Thoughts on Ben Carson

You may wonder why the name of the onetime Obama nemesis and 2016 Presidential candidate is popping up on this website after a lengthy hiatus, but wonder no more. Last Friday night I was one of hundreds of Sussex County and surrounding residents who were treated to a personal appearance from Dr. and Mrs. Carson at Crossroad Community Church – the same venue which had the discussion on CRT I covered in July.

This is a post which will be frugal in photos and bereft of quotes because I didn’t come equipped with a notebook for them. I wasn’t really expecting any breaking news from Ben aside from chatter about a new enterprise he’s beginning called the American Cornerstone Institute (ACI), an organization dedicated to four basic principles: Faith, Liberty, Community, and Life. Certainly it’s a way to keep himself relevant after finishing his stint as HUD director and candidate for president, but I get the sense that the gig for him is a little bit like President Trump is doing these days: they aren’t doing it because they have to but they’re doing it because they want to.

So about the evening – we had a little bit of everything. There was this introductory video, congregational praise singing, dancing, and worship before Dr. Carson spoke, and an appeal for helping to get state and local chapters of the American Cornerstone group off the ground. (In that respect, they’re going to tread a lot of the ground already staked out by the 9/12 Delaware Patriots and Patriots for Delaware.) Ben talked a lot about his youth and upbringing, noting he was once called the dumbest kid in the school but two years later was motivated enough to move to the top of the class. (Then again, he was in those grades right around the time I was born. I have to stop and think about how he was raised in grinding poverty in a pre-Great Society, pre-civil rights era, back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He graduated from high school in 1969, just before I began my schooling.)

One perk of attending was that each seat was equipped with Ben’s book, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future. Obviously the cynic in all of us may see the book as a loss leader (yeah, it probably was) and the event as an effort to raise funds and awareness for his new enterprise (yeah, it certainly was as you’ll see in an upcoming photo) but to me there was a person on stage who was determined to leave this place better than how he found it, one not depending on statistics or jargon to make his point.

Out of all that he said, though, I was somewhat surprised and a little bit disappointed about how little he said about his tenure at HUD. Certainly Ben’s known for his medical expertise, but I think more discussion about the “fish out of water” experience of running a government agency would have been enlightening. Certainly I would love to know whether (and if so, how) that experience led him to form the ACI once his time was done in January – after all, Dr. Carson has reached a stage in life and accomplishment where he would have been excused if he decided to spend more time with his wife Candy and play a few more rounds on the golf course. But it appears he’s chosen not to, instead coming to Delaware to spread the word about his organization.

What I can tell you is that we had a full house, plus overflow.

It so happened we were sitting in the very corner of the room so you can see how full it was. We were probably among the last seated before they went to overflow. If you look closely at the empty VIP seats in front of us, you’ll see a copy of his book at each seat.

Besides the video I alluded to earlier, Carson made most of his remarks with a sparse backdrop.

I wasn’t really pleased with how my photos of Ben came out. I’ll check and if Kim took a better one I’ll swap it out (with credit, of course.)

Once he finished his remarks – which ran about 45 minutes – he exited stage right, directly in front of us so I could thank him for coming. Apparently he was going to meet with those in overflow before still further meetings with the VIPs. In the interim, we heard from the state coordinator of ACI, a longtime friend of Ben’s. He noted that the state group was looking for members and support, and I think they got some, judging by the bowl.

I’m not great at counting money like this, but I’m sure there was at least several hundred dollars in the bowl. I don’t think the Carsons would be hurting for gas money back home.

If people wanted something a little more tangible and to spread the word, well, they had threads too.

I never thought I looked very good in white and they didn’t have my size, anyway. Not as much in that bucket.

When he ran for President in 2016, Ben Carson was sort of middle of the pack as far as my endorsement went, with good points and bad points. Similarly, I liked a lot of what he had to say on Friday night, but I think Ben could have been a little bit more enlightening if he hadn’t focused as much on his story (as compelling as it is) and talked a little more on how his organization will differ from all of the other think tanks/PACs failed candidates usually come up with. Maybe that’s just the recovering politician in me. (There was a promising aspect that ACI just began called Little Patriots – hopefully that carries on the spirit of the Rush Revere book series authored by Rush Limbaugh, which was a conservative historical perspective tailored for a younger set.)

Perhaps we will get more of those answers in the coming days, but I’m glad slower lower Delaware got a little love from a nationally-known figure.

Postscript: It’s worth mentioning as well that there was almost no advertising for this event. I’m sure it was mentioned at the church regularly, but the way I heard about the event was via The Bridge (a local Christian radio station) and it was only mentioned a handful of times there. I guess word gets around fast, but when my wife shared this on social media a lot of the response was “I wish I had known.” They could have filled that church twice over with a bit more advertising.

Odds and ends number 106

I think you know the drill by now…more items (generally) from my e-mail that pique my interest enough to devote anywhere from a few sentences to a few paragraphs to them. Ready? Let’s go!

Why grifters matter

While I used to love the idea and concept of the TEA Party Express, somewhere along the line they went from being a help to the cause to a hindrance that leeches up valuable resources better suited for local and state races where people can make an impact.

That was the case with a recent e-mail that asked, “Ready to work your tail off to elect a bunch of bland, Democrat-lite Republicans in 2022? Me neither.”

The “me” in question is Sal Russo, a familiar operative with the TPX. And they are targeting three seats next year: Mark Kelly in Arizona, Raphael Warnock in Georgia, and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire. Of the three, Hassan is the only one who has served a full term as the other two won special elections last year.

They were looking for $50,ooo, and I can picture how they will spend it: negative ads against the incumbents. Obviously it’s too soon to know which candidates will run in these primary races and perhaps they will get involved to try and tip the scales to, say, a Herschel Walker in Georgia. But as we found out over the last several cycles, the conservative flavor of the day today is the “bland, Democrat-lite Republican” a term or two down the road. Yet that $50,000 could help elect 15 or 20 local conservatives to local races where they can truly be the grassroots. Why fatten the pockets of political consultants?

Start the bus!

As you probably remember, the Tea Party Express made its name by running month-long bus tours across the country. Well, back in August the United Steelworkers did the same thing trying to get the Biden infrastructure bill passed.

This short little tour only lasted a few days and had stops in Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – essentially places with steel manufacturing. But the fact I only heard about it because I’m still on the Alliance for American Manufacturing mailing list means that the union workers have been abandoned by Big Media and the Biden administration (but I repeat myself) as the wrong kind of Democrats.

Flooding the zone

And further speaking of political consultant groups, there are two that are sowing the seeds of destruction in Virginia.

According to this recent piece by the Capital Research Center, two far-left groups have somehow put together the scratch to send out 2 million vote-by-mail applications to selected Virginia voters. About 20 percent of them are destined for one county, Fairfax County. (That place is crazy-left and full of pencil-pushers, as I’ve found out in dealing with them over the last 18 months or so.)

The Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information are to blame for this. In the words of CRC’s Hayden Ludwig, “These groups use IRS rules permitting 501(c) nonprofits to engage in nonpartisan voter registration as a cloak for their blatantly partisan operations. VPC’s website proudly states that it wants to turn out more ‘young people, people of color and unmarried women’—a voting bloc that gave more than 60 percent of its votes for Biden in 2020 and contains 73 percent of all unregistered voters nationwide.” (Emphasis in original.) So it’s not just ANY voter to whom their message is intended or participation solicited.

Unfortunately, these are the electoral blocs most likely to vote against their own self-interest, in this case backing political hack and former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe in his bid to return for a second bite of the apple to destroy that state once and for all. As Ludwig concludes, “Using nonprofits to conduct huge voter registration drives is only one component in the Left’s plan to effectively federalize future elections using vote by mail. This is the new norm in American politics, and sadly for democracy, it’s here to stay.” It is indeed here to stay, but if those on the side of common sense properly educate these voters as to better alternatives it doesn’t have to be that way.

Virginia is a bellwether state in the fact that it has its state elections in odd-numbered years. We knew the potential of a TEA Party wave in 2010 because both Virginia and New Jersey elected GOP governors in 2009, so the messaging is clear for 2022 based on November’s results. If the Democrats stuff the ballot box it makes it look like their agenda has broad support and discourages conservatives, or leads them to foolish investments as in the grifter case above.

Blowing away the windmills

In their haste to provide so-called “renewable” (read: expensive and unreliable) energy for the masses, the federal government is cutting corners and not telling the whole story. That’s the conclusion of David Stevenson, the Director of the Center for Energy & Environmental Policy, which is part of the Caesar Rodney Institute.

His piece, which conveniently also appeared at the Real Clear Energy website, details a litany of problems with offshore wind that are both environmental and practical. While environmentalists deny that viewshed is an issue during the day, the required lighting for navigation will certainly be seen from the shore at night. And the disruption to the ocean bottom is certainly on a scale with drilling for oil and natural gas, with far less payoff in terms of reliable energy. As Stevenson notes, “The lack of answers to so many critical questions is a direct result of BOEM releasing a ‘Final Environmental Impact Statement’ just nine days after accepting the developer’s permit request. BOEM has provided a target-rich arena for litigation.” That seems like a real rush job – imagine the howling if such a timetable was used for the Keystone XL pipeline.

I honestly believe both wind turbines and oil rigs can co-exist in the ocean, but if I can have only one give me the reliable solution.

She’s back in the running

Because I had this baked in the cake for awhile I figured it could be an “odds and ends” piece. Still, last week we learned that the Delaware GOP is closer to filling out its statewide ballot. It’s now official that 2020 gubernatorial candidate Julianne Murray is running to be the next Attorney General for the state of Delaware. (She even kept the same URL and just changed the content.)

One interesting tidbit in the Delaware Live story was that, “win or lose,” she will not run for governor in 2024, even though it would be an open seat as John Carney is term-limited. Unlike Lee Murphy, who never has seemed to find a political race he couldn’t run, Julianne must figure the only way she runs again is as an incumbent, and that makes sense from a professional and personal standpoint.

Since I don’t see a primary challenge for Julianne in the works, it’s likely she would take on current AG Kathy Jennings, a Democrat first elected in 2018 with 61% of the vote. The last Republican AG was current GOP party chair Jane Brady, first elected Attorney General in 1994 and serving two-plus terms before being succeeded by a Democrat appointee in 2005 when she became a judge. Since then there’s been a succession of Democrats in the office, most notably the late Joseph R. Biden III, best known as “Beau” Biden.

15 minute syndrome

There was a piece from Erick Erickson last week where he related:

The (Gabby Petito) story broke a week ago.  It sailed past me until my sixteen-year-old daughter asked what I thought about it.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  My wife, the next day, came home from the gym to ask about it.  A twenty-something young woman at her gym was talking about it.  None of the women over thirty had heard about it.

Erick Erickson, “Regarding Gabby Petito,” September 23, 2021.

If it weren’t for social media, I wouldn’t have known about it either. Sadly, there are probably dozens of similar stories playing out every year but because Gabby Petito had more of a self-created social media following this caught peoples’ attention. Add in the fact that the prime suspect boyfriend is missing as well and now the story has legs.

It’s a case where your mileage may vary, but I grew up in a place and era with a daily big-city newspaper in our paper box that covered “important” local, national, and world news. A distilled version of that national and world content made the network news at 6:30 with Walter Cronkite (that was the station my parents watched) while a shorter version of the “important” local news and on-the-scene reporting was on the 6:00 local news. (For several years we only had two local newscasts; the then-ABC station finally started their local newscast when I was about 10.) The noon local news was more human interest stuff tailored to the stay-at-home moms along with a few headlines and weather and served as the bridge between game shows and soap operas.

We also had a couple very local newspapers that covered news in the rural county where I lived, and it was a BIG deal when I was in one of those papers for some academic achievement. My mom and dad probably still have a few of those clippings, so do I somewhere.

My point in bringing up this personal history is that our expectations of what is and isn’t news were completely changed by the 24/7 news cycle and the internet. And because people can now make and produce their own news content, like me writing on this blog, things like newspaper articles aren’t so treasured. Now if a child wins some honor the parental units plaster it all over their social media. (That may be how we first knew Gabby Petito.)

Bringing it back to Petito’s disappearance and eventual demise, it’s less likely a story like hers would have made the cut back in the era when we had 30 minutes of national news a day. Certainly it would be a sensation in her hometown, but those stories really had to have a hook to be aired on a wider scale.

Yet now we miss the forest for the trees – certainly her family deserves prayers for comfort in their loss and her boyfriend has some ‘splainin to do if he’s still alive and they ever catch up to him if he is, but is the Petito tale a story that has gravitas or impact in our lives? Or is it just a diversion brought forth by a media monster that inhales these stories as content so it doesn’t have to investigate real issues that affect a much larger audience than Petito’s family and social media circle?

I’m going to let you mull on that as I close out this edition of odds and ends.

My carbon offset

Once in awhile you gotta have a light-hearted stack of stuff, and this falls in the category.

The other day I got this as an e-mail from a lady (at least, that’s what I presume based on the name) named Suzy Nguyen from an NGO called 8 Billion Trees. You know I love it when people ask for my opinion!

Hi there,

Hope you’re doing well! 

I’m Suzy from 8 Billion Trees – a tree planting and wildlife conservation organization (NGO).

I’m reaching out to share my story and hope that you would help me spread the words to your audiences/readers so we can together make a change our planet desperately needs! 

We’re living in a critical time of global warming issue, and we HUMANS are the major cause who are responsible for this. We are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth’s temperature by burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests, and farming livestock. But more than that, do you know that everything you do and consume in daily life can add up to your personal Carbon & Ecological Footprint? And all that together is destroying Earth’s environment.  

