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.

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.

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.

The folly of pursuing ‘equity’

This is another of those posts that began as an odd or end, but thanks to subsequent events was promoted to become a full post.

A few weeks back I received my annual pitch from the American Institute of Architects to rejoin their august body. Bear in mind I was an AIA member for about a decade beginning when I received my architecture license in the mid-1990s until about a year or so after I moved down here. Unfortunately, the usefulness of the AIA Chesapeake Bay chapter was much less than that of AIA Toledo, so I allowed my membership to lapse.

Moreover, as the needs of the architecture business have remained relatively steady over the 35 years (!) since I embarked on my life’s journey in the profession, the AIA has departed significantly from those needs into the weeds of political correctness. One line in their pitch multifold postcard, under the heading of “Champion architects & the profession” summed this up well:

Government advocacy, a campaign to fight climate change and inequities in the built environment, and public awareness efforts influence meaningful change and create a better business landscape for architects.

AIA mailing.

The only government advocacy we need is to give us a decent statute of repose. (Delaware has one of the better ones at 6 years, while Maryland lags behind with 10.) I’d also be happy if they eliminated the unnecessary demands for continuing education, which was something the AIA advocated for when I was active in the group. Brick, stone, steel, and wood don’t change much, and any architect worth his salt should know the building codes pretty well despite the fact they update every three years. (I see CE as a money-making racket, just like the intern development program that’s now in place. That was the reason I took my exam when I did.)

So forget about climate change, since we can’t do a damn thing about it. What we can do is advocate for energy-efficient buildings but let’s allow the market to decide what is best. And my (admittedly limited) research into the term “inequities in the built environment” seems to indicate a preference for the concepts of so-called “smart growth” where everyone is to be packed like sardines into the urban core. Maybe some of us prefer and enjoy living in rural areas.

Finally, if you want to make things easier and more profitable for the architectural profession, can you advocate for fewer regulations and hoops to jump through? There are certain jurisdictions we deal with that seem to have cornered the market on red tape for picayune reasons. It’s almost like they demand their tribute before you get their seal of approval, and clients aren’t always willing to pay for our time and trouble.

Speaking of so-called climate change and hoops to jump through, I would love to have someone explain to me why Delaware is trying to extend these stupid wealth transfers from utilities to state coffers better known as renewable energy portfolio standards? In this session SB33 is already through the Senate, where it passed on a 13-8 vote that was almost partisan in nature (Senator Ennis crossed over to vote with the GOP, giving him an early lead on the Top Blue Dog Award next year when I do the monoblogue Accountability Project for Delaware.)

If natural gas is cutting our emissions in such a way that we are exceeding the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement – even though we were properly out of it for a brief period until that fool Joe Biden painted “sucker” back on our collective forehead – then why are we even bothering with wind and solar power that is, on its face, unavailable at all hours of the day and times of the year? (For example, it’s a sunny day as I write this, but the sun angle isn’t optimal. And I haven’t even discussed the environmental issues when these components reach the end of their lifespan.) If anything, it may be a good time to do a little bit of exploration in Delaware to see if we have gas or oil deposits under our sandbar. It’s not likely the Marcellus Shale comes this far east, but somewhere along the line I thought I saw there was a minor shale field under the Eastern Shore and southern Delaware.

I like to live in a rural area and I like my electricity to be relatively inexpensive. So we really don’t need to have these so-called improvements that basically accrue to the state’s coffers and not ours come into our collective lives.

And now that I’ve done this post I can place my AIA solicitation where it properly belongs – in the circular file.

Odds and ends number 101

And the next hundred begins…

As always, it’s a compilation of items requiring somewhere between a couple sentences to a few paragraphs. Think of it as bite-sized dollops of blogging goodness that serve to clean out my e-mail box.

On evidence and faith

While he can be maddening politically, I enjoy reading Erick Erickson’s treatises on religion. He made a brilliant argument regarding evidence and faith that I wanted to share.

It also bolsters a point about the origins of our nation, and the philosophy of those who founded it. We are several generations removed from the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, et. al. but we have enough empirical evidence and writings of theirs to believe that a) they existed, and b) they had a particular political philosophy in mind when they created our nation. It’s something that should be easy to interpret by any jurist willing to read and understand their words, as opposed to making things up as they go along.

Yet, as Erick points out in a subsequent post, it’s worth remembering that God’s got this.

The success of China

It’s not often that I discuss year-old information in a new light, but here’s a case where new info has made the story evergreen thanks to the discovery of a relationship between Rep. Eric Swalwell and a Chinese national, Fang “Christine” Fang. I certainly can’t argue with the premise of the author.

A recurring minor theme within this enterprise is the desire to bring more manufacturing and production back to America because, simply put, we couldn’t trust a nation-state which points missiles at us. Unfortunately, big business and big media love the potential of 1.4 billion up-and-coming customers more than the markets that made them successful. Now we may be saddled with a president who is essentially in Beijing’s pocket, which may be the death knell for American world dominance – and when it’s us against the world, we can only put up a fight for so long before we are worn down, sort of like the Axis powers in World War II or the Confederates against the Union in our War Between the States. Whether Donald Trump was the summer of 1942 for the former or the march to Gettysburg for the latter remains to be seen.

