The message is one of real change, summarized by one line:
But now that the standard-bearer has been defeated, it is time to help build a home for the Liberty voters in the Republican Party here in Maryland and nationwide. And so, the restructuring begins with us.
I think I’ve said this someplace before but I have been a Central Committee member for over 6 years now, which means this is the fourth election cycle I’ve gone through. And every one of the even-numbered year Fall Conventions I’ve gone to – the ones occurring immediately after an election – resemble a wake in most respects. The only signs of life seem to come from the “renegades” of the party who are sick of losing and top-down leadership. Count me in among that group.
We’ve been told that the insurgents can’t win, so the people at the top have asked us to back (in order) Bob Ehrlich, John McCain, Bob Ehrlich, and Mitt Romney. Based on Maryland election results that would be foul out, strikeout, strikeout caught looking, and whiff once again. 0-for-4.
So it seems to me we have two choices: accept being a permanent minority and run candidates who scurry to the so-called center the first chance they get, paying lip service to conservative principles, or selecting a candidate who paints his political canvas in bold colors, daring voters to follow his lead. Some guy named Reagan did that pretty well, as I recall. Considering the record of success we’ve had, we may as well stand on principle and present a clear choice – am I right?
Obviously this all comes with a caveat, because Patrick McGrady of Maryland Liberty PAC – the sponsor of the e-mail message – has his share of critics both inside and outside the party. Some would argue he’s not a good role model since he’s failed to win elective office (he ran for Aberdeen mayor last year and lost.) Well, that makes him just as successful as a lot of other Republicans.
From what it looks like, the idea behind the e-mail was one of infiltration, a new “Renegade Room” of sorts. The group has raised enough to have a hospitality suite at the Fall Convention, where it’s likely they’ll be joined by several would-be statewide candidates trying to line up early support.
So I’m very tempted to ignore the postmortems on a campaign season gone bad, delivered by a group who has failed to make a dent in the Democratic dominance and had to be dragged kicking and screaming into opposing several key issues. (Note well that it was mdpetitions.com, not the state party, which led the effort against Questions 4, 5, and 6. I wasn’t seeing Alex Mooney or any of the officers canvassing the state campaigning against these ill-considered laws which will now be placed into effect, to the state’s detriment; in fact, two former MDGOP Chairs were instrumental in expanding gambling via crony capitalism.) I also know there’s a group out there who would like to see all new officers put into place before 2014, and while a leadership struggle is perhaps the last thing the Maryland GOP needs – consider the case of Jim Pelura – one can argue that the future can’t get any more bleak than an election where the national candidate gets less than 40 percent in Maryland and Congressional candidates average 33.4% between the eight – a number which includes Andy Harris’s 64% of the vote. The other seven come in at less than 30 percent on average.
Since the Democratic incumbents want to rest on their so-called laurels, we will have to stop bringing knives to a gun fight. Those who know me know I don’t often mince words and right now I consider the 66.6% who voted for the status quo as someplace between sheer idiocy and a state of woeful ignorance. Maybe that violates the old rule about attracting flies with honey rather than vinegar, but a spade is a spade and I saw no reason to retain any of the seven incumbent Democrats who ran when all of their competition was better suited for Maryland.
I don’t have the politician’s gift of gab, so I have to use the sharpest of words to state my case in written form. There’s a place for me in the new and improved Maryland Republican Party and the question is: who will allow me to find it?
The other night I wrote on Facebook that I was physically and mentally spent, and I meant it – the combination of a grueling work week at my outside job and the climax of the 2012 campaign was all I could handle and then some. I still don’t feel caught up and it’s been four days since balloting ended.
But I did get to see a story in the Washington Times about Maryland being a lonely state for Republicans. I don’t know how many years in the wilderness we have to go, but I am tired of the Fall Convention immediately after an election being like a wake.
What really took the cake, though, was a comment I received on Election Day post, haranguing the conservative movement for believing the re-election of Barack Obama was about free stuff. Well, what else could it be? Oh wait, perhaps it was that whole “war on women” bullshit mixed in as well, with a healthy dose of class warfare for good measure. As she (at least I think it’s a she) notes,
Did you lose every swing state because people in those states “want stuff”, setting aside the fact that people in the red states absolutely “get stuff” in higher percentages from the federal government than people in blue states? It is this patronizing attitude that will bring down the Republican Party – you cannot possibly fathom that people who voted for the other guy might have other motivations than “they want stuff.”
I’d love to see the proof of her assertion, but I’d also love to know what motivated the other side besides the items I brought up. It certainly wasn’t Obama’s economic or job creation record.
Yet it’s worthy of note that about 10 million fewer people believed the Obama story this time; sadly, about 3 million believed Mitt Romney less than they did John McCain. To me that’s the most worrisome part. I voted for Romney even though he was far from my first choice in the primary; those who were behind him from the start generally felt that he was the most “electable.” Obviously for the second time in a row they were wrong because Mitt Romney isn’t taking the oath of office come January. We’re stuck with another four years of this nightmarish regime, which will likely be detrimental on steroids given that Obama doesn’t have to face the voters again and has more “flexibility.”
Obviously the only perfect candidate in my eyes would be me, and I’m not running for president. You’ll be lucky if I run for Central Committee again the way things are going.
In this country, though, we have to face the fact that our current path is unsustainable. The problem is anyone with that message won’t be elected (ask Ron Paul followers.) The time for a band-aid approach is long past, but here we are treating the skin blemish of jacking up taxes on the so-called wealthy when there’s a gaping financial wound of entitlement spending which won’t be addressed.
If you had that motivation and still voted for the other guy, I’m not sure I or anyone else can talk you back from that state of delusion. Recovering from that generally takes a proverbial smack upside the head by a 2×4 – just don’t be surprised when that day comes.
To be honest, the picture part of this will be pretty lean. But here’s one of all the signage lined up along Glen Avenue:
This Election Day was a little unusual because I had to work – in previous years I was able to use a vacation day but my outside job is extremely busy this time of year. So I didn’t get to my assigned polling place (which happens to also be my voting location) until about 2:30.
As I noted on Facebook, the Obama representative was already there.
