Selling out for 100 bucks?

Maybe I have done it wrong all these years. People are starting to throw money around at me now, to wit:

Hi,

My name is Bethany from (a company), the content delivery wing of (a larger company), a UK-based Internet Advertising Consultancy. I came across monoblogue.us recently and would like to inquire if we could write an article for your site.

The proposed content shall be exclusive to you. It would also include a brief citation to one of our clients, and for this, we would be happy to send $100 through PayPal as a thank you for your time.

If this is something that interests you or if you wish to see a sample of our work, please get in contact.

Still trying to chase me down on my way out the door.

So let me get this straight, Bethany. You hired some writer who’s probably not very proficient in the Queen’s English for a quarter and paid him (or her) to write an article with a link to some site that’s probably the end result of one of the seven deadly sins just to have me place it here for my dozen readers a day. Yeah, that’s a good business practice. No wonder these internet startups burn through wads of cash.

I sometimes wonder, though, if anyone ekes out a living like this. There’s no shortage of content out there and if someone was really getting paid $100 an article to post whatever dreck came their way, they would be living pretty well. So somehow I don’t think there’s $100 there, or, that’s the introductory price that comes down for whatever reason. (Sort of like the payouts did when the Examiner website was still around since that was an unsustainable model, too. When it first started the most successful could almost make a living, by the end no one was profiting, least of all people like me.)

But this is one reason that, the more I do Substack, the more I like it. Sure, right now I’m a very small-time operator who gives away his wordage for free. But there are people who do fairly well at it and I think I have a couple niche ideas that might buy me lunch once a week once I monetize it.

That’s the reason I’m going there. Losing these people who want me to post their questionable dreck is just a bonus, so to you Bethany the answer is “no, thanks.”

Not done with me yet

Even as I slowly walk out the door, those people who try and tell me what to do continue to pester me. Case in point, from a recent e-mail:

Dear business owner of monoblogue.us,

How is it possible that your website is having so many errors? Yes, most of the people share their anger and frustration once they get my email.

Now, I will show you the number of broken links, pages that returned 4XX status code upon request, images with no ALT text, pages with no meta description tag, not having an unique meta description, having too long title, etc., found in your monoblogue.us.

I have a large professional team who can fix all the above issues immediately at an affordable price. I guarantee you will see a drastic change in your Google search ranking once these are fixed.

If this is something you are interested in, then allow me to send you a no obligation audit report.

Best Regards,

Kris Macri

Guess what, Kris? You can show me whatever you want, and I couldn’t care less.

I’m sure that, over nearly 17 years, I have plenty of broken links (like the years of photos I lost) and whatever other gobbledygook you were talking about, but that comes with the territory. I write to impress readers, not Google searches.

So thanks to your “large professional team” in some Indian basement somewhere, but no thanks.

Now here’s where they tell me I can make some REAL money:

Hello monoblogue.us Team,

We would like to begin by congratulating you on maintaining a fantastic website. You are doing a great job.

We are contacting you on behalf of Blog Management, a platform that has helped process orders for more than 10,000+ publishers and website owners.

Currently, we are working with more than 47+ SEO and Digital Marketing Agencies that might be interested in placing guest posting and link-building orders on your website.

If you are interested in publishing high-quality guest posts and working with some of the best brands and agencies in the world, please respond to this email with-

Guest Posting Price & Text link insertions price

Do you accept Grey Niches- CBD, Crypto, Adult, Gambling Links?

Are there any Content Guidelines that you follow?

Thanks for your consideration,

Thanks & Regards,

Parama.

Some content mill.

Something tells me those “gray niches” are where the real coin is.

And then we have one more. This guy is persistent.

Hello ,

I see your website www.monoblogue.us and its impressive. I wonder if advertising options like guest post, ad content are available on your site?

What’s the price if we want to advertise on your site?

Note : Article must not be any mark as sponsored or advertise or like that and we can only pay by paypal.

Cheers                                                                                                  
andrew robbin

Making my website less impressive one blockquote at a time.

I think my IQ dropped two points when I read that one, Mr. English is my third language.

When I get these posts it makes me wonder just who is out there making a living on these things. Having been there once myself (“you’re doing it for the ExpOsURe!”) and knowing people are lucky if they get a penny every hundred words from these content mills, I’m half tempted to turn my website over to these guys and cash out. But my name would still be associated with it, so I’ll let them wait until the domain becomes available. (Or maybe I’ll buy a new domain just for funsies, sort of like making a mythical portfolio of the “pumpin’ and dumpin'” stocks I did once upon a time and see what kind of depressing dreck I get. Domain names aren’t that expensive. By the way, in rereading that junk fax post I remembered it had one of the best comment sections I ever had. I hit a whale of a niche that week.)