As an NGO that specializes and deeply cares about climate change and influences people to be more aware of our impacts on the planet, we have created a Carbon Pollutant Calculator – a FREE tool for anyone to use. The calculator allows someone to find their personal Carbon & Ecological Footprint and have an understanding of crucial steps in lowering their carbon emissions, as well as taking responsibility for the footprints we’re all contributing to. Yes, it’s a nasty consequence of modern life. 

You can easily calculate your own Footprint here: https://8billiontrees.com/carbon-offsets-credits/carbon-ecological-footprint-calculators/  

And don’t forget to take some time to read our complete guideline to Carbon Offsets: https://8billiontrees.com/carbon-offsets-credits/ 

I’d love to hear what you think!

Yep, that was their e-mail.

I’m not so sure she will love to hear what I think, but I love to respond to people like this. First of all, I found out that I’m in the top 3 percent in the world when it comes to carbon emissions – their handy-dandy calculator estimated my annual carbon footprint to be 27.78 tons. (Damn, what a slacker I am.) Supposedly, the average for a “global citizen” is 5.29 tons, but since I do productive service work for a living promoting commerce and helping people achieve their dreams in front of an energy-hogging computer and enjoy a 21st century lifestyle with a plethora of labor-saving devices and technology, I think I’ll proudly wear that badge of gluttony.

(That’s why I kept the links in the letter – hopefully I have readers who can beat me on their calculator.)

Now don’t get me wrong: I have zero problem with them planting trees. After all, I grew up in the region of the country where, legend has it, Johnny Appleseed planted thousands of them as a traveling missionary. If 8BT wants to take money donated to them and plant trees with it, I’m good with that. (Even if they come across to some people as a scam.) But when they go on to explain carbon offsets, that’s where the issues begin.

(There’s one interesting section of this diatribe where they go through the various types of renewable energy. It’s interesting to see how little is actually produced despite all the press.)

However, the issue isn’t really with them but with how the concept of offsetting carbon is put into practice through the hand of government. (8 Billion Trees isn’t completely clean of this, though, as they do work with some state-level governments around the globe.) As government does it, the concept is used as a tool of wealth redistribution that keeps busy a cadre of pencil-pushers who could otherwise find more useful work.

And if reducing carbon was truly their goal, they would embrace nuclear energy because it doesn’t use any carbon. (Granted, there has to be some measure of redundancy when their plants close for maintenance, but if there were more nuclear plants we could easily rotate those periods into the loop.) I lived many years getting power from a nuclear plant and we were none the poorer for it.

Now I know I will get an argument from so-called experts who swear up and down that Big Oil got all sorts of subsidies over the years and the handouts and carveouts for renewables are only leveling the playing field. They also say that oil and natural gas are toxins that harm the environment if spilled, which can be true in the immediate timeframe although the earth does a decent job of healing itself over time.

But these same advocates tend to gloss over the detrimental effects of solar panels, which require tons of rare earth materials which are both toxic and hard to come by globally (unless your name is China) as well as covering acres and acres of otherwise productive land. And wind turbines? Forget that their disposal often requires burial in a landfill (taking up space needed for our everyday waste), their low-frequency noise has been linked to health issues, and they are hazardous to aviary health.

And in both cases, cloudy and calm days produce no energy whereas fossil fuels burn regardless of the weather. Their biggest issue seems to be transmission, as Texas found out. (Then again, it stopped the windmills, too.)

So I wish Suzy the best of luck planting trees. I think I have plenty enough in my yard to do the job, and (as an added bonus) some even bear fruit.

Total recall

While the final result wasn’t unexpected, the political news over the summer was the fate of California Governor Gavin Newsom, who survived an effort to recall him Tuesday by gathering over 60% of the vote so far – enough to safely assume he will stick around to finish his term next year and perhaps help propel him to re-election against whichever hapless candidate the California GOP will throw on the ballot. Interestingly enough, had Newsom somehow been recalled, the overwhelming winner of the race to replace him would have been black Republican, columnist, and talk show host Larry Elder. Larry received nearly half the vote in an exceptionally crowded replacement field with one caveat: it did not boast a major Democrat, probably because no connected Democrat would risk crossing the state’s political machine. (Yet the field did have the athlete formerly known as Bruce Jenner, who ran as a Republican.)

But the reason I’m bringing this up is the theoretical one: here in Delaware, Governor John Carney has led his state in much the same way that Newsom has governed California, using the heaviest of hands last year to browbeat individuals and businesses into attempting to stop the spread of the CCP virus. While things have eased up somewhat in recent months, Carney is running a state that is fat and happy with federal largesse at the moment but one that doesn’t seem to be sharing in the economic recovery from COVID all that well. While recall isn’t an option that’s available to Delaware voters, the question is whether such a bid could succeed if it were.

In California, the Newsom recall (which, by the way, was the 55th such effort, with success coming only in 2003 when Gray Davis was recalled in favor of Arnold Schwarzenegger) needed about 1.5 million signatures on a petition drive. (The number is 12% of the number of voters who participated in the previous gubernatorial election.) Based on the 2020 election, such an effort in Delaware would need a little over 59,000 signatures – and I think we could pick up a lot of that in Sussex County. One thing that would help is that Carney is not too far along in his term, so whoever succeeds him would have a long time to be in office.

But the question would be twofold, just as it was in California: could a Delaware recall vote of John Carney succeed, and who would run to replace him?

If you listen to the political pundits, they will say that the reason the recall failed (after looking somewhat promising initially) was that once Larry Elder emerged from the field as a contender, the contest became less on Newsom’s record and more like a standard election, which in California accrues a huge advantage to Democrats. If the system were set up in such a way that the Newsom recall would have been done first, then the election to succeed a few weeks later (with the lieutenant governor stepping in for the interim) it may have had more of a chance to succeed. Chances are that, in the end, the LG would have run for the top spot in the second election and won, but the key goal of getting rid of Newsom would have been achieved.

Here in Delaware, there are no shortage of Republicans who would have likely thrown their hat into the ring for such an election, with the top-tier candidates being the last two who the GOP has nominated for governor, Julianne Murray and Colin Bonini. But I suspect there may have been a high-profile regressive Democrat who jumped in as well, figuring he, she, or they would motivate their far-left voters to join in the recall effort and rid themselves of a more centrist Democrat. That would make things a lot more interesting and give a whole bunch of heartburn to the Delaware Democrat Party.

In a best-case scenario, the two forces combine with independents who are sick to death of “Governor Carnage” and push him out of office – say 35% of the total are Republicans and independents and 20% are those far-left Democrats. Assuming the GOP didn’t shoot itself in the foot and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by running enough people to split the vote, it would put a Republican in the governor’s chair even if he or she had to face a strongly Democrat General Assembly.