It is worth noting that in the time I was there I had only a few campaigners keep me company: one from the Bongino campaign who was there throughout, one volunteer representing the Maryland Marriage Alliance who was there about 3/4 of the time (and had also been there in the morning), a Democratic operative who was there for perhaps a couple hours, and at the tail end this guy:
Truthfully, by the time Muir got there I’m not sure it did much good, nor did about half of the 130 or so palm cards I had regarding the ballot questions. But he did get almost 4% of the vote, in line with previous LP candidates here.
One thing I noticed about this polling place – perhaps as opposed to the Delmarva Evangelistic Church where I had worked a couple times before and perhaps due to early voting – was that business just died after 6 p.m. or so. Once the rush of people coming from work subsided, we had little to do but talk among ourselves.
According to the state Board of Elections, just about 32,000 people came to vote on Election Day in Wicomico County after around 6,400 took advantage of early voting. So only about 1 in 6 voters decided to vote early here, but I think part of that was the crowd who used to come after 6 previously.
One thing I have heard in the post-election discussion, though, is how bad the turnout was nationwide compared to 2008. Barack Obama lost about 10 million votes overall while Mitt Romney failed to meet John McCain’s total by a couple million votes. Give or take, about 12 million people sat this one out and the question is why. But that’s one for another day and perhaps another analyst.
What I knew, though, was when I arrived at Republican headquarters to watch the votes be counted I could tell the mood wasn’t joyous. It simply didn’t have the sound of a victory celebration, and most likely it’s because so many of us were sure and assured that Mitt Romney would pick up about 52% of the vote. Instead, it seems like Rasmussen, the group out in Colorado whose economic math forecast a Romney victory, and even the Redskin Rule were all wrong.
Instead, the evening was a disaster for conservatives in Maryland and elsewhere:
Despite the thought that Romney could outperform John McCain, the final totals once again reflected a 62-37 landslide for Obama. Instead of losing by 25.4% Romney lost by 25.1%, meaning that we’ll catch up by the 2264 election.
The good news: Ben Cardin only got 55% again. Unfortunately he won by 28 points over Dan Bongino. But even with upstart candidate Rob Sobhani taking away more votes from Dan than Ben, it’s likely the final margin would have been comparable to the 2010 U.S. Senate race between Barb Mikulski and Eric Wargotz had Sobhani saved his millions.
All the time and effort getting signatures to place various ballot issues on the docket seems to have gone for naught as all three of those efforts passed. The closest ballot issue was Question 6 but the destruction of traditional marriage still passed with 51.9% of the vote.
Far from taking advantage of the Democrats having to defend 23 of 33 Senate seats up for grabs, the GOP lost 2 seats in the chamber and now sit at a 45-55 disadvantage. While poorly considered remarks by Republicans Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana were played up in the media, they somehow failed to notice the holes in the record of Elizabeth Warren (a.k.a. “Fauxcahontas”) of Massachusetts, who won.
Black conservatives took a hit as well: Allen West is trailing his Democratic opponent pending absentee ballots and Mia Love lost narrowly in Utah. While the House stays in GOP hands, the margin will decrease slightly so Obama had some minor coattails.
So what do we do? Well, on that I have to ponder some more. I just know I left the GOP party once Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were called because those were the linchpins of Romney’s strategy. And it will forever be debated locally whether the Maryland GOP’s insistence on helping elsewhere may have hurt the cause of local officials, but given the large margins of defeat it likely would have made no difference.
I’ve said before that Election Day is my Super Bowl and right now I have an idea of how those who were on the wrong side of the blowouts common during the 1980s and 1990s felt in the days afterward. I have a low opinion of many in my adopted home state who eschew logic and rational thought for free stuff and feelgood policies which will be detrimental in the long run.
But there is always hope and another election coming around the corner. The work has already started for that one.
I received an interesting letter today and it regards Question 7. I’m not going to reprint the whole thing (since I’m sure a number of my Republican readers received it as well) but I think the first few paragraphs are worth reprising. You’ll find out who wrote it after I finish – I’m saving that tidbit of information:
Dear Fellow Republicans,
Just like 5 years ago, West Virginia interests are flooding Maryland airwaves with false advertising trying to fool us into putting West Virginia’s interest first, even though it hurts Maryland.
Why West Virginia? Because that is where Penn National’s casino is located. A casino that West Virginia reporters call a “cash cow.” They can’t say that directly, so they hire fancy marketing companies to try and fool us – spending almost $40 million so far to defeat Question 7.
Penn National’s meddling has cost Marylanders hundreds of millions (of) dollars in lost revenue, and would cost us much more if they win in November. It is time we told Penn National to butt out!
We are FOR Question 7
We have teamed up to explain the history of Question 7 and why we are both voting FOR Question 7.
Ten years ago, when gaming (slots) was first introduced to the State Capital (sic) by Governor Bob Ehrlich, we were enthusiastic supporters, as were most Republicans. After years of back and forth, the Maryland Legislature in 2007 passed a slots bill, which was then ratified by the voters in 2008 (passing in every Republican jurisdiction in the State.)
Unfortunately, the 2007 legislation was hastily put together. It put our gaming industry at a decided disadvantage to surrounding states. To put this in perspective, Pennsylvania, which began gambling the same year as Maryland, received $1.5 billion per year in tax revenue while Maryland lost money.
Maryland Republicans supported bringing gaming to Maryland. But, as many of you have said, “if we’re going to have gaming in Maryland, we should do it right.” Well, we agree.
You know, though, it’s uncanny how often my fellow Republican Audrey Scott and I find ourselves on opposite sides of an issue. Her and co-author Michael Steele have exactly diagnosed the disease, but fail to come up with the correct cure.
But before I get to the meat of my argument, allow me to pick out a few points.
It’s worth mentioning that Penn National indeed owns the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, West Virginia but also owns the Hollywood Casino in Perryville, so they’re not a completely out-of-state entity. That Perryville casino has requested 400 slots be removed so the facility didn’t look as barren and devoid of players, as an empty casino discourages patrons.
