The Inside Account of What Really Happened at Benghazi. A movie based on the book, “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” is being released on January 15. This trailer introduces the men behind the movie.

Kris, Mark, and John all worked with Mitchell Zuckoff and Michael Bay to be sure that the book and the movie were as accurate as possible. They acknowledge that turning 13 hours into a two hour movie would require some changes, Paranto added, but they were involved in checking the script and giving advice to be sure that the movie presented the facts.

I think that everybody was on the edge of their seat as Kris meandered through his story with amusing jokes that they bantered even during the attack. He testified to his faith in God more than once. All of the men were former special ops before they became private contractors, said Kris, adding that they would rotate in for two months and then out for two months because the environment was so stressful. All of the team were in their forties and Paranto felt that their experience is what enabled them to be successful that night. Lives were saved because they were able to work as a team, said Kris.

They have testified before Congress, but no answers have been forthcoming for why they did not receive back up. Debunking the official line, Paranto refuted the claim that there was absolutely no “protest about a video” prior to the attack. He encouraged us to continue pressing Congress for answers, because without answers nothing can be fixed to prevent this from happening again. Kris concluded by stating he is willing to die fighting, knowing that he hired on for a dangerous job, but he doesn’t like the story being distorted for political gain.

The focus on Benghazi continued on Saturday when the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi (CCB) gave an update on where things are at this time. A creation of the advocacy group Accuracy in Media, they state:

The purpose of the commission is to attempt to determine the truth and accuracy of what happened in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012, in reference to the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound, which resulted in the death of four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. Also, we will be looking at what led up to it, in the days, weeks and months that preceded the attack; and how it was dealt with by the Obama administration, the media and Congress in the aftermath of the tragic events of that day, which was the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. in 2001.

CCB member Lt. Col. Dennis Haney, USAF (Ret.) said that going to war in Libya was part of this administration’s plan to aid the Muslim Brotherhood in taking over North Africa. It allowed the flow of arms to go to groups in Libya.

Haney added that there are six hundred emails that were sent asking for more security, including 100 emails specifically talking about Benghazi. There were specific strategical and tactical warnings prior to the attack about the Feb. 17th Martyrs Brigade, the militia hired to protect the ambassador.

The CCB is looking at dereliction of duty by our government for not using our military to respond to the attack. The government’s response that they didn’t have time and that we don’t send people in if we don’t have intel is all dismissed by the CCB as being a lie.

Further, we learned the cover up by this administration and the media complicity is all being reviewed. An example of the media complicity, said Haney, is Candy Crowley’s comments in the CNN Presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, which were clearly prepared to skew the debate.

The CCB was pleased to see Rep. Trey Gowdy chosen to lead the House Select Committee on Benghazi, but with its lack of progress in getting answers now they are beginning to wonder if the Select Committee was compromised from the beginning. Something might still come of the House Select Committee, but hope is fading, said Haney.

On the other hand, they are encouraged that the movie being released this week will bring attention back to Benghazi. They would like to see people pressing Gowdy’s committee for answers to the questions surrounding Benghazi.

The Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, the release of the movie “13 Hours,” and the numerous interviews that the Kris Paronto, John Tiegen, and Mark Geist are giving all help to refocus attention on Benghazi.

It should be noted that “13 Hours” opens this Thursday, and it will be playing here at the Regal Cinema in Salisbury. Take some friends and go see it, knowing that it is depicting the real story.

Update: A friend just sent me these videos from Sharyl Attkisson stating that an email has been found showing that rescue teams were responding and were stopped. This is particularly incriminating information for the administration since it shows that help could have arrived before the last two Americans were killed in the Benghazi attack.

Odds and ends number 76

December 9, 2015 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Odds and ends number 76 

Once again I have a potpourri of items that I think need between a couple sentences and three paragraphs, so here goes.

