Patriots for Delaware meet at Range Time

I’m sure there are critics who would believe it was appropriate for a conservative-leaning group to meet at the extreme edge of the state, and indeed if you walked across Bethel Road from Range Time you would find yourself in the wilds of Maryland. But the local (and relatively new) indoor gun range was the locale for a tent meeting for the Patriots for Delaware on Tuesday night.

The space owned by Range Time afforded it plenty of room to set up the tent and a few tables, and park a batch of cars aside from its own parking lot. The owners of the firing range have become enthusiastic backers of the Patriots for Delaware.

I said a few weeks back that if the Patriots for Delaware found themselves out Laurel way I may have to stop by and see what the fuss was about. Gumboro is close enough, plus I wanted to check out the building anyway. (Alas, I never made it inside.)

One thing I found out is that this group is very creative. I should have taken a couple steps closer to this sign table, but this was meant to be sort of an overall test shot because of the long shadows. Turns out it makes my point.

(Notice they had quite a bit already in the donation box, too.)

It’s hard to read at this level of detail, but here is what some of these signs say:
“Patriots for Delaware: United in Liberty” (Pretty evergreen.)
“Defund Police? Disarm Citizens? Empower Criminals? No thank you! Vote NO on SB3 & SB6!” (These are “gun control” bills before the Delaware General Assembly.)
“Office Space Available: Contact your Representatives and Senators for Details.” (This refers to the virtual meetings the General Assembly has held since last March.)

They have a lot of good ones besides those for supporting small business, reforming education, and so forth.

One thing I was remiss in capturing was the presence of a couple vendors there as well as a hot dog stand. So there was dinner available if you didn’t mind hot dogs, chips, and a pop.

Here’s another sign that, if the print weren’t so small and the photographer was thinking about it, would give you an idea of where the Patriots for Delaware stand. This was my shot to check lighting in the tent, and unfortunately that was about as good as I was going to get.

It’s definitely unfortunate I didn’t get a closeup of the sign; then again it’s the same objective as you see on their website.

Truly, what they had to say was more important than whether I took good photos or not – after all, there were probably 75 to 100 people who took time out of a Tuesday night to attend.

This was an initial shot of the crowd. They took the back flaps off the tent so the people outside could see better. By the way, the gentleman in the blue seated next to the pole is Sussex County Council member John Rieley, whose district we were in (it’s also mine.) He spoke briefly during the Q & A portion at the end, or else I wouldn’t have known him.

After an opening prayer which beseeched His help for “a nation in need,” we we introduced to the group’s concept by its co-leaders, Glenn Watson, Jr. and Bill Hopkins. This is made necessary because each meeting has such a high proportion of new faces, in part because they move around the state.

The group was “brought about with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in mind,” said Hopkins, who added that the government was not doing its job of guaranteeing it. “If we don’t do something, we’ll have nothing,” Bill continued, noting as well that “we have to forget about this party thing.” Patriots for Delaware was out to attract members from all the parties who agreed on their core concepts.

When it was Glenn’s turn he added that earlier that Tuesday the group was active at the Legislative Hall rally, where they called on our General Assembly to resume public meetings instead of the Zoom meetings that are held inside the hall, with the public locked out. Reopening the legislature was just one of its current priorities, but it also went along with a list of bills they were working to favor or oppose – mostly the latter. (We received a handout of their legislative agenda.)

An interesting sidebar was learning that State Sen. Dave Lawson has been doing the Zoom meetings from his legislative office, with Tuesday’s meeting having the added feature of sign bearers in his background calling on the state to return to “Leg Hall.”

The Patriots for Delaware approach was that of working from the bottom up, which made the slew of school board elections ongoing around the state a key point of interest. The group was in the process of sending out detailed questionnaires to candidates around the state with an eye on endorsing ones they saw fit. There were about three candidates already so endorsed, although none locally.

But there was more to the school boards than just elections. As a rule, their meetings are lightly attended by the public (perhaps by design) but members were working to ferret out waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars. “We need people to make this happen,” said Glenn, so the group was looking for volunteers to attend school board meetings. Something I learned from the chair of their education committee is that the big roadblock to fully opening up schools is the limit in bus capacity.

It should be noted that the first third to half of the meeting was going through committee reports from several of their seven committee chairs. There were actually four other scheduled speakers: the well-received and popular 2020 GOP gubernatorial candidate Julianne Murray, Mike Jones of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (naturally, since the event was being held at a firing range), Jim Startzman of the Delaware State Sportsmen Association (ditto), and Larry Mayo of the Institute on the Constitution.

Murray, who announced last week she was filing suit in federal court to get the Delaware General Assembly back to meeting in person with public access, noted that while she was glancing behind her to the 2020 election and questions about it, she was more focused on 2022 – an election where we will need hundreds of volunteer poll watchers.

In the meantime, she urged those assembled to beseech the Republicans in the Delaware House to stop HB75, which would allow the DGA to set election terms (basically, codifying a repeat of 2020.) “We’ve got to be smart going into 2022,” she said, “and HB75 is huge.”

Before heading out to tend to a family matter, Murray hinted that her next campaign may not be a second try for governor in 2024, but running against incumbent Attorney General Kathy Jennings next year.

Jones introduced those attending to the USCCA, which provides legal representation to its members in the case of a self-defense incident, while Startzman detailed that his group would be gearing up for lawsuits against the gun grabbing legislation being considered in the General Assembly. For that, they need members and donations.

Mayo revealed that his latest class of IotC graduates would matriculate this week and a new 12-week course would begin next week in Milford. (It’s also available online and on DVD. I guess you don’t get the fancy graduation ceremony.)

Lastly, we had the Q and A portion, which featured an interesting revelation from the aforementioned Councilman Rieley.

Recently Sussex County settled a lawsuit where the plaintiffs contended the county was shortchanging schools because they had not reassessed property since 1974. Rather than fight it, the county agreed to do a three-year assessment at a cost of $10 million.

Of course, people worry about their taxes increasing, but Rieley told those assembled that the goal was revenue neutrality as rates would be reduced. The “maximum” one’s taxes could increase was 10 percent, although he noted some in the western portion of the county may see a decrease. (The increase would likely fall on those in the rapidly-developing eastern half of the county.) Additionally, he promised, “we are not going to be raising taxes anytime soon.” (Then again, for the most part Sussex County simply serves as a pass-through for the state, so they can be blamed.)

I gotta admit, I was a little rusty on the note-taking part of the meeting, but it was an interesting hour and a half that went by quickly. (I couldn’t sleep anyway – it got a bit nippy in that tent once the sun went down.) The next meeting (set for next Tuesday, April 27) isn’t too far down the pike from me in Greenwood, so if my calendar is clear I may head that way. If you are a Delaware resident “barely left of militia” like I am, or even somewhat closer to the center, this is an interesting grassroots group to follow.