On the other hand, MGM wants to be a party-crasher. This comes from a story I found in the Baltimore Business Journal:
MGM decided not to bid for a Maryland casino in 2007 when the state first opened the door to gaming, (MGM CEO James) Murren said. Maryland’s high — 67 percent tax rate on gambling revenue — the state’s resolve to own the video lottery terminals (VLTs) and its refusal to allow table games drove MGM away.
To me, this seems like a form of crony capitalism at its finest, and I wish the state would be as accommodating to securing productive jobs for Maryland residents as it’s bent over backwards for MGM despite their alleged ties to organized crime. The $40 million Penn National has spent has been matched by MGM and casino backers, potentially making this question a nine-figure bonanza for media and other related interests before it’s all said and done. (Hopefully Steele and Scott received a nice little cut for their efforts. It doesn’t hurt to have Prince George’s County ties as both authors do, either.)
The argument about Penn National “costing” Maryland hundreds of millions is also a red herring. Certainly a number of Maryland gamblers go to Charles Town, but there’s no guarantee they’ll suddenly cease to do so if and when a casino at National Harbor opens. And those who flock to National Harbor may well come from other Maryland properties, particularly the Maryland Live! facility in Anne Arundel County. (In turn, that Anne Arundel facility is blamed for cutting Perryville’s business once it opened.) The rosy revenue projections often given to Maryland gambling have seen their bloom fade when reality hits, and there’s no reason to expect this round to do any better.
The crux of the Steele/Scott argument, though, is the request for Maryland to “do it right.” They correctly point out that Pennsylvania is raising far more money – with lower tax rates – than Maryland has. In fact, Maryland’s tax rate on casino operators is among the highest percentages in the country (based on 2010 data) with only New York and Rhode Island in the same neighborhood, although Pennsylvania is above average as well.
But the problem Maryland alone has is the inefficient method of making changes. It’s a point I made back in 2008 to no avail, and we’re now stuck with the folly of needing voter approval to build a facility and place equipment inside.
Voting for Question 7 only repeats the mistake made because, sure enough, someone will come along and promote the next “can’t miss” venture and have to suffer through both a legislative process and voter approval to receive it. Many casino operators don’t like those odds (or those tax rates) which probably explains why just three of the five proposed facilities are in operation four years after voters approved them the first time. A valid question raised by opponents is why the casino authorized in Baltimore City is being promised now when ample time has elapsed to build a slot barn – are they holding it hostage to a better deal? And what’s to stop MGM from demanding a better cut down the road and holding National Harbor hostage?
Maryland casinos should have the flexibility afforded to the Maryland Lottery. When they wanted to join up with MegaMillions and Powerball they didn’t need voter approval; instead, they just went ahead and did it. Certainly there are a few Maryland residents and businesses pleased that a ballot question was unnecessary.
I believe the best way to give the state this sort of leeway is to reject Question 7 and force the state to come back in 2014 with a ballot measure repealing Article XIX of the Maryland Constitution. By repealing Article XIX, it once again frees the General Assembly to make necessary law adjustments because these lines will no longer be in effect:
(d) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, on or after November 15, 2008, the General Assembly may not authorize any additional forms or expansion of commercial gaming.
(e) The General Assembly may only authorize additional forms or expansion of commercial gaming if approval is granted through a referendum, authorized by an act of the General Assembly, in a general election by a majority of the qualified voters in the State.
So the game plan is simple: say no now and say yes to repeal of Article XIX in 2014. The National Harbor project is not slated to come online under its current schedule until 2016 anyway, so a two-year wait wouldn’t hurt the state much in the long run.
I’m not naive enough to believe that gambling can be eliminated in Maryland, for three of our neighboring states have let that genie out of the bottle. But if we really want to do it right, the small-d democratic idea of voter involvement has to be eliminated from the process. While the power of the referendum is a useful one, it shouldn’t be a substitute for a General Assembly doing the job it’s appointed to do in a republic.
I attended two debates tonight; well, I shouldn’t say “attended” for the latter because I wasn’t at the University of Denver.
As for the earlier of the two on the Maryland DREAM Act, I’m going to hold on that until later today. But I did want to talk about watching the Presidential debate tonight in the company of about 30 other Republicans at our local headquarters.
We were a rather comfortable group.
And it was a group which wasn’t overly loud or boisterous during the debate. Sure, they clapped a little at the appropriate times but no one did their best Joe Wilson impersonation and shouted “You lie!” at Obama, although he told a couple whoppers here and there.
Generally the feeling was that Romney won the debate, of course, but no one I spoke with thought it was an overwhelming victory. My feeling is that certainly it will be spun as at best a draw in the media, but the king of the teleprompter showed once again how he can verbally stumble around in search of a coherent sentence to say.
While I liked the format, I wasn’t always impressed with Jim Lehrer’s moderation. He could have run a tighter ship, although I suppose the way it turned out both candidates had their say. They covered most of the main points.
But I get the sense that Mitt Romney ran a little more to the center and I’m not sure he doesn’t run the risk of losing a little bit of his base by doing so. Granted, not many truly believed Mitt Romney was a rock-ribbed conservative but he sure didn’t embellish those points tonight either. It means we are going to need a very conservative Congress to work him in the right direction, particularly if he’s going to sit down with Democrats when he wins on November 6.
It’s worth noting that a lot of the Obamaphiles in the media aren’t very pleased tonight. I can understand why.
Sometimes things just fall into my lap and last night was one case. First was this study from State Budget Solutions which concluded:
Americans are sadly desensitized to the trillions of dollars in debt our states are facing. This report brings the debt closer to home by demonstrating that a newborn arrives already more than $13,000 in debt and that a family of four owes their state government $53,700,” said Bob Williams, President of State Budget Solutions. “It is the individuals and families who will ultimately bear this horrific financial burden if state governments do not get their budgets under control.”
The report is an extension of State Budget Solutions’ third annual State Debt Report, released in August showing that state governments face a crushing debt of more than $4.6 trillion. The analysis of debt per person looks at state debt per capita, per private sector employee, and the percentage of private sector gross state product (GSP). In each of the three categories, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Alaska are among states with the five largest debt figures. At the other end of the spectrum, Nebraska has the lowest total in each of the areas.
