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.

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.

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.

Odds and ends number 104

Back again for more dollops of bloggy goodness as we wrap up the unofficial kickoff to summer. As always, these are items meriting anything from a couple sentences to a handful of paragraphs but fall short of their own blog post.

Rethinking the way we react

This is the subject of a short essay I received in my e-mail from Delaware state Rep. Bryan Shupe, who also does the Delaware Live news website. One thing that stuck out at me is that he seldom leaves comments on social media, noting:

This rethinking of my own reactions to social media has led me to rethink the way I interact with family, friends, and individuals in my community in person. Instead of proactively searching for opportunities to “spill tea”, like the comments section of a social media post, I look for ways to introduce positive things going on in our local community. I listen to what my neighbors enjoy doing and connect them with resources to help others.

“Rethinking the way we react,” Bryan Shupe, March 29, 2021.

I don’t leave a ton of comments on social media such as what I think Bryan is talking about, but when I do they tend to be lengthy. It’s hard to tiptoe on a line between making a point and being argumentative, especially when the opposition leaves or repeats tired talking points that exist more as conventional biased wisdom than reality.

But I look at social media as a way to advance my larger point as well as enhance whatever brand I have (since much of it is based on my writing.) Yet I have fun with it as well – after all, how much can you enjoy life if you’re serious all the time?

A strategic fade to the background

Back in April I discussed the rise of the Patriots for Delaware and what was happening to the 9/12 Delaware Patriots. At that point, the latter group was considering its options given an impending change in leadership.

Earlier this month I received an e-mail update which read:

We recently met to discuss the future of the organization and by majority vote, we support continuing this organization while supporting other fine groups such as “Patriots for Delaware“, “Delaware Gun Rights“, DSSA, TWAW Southern Delaware on Facebook, First State IOTC and many other conservative/constitutional groups.

“Happy Mothers Day” e-mail, 9/12 Delaware Patriots, May 9, 2021. Corrected from original to add TWAW link.

Reading on, they revealed that the twice-monthly meetings would remain on hold for the time being, “but periodic gatherings will be announced as they are planned.” However, I haven’t heard of any yet – no surprise since it’s only been a few weeks. I imagine they will be following the groups they mention around the state.

Taking up the slack in some respect, the Patriots for Delaware are restarting what was about a weekly gathering later this month after a short hiatus of their own. I bring this up because I saw they were planning another visit to Range Time on June 22nd and I may have to do double duty that night by checking that out and writing my weekly piece for The Patriot Post.

Defending the TEA Party

To be honest, this is more of an academic point than anything, but there are others like me who try to set the biased historians straight (sometimes by writing their own version.) One of them is Michael Johns, an original TEA Party leader who keeps his Twitter nice and sharp on defense, including this one.

Just because there was a narrative set by the mainstream media doesn’t mean they have the truth. If anything, there is more racism in the little finger of Critical Race Theory c. 2021 than there ever was in entire body of the TEA Party c. 2009-10.

From what I found in two-plus years of research and writing Rise and Fall – plus a decade of living it – the TEA Party couldn’t care less if their followers were white, black, brown, yellow, red, or purple with green polka dots. Their goals were simple: limited government with minimal taxation, and those who try to inject racism into the conversation are out-and-out frauds. So I have to give a shout out to Michael for sharing that with me!

Paging Captain Obvious

You know I usually like me some Bobby Jindal and Erick Erickson. I’m going to get to the latter in due course, but Jindal does better than most in summing up the point that Joe Biden isn’t the moderate people claimed he was. Indeed, he was a Trojan Horse.

Yet, the sad part (and this peripherally relates to the TEA Party section above, too) is Jindal wrote this before we learned that the GOP has lost a key argument.