What I can tell you is that it seems China is indeed getting their money’s worth from our elites.

Thoughts on redistricting, and so forth

One rear-guard action available to Republicans at the state level is redistricting. While I personally want districts that are compact and contiguous, this can be achieved while reducing the Democrats’ oversized influence in certain states and regions. In 2020, the GOP gained control of a plurality when it came to drawing House districts.

On a corollary subject, J. Christian Adams makes a case that the election fraud wasn’t in the counting but the fists on the scale produced by scads of dark money “assisting” certain big-city boards of election in encouraging the vote to get out. His theory also “explains how the GOP was so successful everywhere… except at the top of the ticket.  A flood of blue votes gushing out of deep blue urban areas has a statewide effect only for statewide candidates. It doesn’t affect legislative races outside of the cities.”

He also opines, “In case you still don’t follow: Hundreds of millions of private charitable dollars flowed into key urban county election offices in battleground states. The same private philanthropic largess did not reach red counties. Urban counties were able to revolutionize government election offices into Joe Biden turnout machines.” Even if Trump received 20 percent of the black vote instead of 10 percent, the fact that 100,000 more blacks voted may have made him a loser. (Emphasis mine.)

But by not backing Trump, Sam Faddis believes the Republicans are heading the way of the Whigs. To the extent that Trump’s base represents a mixture of the TEA Party and populist elements in the country, this is true. But having to lean on Trumpism to achieve the conservative goal of limiting government is a precarious perch indeed.

A lack of juice

It’s a little bit maddening, this headlong rush by car makers to embrace electric car technology when the infrastructure to support it is slow in coming: unless you want to invest in a personal charging station, how useful is an electric car for a cross-country jaunt?

So I thought it was a bit funny when Elon Musk (you know, the guy who owns Tesla) said there wasn’t enough electrical capacity right now for a world full of electric cars. But when Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda chimed in, that caught people’s attention.

As I have said for many moons, there are two problems with the bulk of our “renewable” energy: the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. And guess what they have to use for backup plants? Yep, natural gas, often extracted by that eeeeeeeevil practice of fracking. (Well, except in Maryland and other states stupid enough to throw away economic potential.)

We have plenty of oil and a robust infrastructure to get it where it needs to go – in my case it’s usually the RoFo I pass on the way to/from work, but in a pinch there’s another station a couple miles away in Sharptown. A few minutes to fill up and I’m good to go for another 300 miles or more.

On the other hand, I have to charge my cell phone a few hours overnight to keep it viable for the next day, day after day. And I want a car like that? No thanks.

A unique New Year’s resolution

Self-serving as it may be, my friends at Ammo.com had a good idea for a New Year’s resolution: start a gun club. As they say:

There’s never a bad time to start a gun club, but there are maybe better times than others. With an emerging global medical police state, the spectre of the most anti-Second Amendment administration in history hanging over the United States, and recurring left-wing riots, now is perhaps the ideal time to start thinking less in terms of gun rights exercised individually and more in terms of collective preparation.

“How to Build a Gun Club: A Guide to Organizing and Starting Your Own Local Gun Club”, Sam Jacobs, Ammo.com.

I will say, though: around here I think they make you jump through a lot of hoops. I recently worked on drawings for a gun club as part of my “real” job and it seemed like there were a lot of unnecessary roadblocks put in place for a building that was existing in a rural, out-of-the-way location. My thinking was that was simply because it was a gun club.

If you can’t build one, though, you can still join one. I had some fun the last time I stopped by a local gun range back in August, and it wasn’t just the hot and cold running politicians during Delaware’s primary season.

Maybe my resolution should be to better work on my Second Amendment rights.

The other resolution will be to keep collecting stuff for the 102nd rendition of odds and ends, coming sometime in the future if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.

Odds and ends number 100

Hey, a milestone!

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

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

A taxpayer money waste

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

(…)

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

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

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

Robbing the livelihood

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for public input

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

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

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

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

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

One last tax question

Should Delaware relent and adopt a sales tax?

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

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

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

And last…it’s that time of year

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

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

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

2020 federal dossier: Energy and Taxation

This is the fifth part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, energy is worth 7 points and taxation is worth 10 points.

This section of the dossier has been revised and updated to reflect the general election field.

In returning to my dossier series after a week away, I have run into a couple of my problem children. Seeing that the candidates don’t seem to be as concerned about these issues as I am and wishing to kick start this process back up, I opted to combine the two categories into one post. I’ll begin with energy, which was supposed to be one of last week’s topics but it turns out that no one really gets into the subject. (If a candidate does, it’s either not on their site or it’s part of a much longer-form interview.)

