A way to build Delaware manufacturing

I kept this article around for a potential upcoming “odds and ends” post, but the more I thought about it the more I believed it was enough for a standalone article. It’s a couple weeks old but certainly evergreen enough to be a timely piece.

Charlie Copeland, who used to be the Senate Minority Leader in Delaware once upon a time, is now the co-director of the Center for Analysis of Delaware’s Economy & Government Spending. (Yes, that’s a mouthful – so we’ll call it CADEGS.) So the CADEGS head wrote a post on the blog of the Caesar Rodney Institute that told me two things, one of which I knew and one I did not: number one, the one I knew, is that Delaware got a crapton of $ from the federal government thanks to Uncle Sam’s CCP virus spending spree – so much so that it’s remarkably not all been spent. But number two, which is the one I did not know, is that “Northern Delaware has over half a dozen former industrial sites waiting to be cleaned up and waiting for infrastructure upgrades.”

How does Charlie put one and one together? He adds, “By making a one-time investment from one-time federal funds into these sites, Delaware can create a magnet for private sector business investments in these locations. Imagine close to a dozen industrial sites ready for new, clean American manufacturing.” And this makes sense, since presumably these sites either already had the infrastructure needed onsite or it was there but needed a little updating and TLC. After all, if the company I work for can update a forty-odd year-old restaurant that had no grease interceptor (meaning it was dumping grease right into the system) I suspect piping at these sites which dates from the 1940s or 1950s can be replaced.

But the second part of Copeland’s wish list is just as important.

This true infrastructure investment would be a good start, and the next step will not cost any money. Delaware needs to dramatically improve its permitting process for business site investments. This requirement was made clear in a 2019 report released by the Delaware Business Roundtable on Delaware’s job-killing permitting process. 

As stated in the report, “The permitting process plays an important role within the site selection process. Site selectors and investors often view the process as a barometer for measuring how business-friendly or supportive a state or local community is to economic development and new investment.” And Delaware is viewed as unfriendly. As a matter of fact, one national manufacturing site selection expert stated that “Delaware is not on anyone’s list.” 

Adjacent states can often complete site and business permitting in six months. In Delaware, it can take as long as two years. Job creators have options, and they are opting to go to other states where they can get their businesses operating in one-quarter of the time than it takes in Delaware. The proof of Delaware’s failure is in the continued decline in our manufacturing employment, while nationally, manufacturing has been growing as the US continues to on-shore production from China.

Charlie Copeland, “Delaware Manufacturing Job Growth Opportunity“, Caesar Rodney Institute, June 30, 2021.

Having dealt with the First State for a few commercial projects, let me restate louder for those in the back, “Delaware needs to dramatically improve its permitting process for business site investments.” For example, we spent a ridiculous amount of time dealing with site improvements for a project on a rural corner that didn’t even see 1,000 cars a day and might only gain 50-100 because of the development. Business people who have borrowed thousands to make their dream a reality don’t want to wait an extra three months to open because state and county agencies can’t get their sh*t together.

What Charlie suggests is that the “site and business permitting process could be quickly streamlined by reassigning a few State employees into ‘permitting-process concierges’ who would keep track of the status of major projects (e.g., over $5 million in investment). At the same time, the State should create a government website ‘dashboard’ giving the status of all aspects of investments in the permitting process detailing when permits were submitted, the amount of time waiting for initial comments, and what agency is currently holding a permit (and for how long). These two steps – the concierge and the dashboard – would bring transparency and accountability to a very diffuse process.”

In other words, do what certain private-sector businesses do with high-profile clients who generally receive just one point of contact. That’s not to say that smaller guys should get a runaround, but if the red tape is pushed aside for the big guys, maybe that learning curve is made easier for the small fries.

I will say, though, that Copeland was thinking mostly about the northern part of the state. I would be curious to know if this same principle could apply to whatever portions of the old DuPont facility in Seaford remain unused now that Amazon has made plans to use part of it for a regional hub. Regardless, if gaining jobs in the Wilmington/NCC area makes them just that much more prosperous, then the burden on Sussex County taxpayers should be lightened too. As it is said, a rising tide lifts all boats – and this state could use a lift.

How not to be an aspiring writer

Every so often I have to feature one of these articles where either it’s people trying to tell me how to run my website or people trying to use what I built to advance their careers. This one is the latter, and I’m going to feature two recent e-mails I received. I’m not going to change the names because I suspect they are fake anyway.

Here’s e-mail number one, from Jacob Fowler. He wants to give me six months of pro bono work.

Hi there,

I’m Jacob Fowler – a freelance writer from Sydney. But I am also dealing with an issue I was hoping I could grab your advice on.

See, I’m trying to become a full-time freelance writer. It’s all I want to do with my life.

But here’s the catch…I can’t get work without experience. And I can’t get experience without work!!!!

To break free of this paradox I want to create quality, original and 100% FREE articles for your website.

Why? This way I build a portfolio and move towards my goals. More importantly for you – you get more site visitors, engagement from your audience, and improved Google rankings.

Are you happy to hear my 3 article ideas?

No pressure to say yes. No obligations to accept. Just a chance to hear what I could help you with.

Let me know

Kind regards,

Jacob Fowler

The first e-mail I received from Down Under.

In rereading this, I have an idea: start your own blog.

I have plenty of ideas already, and unfortunately my previous two regular guest columnists didn’t work out in the long run – although I would welcome them back with open arms, they seem to have moved on with life.