Over the last few months I have followed the saga of atheists who have tried to have the Bladensburg Peace Cross removed thanks to attorney and second-time U.S. Senate candidate Richard Douglas. Early last week a federal judge dismissed the case in a brief, two-page order, although the plaintiffs promised to appeal. Douglas called the decision “a good day for liberty,” and I tend to agree. Kudos to the good barrister for lending a hand.

Something Douglas has stressed in his populist campaign is the plight of the working man. So while manufacturing jobs held relatively steady over the last couple months, those who advocate for manufacturing thought the job report was rather bleak. “It’s the latest evidence that manufacturing in America is at or near a state of recession,” said Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) head Scott Paul. “While much of the service sector is growing albeit with low wages, our goods-producing economy is struggling under the yoke of global weakness and China’s massive industrial overcapacity.”

That imbalance with China was also the subject of print ads sponsored by another industry group, the U.S. Business & Industry Council.

Their point is simple: there were no currency manipulation provisions included. While China, which has a long-standing reputation for the practice, is not a part of the TPP, other members have also been accused of similar tricks. The USBIC apparently desires a united front among many of China’s regional trading partners.

Those who can’t find jobs often need government assistance such as food stamps (now known as SNAP.) But the state of Maine recently grabbed the notice of the Daily Signal for a proposal to ban the purchase of junk food and pop with EBT cards. Certainly to some it would border on nanny statism, but the state argues that:

“Our current food stamp policy lets water in one end of the boat while bailing out the other,” said DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “If we’re going to spend millions on nutrition education for food stamp recipients, we should stop giving them money to buy candy and soda. Maine is facing an obesity epidemic, especially among its low-income population, and we should be solving that problem rather than enabling it.”

In short, if you wish to gorge yourself on Skittles and Mountain Dew, find a job and get off the dole. Maine has cracked down on welfare programs since Governor Paul LePage took office – maybe Larry Hogan should pay attention.

Someone in Hogan’s administration got the hot water turned up on him, as the James O’Keefe video I talked about a few days back had the sequel. Now we know his deputy isn’t particularly into martial fidelity, but then again we sort of factor that into the equation anymore. This guy named Clinton was elected president for doing far worse, so perhaps being on the large end of the Project Veritas telescope will be a resume enhancer for this liberal deputy AG.

Chances are, though, soon Thiruvendran “Thiru” Vignarajah will be ignored by the media, sort of like what we’re advised to do by columnist, fill-in radio host, and would-be Congressman Dan Bongino regarding Barack Obama. Whether it’s gun control, border security, Syrian refugees, or simply his method of leadership, America is better going in the opposite direction our feckless President desires us to go. Simple advice that’s worth the read, as Dan often is.

Yet Obama’s government is still powerful and has the capacity to make peoples’ lives miserable. Take the Internal Revenue Service and a new proposed rule that will ask nonprofits to keep Social Security numbers for donors who give more than $250. Tonya Tiffany of MDCAN got her moment of fame as an advocate against this regulation.

Those who are interested in stating their case have until December 16 to go here and give their opinion. Operations which only have sporadic activities and run on a shoestring would be most affected, and MDCAN falls under that umbrella as their primary activity is the Turning the Tides conference each January.

As they argue:

The IRS wants to make non-profit organizations responsible for storing and reporting the Social Security Numbers for anyone who donates more than $250. This will burden the non-profits financially as well as increase your chances of having your identity stolen. It could also make it easier for the IRS to target organizations based on politics and move on to also targeting the private individuals who support those organizations.

On the latter point, I think back to the emotion surrounding donations to the side supporting Proposition 8 in California some years back (in favor of traditional marriage.) Even years later, those who chose to donate in its favor had to deal with its fallout. Instead of harassment from a group, though, imagine the full weight of the government harassing donors. The system isn’t really broken so there’s no need to fix it.

There’s no need to fix my e-mailbox, either. While it’s not completely empty, the remaining items deserve more of a hearing. Look for these in the next few days.

An update on Turning the Tides 2015

Maybe it should be subtitled: we won, so what’s next?