(Biden) has adopted a lower public profile, contrasting himself with Trump’s outsized presence, and enjoys a favorably disposed media. Given those factors, Biden is using his political capital to advance a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure bill. While there is strong bipartisan support for investments in roads, ports, and bridges, the president has expanded the definition of infrastructure to include Medicaid and Community Development Block Grants, child-care facilities, public schools, community colleges, workforce training, and pro-union restrictions on employer activities. As Rahm Emanuel famously said in 2008, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

“Biden’s Trojan Horse,” Bobby Jindal, National Review, May 5, 2021.

I say that because, instead of using non-governmental means to encourage states to spend the money on their own infrastructure needs, the GOP is countering with a $928 billion infrastructure package of their own – never mind the trillions in debt we already owe. It’s infuriating to be reminded that neither side really cares about limited government anymore. And it’s no wonder why most speak of the TEA Party in the past tense.

Some advice on pro-life arguments

This doesn’t require a lot of comment, but it is important in engaging an audience. The group Created Equal has released a pair of videos that illustrate how a typical argument goes, and how best to counter the objections put up by those who believe abortion is necessary because “life is hard.”

One piece of advice to take to heart:

When people are hateful toward us, we remind ourselves that they don’t really know us at all. Had they encountered us shopping at Wal-Mart, they wouldn’t have treated us so poorly. The difference is during outreach they can’t ignore our faith in God and conviction against abortion. This is what they hate. Remembering this, we don’t have to get personally offended. It’s not about us, after all.

One Truth Will Help You Keep Your Cool,” Created Equal e-mail, April 27, 2021.

This actually goes in well with the social media commentary above. People seem to have a lot more bravado and a lot less tact when they hide behind a keyboard. I try not to write or say anything online that I would regret in real life, although political opinions shouldn’t count in that regard. Not that I’m going to apologize for what I believe, but it seems these days too many people have thin skin.

A batch of tough love

It’s been a couple months now since this came out (just before Easter) but I’ve kept this piece by Erick Erickson around because it is a good reminder of just how blessed we are to be in America compared to other places around the world.

Christians in America have gotten soft. We’ve turned the nation into an idol to be worshiped. We’ve become so convinced by the “shining city on a hill” rhetoric we think “It can’t happen here,” regarding persecution of Christians. We’ve turned the American ideal of liberty into an idol we worship. The religious liberty in the first amendment is meant to protect the religious as they seek to draw people to them. But the world demands instead that the first amendment be used to draw the religious to the world and silence those who refuse to go along for the ride. In making an idol of our democratic freedom, the irony is that many evangelicals in America are abdicating the use of it.

What Christians in the United States of America, who’ve had it pretty easy for a long time in the USA, have forgotten or never learned is that the world is deeply hostile to the things, and people, of God. Remember, one thousand nine hundred eighty eight years ago, the world chose to spare a criminal and crucify God himself.

“The World is Team Barabbas,” Erick Erickson, April 1, 2021.

But more importantly, Erickson makes the case that Christians are going to be perceived as wrong-headed in their support for morality based on the Biblical admonitions, correctly saying, “The world is deeply hostile to the Christian idea of loving the sinner, but not the sin.” The world equates loving the sinner with accepting the sin, and Christians shouldn’t go there even though it may create an awkward situation – especially this month.

I think that once I get a side hustle payment this month I’ll invest in his enterprise with a subscription. You should too.

Whose high standard?

In the category of “bloggers and blogging,” every so often I get a solicitation like this “sponsored content enquiry”:

Hello

Our editorial team are currently writing content on behalf of a major industry-leading client seeking to grow their digital presence via quality channels that offer a valuable resource to their audience. 

Your website monoblogue.us offers the high standard we are pursuing on behalf of our client and we would appreciate the opportunity to create a piece of sponsored content for your readership. 

Our content is created to a high standard, and in a way that will genuinely resonate with relevant audiences. We will include images and citations in order to ensure that the content offers genuine value to your site, and a natural fit for readers of monoblogue.us. 

If you are interested in publishing sponsored content on websites or blogs owned by your company, then please send us more details pertaining to:

(batches of crap I barely understand)

We look forward to your response.

Some media company that connects to over 20,000 blogs – or so they say.

