10 from 10: Welcome to monoblogue!

The final installment of “10 from 10” is, as you might guess, my very first post ten years ago today, December 1, 2005. I have more to say after the (very brief) post.


I was actually trying to think of some serious weighty subject to do the “first” blog post on, but then a package arrived in the mail today. I’ve only waited 38 years for this shirt!

And there is a parallel in the shirt’s arrival to the purpose of monoblogue. On my old site I somewhat confined myself to the political realm. But now it’s more about my passions on a lot of subjects. (If you go to the “About” tab you’ll see something about my thoughts while creating monoblogue.) If you want to see my archives from the old website, I did place links to almost every one of my 100+ posts in the “ttrwc” section of the site. You’ll see that a lot of them are politically related. Politics is something I follow closely and will frequently comment on.

The post that may tell you a little bit about the 38 year wait for my shirt is the one called Joy in Mudhenville, part 2.

But tonight I’m just getting my feet wet here and making sure it all looks good. Tomorrow I’m going to catch up on my reading and start getting out the red meat. Actually, I’m watching the MAC championship and it’s tough to work back and forth while keeping focus. How’s that for honesty?


So here I go into decade number two. Doing the “10 from 10” series reminded me of a lot of experiences I’ve had and people I’ve met over the years, many of which and whom wouldn’t have been possible without this website.

Yet it’s strange to see all I’ve learned as well as how far the technology has come. I didn’t know how to attach the photo in the original post to the WordPress site, for example, because it was all new to me. Now I do 25-picture posts without flinching. Meanwhile, this latest post is among the first to be compiled on a new laptop, which is the third I’ve gone through in doing this site. That was a liberating experience in and of itself since I used a desktop computer for the first 2 1/2 years – on the other hand, the vast majority of my posts of late were banged out on an iPad. It worked in a pinch for about 4 to 5 months, but wasn’t really a viable long-term solution.

Another thing I’ve come to learn over the years is to not make a lot of forecasts about how things will progress with this site. As one example, a year ago I had no real interest in picking up a second writer but then the opportunity presented itself and I decided Cathy Keim would be a worthy addition. That may be the best move I ever made insofar as this site goes because not only does she bring a little different audience but also a unique but comparable viewpoint. In time I think she will help me grow the site back to where it was in previous years.

Admittedly, the last year has been tough on me. For a short time I had thoughts about making the 10-year anniversary the swan song for the site. I had lost the passion for writing it, and when that goes the writing gets stale and boring. And yes, there’s been a sharp decline in readership – more than I would normally chalk up to being in an off-year election. Hopefully now that the passion is coming back, the actual equipment is improved (it’s not easy writing this blog on an iPad; however, it is good practice for particular situations), and the election cycle is coming back around to an important election year, I can rekindle both the fire of desire and the ambition of people to check this place out more often.

In short, I still think I can utilize these writing talents that God gave me for the common good of enhancing peoples’ awareness of the benefits and advantages that freedom and liberty, firmly based on a moral, Judeo-Christian foundation, can bring. It’s not a fight I’ll win in ten years or perhaps even whatever time I have left in this world, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try and do so anyway.

So I have no idea what the next decade will bring. But as long as it’s interesting to me I will do my best to keep this enterprise going for years to come.

10 from 10: Does it ever change? A petition for redress of grievances.

Back in the REALLY early days of monoblogue (this is from January 21, 2006) I didn’t post every day but when I did post oftentimes it was thought pieces like this one. As I look at these nearly a decade later, it strikes me how little has really changed – the scandals change their names and players but government is still too big, too powerful, and still attracts any number of grifters’ hands to a pot of our coerced making.

So we still need these remedies. In one respect, this piece was the kernel of what became the “50 year plan” series later and eventually my book. It was a definite foundational moment in the first 50 posts.


I guess this is one of those days I get tired of the political scene. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the whole Abramoff scandal. The Democrats accuse the Republicans of being the culture of corruption, even though they got almost half the money themselves, not to mention the money they get that’s coerced from union workers who may not agree with their philosophies. The GOP says, all right, we’re going to introduce legislation to combat things like lobbying, then the Democrats pander and say that’s like the farmer closing the barn door after the horse has departed. And the Democrats were where on this issue 6 months ago?

Do you all understand what the REAL problem is? For every man, woman, and child in America, the federal government spends roughly $10,000. The budget is $2.6 trillion.

And there’s 535 people in control of all that money. And those 535 people have to face voters every 2 to 6 years. And the way they see in keeping people voting for them is to keep shoveling money at them.

