Odds and ends number 102

I’m bringing back those chunks of blogging goodness that take anywhere from a couple sentences to a handful of paragraphs.

A surplus? Give it back!

It’s been a tough year for state governments around the nation, and Delaware was no exception. But there was a surprise when the First State beancounters came up with the numbers at the end of the year – we had a $347 million surplus thanks to record real estate transfer taxes and very successful IPOs.

Of course, just because we have an extra $347 million doesn’t mean the state won’t have plans for the money that don’t involve returning it to the hard-working taxpayers of Delaware. But I also noticed this nugget: “At one time, far more people came into Delaware to work, but it’s been closer to 50-50 recently, officials said Monday. And many of those who leave Delaware, but are now working at home, have higher paying jobs than those coming from out of state to work in Delaware.” I’m one of those 65,000 who leave Delaware to work, which was the reverse of where we were before we moved when my wife was one of the 65,000 who came into Delaware to work. Neither of us have a typical “work from home” job (although mine is a more likely candidate – not counting the side hustles I actually do from the comfort of my rocking chair) so the gig economy hasn’t hit us yet.

If they are taxing us too much, give it back. If they’re not taxing us enough; well, we don’t need everything the state spends its money on.

A little help from their friends

We had some issues in Texas a couple weeks back, and in the spirit of never letting a crisis go to waste, the left-leaners at the Alliance for American Manufacturing are now demanding a “Made in America” infrastructure bill. As Texas resident Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch wrote at the group’s behest:

It didn’t have to be like this. While we are seeing unusual weather in Texas, the electric grid here also hasn’t received updates it has needed for years. As one expert put it, the grid “limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.”

And it’s not just Texas. States like Oregon, Kentucky and Louisiana also are seeing power outages right now. California faced similar struggles last year.

These are the real world consequences of America’s failure to modernize its infrastructure. Now it’s time to learn from our mistakes and get to work.

“TAKE ACTION: What Happened in Texas Could Happen Anywhere”, Alliance for American Manufacturing, February 18, 2021

In fact, in the e-mail, Brotherton-Bunch actually says, “The crisis in Texas this week once again is highlighting the consequences of inaction. But every crisis also yields opportunity.”

Suppose, however, that the federal infrastructure bill did away with Davis-Bacon laws that add labor costs to the project unnecessarily. Sure, the leftist groups that back prevailing wage will tell you that the increased wage brings an increase in productivity, but to me that claim is rather dubious. Surely the reason the AAM really wants the infrastructure bill is to prop up their union backers – just like the push for an overall $15 minimum wage most benefits Big Labor in general and the SEIU in particular – moreover, if it goes to things the federal government may want that may not be what the locality needs.

Infrastructure in most cases should be more of a state priority. We’ve spent enough federal money for three lifetimes in mine, but those in power now want to put drunken sailors to shame. I guess the AAM just wants their cut.

The hopeful tone didn’t age well

Just days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, Bobby Jindal – the two-term governor of Louisiana and 2016 Republican presidential candidate (the one I endorsed initially) placed an op-ed at the Fox News site that sounded conciliatory toward the incoming administration, pointing out areas of common ground between the perceived moderate Biden and populist Republicans that backed Trump. In part, this was because President Trump…

…modified the traditional conservative argument that the problem was government was doing too much for too many — and instead argued it was not doing enough for the right people.

Trump expanded the definition of the deserving poor to include everyday working families whose wages had stagnated for years. Democrats have long used similar arguments to enact universal social welfare programs. President Obama cited the plight of working Americans to include both Medicaid expansion for the poor and exchange subsidies under ObamaCare for families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level.

And Trump tapped into working-class anxiety by promising to pursue policies, like tighter immigration controls, tariffs, farm aid, and renegotiated trade deals, that would protect their jobs and incomes from unfair foreign competition.

Trump further promised to protect entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that benefited his base supporters, while railing against a corrupt Washington establishment that conspired to enrich the coastal elites and expand wasteful redistribution programs for favored liberal constituencies.

But Trump seemed more interested in adding spending he liked — such as military spending, his border wall, his long-promised infrastructure bill, and direct pandemic assistance — than in eliminating spending he did not like.

“Bobby Jindal: Biden may find support for some proposals among populist Republicans in Congress,” FoxNews.com, January 17, 2021.

This big-government populism was the philosophy candidates like Lauren Witzke ran on last year.

I would agree with Jindal except for the fact that Democrats inside the Beltway seldom backed Trump’s initiatives despite the fact that a significant number of rank-and-file Democrats in the Rust Belt and other areas of flyover country eschewed the 2016 Democrat standardbearer Hillary Clinton to vote for Trump.

However, it should be said that the trajectory of history pre-pandemic was favoring Trump’s contention we could grow our way out of a deficit, as the annual shortages were coming down until trillions of dollars of stimulus and transfer payments were supposedly made necessary thanks to the “15 days to stop the spread” that are now closing in on a year in many places. Had Trump not been denied a second term he may have been proven correct.

But it was disappointing to read this from a man who was a successful budget-cutter in his home state, making the tough choices to save taxpayer dollars. And as an aside, one of those “common ground” issues Jindal cited was infrastructure.

First it was RGGI, now it’s TCI

It’s been percolating under the surface for quite awhile now, but when you start talking about a potential gas tax increase, people begin to listen.

It wasn’t enough to address so-called manmade climate change by developing a way for public utilities to transfer protection money to state governments (also known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or as the subtitle suggests, RGGI) – nope, they decided to attack the internal combustion engine in the same way. As Penny Dryden and Eleanor Fort explained at Delaware Online back in December 2020:

As Delaware faces a significant drop in tax revenue due to the pandemic, the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) can offer needed funding for communities along Routes 13 and 40 and other pollution burdened areas across Delaware, including Route 9, Northeast Wilmington, Belvedere Newport and Sussex County. TCI is a collaboration between eleven northeast and mid-Atlantic governors and the mayor of Washington, D.C., who have been working to develop a regional cap and invest program that would significantly cut tailpipe pollution while building a fair and just zero-emission transportation system.

“Building a transportation and climate initiative that works for Delaware,” Penny Dryden and Eleanor Fort, Delaware Online, December 17, 2020.

Never mind I put the lie to the tax revenue claim a few paragraphs ago, but the duo are only following what was laid out a couple years earlier as goals for the TCI:

Informed by input from hundreds of stakeholders and expert analysis, the participating TCI jurisdictions will design a regional low-carbon transportation policy proposal that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism, and allow each TCI jurisdiction to invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure. This proposed program, when combined with existing programs and complementary policies, will be designed to achieve substantial reductions in transportation sector emissions and provide net economic and social benefits for participating states.

“Transportation and Climate Initiative Statement,” December 18, 2018.