Really, you’re not looking forward to my response.

When I think of outlets like this, I think of those people who put the annoying ads on websites like “One Cup Before 10 a.m. Burns Belly Fat Like Crazy – No Exercise Needed.” I realize people have to pay the bills, but over the fifteen-plus years of doing this hobby/obsession I’ve come to realize that, since blogging isn’t going to make me independently wealthy, the least I can do is not lose any sleep over it. And “sponsored content” that I don’t write isn’t the way to do that.

(Now if someone wanted to sponsor my “Shorebird of the Month” posts, like the one that comes out Thursday, that’s a different matter.)

But I’m really not interested in having a forum for someone whose first language isn’t English and can bear being paid a nickel for a thousand word column on some arcane subject of their choosing to write for my site. I’ve only had two other co-writers (by my invitation) and they were both well-versed, fascinating people.

So I think I’ll pass on the offer. Feel free to rattle the tip jar if you have funding to give me.

Programming note

I look forward to doing Shorebird of the Month – this may be one of the toughest pairs of decisions I’ve had since adopting the monthly format four years ago. But the winners will be deserving ones.

After that, my June docket is clear although I’m sure something will strike my fancy. This just cleared about 2 1/2 months of deadwood out of my e-mail so I’m happy about that.

Time for a new arrangement?

I didn’t really want to end a long absence from the site with my Shorebird of the Month next week (nope, I can’t wait to restart that tradition after an unplanned and extended hiatus) and, luckily, listening to the Dan Bongino radio show for the first time yesterday gave me an idea to bounce around.

[Dan’s show has a different, more serious tone than Rush, although Limbaugh lost a little of his sense of humor in the Obama-Trump years. But it was interesting enough for me to listen for the better part of an hour as I drove around to check things off the honeydo list. I actually set out at Phillips Landing (locals know where I’m talking about) for awhile to catch this part of the show in my car, so Dan sets things up well.]

The idea Bongino got into was the thought of how to preserve and expand conservative power. Given the successes of places like Texas, Florida, and other low-taxing, lightly-regulating states in the grand national scheme of things, Dan expounded on a two-pronged plan to bring back our nation to its time-tested conservative values, with the first part being simply: move.

I preface this part by presuming there are more people who prefer a right-of-center, populist political philosophy exhibited by Trump than the radical leftist Biden regime – which is seemingly propped up by allies in the media, both social and otherwise. Evidence to buttress this point of view is the number of people leaving states like New York, California, Illinois, and Michigan for the greener pastures of Texas and Florida. Among the crowd I’m most familiar with, South Carolina and Tennessee are also popular places to go. Anyway, these folks are among those who have already taken Bongino’s advice and made these already-red states an even deeper ruby hue.

It’s a theory that makes some sense on a Presidential and Congressional level: in the next Presidential election traditional red states gained on a net basis just by the shifting of seats from Democratic bastions like the aforementioned California and New York down to Florida and Texas – and this was before the pandemic and Biden administration. Accelerating the growth of Republican-led states gives an opportunity to regain control of the House and adds to the bank of electoral votes a GOP candidate can count on when running for President.

So those conservatives who are in regressive states like New York and California were advised to move and let the Left waste a maximum number of votes. But what of those who are stuck in these states thanks to jobs or family obligations? It’s a category that I fall into because my wife and I can’t telecommute and she has a close family.

Bongino was inspired by this piece by Michael Anton at the American Mind, and it reflects some writings I’ve made in the past about a greater Delaware and how it would play out politically. While the most recent news on that front has been about the concept of a greater Idaho (wonder what my old friend Marc Kilmer thinks about that?) Dan made a point about western Maryland shifting over to West Virginia as the areas are politically closer to Charleston than Annapolis – surely they get tired of their couple state Senators and half-dozen Delegates regularly being bulldozed in the General Assembly – but the same could be argued for the Eastern Shore. Unfortunately, they really don’t have an adjacent rock-solid conservative state so their best bet may be a Delaware merger.