Regardless, the Maryland Citizen Action Network announced more speakers for their annual event coming up January 10 in Annapolis. The list now includes:

Dr. Alveda King
Niger Innis
Kira Davis
Sonnie Johnson
Scott Blevins
Leonard Robinson III
David Spielman
Dan Bongino
Cindy Strickline-Rose
Christina Delmont-Small
Wayne Dupree
Tony Ristaino

Obviously not all of these speakers are household names, even to me. Instead, they are local experts on topics such as Common Core, border security, political campaigning, and several others. One thing I’ve noticed is that many of them are minorities, which reflects a push toward outreach to that community which is long overdue.

Something they could use, even at this late date, are sponsors. It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t be a Bloggers’ Table sponsor but perhaps someone out there who believes in the new media can step up and handle that responsibility. I know I enjoyed the experience a couple years ago when I was there.

TTT2015 will come at an interesting time – just days after the new General Assembly is sworn in, but a week and a half away from the inauguration of Maryland’s first Republican governor in eight years (and just third in the last half-century.) It will give activists an opportunity to brainstorm and hear some ideas on how to make Maryland a better, more competitive state as time goes on. A lot of damage has been done in the last eight years and undoing it will take effort and cooperation between conservative groups trying to combat entrenched special interests who look at the Larry Hogan administration as a temporary four-year aberration before business returns to usual. Simply put, we have to plan this term in such a way as to inflict maximum damage to those interests.

Right after the election, I saw a meme that joked about the old white male face of the Republican Party – I think it was photos of Mia Love, Tim Scott, and Elise Stefanik. (In order, they are a newly-elected black female Congressman from Utah, South Carolina’s junior Senator who was elected to a full term, and the youngest member of the incoming Congress.) Yes, there are still a lot of old white guys in the GOP (including me) but times are changing. I fall neatly along the line between Baby Boomer and Generation X; I tend to identify more with the latter. But the Millennial Generation isn’t exactly waiting its turn, and that’s fine with me.

You can see some examples of this in January in Annapolis.

And now for something completely different: I have exciting news about a new advertiser tomorrow.

Keeping up the momentum toward a high tide for Maryland conservatives

The announcement came to me in the days following the election last week – luckily it’s not a completely pressing event so I could give you my observations this evening. I let MDCAN pick it up from here:

Maryland shocked the nation last week by electing a Republican governor. Not only that but Republicans picked up seats in the Statehouse and Dan Bongino only lost by a razor thin margin in a district gerrymandered specifically for a Democrat.  Marylanders are showing they are ready to reject one-party control over the state.

There is still a lot of work to do to maintain the momentum though. Turning the Tides 2015 is a key part of that.

Join us to learn about what strategies worked and what helped weaken the one party monopoly in Maryland. Come to learn about how to infiltrate the pop culture and reach out to new potential voters. Perhaps most importantly, join us so we can show the state and the country a united front for making Maryland into the “Free State” once again. (Emphasis in original.)

I did not make it to the 2014 version, which had an ambitious agenda but didn’t quite have the star power of the 2013 event I attended. That earlier event had the notoriety of Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, authors and columnists Diana West and Stanley Kurtz. and Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, among others. The 2015 agenda includes such topics as Pop Culture, Black Conservatives, Common Core, border security, video journalism, Maryland’s new administration, and what they call the Real War on Women. We just don’t know all the speakers and panelists yet.

If the funds are there, I would like to be in the house (or more specifically, the DoubleTree.) Last time I went they had a blogger’s row which really helped. But if you want to go, the tickets are discounted until November 28 and surely they make a nice stocking stuffer.

The silence of dissent

This actually came to my attention a couple weeks ago, but I thought they may get more response if I wanted until closer to the deadline to post this.

As background, the Maryland Citizen Action Network filed for 501(c)(4) status back in November of last year, and they’re still waiting. They then ask:

Will you let our voice be silenced by our now openly oppressive government?