The more likely outcome, though, would find the Democrats having enough party discipline to prevail. That’s one thing they do pretty well, given the fact both their incumbent U.S. Senators have run against a “progressive” candidate recently and crushed that opposition. (By that token the regressives must be happy with LBR because no one with any significant bankroll or support base opposed her in the last two primary elections.) It would probably be something on the order of the California outcome, with over 60% voting against their best interests to retain.

Now if I were still in Maryland and recall were possible, THAT would be an intriguing coalition trying to recall Larry Hogan. I’ll just leave it at that.

Square one

As anyone over the age of 30 knows and remembers, it was twenty years ago today that not only did Sgt. Pepper teach the band to play, but a infamous band of homicidal religious fanatics flew jetliners into both towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, not achieving their goal of hitting the Capitol or White House only because of brave, quick-thinking, and doomed passengers aboard Flight 93.

Yet all that seems a history lesson lost on our policy makers who botched the final military campaign of the War on Terror undertaken by President George W. Bush and followed through – if reluctantly – by Presidents Obama and Trump. Joe Biden wanted our troops home from Afghanistan and he got them – never mind the fluctuating number of American and allied civilians remaining in-country, desperately seeking a way out.

It was intended to be perfect theatre: leaving a ostensibly free Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, with a government and army equipped and ready to stave off the Taliban menace without our assistance, sort of like the baby birds pushed out of the nest to fly free and live on their own – instead, the neighborhood predators got them.

As one who lived through 9/11, it’s somewhat ironic that the world we feared at the time has now come true by our own hand. For months we lived in mortal fear of a terrorist attack and our government took advantage of that to pass several heavy-handed restrictions, particularly on our freedom of movement and our privacy, still in place today. Indeed, we are safer from that terrorist threat, but at what cost?

Maybe this sensitivity is why I so clearly see the parallels between our reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attack and the more recent CCP virus terrorist attack. In both cases, the federal government expanded in both size and reach, with our latter-day equivalent to the PATRIOT Act perhaps being the vaccination mandates Joe Biden wants to send our way. (He will have much stiffer opposition from the states on this one than George W. Bush got for the PATRIOT Act, though.)

Yet there is one clear difference between 9/11 and the Wuhan flu, and that’s our lack of being united in the immediate aftermath. Our post-9/11 Era of Good Feelings only lasted a few weeks, but that’s one thing we remember about that time. Unfortunately, we never had that same feeling after we learned we had been exposed to the CCP virus – instead, each side has blamed the other for failures in stopping the spread and treating this deadly virus. Right now the role of Muslims post-9/11 is being played by those who have chosen not to be vaccinated for whatever reason. They have become the modern-day scapegoats.

Because there’s no particular day that can be pinned for the virus breaking loose from the Wuhan lab and eventually making its way to our shores, we won’t have the chance to pick an anniversary to commemorate. Unfortunately, it ended up that we couldn’t wipe out radical Islam in 20 years and it’s looking more and more like that chunk of time won’t be any more effective than 15 days to stop the spread.

A brief rebuttal

As I alluded to in my last post, I did get a response from Jen Kuznicki in her podcast on August 23 – a podcast I didn’t have a chance to sit down and listen to until last night. (In the interim, she’s done another I haven’t listened to yet.)

Given her response, two things were clear to me: one is that I should have done Jen’s section as a separate post from the part about the Tea Party Express. I think she got bogged down in more of a comparison with the TPX than I had intended to make. My point with them is that they were soliciting money to get consultants rich instead of really helping conservative candidates, and that point remains. Somewhere in the podcast I think Jen mentioned giving money to individual candidates, and I agree with (in fact, encourage) that approach.

The second part is that I probably agree with her assessment on the Republican Party about 70 percent, except there are portions of the country where getting involved in the GOP are more difficult than others. Just as a personal example, I was elected twice as a precinct committeeman in Toledo and surrounding areas and appointed twice. In the one election I was opposed, it was one of maybe a half-dozen contested precinct races in the entire county (out of perhaps 300, since precincts in Lucas County are generally tiny, like a handful of blocks in some cases.) In the cases where I was appointed, the precinct was empty because no one sought the job. I literally lost my election in Precinct P of my ward and immediately got asked if I wanted to represent Precinct Q next door since no one ran there.

In places like that, it would be simpler for a motivated group to take over the party – get enough people elected in home precincts and have the interest to be appointed to other precincts that need people. Then they can have the muscle to get folks elected to the executive committee where the real decisions are made.

On the other hand, my experience in Maryland was that I had to run countywide in order to get a seat at the GOP table. In one respect it was good because it skipped the really low precinct level (otherwise, our county would have had about 50 different elections) but it also made each seat require much more effort in highly competitive areas. In my first election there were seven running for seven seats countywide so I won automatically, but in my last two we had thirteen vying for nine seats. In other places around Maryland, though, there may have been a half-dozen scrambling for just one spot in a particular legislative district – it all depends on how each county does things. I think that’s a factor that can’t be ignored.

There’s also something to be said for political clubs, which are a large factor in some areas and basically ignored in others. Taking over a club can get you influence if you play it right, but it can also lead to a divisive conflict that allows the opposition to get a foothold.

Jen also mentioned author Craig Shirley, who I wasn’t all that familiar with. But in doing a shovel’s worth of digging, I found out he’s now a columnist for Newsmax and recently he did a piece on Reaganism I found interesting. One good pull quote:

For my wife Zorine and I who were foot soldiers in the Reagan Revolution, it began months earlier, possibly years earlier, when in the mind of a young man or young woman, or in Reagan’s mind itself, a spark was ignited and an original thought provoked which said, “Enough is enough. This is my country, and it is being run into the ground and I am not going to take it anymore. Because our ideas are better than their ideas.”

“Reaganism and Understanding It,” Craig Shirley, Newsmax.com, August 16, 2021.

Indeed, I believe our ideas are better than their ideas, which is why I keep doing this. But the one place I may disagree with Jen somewhat is that perhaps we are limiting ourselves too much if we concentrate on taking over one political party. As we have seen over the last twenty years, the fortunes of the Republican Party have ebbed and flowed based on public mood moreso than their philosophy, which has stayed relatively constant. Perhaps a better and concurrent strategy – one which the TEA Party had mixed success with – would be to take over the local boards and commissions to establish a beachhead of good governance, then work up through the system. (It seems like this is the method being attempted by the Patriots for Delaware.) As I’ve said before, governing is the hard part – but it’s harder when the citizenry is apathetic to needed improvements.

Beggars and hangers-on with both sides

Over my last (infrequent) series of posts, I’ve taken time on a couple occasions to pick on grifters from the left so in order to be equal opportunity I decided to take on a right-leaning outfit looking to part the gullible and their money.

