Running out of time

The Maryland Pro-Life Alliance is at it again, apparently gathering more ammunition to harass Republicans who don’t toe the group’s line.

A couple weeks ago the group sent out a three-question survey to every member of the General Assembly to gauge whether they will be supporting, co-sponsoring, or sponsoring one of two proposed bills as well as whether they’ll vote for the FY2015 budget for the state should it include funding for abortions.

The two proposed bills are the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (PCUCPA) similar to this bill from the 2013 session, which had 24 House sponsors and two for the Senate version, and a bill to stop all taxpayer funding for abortion in Maryland.

Since the responses are due by Wednesday, I’m certain that any Republican who fails to get this survey back in time will be strung up for ridicule by the MPLA; meanwhile the 100-plus Democrats who ignore the survey will get a pass. I’m sure the MPLA will once again tell me that they want 100% backing from the GOP first before they even start to work on the Democrats, but to me that’s preaching to the choir.

If I have to make it racial, so be it, but it seems to me the best place to begin is on the population which is aborting more babies on a per-capita basis. According to Census Bureau estimates, abortions performed on white women decreased at a rate 11% faster than those on black women, and 22% faster than those of other races, in the 1990-2007 period. Moreover, the abortion rate for black babies is nearly four times that of white babies and over twice that of other races. If you want to address the problem, go to where the abortions are! It seems to me the target audience should be that of the minority community, which is being decimated by the Kermit Gosnells of the world. What sort of outreach is the MPLA doing there? With social media it’s getting easier to target a message,

Furthermore, after the events of the last few weeks, I’m growing weary of the continual efforts to divide the Maryland Republican Party from within. Is there a certain candidate for governor I support more than others? Of course, I only have one’s shirt. And I reserve the right to question the conservative/pro-liberty bonafides of a candidate should I see that as important to the overall cause – Lord knows I haven’t always been kind to all Republicans.

There are times it’s politically prudent to move the ball slowly down the field, and abortion is one of those issues where we need to tread somewhat lightly in some respects. Obviously I think it’s a more important issue in certain communities; unfortunately that segment of society seems to be the most susceptible to the message that promiscuity comes with no consequences for either the “baby daddy” or the mother, who can just have the problem taken care of at the clinic. Even our first black President stated he didn’t want to see his daughters “punished” with a baby “if they made a mistake”, fumbling on the question even as he attempted to chide the culture which leads to thousands of unplanned pregnancies. (Too many seem to forget that keeping it zipped up works wonderfully for preventing pregnancy, 100% of the time. It may not be the socially acceptable thing in this day and age of “hook-ups”, but it is the prudent thing.)

I suppose the message I repeat upon seeing this latest attempt at relevancy from the MPLA is that the bullhorn needs to be directed at the other side, not so much within our own ranks. The criticism of former Senator E.J. Pipkin was legitimate given his spotty record on the issue (as it would be for a few other sitting members of the GOP) but going after solidly pro-life legislators without having all of the background was out of bounds, and they were rightly called on it. Sadly, I suspect there’s another round of Republican-bashing in our future, but I hope the MPLA will prove me incorrect.

WCRC meeting – July 2013

For the first of two consecutive months (at least), a gubernatorial candidate graced our Wicomico County Republican Club’s presence – and he brought his running mate along. It meant the attendance was much better than usual, as over 40 crammed into a Salisbury Chamber of Commerce meeting room to hear both David Craig and running mate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio.

So after a brief opening to recite the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance and introduce a number of distinguished visitors from near and far, David and Jeannie were introduced by campaign manager Paul Ellington. We sort of pressed him into that service, but Paul remarked that this election reminded him of two others he was intimately involved in: 1994 and 2002. He also made the point that “when you get to be governor, it’s nice to have a friendly legislature.”

That idea would return in Craig’s remarks, but he first noted that Maryland “has done good things” for ten generations of his family, dating from the late 17th century. Unfortunately, the state governmental monopoly seems to be all about maintaining itself and not about what David called the “forgotten Marylanders” from rural and suburban areas. For them, the last General Assembly session was “one of the most challenging.”

And while Craig was out to “give people a choice in 2014,” he told those assembled that he wouldn’t refuse $4,000 checks, but he would rather each person out there bring 40 voters apiece. Republican turnout in 2002 when Bob Ehrlich won, said Craig, was great – 68% – but speaking as a teacher, “that would have been a failing grade.”

After telling the group this was his 21st election – because Havre de Grace had balloting every two years – he introduced running mate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, who as David mentioned was the first Eastern Shore resident on a major statewide ticket in two decades. Of course, she really needed no introduction to us as many of those present were represented by her in the General Assembly.

Jeannie talked about cutting her political teeth as a political science major at Salisbury University and being involved in student government there, also bringing up the fact later that she strives to preach political involvement to area youth groups such as Girls State, which is annually held at SU.