A supportive Second Amendment solution

Some days I impress myself. So as not to let good writing go to waste, I’m going to extend some remarks in this forum.

My Congressional representative that I’m saddled with, Lisa Blunt Rochester, came up with this pablum today:

We, as a country, should be ashamed by this graphic. I remain committed to supporting common sense gun violence prevention policies and to ending this scourge.

Social media post by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, April 16, 2021.
May be an image of map and text that says 'Gresham MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE PAST MONTH Stockton Cleveland Orange Essex Philadelphia Baltimore River Grove Chicago Indianapolis Boulder Memphis Aliceville Dallas Yazoo City Houston Atlanta Washington, DC Norfolk Virginia Beach Tuscaloosa Wilmington CNNI NEWSROOM'

So I wrote this in response (no blockquote here):

The key to “ending this scourge” isn’t in “common sense gun violence prevention policies” – at least not those expressed by draconian gun laws that infringe on our rights. Problem is, though, the solution is not a quick fix so you can’t run on “doing something about it.”

When the value of life is cheapened to that of pixels on a video game and the culture is such that any slight needs to be addressed with getting a gun and shooting someone, that is the problem.

For decades, rural kids grew up around guns and had access to them, but you didn’t hear about mass shootings despite their proliferation because they were given a moral foundation that taught respect for life and for others. That’s been lost in this world of today, and I think it’s the “participation trophy” generation at fault. I grew up in a rural area and have plenty of respect for weapons because I know the damage they can do if misused.

We are not always going to get our way in life. The Indianapolis shooting sounds like many others: a combination of perceived slights and lack of ability to deal with failure or rejection by a troubled young man. He was going to go out in a blaze of glory and take those who he blamed for his problems with him. That’s not the fault of millions of law-abiding gun owners who use their guns for self-protection, hunting, etc.

Most of all, we need our guns to keep the government honest. The county sheriff where I used to live openly expressed his refusal to participate in any sort of gun confiscation program, saying he wouldn’t send his deputies out on a suicide mission. He was right, and that’s why there’s a Second Amendment – it makes tyrants think twice.

That may sound like a paranoid way of thinking, but I think I understand human nature and once a government gets a whiff of tyrannical power they don’t give it back easily.

*****

I also wanted to add that we have no idea how the perpetrator got his gun and he’s not alive anymore to speak to the subject, going out in the “blaze of glory” I referred to above. Something tells me he probably got it legally, falling in the cracks of the system we have due to his young age (although it depends on what he used as a weapon – only rifles and shotguns are legal for purchase for those over 18 but under 21.)

Should we be ashamed by the graphic? Actually, we should because we are failing ourselves as a society when we confuse a means to preserve our life with a means to end those of others. The shame isn’t in the tool but in the attitude, since we will never know just how many with access to a gun who got angry or frustrated enough to go out and shoot whoever thought better of it when they remembered the life lesson that death is forever and life can be better tomorrow once the situation blows over. That’s what faith is about.

I doubt many of these mass shooters were right with God, but as long as we all breathe life there’s always the opportunity to become so. At that point we realize we have a tool for self-defense, feeding the family, and keeping would-be tyrants in line.

Who should do the rebuilding?

The word of the month seems to be “infrastructure.” Everyone seems to think we need the federal government to put up billions and trillions of dollars of money we don’t have to do stuff we probably don’t really need, such as “clean energy.” (Regular old not quite as clean energy already created millions of jobs, some of which the current administration is hellbent on losing.)

One group which has laid the guilt trip on thick is one you may expect: the Alliance for American Manufacturing. I wasn’t sure if this was a pitch for their cause or for fundraising (not that they need any since I’m sure most of their funding comes from union dues and affiliated industry groups.)

Did you see the news out of Florida?

Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate near Tampa Bay this weekend because a leak had sprung at a wastewater reservoir. It threatened to unleash hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water, potentially causing a “catastrophic flood.”

Imagine having to evacuate your home because of a potential flood of toxic water.

While the exact cause of the leak is not yet known, the failure of critical infrastructure like this is, sadly, not a surprise. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave U.S. wastewater systems a “D+” grade, and the situation in Florida is just another example of the real-life consequences of America’s crumbling infrastructure.

Nearly 200 people died earlier this year in Texas when the state’s power grid failed during winter storms. Hundreds of thousands of people in Jackson, Mississippi were left without clean drinking water for weeks after storms wreaked havoc on the city’s water infrastructure.

It shouldn’t be like this – and it doesn’t have to be like this.

“Deadly Power Outages. A Potential ‘Catastrophic Flood.’ No Drinking Water. Enough is enough!” E-mail from AAM, April 6, 2021. (Emphasis in original.)

You’re right, it doesn’t have to be like this. But it certainly doesn’t need to be a top-down solution with funding doled out to the favored and connected, either.

After reading a little bit about the issue in Florida, it appears the state is going to pay for the cleanup – out of federal money they received from the stimulus program. (So the state is really not paying for it.) Of course, the owner of the facility in question is bankrupt so they couldn’t deal with it even if they were found liable for the breach in the reservoir liner.

And then you have the Texas situation, which was one where the utilities cut a corner, figuring they would never have to put up with such a storm – until they did. It’s one of those cases where the state will probably chase some good money after bad, doing what the utilities probably should have done to little effect since they likely won’t have another bad winter storm like that for decades. It’s probably the same thing in Jackson, Mississippi, except I’m sure local ratepayers have been funding the needed repairs for decades. It just sounds like they didn’t get the needed repairs, which makes me wonder just what they spent the money on.

And so on and so forth. Look, we have a need for infrastructure improvements, but the problem is that very little of this Biden proposal actually goes to infrastructure. If you want more infrastructure funding, it’s not about who supplies the coin so much as it is about spending it efficiently. If you want more bang for the infrastructure buck, there are a couple quick ways of doing so: eliminate the layers of environmental review which get used as a delaying tactic by the NIMBYs of the world, and repeal the Davis-Bacon wage rates so that contractors aren’t chained to sky-high labor costs. That’s just two quick ways of getting more repair and less red tape.

Sadly, we’ll get the stuff we don’t need and the bill to boot.

The state of a non-state, 2021 edition

Four years ago, thanks to a rant by Delaware writer friend of mine by the name of Chris Slavens, I had the idea come to me of figuring out just how a state of Delmarva would have voted. It turned out we would be perhaps the most purple state in the country based on the 2016 election and how the legislature would stack up.

But because the 2020 election had a home state nominee in Joe Biden, the state of Delmarva (or you could call it New Delaware) would have been a more bluish shade this time around – that was expected. But that trend carried over in other portions of the ballot, too.