To set up the story, I heard from an old friend of sorts the other day. Over the years I’ve blogged quite a bit about the Tea Party Express (TPX) on my site, but that wasn’t many pixels compared to when I wrote Rise and Fall. (It’s scary to remember that just about five years have now passed since I first embarked on that project, which came out almost 2 1/2 years ago now.) As part of that book I wrote a much more comprehensive history of the TPX, covering its evolution from being the Our Country Deserves Better PAC in the 2008 election through its chance encounter with a TEA Party rally in Sacramento to being a Presidential debate co-sponsor three years later. After that peak, the TPX slowly declined as they laid off the bus tours they were most famous for after the 2014 primaries and became just another political insider organization subsisting on handouts.

So it almost hurt to read the well-worn script imploring donors to help the TPX “ensure conservatives take back the House in 2022” and promising “we ensure donations ONLY go to proven conservatives, NO RINOS.” What they’re not counting on you recalling is that some of those RINOs were surely people they backed in the first place.

Of course, they mention how “Nancy Pelosi and her lap dog Adam Schiff disgracefully assaulted President Trump,” and that the Left’s goal was not just silencing Donald Trump, but our voice as well. Yeah, yeah, I get all that.

But, you see, the blogger of 2021 is not the gung-ho TPX backer he was back in 2009-10 when he pined for the TPX to make a stop on the Delmarva. Perhaps I saw the light when onetime TPX chair Amy Kremer decided to drop it like a bad habit due to a strategy disagreement and eventually latched onto the Trump phenomenon as her grift. They definitely lost their luster with me as time went on and they moved on from what made them great.

Speaking of the TEA Party, it’s funny that this TPX appeal came a day or two before I listened to a new podcast from an old conservative blogging friend I know, Jen Kuznicki. I think she may be a little more bullish about the TEA Party than I am, but I learned that she was once again in the belly of the beast as a county GOP chair. Yet she points out the difficulty of working behind enemy lines, as it were, in a rural part of Michigan analogous to the situation we here in Delaware and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland face. (The part about having four votes for her little rural county vs. dozens for the big cities – hey, that sounds vaguely familiar! Just the numbers are a little different.)

I know Jen’s been writing for awhile, so I also know she was a participant in the TEA Party’s attempt to take over the GOP (much like I was, several states away) just as she now advocates the Trump backers to do the same. Yet there always seems to be an issue with getting “establishment” people out of the power positions, regardless of how well you try and take over the local groups. Those in control are not above spreading rumors and innuendo or inserting stalking horses into the race to maintain their hold.

So if it’s true that insanity is believing that you can do the same thing and get different results then the same is true with handing money to the Tea Party Express. It’s money that would be far more useful to the conservative cause if it were donated to a local conservative candidate or traditionalist slate running for school board. That goal amount of $50,000 donated to the TPX will, if they indeed entice the sum from the unwashed, likely fatten the coffers of chosen consultants who will work on the periphery with messaging spots against the Democrats that get tuned out by the electorate instead of going to the candidates who wear away their shoe leather and burn their gas seeking votes where they can find them.

With my sincere apologies to Jen, it’s all a movie I’ve seen before and I really want a different script this time. Maybe the initial organizers of the TEA Party were right in wanting to stay away from the two-party system – after all, once a side assumes they have a group in its pocket (such as the black vote for Democrats or the evangelical vote for Republicans) that’s when they know they only have to provide lip service to your issues. And the TEA Party got a LOT of lip service over the decade it was prominent.

So it was easy to give a hard pass to the TPX. My local patriot group isn’t begging me for money but I bet they’ll work harder for their chosen candidates.

Editor’s note 8-21-21: Jen has promised me she will address this in her next podcast, so keep your ear to the ground.

Quick fix, simmering realizations…

Every so often I get blog feedback, and generally when I mention it I like to poke fun at it. But in this case it brought back a memory that, upon reading, could really have been written in August 2021 just as easily as it was in May of 2017.

In this case, the feedback was from an outfit that must like to check my links and suggests that I prune dead links and redirect them through their site. I appreciated their advice, but instead I found an archived link for what I needed.

But it gave me the opportunity to do a throwback Thursday on Sunday the other night when I wrote this piece. At that point in life 4 1/2 years ago I was still skeptical of a Trump administration that was just starting out while I was then working a job and a half. And it was this passage that stopped me cold:

I’m no economic genius by any stretch of the imagination, but I would suspect having GDP growth exceed inflation is good, but having government spending (which is a component of GDP) increase more quickly than either is a bad sign. If you take away the government spending component the question is whether GDP growth is still ahead of inflation. Maybe it’s not.

But who profits from that? I will grant there is certain government spending that adds value: if someone in the federal DOT had the gumption to have an interstate highway built between here and I-95 by Wilmington, not only would the money create local construction jobs on Delmarva but the greater ease in access to and from points north like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia would be good for local tourism and industry by making it easier to get here and transport there.

On the other hand, simple wealth transfers from rich to poor (welfare, Medicaid) and young to old (Social Security, Medicare) don’t add much in the way of value except in the sense that their care and feeding keeps a few thousand paper-pushers employed. But they are not creating value as their wages are extracted from those dollars others earn with work that adds value like mining, manufacturing, services like architecture and construction, and so forth. (Did I mention that I’m once again a registered architect in Maryland?)

So if you know this and I know this, why is the system remaining as is? I believe more and more that there is a group of well-connected people and entities who make their fortunes by gaming the system. Instead of government being a neutral arbitrator, they seem to be putting their thumb on the scale to favor those who now participate in an ever-widening vicious cycle of dependency and rent-seeking. To me, things should be fair for everyone with equal treatment in the eyes of the law but greed and lack of respect for one’s fellow man has changed the Golden Rule to “he who has the gold, rules.”

“About my hiatus,” May 5, 2017.

And remember, I wrote this before anyone outside of a Wuhan lab had ever heard of the virus that became the CCP virus and its fourteen variants that seem to come out whenever the news is bad for the Democrats. It was a pandemic where the rich, led by Walmart and Amazon, got richer and the middle-class got pretty much wiped out by unemployment and seeing their businesses die, or both. Remind me again who determined which businesses were deemed “essential” and which were forced to close? And this doesn’t even consider stimulus packages 1-48, which have added trillions to our deficit and debt.

(Side note: I was on a roll back then with my thoughts, because the next piece just nailed health insurance. I even called Andy Harris’s margin of victory eighteen months ahead of time. I really need to write like that more often!)

So, “Ella Miller,” if you are a real person (and I’m guessing by the search engines that you are sending these out under a pseudonym), I want to thank you for bringing the dead link to my attention so I could be reminded of just how consistent I’ve been politically and how I sometimes have the spider sense working just right.

True lies from the opposition

I haven’t written much about Indivisible of late because they’re continuing their predictable slide into grifter status, perpetually begging for money from the unwashed but certainly collecting their real cash from the same monied interests that keep the entire political Left afloat.

That support is a subject surely to be avoided by an initiative I was alerted to a few weeks back that they portrayed as a “truth brigade.” Get a load of this:

Big news! We recently publicly launched a massive volunteer program to counter right-wing disinformation: the Truth Brigade. You may have seen this campaign featured in the Washington PostForbes, and other outlets — we’ve been running a pilot program for several months that has already engaged 4,750 people, driving posts that together generated over 82 million impressions on social media.