I keep a pocket copy of the Constitution on my desk. Article 1, Section 8 lays out the duties of Congress. I’m not going to write them all out, I’ll try for a Cliffs Notes version:

Borrow money. They do this quite well.
Regulate commerce among the states and with foreign nations. This is for things like NAFTA.
Establish rules of naturalization. That evolved into the INS, which I think was folded into Homeland Security.
Establish bankruptcy laws. And they established a bankruptcy court too.
Coin money and regulate the value. Thus, a United States mint, and the Federal Reserve.
Establish Post Offices and post roads. Until 1971, the Post Office was a Cabinet-level office. I suppose establishing interstate highways could be construed for the post roads.
Patents and copyrights. Done, although they’ve talked about changing the periods of those.
Constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court. So they have a perfect right to break up the Ninth Circuit Court. Theoretically, they could scrap it all and start over, but I’m sure the next Democrat Congress would do the same.
Declare war, raise and support armies, and provide and maintain a navy. They do that, although I’m not sure the two year limit on appropriations for the Army is being followed.
Make rules for the government and regulation of the armed forces, also call forth and provide for the militia. Part of that is suppressing insurrections. Is an al-Qaeda sleeper cell in this country an insurrection? But states appoint officers and train their own militias.

That’s pretty much it. But layer upon layer of law and government, fueled by the desire of bureaucrats to maintain their cushy positions, has added a whole lot of chaff to the wheat that was the Constitution as written.

It actually started fairly early. The only amendment to the Constitution that mentioned Congress until the Civil War was the First, which was a prohibition to Congress: they shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or abridging free speech or a free press, or of the right for people to assemble peacefully and petition the government for a redress of grievances.

But from the 13th Amendment on, Constitutional amendments basically allowed Congress to see fit how each Amendment would be codified. Rather than prohibit Congress from establishing laws, these were encouraged and left vague and open-ended.

Worst among them was the Sixteenth Amendment, which let Congress tax the living crap out of us. Talk about a mistake! It was at that moment that the Congress became a monument to pork.

If I were to ask for a Constitutional convention (allowed under Article V of the Constitution) I would ask that the 16th and 17th Amendments be repealed, and the 28th Amendment be thus:

Congress shall make no law that codifies discrimination for or against any person based on their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This Amendment shall also be construed to include a prohibition on Congress enacting additional criminal code or punishment solely based on these factors.

The 29th Amendment would go something like this:

Section 1. With the exception of the powers reserved for Congress in Article 1, Section 8 of this document, and items outlined below; funds received by the federal government shall be disbursed to the States in accordance with their population in the latest Census figures. No restriction shall be placed on how the several States use these funds.

Section 2. Outlays for the operation of the offices of the President and other officers who shall be warranted by same shall be submitted by the office of the President to Congress, who shall, without amendment, vote up or down on the expenditures within ten days (excluding Sundays) of receiving this submittal.

Section 3. Outlays for the operation of the Supreme Court and tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court shall be submitted by the Attorney General to Congress, who shall, without amendment except in the case of convening a new tribunal inferior to the Supreme Court, vote up or down on the expenditures within ten days (excluding Sundays) of receiving this submittal.

Section 4. If Congress does not approve the submitted amount, both the President and Attorney General will have ten days (excluding Sundays) to resubmit a budget to Congress. In the event that either a new budget is not submitted by either or both parties, or if the resubmitted budget is not approved by Congress, the budget shall be determined by using the prior year’s figure and adding a sum equal to 3% of that figure.

Section 5. Congress shall not withhold funds from states based on existing state laws.

It’s a start. The key to solving a lot of our problems with ethics, in my opinion, is to take away from Congress the power of the purse as much as possible. More attention should be paid to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which places rights properly at the state level and among the people themselves.

10 from 10: Welcome to the Rushalanche!

October 5, 2007 is a day – to borrow a phrase from some failed presidential candidate – that is forever seared into my memory. It wasn’t the first time I’d tried to call Rush Limbaugh on “open line Friday” but I amazingly got through, Snerdly liked the question I was going to ask, and right after the 1:30 news it was time for my big show business break. (I have the transcript as a private page. Think I did the job of making the host look good.)

And yes, it did fry my server. But for one glorious day I had several thousand people read my site – who knows, maybe some are still around.


Since most of you readers have never heard of monoblogue prior to my conversation with Rush, a little about my website.

I started this a couple years ago because I couldn’t write a letter to the editor every day. But in the last 22 months this has become my hobby/obsession and the actual reason I wanted to call in was to see what websites are considered the top sites for conservative thinking so I can link to them and use them to improve my own writing.

On monoblogue, I cover a variety of subjects ranging from national and Maryland politics to my love of baseball and local music. Another goal is to inform the voters of the Eastern Shore and elsewhere of the political choices they have and editorially push them in the “right” direction.

So welcome to monoblogue, and I hope you come back often. And thank you for the “big show business break” Rush!!!

P.S. There’s been many great comments so far and I’m going to spend some time this weekend answering them. I’ve always been proud of those who comment (I think I have the best readers of any website) and you folks continue the tradition. Plus you’ve given me valuable insight on good websites, some I already knew of and a few I didn’t.

And for those who ask, in maybe two hours you’ve topped my best WEEK ever. Now the challenge is to keep all of my new readers, and I look forward to it. My thanks to you and to Rush for taking my call.


I would be remiss if I didn’t add the companion post I did for the new audience. It was a day I’ll never forget.