There are a few caveats with this, of course: because the three states which share Delmarva have their local elections at different times, the results downballot aren’t necessarily congruent to a real election. But having kept my 2016 spreadsheet around I could pick out some interesting trends.

Still, if Delmarva had a statewide election, the “native son” (even though he was born in Pennsylvania) Joe Biden would have carried the state, although perhaps not as convincingly as one may think:

  • Joe Biden (Democrat) 402,229 – 53.00%
  • Donald Trump (incumbent Republican) 343,352 – 45.24%
  • Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 8,155 – 1.07%
  • Howie Hawkins (Green Party) 3,280* – 0.43%
  • all others 1,950 – 0.26%

*Hawkins was not on the Virginia ballot, which may have lost him about 140 votes based on how he ran elsewhere.

Despite picking up about 23,000 more votes in the twelve counties that make up Delmarva, Donald Trump was swamped by a candidate in Joe Biden who found nearly 80,000 more votes in the heretofore tri-state area – including a hefty 32,000 in New Castle County alone (where Trump gained less than 3,000 votes.) Sussex County chipped in another 17,000 or so extra toward Biden’s total as he outpolled Hillary Clinton’s 2016 effort in all 12 counties. Donald Trump beat his 2016 performance as well in each county, but in some cases it was an improvement of less than 1,000 votes.

If you recall my 2017 article, the only two counties Hillary carried were the largest, northernmost (New Castle County, Delaware) and the smallest, southernmost (Northampton County, Virginia.) Biden kept those in his column but also flipped three that were more in the middle: Kent County, Delaware, Kent County, Maryland, and Talbot County, Maryland.

Because there was no Senate race in Maryland last year, I used the three Congressional races on the Shore as a surrogate for that race as well as the one House race that Delmarva would have. When I wrote this in 2017, I figured Delmarva would have a second seat with the extra population Delaware does not have, but a closer examination of population reveals the 12 counties have 1,474,465 people (per 2019 estimates) and the average Congressional district has just over 750,000. So Delmarva is roughly 50,000, give or take, short of qualifying.

However, if the math did happen to favor the state of Delmarva and there could be two members of Congress, the most logical district split would put New Castle, Cecil, all of Kent County, Maryland, and the northern fringes of Kent County, Delaware into one district (that would be a fairly safe Democrat district despite the heavily Republican pocket of Cecil County) while the rest would be a pretty strong Republican district notwithstanding some sag on the mid-Shore, in Wicomico County, and at the southern end of Delmarva in Virginia.

As for a statewide Delmarva Senate seat, that contest would also go to the Democrats:

  • D total 380,827 – 51.64%
  • R total 345,305 – 46.82%
  • L total 3,814* – 0.52%
  • all others 7,551 – 1.02%

*The Libertarian Party only had a Congressional candidate in Delaware.

In reality, having a much larger than average Congressional district in Delaware with a Democrat incumbent easily outweighed the similar victory Andy Harris picked up in Maryland (in the Eastern Shore half of his district.) Meanwhile, Virginia’s numbers were too small to matter and as a matter of fact had a margin of just 69 votes favoring the Republican. The Democrats only carried three counties of the twelve, but flipping Kent County, Delaware helped put them over the top.

We also elected a governor here in Delaware, which gave the state an advantage in a mythical Delmarva governor’s race that combined the 2020 results in Delaware, the 2018 balloting in Maryland, and 2017 race in Virginia to get the following results:

  • D total 340,257 – 49.94%
  • R total 329,552 – 48.37%
  • L total 4,583 – 0.67%
  • Green total 686* – 0.1%
  • Others total 6,258* – 0.92%

*There was no Green Party candidate in Virginia or Delaware. As for Others, the vast majority of that came from the Independent Party of Delaware candidate.

This was a turnout election, so the advantage went to the Democrats who won Delaware in the 2020 Presidential election over the Republicans who took Maryland in the lower turnout 2018 midterm.

Yet the Democrat success should not come as a surprise: voter registration still favors them by 11 1/2 points:

  • Democrat RV: 468,180 – 42.94% (down 0.3% from 2016)
  • Republican RV: 342,597 – 31.42% (up 0.32% from 2016)
  • All other RV: 279,645 – 25.65% (down o.01% from 2016)

Bear in mind that non-affiliated number includes the 34,281 voters in Virginia who don’t declare a party. But the interesting factoid here is that Somerset County flipped from Democrat to Republican insofar as plurality of voter registration is concerned over the last four years – the only county of the twelve to switch.

The other big change in the last four years would have been a shift in the mythical Delmarva Senate, which would have gone from a 13-13 tie to a 15-11 Democrat control thanks (most recently) to the loss of two Republican seats in Delaware. The ersatz Delmarva House would slide from a 28-26 GOP edge to a 27-27 tie thanks to a Delaware loss in 2018. Talk about swing votes!

But what if there were another way? The one weakness with my method is that I have a lot of small districts in Delaware (less than 25,000 for House and 50,000 for Senate) but much larger districts in Maryland (about 50,000 for House and 150,000 for Senate) and Virginia, where the Eastern Shore is less than half a House district, let alone their Senate. So the state of Delaware is way overrepresented in this model.

Since this is my fantasy, I decided to use a federal model and give each of the counties two state Senators (screw the incorrect SCOTUS decision of Reynolds v. Sims), which means the 28 Senators would likely work out to be a sizeable Republican majority (on the order of 18-10) because New Castle County only gets two. Using a model like Delaware’s, with about two House members per Senator, the House count would be about 29-27 Republican but with a lot of potential flipping in several areas, making local elections become greatly important. This divided government would mean ideas from the GOP legislature would have to be appealing enough for the Democrat governor to become law (since there’s not a vetoproof majority in the House and perhaps not the Senate.)

Either way, it’s a fairly safe bet that, having a state of Delmarva, you would not see the radical left-wing nonsense that seems to be ruining both the state of Maryland (over the Eastern Shore’s objections) and Delaware (because there’s outsized influence from one liberal county that has over half the state’s population.) Even with the slight trend to the left based on 2016-20 results, this state would perhaps have the most interesting politics on the East Coast.

Let’s make a deal: Maryland gets the retrocession of Washington, D.C. while they give up the Eastern Shore to become part of Delaware. (Virginia just forgets about its Eastern Shore half the time, anyway, so if we grabbed that, too, they wouldn’t miss it until it was too late.) We could make the new Delaware into a great state – all without messing up the American flag.

The replacement?

For many years I have been on the e-mail list for a group called the 9/12 Delaware Patriots. From time to time their events and announcements have graced my pages – beginning way back with this notice in 2012, ironically on 12/12/12. According to their social media page, the group began the 9/12 Delaware Patriots page back in August, 2009 – a time when the overall TEA Party movement was at its organizational peak.