(Another, more academic and judicial study on the state secession subject was written by Glenn Reynolds, if you’re interested.)

However, all this talk brings up a corollary point about Senate seats.

We know that the key reason we’re talking about statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia is the four Senate seats Democrats could count on winning. (If their motive was truly representation for District citizens, it would be easiest just to allow the retrocession of all but the federal buildings to Maryland. But that doesn’t give the Democrats two Senators since Maryland is already a lock for them, although it could eventually give Maryland another House seat.)

By that same token, creating new states out of Republican areas won’t fly with Democrats who wouldn’t want the two Senators who came from those regions. (One example is the state of Jefferson, often discussed by those same Oregonians who now want to merge with Idaho. Jefferson would include rural Oregon and part of northern California.)

Anton points out that, since the Missouri Compromise, states have regularly been adopted in pairs. That pairing may be more difficult to achieve in these cases, though, since few red states have blue areas that would qualify to be states by population.

But the principle of moving to red states would only solidify those places, and when you’re talking about Senators these states already send two Republicans. So I think I have a corollary to the moving blue-to-red idea: what about moving to the smaller blue states, like Delaware? It would be something on the scale of the already-existing Free State Project in New Hampshire.

For example, Vermont is a blue state but it only has 500,000 registered voters. Imagine if 50,000 conservatives moved in to tip the scales to making it more purple and Bernie Sanders became an ex-Senator. The same type of idea might work in other small states like Maine, Rhode Island, and – of course – Delaware. Think of what those eight Senators could do if these states were flipped!

But even if just a couple of these states could be shifted, that brings up other possibilities for county shifts. I’ve talked about Delaware as a larger state, but imagine the newly conservative Vermont picking up adjacent areas of New York or Massachusetts (and gaining electoral votes.) At that point all of electoral math starts to shift in favor of the working class over the elites.

And while I’m at it, here’s another idea for the hopper.

If we did electoral votes by Congressional district nationwide like Maine and Nebraska do, the electoral fraud perpetrated by Democrats would have had much less effect. In 2020 Biden would have still prevailed but more narrowly (277-261) but then again one could speculate what turnout may have been like in certain areas where people in the real world thought they had nothing to vote for and didn’t show up.

But imagine states thought long gone to the other side, like California or Texas, now coming into a bit of play because there may be three to five EVs in play there from swing districts. While Delaware will always perfectly reflect results of the entire state unless we somehow gain a second Congressional seat, under this formula Maryland may have two to three votes possibly swing to the GOP instead of being a usually dependable 10 in the Democrat column. This would have made even an election like 1984’s blowout a little more interesting – remember, Democrats always had a Congressional majority in those days so Walter Mondale may have easily cracked 200 electoral votes despite a double-digit popular vote loss.

So I think for my next post I will clean out the old mailbox again then it’s time for the Shorebird of the Month, which may come down to how top contenders do this weekend.

Disheartening numbers

No one ever said change would be easy. But the prospects for school reform in Delaware took a step backward in several districts.

You may recall a post or two ago I talked about dueling endorsements from the Patriots for Delaware (P4D) and the Democratic Socialists of America Delaware chapter (DSA), although the latter only implied their list was one of preference rather than endorsement given the “right-wing” nature of Patriots for Delaware. And by the time the smoke cleared on Tuesday night, it was apparent that the upstart Patriots group has some work to do.

Out of five (there was a late add in Smyrna) candidates that P4D endorsed, all five (including one incumbent) lost. The percentages varied from 20.58% for the Patriot-backed candidate in the Red Clay district to a close 47.92% from the incumbent who lost in Woodbridge. Even more infuriating, though, was that the quintet all lost to candidates preferred by the DSA. (In three of the races, it was obvious since there were only two running.)