The regulations that the IRS would like to impose upon MDCAN include prohibitions against sponsoring candidate debate, having to scrub candidate names from their online presence, and eliminating get-out-the-vote efforts within 60 days of a general election. On the other hand, as they point out:

Unions will be exempt.

The entire reason why MDCAN filed to become a 501(c)(4) – to create online petitions to fight bad bills, to teach our activists how to be better activists, to learn how to fight effectively – will be for nothing.

Will you let our voice be silenced?

IRS REG-134417-13 is the ticket to stifling opposition to the current regime. The IRS got caught being completely overboard when they tried to slow-walk applications and determine who to audit before, but this time they’re going to write the regulations before strangling potential opposition in the crib.

We are closing in on the deadline for public comment, which comes February 27. The group Protect c4 Free Speech has taken a lead on organizing opposition, and they’ve posted a copy of the proposed regulations. They remind me a little bit of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance restrictions which were properly thrown out with the Citizens United decision, except this seems a blatant violation of the First Amendment. What the IRS and Obama administration are probably counting on is time enough to chill opposition during the 2014 election cycle – they’ll worry about paving the way for Hillary Clinton in 2016 later.

In looking at the method of submitting comments, it’s worth noting that one can comment anonymously, which may not be a bad thing given the tendency of the IRS to find multiple excuses to audit those who express dissent. But comment we should, otherwise there will be a chilling effect on organizations trying to promote a pro-liberty viewpoint. Remember, unions are exempt.

Now I know some will argue that if an organization wants to preserve its rights, it simply can choose not to apply for 501(c)(4) status. But there are hundreds which have based on the interpretation of the rules in place, and the bulk of spending was by conservative groups. One advantage of 501(c)(4) status seems to be donor anonymity. And MDCAN is important to the Maryland pro-liberty movement based solely on their annual Turning the Tides Conference, a chance for right-of-center Maryland activists to gather and learn from each other. Obviously the group wants to adopt more of a role in Maryland politics and feels it needs the 501(c)(4) status for its growth.

Given the lawlessness of this regime I don’t really think the IRS will be a fair arbiter of status anyway, but these proposed rules really attempt to tilt the playing field. Let’s take them down.

Nine days to Hogan

According to John Wagner in the Washington Post, Larry Hogan will formally announce his candidacy for governor on January 21 in Annapolis. It’s two months later than some thought he would – and about six months after this observer thought he should get in – but nonetheless the announcement will come a week from Tuesday.

Even with the brief Wagner piece, there are some things to watch for. For example, Jeff Quinton notes that Hogan’s campaign chairman is a veteran of the Democratic Glendening administration, although Quinton later concedes James Brady has given mostly to Republicans in recent years. It fits in with the Hogan pattern of emphasizing support from both sides of the aisle, which has been a staple of Change Maryland’s rhetoric over the last couple years.

Personally, though, I would be more interested to know which legislators are planning to meet with Hogan this upcoming week. With just 55 General Assembly Republicans – who already have one of their own in the race in Delegate Ron George – the identity of those participants will be vital in knowing how the race will proceed. Obviously if a Democrat bucks party lines to show support for Larry it would be a coup, too.

And while I disagreed with Hogan’s decision to wait until January to announce, it will give his campaign the advantage of knowing where his opponents stand financially as reports for 2013 are due this coming week. If one of his three Republican aspirants trails badly in the race, we may see some consolidation knowing from past experience Hogan is willing to lend himself seed money.

Now it’s time for something a little different. Due to a confluence of events I couldn’t make it to Turning the Tides this year. But in the reports I’ve been seeing it doesn’t appear any of the gubernatorial candidates stopped by. That may not be the case, but I read from Facebook that David Craig’s itinerary didn’t include the event, and I would have thought either of the other two would have made sure to mention their attendance on social media. Since I’m prewriting this by a few hours I’m waiting to see some of the “blogger’s row” coverage but it’s disappointing to me if the GOP candidates didn’t get there to at least say hello. Maybe that’s how the organizers and activists wanted it, but I would be curious to know how (or even if) various campaigns represented themselves.