Yet over the last year or so it seems like the group has run out of steam, with a little bit of help (or call it bad luck.) For several years, the 9/12 Delaware Patriots would hold two monthly meetings, generally with the same speakers for each: one in Sussex County and the other intended for Kent and New Castle counties. But that was before the pandemic hit and eliminated the prospect for monthly public gatherings at the local restaurants which they generally used.

Back in the Zoom meeting days of last spring, I sat in on one of their monthly meetings only to find fewer than a dozen denizens. It was a bummer because I was looking forward to seeing what they were about as we had just become Delaware residents, three years or so after our original intention. And it’s strange: their social media page remains a hotbed of activity despite the dearth of meetings.

Over the last few months, though, their position seems to have been supplanted by a new group called Patriots for Delaware (P4D.) The upstarts are now boasting a social media membership into five figures, dwarfing the reach of the 9/12 group that remains in the 1,600 range. (Since both are private pages, though, this may be intentional on the part of 9/12.) P4D also claimed that a recent meeting drew 150 attendees, which is a phenomenal turnout for a political event not featuring a candidate. (As a comparison, even in the heady days of the TEA Party a decade ago, meetings of our local Salisbury area Americans for Prosperity or Maryland Society of Patriots groups seldom drew more than about 50, and averaged 25 or so.)

Meanwhile, the last event I heard about that was sponsored by the 9/12 group was the bus trip they took to the Capitol rally on January 6. Since then, it’s been almost three months out of the public eye so I decided to ask them if they had gone on hiatus.

My request for information was answered by their president Karen Gritton, who advised me that, indeed, the group was at something of a crossroads.

Gritton told me that she had gone to a P4D meeting, saying, “they seem to be very similar to the 9/12 and very well attended at present.” Unfortunately, she also confided that she could not continue as 9/12’s president and no one on the board was in a position to take over for Gritton. Their next steps would be considered at an upcoming board meeting. “We may be at a turning point where we will restructure,” she conceded.

Having been in that sort of position a couple times myself, I can feel for Gritton’s plight. So what interested me was why the leadership of P4D didn’t just come in to the existing group, and their co-founder Glenn Watson, Jr. let me know:

9/12 is a group that mostly focuses on 2A issues, whereas our vision was much more broad.  At Patriots for Delaware we strive to focus on all Constitutional Values, and attempt to do so in a way that attracts moderates from both side of the aisle.  Being a “Patriot” is not limited to those that affiliate with the political right.  We felt that having a well organized group was very important and starting from the ground up allowed us to do that.  We clearly took inspiration from 9/12 but ultimately, our missions are not identical, so it made sense to start our own organization.  We wish 9/12 great success and hope to work with them on issues where we share common ground.

e-mail from Glenn Watson, Jr., March 30, 2021.

I don’t think the 9/12 group was overly focused on the Second Amendment myself, but that’s just me. Among patriots the gun issue tends to be among those they are most passionate about, and ironically there is a sharp focus on the P4D page on 2A issues right now as the Delaware General Assembly debates more useless gun legislation.

Anyway, one other interesting facet of P4D is the organizational chart they’re already come up with, one which features several committees on various topics (member outreach, political action, finance, critical thinking, press/visual arts, and education) and creates a seven-member board of directors who breaks the tie if the two co-founders disagree on a course of action. It’s a rather mature setup for a group that’s less than a year old.

But I want to come back to something Watson said that caught my eye: “Being a ‘Patriot’ is not limited to those that affiliate with the political right.”

Back in the day, probably about the time when I was still sharing a bedroom with a bunk bed and crib for me and my two brothers in the little two-bedroom house that was the starter home for my parents, politics stopped at the water’s edge and everybody loved America. Certainly Republicans and Democrats disagreed on the direction and role of government, but the rank-and-file of both sides pretty much shared the same values insofar as the idea of America being the shining city on the hill that was later publicized by Ronald Reagan (who famously was a Democrat until the party left him.)

The split over Vietnam, where the youth of America became antiwar protestors and dodged the draft, seemed to be the schism that set us on the course to where we are today. Those on the Left who sympathized with the Jane Fondas of the world also began dabbling in a number of other political venues which separated us out: abortion, gay rights, unchecked immigration, and the attitude that America was no better than any other nation regardless of philosophy and how they treated their people. To them, the banana republic with the tinhorn dictator was just as worthy as we were on the world stage.

Of course, I was way too young at the time to really understand at the time what the college kids were upset about. I barely remember Walter Cronkite telling us “that’s the way it is” after my mom and dad watched him and the local 6:00 news. And I’m probably the last generation who went to public school yet was still told of America’s greatness, warts and all. Watergate didn’t bother me because I had no idea what was going on – I was more interested in the ballgame my Little League team would be playing that week.

So I would tend to disagree with their assessment to some extent because few on the political Left subscribe to the notion that America is something to be patriotic about, but that’s just me.

If I were a betting man, I would suspect that the 9/12 Delaware Patriots have run their course – not because it was a bad organization, but it lost members who would become its leaders as they slowly drifted away over the last few years. One thing I’ve noticed about TEA Party groups: we’re not getting any younger. Perhaps this is something that Patriots for Delaware can address while they are the new, hip thing and create a subgroup called Young Patriots for Delaware. (Even better would be a third group: College Patriots for Delaware.)

Say what you will about the party structure, but it works: I wasn’t a College Republican, but I was a Young Republican for several years in the mid- to late 1990s, culminating with being president of the Toledo YRs in 2000. (And I speak from experience: after I left, the group went on a hiatus for a year or two until new young people revitalized it.) But those College Republicans oftentimes become Young Republicans, and the YRs move up to be the leadership and candidates of the party once (or many times before) they age out. The same should hold true of other political groups, and right now we need young conservative Patriot leaders to counter the indoctrination our youth is being disserved.

That’s also why education should become our new pet issue. I’m not sure which committee gets that idea, but it definitely should go in the Patriot hopper.

If the Patriots for Delaware comes Laurel way, I may just stop in and see what the fuss is about. And if the 9/12 Patriots somehow revitalize their group, hopefully it will be when the state opens up so I can enjoy the experience.

Odds and ends number 103

The e-mail box is filling up fast these days, so after just a month I felt the need to relieve some of that pressure, as it were. Plus I just felt like writing something over the weekend (how’s that for honesty?)

As I have said probably 100 times or so in the past, these are dollops of bloggy goodness which aren’t promoted to a post but deserve some sort of mention, whether a few sentences or a handful of paragraphs.

The protectionist racket

I’ve referred to this man and group many times in the past, but the Alliance for American Manufacturing and their president Scott Paul are nothing if not consistent. After the February job numbers came out, Paul had this to say:

It’s good to see factory job growth resume after January’s slump, but the pace must pick up. At this rate, recovering all the manufacturing jobs lost during the pandemic will take more than two years.