10 from 10: 2008 White House Christmas Card

I suppose it was because I was on the Central Committee, but for a couple years I was privileged enough to receive White House Christmas cards and decided to share. Turns out they were very popular posts.

So you may enjoy this look back at a time when we really celebrated Christmas at the White House and not out in Hawaii, as the current occupant of the White House tends to do.


With the recent election I may not get another one for awhile, so I’ll enjoy once again getting the card from George W. and Laura Bush this year. Wonder if the DNC picks up the tab next year?

The inside of this year's White House Christmas, once again with a Scripture verse.

I think the picture came out well enough for the greeting, but the Scripture verse may be too small. This time it’s Matthew 5:16:

Let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

I particularly like the picture on the outside, which is a slightly stylized view southward off the Truman Balcony toward the Washington Monument. Especially pretty is the depiction of a colorful setting sun sky in this Christmastime scene of a snowy Washington.

The 'photo' on the outside of the card is actually an oil-on-linen painting by artist T. Allen Lawson.

I guess the setting sun is appropriate as the final Bush term comes to a close. Regardless, I’m pleased to share this with others who may not be fortunate enough to be on the list.

So what if I get more complaints from someone about Google searches.

10 from 10: D.C. 9-12 rally in pictures and text (part 2: the players)

This post was from September 14, 2009. Perhaps it could lead to a piece on my thoughts on where the TEA Party has gone since those heady, bring a quarter million or more people to a D.C. rally days. I will say that this rally was perhaps my favorite event to cover, that’s for sure. So take a few moments to remember.


Last night I did the crowd shots for the disbelievers. Today I’ll get to the more meaty parts of the rally.

But it may not be a bad idea for me to do this part chronologically as well. There were a lot of moments which cry out for comment and today is a good time to sit back and reflect on what the day meant to me and a million others like me – not to mention the thousands who participated in smaller rallies across the country and/or met the TEA Party Express tour bus in various parts of the country.

Since we walked from Union Station, where the bus dropped us off, directly to the Capitol (we were late enough that the march had already began) we walked by the Teamsters national headquarters. (Don’t forget I embed captions too.)

No it's not. Keep the secret ballot secret and don't allow Big Labor intimidation.

I know this isn’t SEIU headquarters, but card check performed by the same type of people who think nothing of beating up health care protesters doesn’t fly – keep the secret ballot as it is. So what if unions only win about 2/3 of the time.

The first attention-grabber I ran across at the rally had his own message.

The only thing missing from this guy's getup was money hanging out of his pockets. But he certainly looked the part - just hope he never actually runs for office with this picture all over the internet.

While this woman wasn’t dressed to the nines, the sign she held up intrigued me so she’ll be a featured player.

Unfortunately we can't hit the rewind button until November of 2012. Hopefully the damage won't be too severe.

Also, she had on two great buttons: “I’d rather be waterboarding” and “America: Not arrogant, just awesome”. Winners in my book.

This lady was sitting back deeper in the crowd, so she couldn’t see the stage but she could be seen.

Yep, typical right-wing extremist, spouting off those limited government principles. Perhaps this picture is appropriate since most of these values were kicked to the curb by Congress and our President.

One complaint I have about the setup was there were way too few facilities. I counted 60 portapotties for a million or so people. Disregarding potty parity, there should have been hundreds if I recall building code correctly – then again, even the organizers only predicted 75,000 to show up. This was stuck on a portapotty door and was worth a chuckle and a picture.

Look on the bright side - at least ACORN can't be punk'd there.

Once I finally got through the line, I wandered some more. This was when the main event got started so I listened to a couple speakers. I didn’t get the name of the guy who said this but he said, “Three days ago the President called us out…three days later, here we are!”

Obviously that got a big roar from the crowd, as did Andrew Moylan of the National Taxpayers Union noting, “Hell hath no fury like a taxpayer ignored.” The crowd noise could be quite loud at times but since we were scattered about in a large area (as opposed to a stadium) it wasn’t deafening. Certainly it was great to hear as we walked up.

Crowd noise didn’t deter this woman from doing her job.

This woman was interviewing people for a later video and her company was called 'Hi There Productions'.

Since I have the web address I’ll have to see if the interview I did made the cut. If so I’ll put it up for Friday Night Videos. (Nice tease, huh?)

This may be my favorite picture from the event in an artistic sense.

I have no idea how he got up there but he was there for quite awhile and drew a lot of cheers. I know I wouldn't do that since I hate being on ladders let alone 20 feet up.

In a certain way it’s very symbolic of our cause, sort of reminiscent of Paul Revere’s ride. Speaking of riding, there were others who arrived in the same manner we did.

American Energy did a nice product placement with this attractive moving billboard.

I presume they had their people moving through the crowd exhorting support of a pro-energy position. But another bus was met with much more derision.

These protestors kept yelling at those on the CNN bus 'Tell the truth!' Maybe they need to start since their ratings are in the toilet. Notice the lady slapping up the 'Fox News' sign.

Returning to a space in view of the stage, I took a long-range shot of the TEA Party Express group, represented by a previous monoblogue interviewee, Deborah Johns.