The largest per capita debt figure for all 50 states is Alaska, where each person’s share of their state’s debt stands at $31,141. New Jersey, Hawaii, Connecticut, and Illinois make up the top five states with the highest per capita share of the state debt.
Nebraska has the lowest total debt per capita at just $4,249 for each resident. Tennessee, Indiana, Florida, and Idaho round out the lowest five debt levels per capita.
Surprisingly – to me at least – Maryland was only 18th in per capita debt, coming in just a shade above the national average. But a recent vote by the state’s Capital Debt Affordability Committee might bump up Maryland’s ranking, according to fiscally conservative advocates Change Maryland. Larry Hogan, Chairman of Change Maryland, takes it from here:
“The O’Malley Administration proved to everyone that with more revenues, come more spending. In their view, a debt-induced spending binge will somehow create thousands of jobs, the estimates of which are pulled out of thin air. This spending will do nothing for struggling Marylanders looking for work, nor will it improve our state’s dismal record in job creation.”
Noting that Comptroller Peter Franchot was the lone dissenter in the Capital Debt Affordability Committee’s 4 to 1 vote, which raised debt spending to $1.1 billion, Hogan said the split within the Democratic Party’s governing machine shows the arrogance of the current Administration.
“When our top elected official in charge of state revenue collections sounds the alarm about out of control spending, and the snooze button is hit yet again, it shows the current regime just doesn’t get it,” Hogan added.
The most recent 2012 National Governor’s Association report on state budgets shows Maryland’s general fund spending has increased 15.5%, three times the national average, and the highest in the region between fiscal years 2011 and 2013.
Taxes and fees have been raised 24 times since 2007, removing an additional $2.4 billion annually from the state economy.
“We have a spend first, ask questions later approach to governing,” said Hogan. “Far from moving Maryland forward, O’Malley’s record tax hikes, record spending and more debt has thrown us into reverse and put our state in a ditch.”
It’s very interesting to note as well that the lone dissenting vote was Peter Franchot, our Democratic Comptroller who seems to be staking out the most fiscally conservative position (by far) among the leading contenders on the Democratic side for Governor in 2014. He could well be Larry Hogan’s opponent if Hogan chooses to run for and wins the GOP nomination. According to the Maryland Reporterwebsite, the vote continued Franchot’s “long-running but losing battle against what he sees as overspending in the face of a sluggish economic growth.”
But if you add the $4.6 trillion state indebtedness to the $16 trillion (and counting) our federal government finds itself short, we’re now staring at $20 trillion. For every person in the WORLD (not just America, but the whole globe) that’s about $3,000 just for us, not anyone else’s debt. In dozens of countries around the globe the annual income is less than that indebtedness.
Of course, those who argue for adding millions to our state debt couch the argument as one of job creation. But what about future generations? Money spent covering the debt of the past loses a step in the economy – it’s sort of like the old “broken window” theory in that you’re creating a task but not creating more wealth through it. Yes, some bondholder is receiving money but no other production ensues in the transaction. On the other hand, keeping that money in the private sector would have provided an opportunity for general improvement both at the time the bond was sold and when it was redeemed.
Maryland never seems to learn that lesson, though. Instead they just keep chasing their tail through extracting more of a share of our incomes and consumption in order to redistribute it to favored groups and constituencies which can provide them votes. We need to get away from that vicious cycle.
Update: Don’t miss the link from Marc Kilmer in the comments, either.
This information comes to me from super-volunteer Cynthia Williams at our local GOP headquarters.
Joining thousands of other entities on both sides of the election, the Wicomico County GOP will host a Presidential Debate watching party at their headquarters on Wednesday night, October 3rd. The fun of watching Mitt Romney make mincemeat of Barack Obama – who will really have to try hard to sneak a teleprompter into the room to have any chance – begins at 8 p.m. with a short talk from local Romney campaign Chair Bonnie Luna about her experiences at the national convention in Tampa. (By the way, she didn’t come up with the “mincemeat” and teleprompter comments – those were mine – but I’m sure she would approve of the editing.) What Cynthia actually said was:
Please join us for this evening of fun, food, camaraderie and to watch Mitt set the record straight and prove to the rest of the country that he is the BEST choice to be our next President!
The debate itself will begin shortly after 9:00.
Williams also notes that “some folks have asked if they can bring snacks on Wednesday…any contributions of drinks/sweets/snacks are welcome!!! If you have any questions about this, please feel free to call Cynthia’s cell at 410-422-3870.” (They will have some to start, but why not help out and bring a little more?)
The local Republican headquarters is located at 800 South Salisbury Boulevard, directly across from the Giant food store.
If you are old enough to remember the 1992 election, you may recall that the usual two-player Presidential game had a party-crasher by the name of Ross Perot. Eventually after a few campaign fits and starts Perot got 19% of the national Presidential vote and allowed Bill Clinton to win with just 43 percent (incumbent George H.W. Bush received 38 percent.) Some say that the eventual result would not have changed even without Perot, and perhaps my little piece of anecdotal evidence bears that out – I voted Perot but had he not been there I would have held my nose and voted for Bush. On the other hand, I also talked my spouse at the time out of voting for Clinton and into Perot. (Or so she said.) Still, there’s a part of me which believes Bush may have hung on to beat Clinton if not for Ross Perot and the Reform Party. (Which, by the way, is trying to make a comeback in Maryland.)
So after writing on Friday about the recent Gonzales Maryland Poll (which posted yesterday) I saw a couple items on independent U.S. Senate candidate Rob Sobhani. This in particular piqued my interest.
“I hit the jackpot, I could have bought another house” Rob Sobhani today on why he decided today to run for the US Senate.
Perhaps Mr. Sobhani has a unique sense of humor I don’t understand given his Iranian heritage and loyalty to it, or Dan Bongino took him out of context. But then there was another item I spied on my Facebook page and alluded to in my previous link that led me to do a little research on the political donations of one Rob Sobhani. I’ll get to that shortly.
Worthy of note in this context is that Sobhani has run for the Republican nomination for Maryland’s U.S. Senate seat on two previous occasions – 1992, when he finished 5th out of a crowded 15-person field behind eventual GOP nominee Alan Keyes, and 2000, where he was runner-up to Paul Rappaport in an 8-way race.