I remember back a decade ago when the internet was still sort of a new thing and many thousands, perhaps millions, of bloggers saw what happened to some of the initial pioneers and said, “I’d love to get in on some of that money.” Seeing the vast amount of potential content out there, certain entities began to whisper that, while they couldn’t pay people right away, working for them would “create valuable exposure” when all it did was make someone at the top wealthy – meanwhile, those who began working and managed to scratch out a bit of a living at first saw their paychecks melt away thanks to the competition of “real” outlets who already had paid writers (many of whom were eventually downsized out of a job, too.) It was always an excuse of, “well, our ad revenue didn’t meet expectations, so we have to cut back the pittance you’re already making by reducing the already-microscopic CPM payout.”

Anymore it seems to be all about marketing rather than talent, and Jacob, my friend, you have marketed up the wrong tree. And by the way, you don’t discuss what happens after six months – am I stuck buying six more articles from you at full retail price because I got ten for a penny? (People who grew up pre-1990 will get the reference, I’m sure. But it will go over Jacob’s head.)

Now let me introduce you to Natalie James.

Hi there,

I’m Natalie – a freelance ghostwriter, which means I write articles for businesses to use on their websites.

I’m reaching out to you because I’d like to write for gmail.com. You’re probably thinking, “what’s the catch?”. Well I do get something out of it.

If you let me create free articles for your site you get an SEO boost, more site traffic, and a way for your site visitors to engage with your business and hopefully drive more sales.

In return, I get to build a portfolio that will help me kickstart a full-time writing career.

You won’t need to pay me. And I won’t ever ask for money. Just a chance to do what I love – which is write.

Please shoot me an email if you’re interested in hearing more.

Kind regards,

Natalie James

This was the second e-mail. Notice how they sound similar?

I believe I laughed when I saw the part about writing for gmail.com. Natalie – if, indeed, that is your real name – let me give you free advice: proofreading is your friend.

But let’s look a little deeper into this. If Natalie really is writing articles for businesses to use on their websites, wouldn’t you think she would have pointed out some of them? I’ve applied for and acquired a number of writing jobs over the years and, to a company or website, they have asked me for samples of my work. Free or not, I don’t believe writing for my small-time website that may get 10,000 readers a year is going to do a lot to boost your portfolio.

If you really get something out of writing for free, I’m going to give you the same advice I gave Jacob: start a blog. I believe Blogspot is still around; or you can work through WordPress.com.

This site is a labor of love for me, and as such it’s not something that pays the bills. A rattle of the tip jar happens about as frequently as an earthquake around here, which is why my PayPal account is dry as a bone. (That and I stopped doing record reviews and actively seeking ads.)

Natalie told me this would be a win-win, and perhaps it was: she got a little free advice and I got some content that hopefully held the reader’s interest for a little over 900 words, my part being about 650 of them. I wish both her and Jacob luck, because they’re going to need it.

An upcoming discussion on Critical Race Theory

First of all, my post isn’t really intended to be the discussion, although it may end up being so. I’m just passing the word along!

Anyway, every so often I get something of great interest from my longtime fan and friend Melody Clarke (back in her local radio and officeseeking days she was known as Melody Scalley, so Melody’s name may ring a bell with longtime readers – and the pun wasn’t intended.) Melody has been with the Heritage Foundation for awhile now as a Regional Coordinator, and her region includes ours.

In this case, she is announcing that the Heritage Foundation is putting together an intriguing panel event to be held right here locally in at the Crossroad Community Church just west of Georgetown (it’s right off Route 404.) I’m going to let her announcement take over from here before I jump back in:

Please plan to join us for a special event about critical race theory. This will be a panel discussion giving you the opportunity to hear from individuals with special knowledge across a broad spectrum on this issue. We hope you will attend in person, but there will also be an opportunity to join the event by livestream. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask panel members your questions about critical race theory. We want you to fully understand this ideology and the damaging impact it is having across all aspects of our culture and American way of life.

What is Critical Race Theory?

When: Thurs. July 29, 2021 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Where: Crossroad Community Church, 20684 State Forest Rd, Georgetown, DE 19947

Panel Discussion: Hear from dynamic speakers on the roots of critical race theory and how to identify it, as well as how it is infiltrating our schools, workplaces, and the military. Panelists will also be equipping attendees with action items for what you can do to stop it from dividing our children, families and nation.

Panel Moderator: Melody Clarke, Sr. Regional Coordinator, Heritage Action

Mike Gonzalez, Senior Fellow, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy and Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Fellow at the Heritage Foundation

Xi Van Fleet, A Chinese immigrant who has never before been involved politically. Compelled by her own experience in the Chinese Cultural Revolution, she has committed herself to warn the American people of the danger of Cultural Marxism and to help them to clearly see what is really happening in America.

Jonathan Butcher, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Heritage Foundation.

Shawntel Cooper, Parent, Fight for Schools, Loving, dedicated wife, mother, (mommabear), who doesn’t conform to the popular opinion just because it’s the popular opinion.

Joe Mobley, Parent, Fight for Schools. He is host of the Joe Mobley Show and a disabled US Army veteran. Joe’s experience is exceptionally diverse and includes time in the military, law enforcement, church staff, and as a professional musician. He currently consults with one of the world’s largest and most influential firms.

Jeremy C. Hunt, writer, commentator and current student at Yale Law School. After graduating from West Point, he served on active duty as a U.S. Army Captain. Jeremy appears regularly on Fox News.

Stephanie Holmes, an experienced labor and employment professional and lawyer. Her legal career started at a large, international law firm where she represented employers in a wide variety of labor and employment matters, ranging from single plaintiff to complex class action cases. She then worked as in-house counsel for a Fortune 500 company.