Haddaway-Riccio also spoke about working in the House of Delegates, “fighting until we barely had an ounce of energy left” against some of the bills presented by the present governor and Democratic leadership. The implementation of that “leftist agenda” has led to “degradation,” Jeannie added.

Once both had spoken and David added a quip about needing a couple good Senators – looking at Delegate Mike McDermott, who was in attendance and has been gerrymandered into sharing a single-member House district with another delegate – Craig opened up the floor to questions.

Topmost on the mind of those attending was the idea of an open GOP primary, as the idea has reemerged as a discussion topic over the last few days. Craig was noncommittal on the concept, stating he would be satisfied with letting the state party make its decision this fall. There are “a lot of frustrated Democrats” who may welcome the idea, though, added David.

Craig was then asked what functions he would assign to Haddaway-Riccio. While he chided Democrats for “picking for an election.” David said of Jeannie, “she should be at the table all of the time,” meaning ready to take the reins if needed. He praised Haddaway-Riccio for her practical experience, common sense, and knowledge of rural Maryland.

Asked about business, Craig intended to hold quarterly business roundtables. Because it affected local businesses in advance of consumers, we knew about the recession back in 2008, said Craig, and Harford County made budgetary decisions in a proactive fashion based on that knowledge.

When queried about social issues, particularly being pro-life, Craig related that he didn’t push the issue with his children, but was pleased that they turned out as pro-life as they did. David also pointed out that he voted in a pro-life fashion during his time in the General Assembly. But he would rather have 5 million Marylanders decide than 188 in the General Assembly. Jeannie echoed the overall stance, adding for her part she was “conservative, Christian, pro-life.”

Similarly, when asked about the Second Amendment, David took the conservative line of being “a strong supporter of all amendments.” In fact, he added that the American Revolution wasn’t fought over taxation but the move by the British to disarm the colonists. David also joked that there should be a regulation: red doors for all gun owners and blue ones for those who don’t – “so they know who to rob.”

An interesting question was how he would deal with the federal government. Craig would lean on the Republican Governor’s Association which, as he noted, had grown from 13 states when he was first elected in 1979 to 30 now. But then he asked, “why don’t we have 60 Senators?”

On the other hand, when it comes to local government David vowed to be mindful of county interests. When asked “where will you stick PlanMaryland?” Craig answered back with, “where do you want me to stick it?”

“We created local government for a reason,” continued David, revealing there were now more planning and zoning mandates on his county now than there are public safety ones. That same philosophy guided David on education, where he made the case “money should follow the child” and that teachers should be allowed to teach to something other than a test. David cautioned against expecting sweeping changes right away, though, noting the state Board of Education is appointed in five-year terms.

Lastly, a concern on the mind of one observer was how David would run in traditional Democratic strongholds like Baltimore City and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. “It’s all about reaching out to the people,” said David. He also noted that he’d beaten four Democratic incumbents over the years, but over time a couple became among his strongest supporters because “I didn’t get petty” and advised would-be candidates to “be the person you are.”

After Craig finally finished speaking, we returned to our normal order of business, with one exception: we sang “Happy Birthday” to the man we call “Mr. Republican” locally: Blan Harcum turned 90 years young.  In turn, the June meeting minutes were read and approved, treasurer’s report was given, and WCRC president Jackie Wellfonder reminded us of upcoming municipal elections in Annapolis and Frederick which could use our help if interested and the August 1 joint meeting with the Republican Women of Wicomico on Agenda 21, featuring Grant Helvey.

In his Central Committee report, our David – county Chair Dave Parker – stated that “Tawes was fun” but we had business to attend to now: the question of opening the primary would come down to Central Committee members so those interested should express such to these local representatives. “Give us grief” if you don’t like our position, said Parker; however he added, “I remain to be convinced” on the merits.

After decrying the “truly disgusting” media treatment of the Trayvon Martin case, Dave shifted gears and cajoled those attending that we are still looking for candidates for next year. Some incumbents have alerted us to their intentions, but others have not.

Finally, we heard from a number of those attending on various pieces of business: Joe Ollinger reminded us that Crab Feast tickets are now on sale (in fact, I have some to sell if you want one) for the September 7 event.

County Councilman Joe Holloway rose to counter a report made by a local media outlet about fee increases for local restaurants, stating they were included in the County Executive’s budget (see “Health Department” on pages 20- 21 here.) County Council approved them as part of the overall budget. (Seems like $150 shouldn’t make or break a local eatery, though.)

Finally, Delegate Mike McDermott declared that Craig/Haddaway-Riccio was “a great ticket” and hinted at his own announcement in August. “We’ll take that Senate seat from Jim Mathias,” McDermott promised.

Speaking of local eateries, it should also be mentioned that the pre-meeting happy hour – this time at Evo – was our most successful, with several tables of Republicans enjoying the camaraderie. Our next happy hour may or may not be there, but we already have the second in what could become a monthly series of gubernatorial hopefuls joining us during our regular meeting as Charles Lollar drops by on August 26.