So I asked the questions directly of the candidates: in the case of energy I wanted to know their takes on renewables, offshore drilling, and ethanol subsidies. As always, I am going by party beginning with the Republicans for House and Senate, respectively, then proceeding through the Libertarians, Independent Party of Delaware candidates, and finally the incumbent Democrats Lisa Blunt Rochester and Chris Coons for House and Senate, respectively.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

Based on his answer I suspect we may learn more about the Murphy plan in due course, but I believe he’s trying to appease the middle with the campaign’s response, “(T)rust us when we tell you that Lee Murphy is the most evolved Republican in the state with his desire for a clean environment through incentives, not regulations and imposed costs. He wants all of us to be able to drink from the rivers in Delaware, which will take a while, even with Lee’s kind of leadership.”

In and of itself, that’s interesting. But I wonder if he’s tilting himself too far in the balance between energy and environment. I also noticed Lee’s campaign doesn’t actually address energy issues as presented, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that the “information” he has will also address energy in some manner. 2.5 points out of 7.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

Although Lauren has been active on social media, this isn’t a topic which she’s addressed directly. However, I seem to have a more open line of communication with her campaign so I may well yet have an answer. I have my hunch how it may play out, but I will hold the prediction in abeyance for now. No points.

David Rogers (L) (House)

I haven’t come across anything from Rogers on the subject. No points.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

The same goes for his Libertarian partner, which is a shame. No points.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

This sort of scares me: “Reach a sustainable equilibrium between the environment, energy and the economy that best suits the people and our planet.” The planet is far more resilient than the people, don’cha know?

She also advocates for, “free and clean energy programs that don’t damage our environment.” Given the order presented, I think her priorities aren’t in line with mine. 1 point out of 7.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

Turley wants to, “Work to achieve an effective mix of energy including renewables and drive effective policies to protect our environment.” He also would have supported extension of tax breaks for renewables, which I don’t support. 1 point out of 7.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

Given this topic so far, it may be best that she says nothing. No points.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

It goes from bad to worse. “Chris is a leading voice in the effort to pass legislation to put a price on carbon emissions, one of the most effective and practical solutions we have available to address the dangerous warming of our planet.” It’s called a tax and it’s the last thing our economy needs. And as I always ask: do you know exactly what our optimum climate is?

You don’t, do you? So how can you say, “Climate change is an existential threat that must be taken seriously. That’s why I’ve fought to increase renewable energy, cut carbon emissions, opposed offshore drilling, and created the first bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.” You fought wrong, and this is about the third category in a row in which I wish I could give you negative points. Needless to say, 0 points out of 7.

Now I’m going to switch gears and tackle taxation, which is worth 10 points.

My initial query has been along the lines of thoughts on the Trump tax cuts, but the only short answer I received at the time I did this originally was from one of those who didn’t survive the primary, Matt Morris. Among his answers was taxing legalized marijuana.

And the recent passing of Herman Cain reminds us there are other revenue ideas out there besides Mary Jane. Cain was most famous for the 9-9-9 plan, which was a combination where the income tax rate for all payers, the business tax rate, and a national sales tax would all be 9%. Presumably the belief was that the lower income tax rate would put more take-home money in paychecks, the lower business tax rate would improve profitability and encourage investment, and any resulting shortfall to the federal treasury would be made up by the new sales tax, which would add $9 to an item costing $100. (This is a similar idea to the FairTax, which has long been a consumption-based tax proposal.) Cain’s hybrid system would have limited the dependence of the government on income tax and spread the burden more equally as opposed to the steeply progressive and complicated tax system we have now.

So I wanted to have the candidates enhance their take on it, either by message or by comment here. Fortunately I was able to scrounge up a little bit in the interim from some participants; still, these categories were like pulling teeth.

Lee Murphy (R) (House)

Murphy has the stock Republican answer of passing middle-class and business tax cuts. It’s not much but better than nothing. 3 points out of 10.

Lauren Witzke (R) (Senate)

Again this isn’t a topic which she’s addressed directly. I’m surprised. No points.

David Rogers (L) (House)

Rogers conceded he would work to reduce taxes if elected, which again is better than nothing. 2 points out of 10.

Nadine Frost (L) (Senate)

It took awhile but I got my wish on her addressing this one: “Restructure the tax code.  And by restructure I mean throw it in the dust bin.  What started out as a relatively simple (if unconstitutional) system, has grown in tiny increments to a leviathan that no one (not even IRS Agents) can know or understand.  It has been built over more than 100 years as reactions to emergent issues, and then outdated policies have stayed long after their reason for being ended.  Much like suicide, it is filled with permanent solutions to temporary problems.  And worse, it has created the largest and most intrusive bureaucracy in history.  Imagine how much money would be saved without the 75,000 people employed by the IRS.  Yes, we will still need to have tax collecting office, but it could be greatly reduced by reducing the minutiae of the (70,000?) page tax code.  I use the question mark, because Business Insider in 2013 stated the number as 73,000, and even PolitiFact admits that the code is so huge that no one really knows how long it is.” It’s not clear how she would replace it, but acknowledging the issue is half the battle. 4 points out of 10.