Heritage Foundation announcement of the event.

This definitely sounds like it’s worth my time, and as an added bonus for me the Shorebirds are on the road that night so I’m not missing a home game!

CRT, and its cousin Action Civics, are topics I’ve visited recently on The Patriot Post, and – let’s channel Captain Obvious here – these are contentious subjects. Parents who oppose CRT in Delaware already have to gear up for a fight in their local districts, which will be mandated by the state in 2022-23 to teach public and charter school students about black history. And schools won’t necessarily be able to select criteria parents may deem appropriate, to wit:

The Department of Education shall develop and make publicly available a list of resources to assist a school district or charter school in creating Black History curricula. The Department shall consult with organizations that provide education about the experiences of Black people, or seek to promote racial empowerment and social justice.

House Bill 198 as passed, Delaware General Assembly, 151st Session.

Among these organizations being consulted are the NAACP, Africana Studies programs at the University of Delaware and Delaware State University (as well as their respective Black Student Coalitions), the Delaware Heritage Commission, and the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League. I would hazard to guess this will be a stacked deck in favor of emphasizing “restorative justice.”

It’s also worth pointing out that we have racists in our midst – well, at least that’s what they will be called by the other side because they properly voted against this mess. In the House that list includes Representatives Rich Collins, Tim Dukes, Ronald Gray, Shannon Morris, Charles Postles, Jesse Vanderwende, and Lyndon Yearick, and among Senators the five were Gerald Hocker, Dave Lawson, Brian Pettyjohn, Bryant Richardson, and Dave Wilson. So the concerned parents do have allies.

Having said that, I think there’s certainly a place for black history in the schools – however, it should be taught from the perspective that it’s our shared history, whether black, white, brown, yellow, or red. When it comes to blacks, we are a nation which has evolved from keeping blacks in slavery and treating them as three-fifths of a person (who couldn’t vote anyway) to having blacks in all walks of life, including the offspring of black fathers elected as President and as Vice President within the last 15 years with the support of millions of black voters. (Not to mention numerous other elected and unelected government officials, sports figures, and CEOs of major corporations.) I’m not going to lie to you and say it was an easy or straight path toward a colorblind society, but I would argue that, until we made a big deal of race in the last decade or so, we were raising the most colorblind generation that we had known in the Millennials – unfortunately, Generation Z has the serious potential to backslide in that regard thanks to misplaced white guilt, due in no small part to the effects this “1619 Project” style of teaching history have already had on us regarding events which occurred over a century ago.

Acknowledging that history and attempting to learn lessons from it is one thing, but believing that past discrimination justifies future discrimination is quite another, and it’s wrong. I encourage my readers to attend this seminar if they can, or just watch it to see what the race hustlers are up to now.

monoblogue Accountability Project: the 2021 Interim Report

I’m sure most of my longtime readers know that, for many years, I have embarked on what I call the monoblogue Accountability Project: grading state legislators on votes they made through my “barely left of militia” lens that has a decided libertarian and Constitutionalist sheen to it. (If you don’t believe me, just look on the right sidebar under the Amazon ad for my latest book. And that doesn’t show the decade-plus I did one for Maryland when I lived there.)

When I began the Delaware edition back in 2016 because I was working in the state at the time, I realized that it often takes two years (in other words, the full session) to acquire a baseline of 25 good, contested votes by which to grade the legislators. In 2019 I had an issue like I have this year, with a number of votes that would likely make the cut but, because the session is so long, no promise that I will have the same next year – especially in a year where all 62 members are on the ballot due to redistricting (which, in turn, will likely bring its own vote to be scored in the special session upcoming this fall.) I tried to do a 2019 report but found out in 2020 – perhaps thanks to the pandemic – that doing 2020 as a stand-alone session wouldn’t have provided nearly enough votes to consider. (In that case, I appended the 2019 report into a 2019-20 report and dropped four 2019 votes from the package.)

So this year I’m going to try a streamlined, stripped-down approach. At this point I have 26 votes to consider. As part of my long Independence Day weekend I did the research and compiled the chart I’ll need next year to do the full report, but for this interim report decided to grade legislators on a strict votes correct vs. votes incorrect basis, ignoring factors I use in the formal mAP such as absences and ducking votes. Instead, this relatively simple chart will have a ranking by percentage basis of all 62 members regardless of chamber.

The reason I’m doing it this way is that there’s no guarantee I’ll use a particular vote next year – there are a few that I suspect won’t make the cut but fill out the roster of 25 for now. One of them will be out for (almost) sure because I have 26 votes graded. (The caveat is that the 2022 session is so ambitious and contentious that I get 24 more votes to make it an even 50.) Just a sampling of the issues I dealt with this time: minimum wage, automatic voter registration, the renewable energy portfolio, educational issues such as school board terms and what amounts to a month of Critical Race Theory education, further plastic bag bans, the usual plethora of gun restrictions, and a George Floyd bill to handicap the police a little more. It’s sad just how many legislators got a big fat zero percent here.

It didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it because it’s an image file, but you get the idea.

Those of you who live in the districts with Republicans may want to consider goading your representatives to do a little better. Those who have Democrats – and I know there are some districts where the Democrat primary is the decider because Republicans are outnumbered like Custer at his last stand – need to find candidates more toward the Ennis side, because the 0% side is constantly looking for Democrats to knock the centrists off.