Pro-life measure passes House – with a little Harris help

It’s no surprise that Andy Harris is probably one of the more passionate guardians of the right to life for the unborn, so this would be something I’d expect from him.

The video shows him making a plea for passage of the The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which indeed passed the House yesterday by a 228-196 vote. The bill would make abortion past 20 weeks illegal, except in cases of rape or incest.

Now some may ask what the big deal is, and those who call themselves pro-choice (that is, pro-abortion) in particular will bleat about what a waste of time this is when there are so many other important items the House needs to consider. Indeed, there are a lot of items on the plate and it’s highly unlikely the Senate will take up this bill, let alone pass it. Moreover, I happen to believe the federal approach is wrong – unfortunately, the issue was federalized once the Supreme Court ruled incorrectly in Roe v. Wade.

But I look at this as a template for states to consider – needless to say, any such move would probably land the state in court as they defend themselves against Planned Parenthood and the remainder of the abortion lobby. Obviously the goal is that of overturning a bad precedent in the Supreme Court with a new decision that returns the power to decide to the states. If a state wishes to allow abortion right up to the moment of birth, that should be their decision – although I would encourage those unfortunate enough to live there to fight tooth and nail against such a declaration. On the other hand, banning all abortions would be somewhat too draconian, and the House seems to be looking for a middle ground of incrementalism.

So Andy Harris should be commended for making a stand, albeit in language that may be a little bit dry for the average person to understand. Moreover, it should be pointed out that his most likely opponent would probably rather see no restrictions whatsoever on the practice of slaughtering the unborn. Just food for thought.

‘A bullet in the back’

I probably gave Jackie Wellfonder short shrift late last night in updating my post on the Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. She did her own take on what was said by MDGOP First Vice-Chair Diana Waterman at the meeting, to which I responded with a lengthy comment I’m going to repost here, along with some other thoughts.

I read your message and mostly agree, particularly as it relates to the 2012 campaign. But my hope is that the MDGOP has learned from its mistakes because we left a LOT of cards on the table: not just Dan’s campaign, but the ballot issues as well.

Woody Willing of the Wicomico Board of Elections said last night we Republicans had 81% turnout and the Democrats had 75%. In rough numbers that means locally we turned out about 16,000 voters but the Democrats turned out 19,000. What we need to figure out by 2014 is how to get that turnout number up to 90% or 95% on our side in order to overcome a numerical disadvantage – statewide we need to get 100% just to be even with 50% of the Democrats. That’s the reality in Maryland in 2013.

I think the ballot issues are going to be key. Let’s look at the potential ballot issues for 2014 just from what’s been introduced in the General Assembly so far: onerous gun control measures and a tightening of the very petition process for starters. If we couch the gun control issue properly and don’t allow the other side the chance to seize the narrative (as they did on the illegal alien issue) we have a chance to turn out a high percentage of voters in an election where turnout is historically lower (I think it’s on the order of 15-20% less for a gubernatorial election than a Presidential.)

But the Republican Party in Maryland needs to be taken over further by those who love liberty. There’s still plenty of deadwood which needs to go.

As for Julie’s comment, I would like to point out that Nicolee Ambrose worked to scrap the terrible rules put in place at the national convention (she couldn’t vote there because she didn’t take office until the close of the proceedings.) I don’t think Audrey Scott would have taken that sort of leadership role since I perceive her as part of the problem. I appreciate the fact Audrey’s done a lot for the MDGOP but I think we made the better choice. If Audrey had been more honest in her campaign, she still may have prevailed.

We knew that change wouldn’t happen overnight, but the more quickly we can push the MDGOP in the RIGHT direction the better.

As it turned out my public school, quick and dirty math was pretty good since I didn’t have the actual totals in front of me – in accessing those numbers I found there were 19,359 Democrats and 16,798 Republicans who voted in Wicomico County (along with 6,291 who are unaffiliated or belong to minor parties.)

Yet there were other numbers of interest to me. Based on that number of Democrats voting:

  • Barack Obama received just 276 more votes than the total number of Democrats who voted. Presumably he got some percentage of the unaffiliated vote, so my bet is that at least 10 percent of the Democrats voted for Mitt Romney.
  • Ben Cardin’s percentage as relates to Democrats (87.7%) was less than the number of Republicans who voted for Dan Bongino (89.7%) – using my theory of 3/5 of the Sobhani vote being taken from Bongino, a two-person race would been practically a draw here. That’s somewhat disappointing, but name recognition being what it is maybe not a complete shock.
  • Combining the total of Wendy Rosen and write-in votes (which were almost exclusively for Democrat John LaFerla) would still leave the Democrats over 3,000 short of matching their voting total. Obviously plenty of Democrats and unaffiliated voters like the conservative Andy Harris, despite the constant barrage of criticism he gets from the Daily Times.