Catherine Stonestreet Purcell (IPoD) (House)

Besides more tax cuts, Purcell also noted, “I support the Fair Tax Act but would set limits on the amount of consumption tax that states can enforce.” That’s actually a pretty good answer, and if we can get her onboard repealing the Sixteenth Amendment we may be rolling. 6.5 points out of 10.

Mark Turley (IPoD) (Senate)

Again, I have struck out with one of the lesser-known candidates. A pity. No points.

Lisa Blunt Rochester (incumbent D) (House)

Again, given this topic so far, it may be best that she says nothing. She did not vote in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. 0 points out of 10.

Chris Coons (incumbent D) (Senate)

Can this guy get any more annoying? Wait, don’t answer that, let him explain:

“He has opposed Trump’s unfunded tax breaks for the wealthy.”

I seem to recall I got a pretty nice break out of it, too, and believe me: I’m not wealthy. As the old song goes, “I’m a man of means by no means.”

And there’s more:

“And Chris has been taking on the tough issues, like ending childhood poverty with a bill to dramatically expand the Child Tax Credit — which Vox calls ‘the single most important bill of the 116th Congress for the country’s poorest residents.’ I call it simple wealth transfer because it would allow someone to take more in money from the government than they paid in taxes. It’s essentially another form of welfare. 0 points out of 10.

Standings:

House: Murphy 20.5, CSP 10.5, Rogers 4, LBR 3.5.

Senate: Witzke 19.5, Frost 15.5, Turley 5.5, Coons 1.

Boy were those two dogs of topics. Fortunately I have no shortage of information on the next topic, which will be immigration.

Odds and ends number 96

It’s been nearly a year since I did one of these, but let me assure you that I’m not digging up a lot of chestnuts from my e-mail bag. There are just a few things which have piqued my interest lately and deserve a mention, whether it be a few sentences to a handful of paragraphs. It’s like riding a bike – you don’t forget how to do it after enough times.

Miss #FliptheFirst almost flips the race

I thought for a bit that, after the winding down of Red Maryland, I might have to step into the breach temporarily with popcorn in hand to witness the glory of having the candidate who won the First District Congressional primary despite withdrawing try to convince the twelve Democrat Central Committees involved to pick the only other candidate who lives in the district – but who finished a distant third – over the second-place finisher.

Alas, the late-arriving mail-in votes vaulted Mia Mason to a narrow victory over Allison Galbraith in the First District Democrat primary. Early on, it appeared the Allison may have won the race despite announcing her withdrawal six weeks ago for personal reasons. Had she not dropped out, it’s clear Allison may have won her primary on a scale comparing with Andy Harris’s 82-18 win in the GOP primary against challenger Jorge Delgado.

(By the way, have you ever noticed that Republicans who say how tired they are of Andy Harris don’t turn out in droves to the primary? Andy has never received less than 75% of the GOP vote since taking office in 2010, although he’s had at least one challenger in each primary election since 2014. I guess you can call it a silent majority.)

Mia is going to have a very reluctant supporter in Allison. On her campaign social media page Galbraith charged that, “Mia, she’s just playing pick a district and hasn’t been filing any of her FEC reports properly. She also called the state party and told blatant lies about me saying I had somehow ‘intimidated’ or ‘pressured’ her by offering her a job because she happens to be good at field. Her ethics, less commendable.”

If it were a more fairly-drawn district I would keep out the popcorn, but to know that Mason could have ran in her own district and has few ties to the Eastern Shore means the local Democrats will have a harder time backing her.

Good reads on energy

I’m going back to the B.C. era (before coronavirus) on this, but over the last few months the folks who write the Energy Tomorrow blog have also linked to some other good pieces which found their way to media.

For example, the good news about natural gas gets very little play as we try and force-feed solar and wind power on the energy market. “It would be hard to find anything NOT to like about this great American success story,” writes Stephen Moore, “(Now we have) energy independence, reliable and inexhaustible supply, low prices, reduced power of the Middle East, Russia, and other OPEC nations, and cleaner air than at any time in at least a century.” But the environmentalists whine because natural gas is “a hurdle” in their zero-carbon goal, which is unattainable until that day we figure out how to make the wind blow constantly at just the right speed and sun shine 24 hours a day – in other words, the twelfth of never.

Yet they talk about a fracking ban on the Left, and despite the fact Joe Biden hasn’t publicly stated he’s for a ban that will change if he wins the election. He’s already promised a de facto ban by pledging he would be, “Requiring aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations.” By making compliance expensive and cumbersome it would create the same effect as a ban: imagine you liked ice cream enough to produce it, but the government told you that you had to make sure the cow farts didn’t reach the atmosphere with expensive equipment attached to their behinds to collect their “residue.” That cost has to come from somewhere and reducing profit makes for a lot less incentive to stay in business. (And it’s not like the energy industry doesn’t want to improve its record since methane sent into the atmosphere is methane we can’t use for profitable purposes.) So, yeah, it would cripple our economy and this study documents how much. (Bear in mind it, too, was conducted B.C.)

A voice of reason on Biden

Last summer I did a radio interview with Kansas-based host Andy Hooser, who bills himself as the “Voice of Reason.” Since he has an Ohio connection and is a pretty good self-promoter, I’ve kept following his efforts as he went from terrestrial show to podcast to a bid for a syndicated national show.