And another point: I don’t like RINOs any more than you do, but sometimes they serve a purpose. In 2020 the GOP lost two Senators in Cathy Cloutier and Anthony Delcollo, representing Districts 5 and 7, respectively. Their lifetime mAP ratings were 5 and 11, respectively. However, they were replaced by Kyle Evans Gay and Spiros Mantzavinos, who collectively batted 0-for-52 this year. All they had to do was get three votes right to match the average of my worst RINOs but they couldn’t even do that.

As for the rest of the 0% side and my earlier point about Democrat centrists, there were a few ousted in the 2020 primary and in each case things got worse. David McBride’s lifetime 10 rating became Marie Pinkney’s 0%, Raymond Siegfried’s 16 rating in his brief tenure became Larry Lambert’s 0%, John Viola’s 9% lifetime score became Madinah Wilson-Anton’s 3.8% this year, and Earl Jaques’ 11% became Eric Morrison’s 3.8% this time around.

So I’m bringing this information in the hopes that 2022 brings the counter-trend at a time when Delaware needs it more than ever. We may be stuck with two more years of Governor Carnage and gerrymandered districts that will probably shortchange Sussex County somehow, but getting better candidates in all parties can thwart those statist schemes.

Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month: June 2021

June turned out to be quite the surprising month in the Shorebird of the Month derby, as the odds-on favorite for the honor had a pleasant problem: he was promoted with several days left in the month, leaving him short in several of the total numbers for June.

Shown in a July game against Salem, Mason Janvrin reached base in every game in June and 36 in a row overall.

However, an equally deserving contender arose from the pack, winning in a unique way: via the walk. While Mason Janvrin only hit a pedestrian .231/4/14/.826 OPS for the month, his on-base percentage of .390 led almost everyone else except for the promoted Trevor Kehe. His blend of power, speed, and a good batting eye – the combination allowing him to reach base in every June game he played in – was enough to win Janvrin the honor and make it two wins in a row for previously unheralded players.

Mason came to the Orioles from the University of Central Missouri in 2019 as a 14th round selection, despite hitting .418 his junior season. Sent down to the former Gulf Coast League Orioles like most late-round, small-college selections, Mason impressed enough people with a .341/0/12/.741 OPS start in 26 games (with 14 steals) that he earned a midseason promotion to Aberdeen, back when it was still a rookie NYPL team. In 16 Aberdeen games Mason hit .254 but without much in the way of power, compiling a less robust .567 OPS.

It’s possible Janvrin would have made it to Delmarva had the 2020 season gone on, but more likely in my opinion would have been a return to the IronBirds. Regardless, the 23-year-old Janvrin was probably destined for Delmarva this season anyway, but perhaps wasn’t expected to have significant time in left field as well as center. And Mason needed the good month, as it basically brought him to the Mendoza line overall – going into last night’s game Janvrin was only slashing .201/6/21/.684 OPS for the season and those numbers aren’t the way to become the first Janvrin to play in the majors in a century.

As you may have guessed, Gunnar Henderson was the early frontrunner for the honor but being called up with ten days left in the month denied him the opportunity to build up his numbers. Once Gunnar left, the best competition for the monthly honors was first baseman TT Bowens, who replaced my May Position Player of the Month J.D. Mundy.

Jake Lyons warms up before pitching in a June game against Salem.

We didn’t know it at the time, but 8 Oriole selections after Janvrin they drafted June’s Pitcher of the Month. Jake Lyons does not have the classic pitcher’s physique – Baseball Reference lists him at 6′-5″ and 280 pounds – but in the times I have seen him he does two things rather well: work fast and throw strikes. In June that formula was successful enough over 20 2/3 innings to give Jake both of the pitching wins he owns this season along with a 1.31 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. Jake struck out 33 batters to lead the team while allowing opposing hitters a .153 average and .450 OPS.

As noted, Jake was a 22nd round selection by the Orioles in 2019, two years after being drafted in the 22nd round by the San Diego Padres out of Weatherford College in Texas. A transfer to Oklahoma State didn’t necessarily help Jake’s draft position, but it may have allowed him to skip the Gulf Coast League and begin his career with Aberdeen in 2019, going 2-5 as a starter and bulk pitcher in 14 appearances covering 37 2/3 innings. Jake compiled a 2.87 ERA and 39/10 strikeout/walk ratio while with the IronBirds, which gave him a 1.115 WHIP.

Like most of the rest of minor league baseball, Jake saw his career put in pause mode and this season he is making up for lost time after a terrible May. Jake now has his season’s ERA down to a respectable 3.62 in 32 1/3 innings, allowing 13 earned runs and 26 hits to go with a good 40/16 strikeout/walk ratio. Unlike the revolving door we seem to have with position players, the Delmarva mound corps has stayed pretty much intact so far this season, perhaps because most of them did not pitch at all in organized fashion in 2020. We may see some bumping from below if Complex League pitchers start out well or the Orioles wish to start a draft choice here later this month, but Jake may be one of many pitchers who stay here for the season.

Unlike the position players, I had a couple good choices for Pitcher of the Month. I could have just as easily gone with Junior Feliz as well since he also had an impressive month on the hill, as did reliever Shelton Perkins (and his microscopic 0.32 WHIP, but in just 7 1/3 innings.) Lyons won this one by an eyelash.

I’m going to reserve the right to wait until August 12 to do the July winners since my first week in August is always taken up by someone’s birthday.

A whimper rather than a bang

For many years I made a lot of hay out of the fact that the Maryland General Assembly session is prescribed to last just 90 days, a time period I dubbed the “90 Days of Terror.” On the other hand, while Delaware does not have a full-time legislature, the relaxed and less frenetic pace of the deliberations (which only just concluded Wednesday after starting in mid-January) makes for a General Assembly that comparatively out of sight and out of mind – so much so that I found doing an annual monoblogue Accountability Project for Delaware doesn’t work.