Why not? Maybe it will give me something to write about on my Substack and net me twenty bucks.

The slow walk away

This is a very difficult post to write, but write it I must.

We’re not to the end of monoblogue quite yet, but I can see it now from here. After I reread my last post, I took a deep breath, began thinking about it, and said to myself, “it’s time. My heart just isn’t in this political game anymore.”

Perhaps it was the idea that I actually linked to something I wrote nine years ago on the very subject in another state, but regardless this website has become more of a chore than a pleasure and when that happens maybe it’s time to move on. I couldn’t bear to be without it six years ago when I resigned from the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee, even when I said back then, “I can see the iceberg as I’m standing on the deck of the Titanic but no one hears my warnings.”

So I tried to take another road with two lanes, which led me to writing my Rise and Fall book. It’s hard for me to believe that, three years ago this month, I was doing my reading at Pemberton Coffeehouse and embarking on a five-month, twenty-stop DIY radio tour of the nation to promote the book. Certainly it was an experience. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then and so have I. Right now, I couldn’t say if I had another book in me or not. But I think I’ve written some good stuff here, too – problem is I think it’s being ignored in our headlong rush toward tyranny and debauchery.

Truth be told, I’m not sure what I’m going to do now. I have a light-hearted post in mind that should be up next, but I think all I’m going to have left to do here is finish out the season for Shorebird of the Month, select a Shorebird of the Year, and do my picks and pans. I’m also going to do one final edition of the monoblogue Accountability Project for 2021-22 – and it looks to be a doozy. The website is paid for through the first of November, and I think I’ll pay for it one more year for archival purposes. (It’s not an expensive hobby, but there are places I can average 100 readers a week for free, like social media.) But I think I’m just going to go ahead and broom the 2022 election widget since I’m not seeing that many races here in Sussex County and the candidates can promote themselves. It’s yet another chore to maintain and I don’t feel like it anymore.

I’ve always intended for writing to be my retirement, and in some ways I have succeeded: I have the paying job writing for The Patriot Post and maybe stepping away from the blog is what I need to write book number 3 – Lord knows I haven’t had much success or inspiration since Rise and Fall with all this going on. I’m really not going away, either – I’m just going to let someone else handle the back end of trying to keep a website up, constantly worrying in the back of my mind about being hacked again, and being pestered to upgrade WordPress on a daily basis. On Tuesday I set up a Substack account, so that’s where my musings and rants will go. I’m going to try and set up a twice-a-week schedule for my subscribers on a variety of subjects.

By the time I finish this endeavor, Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I should have just about 5,300 posts over 17 years. It’s amazing because the only place I have worked longer than this blog is for the aforementioned Patriot Post, which I began writing for in 2003 while I was still living in Ohio.

But there is a season for everything, and I believe the time has come to make a change. Thank you for being there, and for understanding.

Seeking the Truth

There are some people who gauge success by how many social media friends they have, and by that token I guess I’m not that successful. Between Facebook and Twitter I have about 2,000 friends/followers and that’s far less than some other people I know (from social media, of course.) Furthermore, many years ago I began a page on Facebook devoted to this site but it really never took off and the last time I updated it was several months ago – at one time, my website was supposed to automatically update that Facebook page every time I posted, but “set it and forget it” stopped working and I usually forget it, although since that little universe of 100 or so followers is mainly among my friends anyway it really makes no difference.

However, it would be nice to have some sort of payoff for all the work I put into my writing – not as in expecting it to pay my bills, but at least spread the word a little more. To that end, I’ve been considering other ways of putting my name out, whether by purchasing Facebook ads (which I’ve tried in the past, but weren’t all that successful) or exploring alternatives like Gab or Parler, where I also have accounts. But the market I thought would be most successful was Truth Social; however, I don’t have an iPhone as that was the way to get their app.

Lo and behold, though, the other day I saw where Truth Social was now available for PCs and laptops so guess where I am now? Yes, @monoblogue.

I began by following some of the suggested people they had, and I like how they made it easy to post, so I shared the last post I did here as well as my last post at The Patriot Post to break the ice. We’ll see if Truth Social is the answer to the social media question, so if you’re already there give me a follow.

This was a quick post because the next one this weekend will discuss a current event.

Spilling the beans

Editor’s note: I actually wrote this on Saturday and debated putting it up for Mother’s Day, but chose not to. So you get it a couple days after.