Now, because the stakes are so high, we’re taking this plan public and expanding even further, as the right wing continues their crusade to poison the discourse and undermine our democracy…

(Pause for fundraising appeal…of course.)

The Truth Brigade is our answer to the right-wing disinformation machine. Research shows that one of the best ways to counter disinformation is through interactions with real people in your network — so thousands of volunteers are getting the training and the tools they need to shift the narratives in their own communities.

We provide resources on best practices, from how to structure messages to understanding how social media amplifies lies. Then, every two weeks, volunteers receive careful explainers about the latest issues and work on a campaign tailored to push back against messaging trends from bad actors. And leaders are constantly evaluating success to build more effective campaigns.

Just like all our work, it’s guided by experts who monitor right-wing circles, follow the spread of disinformation, and build tested tactics to fight back. And it’s powered by real volunteers, channelling (sic) their anger into action to protect our democracy.

Indivisible, “Project Launch: The Truth Brigade,” July 16, 2021.

So do you get it? This “grassroots” group that works from the top down is sending out “careful explainers” (read: misinformation) to “push back against messaging trends” (in other words, the real truth) from “bad actors” (people like us.) In a different era, we would know these people for what they are: useful idiots. And those “experts” are the trolls who “fight back” by regularly invading our political discussions with their tired talking points. (They’re the people I call the “traveling roadshow.”)

And the thing is: most of these local people Indivisible is really targeting – as opposed to those like me who only follow to know what the other side is up to – aren’t bad people, they’re just misguided. (Sort of like the unsaved who live in a worldly manner because they haven’t yet understood the Good News. I’m betting many of them get caught up in the center of that Venn diagram, too.)

On that thought, there is one other passage which sticks out: “channeling their anger into action to protect our democracy.” Setting aside the incorrect assertion that we are a democracy, one needs to question what they are angry about? Are they angry because they aren’t in with the powerful and privileged and seek some Other to rectify the situation? Since it’s not likely those chosen few are going to allow you to join their club without selling your soul in the process, maybe you simply need something to dissipate your anger. All anger seems to do these days is to get people in trouble. As a conservative white male, one would think I have the most to be angry about but I let it roll off me like water off a duck because I know I have a higher purpose and better destination in the end.

So if I were to guess, the real truth is probably a little closer to what I’m telling you than the “careful explainers” that Indivisible is churning out.

But what got this post elevated from something that was still simmering on my back burner as a piece worth barely worth more than an odds and ends mention to actually writing it was this gem from Indivisible yesterday. The sender was Meagan Hatcher-Mays, who I gather is part of their policy team:

Normally we wouldn’t email you twice in one day but we just heard some very important intel on the For the People Act, and with the Senate headed for recess literally any day, it couldn’t wait.

This afternoon, our policy team (that’s me and my colleagues) heard from multiple sources that Delaware’s two senators, Tom Carper and Chris Coons, are both holding out on eliminating or even reforming the filibuster, effectively stalling passage of the For the People Act (S. 1). We’ve known for a while that they were both reluctant to upset the status quo even for important legislation — they’ve been telling Indivisible groups so for a while — but this is the clearest confirmation we’ve heard that they’re willing to put arcane Senate rules over the legislation the American people elected Democrats to pass. 

Having them standing in the way also provides cover for Sens. Manchin (WV) and Sinema (AZ), who can now pretend they aren’t the ones blocking progress. If you’re not part of the solution, Senators, you’re part of the problem. 

Depending on where you live, here’s what we need you to do:

If you live in Delaware, call Senators Coons and Carper at 1-877-684-7760 and tell them you’ve heard information that they’re wavering and it’s time to pick a side: Democracy or the filibuster. Remind them you’re paying attention. (If you want, fill out your information here and we’ll call you with a script and patch you through to their office directly.)

Indivisible, “Important new intel re: Delaware (and the country),”August 6, 2021.

First off, insofar as I know that’s not actually a Senate number. I suspect it’s part of Indivisible’s fundraising efforts. Secondly, maybe they finally figured out I live in Delaware because a lot of their other stuff was targeted more to my previous zip code. (Or maybe they figured I’m close enough.)

But this is a rare time I actually agree with my Senators because they understand the function of the Senate insofar as it’s constituted in the modern day. (If they wanted it to truly function properly, they would call for repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment but we all know that’s not going to happen.) They’ve figured out that the filibuster that may hold them back in this cycle could well be their protection next time when the pendulum swings back.

So perhaps we should call their offices or drop them a line to commend them on that stance in keeping the filibuster. Why let the Indivisible minions have all the fun?

A sobering CRT discussion

As the storm clouds gathered, it was a full parking lot at the Crossroad Community Church for a Thursday evening seminar. The lot looked like a Sunday morning should.

On Thursday night a quiet megachurch in Georgetown, Delaware became a center of the Critical Race Theory (CRT) opposition universe as Heritage Action held a panel discussion before a well-packed house and many more online.

While I took quite a few notes, I would almost rather write this more as a summary than as a blow-by-blow since the topic was fairly familiar among the audience and most of you who read here know their stuff about it as well.

This gives you an idea of the attendance. The two center sections were fairly full, while the side I was on was about half-full, with the edge seats being empty. I would estimate about 400 people there, and it looked like a TEA Party crowd without the Gadsden flags.

Moderated by my friend Melody Clarke of Heritage Action, the event featured a diverse panel that looked at CRT through a number of lenses: its history, its impact on our educational system, and the effects it’s having on our military and workplace. In order of appearance, the panel was comprised of six participants:

  • Jonathan Butcher, who covered both the history of CRT (as a pinch-hitter for author Mike Gonzalez, who was a scheduled participant but could not attend) and its impact on education. Butcher is the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Xi Van Fleet, who I found was the most fascinating member. She’s not an academic per se (although she has an advanced degree) but based her testimony on her life experiences as a young child during the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Shawntel Cooper, a concerned parent from Loudoun County, Virginia. Her school district has been a battleground in this struggle against CRT, and she’s involved in a local group called Fight for Schools that is seeking to recall members of the county school board.
  • Joe Mobley, a fellow concerned Loudoun County parent in Fight for Schools who also works as a motivational speaker, among other tasks. He was the most humorous panelist by far, although he was serious enough to make good points.
  • Jeremy C. Hunt, a West Point graduate and former Army officer who is now enrolled at Yale Law School. He was point man on the impacts of CRT in the military.
  • Stephanie Holmes, who operates a HR consulting firm called BrighterSideHR, LLC. Obviously she spoke on the impact of CRT on businesses, and Melody noted a speaker on that topic was the most difficult one to find given the political correctness climate. As a self-employed consultant, I thought she was an ideal pick.