Blue Star Mom and TEA Party Express participant Deborah Johns (center, at podium and on big screens) remarks on the 7,000 mile journey her bus tour took to end up in Washington.

I’m working on securing another interview with Deborah this week. They also brought the event organizers on stage to close the show.

The people who put together the 9-12 TEA Party put in hundreds of hours to get this together and on the whole did an excellent job!

But the pictures aren’t done. I have more fun stuff to discuss from the return to Union Station, like this guy.

Yep, he's looking for attention, but this guy gets his due for making a spectacle of himself.

The same goes for this truck. I did not Google “Mark the Patriot” but maybe sometime I will.

Here's someone who doesn't mind making his truck unique for a cause.

Arriving at Union Station, there were still protestors worth checking out. I suspect a lot of Congressmen may get a pink slip next year.

I can tell you that you'll see a sign like this again. We were all waiting for our respective buses at Union Station.

I saw buses there from points up and down the mid-Atlantic: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina were represented. I even was in proximity with a minor celebrity: Rev. James David Manning, the Louisiana preacher best known for calling President Obama a “long-legged mack daddy.”

The Rev. James David Manning (left) found a lot of supporters at the protest for his point of view. I wouldn't quite go so far as he does but certainly the frustration with President Obama is real.

Between two posts I have 24 pictures, plus another 14 on my Facebook page. But there’s no way I can create the full flavor of the event – I guess you just had to be there.

Hopefully this won’t be the last event the 9-12 Coalition conducts, but most of us know that this isn’t a climax, just a beginning. The change we seek isn’t one that occurs overnight and doesn’t stop even if we throw out Congress and Obama next time around. Vigilance is forever, and that’s the first lesson we all need to learn.

10 from 10: Thanksgiving 2010

For today’s look back, I review a Thanksgiving past. This is from November 25, 2010.


As I have in years past, I take time a day or two before Thanksgiving to write an annual message. It may or may not be autobiographical (generally it is) and it may or may not be philosophical, but nonetheless I take the time to populate my website on Thanksgiving because I feel I owe it to my loyal readers to provide daily content. A few dozen take me up on reading it.

Last year at this time I detailed my economic struggles, and they continue apace – however, I am thankful to have found a part-time job which is helping a little bit, not to mention the few extra dollars I make as a scribe. Depending on how things go forward with Pajamas Media, I’m up to two or three regular (paying) writing clients.

(I’m told this new job outside the house will pick up once the holidays are over – let’s hope that’s more true than when I lost my last full-time job only to be told I’ll be rehired ‘after the holidays’ – too bad I didn’t verify in which year those holidays would be. Can’t blame the old boss, though, since he has a smaller company now than when I left.)

It’s odd that I seem to have swerved into a bit of a tradition here. For the third year in a row, I’m having dinner with my friends Jim and Michele in Delaware and for the second year in a row, supper will be consumed with Kim’s family at her mom’s place in Oxford. It’s different than a Swartz family gathering, but it has advantages nonetheless.

Of course, the disadvantage of leaving family to move three states away is that one can’t always be there to gather with them. But this year that longing will be compounded by the loss of my brother LJ – future family gatherings will never be the same. For example, there are only two cutthroat UNO players to avoid sitting next to instead of three. (Those who know me best and most intimately will understand the humor there.)

Yet as the universe of readers here keeps expanding and time marches on as it forever has, I realize that there are days we need to ponder that which we should be thankful for and to Whom the thanks should go.

While it’s difficult letting go of the political world for a day and nearly impossible to not pay attention to the football game on (after all, I am a Detroit Lions fan and we almost always ate as their annual Thanksgiving game was being played) I try to manage because the best part is having great company for the day.

Years ago, in what seems like a galaxy far, far away, I was married to my first wife who had an elderly father that lived alone. Our first thought about Thanksgiving was making sure he had a place to go and wouldn’t be by himself on the holiday. As for me, I think I have managed to spend the time with family and friends either here or back in Ohio (a couple times) since I moved here. I still appreciate those who hosted me on Thanksgivings spent far away from my own family opening their home to me and being friends.

So I hope your Thanksgiving goes well, and if you have a job you got the day off. (Is our society really better served with all the stores open for shopping Thanksgiving Day?) Give thanks to those you’re with, for you never know if they’ll be there with you when the next Thanksgiving rolls around. Time has a way of being cruel.

10 from 10: David Craig (hearts) the Maryland conservative blogosphere

Before he ever made a formal announcement for the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, you may recall Harford County Executive David Craig’s prospective run was the second worst-kept secret in Maryland politics, behind Larry Hogan’s then-nascent Change Maryland organization that enabled Hogan to stay in the public eye for his own successful run.

At the time I wrote this, though, it was still a parlor game. This is from September 12, 2011. By the way, I think I still have the thumb drive somewhere.


A headshot of Harford County Executive David Craig, provided by his 2014 campaign.

On Friday evening I, along with a number of other Maryland political bloggers, was invited to a confab with current Harford County Executive and likely 2014 statewide candidate David Craig.