But while the DSA could be happy that they knocked off all five P4D candidates, the other five they backed only went 1-for-5, including a big defeat here in my Laurel district. If anything, however, Ivy Bonk probably handed victory to the retread who was trying to get back in after losing last year because she split the opposition vote, meaning Joey Deiter fell seven votes short, 147 to 140. Bonk had 71, so it’s no stretch to figure most of those would have voted for Deiter if it were a two-person race.

So now that Patriots for Delaware has been through a race cycle, they have some lessons to learn. For one thing, candidate recruitment begins now. We know that pretty much every school district in Delaware will have a school board election next year, so there should be an effort to find someone in every district who can be trusted and won’t need vetting. (And some advice for those considering it: start culling anything remotely objectionable from your social media accounts.) We know those who purport to be “investigative” journalists tend to point their magnifying glass only one way, so be cognizant of that fact.

The second part is trying to figure out a way to seize the narrative. The key issues this time around were reopening schools after the pandemic and the battle against Critical Race Theory getting a foothold in the schools. Meanwhile, other kids in parochial schools have been in class all year and are being taught a proper appreciation for both history and one another. Find the success stories: good kids who go to these alternative schools (or are homeschooled) and hold them up as ideals when compared to public school kids. And ask the questions: why can’t public school kids measure up, and how are those on the school boards going to address the problem? (Hint: it ain’t more money.)

I know that P4D is trying to get people interested in taking the time to attend their local school board meetings, and that’s a good idea, too. If a rogue board knows there is public scrutiny, they may think twice about taking objectionable steps. Our side pays taxes, too – in fact, we may pay more than the other side does.

It was a great idea for Patriots for Delaware to take that first step, and now they have some inkling what to expect. Hopefully come May of next year, they will be celebrating some initial victories on the road back to sanity for the state of Delaware.

A tale of two endorsements

On Tuesday, voters across a wide swath of Delaware, including my home district here in Laurel, will choose at least one member of their school board in local elections. I noted awhile back that our one seat had four aspirants, which was tied for the most in the state, but since then one of them withdrew and left us a three-person race.

To be frank, there really hasn’t been a whole lot of media interest in these hyperlocal elections and I haven’t really come across much in the way of campaigning except for scattered yard signs from two of the three here in my district. Other districts, however, seem to have a little more action.

One of the rare stories regarding this race piqued a bit of interest on both sides of the political spectrum. A Delaware News Journal story discussing my newfound friends at the Patriots for Delaware (P4D) and the five candidates they have thus far endorsed also begat a counter from the Delaware chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) with “a statewide list of people running that we are not officially endorsing but are suggesting.”

Since the Patriots for Delaware only endorsed five people running – with one assured of victory because he’s unopposed – here are the four remaining contests where both sides have endorsed a candidate:

  • Brandywine (NCC): Tonya Hettler (P4D) vs. Kimberly Stock (DSA). There is also a Libertarian candidate, Scott Gesty – which is sort of bad news since they may split the reformer vote, but hopefully won’t.
  • Cape Henlopen (Sussex): Ashley Murray (P4D) vs. Janis Hanwell (DSA). Two-person race.
  • Red Clay (NCC): Janice Colmery (P4D) vs. Kecia Nesmith (DSA). Rafael Ochoa is a third candidate, who may get the vote of people convinced the other two are extremists.
  • Woodbridge (Sussex): Danielle Taylor (P4D) vs. Elaine Gallant (DSA). Two-person race.

It’s worth pointing out that the DSA didn’t necessarily seek out candidates, but are putting up this list because they seek what they call “real and positive educational leadership.” It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if their list isn’t a simple reflection of candidates backed by the teachers’ union.

Here in Sussex County, I’ve already covered two of the five districts holding an election (Indian River is not) and the Seaford district has just one candidate. That leaves Delmar and Laurel.

Delmar has some spirited races going because there are two races: one for the last two years of an unexpired term and another for a full term. Interestingly, the DSA chose not to endorse anyone in the Delmar races (the only such contests in the state) so we’ll let them fight it out accordingly.