Yet in his first FEC report on June 30, Sobhani recorded some typical expenditures. The timeline is as follows:
On February 5, the campaign paid Sullivan and Associates for legal services. They were paid again in May.
The Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies was paid $21,000 on March 10.
Presumably the polls were agreeable, since Sobhani paid a total of $142,171 to both Savanna Communications and Arno Political Consultants for petition services from April through June.
In addition he began a marketing campaign prominently featured on this website, at a cost of $1,800.
Finally, he hired Igoe and Associates as a consultant on June 15.
With the possible exceptions of Sullivan and Associates and hy.ly, the firms Sobhani used are fairly reliable Republican backers. But that doesn’t add up with his pattern of personal political donations.
I went to Opensecrets.com and pulled up a lengthy file of Sobhani’s political giving over the last 22 years. During a 15-year stretch from 1991 to 2006, Sobhani donated a total of $9,400 to a group of candidates which were almost exclusively Republican, with the one exception running as an independent. He also gave a total of $9,340 to the state and national Republican parties. His last donation to a Republican was to Michael Steele in 2006, who ironically ran for the very Senate seat Sobhani is trying for now.
But after a five-year hiatus, Sobhani started giving again – to Democrats. First was Milad Pooran, who was an also-ran for the Sixth District nomination won by John Delaney. Pooran was endorsed by a number of leftists including Howard Dean and Keith Ellison, the lone Islamic member of Congress. Just before the June 30 deadline, Sobhani doubled down and donated $250 to Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen, who represents the Memphis area. Most notably, Cohen sponsored a amendment reducing infrastructure funding in Afghanistan.
Perhaps it’s a way to burnish his independent credentials, but this seems quite curious for a guy who used to be a Republican to have gone so far to the left, at least in his political giving.
But rather than speculate on what his motives were, I wrote an e-mail to Rob and asked him a few questions point-blank:
Since you have run for the Senate before in 1992 and 2000, what made you decide to run as an independent? Was it a case of not having confidence in the MDGOP banner or did the party move in a direction you were uncomfortable with?
I noticed your last two political donations were to Democrats after a decade and a half of almost solid GOP giving? What was your rationale in doing so, given you have a message which is somewhat conservative?
I received Rob’s reply yesterday, which I am presenting in its entirety:
Thanks for your interest in my campaign. I am pleased by the support I have received so far and attribute it to the fact that my message resonates with many people in our state who are tired of politics as usual.
With regard to my decision to become an independent, I have lost my faith in both parties to fairly represent people’s needs today. Our economy is in trouble, and I see few solutions offered either by Republicans or Democrats. That is why I am trying something different. I think a lot of people share my thinking on this, let’s see as the campaign continues.
I have personally supported Republicans and Democrats in the past in cases where I believed the individual offered something important in the respective races. We should all be able to declare our independence in this state. Only by creating more jobs and getting our economy going again will we restore the quality of life we’d be proud to pass onto our children. At the end of the day, that is our duty, and it is more important than any party ideology.
I’m sorry Rob feels that way about the Republican Party, as I see it as the most viable vehicle to represent what the people truly want and need to have to prosper – freedom and liberty. And while he’s correct in assessing the fact our economy is in the dumper, the question of whether what he is proposing as a cure will work still needs to be explained a little more to me. Brian Griffiths at Red Marylandmakes an interesting case that Sobhani should run for a different office in a post which could otherwise do well as a hit piece:
…to me, the role that Sobhani is suggesting he fill as a U.S. Senator is generally filled by a Governor. Because it is the Governor who is more directly responsible for creating economic development within the state. Furthermore, I sure as heck don’t want a U.S. Senator who thinks that his role is to go to Washington and send the bacon home to Maryland, no matter where the money is coming from.
But the statement Sobhani makes about adding to races is more telling, and perhaps explains well why he’s gone from staunch support of Republicans to backing Democrats. I’m not sure what Steve Cohen adds to his race since he’s in a D+23 district anyway, but Pooran shares Sobhani’s Iranian heritage.
Yet in order to have a chance to do as Rob says and “restore the quality of life we’d be proud to pass onto our children” it seems to me there should be a set of guiding principles involved. Rob oversimplifies this by saying on his campaign site that:
The parties are both locked into narrow ideological agendas that prevent them from talking to one another or working together for meaningful solutions. As an Independent, I’m not beholden to either political party. I hope to bring people of goodwill from both parties together.
One man’s “ideological agenda” is another’s principles, and among Republicans we should hold these truths to be self-evident and we should sell out our core beliefs to no one. NO ONE. There really is no middle ground between freedom and tyranny.
And don’t we have a President who promised to be “post-partisan?” That lasted about as long as it took for a Republican to show some backbone and be greeted by the President saying “I won.” Compromise, rather than fealty to the principles which made our nation strong, has placed us where we are now.
There is one other observation for me to make, and if Rob chooses to hold his cards close to the vest on this point I suppose I can understand. But it’s another question which should be asked.
Over the last few years in the Senate, there have been two independents: Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. While the are ostensibly unaffiliated, in reality both have caucused with the Democrats as Sanders is an avowed Socialist while Lieberman was once a Democratic vice-presidential nominee and won his seat in 2006 despite losing in the Democratic primary and re-entering the race as an independent.
So let’s say Sobhani defies the odds and pulls the upset. Will he caucus with the Republicans because that’s his traditional political home and the side from which he seems to be pulling more support, or will he caucus with the Democrats based on the fact his Senior Senator is in that caucus? Or will he wait and see other results so he can gravitate to the winning side? Imagine the scenario of Mitt Romney winning the White House but the Democrats controlling the Senate by a 50-49 margin – will he sell his position to the highest bidder like just another business deal?
At some point he’s going to have to choose.
It’s a shame, though, that it appears Dan Bongino doesn’t want to include Rob Sobhani in the debates (at least that’s how the AP story depicts it.) Let Rob’s voice be heard, and let him answer some tough questions. I’m sure I would have some more.