Now unlike a lot of events, I chose beforehand not to provide a blow-by-blow account of the proceedings. I intentionally didn’t bring a notepad because I figured there weren’t going to be a lot of detailed questions or answers. I was sort of wrong, but that’s okay – why should I write the same thing four or five others may write? So what you’ll read are my observations of the evening, with a few pertinent items tossed in from memory.

Let me begin with a roster of the other bloggers who attended – there were six of us. I was told that there were about a dozen or so invited, but the list of non-attendees seems to be guarded like a state secret. And that’s fine, because I was just curious when I asked.

Besides yours truly, those who came in to Annapolis for dinner and conversation were Greg Kline and Brian Griffiths from Red Maryland, Bryan Sears and Brad Gerick from Patch.com, and Richard Cross, who does Cross Purposes. (He beat me to the punch with his thoughts on the evening.) It was a cordial conference with Craig and four of his staffers, and the conversations were broad in scope and depth around various parts of the table.

Besides dinner, we all received a party favor: the picture you see at the opening of the article comes from a flash drive Craig provided with his 2014 logo on the outside and various photos, background information, and news articles on the inside. Obviously it will be more useful once the 2012 election is over and Craig decides on whether he’ll seek the post of Governor, Comptroller, or Congressman – if I were a betting man I’d say that in rank order it’s about a 70-25-5 probability for which office he’ll run (the 70% being Governor.)

It was interesting how my fellow bloggers handled the evening. Sears (and to a lesser extent Gerick) treated this like an interview, asking pointed questions of the candidate about a number of statewide issues. Obviously Cross was taking some notes as well, while Kline and I did more listening. (Brian Griffiths came late since the Maryland GOP Executive Committee meeting was held down the street simultaneously to our gathering and he was representing the Maryland Young Republicans there.)

It’s funny that much of my direct conversation with Craig came when we talked about – baseball. He’s obviously familiar with the struggles of the O’s minor league system since the Aberdeen IronBirds play in his county and he could relate to my feelings about the Shorebirds. On the other hand, I wasn’t enthused about his ideas for league realignment but liked his stance on the designated hitter – indeed, it needs to go.

Continue reading “10 from 10: David Craig (hearts) the Maryland conservative blogosphere”

10 from 10: Rant

If you’ve ever tried to sell anything, you’d understand. This is from September 6, 2012, about 6 weeks after my first (and so far only) book came out.


I sold a copy of So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy yesterday in a most unusual way.

A friend of Kim’s recommended my book to one of her friends, who asked about its availability. Since I happen to have a few print copies in my possession I delivered one to the surprised and pleased new reader, complete with inscription and autograph.

I also had an interesting e-mail in my box from a former co-worker of mine in Toledo. We weren’t co-workers for long as he was a college intern who, as he put it jokingly, was “sure you remember me as that crazy college kid always messing things up…” But somehow he had heard about my book. That’s crazy.

Yet there are people in my social circle who claim to be conservative and who tell me they love what I write – but I’m not seeing the book sales reflecting this. People who will give $50, $100, or even $500 to a political candidate at a drop of a hat won’t spare a Lincoln for an e-book (or $8 for the printed copy) on Amazon, the Nook website, or Kindle.

I hate asking for money – in fact, in the very first chapter of my book I write:

(W)hile I had thoughts about and a little bit of ambition for seeking an elected office such as a seat on the city council or a state representative, one thing I found out rather quickly after getting involved is that I’m by no means the prototypical politician. I don’t have a snake-oil salesman’s gift of gab and the part about raising money and saying what I think people want to hear in order to collect their votes doesn’t appeal to me very much either, at least in a large-scale sense.

On the other hand, I’ve known my share of writers and bloggers who regularly rattle their tip jars and “bleg” for money. I don’t mind getting a note from PayPal once in awhile that someone donated to me through my site – in fact, someone just did so for at least the second time I recall – but I would rather sell books. And the more books I sell, the better chance I can make a full-time career out of writing and actually create more content. I already have the thought process going for my second book, which I would like to finish in the early to middle part of 2013.

But it’s interesting to note that I received a couple sales on the day I was on the radio in Frederick – not bad for very little promotion from the host and a change in time slot. I sort of like doing radio interviews, and would love to speak on my book’s behalf whether it’s over-the-air or exclusively on the internet – I’m not choosy about the venue. The more I do it, the better I will get – previous to last week I hadn’t done a radio spot since I was on the Thom Hartmann Show in April 2011. (That was regarding a piece I wrote for PJ Media.)

It’s frustrating because my book has received a number of good reviews, like this one:

Being somewhat familiar with the author (we’re both involved with the Republican party in our state, and I’m a regular reader of his blog) I opened this book knowing that there would be certain issues where we disagreed philosophically. Not on a majority of issues by any means, but we do have our ideological differences. However what I discovered was that we agreed on a lot more than I expected. That being said, the sections where we differ in opinion were for me the most intriguing parts of this book.