Welcome to wealth transfer program part two, where rural folks and those who drive for business or pleasure will be transferring their wealth and freedom into more government largesse that will go to boondoggles they pick because the public won’t. In an Open Letter on the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a number of groups advocating the rightsizing of government in these affected states and beyond called TCI “the wrong idea at the wrong time.” And in case you haven’t noticed, gas that was around $2.19 a gallon back in November has gone up 50 cents a gallon since – granted, some of that is normal (it seems like gas prices annually peak in the late spring) but the recent 20 cent surge blamed on Texas refineries being kicked offline thanks to the massive snowstorm there will take its sweet time to work itself out. Yet to someone who drives a 20 MPG truck 20,000 miles a year such as a rural worker, that per-gallon increase works out to $500 a year they can’t spend on food, clothing, or other necessities. A 27-cent gas tax increase such as the one the Caesar Rodney Institute has worried could be proposed for Delaware would cost that Sussex County worker $270 a year on top of the 50-cent increase.

Something on a favored flag

I suppose that since I wrote a book with it on the cover, one would consider my flag of choice the Gadsden flag. That yellow-and-black symbol of our colonial days became the icon of the TEA Party, and it got a little bit of its due recently thanks to my Ammo.com friend Sam Jacobs pushing an article on it.

Every so often I see a Gadsden flag adorning a pole under an American flag or see a Virginia Gadsden license plate – surprised those haven’t been banned from the state yet. (I just checked and they are still available, shockingly enough. But I doubt there’s any in the D.C. suburbs.) It’s comforting to know there are still people like me out there.

And since I now have an open space on the front of my car because Delaware only requires one license plate, maybe I can find a Gadsden plate to increase my old car’s value. (15 years old, almost 200,000 miles that would have been a lot of gas tax for greedy governments around the nation.)

Programming note

I have one more item in my e-mail box that will graduate to a full-length article, I believe. Be advised, though: writing may be a little sparse for a bit as I seem to be the snake that swallowed the goat and that big lump of various side hustles is making its way through my workload these days.

And speaking of the TEA Party, I believe I noted that I deactivated my old Rise and Fall website a couple months back. I think the Facebook page for it will be next to go. Last year I abandoned a book project that became a series of posts here on the Indivisible movement, and I started on another idea I had for an e-book before pulling the plug because I didn’t like how I thought I had to frame it – too unworkable. To be honest, right now is not the time in my life for a book.

So I guess I will stay in this little forum for now.

Pleasing predictions: the update

I actually have a weightier subject in mind for my next post, but I also have plenty going on surrounding my other side hustles so I decided to act on this one first.

Way back in December we learned that Delmarva would remain as an affiliate of the Orioles, becoming the low non-complex team on their totem pole. A few days later I noted a couple possible scenarios for the newly-revamped SAL as either two six-team divisions or three four-team pods. Turns out the powers that be in Major League Baseball who are now running the minor league show opted for the latter arrangement, exactly as I selected them.

What they sadly did not do (at least for the moment) was retain the South Atlantic League name, instead putting us in the generically-named Low A East. Hopefully they decide to maintain the longtime moniker since the league will now better reflect that geography.

The next step, of course, will be getting a schedule of 132 games – because of the CCP virus, the Shorebirds will not begin their season until May. This, of course, means that the back end of the season will be extended, perhaps into early October. (As part of that, however, I thought I read that there would be no playoffs – so, of course in that case Delmarva will be loaded this season.) They are also looking to minimize travel so I would expect a heavy intra-division schedule – my thought is that the Shorebirds will probably do two eight-game trips into each of the other divisions (i.e. Augusta/Columbia, Myrtle Beach/Charleston, Fayetteville/Kannapolis, Down East/Carolina) while we would be paired up with Fredericksburg for the returns.

If this is indeed the case, we could play the South and Central teams eight times each (four home/four away) for a total of 64 games. Of the remaining 68 games, they may decide that we see Lynchburg and Salem 20 times apiece (10 home, 10 away) and Fredericksburg 28 times (14 and 14) to minimize travel. It would remind some longtime fans (I’m looking at you, Karl) of the 2008 season, when high fuel prices dictated a steady diet of Hagerstown, Lakewood, and Lake County for about half of our 70 scheduled home games. (At least Fredericksburg is something of a natural rival as the Nationals affiliate, while most of the others are good geographic pairings. The North Carolina teams could almost play a round robin as they are quite close together comparatively.)

Of course I will miss the natural rivals we gained over the years as Hagerstown was dropped entirely from the MiLB lineup and Lakewood became Jersey Shore and moved up a level to high-A, playing (among others) the Aberdeen Ironbirds. But change isn’t unusual at this level: in the 16 years since I began attending Shorebird games, the SAL lost two teams to the Midwest League, had two teams move to new locations, a couple change names, and eight affiliation changes. The league has seldom stayed constant for more than a year or two.

The constant I’m looking for right now, though, is my behind constantly in a seat at the ballpark. Just let me know when to be there.

Pumping for dumping

To be clear up front: I’m no expert on the stock market. Once upon a time I used to buy stock shares (directly where possible) with the investment strategy of buying shares of companies with low P/E ratios that sold high-dividend stocks. So I owned quite a few different utility stocks, since they often fit that description, and would take the dividends as additional shares. I still own a very modest portfolio in the successor company to that which I used to accomplish these trades, although it’s locked away in a money market fund that I haven’t touched in probably a decade. While I doubt I could buy dinner for my wife and I with the total, I keep the accounts grandfathered there in the hope that someday I may invest in these again.

But the whole Gamestop debacle got me to thinking about a long-ago series of posts (this being the first) that I did when capitalism fascinated me enough to do the series of posts.

In brief, the backstory behind the occasional “pumpin and dumpin” series was the junk faxes my onetime and present employer would get – somehow we got onto a list where, a few times a week, we would be regaled by news of the next big stock they claimed was about to break. So I got curious and collected a sampling just to see how they really did and, in most of the cases, the only break they made was downward. (It really got bad four years later when I last revisited the subject.) I got a lot of great comments out of the series, which occurred back about this time the website was at its peak readership as a non-lucrative side hustle of mine.

Since then, however, the office fax machine has been retired and I really don’t get that sort of e-mail anymore. People have moved on to another grift, I suppose, and in the case of Gamestop it was interesting because the tables were turned on the relatives of these companies that used to make their money speculating on those folks P.T. Barnum claimed were born every minute.

Some hedge fund (or group of hedge funds) is apparently out billions of dollars, or will be as long as they can’t stave off their margin call. Betting that Gamestop stock may further plummet to a buck or two a share, they are now desperately hurting because a group of allied renegade traders have instead pumped that baby up to $300 or more a share. That may be an awesome windfall for the investor who got it for 11 bucks a share two years ago (and watched it eventually slide to under $3) but it’s now becoming a parlor game that has nothing to do with the long-term prospects of the company, which (as the name suggests) makes its money by selling video games and consoles, mostly in brick-and-mortar locations. (In a previous life I serviced several of their stores on a regular basis, so I have something of a familiarity with their business.) I couldn’t even fathom what the P/E ratio is for them right now, but if I were a Gamestop employee I would be frightened out of my wits because they are playing with my livelihood.