Anyway, the nine days leading up to Larry Hogan’s formal announcement will also be a time of transition for Change Maryland. Who will be put in charge of the 74,000 strong organization while Larry Hogan runs? And can they succeed as Hogan has?

There’s a lot to look for in the next week or two on the political front.

Update (h/t Jackie Wellfonder):

 

Thanks, Jackie! I kind of figured he would be there since it was close by for him.

Update 2: Here’s the link to his gubernatorial website, which just has an announcement slide at the moment.

A monoblogue year in review

Having a holiday schedule based on Wednesday holidays seems to play havoc with the news cycle, as there’s not much going on with Maryland politics right now. By the time the holiday hangover is done, it’s the weekend.

So over the next four days I’m going to provide for you a look back and look forward. As part of that, tonight’s post will be the look back, with some of the highlights of my political coverage – and a couple other items tossed in for fun as well. This is the first time I’ve tried this, so I’ll see how it goes.

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The year began, as it always does, in January. As will be the case even moreso this year, political fundraising was in the news as there was a surprise leader in the gubernatorial money race on the GOP side. Another highlight of the month was a spirited and enlightening discussion of state issues at the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting – something all too infrequent this year, unfortunately.

But the highlight of the month was my two-part coverage of the Turning the Tides conference in Annapolis. which had a plethora of good speakers and discussion. It was so good I had to post separately on the morning and afternoon events.

In February my attention was turned to several topics, particularly providing coverage of the financing and the events surrounding the Salisbury municipal elections, for which the primary was February 26th. A key issue brought up was a state mandate for the city to help pay for cleanup of Chesapeake Bay, to the tune of $19 million a year.

Another state mandate took center stage in February, as the Wicomico County Council held a Tier Map forum to find out citizens weren’t exactly enamored with the idea. As part of that I read from my written testimony on a Tier Map repeal bill, which wasn’t the only testimony I wrote – I also put in my two cents on the gun grab bill.

We also found out that month that the Maryland GOP would get new leadership following the resignation of Chair Alex Mooney.

March found me continuing my coverage of the Salisbury city elections, but only backing one candidate. More important were local developments on the state level, where the Second Amendment was a hot topic for a local townhall meeting and our county’s Lincoln Day Dinner.

But the highlight for me, by far, was my day at CPAC. That turned out to be a two-part set of posts.

As the area began to wake up from a winter slumber in April, so did the political world as it turned from the General Assembly session to the 2014 campaign. The Salisbury city elections went as expected, so I turned my attention to the race for state party chair. Interim Chair Diana Waterman ran a campaign which was at times embroiled in some controversy, but prevailed on enough supporters to make it through the lengthy grind of campaign forums (including one in Cambridge on the eve of the state convention) and win the remainder of Alex Mooney’s unexpired term. But even the convention itself had its share of ups and downs, particularly a chaotic ending and a rebuff to new media.

While that was happening, the 2014 election was beginning to take shape, with familiar names both trying their luck again and trying for a promotion. Others had interesting endorsements as feathers in the cap.

But it wasn’t all political in April. The outdoor season began with two local mainstays: Pork in the Park and the Salisbury Festival. I also found out I was immortalized on video thanks to Peter Ingemi, better known as DaTechGuy.

Those things political slowed down in May, with just a little reactionary cleanup to the state convention to begin the month, along with other reaction to the recently-completed General Assembly session. In its wake we also had turnover in Maryland House of Delegates GOP leadership.

But one prospective candidate for governor announced other intentions, leaving another to confirm what we knew all along.

On the fun side, I enjoyed Salisbury’s Third Friday celebration with some friends and stopped by to see them at another barbecue festival, too.

June began with a visit from gubernatorial candidate David Craig, who stopped by Salisbury and in the process gave me an interview. And while he didn’t make a formal tour, fellow Republican Ron George made sure to fill me in on his announcement and establish tax cutting bonafides. We also picked up a Republican candidate for an important local seat and found out political correctness pays in the Maryland business world.