If you’re a Republican looking for a way to discuss your viewpoints with friends and family on the other side of the political spectrum (without stirring up hard feelings), or if you’re a Democrat honestly interested in understanding the reasoning behind conservative ideology, this book is for you. What you’ll find is a very frank discussion of conservatism. What you won’t find is the red-blooded liberal-bashing rhetoric all too common in today’s political writing. The author has no intent of demeaning anyone. He doesn’t insist that readers agree with him. His intent is only to get the reader to understand *why* he believes what he does. In doing so, he’s able to humanize conservative thought in a way I, even as a lifelong Republican, have not seen before.

Republicans are often criticized as callous, selfish, and uncaring about others. It’s clear in this book that the author (and many conservatives like him) cares deeply about our society and the people in it, and that his political beliefs are driven largely by that concern and compassion. That’s important because the problem with today’s political divisiveness isn’t that the two sides don’t agree on issues (they’ve always had differences and they always will). It’s that they’ve lost any real understanding of the opposing viewpoint. Having that understanding and respect for different viewpoints is essential for finding common ground on any issue. If you’re not a conservative, reading this book may not “convert” you, but you’ll definitely come away from it with an appreciation for the reasoning behind the author’s views.

This blew me away because it was written yesterday (I actually wrote this last night, so it was that very day) by someone who had purchased the book. I didn’t know it until I added the Nook link to the post about halfway through, when I realized “you know, it might be prudent to actually link to the book for this rant so you can sell it.”

Now I know that the only person who will agree with the book 100 percent is the author and if you ask him in ten years he may have changed his mind on a few things here and there. But the idea is to push things in the right direction, realizing it’s not going to happen overnight or possibly even in my earthly lifetime. And I knew the odds were stacked against me on a number of levels, since I know how to write but I’m trying to learn marketing on the fly in ways I’m comfortable with. Maybe those who support me can put up with what can be sometimes a hamhanded approach.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had the other night with Kim, who was talking about someone acquiring a bunch of e-books on a thumb drive. She was talking about this person getting the books free when I reminded her that the person was cutting into the sales of the authors of these tomes and reducing their livelihood. It was a point well made, since those who borrow my book don’t accrue to my bottom line. (I’m happy to sell copies to libraries, but I intended the book as more of a reference guide of goals that you can keep.)

I’m going to close with this. A couple Fridays ago I was working at my outside job and I happened to be working on a gift card display next to a corrugate featuring four Nora Roberts wedding-themed romance novels. (At least I presume they were, since I’m not a Nora Roberts aficionado.) The price for any of the four was $7.99 each, and I thought to myself that someone could buy the Nora Roberts book, read it in an afternoon, and never pick the thing up again – or, for about the exact same price (I guess there may be a shipping fee involved, since my copies had one tacked on) they could have a reference guide for activism that the reviewer above gave good marks to.

But no one is putting my book on a corrugate and sticking it in the aisle of a full-service grocery store; obviously that takes money I don’t have. Hell, I’d be happy to see a couple copies at local and regional bookstores for now. The book tour can come later.

So, if you haven’t already, support your local conservative writer, buy the book, and if you like it (surely you will) tell your friends. I’m not out to make this a guilt trip and don’t do puppy-dog eyes, but I would like to see many more sales in the upcoming weeks before this very important election to determine the direction of our nation.

10 from 10: Testimony opposing SB281

Originally published February 6, 2013. Still true today.


I also had my say on the gun-grabbing bill.

Testimony in opposition to SB281:
Firearm Safety Act of 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate:

Let me begin by saying I find this bill to be improperly named, because its passage will not make Marylanders any safer.

As members of the General Assembly, you are charged with making laws. By definition, criminals break them.

Yet I predict this bill will make criminals out of law-abiding citizens.

Otherwise this law will deny the right to self-protection from many thousands of Maryland residents your government claims to be looking out for: the poor and disadvantaged among us. If one were to purchase a handgun after November 1, not only will they be responsible for the price of the gun but also hundreds of dollars’ worth of licensing fees, classes, and other costs associated with this law. They’ll be faced with a choice: self-protection or starvation. Is the state going to step in further and pay for gun safety courses for the poorest among us, waiving the $100 licensing fee on a sliding income scale? Of course not.

Certainly at this point you’re shaking your head at the crazy example I point out above, but I shook my head in disbelief when I saw this bill for what it is: a kneejerk response to a tragedy this law would not have prevented. Again, by definition criminals break laws. The very first victim of the Sandy Hook tragedy owned her weapons – the ones stolen to be a means for committing these murders – legally.

Logic and reliance on facts aren’t generally the strong suits of those who would take away the access to weapons, though, so that truism is lost on those who pushed for this bill in the name of “safety.” As you probably know – and will likely hear often throughout this day of testimony – the Second Amendment clearly states “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It does not go on to say “…shall not be infringed, except when they put scary-looking enhancements on the weapon” or “…shall not be infringed, except for the payment of $100 and taking of a training course.” I would further argue that the people aren’t the “well regulated militia” but the “over-regulated militia.”