Certainly the company has a tremendous market capitalization at the moment, but it’s a mirage that they will have to deal with long-term. It’s also concerning when you consider that these hedge funds were essentially betting on the company drifting into insolvency – in case you haven’t heard, the retail sector isn’t doing so hot right now.

I suppose what bothers me most about this whole situation is the rooting for failure aspect – moreso for the hedge funds that were betting on Gamestop’s demise. (After all, isn’t this shorting approach similar to how George Soros became a billionaire?) And while the Reddit group orchestrating the surge in Gamestop stock has the noble idea of punishing the hedge fund, they’re not going to stop the game from going on – in fact, they may eventually find they’ve infringed more on the free market thanks to Uncle Sam covering the big boys’ bets by being restrictive on the ability of like-minded groups to manipulate share prices. (It’s okay when their chosen ones do it, though. For them, the stock market is an investment where they will capitalize on their profits and socialize their losses, while for the rest of us it’s more of a gamble like buying a Mega Millions ticket.)

Finally, it brings me to troubling questions: is the Dow really worth 30,000? How much of that is real value and how much is rampant speculation?

I recall back a half-dozen years ago, when I was barely getting back on my feet after a long interregnum of non-career jobs, that the relative success of the stock market was hailed as the sign the overall economy was strong. (Never mind millions of people were still out of work and had given up looking.) The ones who were prospering, though, were the shysters who arranged for some people to get “disability” because they couldn’t find a job at their advanced age. In other words, the perceived value of the Dow Jones and NASDAQ was a mirage that was covered by increasing debt and someone was going to be left holding the bag.

In that respect, I can see the point of view of the hedge funds because they also see the same thing I do. But I hate rooting against the success of businesses built upon the sweat and toil of someone who worked long hours to make their dream a reality. It was their quest to succeed and draw investors which led them to sell shares in their companies. Granted, for every Tesla or Apple there are thousands of companies who were the (witting or unwitting) subjects of being pumped and dumped like the beneficiaries of those long-ago junk faxes. Alas, dreams, sweat, and toil don’t always lead to success if the product doesn’t sell. (As an author, I know how that goes all too well.)

It’s highly likely for the best that I never became a day trader like a former co-worker of mine was. (I suspect that’s why he was a relatively brief co-worker, since the firm wasn’t paying him to watch a stock ticker.) The whole Gamestop affair has convinced me even more that the system has become perverted and rigged in favor of those who have friends in the right places. Yet, without a good alternative method of saving for retirement besides the old 401.k (since few have pensions anymore and we all know Social Security is a Ponzi scheme) I guess we are forced to grin and bear it.

I’m so ready for real financial reform, but I suppose that has to get in line behind rightsizing government and we all know where that lies on the list of priorities. Maybe these Gamestop traders can work on that next?

Update: Thomas Gallatin, my cohort at The Patriot Post, weighs in with a similar take to mine. Great minds?

2020: a monoblogue year in review

I was very tempted not to do this – because who really wants to relive 2020 – but for posterity’s sake decided to go with it. In truth, this may be one of the shorter reviews I’ll ever do.

At the dawn of the year in January I wanted to take my writing in a new direction while examining the state of the TEA Party. That dearth of posts was made up for somewhat in February as I took a hard look at our political duopoly and played a second season of fantasy baseball. (Will there be a third? Stay tuned.) I suppose it was prophetic for this year that I was looking for the reset button, but not for the obvious reason.

It seems like forever ago, but remember when we heard that Rush Limbaugh had advanced-stage lung cancer and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union? (It’s more famous now for Nancy Pelosi’s speech treatment.) It was a rush to condemn, and I discussed it twice. Meanwhile, that long series on the Democrat contenders I began in March 2019 finally came to an end with the not-so-elite eight only for me to begin a new series on splitting the opposition – a look at the Indivisible movement, which continued in March with a look at its founders.

In that pre-pandemic era, I was surprised by some turns in the Democrat presidential race (looking back, the biggest shock was yet to come!) But what really got me was the hype vs. the reality regarding the CCP virus and how the world was placed on hold and eventually became a business state of emergency. Suddenly the state of the TEA Party didn’t seem as important.

After some server issues knocked me offline for a time in April, I returned to talk about a clash of the titans in my erstwhile political home, the Maryland GOP. The other clash I got into was the beginning of the anti-lockdown movement – remember 15 days to slow the spread? Some people actually took them at their word.

It was also the first anniversary of Rise and Fall, so I commemorated the event with a look in the rearview mirror.

The merry month of May brought the final installment of one of Maryland’s few remaining conservative blogging outlets, so I had my thoughts about my former cohorts at Red Maryland. But I also had some fun rebutting a request to talk about the National Popular Vote movement. (We now see why it’s so ill-thought out.)

That month the Delaware political scene began to fire up, first with Governor Carnage pulling the football out from First State businesses then my look at the statewide Delaware political races: U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Insurance Commissioner. I ended the month by detailing my weekend to remember.

June began with a long-neglected category of odds and ends, and continued with the conclusion of the long-neglected series on splitting the opposition. It also touched on the controversy regarding the Talbot Boys statue in Easton, which is still standing despite opposition.

Also still standing is the District of Columbia, which some want to make into a state despite the Constitutional mandate that it be a district. But who cares about the Constitution when it gets in the way of political power?

I do care about the Constitution Party, but it got some troubling news during that month, while the Delaware GOP field for governor expanded to five. Just as July began, though, one of the top contenders withdrew and endorsed another.

The sad news to begin the month was the season that never was, and I commemorated Independence Day with an encore performance of a post from 2016. I also came back with a fresh helping of odds and ends.

Our Delaware political races finally came into shape, with the added benefit of the now semi-annual monoblogue Accountability Project.

But most of the subsequent three months was devoted to perhaps my most devoted long-term project: a dossier series covering statewide candidates in both federal and state races. Thanks to that, I didn’t write on another topic until September when I finally discussed a day for adulting. I also made it three editions of odds and ends for the year.

Since it was time for the Delaware primary, I also got to make my fearless forecasts and found they were prescient picks. A few days later, the nation was stunned by the need for the notorious RBG replacement.

It was me that needed the replacement when October began. My trusty old laptop finally quit so I had to get a new one, which explained my absence. Later that month, I endorsed my choices for Delaware and asked if my former home in Wicomico County would lose its Republican County Council majority in a special election.

We had the election in November. The first thing I did was to admit I should never say never. I did even more odds and ends, including a milestone. Predictions were made and results were analyzed. And we also found out that people are leaving certain networks and social media outlets because they find them too biased against their point of view.

Oddly enough, I didn’t do a Thanksgiving post (part of the reason being we were away) but I considered once again the fate of the Constitution Party and defined some rights as the month wore on. It all led to December, which as is traditional led off with my anniversary post and the induction of the newest class of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.