Ben Cardin’s been in office for 46 years, and Dan Bongino has been on the campaign trail for 16 months. If money can buy a Senate seat, I suppose we will find out from a guy who’s barely been at it for six months and only officially announced four weeks ago.
Update: Mark Newgent at Red Maryland has unearthed the pitch sheet Sobhani used to gather signatures. I didn’t know that Rob was “pro-choice and supports gay rights,” did you? I’ll concede that, indeed, these issues are less important than fixing the economy (although Sobhani’s plan is dubious in itself – after all, wasn’t Solyndra a sort of public-private partnership?) but America is also better-served by those who believe in upholding traditional morals.
You know, it’s funny. In 1952, 11 years after the original Pearl Harbor Day, we were a nation which had just elected a President who promised to end the war in Korea. People were just as tired of war then as they are now.
And as those who experienced the day begin the process of yielding the field to a generation who may not remember it as much – my significant other has a child now in junior high who was but a 20-month old toddler when the Twin Towers fell – it’s certainly not the time to weaken the resolve mustered in this day by declaring it a day of service.
So it’s somewhat hard to lay out new ground to cover. But I still feel the somber occasion of 9/11 is important enough to devote a post to, timed in such a manner to coincide with the minute the initial plane hit the Twin Towers. Few who experienced the day would want to live through it again, but I think it’s vital to dredge up the unpleasantness because the fight is far from over. As my blogging friend and author Bob McCarty often writes in the run-up to his forthcoming book, “green-on-blue” attacks in Afghanistan are still occurring with distressing regularity. If it weren’t for the 9/11 attack we probably wouldn’t be in that far-off land.
This returns me to my original thought about 1952. Just a few years prior, we as a nation united to defeat not one, but two great powers attempting to end America as we know it. It only took us about 3 1/2 years to topple both Hitler and Imperial Japan – with help from several valuable allies, of course. The entanglement in Korea was a fight to contain a third enemy we were forced to make a temporary alliance with in order to defeat the Axis powers – communists.
Instead, both the fights – the one against radical Islam which started on 9/11 (although arguably it began with the Iranian hostage situation) and the mostly cold war against communism – keep dragging on because we decided not to use the overwhelming force necessary to win, instead adopting rules of engagement which encouraged “nation-building” and not crushing the enemy, which in this case is much less clearly-defined than in previous conflicts.
And there’s one other difference. Certainly in World War II we faced government-imposed rationing and shortages of items for the domestic market were common because we were devoted to the war effort. And indeed the freedom of our Japanese-American citizens was severely curtailed because there was a legitimate question on their loyalty.
Yet in this war the government has made suspicious characters out of most of us through the ubiquitous Department of Homeland Security, with one exception: those who should arouse suspicion because they’re more likely to be allied with the radical Islam we’re fighting overseas. Yes, I’m using a broad brush to paint a group of people but wouldn’t that be the more logical thing to do? It seems like the 99% who are innocent are more of a target than the 1% who could present a threat.
If there’s one loss which can be mourned from 9/11, it may be our freedom. Because we didn’t act decisively as a nation, we find ourselves in a weakened position on this 9/11 holiday compared to that of 11 years ago.
Once she was caught voting in two different states – and I’d love to know who picked up on that, because Andy Harris owes him or her a steak dinner – you had to know that Wendy Rosen’s days as a Congressional candidate were numbered.
Here’s what the Maryland Democrat Party had to say:
Today, the Maryland Democratic Party took immediate and decisive action and demanded the withdrawal of Wendy Rosen as nominee for US Representative in the 1st Congressional District after allegations of electoral law violations were brought to our attention.
In addition, at my direction, the Maryland Democratic Party submitted a letter to the Attorney General and State Prosecutor outlining all information regarding the alleged violations.
Any effort to corrupt or misuse the electoral process is reprehensible, wrong and must not be tolerated.
Per Maryland law, the Maryland Democratic Party will designate an alternate nominee to the State Board of Elections following a vote by the local Democratic Central Committees in the 1st Congressional District. The Party remains committed to ensuring that the voices of all Marylanders are represented and we maintain the highest commitment to the law and the Democratic process.
Not so fast, says the Maryland Board of Elections: according to state law, Rosen has to remain on the ballot as the Democrats’ standard-bearer because she didn’t withdraw by an August 28 deadline. According toreports, the state party conceded it would have to allow local Central Committees to select a candidate to run a write-in campaign.
As an aside, I find it interesting how our local paper, which rarely has anything good to say about Andy Harris, bends over backwards to say Maryland Democrats “allegedly” found evidence against Rosen.
But they also make the same assumption I would by figuring the write-in choice would be John LaFerla, who Rosen defeated by just a handful of votes (and who was endorsed by people and groups as disparate as former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest and pro-abortion advocates NARAL.) Even the third candidate in the primary race, Kim Letke, wrote on a LaFerla Facebook page: “You are up…get your bat and let’s get to work.”
Still, there are a number of people upset about the Rosen scandal, with one dejected supporter writing, “I can’t believe you could be so stupid: you have just given the GOP evidence for their otherwise baseless concerns about voter fraud!” (Baseless, my foot.)
Obviously there’s a difference in scale here – particularly since Rosen ended her race – but one has to wonder how much media play this will receive when compared to the Todd Akin story. All Akin did was make a somewhat foolish statement, for which he was roundly condemned. Yet Rosen is the latest in a series of Democraticofficeholders (or would-be officeholders, in her case) to consider themselves unencumbered by the law – until they get caught, that is.
As for Harris, his campaign manager Kathy Szeliga released a statement regarding the Rosen affair:
Andy Harris will continue to work hard throughout the district offering solutions to restore our economy and our nation. This development must not delay our troops serving oversees (sic) from getting their ballots and exercising their right to vote in such an important Presidential Election.
More interesting were the comments from Libertarian Muir Boda:
I do wish to commend the Democratic Party of Maryland for taking proactive steps in this matter. The integrity of our elections is paramount in the democratic process and it is unfortunate that this was not discovered sooner. It is even more unfortunate that anyone would seek office at any level (of) government and have violated election laws in such a manner, if in fact the allegations are true.