In Laurel, the DSA chose a former school principal with the memorable name of Ivy Bonk, who hasn’t otherwise grabbed my attention (she has no signage that I’ve seen nor a social media campaign page) but does have the claim to fame of writing two books on childhood trauma. It’s interesting that the DSA did not choose the former board member who lost last year and decided to run again (David B. Nichols) and I didn’t figure on them backing the youth coach who has kids in the Laurel school system (Joey Deiter.)

To be honest, I think the best choice in these cases is generally the outsider since a new set of eyes can often see problems that exist right under the nose of the others on the board. This race has two outsiders, but one of them talks right over the head of the electorate with her buzzwords and jargon, a lingo which includes the concept of equity I’ve considered quite a bit recently. The other coaches kids and has a wife who runs a family business, so I believe he would be more amenable to the arguments I would make about instilling competition for the school system to make the prospects better for all children.

So I’m going to go with Joey Deiter. We’ll see if my endorsement carries more weight than the one provided by the Democratic Socialists of Delaware.

The only thing we have to fear…

I wish I could recall whether it was a meme or a social media post, but it made an interesting argument that the strife in our political life is caused by fear, and that both sides play the game. To a significant extent, I would agree with that assessment.

Yet it also caused me to take a look at my own life. To me, fear is perhaps overdoing a natural response to a particular situation. It’s like some people have a fear of going to the dentist – it’s not my favorite task on the semi-annual to-do list but I look at it more with apprehension than fear. I don’t break out in a cold sweat when I walk through my dentist’s door, even though I know my mouth may be a little sore for awhile as they catch those spots brushing missed for most of six months.

Unfortunately, some members of our society have shifted a lot of things we dislike onto their list of things we supposedly fear, and of course it has profound political ramifications.

Take the whole “white privilege” concept for example, which is often extended to other attributes held by the majority of people. Many people have projected one’s apprehension of dealing with people who are different than them or exhibit behavior they find offensive into a fear of an entire race or class of people. So people of a certain class or belief that those projecting do not like become naturally racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. when nothing could be further from the truth. Those of us who believe that Jesus Christ is our personal Savior have a phrase for this: “Love the sinner, not the sin.” Sometimes we have to exhibit tough love, and that advice or correction may not be what the recipient wants to hear – particularly in this participation trophy world.

And then we have the idea of equity. I’ve seen this illustration in a number of forms, but proponents of the idea like to use it.

What no one ever asks is how the short kid got the extra box. Illustration credit: Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire.

It’s a perfect illustration of a Marxist concept: equality of outcome.

Unfortunately, that can’t be guaranteed so obviously somebody had to come along and give the extra box to the littlest child. I would posit that if the tallest were a Christ-following child, he would have voluntarily shored up the littlest one by being charitable and giving him the extra box. That’s a method which has worked pretty well over the years, particularly in this nation which is perhaps the most giving of all nations.

However, there are some (although not necessarily including those who created and distributed the illustration for free, aside from asking for the credit which I provided) who believe that the tall kid should be forced to give up his box, even if he would rather take in the enhanced view, in the interest of “fairness.” (Then again, if he really wanted a modest goal to strive for he would scrape together the money for a ticket and watch from the stands.)

Moreover, there’s a group among the equity kids who further believe that not only should the tall kid give up his box, but he should be banned from the park entirely because he’s tall and thus has the privilege of height. They believe it’s perfectly acceptable to discriminate against tall kids because they have taken advantage of that asset all along at the expense of the shorter ones.

If that sounds ridiculous to you, well, I have given you a thumbnail of the logical extension of the whole equality vs. equity argument. And it’s one based on the fear (and blame) of the Other rather than taking advantage of those God-given talents you have. To use this example, the short boy may actually have the work ethic and drive to become the batboy and not only watch the game but hang with the players. (Or, if he’s really talented, just become the next Jose Altuve, all 5′-6″ of him.)

Certainly people make bad decisions (which can be called sins) all the time, and occasionally they make choices which have real consequences: drop out of school, have unprotected sex, get behind the wheel of a car after killing a six-pack, and so on and so forth. Many of these can be overcome, and people can thrive despite their effects.