The month actually had a lot of news about the Delmarva nine, as their fate in the revamped world of minor league baseball was revealed. It allowed me to make some pleasing non-political predictions.

I still found out that the Delaware General Assembly wasn’t waiting to come up with bad ideas and the Constitution Party wasn’t waiting to come up with excuses for their lack of performance in November.

Wrap it up with my annual Christmas post, and that’s how my year went. It went really slow and really quickly all at the same time.

Wishes for a Merry Christmas 2020

Perhaps this is the perfect metaphor for this bastard of a year: I write remotely (socially distant) from the readers.

Maybe this is a question for those who are north of 80 years of age, but was Christmas during wartime like this? I sometimes feel like this is the style of holiday we may have commemorated circa 1942, a point where the shock and novelty of volunteering after Pearl Harbor wore off and people whose hometowns lost their native sons in the Second World War were commemorating an otherwise solemn holiday. Instead of a war against imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, though, we’re fighting this time against a Chinese germ that’s fighting dirty with increased overdoses and suicides taking quite a toll on our youth.

Regardless, we must press on, and our biggest asset in that regard is the One who sent His son to be our sacrifice, that Savior whose birth we are celebrating tomorrow. In a time where the highway signs are telling us to stay home, they don’t quite get the message right. My simple prayer this Christmas is that my readers come home, returning to a life with its priorities in order: God and family first, “stuff” somewhere toward the end.

I don’t recall where I got the suggestion from, but back around Thanksgiving I saw an item where it was suggested that beginning December 1, people read a chapter of the Book of Luke each night. This story of Jesus would culminate on Christmas Eve since there are 24 chapters, beginning with the angels visiting Mary to tell her she would be the virgin mother and concluding with His resurrection after the Crucifixion. Yes, I’m giving you a really late start for a lengthy read in one evening but it’s definitely doable, and illustrates well why we celebrate.

So tomorrow my site will be dark. Over the weekend I may come up with something, but for this moment: Merry Christmas.

Hard to believe: monoblogue turns 15

I’m definitely into the moody teenage stage now.

Pretty much every year on December 1st I do a retrospective of where monoblogue has been and where it might just go in the next year. While I actually began this a few days in advance because our family’s plans included a trip away, the fact remains that 2020 and the CCP virus definitely affected my initial plans. (Well, that and a few technical hiccups and the need for a new laptop.)

So I really haven’t made it into some of the internal plans I had regarding creating my author site, and updating photos and such on old posts…truth be told, I sort of forgot about it with everything else going on. (We had these local and national political races, don’cha know?) Maybe this coming year, if I can find the time – you never know when you may need that author site. 🙂

One thing I can say about 2020 is that what seemed like a so-so year for readership has really caught fire in the last three months. Turns out that year-to-date I am already at my best year since 2016, which was when I stopped doing daily posts. And this came to pass right about the time I was doing my dossier series, which is probably the most lengthy-term, multi-part project I’ve ever done on this site insofar as focusing on one subject. It was sort of a blessing in disguise that I did not have Shorebird of the Month to deal with; however, that’s not to say I didn’t miss doing them!

In looking up my post output, though, that dossier series made a serious dent in my numbers. Once upon a time I came close to a post a day, but so far this year it’s only about a post and a half a week – granted, I essentially did my dossier series two to three times but all that counted as one post since I simply updated. Since I don’t see a similar series until 2024 because there’s neither a governor’s race nor a scheduled Senate race, I think posting in 2021 will get back to its 2 to 3 times a week, Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. It depends as always on how inspired I am.

One thing that inspired me recently is rereading some of what I wrote the last time our nation was in this particular pickle of shifting from Republican to Democrat, the early part of 2009. In truth, perhaps I should freshen up the three lessons I provided because I think they still mostly ring true. There is definitely the potential for TEA Party 3.0 if we can do it right this time and kick out the grifters and con artists.

While this website has always been about what interested me, longtime readers know about my fondness for thinkers like Newt Gingrich, Thomas Sowell, and Victor Davis Hanson. They’re the type whose understanding of history makes their commentary timeless and evergreen. In doing a post a day I sort of got away from that, but at this slower pace I’d like to believe I can provide this service to readers who wish to be missionaries for the secular cause of Constitutional thought. (In part, that’s because it paves the way for the more traditional role of missionary as one who brings the Good News of Jesus Christ.)

So I suppose I am off and running on year number 16 – the website domain was renewed and it’s still with the same server company (or, actually, its successor since they’ve changed hands a couple of times.) As long as the Good Lord gives me life and the ability to convert my thoughts into these blog posts I’ll be here, standing athwart of what seems to be a trend in history to backslide toward tyranny. It’s still a lot of fun for me, so why stop now?

What happened to the Constitution (Party)?

I promised you this post a few weeks ago, and here it is.

When I left the GOP in 2016, I opened up my process for deciding who I would select for my Presidential vote. The eventual winner of that decision was a gentleman named Darrell Castle, who was the standardbearer of the Constitution Party, or CP. As a write-in candidate in Maryland, he received eight votes in my home county and a total of 566 votes statewide. He and running mate Scott Bradley were the second-largest write-in combination, although they finished miles behind the nationally promoted campaign of Evan McMullin. Overall, the Constitution Party eclipsed the 200,000 vote mark for the first time ever despite a lack of ballot access as they were on the ballot in only about half the states. (The same was true in Delaware, where the pair received another 74 write-in votes.)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that impressed with the CP’s choice for President this time around, who reminded me of a grifter taking advantage of the ballot spot in those states where they had earned access. Don Blankenship was a former mining company CEO who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia in 2018 as a Republican, losing in the primary then running a “sore loser” campaign in the general election as a member of the CP. Apparently the nation wasn’t enthused either as Blankenship has so far only picked up about 57,000 votes. It’s going to be a significant retreat for the party which only four years ago seemed to be on the verge of breaking out.

But one problem they had: no one bothered to file the paperwork and pay the fees for Blankenship to even be a write-in candidate here in Delaware or in Maryland. In fact, the people in 20 states, including some of the biggest like Ohio, California, and Texas, could not vote for the Constitution Party. So it wasn’t just me, and that’s a real problem.

As is the case with most political parties, the CP will turn over its leadership with the new electoral cycle. In its case, everything old is new again: they brought back James Clymer, who was the CP national chairman from 1999 to 2012, serving three terms at a time when the party evolved from what was the U.S. Taxpayers Party to its current moniker and enjoyed its previous high-water mark in Presidential support in the 2008 election with Chuck Baldwin as its nominee.

Yet the burning question will be this: can the Constitution Party survive at a time when one side of the political equation demands the maintenance of the Trumpism that doesn’t mind growing extra-Constitutional government as long as it benefits the working class (essentially the platform of the Kennedy-era Democratic Party) and the other side wants to burn down the capitalist system to instill a fascist system when industry is allowed but does what government dictates while redistributing wealth and power to favored classes at the expense of the old order?