A local doctor gave us his perspective on Obamacare and our area celebrated the chicken in June, too. I also learned of a special honor only a handful of political websites received.

As is often the case, our wallets became a little lighter in July. In the aftermath, we found out who David Craig picked as a running mate and welcomed both of them to our Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. I also talked about another who was amassing a support base but hadn’t made definite 2014 plans at the time.

On the other side of the coin, we found the Democratic field was pressing farther away from the center, a place the GOP was trying to court with the carrot of primary voting. Meanwhile, the political event of the summer occurred in Crisfield, and I was there.

There were some interesting developments in the new media world as well – a plea for help, a shakeup in local internet radio, and my annual monoblogue Accountability Project all came down in July.

The big news in August was the resignation of State Senator E.J. Pipkin, and the battle to succeed him. And while one gubernatorial candidate dropped out, another made his intentions formal and stopped by our Wicomico County Republican Club meeting as well. Even Ron George stopped by our fair county, although I missed him.

It seemed like the gubernatorial campaign got into full swing in September – Charles Lollar announced in an unusual location, the Brown/Ulman Democratic team came here looking for money, Ron George tangled with Texas governor Rick Perry and showed up to make it three Wicomico County Republican Club meetings in a row with a gubernatorial candidate, and Doug Gansler decided to drop by, too. On the other side, Michael Steele took a pass. I also talked about what Larry Hogan might do to fill out the puzzle.

Those up the Shore made news, too. Steve Hershey was the survivor who was appointed State Senator, and I attended the First District Bull Roast for the first time. I’ve been to many Wicomico County Republican Club Crab Feasts, but this year’s was very successful indeed.

September also brought the close of our local baseball season. As is tradition I reviewed the season, both to select a Shorebird of the Year and hopefully improve the fan experience.

October was a month I began considering my choice in the gubernatorial race. That became more difficult as Larry Hogan took an unusual trip for a businessman and Charles Lollar’s campaign worked on self-immolation, while Doug Gansler needed his own damage control.

I also had the thought of going back to the future in Maryland, but a heavy dose of my political involvement came with the tradtional closing events to our tourist season, the Good Beer Festival and Autumn Wine Festival.

Most of November was spent anticipating the Maryland GOP Fall Convention; in fact, many were sure of an impending announcement. Honestly, both may have fallen into the category of “dud.” But all was not lost, as the month gave me the chance to expound on manufacturing and share some interesting polling data.

Finally we come to December. While the month is a long runup to the Christmas holiday, I got the chance to again expound on manufacturing and come up with another radical idea for change. We also got more proof that our state government is up for sale and those who are running for governor place too much stock in internet polling. My choice is still up in the air, even after compiling an 11-part dossier on the Republicans currently in the race.

Locally, we found a good candidate to unseat a long-time incumbent who has long ago outlived his political usefulness. And the incumbent will need to watch his back because Maryland Legislative Watch will be back again to keep an eye on him and his cohorts. I’ll be volunteering for a second year,

And while I weighed in on the latest national diversion from the dreary record of our President and his party, I maintained two December traditions, remarking on eight years of monoblogue and days later inducting two new players into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.

You know, it was fun going down memory lane for 2013. But tomorrow it will be time to look forward, beginning with the local level.

The buzz on our block?

Time to get back on the horse after a Christmas break.

I first heard from Sara Marie Brenner about a year ago when my friend Jackie Wellfonder became a contributor at her website, The Brenner Brief. Later our paths crossed when she was the Strategic Outreach Manager for the Franklin Center, the group who sponsored the “blogger’s row” at Turning the Tides 2013. That led to a subsequent edition of Ten Question Tuesday, and since I’ve tracked her accomplishments from time to time. (It helps when you’re on her very active e-mail list.)