But the reason I bring him up now is his long summary of the Joe Biden campaign as it begins in this brave “new normal” world. It’s a rather in-depth opinion from a different kind of pundit and he made a number of good points.

Denied access

In the past I have often voted for Libertarian Party candidates when their views meshed with mine moreso than the ones of the RINO on the ballot. Yet thanks to the reigning D vs. R duopoly, oftentimes the Libertarians and other minor parties – including the Constitution Party, which I’ll get to in a minute – have to waste valuable resources maintaining a ballot position whereas the majors don’t.

Back in March, the two leading minor parties in Maryland realized they would have an issue with petitioning their way onto the ballot thanks to the Wuhan flu; despite being allowed to collect electronic signatures they sued the state last month.

Maryland’s petition law is daunting, and it shouldn’t really be necessary: as of the last report which listed the Greens and Libertarians (january 2019), the LP had over 22,000 registered voters with their party and the Greens 9,262. One would think those should be automatic signatures with their registration, meaning that only the Greens would have to collect 738 signatures from non-party members to qualify. Delaware has a much simpler and fairer system of ballot access based on voter registration numbers, requiring just 1/10 of 1 percent of voters to be listed. (At present there are six ballot-eligible parties in Delaware, the largest besides the two major parties being the Independent Party of Delaware, or IPOD.) Here the Libertarians are in like flint; however, the Green Party is actually about 20 short at the moment. (Besides Rs, Ds, Ls, and IPOD, the other two eligible are the American Delta Party and Nonpartisan.)

Blankenship is their man

Since I voted for and registered with the Constitution Party, I should let you know they selected Don Blankenship as their Presidential nominee. Unfortunately, the problem with smaller parties is that they often pick out self-serving people as their nominee and I get that impression with him. Rather than the issue-based platforms of most political candidates, I see a lot of filler on Blankenship’s website. I don’t know if he really believes the Constitution Party platform or just sees the party as a way to serve his vanity run. But then I wasn’t a delegate to their convention last month and that’s where he was selected.

So, since I’m looking for the best person regardless of party, later this summer I will have to resurrect my issue-based search for the best candidate. I’m not sure this Don is my guy, either. This is especially true when compared to the common sense the CP’s last nominee espoused in response to the coronavirus.

Advice worth taking

Speaking of Presidential candidates and advice, my last Republican choice has written a smart op-ed about the pitfalls of businesses becoming too “woke” and alienating millions of consumers. It’s a shame this Bobby Jindal piece ran before the whole George Floyd episode because we’re seeing that on steroids right now.

Now I know conservative groups have wanted to boycott this or that for the last generation, but that really doesn’t work as a focused campaign. It’s the business side that Jindal appeals to, concluding, “businesses threaten to undermine the very conservative coalition that stands between them and ruinous policies on the Left.” I really don’t want those “ruinous policies,” thank you.

Programming notes

It’s taken a long time and quite a few turns, but I’m going to make an effort to finally finish my Indivisible series as my next or second-to-next post. I need to put it to bed.

In the meantime, I’m adding a personal page to this website. I’ve often referred to my faith in these posts and on social media, but never really detailed how I got there. This new page will serve as my testimony and if it brings even just one reader to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ it’s worth placing.

Destroying a national party, too

The moment Martin O’Malley ducked the TEA Party wave in 2010 and won re-election – in no small part thanks to a rematch of the 2006 race for Maryland governor against the moderate Bob Ehrlich – the conventional wisdom knew MOM was pointing toward a 2016 race for the White House. So in term number two O’Malley worked on burnishing his far-left credentials for a national run, getting gay marriage and in-state tuition for illegal aliens passed in the General Assembly and leading enough to see repeal efforts for both fail at the ballot box. The state was also on the receiving end of an offshore wind boondoggle O’Malley pushed through the Maryland General Assembly, making it certain he was checking all the progressive boxes for a 2016 Presidential bid. Even the prospect of an all but gift-wrapped U.S. Senate seat thanks to the impending retirement of longtime Senator Barb Mikulski couldn’t deter O’Malley from his goal.

But a funny thing happened to Martin in 2014: the conventional wisdom that he would be a witness to Maryland history by being the first governor to have his lieutenant governor succeed him – as a bonus, checking off another Democrat box by making Anthony Brown Maryland’s first black governor – was tossed out the window when Republican Larry Hogan took three years of constant criticism of MOM’s tax-and-spend record via the Change Maryland organization and parlayed it into his election as Maryland’s 62nd governor. Granted, Anthony Brown ran a campaign as uninspiring as his name, but the criticism of O’Malley’s record was so fierce – and the national Democrat skids so greased for Hillary Clinton – that O’Malley was barely a cipher in the 2016 race for the White House. And even with every Democrat and his or her brother or sister jumping into the 2020 race for the Oval Office, MOM has already taken a pass on it.