Though not the way I was hoping to be able to provide an alternative to the two major parties, this does provide us with an opportunity. We will now be directly competing with incumbent Congressman Andy Harris for the votes of moderate Democrats, Libertarian Republicans and Independents. Though we may not agree with Democrats on some issues, I believe we can sway votes by focusing on ending the wars, defending civil liberties and educating many on the advantages of free markets in addressing many of the issues that government has failed at regulating.
First and foremost we must be focused on reducing the $16 Trillion National Debt and the $1 Trillion budget deficit. This is the greatest threat to our National Security and we must come together and address this issue head on. Serious progress must be made on reforming Social Security and Medicare. We must work to reduce spending across the board to prevent a financial meltdown of the Federal Government.
There are two other observations to be made here. Let’s say John LaFerla is a write-in candidate and placed in candidate debates – does this mean the other current write-in aspirant, Mike Calpino, is included too? That would be only fair, wouldn’t it?
The second is whether the Maryland Democrats are putting on this show of being on the side of fair elections in order to bolster their legal case for replacing Rosen on the ballot despite the passage of the legal deadline, sort of like Democrats in New Jersey did in ousting scandal-plagued Sen. Robert Torricelli from the ballot a decade ago. I wouldn’t put it past them, although they may decide the long odds of removing Harris make that a hill they don’t wish to die on.
Obviously the significant number of write-in votes which will be cast will make it a longer Election Night for the counties which make up the First Congressional District. Still, in the end Andy Harris is expected to prevail anyway.
While I ditched one long-running post series Friday night and another will soon go on its annual hiatus now that the Shorebirds season is nearly complete, the “odds and ends” series continues to be a fan favorite. (It’s also a writer favorite, which is why I keep doing these 1-5 paragraph looks at interesting items I come across.)
First up are the Libertarians, which once again have made it to the ballot in Maryland as an official minor party. This means all of their Congressional and Senatorial candidates can run under the Libertarian banner. Locally, First District Congressional hopeful Muir Boda noted:
We are so grateful for the hard work put into this drive for ballot access. This was a true grassroots political effort that will offer real alternatives to the two major political parties. Thank you to all who petitioned and to all who signed the petition giving voters more legitimate choices in November. Liberty is on the ballot!
What I find interesting, though, is that the Green Party, which also secured the required number of signatures to appear on the ballot, only has a handful of candidates running in Maryland. I encourage them to get moving and fill their ballot spaces as well!
About 18 months ago I posted about the District of Columbia’s 5-cent-per-bag tax and efforts to make it a reality in Maryland. So far our retailers have remained unscathed for the most part, but a recent study done by The Beacon Hill Institute for Public Policy Research at Suffolk University in Boston indicates that the bag tax is neither producing the revenue contemplated from the tax nor significantly reducing the number of bags in circulation, to wit:
We project that a rebound in grocery bag consumption will lead to higher Bag Tax collections. Consumers will pay $5.74 million in Bag Taxes, with D.C. receiving of $4.59 million in FY 2016 (114.8 million bags X $0.04) and retailers keeping the other $1.15 million. This revenue will drain resources from the private economy of D.C.
All other things being equal, consumers will allocate a portion of their spending to the Bag Tax or divert spending outside D.C. to avoid the tax ─ both will reduce consumption spending in D.C. As a result, retail businesses will see a reduction in sales and profits and, in turn, reduce their employment and investment expenditures leading to lower wages and income.
The higher Bag Tax collections will destroy 136 net local jobs. The job losses will cause annual wages to fall by $13.73 per worker and aggregate real disposable income to fall by $8.08 million. The tax will also lower investment by $1.58 million, with the loss concentrated in the retail sector.
The lost income and employment will be felt in the collection of other taxes in D.C., such as the sales tax. We estimate that D.C. will forgo an additional $163,510 in sales tax revenue due to the Bag Tax.
In short, people are working around the problem and retailers are lax about the collection of the tax. To them, it’s just more paperwork they can do without. Just like any other tax – such as the 2008 sales tax increase in Maryland – people eventually will pay the additional tax a little bit at a time but that will leave them less money for other economic activities.
And the bags add up. On Friday I spent $200 at the grocery store and probably received 15 plastic bags. If you figure (anecdotally, of course) that an average family gets a dozen bags a week for various purchases, that adds up to $30 a year. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but if you read through the study you’ll find that other places which have adopted the tax increased it after a time – that nickel today might be a dime tomorrow and suddenly it’s a $60 annual bite.
Speaking of tax raisers, I’ve been getting a lot of shrill feedback from the Obama For Against America camp regarding the Republican convention. Let’s start with David Axelrod:
Judging from the number of times they’ve said it this week, you would think repealing Obamacare on Day One is the most urgent goal of the Republican Party and number one reason to elect Mitt Romney.
I’d like to know what’s noble about making it harder for people to get health care.
I’d like to know why you’re lying about the Republican goal, since it’s YOUR Medicare cuts which would eventually make it more difficult for seniors to receive care. Unfortunately, I doubt Obamacare would be repealed on the first day because I keep hearing this crap about “repeal and replace.” No replacement is needed.
How about Jim Messina:
If you’ve seen any coverage of Paul Ryan’s speech in Tampa, you know that the consensus among journalists and independent observers is that it was … factually challenged.
He lied about Medicare. He lied about the Recovery Act. He lied about the deficit and debt. He even dishonestly attacked Barack Obama for the closing of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin — a plant that closed in December 2008 under George W. Bush. He also failed to offer one constructive idea about what he would do to move the country forward.
Does Obamacare cut Medicare? Yes. Did the stimulus waste a lot of money and have few “shovel-ready” jobs to show for it? Yes. And that GM plant actually closed its doors in 2009, when Barack Obama was President.
Oh, and by the way Jim, that idea to cut spending to no more than 20% of GDP? That seems pretty constructive to me given our spending problem, with the trillion-dollar annual deficits your guy has run ever since taking office.
The ones who are “factually challenged” seem to be in the White House these days.
And then we have John Kerry:
I have one message burned into my memory for everyone who cares about the outcome of this year’s presidential election:
Respond quickly and powerfully to attacks from the other side.