Perhaps the extended time period leads to more congeniality. By my (admittedly rather quick) count, just 152 of 917 House and Senate votes in this portion of the two-year General Assembly term were contested. Looking through the vote tallies only, you find a lot of 21-0 and 41-0 totals, along with a growing number of votes that are blank because they were passed by a voice vote. (No one records if these votes were unanimous or who would have spoken out in opposition, and I suppose those in charge like it that way.)

And instead of being pushed into overtime by a need to pass a budget, this year’s session ended several hours early as the last recorded vote came sometime after 4 p.m. on June 30. All in all, it was a rather uninspiring session when it comes to accountability.

You may have noted that I stated the Accountability Project has to be semi-annual in Delaware, and here’s why. Because I prefer that votes be contested for the mAP, I begin with a base of 152 votes. Now you would think it would be easy to pick out 25 votes, but remember this covers both House and Senate so in reality I need 50 votes.

I start with 152, but the number dramatically drops because one chamber or the other (usually the Senate) has a unanimous vote and I want contested votes in both chambers. The other limiting factor is that many of these votes are on amendments that are only voted for on one side. I used to have a few of these votes in Maryland during the early days of the mAP, but I eventually streamlined the process.

What I think I will do in the coming weeks, though, is provide an interim report that simply tallies up the right and wrong votes of the legislator as a percentage of the bills that came up this year, without a great deal of further explanation that I use to build out my Accountability Project report. It’s actually rather easy to do and can be the beginning of putting together the 2021-22 mAP for Delaware.

And while I’m on the subject of future posts, methinks it’s time to revisit something else I used to do on a regular basis thanks to a chance encounter with one of those involved. Maybe I’ll work on it over this long holiday weekend. So besides that and the upcoming Shorebirds of the Month for June I will begin writing a bit in this venue. I’m looking forward to it.

If at first you don’t succeed, run, run again

Apparently it’s tough being a Republican in Delaware, because it’s not easy to find good candidates who want to spend months on the road all over the state only to lose by 20 points, give or take, on Election Day. Last year that was the fate of every statewide candidate the GOP put up, although three of the six (including Donald Trump) won the machine voting only to be swamped by the mail-in ballots.

Aside from LG candidate Donyale Hall, the other winner of machine votes was Lee Murphy. Of the sextet, Murphy came the closest to winning – that is, if you consider 17.41% close. (Lauren Witzke had the largest margin of defeat at 21.54%, which tells me people voted pretty much straight ticket. Even the Delaware House and Senate results fairly resembled that 60-40 ratio.)

He’s trying it again. The question is who will go with him.

Given that modest success – and the fact that 2022 will be a midterm election and won’t have Joe Biden on the ballot – Lee Murphy announced today on social media that he is giving a Congressional run yet another go. It will be his third straight Congressional run, having lost in the 2018 GOP primary to Scott Walker before winning the Republican vote over Matthew Morris last year. (Morris has since moved out of state, likely eliminating a second try for him unless he gets homesick.)

It’s hard to believe we are a little over 16 months away from the 2022 midterms, but no one knows what the state of the nation and electorate will be. Obviously any Republican in Delaware has an uphill battle, and surely Murphy knows that. But will voters clamor for a guy who’s become something of a perennial candidate since he’s basically run continuously for the last four-plus years and has already lost one race to the incumbent?

Because there is no Senate race and the only other statewide elections are for the more minor positions in state government – not saying AG and Treasurer are unimportant, but they aren’t a gubernatorial race – the House race may be the highest profile contest this time around for the first time in a long time. The last time this confluence of events occurred was 1998, since 2016 and 2004 were gubernatorial elections and in 2010 there was a special election for the Senate. (We all know what happened on that one. By the way, in 1998 the GOP won all three positions up for grabs, telling me that the DEGOP has changed for the worse.) So it would seem to me we would get more of an All-Star cast for the election, except that no one will be running from cover this time around because all 62 General Assembly districts will be new and no one will get a pass.

No disrespect to Lee Murphy, but here’s hoping he’s not the only one eyeing the seat. The Republicans have some good candidates (like the aforementioned Donyale Hall) who I think may give LBR more of the challenge she deserves for running solely on the basis of her melanin content and gender.

How to really Fix Our Senate

If you know me, you know I’m not much of a TV watcher. But for whatever reason we had our local news on and it morphed into the network news, then back to local news and various other programming that became sort of background noise.

But I noticed a political-style commercial that’s gotten some rotation, and once I saw it for the third time in two hours I decided to dig just a little bit. Turns out it’s a coalition of radical left-wing groups who believe that we could fix our Senate by getting rid of the filibuster – in reality that just puts a razor-thin majority in charge; one that could change at any time based on a sudden vacancy.

As they claim,  “Our highest priority is the elimination of the legislative filibuster, an outdated Senate rule that has been weaponized and abused by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to block overwhelmingly popular legislation supported by a majority of elected senators.” (What’s really popular among voters is photo voter ID, but no one seems to want to adopt that one. Not that it’s a proper federal role, anyway.)