On the other hand, Larry Hogan came into office with a broad fiscally conservative agenda. To the extent he could lower tolls and redirect transportation money away from the black hole of Baltimore’s Red Line and toward actual fixing of highways, Hogan was a hero to Republicans. But over time he lost conservative support by compromising too much on items like the hated Phosphorus Management Tool, being squishy at best on the Second Amendment (a sore issue for 2A backers thanks to another MOM initiative, the so-called Firearm Safety Act), reneging on a pledge to overturn an O’Malley fracking ban, and flip-flopping on retaining the Roger Taney statue that once stood at the State House until being removed in the dead of night, among many other reasons.

Yet despite the loss of conservative support, Hogan was all but assured re-election when a plurality of Democrats chose onetime NAACP head Ben Jealous from a crowded primary field to oppose him in 2018. Hogan had already dodged his first bullet when Congressman John Delaney declined a bid for governor (or a surefire re-election to Congress) for a quixotic Presidential run – announcing his intentions in mid-2017 when absolutely no one save hardcore political junkies was paying attention – so the far-left loonies sticking together and selecting Jealous for 2018 was the break Hogan needed to secure perhaps even 1/3 of the Democrat vote to go with his 90-plus percent of Republicans and well over half of independents.

But you would think that, with a comfortable 11-point victory, the Hogan coattails would be quite long. Instead, his were tucked in because Republicans lost a net of seven seats in the General Assembly. While their ranks in the Senate swelled a slight bit from 14 to 15, it was far short of the ballyhooed “drive for five” the Maryland GOP sought to give Hogan veto protection. Meanwhile, the House elections were a disaster as the GOP ranks plunged from 50 to 42, with the carnage particularly severe in suburban areas around Annapolis and Baltimore. Several good Delegates were shown the door thanks to the additional Democrat turnout, as those voters only circled one GOP oval for Hogan. This trend also doomed the already uphill battles of good Republican candidates for U.S. Senate and Attorney General (Tony Campbell and Craig Wolf, respectively) who Hogan rarely failed to ignore on his campaign trail.

This was nothing new for Hogan, though. A vocal critic and opponent of the Trump administration, Larry famously admitted writing in his dad’s name for President in 2016 instead of voting for the GOP nominee. But even as Trump has proven to be something of a miracle worker on the economy and not been the disaster feared by many on other fronts, Hogan hasn’t been a cheerleader. While the signs of a 2020 Presidential run weren’t as blatantly obvious, certainly there are some out there who knew Hogan either already had a bigger position in mind or could be swayed into making a bid based on the theory that he’s a compromising, work-across-the-aisle-for-the-common-good governor in a blue state. After all, he already had the SuperPAC.

It’s been a couple weeks now, but as a headliner for a New Hampshire event considered a ritual for presidential wannabes, Hogan said the following.

“Here in New Hampshire, for example, they like to be independent, they like to look at the candidates and kick the tires and meet people one-on-one. I’m pretty good at retail politics. That’s how I won my state with no money,” Hogan said during a subsequent news conference with reporters, prior to heading to the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper for an editorial board interview and meeting with the publisher.

“There are, I think, 23 states that have open primaries of one sort or another, so independents and Democrats can cross over and vote,” he said.

“Larry Hogan edges toward 2020 challenge to Trump: ‘I’m taking it more seriously'”, David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, April 23, 2019.

To win the Republican nomination it appears Hogan is counting on non-Republican votes. Sound familiar? It should, since in early 2016 there was always the question of how many Democrats were trying for their own “Operation Chaos” by voting for Trump in open-primary states, knowing that they would vote in November for Hillary Clinton.

Hogan’s New Hampshire appearance drew scads of local interest in both Maryland and the Granite State, as one may expect. But did it bear fruit?

Last week we found out a little bit. A Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll drew the most attention for placing Joe Biden atop the Democrat field in one of the first major polls since he declared (more on Biden in an upcoming post), but it also surveyed the GOP race as a somewhat hypothetical one between President Trump and three governors (two former, one current): Hogan, 2016 GOP also-ran John Kasich of Ohio, and 2016 Libertarian VP candidate William Weld, a long-ago governor of Massachusetts.

In the poll, which sampled nearly 400 New Hampshire Republicans, Hogan was dead last in the GOP field with exactly 1 vote, which translated to 0.2%. The good news is that he beat two Democrats: another current governor, Jay Inslee, and former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel since both had zero. The bad news: two guys who aren’t even in the race yet (Montana governor Steve Bullock and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio) are either tied (de Blasio) or ahead of Hogan. Then again, Larry hasn’t formally declared either and may not until later this year when it’s time to get on primary ballots.

Speaking before that New Hampshire audience, Hogan “called for the Republican Party to appeal to a broader base, operate with civility and govern by consensus.” As the WaPo noted, “The audience included some activists who are thirsting for an intraparty fight.” In and of itself, I really don’t mind a primary fight that much – Trump can take care of himself. But if those were my four choices – well, that primary ballot would be left blank.