The look at the history initiated by Butcher stretched back to the origins of Critical Theory in the 1930s. Created by the Frankfurt School, a group of academics who fled Nazi Germany and found teaching positions at several elite colleges, their Marxist students and proteges eventually evolved and branched off Critical Theory into Critical Legal Theory by the 1970s, adding the element of challenging the rule of law that we have based our republic on since the beginning.

While Critical Race Theory came after Critical Legal Theory, it shares more of the Marxist origins of Critical Theory, with the distinction of a substitute proletariat of race for economic class. The way Butcher illustrated it: it was oppressors vs. oppressed, and truth was what they came up with at the time. As another has put it: we have always been at war with Eastasia.

The economic class part of Marxism had already been tried, as Van Fleet illustrated in her remarks. As a young girl she witnessed the beginnings of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when Mao decreed that all the old ways had to be eliminated and students (the Red Guard) became the enforcers. She remarked that there was no difference between our social justice warriors and the Red Guard, and that our woke revolution was the “twin brother” of the Cultural Revolution, a continuation and “an American tragedy.”

One thing she’s noticed about America is that we’ve learned a lot about Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s fascism, but comparatively little about communism. Van Fleet believed that was intentional since communism was closer to the Marxism that academics would prefer we adopt, so they hid the truth. Xi believed that a CRT ban was “only the first step in the culture war.”

She concluded by pointing out that Mao’s initial backers were the peasants who were promised free land once the revolution was successful, only to have it become the property of the state after the previous regime was overthrown. “What the state gave you for free, they can also take it back.”

What our state of Delaware is giving us, in certain areas, is CRT as part of education. That was the assessment of Butcher as he returned to the podium to give his scheduled portion of the presentation. Noting that schools are often doing their best to hide their involvement (because they’ve realized it’s not popular among parents who learn about it) he went over several “myths” about Critical Race Theory: that it was just about history, that it wasn’t being taught in our schools, and that we needed it to teach compassion.

More importantly, though, he preached a response: center the opposition around (ironically) the federal Civil Rights Act. As I would say it: for now equality – not equity – is the law.

Cooper and Mobley, the two Loudoun parents, had their own perspective from being in the trenches, so to speak. Cooper, who came from an upbringing of being raised poor, exclaimed that “my strength allowed me to be a victor and not a victim,” unlike her sister. She seemed very determined to emphasize her beliefs that, “sexuality, religion, and politics should never be taught in school” and that CRT “is abusive.” One thing she brought up that none had noted prior was that teachers often have an in-classroom library of books that don’t go home with students, so parents don’t realize what their kids may be reading. On the other hand, Mobley was more motivational but came across to me as something of a huckster. He did state the obvious: “the environment has changed” due to CRT.

Mobley made a couple interesting Biblical references though: warning us not to be like Belshazzar was in Daniel 5 (the writing on the wall chapter) and more like Daniel 3, which is the account of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and the fiery furnace. He further encouraged us to be strong and of good courage, referring to Joshua 1:9.

While his charge was that of giving a military perspective, Hunt reminded us that, “racism is a sin problem” and urged us to pray about it. He warned the audience that Joe Biden has a “serious agenda” and we must protect our military from it. He believed, though, that “we win at the end of the day,” and like any good soldier, promised he is “not giving up my country.” While the military is trained to follow orders, Hunt reminded us there is now a whistleblower site where those enlisted can file complaints.

The final panelist, Holmes, made the case that CRT training now more common among corporations was creating risk for those companies and poor morale for employees, with the risk coming because of possible Title VII violations. It became a question of whether diversity goals were turning into a quota system. She also brought up the issue of off-duty conduct, such as postings on social media, and how that can affect employees.

The length of these presentations only left a short period for questions and answers that were either placed in advance or sent in from those watching the presentation from home, which oftentimes were dealt with in something of a rapid-fire fashion.

One weakness of the format, however, was that it had more of a federal focus and not so much of a state focus, as Delaware passed House Bill 198 – a bill mandating CRT training under the guise of black history – this session. It was explained to me afterward by Jonathan Butcher that the omission was a function of Heritage Action’s (c)(3) status; so I explained the law briefly to him. (But I also got to renew acquaintances with the lovely and gracious Melody Clarke, so that was a bonus.)

So I want to end with the beginning, when we were welcomed by Pastor Andrew Betts of Crossroads. In his invocation he prayed that America would “hold on to truth.”

But he also opined that CRT “has no place in the church,” and made another great point: “if you want to be politically powerful, you need someone to hate.” It would be better to bless those who curse us and pray for those who persecute, said Betts. “Pray for the deceivers.”

I think we have a lot of praying to do right now.

Odds and ends number 105

Well, it’s that time again. It seems like my e-mail box fills faster than ever despite the fact I’ve dropped off a number of lists, and of course I save the stuff I find interesting (but not long enough for a full post) for use here. So here are the few sentence to few paragraph dollops of bloggy goodness.

Manic suppression

I’m sure I’ve told you all that I write for The Patriot Post, and they’re like many other businesses that have shifted their marketing strategy to rely more and more on social media. But what happens when their very name becomes a liability in some circles? As Mark Alexander explains:

The net result in terms of our advocacy for and outreach on behalf of Freedom and Liberty: After 25 years of year-over-year record growth, which increased dramatically on social media platforms since 2010, starting in June of 2020, Patriot Post incoming traffic from those platforms precipitously dropped by more than 80% — the direct result of shadow-banning and suppression of our reach on those platforms. That deliberate and demonstrable suppression of our content necessitated a complete alteration of our marketing model over the last 12 months. As a result, our ranks continue to grow at a good pace.

But there is NO recourse for the violation of our Civil Rights because Republicans in Congress are too busy focusing on “cancel culture,” which is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Cancel culture is a much easier political soundbite, but it is only a minuscule part of the real First Amendment threat. The deliberate systemic suppression of conservative websites on social media platforms would make the old Soviet commissars of truth proud. Until Republicans get beyond the cancel culture soundbites, this suppression will continue unabated.

Mark Alexander, “The Big Tech Assault on The Patriot Post,” July 28, 2021.

Basically, since social media “fact-checkers” have deemed them incorrect, they’ve had to retreat to their former pre-social media process. Recently I decided to help them out a little bit with a second widget on my sidebar, this one more toward the top.

Knock on wood, but I’ve personally not had a lot of issues on social media. We’ll see how long I can press my luck.

On a related note, a June article from Erick Erickson reveals just how much the social media folks have on you. It’s an interesting listen, but I’m still wondering how I get so much stuff on Montana when I’ve never been there nor plan on visiting. Maybe I came across a paper from there in doing my reading?

The leftist grifter

One e-mail list I didn’t drop off was that of a guy named Rick Weiland.

Back in the day I somehow ended up on his list, and for quite awhile I was getting e-mail from him as he ran a few failed campaigns up in South Dakota. (Now watch, I’m going to get all sorts of social media stuff from that state.) But the reason I’ve held on to several of his missives is that it’s a good way to see what concerns the woke candidates of this nation – even in “flyover country.”