There may be room at that political table nonetheless. As I see it, though, the first order of business for the CP in this next cycle will to be putting an emphasis on maintaining ballot access in the states in which they already have it and securing it in states where it’s relatively easy to attain. For local examples, getting thousands and thousands of signatures in Maryland would be difficult to do without a significant investment of funds, and it’s a process that’s likely required for repeat every four years. On the other hand, ballot access in Delaware would require about 400 voters to change their registrations over from someone else to the CP.

However, the problem with the First State is that there are many other choices already here which are tantalizingly close to the 740 +/- registered voters required for ballot access. This is a rundown of the largest “minor” parties by registration numbers in Delaware, as of November 1 as well as the change in 2020 (in parentheses.) I’ll just list the ones ahead of the Constitution Party:

  • Independent Party of Delaware: 8,640* (+1,375)
  • Libertarian Party: 1,977* (+243)
  • Nonpartisan: 1,120 (+203) (this is listed separately from the much larger “no party”)
  • Conservative Party: 729 (+194)
  • Green Party: 716* (-22)
  • American Delta Party: 672 (-39)
  • Liberal Party: 655 (+190)
  • American Party: 573 (+29)
  • Working Families Party: 347 (+17)
  • Constitution Party: 270 (-4)

The parties with a star (*) had ballot access in 2020. The Green Party barely made it onto the ballot this year but would not meet the cutoff for 2022 as it currently stands; meanwhile, the growth of the Conservative Party puts it in position to qualify with just a few more voters. Apparently the American Delta Party was on the ballot as recently as 2018 but has lost its status as people exit the party, which probably explains its decline. (They are in the process of merging into the Alliance Party, so the name may change in coming months. It’s the party which ran Roque De La Fuente for President and about everything else recently.)

It’s hard to explain the rapid growth of the Conservative Party aside from the name; as it was they leapfrogged both the Greens and American Delta. There is a Conservative Caucus of Delaware which runs a website, but insofar as I can tell they are not the political party. If they are, they are a lot closer to attaining ballot status than the Constitution Party is. They certainly have the rapid growth that the Constitution Party would need to make it on the ballot in 2022. Similarly, the American Party did not field a presidential candidate but they have a conservative philosophy like the CP. And none of them ran candidates in Delaware.

Parties, however, should be about running and electing candidates for political office. It follows, therefore, that in a tactical sense perhaps the best option is a merger among the voters of the CP and American Party, with an invitation for the Conservative Party to join in. At least in Delaware, a merger of the national CP which has the wherewithal to run a presidential candidate and the voters of the American Party that have the same philosophy but are trying to mine the same played-out claim makes sense: it gives them a somewhat bulletproof 100 voter margin for ballot access plus whatever the Conservatives bring along.

And with a ballot line, they would be encouraged to run candidates on a local and state level. Once they have candidates, there’s a little bit of media coverage to explain the platform and its benefits. Obviously this won’t be enough to overcome the R vs. D duopoly in the near term but why should we try to attain our aims as cats in need of herding?

Given the weakness of this state’s Republican Party, Delaware may be fertile territory to begin a needed takeover of the conservative movement. We should also be encouraging the growth of the Green Party, Working Families Party, and Liberal Party at the expense of the other end of the duopoly. Shouldn’t it be power to the people and not the parties?

With everything that’s happened in 2020 and some of the promised change in our nation’s political direction if the Biden/Harris team is successful in stealing this election (there, I said it) 2022 is going to be the most reactionary midterm election ever. It’s time for the pro-liberty forces to join together, moreso than the TEA Party ever did, and make an impact at the local and state levels.

The exodus

There’s little question this election season will rank among the most divisive in our history. The seemingly irreconcilable differences between the populists and conservatives who backed Donald Trump and the liberals and bohemians who either supported or held their noses to vote for Joe Biden have qualified this as perhaps the most bitter balloting since 1860 – and we all know what happened after that one.

I would also submit to you that the amount of yellow journalism in this election was comparable to those long-ago races where partisan newspapers were unafraid to make up or amplify rumors about the opponents of their favored candidates. After all, we went through three-plus years of a trumped-up (pun intended) media-driven impeachment while those same organs basically ignored a potential blackmail scandal affecting Joe Biden and his son Hunter that erupted just three weeks before the election. Maybe they “learned” their lesson from the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal that came to a crescendo just days before the election in 2016 and perhaps cost her an election that the media assured us was in the bag for her.

The biggest differences, however, between the modern day campaign and those elections of long ago are the speed of communication and lifestyle. In Lincoln’s day, the telegraph was in its early stages of development and news more often came from local newspapers. It may have taken a week for some to find out who won the election, and that’s if they purchased a copy of the local newspaper. While the newspaper industry of 1860 may have pitted rival against rival because they preferred different papers that backed opposing politicians, the news didn’t dominate the lives of common folk who were more interested in working for their survival as farmers or laborers or headed a household full of children to raise. It was truly the 1% who had enough leisure time to debate the political.

Now we have 24/7 cable news, but more importantly we have social media as a means of information and communication – and the reason we have social media is because we have evolved our lifestyles to a point where even those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder have time to follow the news or at least keep up with the culture. No longer are religion and politics taboo subjects for discussion; in fact, having no political opinion makes you the outlier. Either you’re on the red team or the blue team these days. (By not voting or voting third party, in the eye of the beholder you are the opposition.)

So if you’ll pardon the long introduction, my point is that, over the last month or so, we have seen a breakup that follows the political in the arena of social media, one which has accelerated since the election and grown to include the modern-day equivalent of the local newspaper.

I had never heard of Parler before this summer, but back in June there was an early move toward the social network based on issues with Twitter, for which Parler is considered the closest cousin. I jumped onto Parler on June 22, but to be honest I use it much the same way I use Facebook except I don’t post as much. (Part of this was that I never cared for Twitter.) Since the runup to the election with its constant reminders to go vote and the so-called “fact checking” exceedingly applied to conservative viewpoints – while liberals are unquestionably taken at face value – the growth of Parler has been exponential.

Joining Parler on the growth list are a couple of news channels. All summer there were rumblings among the conservative set that “fair and balanced” Fox News was no longer as fair or balanced. These rumblings grew louder with Chris Wallace’s hard-hitting interview of President Trump in July and his widely panned mishandling of moderator duties during the first Presidential debate. Strike three, however, was Fox News’s willingness on election night to call Arizona quickly for Joe Biden while slow-walking calls on states Trump eventually won handily, such as Florida.

Since the election, thousands of Trump supporters have vowed to stop watching Fox (even if it’s only the programming outside popular shows they still have featuring Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity) and they’re flocking to upstarts One America News and NewsMax TV, which have featured a more pro-Trump viewpoint. (It’s not that much of an achievement, considering the 90-plus percent negative coverage Trump receives from the legacy media.)