In short, the 2010 and 2012 election results belie the voter registration totals which would suggest that Wicomico County is, if not a Democratic stronghold, at least a place where they should hold a majority of the offices. But they don’t. We have attracted enough Democrats with a message of fiscal conservatism and sound government that either the Republicans win, or Democrats who manage to succeed have to do so by presenting themselves as the second coming of Ronald Reagan. (cough*Jim Mathias*cough) They have to hope people don’t look behind the curtain at their voting records and lists of special interest contributors from across the Bay.

So let’s talk about this “circular firing squad.” We really have three groups of Republicans in the state of Maryland:

  1. Those who believe that, in order to be “electable,” we have to appeal to soccer moms, metrosexuals, and other centrist or left-of-center groups. They pine for the days of a Connie Morella, Wayne Gilchrest, or “Mac” Mathias – Republicans who reached across the aisle. Well, guess what? These groups are voting Democrat now and that’s not going to change unless we give them a better option. All reaching across the aisle seems to accomplish nowadays is collecting bite marks from the attack dog across the way. Democrats take what little credit there may be for stealing GOP ideas, but when things go wrong – as they always seem to with these schemes – they figure out ways to blame the Republicans.
  2. There’s a group, perhaps the smallest of the three, which preaches fiscal conservatism but would dearly loves us to quit focusing on social issues. Who cares, they say, about how easy it is to get an abortion or whether two gay people get married. And why have this crackdown on illegal aliens – they have Republican values and just don’t know it. (If that were so, California would be a solidly Republican state. It’s not.)
  3. Finally, there is the group in which I count myself, one which realizes that fiscal conservatism isn’t truly possible without social conservatism. We would like to see the return to traditional marriage and a reverence for life and the law, free from onerous government interference in our lives. We would like to see counties be restored to their rightful primacy in the role of government rather than become meaningless lines on a map; moreover, that government should respect our inalienable rights, including the right to defend ourselves from threats ranging anywhere from a home intruder to a tyrannical government.

I daresay group #3 are the leaders, and we take the fire from both sides – at least Democrats are facing us, though. The bullets we get in the back are from those groups behind us, the ones who belong to GOP groups #1 and #2.

I’m going to paraphrase something Rush Limbaugh is noted for saying, which goes along the lines of those who the Democrats talk most about are the ones they’re most afraid of. Notice they really didn’t badmouth Mitt Romney too much until he secured the nomination, and they were in love with John McCain almost as much as they were Barack Obama – until Sarah Palin became McCain’s running mate. They’re still hounding Palin one whole election cycle later, in a race she didn’t run or compete in. (They were considerably more kind to Paul Ryan, although we heard a lot about how awful the Ryan budget plan would be. Obviously that was a move in the right direction, though.)

Without conceding the vote entirely, I will say that there’s perhaps 1/3 of the Maryland electorate which is so far left that they would literally vote for Lucifer himself if he had a “D” beside his name and promised to keep the spigot of government goodies intact regardless of cost. (Just raise taxes on the rich, he’ll say.) Perhaps they’re not Left politically, but if they work for Uncle Sam in that cesspool on the Potomac they may as well be. Still, that leaves about 35 percent of Maryland voters in play and we only need to capture half of that group while maximizing our loyalty and turnout.

But going back to my previous paragraph where I alluded to Rush, one has to ask: how often do you hear the Democrats talking about Republicans in this state? I don’t really hear them talking about us too much, which seems to indicate to me they’re not really scared of us.

And when they do talk about us, they generally say that we shouldn’t be as strident on social issues. How often would you take advice from someone who wants to beat your brains in? Sounds to me like they have no answers for the logical arguments we give for these issues, so they’re just going to tell us we shouldn’t bring it up.

Well, I want to start being a topic of conversation among them, and the milquetoast Maryland GOP better start holding their fire until they see the whites of the Democrats’ eyes, not the backs of those who would like to lead them in the RIGHT direction.

Winning ad and endorsement

It’s almost like Dan Bongino wanted to hit the reset button.

No, he hasn’t made any sort of campaign gaffe that I’m aware of (although Rob Sobhani alleges one of Dan’s campaign volunteers did) but the confident challenger to Ben Cardin of a month ago has had his horse shot out from under him via Sobhani’s insurgent, predominantly self-funded campaign. So Dan’s going back to what built his campaign in the first place: another key endorsement and the re-release of a 90-second campaign commercial I felt was one of the best presented in this campaign.

The endorsement comes from former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who also served as President Bush’s first Homeland Security Secretary. In a statement released by Bongino’s campaign, Ridge said:

Dan’s qualifications for a seat in the Senate reach beyond his experience in law enforcement and national security. His personal initiative, diverse education, and impressive achievements in community service as well as private enterprise, will well-serve the people of Maryland.

It would be interesting to see how much further assistance Ridge or any of those others who endorsed Dan will provide now that he’s being attacked from both the left and (mostly) from the left-center. Personal campaigning would be particularly helpful since Dan and Paula can’t be everywhere.