In the last couple weeks, he and his “Take It Back” group worried that:

  • Toyota gave political donations to not just Republican candidates, but ones who supported the “insurrection.” (July 5)
  • Social media was not banning ads from fossil fuel companies. (July 11)
  • The Supreme Court was not being packed with liberals. (July 12)
  • We weren’t backing the runaway Texas Democrat superspreaders. (Okay, the last part was my addition.) (July 13)
  • Medicare wasn’t being expanded in states which refused it, meaning the federal government has to force them to. (July 14)
  • Democrats are not standing strong on climate change and “equity.” (July 15)
  • We weren’t going to expand Medicare by adding dental and vision and making it available to younger people. (July 18)
  • President Biden should block all new fossil fuel projects. (July 28)

It’s almost like Christmas every day as I read what far-loony-left idea they have now. I need the good laugh – until I realize these people are serious.

Deluded, but serious. How about rightsizing government for a change? If there’s anything that needs to be taken back, it’s a proper interpretation of the Constitution and role of government as intended by the Founders.

The grifting part comes in where they are trying to petition Medicaid expansion to the ballot in South Dakota and are looking for donations. Why, if people are just clamoring for this, shouldn’t this initiative be significantly volunteer-driven? Between him and Indivisible now becoming a money-begging national scam that’s taken what the TEA Party became and tripled down on it, I wonder how much stimmie cash the unwashed far left has remaining.

(Late edit: how about one more for the road tonight, as they complain this time about the need to rein in Wall Street private equity firms. Any complaint for a buck, I guess, since the pitch was there.)

Back to the home state

Subtitled, when the majority tyrants get pissed. I’ll let Rep. Bryan Shupe explain:

Months ago I created a bill that would allow for no excuse absentee ballot voting in the State of Delaware while requiring that any changes to our absentee process would have to remain in the Delaware Constitution, a 2/3 vote over two consecutive legislative sessions. This legislation safeguards the integrity of our elections by not allowing the majority, either Democrat or Republican, to simply make new voting rules that will benefit them in the next election cycle.

Unfortunately the discussion was not welcomed and leadership has tried to create this as a partisan issue. EVEN WORSE, after the current absentee bill, HB 75, was defeated, my Municipal Voting Rights bill, HB 146, which was on the agenda, was not heard on the House floor.

HB 146, which had bipartisan support, eliminates the requirement for double voter registration for Delawareans to vote in their local elections, expanding voting right across the state. Retaliation is an old game that serves no one.

Rep. Bryan Shupe, “Political games hurt Delaware’s people,” June 14, 2021. Slightly edited for clarity.

Maybe we like the absentee balloting the way it is. I know the other side is adding early (and often) voting in 2022 – it was funny, the reaction I got from the BoE worker at the state fair when I said that as I passed by their booth – yet, they wouldn’t make it easier to vote when they lost in the General Assembly because the GOP got smart and realized they can use their minority for a good cause once in awhile. My fine friends in Laurel shouldn’t need to register for both state and municipal elections – isn’t that voter suppression?

And considering the state is primed for both slow population and economic growth thanks to the policies in place – this according to Dr. John Stapleford, who is the Co-Director of the Center for Analysis of Delaware’s Economy & Government Spending – maybe we need some reform and elections are a good place to work.

By the way, here are two interesting factoids from Dr. Stapleford:

In Sussex County, net migration accounted for 102% of the population change (deaths exceed births) compared to 67% in Kent County and only 12% in New Castle County. Young people move into counties with good job opportunities while older folks migrate to counties with warmer weather, amenities (e.g., beaches, lakes), and lower taxes…

Sussex County’s net migration will slow as a growing population clogs the roads and the beaches. Regardless, the population growth in Sussex County will continue to add to consumption demand while doing little to boost economic productivity in Delaware. Burdened by strict environmental land use regulations and poor public schools, net domestic out-migration from New Castle County will continue. Ultimately, below-average population growth will constrain future Delaware economic growth.

Dr. John Stapleford, “Delaware Population Numbers Promises Low Economic Growth,” Caesar Rodney Institute, June 24, 2021.

While the state as a whole only grew at 0.9% in population, Sussex County increased 2.2%. (As a trend, the center of population continued its southward march.) And if there are two areas of Delaware which need an economic boost, they are New Castle County and the western end of Sussex County (the U.S. 13 corridor.) Unfortunately, NCC tends to vote against their own interests while the west side of Sussex can’t progress because they don’t have forceful leadership – witness the defeat of local right-to-work legislation as an example.

Finds from the Resistance Library

If there were someone who personifies the concept of resistance, I think I could get Pat Buchanan to qualify. I know Republicans didn’t have a lot of use for him when he was more politically active, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have fans. In reading this short biography, you could surmise Buchanan was Donald Trump before Donald Trump was cool. (However, people tend to forget we can’t speak of Pat in the past tense, since he is still around.)

But even better in my mind is their longer piece on The Great Reset. Doing what I do and knowing some recent experience, this portion of Sam Jacobs’ report stuck out the most:

BlackRock is a private equity firm that has been offering absurd prices for residential homes in the suburbs. They don’t plan to flip them and turn a profit. Rather, the plan is to buy homes at 50 percent above asking with the purpose of transforming these homes into rental properties. BlackRock’s acquisition of the suburbs is part of a larger issue that grew out of COVID-19, but is closely related to the Great Reset – the increased centralization of the American economy…

One company, or a handful of them, who dominate the housing market are dangerous for a variety of reasons. Chief among these reasons is the ability to weaponize this control over housing against critics of the regime. Who needs the government to enact a social credit system when the national landlord has one? Of course, the usual dummies will defend this because it’s being done by a private corporation.

(Also) It is worth briefly noting that the eviction moratorium favors large landlords who can go months or years without an income over smaller ones, who cannot. The moratorium was enacted by the CDC, which apparently now has the authority to control rental properties in the United States.

Sam Jacobs, “The Great Reset: The Global Elite’s Plan to Radically Remake Our Economic and Social Lives,” undated.

Let’s consider this for a moment: we have two paths to prosperity under assault. From the time I was young I was always urged to buy a house and build equity and wealth. Property was an asset that generally held its value and, in a dire emergency, had worth which could be borrowed against. Making people perpetual renters makes it that much more difficult to have something of lasting value since the worth of the property remains with the owner.

Congruent to that is the notion of those who purchase a second home intending to keep it for a rental property – I know several people who have (or are) doing that, and just because there’s an eviction moratorium doesn’t mean there’s a moratorium for owners to pay their own mortgages and upkeep. (Heaven help the landlord who doesn’t address issues in the house, even if the rent isn’t being paid.) It’s understandable that some renters are having issues, but obviously there are enough who are simply taking advantage of the system that it’s become a concern.

So that leaves me with a few items that will be promoted to post status over the coming days. Not a bad evening’s work.

A way to build Delaware manufacturing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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