It’s rather unfortunate that I can’t be there today to deliver this in person, to see the reaction on your faces when I take a page out of the old saw many of us grew up hearing, “Question Authority.” It’s the people’s job to do so when authority oversteps its bounds and turns a right into a privilege for the chosen few.

I understand this bill probably has enough votes to clear the Senate based on the number of co-sponsors; furthermore, I’m sure it’s no coincidence that this hearing was scheduled at a time when President Obama would be nearby.

But I guarantee to you that I speak for thousands and thousands of law-abiding gun owners in Maryland who have never fired their weapon in anger; in fact, I would wager that most have not fired their weapons in the last year. Luckily, society is still civil enough that the need for self-protection is a rare occasion for most of us.

Like the tool you may have in the bottom drawer of your toolbox – the one you only use once in awhile but the one you find indispensable when the need arises – having a gun for self-protection is something that those who wrote the Constitution knew in their minds would be necessary for succeeding generations. Their intent was not to make self-protection unworkable through exorbitant fees, time-consuming and expensive training, and registration of weapons so those who would be king knew just where to go for confiscation.

Gun ownership is a right, not a privilege. The Constitution makes it so, and regardless of all the sob stories and heartbreak you may hear about today, emotion does not change this fact. I daresay building your gun-grabbing platform on the coffins of 26 victims is an insult to their memory because the guns were not the cause. Let’s not use death as a way to advance the aims of overreaching government.

In time, I believe this law, if passed, will create far more than 26 innocent Maryland victims from those no longer able to defend themselves from lawbreakers. Don’t fall for the emotion and hype – say no to Senate Bill 281.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael Swartz
Salisbury, Maryland


So what do you think? Wonder how Slow Joe Biden liked that one?

10 from 10: Tales from an election

As I commemorate the tenth anniversary of monoblogue coming up next week, I’m going to supplement my normal content with a look back at one of my favorite posts from each year.

November 6, 2014 was the day after an election one could argue was the best local Republicans had ever seen – not only did Wicomico County help to elect a Republican governor but they also ousted two longtime Democrats in the process. Obviously I was at the local headquarters to capture some of those moments.

So I invite you to enjoy this look back as much as I enjoyed picking out the posts.


So now that you know where I was on Election Night (thanks to Muir Boda) let me shine some light on our party. I’m the guy in the McDermott shirt; hopefully it wasn’t a jinx.

Unlike a lot of elections past, I did not work a poll. My outside job had tasks which a) had to be covered Tuesday and b) were up in Dover. I didn’t even get home until almost 8:00; fortunately knowing this a couple weeks in advance I could hold my nose and vote early.

Since I wanted a table to write notes on I sat next to Dr. Rene Desmarais, who has admirably remained in the fray despite his primary election loss. I hope the Hogan administration can use his health care expertise. He’s the guy at the laptop in the checkered shirt.

Taking my seat for a few minutes was Mike McDermott, who was anxiously looking at results and drawing attention.

Mike didn’t stay all that long. I figure he went home to see his supporters and share the bad news with them, since it was obvious from the get-go he wasn’t doing all that well. It turned out that Wicomico was the only one of the three counties Mike won, and it’s a margin which is pending absentees. The difference between Michael James in 2010 and Mike in 2014 seems to be that McDermott did poorly in Somerset County, which James carried but Mike lost by almost 700 votes.

Obviously there were a lot of people who craved information. Bob Culver (center, in white) and Joe Holloway (right) were awaiting results.

As it turned out, Culver erased a slight early voting disadvantage to rout incumbent County Executive Rick Pollitt by almost 3,000 votes, with just under 56% all told. Holloway had much less to worry about as his Democratic opponent withdrew after the primary and was not replaced by the local party.

The two pictured there were the conservative backbone of the local County Council, and hopefully two newcomers are going to maintain the proper direction.

Larry Dodd (in the arm sling) and Marc Kilmer are two of the three “new” Republican members of County Council, although Dodd represented District 5 for 4 years before Joe Holloway defeated him in the 2006 primary. Similarly, John Cannon left County Council after one term in 2010 to run unsuccessfully for a seat in the House of Delegates before winning again last night. Thus, Marc Kilmer is one of just two “new” County Council members; the other being lone Democrat Ernest Davis, who was unopposed for the District 1 seat.

As it turned out, County Council maintained its 6-1 Republican edge. But there are definite things to look out for, as two of those Republicans openly backed Rick Pollitt for County Executive.

I don’t think Matt Holloway or John Hall will be opposed to the elected school board Republicans in Wicomico County have sought for years, only to be thwarted by Rick Pollitt and (especially) Norm Conway. Both those obstacles are no more; to his credit Jim Mathias has been supportive of the idea in the past and a Senate bill for the elected school board passed there in 2011. (Conway sponsored a House bill that passed in 2011, but did not in 2012 – nor did a Senate bill that year. No action was taken in 2013 or 2014.)