The problem for Fox News, of course, is a little like the issue faced by the anti-Trump Republicans in the Lincoln Project. Now that they are useless to the Democrats because the election is over, they’re going to find they have no friends on either side. The Republicans now see them as disloyal and the Democrats will simply call them useful idiots who outlived their usefulness. I don’t expect any mass exodus from CNN or MSNBC to a more “woke” Fox News. Why go for the imitation when you have the real thing?

The $64,000 question then is whether these splits become permanent or not. There are many skeptics who laugh at those leaving Facebook and Twitter, saying either that they will be back after their tantrum is up or that they won’t be missed anyway because they’re uninformed hicks. (I see that out of a lot of #NeverTrumps that I know.) And while there are many thousands who vow to dump Fox News, we haven’t seen the ratings for OANN or NewsMax TV to know if this is a new habit.

One thing that worries me about this trend is the potential for slipping into an information silo, although it certainly could be argued that those who rely solely on the traditional media outlets (as the social media outlets Facebook and Twitter do) are already trapped in one that reflects a left-wing, pro-Democrat viewpoint. Too many people are letting those outlets do their thinking for them, and it’s to the detriment of our republic that they cede that right.

As for me, I’ll try and do a little more on Parler and perhaps join MeWe, but for the immediate future I’ll also stay on Facebook until my friends and family abandon it. I also have a couple pages I curate there so there’s that factor, too. Guess I will be living in two worlds for the time being.

Odds and ends number 100

Hey, a milestone!

The “odds and ends” concept is almost as old as monoblogue itself – my first one, actually called “Odds and year ends,” came back on December 26, 2005. monoblogue was all of 25 days old then, a babe in the woods of the World Wide Web. (It was post #20 on this website; this one will be #5,137.) In re-reading that one after all these years, I found it was a very Maryland-centric post. And what makes it perfectly fitting is that my plan was to make this a Delaware-centric post since I had used most of my other stuff pre-election and held the items for the First State back.

So as has always been the rule, we have things I handle in a couple sentences to a few paragraphs – a series of mini-posts, if you will.

A taxpayer money waste

Did you know the state of Delaware is suing energy companies claiming “Defendants, major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have
known for nearly half a century that unrestricted production and use of fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate.”

(…)

“Defendants have known for decades that climate change impacts could be catastrophic, and that only a narrow window existed to take action before the consequences would be irreversible.”

If you really want to bother reading all 218 pages of the lawsuit be my guest, but the upshot is best described by the Caesar Rodney Institute’s David T. Stevenson, who wrote, “The suit is likely to meet the same fate as a similar lawsuit in New York that simply wasted taxpayer money.” CRI’s Stevenson instead compares the supposed future effects of so-called manmade climate change to the tangible effects of fossil fuels on societal development.

It’s true Delaware is a low-lying state, but it’s also true that sea levels have been rising for several decades, long before the first SUV was sold or widget factory was built. But to demand both compensatory and punitive damages from a host of energy companies – which would cut into their R & D budget and increase consumer costs – is in and of itself a waste of valuable energy and time. If it ever comes to the jury trial they demand, I pray that we get 12 sober-minded people who laugh this suit right out of court.

Robbing the livelihood

It’s been a bone of contention for many: what was originally billed as a state of emergency to “flatten the curve” has now almost become a way of life as our ongoing state of emergency in Delaware was quietly extended yet again on the Friday before Halloween (and the election.)

I did a little bit of traveling around the bottom part of the state this weekend and noticed some of the missing businesses. After a summer tourist season ruined by our reaction to the CCP virus, it may indeed be the winter of our discontent and there’s no better place to spend it than Delaware, right Governor Carney?

Since the Delaware General Assembly will be returning with an even stronger Democrat majority in the Senate, it’s to be expected that employer mandates will be among the items discussed. But as A Better Delaware observes, that can be very counterproductive to businesses already struggling to survive:

The cost of the health care provided to the employee does not result in more productivity or value of that employee at their firm. By adding this cost, it is more likely that incomes will be lowered in order for the total value of the employee to remain the same, even with additional costly mandates. Sometimes, the cost of these mandates results in layoffs so that the company can afford to provide them to the remaining employees.

“Employer mandates: mandating job and income loss,” A Better Delaware, October 2, 2020.

Instead, what they suggest is a private-sector solution: “either establish insurance plans that would cover short-term disability or paid family leave plans or allowing lower-income hourly workers to choose if they would want to convert overtime pay to paid leave.” The flexibility allowed by this would be beneficial, particularly as some may wish to enhance their allotted vacation time in this manner. I made an agreement like that last year with my employer to trade overtime for vacation hours I used later on to extend my year-end holiday by a couple days.

Time for public input

As I noted above, the state’s state of emergency was extended yet again by Governor Carney. But the folks at CRI believe this shouldn’t just be his call.

Instead, they believe what’s necessary is a three-day emergency session of the General Assembly, focused on the following:

  • Debate and negotiate a time limit for Executive Emergency Power, such as two or three months after which Legislative approval is needed for any extension.
  • Debate and negotiate specific metrics for re-opening the economy and return to in-person school classes based upon hospitalizations, not cases.

A state of emergency is not meant to be a perpetual grant of power, although politicians of all stripes have been known to abuse the declaration for things that aren’t immediate impediments to public safety, such as the opioid crisis. It’s important, but not to the level of a state of emergency. We flattened the curve and have learned a lot about the CCP virus, and in a cynical way it did its job because otherwise Donald Trump cruises to re-election and China continues to have a worthy adversary instead of a pocketed leader.

(ahem) It’s time for economy to get back to work so we can deal with all the abuse it might be about to take from the incoming Harris/Biden regime.

One last tax question

Should Delaware relent and adopt a sales tax?

This was another item considered by the CRI folks over the last few weeks, and their data bears out my armchair observations as someone who’s lived close by the border for 16 years. Since we don’t collect sales tax, strictly speaking this puts Delaware’s border-area retailers at an advantage. (Technically, residents of Maryland, Pennsylvania, et. al. are supposed to remit the sales tax they would have paid in-state after buying in Delaware but I’ve yet to meet one who does.)

But if you assume that Delaware takes in $2.89 billion from the retail industry, a 3% sales tax would give the state $86.7 million. However, when you compare that to the possible retail jobs and revenue lost by eliminating the state’s “tax-free” status, the net would be much smaller and could become a negative – a negative that increases the closer the state comes to matching its neighbors’ sales tax rates, which range from 6% in Maryland to 6.6% in New Jersey. (By comparison, these rates are among the lowest in the nation, so perhaps Delaware is a tempering factor for those states, too.)

Retail is a tough enough business, though. Why make it harder for those in the First State?

And last…it’s that time of year

Every year it seems I have a post about items made in the USA. Our fine friends at the Alliance for American Manufacturing continue to chug along with their list, and they’ve been looking for suggestions over the last month or so. The list usually comes out just in time for Black Friday, although this year may be different. (There’s still time to squeeze in a last-minute idea, I’ll bet.)