And if Hogan is, by some reverse miracle, the Republican nominee that becomes President, it may be the best thing ever for the third-party movement because the Republican Party would be no more. Conservatives would revolt, especially if the Democrats captured the Senate and kept the House, because Larry would be rolled on a national stage even worse than he is in Maryland. Of course, that would be huge for Democrats as their opposition is splintered and they would take the opportunity to consolidate power even further, using the fig leaf of bipartisanship at the times when they needed it.

Granted, the odds of an insurgent campaign defeating an incumbent from a party are quite small: it was last tried on the GOP side by Pat Buchanan in 1992 and Democrat Ted Kennedy made a bid in 1980. While neither came close to succeeding, it can be argued they weakened the incumbent enough to ensure his defeat later on in the general election.

If that’s Larry Hogan’s aim in running for President in 2020, he may as well go ahead and change his affiliation to unaffiliated. (He could still run as a Republican just like Bernie Sanders runs as a Democrat.) As I’m a principle over party guy, I think Larry’s lack of principles and unwillingness to stand up to the far-left opposition in Maryland place him squarely in the unaffiliated camp anyway.

Odds and ends number 91

It’s amazing how much stuff one thinks is newsworthy at the time and thus collects in an e-mail account, but by the time they think about writing on it the moment is gone. In this case, it’s items I thought were important enough at the time to keep around and still hold enough interest to me to make the cut days or weeks later.

As usual, it’s a sentence to a few paragraphs. So here goes…

Obama goes all-in on redistricting

Back in December I (along with millions of others) received an e-mail from our most recent past President telling us he’s joining forces with Eric Holder:

Next year, OFA is fully combining forces with the redistricting effort of my former attorney general, Eric Holder. We’re going all-in on the fight against gerrymandering — because for all the hard-fought progress we’ve achieved together, the lack of truly representative government has too often stood in the way of change.

Now, that structural gridlock has been frustrating, no doubt. But if we capitalize on the opportunity to reverse these undemocratic and unrepresentative maps, the bounds of what is possible will fundamentally change.

With maps that deliver on the promise of equal representation, our political leaders will be forced to actually prioritize the will and well-being of the American people on the most pressing issues of our time.

“What’s Next,” e-mail from Organizing for Action, December 20, 2018.

Traditionally the federal government has pretty much left states alone in how they apportion their given number of representatives, which means you get diametrically differing results: some states have it done by a commission, others by their legislature, and Maryland has the governor do it. (Obviously it’s no issue in Delaware as they get just one at-large House member.)

Since attaining office in 2014, Larry Hogan has tried to reform redistricting to no avail. Perhaps this is because Democrats have controlled the process for every redistricting since 1960, a census that led the state to having an “at-large” representative until the shape and placement of an eighth district could be agreed on. (The state was allotted an eighth representative in the 1960 census.) The dirty work of reform could be carried out by the Supreme Court, too, which is the hope of Democrats (like Obama) who think the GOP should blink first because they control more states.

But it’s certain Maryland’s situation is closer to the Obama-Holder idea of “fairness” than other, Republican-drawn states are. I notice they haven’t made a big deal about our state’s blatant attempts at shifting districts from Republican to Democrat – a case that led to the district court ruling mandating a redraw of our Sixth District before the 2020 election.

An Indivisible shutdown

Not surprisingly, the left-wing Astroturf group is taking credit for egging on the Schumer-Pelosi shutdown and calling on the Senate to consider no legislation until a “clean” continuing resolution is sent up for approval.

Just (Tuesday), Senate Democrats, lead (sic) by Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), backed our strategy to refuse to proceed with business as usual until Mitch McConnell brings a bill to the floor to reopen the government. They played hardball, and they won – blocking the first bill that Mitch McConnell tried to bring up.

“When autocrats abuse the tools of democracy,” Indivisible e-mail, January 9, 2019

But listen to the rhetoric they are using: did you know concrete and steel are racist? This is from the “Republican Senator” call script (there’s one for Democrats, too.)

Will [Senator] commit to passing the House funding bills that would reopen our government instead holding our government hostage over Trump’s racist wall?

Indivisible action page

Look, I get the argument about how more of our illegal immigrants are those overstaying visas than those sneaking across the border. So I know a wall is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem, since there also needs to be enforcement personnel put in place as well as measures to make being here illegally less attractive, such as an end to “birthright citizenship” and punishment for businesses that routinely hire illegal aliens. I would listen to an argument that allows those here illegally to become citizens, but it would involve them starting the process from within their home country.

First things first, though: pony up the $5 billion and build the wall. (Dude, in the grand scheme of our overly-bloated federal government budget that’s a rounding error.) The last time I checked the Constitution – you know, that document public officials swear to uphold – common defense was supposed to be provided for, and to me a wall would be part of common defense, even if it’s not in the actual defense budget. Every day the Democrats obstruct is a day they putting politics above safety.

Meanwhile, in news being ignored…

Americans keep getting hired to build things. Remember a few years ago when the Alliance for American Manufacturing had a monthly count comparing the actual number of manufacturing jobs created under Barack Obama to the million he promised? I think that ended about 700,000 short. But instead of giving Donald Trump credit for eclipsing the half-million mark in that category in less than two years, they want more trade enforcement. Stop and smell the roses, guys.