That’s why it is so important for Congress and the Biden administration to speedily complete the short-term COVID-19 rescue package, and then shift to work on a sustained, robust public investment in infrastructure, clean energy, and innovation.

One thing to point out here: January goods imports were the highest on record. Made in America procurement efforts and the rebuilding of domestic supply chains couldn’t come at a better time.

Alliance for American Manufacturing press release, March 5, 2021.

I always appreciate their perspective; Lord knows their hearts are in the right place. But what has always concerned me about the AAM’s steadfast support of protectionism is what I call the Trabant effect, named after the East German car that vanished once the Berlin Wall came down and former denizens of that communist regime could buy other cars that were thirty years more advanced.

I believe we have better workers than China could ever have, although it’s worth noting that China didn’t start eating our lunch until they adopted a hybrid mix of totalitarian government with just enough capitalism to keep people from starving. There are certainly some in the wealthy category in China, but they aren’t self-made – they have to have some connection to the ruling party in order to succeed.

Even without taxpayer “investment” in infrastructure we have enough of a market to create massive wealth, if the government would just get out of the way. That’s where I often part with the AAM, which is an extension of several steelworker unions.

Illustrating absurdity

We all know that Joe Biden has made a mockery of a situation that President Trump was quickly gaining control of: border security and illegal immigration. But when you see things in graphic form, as the Heritage Foundation has put together, the changes are brought into perspective.

It’s sad that, out of 22 policy areas the Heritage Foundation has identified, that Biden and his cronies have made changes to all but two, taking us in the wrong direction. Once upon a time America was supposed to have 11 million illegal immigrants, but I would posit that number is twice that now and may be triple or quadruple that by the time Biden is through.

The problem with strategists

I’ve liked Bobby Jindal for a long time, but I think he has a poor choice in writing partners sometimes.

Perhaps I should have had a clue when the piece appeared in Newsweek, which isn’t exactly a conservative publication, but he and a “Republican strategist” by the name of Alex Castellanos opined there on “Separating Trump from Trumpism.” I had not heard of the latter previously, so when it was noted in the bio that he had worked on four different Presidential campaigns, I was curious to know which four – turns out he was busy for awhile since the list was Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Jeb! Bush. So we’re basically talking a classic #NeverTrump personality here along with a guy whose behind was kicked by The Donald in the 2016 campaign.

I sort of gleaned the direction they were heading when they warned, “Unless the GOP creates an alternative version of Trumpism, without Trump, he’ll be back.” However, there is a little wheat among the chaff here:

Republicans must jettison Trump’s demeanor, but pick up where Trump’s policies left off. They should fight the concentration of political and economic power that has benefitted technology and financial giants, gather allies to force China to compete economically on a level playing field and reshape the government’s spending, immigration, trade and tax policies to benefit the working class. They can show how an open economy, bottom-up growth and limited government can empower and enrich working-class Americans more than any old, top-down, artificial program. These policies will benefit working-class and all Americans willing to invest their labor and talents towards living even bigger American dreams.

Bobby Jindal and Alex Castellanos, “Separating Trump from Trumpism is Key to the GOP’s Future,” Newsweek, March 1, 2021.

There was a lot about Trumpism that I liked, including the unvarnished patriotism, the willingness to be pro-life, and the complete honesty in dealing with the elites and media. Those of us in the heartland didn’t like either of those groups, but we weren’t seeing any push back from the GOP despite its goading by the TEA Party, among others. It almost makes you wonder who wanted him out more – the Democrats or the elites who still count themselves Republicans in the same vein as Dole, the Bushes, and Mitt Romney.

Stick to writing your own stuff, Bobby – that is, if you want to keep the little bit of relevancy you have. You have the lanes figured out correctly, although in this case I hope you eventually choose the right path.

Although, on second thought, since you’re now pushing for a huge federal infrastructure bill like Joe Biden is, maybe it’s too late.

Placating Woke-O Haram

To Erick Erickson, there is a new religion:

Secularism is, in fact, a religion.  It has sacraments like support for abortion rights.  It has tithing in which secular adherents give money to various political and social causes.  It has liturgies in the new speak of wokeness.  It has theological tracts and church services as rally and protest and Episcopal mass.  It has even spurred the rise of terrorist zealots and the new censorious social justice warriors I have taken to calling Woke-O Haram.

Erick Erickson, “Secular Indulgences,” March 11, 2021.

The initial comparison Erickson makes is the Catholic Church at the time of Martin Luther, which is somewhat appropriate. But the indulgences once sold to pay for St. Peter’s Basilica are now being extorted from businesses in a perverse form of wealth redistribution from industrialized nations to those on the other end of the scale – that is, whatever’s left after those in charge of the redistribution take their cut.

And the funny thing about this whole climate change enigma is that there is no control mechanism. We cannot predict with certainty how the weather will be a month out, so who can believe that doing whatever job-killing, income-robbing scheme Radical Green dreams up will make a significant dent? And when it falls short of predictions – as it always does – then the problem will be that we didn’t do enough, not that the whole idea we could have an effect was bullshit from the start.

It’s like the cynical philosophy I’ve come to embrace in my adult life: government is not in the business of solving problems, for if the solutions they came up with worked, there wouldn’t be a need for them. For government, job preservation is the true Job One. Believers in Radical Green are the same way, so they come up with wilder schemes and excuses to justify their beliefs.

The national impact races

Had I thought more about the post I did on the Laurel school board election, I would have quoted an e-mail I received from iVoter Guide:

Many of the problems that threaten our nation today can be traced to years of misplaced priorities in our public schools. Our children are not learning how to become citizens who appreciate, defend, and cultivate the values and principles our nation was founded upon. This responsibility and power rests with our school boards—positions largely overlooked by the general public, but captured by Leftist organizations and special interest groups who have exercised their influence over our children for far too long.

The good news is, with relatively few votes compared to higher office elections, the trajectory of our school boards and the nation can start to change when principled candidates are elected. This is why iVoterGuide is launching a trial program to equip Christian and conservative voters to engage in these high-impact elections. (Link in original.)

Debbie Wuthnow, “From the Classroom to Congress: Your Schools Matter,” iVoterGuide e-mail, March 4, 2021.

In this case, they are doing a test run of 20 Texas school districts to see how well their voter information program translates to that level. Yet, bringing it back to my school district as an example, it’s hard to find much on these races because the participants (particularly the incumbents) know the race is more on name recognition and who you know rather than on particular issues the schools are dealing with. Most of what information I found the last time I went through this a year ago came from a lengthy profile on the race in the Laurel Star newspaper.