But no one can guarantee that they will, and among us we will always have those who made poor choices and are continuing to pay the price. Because of human nature, the best we can do create the equality of opportunity, and while we have some work to do on achieving that goal, we’re a lot closer to doing so than many think.

If you ask me, my biggest fear is that we are going to throw out a system that’s worked fairly well for over 200 years for a method that hasn’t succeeded yet in over 100 years of trying and goes against human nature, since people don’t like to be forced to do anything. Sadly, people do and say things against their own self-interest all the time and that’s what I think these equity kids are doing because chances are they’re not going to be the ones who are more equal than others, to borrow from George Orwell.

It’s why I drop by here from time to time to share those thoughts and beliefs I believe are important for success for all of us. If you take them with a grain of salt, that’s fine because I’m not afraid to admit I’m not the be-all and end-all on any subject, up to and including religion and government. (Baseball, maybe.)

But I believe fear needs to be consigned to its true definition and this whole irrationality of equity needs to be countered with showing the benefits of equality. We can’t counter inequality with a different inequality, no matter what the hustlers might say. They forget that two wrongs do not make a right.

More thoughts on government dependence

While I love working in this venue, I also cherish how I get to stretch my writing wings on various subjects of national importance thanks to my longtime employment as part of The Patriot Post. Thus, last Friday I got the opportunity to take a swing at one of my favorite subjects, that of government dependence.

In this case, however, I was looking at the issue on a personal level. And while that is extremely important, we shouldn’t forget that it can happen on a local and state government level as well. And that brings me to a topic I was alerted to recently.

According to Charlie Copeland at the Caesar Rodney Institute, the state of Delaware has a “shadow budget” estimated at $7.5 billion, and it’s money which is “almost entirely comprised of Federal funds in the form of grants for hundreds of projects in dozens of our state agencies as well as our colleges and universities.” (The quote comes from a related “exclusive interview” the CRI released in e-mail form, with much of the same information.)

The very important piece of context for this is that Delaware has a state budget (at least the one officially on the books) of about $5 billion, which is the smallest state budget in the country. If you added this $7.5 billion “shadow budget,” though, it’s no longer at the bottom and, on a per capita basis, it now becomes larger than adjacent Maryland’s – where (I believe) both state expenditures and federal pass-throughs are listed in their $50+ billion budget. In fact, Delaware could easily fall into the top 10 in highest per-capita spending, although that depends on how each of the other states treat federal contributions to state budgets. It’s likely there are other states whose budget reporting in skewed in similar fashion; it’s a scope I’m not going to get into right now.

My point is that state and local governments have fallen into a trap that no one seems to have the will to extricate themselves from. By taking that federal (or, in the case of local government, state) largesse they avoid making the difficult decision of balancing a budget or raising taxes to do so. And if it’s enough, they can take the credit and keep the voters happy – if not they have a convenient scapegoat to blame. (Case in point: the staffing controversy in Delmar after the death of DPD Corporal Keith Heacook.)

Certainly there are aspects of government only suitable for handling at the federal level, but generally these are performed by federal employees. Where the feds overstep their bounds is those times when they hand out money to the states, expecting them to follow along in lockstep by enacting desired policies. Since no one wants to give up the federal funding, they follow along dutifully like a dog on a leash.

What the federal government needs is a reformer who both understands the Tenth Amendment and knows that many millions of federal employees, lobbyists, and other beggars and hangers-on really need a productive gig. The world needs ditchdiggers, too. Sadly, we are stuck going in the opposite direction for the time being.

Programming note: Speaking of wing spreading, today was my last Friday piece for The Patriot Post and it was on a somewhat related topic. But it’s not the end for me there.

I don’t know if this is a promotion or just a lateral move, but they have asked me to write on Tuesday nights for Wednesday publication and I agreed to do so. I suspect my first Wednesday piece will come next week.