But remember what happened in 2009 once Democrats were finally awarded a filibuster-proof majority that could ram Obamacare and the stimulus through? A month later Ted Kennedy was dead, and five months after that (after more dubious legerdemain from the Massachusetts General Court allowing Kennedy’s interim successor to be placed in office before a special election) that 60-seat majority was no more. I wish no ill will on any Senator, but in theory that Democrat majority is only as good as the health of any of its 48 Senators (plus the 2 “independents” who caucus with them.) Would they still be down with eliminating the filibuster if Joe Manchin decided to switch parties and suddenly Mitch McConnell was placed back in charge? Doubtful – they’d be back to where they were defending the filibuster just a few short years ago.

Being that we have two Democrat Senators here in Delaware (as that’s the state this series of spots seems to be aimed at) it seems like a bit of a waste to urge support unless they know that the people aren’t buying what’s being sold to back the move to eliminate the filibuster, which the FOS group describes as a relic of the last century.

Unlike the House, which has a strict majority rule and has, at times, decided key legislation by just a vote or two, the Senate is portrayed as the deliberative body. Eliminating the filibuster basically puts the Senate in the same role as the House, and that’s not what it was intended for.

But if we were to make a change in the Senate that would bring it even closer to its initial intent, we would take the real progressive step of repealing the Seventeenth Amendment. As envisioned, the Senate would return to representing the interests of the states, which has become more and more important in situations where Arizona wants to audit its election results and Texas wants to build a barrier at their border with Mexico because the federal government isn’t doing its job of border security. Perhaps such a move could hasten the necessary rightsizing of the federal government as well.

Of course, one would suspect this would put much of the electoral industry out of business – especially in a state like Delaware where there are more Senators than House members. But 2022 turns out to be a fallow year in the First State anyway since neither of our Senators is on the ballot, and it would make the local elections much more important as our General Assembly would eventually select the Senators. Imagine the emphasis shifting from a statewide race to races in swing districts around the state – districts that may see changes thanks to the new role the legislators would adopt.

Would that have an effect on the composition of the Senate? Of course, but not by as much as one might believe. At this point in time, there are 30 states where the legislature is Republican, 18 where it’s Democrat, and one mixed. (Nebraska is nonpartisan, but would likely lean GOP.) So eventually the GOP would get some degree of control, but in 2022 they would only gain three seats and it’s likely they would have done so anyway. (Mark Kelly in Arizona, Raphael Warnock in Georgia, and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire are Democrats representing states that have GOP-c0ntrolled legislatures. Two of the three won special elections in 2020.) Make this an issue in state races and there could be states where Republicans lose control of the legislature.

Because the other side sees the Constitution as a hindrance and not a North Star of guidance, I probably have a better chance of hitting the jab lottery than seeing change like the one I propose. But it’s a change we need to bring government back to its proper place. After all, if one state screws up we have 49 others to take up the slack, but when Uncle Sam makes the mistake we all pay.

There’s nothing wrong with the system that repealing the Seventeenth can’t fix, but once the filibuster is gone, well, so is our republic.

The end of an era

Back in February I commented on the passing of Rush Limbaugh, who was the influence that inspired the very name of this website. As I wrote many years ago on my “about” page:

The inspiration for “monoblogue” struck me one day as I was listening to “a daily relentless pursuit of the truth,” my daily dose of Rush Limbaugh. My favorite parts of the show are right after the top-of-the-hour breaks, where Rush goes in depth on a subject that interests him. No real script, no callers, just a passionate “shoot from the hip” where sometimes you’ll hear a near-shouting rant when he’s interested in a subject and it inflames his passion. One hour, he cited what he’d continue discussing in his next hour’s monologue and it hit me. This slight play on words was the perfect name for my website, just add the “b.”

The monoblogue “about” page, or as WordPress calls it, mission statement.

Fortunately or not, my website has outlasted the Maha Rushie himself and now it has outlasted his show.

I sort of suspected when he passed that the idea of having “guide-hosts” and playing snippets of his radio show culled from his wing at the Museum of Broadcasting over the years wasn’t going to be a permanent gig. I’m sure it kept its ratings for the first month or so, but I could sense that the listener interest was declining. Apparently the same held true for his syndication competitors – a number of Rush’s former stations (including one local affiliate, WGMD-FM) departed for the Dan Bongino show when it debuted in May, while others enlisted local hosts.

The ones who stuck with the EIB Network through thick and thin (including Rush’s other local station, WJDY-AM out of Salisbury) will now be treated to the tandem of Clay Travis and Buck Sexton. I seem to recall Sexton was an occasional guest host for Rush, which makes this seem like a logical succession (although dittoheads may have preferred Mark Steyn, since he was probably the second-favorite guest host all-time behind the late “black by popular demand” Walter E. Williams) but instead Sexton is being tied in with Travis, who is more known in the sports world. I’m not sure whether the show will compare favorably to Rush, but time will tell by the number of stations which drop or add the program. Perhaps it is time for a post-Rush radio anyway.

The person who may be crying in her beer the most over the show’s demise, though, is Chrissie Hynde. No longer will millions of people get to hear My City Was Gone fifteen times a week, and it’s probably ruined her music career because no one will hear that song without thinking of Rush. (I’m sure there was a generous royalty involved there, since there was a brief period some years ago where Rush couldn’t use the song.)

(Late edit: I listened to Clay and Buck on Friday and they indeed continue to use My City Was Gone. So Chrissie still gets her royalties.)

I wonder if Rush would have rather gone out on top on his terms, but then again he could have stopped at any time once he received his diagnosis and it became apparent no treatment would preserve him much longer. Ending it this way seemed to be more of a whimper than a bang, but I guess that’s the way it goes. We just have to carry on the work of preserving our republic without him or his show, although they are keeping the website.

It’s yet another reminder as I get older that time will go on without us.