Through the grapevine I have heard a little bit of muted criticism of how Dan is running his campaign, basically from people who either a) are disgruntled because Dan is not addressing their pet issues or b) believed Richard Douglas would have been a better Republican nominee (even though he got into the race later and, like Sobhani, also had primarily self-funded his campaign.) Personally I don’t necessarily agree with every plank of Dan’s platform and I certainly would have been comfortable had Richard won the primary, as he actually did in my home county.

Yet in looking at Rob Sobhani’s key issues I’m left wanting – for example, why isn’t a 15% tax rate good enough for everyone? And level with us about where this $5 billion in “public-private partnership” money is coming from – are we going to socialize risk and privatize profit? We already have a Senator who’s great at spending money; something particularly irksome when his party can’t even be bothered to put together a budget.

Even some of Rob’s not-so-key issues bother me: on his petition, Rob’s nascent campaign expressed that Sobhani was “pro-choice and supports gay rights.” Granted, these aren’t as important as the economy but since I’m pro-life and read the latter as support of Question 6, I can’t support that when I have a much better conservative alternative who would support private investment targeted as those individuals wish because the government would take less of their sweat and toil, not at specific projects which may be helpful in limited instances but would more likely enrich Sobhani’s cronies.

So Dan is working back to square one, resuming the important endorsements which bolstered his campaign before Sobhani even considered getting into the race. He also has something just as important: plenty of grassroots support. Once the air war is joined, which is a given because of Bongino’s solid fundraising quarter, the early advantage Sobhani enjoyed by not having to survive a primary will dissipate.

This isn’t about “hitting the jackpot,” nor is it about putting someone back in office so he can make it a half-century on the public’s dime as an elected official. It’s about serving the people of Maryland.

Remember that on Election Day.

Akin creates a pain

Cartoon reprinted via Patriot Post.

Yesterday I highlighted a Senatorial candidate who’s done almost everything right, but today I want to talk about one who’s done something disastrously wrong. Or has he, really?

To me, it’s questionable that the concept of “legitimate rape” exists, because someone made a distinction which isn’t there – obviously Todd Akin should know that rape is rape, murder is murder, and so on. Now I have no idea about the pregnancy part of it, but this is definitely a case where the candidate inserted his foot deep into his mouth – so deep he’s sucking on his shin bone.

So there were a huge number of Republicans who called on him to get out; in essence his funding dried up overnight. But I happen to know at least a couple bloggers from Missouri who stubbornly support Akin and would like the state and national GOP to dry up and blow away themselves. Bob McCarty (who I’ve featured several times on this page) writes:

MOGOP leaders should resign as a gesture via which they admit just how wrong they are/were to want to try to boot Todd Akin from the Senate race.

Even more telling is a note from someone who most would consider a “regular” person – i.e. not a political junkie like many of my peers. From another Missouri-based blogging friend of mine, Melinda Musil:

I think what Todd Akin said was really, incredibly stupid. I think he would probably agree that what he said was stupid. But I also don’t think that what he said accurately represented what he felt.

There’s a saying in psychology circles that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you want to know Todd Akin, if you want to know how Todd Akin will vote, look at his past voting record in the House. He voted for concealed weapons, against increased taxes, against Missouri state funding for abortion. He is conservative to the core. That’s the kind of Senator I want.

On his site, Akin is contrite:

I made a mistake. What I said was ill-conceived and it was wrong and for that I apologize. I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of our most important responsibilities.

The criticism from Republicans seems to center on two fronts.

One is the thought that Akin has irreparably eliminated the opportunity to flip a Democratic Senate seat in Missouri and may eventually cost Mitt Romney the state as well.

The second is that abortion is an issue Republicans can’t win, and many in the establishment would dearly love to be able to take the pro-life crowd for granted – give them enough lip service to continue receiving their votes but never really attack the core of the problem, which is Roe v. Wade. They fret about losing the women’s vote.

But there is a reality of the situation here which must be considered. Even if we get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate – heck, let’s go for broke and say we get the 2/3 required in both houses to move a Constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion, whether it includes the usual exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother or not – it’s not going to get through 38 states in my lifetime. That day doesn’t occur until we as a disposable, throwaway society change our attitude about the disposable, throwaway lives radical abortion supporters haughtily call “non-viable tissue masses.” (In truth, I don’t support the Constitutional approach anyway, feeling a state-by-state approach is more effective and more in line with the intent of our Founding Fathers.)

The reason I led off with the cartoon, though, is that what’s said has been said and regardless of how much Todd Akin backs away from his statement his words will be used against Republicans. We should know that’s how the media and the Democrats (but I repeat myself) play this game! In short, we have provided them with a distraction, another shiny object they can use to draw attention away from the real issues of the economy and oppressive hand of government.

If the RNC and other establishment Republicans want to drop Todd Akin like a hot potato, well, that’s their right. Obviously there’s the possibility, though, that the pro-life community which rallies to Akin’s defense isn’t going to be as likely to help Mitt Romney win his election. And again, let me stress: this issue is a distraction we’re allowing Democrats to use because they know just as well as we do that abortion isn’t going anywhere in the near-term. Yet they use this cudgel to scare women just as they use the prospect of any change to Social Security or Medicare to try and scare seasoned citizens. We know this.