But can the good times last?

There’s going to be a two-front war on prosperity conducted by the Left. On the public front there’s the so-called “Green New Deal,” which has been ably dissected by Hayden Ludwig of the Capital Research Center. Corollary to that is the contrarian advice to Democrats given by Bobby Jindal in the Wall Street Journal. I won’t take you behind the paywall, but the upshot is that “(a) more effective strategy (than impeachment threats, abolishing ICE, or installing “Medicare for All”) would be for House Democrats to take Mr. Trump’s populist campaign rhetoric seriously and seek to divide him from his more conventional Republican colleagues on the Hill.”

I don’t know just how far Jindal’s tongue is in his cheek, but I have to question how serious he is when he says:

Populist Democrats can help the president make good on his promises – and make Republicans shriek – by proposing a financial-transaction tax and a revenue tax on tech companies. They’d be following Europe’s lead. Democrats can force the issue by ending the carried-interest tax break, another of Mr. Trump’s campaign promises.

That new revenue would reduce annual deficits and make a down payment on another Trump campaign promise: eliminating the nation’s debt in eight years. Contrasting themselves with supposed small-government congressional Republicans, who presided over a $779 billion budget deficit during the last fiscal year, Democrats can be the party of fiscal responsibility, expanding government while reducing the deficit. There is no law mandating they spend all the new revenue they raise.

“If Democrats Were Shrewd…”, Bobby Jindal, Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2018

Wanna bet they won’t spend the revenue? See “Green New Deal” above.

Behind the scenes, though, the die has been cast for a rerun of 2007-2008, when a Republican President saddled with an unpopular war let a Democrat Congress that promised to be reformers walk all over him. To that end, the first thing the Democrats did when they got the reins of power was change the rules. This link came courtesy of my old friend Melody Clarke – longtime fans of the site (like her) may remember her as Melody Scalley, who twice ran for Virginia’s House of Delegates and used to have a conservative talk radio program I guested on back in the day. (Geez, that was almost a decade ago. *sigh*)

But the House rules are important because previous incarnations made it more difficult to raise taxes or create new spending without offsetting it somewhere else. Now they favor bigger, more intrusive government for the well-connected special interests that attach to Democrats like ticks to hound dogs.

Creating more choices for Maryland

If you recall my postmortem coverage of the most recent past election, you will note I was corrected in one of my assertions by state Libertarian Party Chair Bob Johnston. I thought it was any statewide candidate who could get 1% to keep a party on the ballot, but he said it had to be governor (or President) and despite my last-minute support Shawn Quinn got well less than 1% of the vote.

But, thanks to a previous court case brought by an independent candidate for statewide office, the threshold for statewide ballot inclusion is now 10,000 signatures. (That helped Neal Simon run for U.S. Senate.) Using that logic, the Maryland Libertarian Party is suing the state to further relax ballot standing rules:

Maryland law requires smaller parties – all those other than the Democrats and Republicans – to renew their official status every four years either by attracting more than 1% of the gubernatorial or presidential vote or by filing a petition with the signatures of 10,000 registered voters.  In 2014 the Libertarians became the first smaller party in Maryland to reach the 1% goal, but in 2018 they fell short.  Now state law requires them to collect 10,000 signatures—even though the state’s own records already show that there are 22,338 registered Libertarians.

“The state’s interest in ensuring that there is a significant modicum of support within Maryland for the Libertarian Party is simply not advanced one iota by requiring Maryland’s 22,000 Libertarians to petition their non-Libertarian neighbors for permission to participate in the political process,” say the plaintiffs in their complaint.

Maryland Libertarian Party press release, December 27, 2018.

If the Libertarians are successful, they would qualify for the 2020 and 2022 ballots – although I’m not sure how they don’t qualify for 2020 when Gary Johnson received well over 1% of the Maryland vote in 2016. (Perhaps it’s only for the remainder of the state’s four-year electoral cycle?) This would certainly make the game easier for the Libertarian Party as they don’t have to spend money chasing petition signatures nor would they have to convince another 18,000 or so voters to join their ranks to get them to 1% of the registered voters. (Getting a percentage of registered voters is a criteria for both Maryland and Delaware, but the numbers are easier to achieve in Delaware, which only requires 1/10 of a percent – and subsequently has seven balloted parties.)

And with 9,287 registered voters and a “Green New Deal” to support, it’s certain that Maryland’s Green Party is watching this case (Johnston v. Lamone) as well.

Coming up…

As I mentioned in yesterday’s piece I have a special record review coming. I was actually listening to it as I did this post, so it was good background music I’ll take another spin at this week before posting.

I’ve also been putting together a short series of posts – ones that are long on number-crunching and research, which make them even more fun for me – on something I enjoy. My friends watching the Hot Stove League should really appreciate it, too.

It all beats the political, which has degenerated to me almost to mind-numbingly boring because it’s so, so predictable. When it strikes my fancy I’ll delve into it again, but in the meantime it’s the other stuff.