Common sense and sunshine in Delaware?

I suspect he’s lining himself up for bigger things down the road, and he’s not even my representative, but State Rep. Bryan Shupe has a good idea.

HCR10 would require the Delaware General Assembly to stream and videotape proceedings, to include committee meetings. That’s important because those meetings are where the sausage is ground – legislation is generally massaged at the committee level and the horsetrading to get things passed should be a matter of public record.

The fact that the bill has a “modest” amount of co-sponsors, however, tells me the state’s legislative body would rather keep things behind closed doors. (In reality, the bill has five Senate sponsors and co-sponsors along with 11 from the House. Among the group, three are Democrats and the rest Republican.)

I get that the behavior may change because legislators may play more to the camera, but subsequent elections can correct that problem. We should have more transparency in the First State, not less.

One final Palm Sunday item

My original story for this last slot was Delaware-related, but I decided to promote it to a full piece. Instead, as our church was retold today, Jesus had a tough week beginning on the first Palm Sunday.

As it turned out, Erick Erickson wrote on the subject today, so I’ll close with him.

Today is Palm Sunday, the day in which Christians remember Jesus’s final entry into Jerusalem. He entered as a king with people laying palm branches before him. Given the population of the day, it is very, very likely that many who hailed him as a king on Palm Sunday were yelling “crucify him” on Good Friday.

(…)

The moral laws of Christianity are not the laws you follow to get eternal life. They are the moral laws you follow out of love for Christ as you feel him transforming you. As you become more Christ like through the regeneration he sparks in you, you want to be more like Christ. You become more Christlike over time, but you know if you fail you are forgiven. If you fall short, you have grace. Your sin fights back against the regeneration but the regeneration continues.

Two thousand years ago today, Christ Jesus entered Jerusalem a conquering king. But he promised no revolution of strength. He said the strong would be weak and the weak would be strong. He upended the secular paradigms and, for that, the world killed him.

Erick Erickson, “Hail the King. Kill Him.” March 28, 2021.

You may have had a bad week at some point, but just bear in mind that our Lord made flesh knew how his week would end yet still went through with it. This is a good piece because it’s yet another reminder that God has this.

How the First State stacks up

I happened to notice a map in doing some other research that showed states which would be gaining or losing Congressional seats thanks to the 2020 census. As one might expect, Texas and Florida will be big winners while the biggest losers will be Ohio and New York – and for the first time in decades (if not ever) California will not gain a seat this time.

Of course, Delaware, which is still checking in with fewer than a million residents, will remain a puny three electoral vote state since the representative population per district is roughly 750,000 and we’re nowhere close to a million and a half. (Now add in the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia to create a greater Delaware and we are right there. That reminds me of a post I need to do, too.)

But this will also be the time that we re-apportion our state into its 41 House and 21 Senate districts. It’s not a clean division, as a handful of districts cut between county lines.

In the Senate, however, New Castle County has 12 full and one partial Senate district after the 2010 count, while Kent County has three full and two partial (sharing one apiece with New Castle and Sussex) and Sussex has four full and one partial. In 2010 one district moved from New Castle to Sussex, and this time Sussex should be due again to have five full districts as they have almost exactly 1/4 of the state’s population. Between Sussex and Kent counties they should have nine full districts, as a small portion of Sussex could be folded into the large fraction of a district Kent should get along with three full districts. That leaves New Castle with 12 full districts, and ideally only the one should be split between Kent and Sussex.

In the House, New Castle has 24 full and one partial district, but that number should decline by one based on the population trends. Sussex should return to 10 full seats (where they were for the previous decade) while Kent will retain the last seven seats.

So like the federal redistricting seems to be shifting southward, so should the state’s. It may help a little in 2022, although the interesting question is which Democrat machine politicians in New Castle will be lumped together in a district created because they gained population more slowly than the rest of the state. (Or, will they finagle the districts to keep an extra one they don’t deserve, which may well be the case.)

I don’t think they’ll do too much with my district since I live close to the corner of the state in a rural area, but it will be interesting to see how they subdivide the more populated section of Sussex County.

The local impact races

Longtime readers of monoblogue may recall that, for years, one of the goals my cohorts and I on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee had was to change our county’s school board from all-appointed to all-elected. (Over the years I had a lot to say about the subject, such as this appeal to the public and this one to opponents.) And there were extremely good reasons for this.

At the time, Wicomico County was one of just a few counties in Maryland still relying on the appointment system, which was a convoluted process for us on those occasions where we had some input: because it was dictated that the party in the governor’s office would have four of the seven WCBOE seats and since turnover was so slow (as members served five-year terms) there were just a few years where we had the task while our friends on the Democrat Central Committee had the other years.

In order to facilitate the process when it was a Republican’s turn, the WCRCC would first find out if the board member could be re-appointed (since they were eligible to serve two terms, and often did – which was one reason turnover was slow.) I think there was only one time where we sought to appoint a non-incumbent in place of someone who could have been re-appointed, but assuming a new person was needed we would screen several applicants and send a name or two to the Secretary of Appointments – who would generally laugh and select the person our local elected officials in the General Assembly preferred (a person who didn’t necessarily go through our process.) It got to the point where the Democrats were demanding they get to interview “our” appointments because they were the ones who made the selection (at the time, Maryland was saddled with Martin O’Malley and his hand-picked Secretary of Appointments.) For all we know they did since it often wasn’t the person we chose who got appointed.

Of course, being in charge for many years meant the Democrats liked the process so they were the ones who resisted the change since it needed enabling legislation in the General Assembly. We had three giant roadblocks for the first eight years I was on the CC: Rick Pollitt (who was County Executive), and Delegates Rudy Cane and Norm Conway. Once all three of them were eliminated in the 2014 election, the process to finally getting an elected school board went very quickly and, despite a last-ditch effort by local Democrats to install a “hybrid” board of five elected and two appointees, the majority of voters in 2016 demanded an all-elected school board. (To his credit, our then-State Senator, Democrat Jim Mathias, was generally – if not necessarily completely – supportive to our efforts.)

Now I’m not going to lie to you and say the school board elections have turned out as I would have hoped, but the accountability is there and the system seems to work well – it was tested early with the sad passing of David Goslee, Sr., who was one of the loudest proponents of an elected school board (as a fellow member of the WCRCC) and barely (as in by ONE vote out of over 6,000 cast) won his seat in the first election – only to die in office shortly afterward. Interestingly enough, including Goslee, three of my former mates on the WCRCC were elected in the first school board balloting in 2018.