I would describe Sara Marie as a serial entrepreneur; as she said in her TQT interview, “I’m always creating new things.” Sometimes her enterprises succeed, such as her writing career, which now extends to a gig for the Washington Times community page of bloggers, or her radio show, which left BlogTalkRadio and became a new network called Heartland Talk Radio. So far, however, it appears hers is the only show. That’s not so bad, though – there’s this guy named Rush Limbaugh who built a radio network on just one show.

Yet there have been some misses, too. The Brenner Brief now struggles to get more than one or two posts a day out of its stable of writers, and the PolitiGal Network alluded to in the interview no longer has a website, just a Facebook page with fewer than 200 likes. Her tenure on the city council in Powell, Ohio ended this year as she was defeated for re-election after just a single term.

Needless to say, Sara’s irons have been in a number of fires, so when an item announcing the formation of an entity called Buzz On My Block Media crossed my path I was interested to see which category it would fall under. Upon reading its description, I immediately thought of the failing network of hyper-local websites called Patch, which turned out to be a money pit for AOL. But I wanted her side of the story, so I reached out and asked her the question.

In the series of e-mails which followed, I found out she’d been working on the site for months – which helped to explain the paucity of Brenner Brief items – and that many of my questions were indeed covered on the site’s FAQ page. She also explained that selling local ads is a “completely different sales tactic” than selling national ads. “Local businesses want to see community, foot traffic, and be next to stories people are reading about,” Brenner explained.

One difference between her concept and Patch is that there will be fewer restrictions on geographic location. The Patch websites tended to cluster in the suburban areas their big-city papers stopped covering when times became tight, but Brenner’s concept is intended for most areas, except places “in the middle of the frozen tundra.” Starting next Friday, hers will be the first example, covering the city of Powell and surrounding townships. Each subsequent edition will require an editor and/or director to hire writers, solicit advertisers, and set up connections to cover its territory.

When reading her words and relating it to the possibility of making this succeed in our area, my mind thought back to the much-ballyhooed Delmarva Crossroads newspaper and website. The excitement of its opening petered out quickly and the enterprise barely lasted a couple months from start to finish. (The last update on the site, which is still in existence, was September 24, 2012.)

The site and paper had everything Sara Marie could ask for – a backer who is a local businessman, an editor who had previously worked as a reporter for the local Gannett-owned daily, and a small staff of professionals augmented by various local writers – and it went belly-up in a matter of weeks. Perhaps that was a function of insisting on a print edition of the newspaper, which was a local weekly.

On the other hand, Salisbury has a couple websites which purport to supplement the local newspaper, but have devolved to the point where much of the content is regurgitated press releases and the occasional on-the-spot or correspondent report. Editing at times seems to be a secondary concern; however, both these sites have shown far more staying power than Delmarva Crossroads did, let alone a fair number of their onetime peers.

Meanwhile, in Sara Marie’s description of articles about local businesses, the market here has that cornered, too. Metropolitan Magazine is very successful in its niche and has been for a quarter-century.

So it’s truly difficult to tell whether this venture will succeed as others have not. Obviously there are several ingredients necessary for success, chief among them sources of revenue. Someone has to pay for space on the site, and as I’ve found over the years it’s not easy to get local businesses to support a venture, particularly in the face of other rising costs and the assurance more established local outlets presents to would-be advertisers. That’s not to say a Buzz On My Block outlet couldn’t succeed here – perhaps as a refurbished web-only Delmarva Crossroads – but there’s a reason Patch failed and there’s generally not enough of a market locally to support both the struggling local paper and their outlet. It would take someone willing to lose money for the first year or two to make a go of this, and I can’t think of anyone willing to take the risk.

Maybe Sara Marie can make her local paper work, but I think the hard part will be finding writers willing to work for very little pay. Blogging is an inexpensive hobby, but few can make a living at it. It may explain why she has so many gigs.