What makes 2012 different from when I ran for president in 2004 is that the other side doesn’t have to wait for an outside group to come along with false attacks.
Consider this: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth spent about $23 million on smear ads against me in 2004.
This year, the Romney campaign and super PACs have promised to spend more than $1 billion.
Barack Obama has been a tremendous leader who has moved our country forward in more ways than we even probably now realize. He needs another four years to get the job done.
Shouldn’t that be “seared” into your memory, Senator? Of course, the $23 million in ads merely pointed out the truth! In fact, they probably didn’t go far enough in exploring your life as a turncoat.
I’ll grant that Obama is a tremendous leader – if you count leading from behind, that is – but as I point out to Jim Messina above the ones who are misleading voters are you guys. Ask Harry Reid next time you see him about the proof that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years, or else just ask him to repeat that off the safe zone of the Senate floor next time.
Oddly enough, each and every one of these e-mails asked me for money. Guess what? Thanks in large part to you, I have none to spare.
And it wouldn’t be Labor Day if I didn’t mention…Big Labor. If you don’t think Democrats and their toady groups aren’t scared, witness the bus driver protest in Montgomery County the other day. Montgomery County GOP Chair Mark Uncapher had the right comeback though:
(L)et me offer the SEIU bus drivers a test. If they want to take credit for kids making the honor roll, are they also will to accept responsibility for failing schools?
Of course they won’t, because those are always the fault of Republicans who won’t throw enough money at the schools.
Even though our convention is past, local Republicans aren’t done with the fun yet. The Worcester County Republicans will open their own headquarters on Saturday at 5 p.m. It will be located at 11934 Ocean Gateway, behind Sherwin Williams.
It’s good to see that other local counties are taking the step to open their own facilities instead of piggybacking from ours. Not that I mind the other counties coming here, but for convenience sake it’s better to spread the GOP wealth around. I was told to not forget my camera because “you may have a photo opportunity” so we’ll see.
But let me close with a sort of Labor Day-related question: is Barack Obama a communist?
Certainly he’s shrewd enough to not be a card-carrying member (not that most media would care anyway.) But this 30-minute snippet of an upcoming documentary called “The Unvetted” raises other disturbing questions about Obama’s background as well. This is what the Accuracy in Media folks write about the film:
A new film from America’s Survival, Inc. documents what journalist Cliff Kincaid calls “one of the most extraordinary cover-ups in American history — how a presidential candidate with a covert connection to a major Communist Party operative was protected by the major liberal and conservative media.” Kincaid is the president of America’s Survival, Inc. (ASI) and recently held a Washington, D.C. conference on “The Vetting” of Barack Obama. The 30 minute film “The Unvetted” is available for viewing for free at the ASI YouTube channel.
Since they’d like me to share, I will:
“The conservative media must stop protecting Obama from the scrutiny he deserves. Our film ‘The Unvetted’ explains this scandal and cover-up,” says Kincaid.
While the film is rather sensational, I get the feeling that this horse is already out of the barn. I doubt many people are going to have their minds changed by the film, about which filmmaker Agustin Blazquez says:
I’m now editing a full feature documentary that I want to have ready in September–the election is fast approaching! I have been running a marathon working 14 to 16 hours a day in order to produce these two productions on time.
These productions need venues.
With the recent success of the ‘2016: Obama’s America” documentary, the climate could be good for another such film if it’s well made. As for this one, you can be the judge.
You can also be the judge as to how successful this edition of odds and ends will be. Now that voters will be starting to pay attention I’m probably going to get many more items worthy of inclusion.
There have been a few seasons where my first Shorebird of the Week has been a comeback story where I’ve rooted for their success. In 2012 I’ll close with one.
After spring training in 2010, the once-promising career of Bobby Wilkins looked to be over. The onetime sixth-round pick out of Valhalla High School in El Cajon, California was released at the tender age of 20 – this despite a solid 2009 season (3-1, 1.73 ERA and a WHIP of 0.98 across two levels) which included 8 shutout innings in four appearances at rookie-level Spokane. (In the Orioles organization that would be equivalent to a stint at Aberdeen.) Perhaps the Rangers weren’t impressed that he spent three seasons getting through the Arizona Rookie League after being drafted in 2007, a league which annually receives its share of raw high school and imported talent to be evaluated.
But Bobby found a job pitching for the Kalamazoo Kings in the independent Frontier League. Unfortunately, he didn’t fare all that well there, going 1-3 with an 8.61 ERA and 1.94 WHIP for the league-worst franchise. The Kings expired after the 2010 season and it seemed like Bobby’s career would, too.
Now I don’t know who persuaded Bobby to give it another shot after not pitching professionally in 2011, but the Orioles picked Wilkins up off the scrap heap and sent him to Aberdeen, where he pitched decently enough (1-1, 4.66 ERA with a 1.66 WHIP) to merit a single Delmarva appearance in late June (1 scoreless inning with a walk) and quick trip to Frederick in early July (two hits and an unearned run in two innings, with a pair of strikeouts) before being sent here for good on August 1.
Since then Bobby has provided effective outings for the Shorebirds, piling up seven appearances where he’s allowed seven hits and two earned runs in 9 1/3 innings. So we may not have seen the last of Bobby in a Delmarva uniform or in the Orioles’ organization. Batters are only hitting .175 off him so far, even though he’s not known as a strikeout pitcher. He’s doing something pretty well and with every inning pitched Bobby is getting back into a groove.
Of course, whether the season’s end with Delmarva will provide a third and possibly final coda to Bobby’s pitching career remains to be seen – at this point he’s probably looked at more as organizational depth than as a prospect. But he’s been given a chance, and many players have made their comebacks through the ranks of independent baseball (current Oriole Lew Ford is one, as he was playing in the Atlantic League earlier this summer after last playing in the big leagues in 2007.) And at just 23 years old as of last week, he’s not all that far behind developmentally despite the layoff.
Those last two or three appearances down the stretch – in what many on the outside would consider meaningless games – can be the difference-makers in a player’s career. As Booby has learned the hard way, numbers which may look good don’t always save the day.
Next week I will announce my Shorebird of the Year as well as review the season.