All that is a 500-plus word prologue to my main point: here in Delaware, they have long won the fight we waged for a decade or more in Wicomico, electing school boards for years. With that in mind, this May my district in Laurel has one of just two elections in the state where four participants are chasing one (open, since the incumbent chose not to seek re-election) seat. (The other one is in the Brandywine school district, which is much larger population-wise being on the northern outskirts of Wilmington hard by the PA line but has sub-districts. Ours is an at-large seat.) Out of 15 districts in Delaware having elections (a total of 20 elections, including sub-districts) there are just the two elections with four candidates, three with three, eight with two, and seven where just one person filed.

The one thing that I don’t like about Delaware’s system, though, is that it’s rather activist-proof: our five-member board only turns over one person at a time, so it would take three years for a correctly-minded majority to hold sway. Moreover, to make the most rapid reform, you have to win three elections in a row, which eliminates the element of surprise to opponents such as the teachers’ union. A gang election like Wicomico’s can be ambushed rather easily, but this can’t.

Since I voted over the summer in the 2020 rendition (which had three candidates, including the incumbent who lost) I also know this is a non-partisan election like Wicomico County’s school board election is.

My insider friend gave me the skinny on some of these candidates, and I’ve gleaned a little more from briefly scoping out social media.

The first to file was David B. Nichols. And I said to myself, “that name sounds familiar.” Reason being: a D. Brent Nichols ran last year and was the sole incumbent in the entire state to lose. After two terms, apparently voters had had enough but it seems he doesn’t agree – so he’s going to try and fool the voters into voting for new blood? (Honestly, I thought maybe this was his son or something.)

Next in line was Diane M. Snow, who my insider posited was a “come here” based on the phone number provided. It was another name that sounded vaguely familiar, and what stuck out at me in looking her up was her strong support for U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke (presuming it’s the same person, of course.) If so, that is intriguing: I wonder how that translates into school-related issues?

Third is Ivy Bonk, who I was told was a former principal at a local Christian school, so that lends interest, too. I looked her up on LinkedIn and indeed, there is an Ivy Bonk fitting that description so I guess that’s her.

Last is Joseph Deiter, who my source didn’t know well enough to comment on. But a person with that name is on social media and it looks like he’s active as a youth coach.

I think what I’m looking for is a person who will carry a discussion of what public schools really should be. They should be strongly in favor of school choice and money following the child, even if it hurts the local school district in the short-term until they improve enough to compete with private schools and homeschooling. It wouldn’t bother me in the least if they were on the losing end of a lot of 4-1 votes this year so long as they are on the winning end of 3-2 votes two years hence – in other words, they have to be the tip of the spear.

And if that wasn’t enough, the town of Laurel has its own elections on March 25. (I don’t live within town limits, though, so I’m just an observer.) One interesting quirk about its election is that they have a separate registration, which is something they plan on addressing going forward. (In the meantime, anyone who lives in Laurel has until this Thursday to be registered.) Initially four positions were up for grabs, but since two of them only had one filing those lucky souls (both incumbents, by the way) win by acclamation. There is one Council seat (which appears to be an open seat with no incumbent) and the Mayor’s office, where the incumbent mayor has a challenger, still in contention so the whole town gets to vote. Let’s hope they do.

Misdirection

Once again, I will caution readers that the reason I never had a big desire to run for high political office was that I hate asking strangers for money. But I was alerted to an investigation into the financial windfall a company servicing GOP Congressional candidate Kim Klacik received.

Granted, this investigation was done by the Washington Post, and they’re not going to shine a favorable light on any Republican, especially an overtly Trump-supporting minority GOP member like Klacik. But I’ll play along because it leads to another point.

As you may recall from last summer, Klacik became the “it girl” among Republican House candidates thanks to a viral ad she had shot on location in the slums of Baltimore, blaming the decades of Democrat leadership for the decrepit and hopeless conditions. It was a turn of Donald Trump’s “what the hell do you have to lose?” question to black voters, which make up the majority in Klacik’s district thanks to much of it being in Baltimore City.

Yet according to the Post:

By the end of Klacik’s campaign, she would raise a staggering $8.3 million and pay nearly $3.7 million of it to Olympic Media, according to campaign finance filings and her campaign manager. Klacik, now a frequent Fox News and Newsmax commentator, lost to Mfume in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District by more than 40 percentage points.

“Donors gave a House candidate more than $8 million. A single firm took nearly half of it.” Meagan Flynn and Michael Scherer, Washington Post, March 2, 2021.

The fact that she raised $8.3 million for the race based on a viral ad may be scary enough, but then considering nearly half of it went to a consultant made it worse. This reaches back to a subject for which I sometimes kick myself for not devoting more pages to it in The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party and that is the effect of scam PACs, particularly in the later years of the movement. This comes from the chapter of my book called “The TEA Party Is Dead”:

The incessant fundraising off TEA Party regulars, who skewed heavily toward those 60 and over and who had the disposable income to use for political causes, made consultants – a group of characters who often countered that doing mass e-mail appeals wasn’t as cheap as those on the outside of the business thought – fabulously wealthy for next to no effort, while achieving little to assist actual candidates who could have used the funds if they were given directly. Oftentimes less than 10% of the money raised by a PAC would go toward candidates, with much larger amounts used to pay for more fundraising.

The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party, p.129.

I gave the subject about a page and a half, but in retrospect it probably deserved at least twice as much. This is particularly true because Klacik, as revealed in the Post story, is another failed candidate who has began a PAC of her own, called the Red Renaissance PAC. (Just like Lauren Witzke here in Delaware.) So she will be yet another grifter taking her cut instead of moving the money where it belongs, and I think that greed is what stunted the growth of the TEA Party. Imagine if that scam PAC money had instead assisted local candidates, who may have won races they lost had they had the additional funding that instead found its way into some consultant’s bank account. Instead of paying for 100 yard signs, donors to scam PACs paid for Mr. Consultant’s yard work to be done.

There was another reason this came to mind: many Delaware school districts have at least one seat on their board of education coming up for election this spring. In my little school district, the one open seat has attracted four candidates as the incumbent decided to forgo another term. What do you think a couple dozen people of like mind donating $100 apiece could do to a candidate in a race like this where winners seldom spend more than a few thousand dollars as opposed to a Congressional election where that group of 24 is outspent by some corporate PAC that donates the maximum?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if you want to donate to a candidate, skip the middleman of a PAC and send it directly. (Or, even better, be a volunteer for them.) It will do the most good for the people who really need it.

The prospects of Trump fatigue

Like a lot of political observers on the right, I was interested enough in what Donald Trump had to say at CPAC on Sunday afternoon to tune in. Because of the social media bans placed on our erstwhile President, we (and the media) haven’t had our daily fix of blurbs, barbs, and braggadocio from old number 45, so those who believed in the man were sure to be checking out what he would have to say about the election and the job his successor is doing.