The avalanche of “fake facts”

Being a blogger of long standing, I’m quite aware of where I fall in the news ecosystem. Since my site doesn’t exist to be a news aggregation site like some others I’m familiar with, I’m not the place for news – my niche is in the opinion genre. However, I do make occasional forays into first-person reporting when I go to events which create news or promote interests that I believe should be shared for the public’s good – not as many as I once did, say, ten to twelve years ago, but there have been a few over the last couple years.

However, in working for The Patriot Post (and later, writing Rise and Fall) I learned the value of checking and verifying sources. I found out that there are some writers on the Left who still practice the craft of reasonable journalism and some on the Right who are totally partisan rah-rah hacks that deal in rumor and innuendo that doesn’t pass the sniff test. Naturally, we could switch the political sides and find examples there, too – the point is that we shouldn’t go out and live in an information silo regardless of how tempting that might be.

(My advice to people like that: unplug social media for a week or two and bring your life back to balance. There’s this Good Book a lot of people have that is worth reading in the interim.)

As most of my readers know, I came across iVoterGuide several years ago and helped them evaluate Maryland candidates in 2018. We went through a lot of factual information in grading these hopefuls on their political philosophy, so they are a pretty good guide to what they called Five Ways to Spot Fake “Facts.” Alas, it was only an e-mail and not a link so you’ll have to trust me on this long blockquote. All emphasis is in original.

*****

As someone who seeks to be accurately informed, how can you protect yourself from believing and spreading false information? And how can you consistently spot the truth amidst an abundance of error?

At iVoterGuide, this is something we think about all the time. So I wanted to share with you five practical tools our team uses to spot fake “facts.” You can use these in evaluating the flood of information and misinformation flowing into your life every day:

  1. Recognize the difference between original sources vs. news or commentary. News reports, “fact checks”, editorials, and statements made by an individual are interpretations of an original source. For example, a certain law may be described as either “suppressing voting rights” or “protecting against voter fraud”. How are the words influencing your perspective?
  2. Check original sources, if possible. These are sources referenced by the news article, commentary, or individual. In the example above, reading the original source (the law itself) will tell you what the law actually accomplishes. And if you can’t conveniently get the original, just remember you are working off of someone’s interpretation.
  3. Check and compare multiple sources of information. Contrast an individual’s statement on social media to a news report on the same subject. Compare news sources with differing perspectives. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”
  4. Ask probing questions, even from sources you personally trust. For example: 
  • What makes this person/source an authority on the subject/issue?
  • What are their sources? Are they quoting eyewitness accounts, original source documents, or simply another news agency?
  • Does the evidence justify their statements? (This is very important when the author makes assumptions about a person’s motives or character.)
  • Are they accountable to anyone for their accuracy? (For example, a news reporter must comply with the journalistic standards of their news agency, in contrast to an independent blogger. However, it’s worth asking if the news agency is itself a reliable watchdog these days.)
  • Am I being presented with the whole picture/video/story? Has anything been edited out? Is a quote being taken out of context?
  • When was this written? Is the information up to date? Is it still too early to confidently know the details?
  1. Be mindful of your emotions. Even if the story or statement confirms your beliefs, it deserves an accuracy check before sharing. In opinion pieces, fundraising emails, or social media posts, both the Left and the Right can succumb to exaggerating facts in order to spur action. In addition, our fast-paced culture breeds impulsive decisions. Intentionally avoiding a reaction based in anger or fear, however, can greatly protect your integrity.

With a personal commitment to integrity and accountability to truth, you can avoid spreading falsehood and, most rewarding, discover the truth. In our present culture, those who know and spread truth are like welcome beacons of light to other truth seekers—and lighthouses to keep unwary citizens from dangerous rocks of deception.

*****

As I noted above, my little news niche comes from first-person reporting – generally in my “pictures and text” posts like my recent coverage of Patriots for Delaware or Mt. Hermon Plow Days. If there’s any gatekeeping, it comes from which photos I select or which quotes I use. Obviously I have a narrative I want to pass along in my reporting, although it’s generally dictated by the information I gather – unfortunately, sometimes I miss the best line in the remarks or the photo doesn’t come out.

But there are a lot of times that I’m the only one who bothered to cover the event, so unless you have some other first-person narrative you’re stuck with mine and it becomes the historical record, for whatever that’s worth. Still, I try to pass all the aspects of this five-part test above, and there’s a reason for that.

Many years ago, when I began this long excursion in writing, I told myself that I wasn’t going to write anything that would make me lose sleep over what I said. So I don’t get into gossip, and if that lost me a couple readers along the way, well, they probably weren’t going to stick around long anyhow. I just do the best I can with the talents I have, and I’m just thankful for all those thousands who have stopped by over the years.

Regardless, there’s some advice here to take to heart.

Pride before a fall?

It starts a day or two before. The rainbow motifs come out of hiding, getting ready to blossom on the first of June to scream out: it’s Pride Month! Americans are getting used to this product of the twenty-teens now, as companies big and small beg their indulgences from the most radical one percent of the maybe 1/25 of the population that is attracted to the same sex – or perhaps both sexes, or perhaps neither. (They all seem to be lumped together now.)

So say what you will about 2020 U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke, but she chooses to be the tip of the spear when it comes to controversy. Pride Month was hours old when she reclaimed it as Christianity Month, saying “It’s June 1st and a time to remember EVERYTHING Jesus has done for us. Glory to God!” Over 600 comments and counting later, she’s done quite well at bringing out that fraction of a percent to comment on her social media.