Admittedly, sometimes it’s a bit of a reach as last year‘s Delaware item was RAPA scrapple, but previous years they’ve featured Delaware self-employed crafters for baby-related items and unglazed clay bakeware, giving those small businesses a hand. I’d be very curious to see what they come up with this year.

And I’ll be very curious to see what I come up with for items for the next odds and ends, which begins the second hundred if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.

The several mornings after

I began this post late Wednesday night but I didn’t figure on getting it out until Friday. Then it’s time for a few days of well-deserved R & R.

So, about that crystal ball of mine. There are a lot of moving parts remaining in this Presidential election. I definitely whiffed on Minnesota – I guess people don’t mind rioting as much as I thought. And President Trump may well lose Wisconsin and Michigan as I predicted, but then he has to keep Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania to prevail. All three are a little fishy.

Because of that, I’m reticent to discuss that race. As for the overall Senate, it may come down to Georgia either holding that 51-49 majority or possibly 51-50, as predicted. And based on the House races out and who leads, I may not be terribly far off my guess on that. It’s hard to count (and count on) little dots, but I think we may indeed have a 219-216 House if results hold. I suspect it will be a couple-three less than that because Democrats have a way of stealing finding enough votes to win races, especially in California.

My focus was pretty good on Delaware races, with one exception. In a nutshell, here’s what I guessed and the results:

  • Delaware President: Biden 56-41 (actual: Biden 59-40)
  • Delaware U.S. Senator: Coons 60-37 (actual: Coons 59-38)
  • Delaware U.S. House: LBR 55-43 (actual: LBR 58-40)
  • Delaware Governor: Carney 50-45 (actual: Carney 59-39)
  • Delaware LG: Hall-Long 60-40 (actual: Hall-Long 59-41)
  • Delaware Insurance Commissioner: Navarro 60-40 (actual: Navarro 59-41)
  • Composition of Delaware Senate: Democrat 14-7 (actual: Democrat 14-7)
  • Composition of Delaware House: Democrat 26-15 (actual: Democrat 26-15)

I literally missed the Senate race by about 1/2%, the LG race by .36% and the Insurance Commissioner race by .02%, or 42 votes statewide. The biggest error I made was overestimating the level of enmity for John Carney, meaning Delaware is a state full of sheep. (But we already knew that, given other results.) I also gave the third parties more of a wide berth than they received, but that goes back to their exclusion from debates and media coverage.

I also figured the two Republicans who were picked off in the State Senate would indeed be the ones to go. It cleaned out my entire roster of Delaware winners of the monoblogue Accountability Project’s RINO Huntee Award, although I would have definitely preferred they go by the wayside in a primary. But if you’re going to vote like a Democrat, why not just have the real thing?

So while I don’t like the Delaware results, they were pretty much in line with how I guessed they would be, moreso than the primary.

The last race – one that I could not get a sense of – was the race I talked about across the way in Wicomico County. The good news is that Nicole Acle, the Republican, leads by about 1,100 votes so far. The bad news is that there are several thousand mail-in and provisional ballots left to count and “conservative” Democrat Alexander Scott had about a 2-1 margin in the mail-in votes already received. Essentially there needs to be about 3,000 votes out for Scott to have a chance if the mail-in trend holds with those and the provisional votes. (By the way, it’s normal that Maryland’s count is extended, but what is not normal is the number of mail-in votes. In a usual year we may be talking 100 votes tops out in the district by now; for example, in the 2018 midterm there were just under 400 of these votes total for that district, and most are counted by the Friday after the election with a handful withheld to mix with late-arriving military votes for the following Thursday when they wrap up. I recall sweating bullets for a week-plus after the primary I won to retain my seat on the Central Committee – by 30 votes countywide.)

If there wasn’t already enough evidence that mail-in voting was conceived as a huge advantage to Democrats, consider that between early voting and Election Day returns in Maryland, the Trump/Pence ticket leads by about 28,000 votes. Yes, in Maryland. Unfortunately, the mail-in balloting has Harris/Biden in the lead by 676,199, meaning the overall percentage is 63-35 Democrat. That may balloon even some more as the ballots left to count are mail-in so I figure Trump may lose by 30 points this time rather than 20.

One reason is the slight shade of purple we’re now seeing on the Eastern Shore. No, Andy Harris is not in serious danger of losing with a 30-point lead but I figured on 70 percent given his Democrat opponent is a girl who used to be a guy and doesn’t actually live in the district. (Never mind the far-left political stances.)

But with some mail-in votes left to count there’s some chance that Andy may not have a 12-for-12 sweep in the counties as he usually enjoys. I know Kent County (Maryland) has had it in for Andy ever since he kicked their favored son Wayne Gilchrest to the curb and out of Congress in the 2008 GOP primary but they may turn blue in the Congressional race just as they did the presidential as Harris leads there by just 2 points. Same goes for Talbot County, another popular Annapolis exurb. Andy is hanging on to a slim 8 point lead there. Oddly enough, sandwiched between the two is Queen Anne’s County, which is the eastern terminus of the Bay Bridge – Harris has a 67-33 lead there.

So I guess my handicapping wasn’t half-bad, but now I’m going to take a weekend away. I need a break!

After that I owe you an odds and ends piece, maybe some more election wrapup, and then the retrospective things I do about this time of year. Hard to believe I am wrapping up year number 15 of this enterprise.

A cloudy crystal ball

If the Good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be in line waiting to cast my vote when this comes up. I’m writing this on Monday night.

I guess we will begin with this, since it’s the most important.

I did an electoral map the other night which is the most likely electoral scenario in my eyes. It’s enough for Trump to win but not as much as he did in 2016 because he loses Wisconsin and Michigan in my scenario but gains Minnesota. If not for that and keeping Pennsylvania he would be out.

I also believe the Republicans hang on to the Senate but it may be a 51-49 majority or even 51-50. Can’t see them gaining quite enough to take back the House but there’s a decent chance I may be wrong. I can see enough of a gain, though, to make subsequent special elections meaningful because it may be something along the line of a 219-216 Democrat majority – which will make a Speaker election dicey.

In 2016, Donald Trump lost Delaware by 11 points, but he was the closest Republican when it came to winning a statewide race. I honestly think if he were running against anyone but Joe Biden, he would have an outside chance of winning the state but in this case I think Biden carries by about 15 points – let’s say 56-41, with the other 3% scattered among the Libertarian and Green candidates.

In this case, he won’t be the closest Republican. I think that distinction will go to Julianne Murray, who just may win if this becomes a referendum on John Carney’s handling of the CCP virus and the economy in general. This race may come down to how many votes can be manufactured in New Castle County, but I suspect it will be along the lines of a 50-45 finish, with IPoD’s Kathy DeMatteis getting 3-4% and the Libertarian candidate John Machurek picking up 1%.