Of course, there is another group who is saying they told us so, and that’s the 64 percent who supported someone else in the primary – most notably those who preferred Sarah Palin-backed candidate Sarah Steelman. But I’m sure Democrats would have attacked Steelman simply for being backed by Palin; that’s what happens when you have no record worth running on. Democrats even slyly bankrolled Akin with $1.5 million in ads for this open primary, just as they tried to tip the scales to former Congressman Frank Kratovil locally by backing the Libertarian candidate Richard Davis in 2010 with mailers to Republican and conservative households.

So Missouri Republicans are in a pickle. If Akin stays in, there’s a segment of the electorate who sees him as damaged goods. If he gets out, the state party looks spineless and the successor will be answering the same questions Akin would anyway. All in all, I’m hoping Akin goes on the attack and doesn’t play Mr. Nice Guy. He’s now at a point where he has nothing to lose so he can go ahead and lay waste to Claire McCaskill.

Hopefully the Democrats will learn in November the age-old lesson of “be careful what you wish for.” Conservatives in Missouri – and everywhere else for that matter – should just say that what Akin said pales in comparison to the real issues the liberals are trying to duck: their failed economy and their thirst for power in Washington.

The McDermott notes: week 6

For Delegate Mike McDermott, week 6 of the General Assembly session was a study in contrasts: exciting peaks at both ends with a more humdrum routine in the middle.

In this edition Mike returned to a day-by-day format, with one highlight of his week being chosen by Republican leadership to deliver the Lincoln Day address Monday night – an address he posted here.

It’s intriguing to me that the speech served as a prelude to a week where certain “rights” took up most of the debate in the General Assembly. But look at a piece of what McDermott said:

Lincoln knew that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were unalienable rights given by God and not granted by a government, and for the government to impose itself on that which was granted by God could only produce sorrows and shame.

Those rights given by God don’t include the freedom to make choice without consequence. Yet by passing the same-sex marriage bill we took a step toward the government imposing itself on that which was granted, by saying that certain behavior which many of us feel is counterproductive to a righteous society is now acceptable because a small minority wishes it to be so. I can’t help but feel that other, perhaps even smaller minorities who believe that children should be exploited for the pleasures of adults or that – based on their faith – we should be able to marry more than one person will now feel they’re the ones being shortchanged and whine accordingly. No, it won’t happen tomorrow, this year, or even in the next half-decade or so. But mark my words, it will happen, and we’ll have one less leg to stand on in saying no to them.

Aside from the joint committee hearing and vote on the gay marriage bill which happened Tuesday, much of the midweek was spent by McDermott in hearing twenty other bills which are fairly non-controversial and generally involve small tweaks to existing law. One I found interesting is HB420, which extends a pilot program of GPS monitoring of those on probation already used in Washington County through September, 2015. Big Brother is watching.

And then there is Friday. Mike doesn’t spend a lot of time going over the “blur of activity” on Friday, as he will eventually supplement these notes with his account of “the machinations to bring this vote about, the creation of ‘magic’ Legislative Days which allowed this to occur, and the back room dealings.”

But I wanted to address some of these with my view.

In the last few years that I’ve noticed, it seems like more and more bills are being passed with the approach that the ends justify the means. One prime example is the Obamacare bill, where we had to pass it to know what was in it, according to Nancy Pelosi. Isn’t the idea supposed to be one of understanding its impact beforehand?

In both Maryland and on a national level, there are groups which take key bills and attempts to determine the impact they will have on various elements of the private sector. (As a Maryland example, read the fiscal note on HB438, the same-sex marriage bill.) But while these brief studies adequately define the fiscal impact and certain other parameters of proposed law, they cannot take into account how society is affected. On financial and tax issues, one can predict what impact a bill will have on the state’s treasury, but it’s left to a common sense analysis to determine that if a state makes it more difficult to profit from a business or keep that which is earned through the fruits of one’s labor it will detrimentally affect economic activity; for example a job which would have been created had conditions been maintained may not be because of the new law. It’s impossible to know the intentions of all 5.7 million Marylanders but there are causes and effects for their behavior.

This is even more difficult on social issues. One can debate the sort of impact 40 or 50 million aborted babies would have had if they’d been brought to term and lived – some argue that many would have been subjected to a life of neglect because they were unwanted from the start and deepened the social problems plaguing us today, but others feel the potential of a generation was wasted because some of its great scientists, scholars, and leaders were instead butchered in an abortion clinic. Obviously we will never know the truth, but it’s my contention that we deprived these unborn of their God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness they assumed upon conception. Yet it’s ironic to me that many who would grant the unearned, behaviorally-based choice of same-sex couples to marry as a right are also in favor of denying the unborn a right to life, also in the name of “choice.”