But Pollitt was quick to point out in debates and forums that four of the six Republicans voted for his latest budget. Two of them, Gail Bartkovich and Stevie Prettyman, did not seek another term, but Matt Holloway and John Hall were the other two. Beginning with the FY2016 budget, it may be a battle to get four votes on County Council if Matt Holloway and Hall maintain their big-spending ways.

I would also love to see the county’s speed cameras become a thing of the past, as Culver was the lone voice of reason to vote against their adoption. It’s called excising that line item from the budget.

The party itself was relatively well-attended, although I’m certain some candidates had their own gatherings. At its peak there were probably 50-60 people in the house.

But while the news was good on the county front, there’s no doubt the star of the show was one Carl Anderton, Jr.

At 9:45 Bunky Luffman, Anderton’s campaign manager, sidled up to me and predicted, “I think we’ve got it.” He explained a particular precinct where they were hoping to get 30% of the vote came in down by just 89 votes.

Anderton’s win, though, was just the tip of the iceberg. A lot of Titanic Democrats went down last night (with lifetime monoblogue Accountability Project scores shown):

  • After six terms, longtime Blue Dog Democrat Delegate Kevin Kelly in District 1B (mAP = 40) lost to Jason Buckel.
  • Delegate John Donoghue (mAP = 9), also a 24-year veteran, was ousted in District 2B by Brett Wilson.
  • In District 6, 9-year incumbent Delegate John Olszewski, Jr. (mAP = 16) lost his bid for the Senate seat held for 48 years by Norman Stone, Jr. (mAP = 28). Three-term Delegate Michael Weir, Jr. (mAP = 28) was also knocked off.
  • Longtime District 29 Senator (and onetime Congressman) Roy Dyson (mAP = 26) lost his bid for a sixth term to Steve Waugh. In that same district, 15-year veteran John Bohanon (mAP = 6) trails Deb Rey by 115 votes with absentees to count.
  • District 34’s Senate seat stayed in GOP hands as Bob Cassilly defeated Delegate Mary-Dulany James (mAP =14), who leaves after 16 years.
  • In District 35A, 20-year incumbent David Rudolph (mAP = 17) lost to Kevin Hornberger.
  • And we know about 28-year incumbent and committee Chair Norm Conway (mAP = 6) who lost to Anderton.

Most of the damage, though, came from the ranks of “moderate” Democrats. According to the monoblogue Accountability Project, these were the top 10 Democrats and here’s how they did.

  1. Delegate John Wood, Jr. – retired, endorsed Larry Hogan.
  2. Delegate Kevin Kelly – lost re-election.
  3. Delegate Joseph “Sonny” Minnick – retired.
  4. Senator Norman Stone – retired.
  5. Delegate Michael Weir, Jr. – lost re-election.
  6. Senator James DeGrange – won with 59% of vote.
  7. Senator Jim Mathias – won with 52% of vote.
  8. Senator Roy Dyson – lost re-election.
  9. Senator John Astle – won with 51% of the vote.
  10. Senator James Brochin – won with 52% of the vote.

Six out of the 10 won’t be back and only one of the remaining four won convincingly. Not knowing how most of those who defeated these incumbents will vote, the chances are the divide between the two parties will become more pronounced. Only a couple hardline Democrats (those 10 or less on the mAP) were losers last night, while McDermott was the only Republican to lose in the general election. In the respect that Democrats managed to get rid of two perpetual thorns in their side through redistricting (Mike McDermott and Don Dwyer) it was a success, but the GOP still picked up more seats than they did before the new districts were drawn in 2010.

So the stage is set for what should be a very intriguing (and hopefully, prosperous for this county and state) four-year term.

Finally, I want to go through a little of my thinking on these races. I was perhaps less optimistic than most about the outcomes because I figured Democratic turnout would be about where it was four years ago. But as it happens, turnout is going to be about 46%, which is a significant decline from the 54% posted in 2010. If the Democratic turnout followed that pattern it was about 10% less than I figured it would be, and those that were passionate enough to show up may likely have cast a number of votes for the GOP.

Simply put, the Democratic base didn’t show up. Whether it was disillusionment with the candidates or just a general apathy, it looks like the GOP filled the void, to the benefit of the state.

After it was all over, I spoke a little bit with David Warren, who came down here to run the Eastern Shore Victory Headquarters.

He pointed out two key factors that led to Hogan’s win: money from the RNC and Republican Governor’s Association, and the help – both financially and in volunteers – from the College Republicans, from the national level to all the phone calls made by the local Salisbury University CRs. “Teenagers and college kids get it,” said Warren.

David also praised the work of state party Chair Diana Waterman and Executive Director Joe Cluster, saying “what they did was phenomenal.” Similar praise was heaped by Warren onto Andy Harris, who put a lot of money into these local races and helped level the playing field.

Finally, I have one more statement. Eight years ago, it was said that:

(GOP leaders are) “going to be flying high, but we’re going to get together and we’re going to shoot them down. We’re going to bury them face down in the ground, and it’ll be 10 years before they crawl out again.”

I think we’re two years early, Mike Miller. Suck on that.