Off by a couple days

Last week I said that Change Maryland may get to 70,000 Facebook friends by the end of the week; alas, I was apparently off by a couple days. Maybe it was the weekend ice storm which slowed them down, but Larry Hogan’s group eclipsed the mark earlier today. Here’s some of what the founder had to say:

The growth we’ve seen in the last few weeks is incredible. This further cements what we’ve been saying over the last two years: Marylanders, regardless of party, are ready to say enough is enough, and they’re ready to stand up together and fight back for a change.

When I started Change Maryland, my goal was to provide average Marylanders the chance to hold their elected officials accountable. I had no idea what kind of reaction we would get, so to say I am humbled by this amazing success would be an understatement, and I’d like to sincerely thank each and every person who has made this possible.

This campaign to Change Maryland has never been about Republicans vs. Democrats. It’s much more important than that. This is about all Marylanders and the future of our state. It’s about our children and grandchildren’s futures. It’s about all of us, working together to save the state that we love.

All that is great, and Larry’s group is undeniably one of the leaders in pointing out a number of flaws in the state’s current fiscal philosophy. But what I’m anxiously awaiting to find out is what prescriptions a Hogan adminstration would have to address the problems should he be fortunate enough to move into Government House thirteen months from now. We know all about the dozens and dozens of tax increases which have been placed into effect by Martin O’Malley and his (mostly) Democratic allies in the General Assembly; it’s a litany the release alluded to this afternoon:

The group has gained much attention for its various studies on the economic impact of the O’Malley-Brown Administration on the state, including a report detailing the 40 tax increases that have already taken $9.5 billion from the state economy and will take $20 billion by 2018. They also conducted the Tax Migration Study that showed 31,000 Marylanders leaving the state after the administration’s historic tax increases, taking with them an additional $1.7 billion.

But which ones would be the most likely to be set aside and which ones will be found to be necessary for maintaining a balanced budget in this state? And speaking of that end, what will Larry’s spending priorities be?

Obviously I don’t want to diminish the achievement of Change Maryland, which simply by its name has an image of reversing some of the state’s downward trend over the last seven years. But the question has to be asked about whether all 70,000 will be on board once Larry has to stop identifying the problems and begin to address them with a gubernatorial platform.

I’m not privy to his formal announcement date aside from being told it would be next month, but if Larry wanted to speak to some of the state’s leading conservative activists, he may want to consider having Change Maryland sponsor the Turning the Tides Conference on January 10-11 in Annapolis. That would be a great way for any candidate to consider showing off his or her conservative side.

Going national

Normally in the state conventions leading up to a primary election, candidates for elected office scurry around, gladhanding the attendees and hosting hospitality parties therein. This is the path contender Ron George has chosen, alerting those of us on his e-mail list of his intentions today. He’ll be there, but at a much smaller scale than presumable future opponent Larry Hogan, whose nascent campaign has pushed a major event and announcement tomorrow night as well.

On the other hand, a competing event in Arizona has drawn two of the other challengers. The Republican Governors Association meets there this week and both David Craig and Charles Lollar have chosen to attend that gathering instead of the state convention, with Craig making a presentation there according to campaign spokesman Jim Pettit, quoted in the Baltimore Sun.

Not to be outdone, Lollar posted a photo on his campaign Facebook page with recently re-elected New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Having Craig there may help provide Lollar cover from the naysayers who chide him for skipping party events, and he promised to be back on Saturday. But going to the RGA made perfect sense for Craig, who related in July that he would lean heavily on other Republican governors for guidance.

Since Hogan’s party has the prospect of sucking all of the oxygen out of the MDGOP affair, this may not be such a bad move. Certainly there will be representatives of both absent campaigns there, but with the convention coming just before Thanksgiving the news cycle created will be relatively short.

The event for which I’ll be anxious to see participation will be the Turning the Tides 2014 conference held in the very same hotel in January. Last year’s event was outstanding and organizers are going to great lengths to top it in 2014 by extending it to a evening/day affair similar to the MDGOP conventions. We’ll see who puts it on their calendar and who risks alienating a committed conservative crowd.

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