I don’t know why it is, but when I think of the so-called Rainbow Mafia – the ones who refer to the “sky fairy” and flaunt their sinful nature as that radical fraction of an already small population, I picture in my mind a passage from Romans 1:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Romans 1:21-32, KJV.

On the other hand, many LGBT people profess to be Christians, which I’m certain puts them in a quandary. Even though, myself included, we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God, they would seem to run more afoul of leading a Christ-like life given how they choose to be the subjects of the above passage. Be gentle with them.

Perhaps most infuriating to those who would prefer a more modest and moral world, though, is the willingness of entities large and small to kowtow to the Rainbow Mafia by slapping rainbow colors on their logo or having a “Pride Day.” Yet isn’t it our task as Christians to be humble and have humility anyway?

I suppose I look at it this way. I’m going to live my life as I would anyway whether people put up rainbows or not, and just pray that those who feel they have to make a show of their sin realize the error of their ways before it is too late. In this case, I guess I turn the other cheek. If it’s Pride Day at the ballpark or wherever, I’m just not going to be there. Others can knock themselves out because I don’t think I have the wherewithal to be silent and non-confrontational on such an occasion when it’s shoved in my face. I’ve run into that issue before when it comes to gay “marriage.”

Pride, after all, is a deadly sin – so why should we as Christians fall into that trap? We can make whatever month we want our personal month for Bible reading and fellowship with other believers.

Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month: May 2021

It’s been so long I had to remember how I titled these things.

After 20 months and the season that never was, I am finally back to one of my favorite regular posts. And let me tell you: the first one back was a real barnburner.

I had four legitimate candidates for the position player honors, many of whom are highly touted prospects and two of whom were promoted this past Tuesday to Aberdeen. (It really still seems funny to talk about promotions to Aberdeen after all these years of Frederick.) Any of the combination of Hudson Haskin, Gunnar Henderson, J.D. Mundy, or Jordan Westberg (the latter two being promoted) could have easily claimed the prize based on the month they had, with Henderson and Westberg garnering player of the week honors for the Low-A East. (Henderson was named the loop’s player of the month yesterday.)

For me, it really came down to a choice between Henderson and Mundy as the month wore down. My tiebreakers in these instances are how the player is performing vs. expectations (in this case, far exceeding) and how the player is doing fielding against the rest of the league and it turns out my winner has the best fielding percentage and range factor at his position in the league. So let me present my first position player honoree in 20 months, J.D. Mundy.

J.D. Mundy was a power-hitting first baseman who assured he wouldn’t be a repeat Shorebird of the Month by being promoted to Aberdeen at month’s end.

While it’s not as unique because the 2020 draft was abbreviated to five rounds, Mundy was an undrafted free agent signed last year by the Orioles out of Radford University – a school his uncle attended and close by his hometown of Roanoke, Virginia. (Perhaps Mundy would have preferred the Orioles wait until their first trip to Salem so he could play near his hometown, but certainly he’s not passing on the promotion.) Mundy transferred back to Radford after spending his first two college seasons at nearby Virginia Tech.

The now-23 year old Mundy made a splash in his first 20 professional games, slashing .324/4/20/1.038 OPS and playing a flawless first base in 17 of them. While he spent a lot of time as the DH in college and summer collegiate ball, the Orioles have been happy with his progress at first base and will challenge J.D. at Aberdeen.

As for a pitcher, one issue I’m having is the sheer number of pitchers on Delmarva’s staff. The one who statistically had the best month threw just 4 2/3 innings in May, which really isn’t much to work with. (Had he pitched in the game on Sunday instead of Tuesday, he would have been more of a contender.)

May Pitcher of the Month Xavier Moore is pictured during a June appearance against the Salem Red Sox.

Instead, the balance shifted to a pitcher who Mike Elias acquired back in March, 2019 for $750,000 in international bonus money. In return from the Minnesota Twins we got Xavier Moore – and in terms of acquisition mileage, Moore was well-traveled by the end of that day, considering the Twins had acquired him hours earlier from the Texas Rangers in exchange for OF Zach Granite. The Rangers had selected Moore two years earlier in the 16th round of the draft from Steele High School in Amherst, Ohio.

With the Rangers, Moore had reached as far as their Spokane affiliate, which at the time equated to short-season Aberdeen in ours. However, for the Orioles Moore toiled for the GCL Orioles, going 2-1 with a subpar 5.59 ERA in 19 1/3 innings, striking out 16 while walking 11 and allowing a WHIP of an even 1.5.

Thus far, though, Moore has turned things around to some extent. He’s pitched 12 2/3 innings, allowing just 8 hits with a 3.55 ERA to go with a 1-2 record. Most impressive, though, is the 22 strikeouts he’s amassed out of 38 outs. (The 7 walks is a bit of a concern, though.) Batters are hitting just .178 off Moore so far.

At just 22, Xavier is probably like most of the other Delmarva pitchers and shaking off the rust of a lost season. (He probably should have been here sometime in 2020, although he may have spent the season in Aberdeen then came here.) And while he has just one start, Moore has been a bulk pitcher in other appearances, pitching 4 innings apiece against Fredericksburg and Carolina in relief. (He got his win in the former game and a hard-luck loss on two unearned runs in the latter.) We will see what the Orioles decide to do with him and other would-be starters as the season wears on.

As for photos, I will add these once I have both players. I’m sure I have Mundy but not so much with Moore so I have to check. He was only here one game when I was and it was a late-inning appearance. Hopefully I have these May winners pictures up in time to select June’s on July 8th. (Indeed, I got Moore during his appearance on June 20, so the post is now complete.)