Because we’ve lived for less than a decade with same-sex marriage, it’s not entirely clear to us what we’ve stepped into. Indeed, there’s a chance that proponents could be right and it will strengthen marriage as a whole. But as two of Mike’s fellow Delegates noted, there’s an agenda to legitimize the gay lifestyle as just another choice (there’s that word again) which is no better or no worse than others.

Yet the fact it’s our current government stepping in to address the situation gives me pause, and reminds me that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” When the ends justify the means and we have to pass the bill to know what’s in it, my inclination is that we’ve reached a point of complete corruption.

Gary Johnson on ‘intolerance’ redux

A couple weeks ago, I commented on the remarks of Presidential candidate and former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson regarding the ‘offensive’ Family Leader Pledge signed by fellow GOP candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.

Yesterday I was invited to participate in a blogger conference call with Governor Johnson regarding intolerance as “a formula for Republican defeat.” Unfortunately I couldn’t participate directly but I asked for the transcript knowing this was an issue I’d broached previously.

Perhaps the question closest to the one I would have asked was offered by New Hampshire blogger Skip Murphy of Granite Grok. I’m going to shorten it just a touch for this purpose, though:

I do have a question about your opening statement, on social conservatives.  Certainly the Tea Party is focused on the fiscal issues, but as we all know, social issues often have a fiscal cost to them as well.  If you look at Medicaid, Social Security, other entitlement programs, have an outsized cost to them.  Is it really something that Republicans and conservative Republicans should do?  To concede the social issues to the Democrats and step away from that arena?  And thereby letting them raise the fiscal costs of their agenda, versus fighting for what we believe is our agenda, which is cutting the fiscal costs across the board?

Governor Johnson responded:

Well, if you’re talking about fiscal costs, I don’t know where an intolerance to gays, I don’t know where a woman – where decision making should be taken away from a woman, and I’m talking about abortion – and, that that should be the driving issues of the Republican Party.  And I guess I could go to immigration, and to the xenophobia about immigrants, and there are costs associated with illegal immigration.  I think they should be addressed, but they don’t involve, in my opinion, building a fence, or putting the National Guard arm in arm across the border.  There’s some real, rational steps that can be taken, and really, a win-win situation: immigrants that want to come in to this country to work being allowed to work.  And businesses that would like to take advantage of being able to get workers that they currently can’t get, because of our immigration policies and our welfare policies in this country that have us sitting at home collecting welfare checks, that are just a little bit less money or the same amount of money for doing nothing, as opposed to getting out and getting an entry level job.

Murphy pressed further:

Well, I do notice that you brought up some hot button issues that are near and dear to a lot of Republicans.  But I specifically asked about some of the other entitlements: certainly the ever growing welfare state is a social issue, and it certainly has a high fiscal cost.  So, what is your strategy for bringing that down, and again I ask, is that something the Republicans should just forget about, because…

Johnson interrupted:

No, Skip, I didn’t consider welfare as part of this Ames Pledge.  If I missed that, I certainly apologize.  I saw this Ames Pledge as, really, vilifying, or just saying “No” to tolerance.  I saw it as a very intolerant document.  And I am a firm believer that we need to reform welfare in this country, and at the base of reforming welfare is “If you can work, you should work.”

It’s an interesting and broad-based conversation overall, but I think the problem with Gary’s approach is that a lot of the base he’s catering to – the small-government crowd – also cares about social issues.

Johnson makes the mistake of assuming that social conservatives are monolithic in their support of government-centered approaches to issues like abortion, gay marriage, and the general decline of society. As I noted in my original post on the Family Leader Pledge (refer to original pledge here,) I didn’t find a lot objectionable except for the call for a Constitutional amendment on marriage between one man and one woman. It’s not that I have an issue with protecting marriage, but it’s properly a state issue.

Ironically, Johnson is in agreement with me on that, but still chose to call me and others who care about these issues ‘intolerant’ because I don’t fall completely into line with his libertarian views on the subject. Perhaps he hasn’t a problem with certain portions of the Family Leader Pledge (particularly its call for a more limited government) but he chose not to sign it and that should have been enough. Many of the other contestants for the Presidential brass ring have forgone the opportunity as well but they haven’t besmirched the competition who did – even Mitt Romney withheld personal condemnation in refusing to sign.

Certainly I would like to pick and choose aspects of government to strengthen (yes, there are a few) and which ones should release their stranglehold on the American people. There are a few otherwise seldom-discussed planks in Johnson’s platform with which I agree and think should be brought out into the national conversation – chief among them the folly of the War on Drugs.

He certainly would like to limit government. Consider this passage from the call:

I just think that we’ve gone way overboard when it comes to this notion of need and entitlement, if you will.  So I am promising to submit a balanced budget for the year 2013, which would cut 43% of government expenditures at existing levels.  That means Medicaid, that means Medicare, that means military spending, for starters.  So, in that context, 43% reduction with regard to everything it is that government does, I think that is a weeding out process that gets us closer to the notion of helping those that are truly in need as opposed to this notion of entitlement and really this give away that has us in the fiscal predicament that we are in.  Really, we’re broke, and we’re on the verge of a monetary collapse because we print money to cover these obligations.