Next closest will be Lee Murphy, who isn’t going to lose as badly as Scott Walker did. He will give LBR the closest race she’s had, although with just two under her belt it doesn’t say much. This matchup seems like a 55-43 type of match, with the IPoD candidate Catherine Purcell getting most of the other 2 percent over Libertarian David Rogers.

In both of the other two-person races – lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner – they’ll probably end up about 60-40 in favor of the incumbent Democrats, which is simply because people vote party line and neither Republican had built up her name recognition enough to make a dent. It’s a shame because both seem like they can do the job really well.

Last but not least is our U.S. Senate race. This could either be the biggest shocker in decades or, more likely, a 20-plus point whipping of Lauren Witzke by Chris Coons. There’s already a portion of the Republican base upset with her and I’m not sure Lauren’s push for the union vote is paying dividends. I look at this as a 60-37 race, with Libertarian Nadine Frost getting more of the other 3% than IPoD’s Mark Turley.

In the Delaware legislative races, the lack of opposition put up by Republicans in some races may cost them. There are a couple districts where I can see Democrats knocking off vulnerable state Senators (who often voted with the Democrats anyway) so that they will be up 14-7 going into the full turnover in 2022. In the House, with Democrats already spotted a 15-7 lead in unopposed candidates, it’s doubtful the GOP will improve on its 26-15 deficit. I think they will hold that number.

Looking quickly at Maryland, I think Andy Harris ends up north of 70% against Mia Mason in the First District House race. And to be honest, I have no sense of how that Wicomico County race I wrote about will go. There are more Republicans in the district but the question is how many will buy the horse hockey that the Democrat running is a “conservative Democrat.”

It’s also interesting to note that, based on their daily report, Republicans are already over 30% turnout in Maryland early voting, and in that regard they are crushing Democrats by 13 points. On the other hand, Democrats have returned 81% of their mail-in ballots to the Republicans’ 75%, but there is a wide disparity in their numbers – 49.8% of Democrats requested mail-in ballots while only 25.7% of Republicans opted to vote that way. So if there are long lines in Maryland tomorrow, that’s probably good news for the GOP because more of them have yet to vote – by my quick and dirty math about 57% of Democrats have voted in Maryland compared to 48% of Republicans.

So it’s doubtful that Donald Trump would carry Maryland, but he may come within 20 points and that would be a yuge improvement over losing 60-34 there four years ago.

Never say never…

Life is really funny sometimes. Back in 2016 when I took the exit ramp I was a convicted man, but somehow that road has led me in a strange direction. No, I’m not quite back on that highway but I think I can see it from here.

It didn’t take me all that long to begin shedding the “never” part of a certain term. Taking a hacksaw to regulations was very endearing, and getting a much-needed tax cut was certainly a push in the right direction. But it all began with that deep breath of optimism that came about in the latter days of 2016; the feeling that something better was indeed going to finally come along after years of waiting. And as if a sign from above, I was restored to what I once was: after eight long, disheartening years of being forced out of a good job due to misfortunes and dire economic circumstances, Providence allowed me to get a foot in the door, and a few months later make my full-time return. I wasn’t quite the classic prodigal son, but I almost broke down and wept on the day of my return to full-time work there. Certainly I had been humbled by the previous eight years.

In my lines of work and various side hustles, I depend greatly on a good economy. Over the last four years we have taken the low gear of the last administration – what was then proclaimed as a “new normal” – and turbocharged it so that the new new normal lent itself better to prosperity. And even when we were suddenly thrown into reverse by the CCP virus, allowing the states to govern their response has gotten many of us back on track – particularly those fortunate enough to live in states with traditionally Republican governors. (Our friends in Maryland don’t have one of those. He can vote for whom he wants, but I’m not applauding the stance anymore because it seems now to me more out of spite than anything else. At least in 2016 I voted for a legit write-in.)

But perhaps the biggest factor in steering my response was the absolutely unfair media shake we have seen for our current president. I think back to 2012 and Mitt Romney, and ponder whether we would be electing his replacement if the media had been as curious about scandal back then as they have over the last four years. Imagine if something like Benghazi had happened under the current administration: blaming it on a video would not fly with a persistently questioning and curious media. Having the sandbags placed by constant and phony investigation arguably cost the Republicans the House in 2018; fortunately, they didn’t lose the Senate, which brings up another point.

In the last four years, we have now seen 1/3 of the Supreme Court turn over as well as hundreds of new circuit and district judges installed. While the imprint of these new appointees is still somewhat faint, over time we will begin to see their effect on the judiciary system if the trend is allowed to continue. Jurists who understand the plain meaning of the Constitution as well as the vision of those who wrote it are a significant line of defense against damaging revisions to our government and rescinding of our God-given rights. Perhaps they can also be the impetus to bringing about correction in a positive direction for a change.

To be sure, I don’t agree with the current occupant of the Oval Office on everything, and for that reason I also pondered a couple alternatives. It turns out Tom Hoefling, who I considered last time, is a write-in for Delaware*, but the reason I didn’t vote for him in 2016 was his slight but significant misunderstanding of the role of government. (Sadly, even though I don’t really care for the Constitution Party’s nominee Don Blankenship, feeling that he is a grifter of sorts, his campaign didn’t even bother to become a write-in candidate in Delaware. That’s a post for after the election.)

On the other hand, I was very compelled with Jo Jorgensen’s run as the Libertarian candidate. But when you think about it, there are a number of areas Jorgensen is advocating where the current administration is already moving in that direction, particularly in foreign policy. And when you further think about it, the current system wouldn’t lend itself to policy success for a Jorgensen administration because neither Republicans nor Democrats would have much incentive to assist her. It could be the long-term solution to this is to remove party affiliation from the ballot, but that will not occur without a vast public mandate.

Finally, it occurred to me the other day that 2020 is the first time I have ever blogged about a Republican president seeking re-election. I hadn’t began blogging yet when George W. Bush began his re-election run in 2004; in fact, I hadn’t even moved here. When I arrived in October of that year it was too late to register in Maryland so I voted absentee in Ohio. Obviously the next campaign in 2008 gave us Barack Obama and we kept him for 2012, so the return of the Republicans meant 2020 would be their first crack at re-election in 16 years.

Back in 2016 I gave three options for the election results:

I guess the way I look at it there are three possibilities here: either Trump is going to lose to Hillary, he will beat Hillary and govern exactly as I predict he will, or he will be a great President and I will have assessed him incorrectly. Truly I wouldn’t mind being wrong for the sake of this great nation, but I have no evidence to believe I will be.

“Taking the exit ramp,” August 1, 2016

With the evidence of the last four years, I’m going to do something I rarely have to do: admit I was wrong. It’s precisely why you should never say never, because I painted myself into a #NeverTrump corner and have to get my feet dirty to get out. But I really don’t mind.

Given the record and the horrible alternatives, the time has come to return to my political home for an election. America, we need to re-elect Donald Trump.

*There are over twenty write-in candidates for President recognized by Delaware, but just three have vice-presidential picks listed. So those were the three I looked up, including Hoefling.