Sure enough, he had plenty of red meat for the CPAC audience with his criticism of Joe Biden and hints he dropped about making another run for the White House (which wouldn’t really be his third, but his fifth since he briefly sought the Oval Office via the Reform Party ticket in 2000 and had another quick run at it in 2012.) But it’s interesting that Trump only received 55% of the open straw poll vote when everyone at CPAC knew he would be the featured speaker – then again, once we have actual contenders who announce their intentions that 55% would be more than good enough to win (and it’s still a formidable base.)

However, I have become a bit of a Trump skeptic over the last few weeks. It’s certainly not because I approve of Joe Biden’s performance, as the Commander-in-Thief has taken us backwards in so many ways. And you could certainly accuse me here of looking at things through a lens of conventional wisdom when we all know Donald Trump shattered that sucker multiple times from 2016 on, in more ways than one. But there are several reasons I think this way.

First and foremost, having Biden as president right now and watching him stumble through his limited media opportunities reminds us that he is 78 years old – which, as fate would have it, is the age Donald Trump would be should he decide to run in 2024. Trump may look to be the picture of mental acuity right now, but we need only look at the late Rush Limbaugh to know that the guy who looks healthy at a point in time (his 69th birthday last year) could be gone in less than 13 months.

The second issue is what happens to the crowd that considers Trump to be Superman. Indeed, he overcame a lot to stay President for four years – two partisan impeachments, domestic spying on his campaign, a slanted press that rarely said a kind word about him and wouldn’t give him credit for his accomplishments, and the CCP virus that actually infected him. But the combination of these factors and a lot of funny business in the 2020 election (brought on by that same CCP virus) finally put him out of office despite the vain hope of millions who believed in a miracle that did not come.

It’s very possible we saw this effect in the Georgia Senate runoff elections, as those who believed the system was rigged (because Trump and his supporters stated so, on numerous occasions all over conservative media) may have decided not to turn out. As it stands at the moment, 19-plus months out, the betting money believes the GOP takes the House back from the Democrats given the slim margin the Democrats have to work with and the nearly-traditional loss the party in the White House endures during its first midterm. But if the GOP snatches that defeat from the jaws of victory, it’s going to be blamed on Trump supporters who didn’t support the overall Republican party when the need was great.

Still, Donald Trump was the outsider and he’s managed to keep that perception despite the fact he was the incumbent by running against the “Swamp.” It’s not going to get any less murky but there are other candidates who can tout their renegade status thanks to the pandemic response.

And finally, I just think people are ready for something new. Part of Bill Clinton’s charm back in 1992 was his youth, with people believing it was finally time for a Baby Boomer president – a term that describes the quartet of Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. (Three of the four were born within a couple months of each other in 1946.) On a generational scale, Joe Biden actually hearkens back to the Silent Generation as their first (and probably only) President as no other President was born between 1924 and 1946.

By the time we get to the next election, the top end of Generation X will be sixty years old. (By that same token, Baby Boomers will almost all be retirement age and above.) There are a number of great Republican candidates who were born in that era and it should finally get its due next time around. (Assuming Kamala Harris takes over sometime in the next four years, she will actually be the first Generation X president, born in 1964 a month after I was.) Donald Trump is a very popular man, but the generation he’s most popular among is the one that beginning to pass from the scene. That’s not so much Trump fatigue as it is the march of history.

But the American people may be ready for a new flavor in 2024, so don’t assume that Donald Trump will be this century’s Grover Cleveland just yet.

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.

A waste of energy (and money)

I’ve been mulling this post over long enough to have it almost lose relevance because the initial subject matter became law a week or so ago. (Then it got pushed back once again with the passing of Rush Limbaugh.) Originally I was going to post about Delaware’s Senate Bill 33, an ill-considered measure that both extends and expands the renewable energy portfolio that Delaware (among many other non-thinking states) is saddled with. Now we are supposed to have 40% of our energy come from renewable sources by 2035.

How it really works, however, is that the state’s utilities fork over money to the state (via a market-style entity) in lieu of attaining the percentage required. For example, I’m a customer of the Delaware Electric Co-op, which has a shade over 100,000 customers in the state. In recent years they have created a solar farm that now services up to 1,000 homes – but that’s still way short of the required 2.25% amount for the current regulations, let alone the future. I had the good news of a proposed 3% rate cut come with my bill last month, but I can see the state taking that away thanks to their waste of a bill.

(When you talk to an environmentalist wacko, remember these pertinent questions: what exactly is the optimum, average climate? And who’s to say we’re not on a trend toward it regardless of the folly of believing mankind can do a thing about changing that direction?)

What put this back first and foremost on my mind, though, was the situation in Texas. The Lone Star State has been walloped by a “once-in-a-century” winter storm this past weekend, leaving piles of snow and temperatures well below freezing all the way to the Mexican border. Their problem in this case is that the Texas electrical grid (which is pretty much self-contained) depends heavily on wind, solar, and natural gas for its power. Unfortunately, the wind turbines are frozen in place, the solar panels are under a foot of snow, and the natural gas isn’t moving through the pipeline system at the necessary quantity to make up the shortfall from the lack of wind power in particular. You could say it was the perfect storm.

(It’s interesting how the proponents of wind power try to shift the blame. Not to say it’s all wind’s fault, but they will probably be the last to recover.)

Of course, here in Delaware we are more accustomed to stormy weather in all seasons thanks to occasional snow storms, nor’easters, and tropical storms that come throughout the year. So unlike Texas, which bakes during their hot, steamy summers (great for solar, so-so for wind) and normally has temperate winters where wind energy can make a small dent, Delaware isn’t perfectly suited for either type of renewable. Yet the powers that be seem to be determined to waste acres of valuable farmland to create solar fields and wish to pollute the viewshed off our beaches with wind turbines that will need to be replaced in just a few decades. Again I note that once upon a time, windmills were what the farmers depended on – only to drop them like a bad habit once rural electrification became available. It was cost-effective and (most of all) more reliable.

We seem to have a backwards state here. Things which can be dependable sources of energy, such as natural gas or oil which may be available in commercially viable amounts offshore – well, we can’t even do the seismic testing to find out if there’s any there. But to site wind turbines – yeah, go right ahead even though it may be millions of dollars spent to power a few thousand homes.

Let’s face facts: if it weren’t for ill-advised carveouts like a “renewable energy portfolio” we wouldn’t be wasting our time dealing with solar or wind power. We could be conducting research into nuclear power and methods to make it more accessible, or exploring for new natural gas deposits. After all, we have to use those to back up the unreliable renewables that make running an electrical grid more unpredictable than it needs to be.

Instead of a Senate Bill 33, the smart play for Delaware would be to scrap those mandates entirely. But the Left can’t stand losing that sort of money or power, regardless of how much of a setback these restrictions provide to hard-working families trying to improve their lot.