Good luck getting that through Congress. although it’s only cutting the budget back to 2002 levels. It also brings up a point that across-the-board cuts aren’t necessarily the correct solution – for example I think the budget of the Department of Education should be cut 100 percent, with the savings from the extra share used to maintain a strong national defense.

Yet the point is a good one. We haven’t prioritized spending in decades because the government gave itself a blank check with deficit spending, knowing they have the power to tax (also known as the power to destroy.) It’s time for some fiscal discipline, and I think TEA Party members understand this point. The question which Skip Murphy presented so well is whether we can have it all – advances in both social and fiscal conservatism – and I think the answer is yes, they are nowhere near mutually exclusive.

I would like to thank Gary Johnson’s staff for forwarding me the transcript. He’s been one of the best in working with bloggers, and that’s appreciated whether I agree with him or not.

Bringing the a-word into the Maryland race

As a means of showing contrast between he and his opponent this works well, but I’m not sure this is the race to bring up the subject in much more of a meaningful way than this post. Brian Murphy is pro-life while opponent Bob Ehrlich – eh, not so much.

Maryland’s inadequate regulation of abortion facilities may have contributed to the death (of a young woman from a botched procedure.) Murphy has affirmed his commitment to improve the regulations of abortion facilities to ensure women receive the best possible care.  “As the only pro-life candidate for governor of Maryland, I have significant philosophical differences with my opponents, Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley. But I like to think we can all agree that the obvious lack of adequate regulation of Maryland abortion facilities is a disservice to women,” said Murphy.

“It has been said that abortions should be, ‘safe, legal and rare,'” said Murphy. “In Maryland, where abortions are legal, we have no way to know if they are also safe and rare. We must ensure that abortion statistics are made available to the public, while also preserving patient confidentiality. And we must hold abortion facilities accountable for the health of the women they serve. Incidents such as this must be investigated, and Maryland women must be protected,” said Murphy.

Obviously abortion should be one of those state’s rights issues, but the problem lies with the Supreme Court not having the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade and returning the battleground issue to its proper venue. It’s sure enough that if Murphy wins and can somehow convince a Democratic-controlled General Assembly to pass these laws that they would end up in court and at the mercy of whether a judge is tolerant of the legislature’s right to enact laws or wants to play activist.

Yet it’s not like Brian isn’t pragmatic about the situation here in Maryland – he’s nowhere near taking a step like other states and restricting the act of abortion itself. All he’s proposing is accountability and reporting requirements; then again, it’s more than any other candidate for governor is backing and certainly should bring cheer to Maryland’s pro-life community.

Placing your views on your bumper

If you drive down America’s highways, sooner or later you’ll see a license plate bearing the message “Choose Life.” Even Maryland, home of some of America’s most fervent liberals, makes such a plate available. (Delaware is in the process of making their own version available, probably later this year.)

The commonwealth of Virginia has had Choose Life plates available for some time, but, according to an AP story by Dena Potter in today’s Washington Times, their legislature now faces the question of making a similar pro-choice (read: pro-abortion) plate available. The revenue from these proposed plates, which bear the message, “Trust Women…Respect Choice” would benefit Planned Parenthood.

For their part, Planned Parenthood claims the revenue ($15 per plate after the first 1,000 are sold) wouldn’t go to pay for abortions but to cover their other services.

But the argument is disingenuous because money is a fungible asset – adding money to pay for cancer screenings frees up Planned Parenthood to funnel money into paying the doctors who perform the abortions. This logic is what places newly elected Governor Bob McDonnell on the anti-plate side despite the threat of legal action.

On the other hand, funds raised by “Choose Life” plates go to crisis pregnancy centers and adoption services.

There’s no question that people are willing to pay a little extra for their license plates to promote a message or point of view, and generally part of the fees collected go to support the entity sponsoring the plate. In most states, the biggest benefactors of these specialty plates are colleges and universities where plates bear their logo or are designed to reflect school colors. (Maryland is an exception; our largest sellers are Chesapeake Bay-related tags.) Aside from a rivalry aspect these collegiate plates are fairly non-controversial.

But when the subject is as controversial as abortion, perhaps it’s time to step back and question the wisdom of having a plate which benefits a particular entity like Planned Parenthood. Perhaps a better alternative might be to have this benefit other womens’ health initiatives like prenatal services for high-risk pregnant women. After all, one choice would be to carry through with pregnancy and that choice seems to one least respected by those the plates would be marketed to.

Needless to say, should the pro-choice plate legislation be defeated the venue will certainly become that of the courts, as supporters peg the question as a First Amendment issue. Yet the question isn’t one of making the plate available, the question is about who benefits. Resolve that question in a way which both sides can agree to and without benefitting an abortion provider, and I’d have no problem with the plate being made available. Just don’t count on a lot of people buying them.