What seemed like a quiet week in the leadup to Mother’s Day was suddenly roiled last Monday by the leak of a draft ruling revealing the Supreme Court was planning on repealing its badly considered Roe v. Wade decision from 49 years ago. Obviously the mainstream media, which should be focusing on who had the audacity to violate the Court’s trust and prematurely release what is obviously a controversial decision, is now fanning the flames of protest as aggreived supporters of abortion scream about “muh rIGht to PriVaCy!”

It’s become apparent that some radical spilled the beans in a desperate attempt to head off the decision, probably hoping that what appeared to be a 5-4 ruling would be nullified by a “change of heart” by one of the nine jurists. The early money was on a clerk in Sonia Sotomayor’s office, but I heard an interesting theory the other day that it was someone connected to recently-appointed justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is likely in the process of being brought up to speed regarding the Court’s procedures.

(I say 5-4 because, despite the so-called 6-3 “conservative” lean of the Court, the draft decision was not written by John Roberts. Usually the Chief Justice writes the majority opinion.)

Regardless of who decided to breach the Court’s trust, that person has stirred up a tempest comparable to the January 6 aftermath, leading many to fear for the safety of the conservative justices – who are now the subject of protests at their homes – and a call to release the decision as is.

I think that’s the way they should go, for several reasons. First of all, I do not put it past the deep state Left to attempt to assassinate one of the majority of five, which would set up a 4-4 tie, thus affirming the Fifth Circuit’s ruling that the Mississippi law this case is deciding is unconstitutional (and by extension that Roe v. Wade is constitutional.) Or, if it were learned that Roberts allowed Alito to write the majority opinion that he would join in, that would perhaps lead to the “solution” of putting KBJ – who has already been confirmed to replace Stephen Breyer – in to replace this hypothetical slain SCOTUS jurist to rule on the case she hadn’t heard because “abortion on demand must be saved!” (It sounds crazy, but I’ll bet I’m not the only one who has already thought about this.)

Needless to say, the usual caterwauling about court packing and breaking the filibuster to codify baby murder into federal law started almost immediately – almost as if someone was tipped off about what was going down so they could get that Astroturf opposition underway.

To me, though, overturning Roe v. Wade places the question where it belongs: at the state level. Unless they quickly traveled from somewhere out west or the Bible Belt South, it’s highly likely those aggrieved women who were already protesting at the Supreme Court last week will still have their cherished “right” to murder babies in the womb because their states (including both Delaware, passed in 2017, and Maryland, which rejected an effort to repeal a 1991 law expanding access to abortions in 1992) have short-sightedly dictated it be so. Not only that, there are certain entities who are already lining up to pay for women to travel to states that allow abortion to do so. (As an example, those who hail Elon Musk as a hero for purchasing Twitter may not like his company’s promise to do this.)

I will grant I didn’t always feel this way. If I lived in Maryland back in 1992 I probably would have been fine with rejecting the repeal proposal because back then I believed the lies the pro-choice side regularly puts out, particularly the bits about “unviable fetal mass” and “clump of cells.” It took a little bit of thought and realization that life had to begin somewhere, and there was a reason people have baby showers and gender reveal parties besides being a way to score free stuff off of other people: there was a life which had been created and the parents were eagerly anticipating it. And despite the fact I became more libertarian as I grew older, I departed from their orthodoxy that the right to choice of the mother trumps the right to life of the child, regardless of whether it could survive outside the womb or not. (Hence, I’m much more likely to support a pro-life Libertarian candidate than a pro-abortion one. That’s a party with a robust debate on the subject.)

As for the tired argument that pro-abortionists make about bringing a child into a poor family or abusive situation, or bringing a severely handicapped child into the world, I would counter that there is always someone out there who can give the child the proper care and loving home it deserves. There’s a reason states have safe haven laws. Moreover, the argument is always paired up with the charge that those who are against abortion on demand also don’t support government-paid health care, child care, and so forth. Your point? Those are the type of laws that should also be decided at a state or even local level – of course, the problem there is that states and localities don’t print money and have to balance their budgets – thus, they demand Uncle Sugar in D.C. pick up the tab.

I know I have people who disagree with me on this question, but the bottom line is: if their mother had made the “choice” to abort them, they probably wouldn’t be here to bitch about it. So they should thank God that their mom did not, and do what they can to make sure other babies have that same opportunity. We now see over the last 49 years what the false vow of “safe, legal, and rare” has led to.

Running for office: knowing the office

This is the second of two parts; the first part is here.

Once you know you’re ready to seek office and have the family’s blessing, the next step is knowing what you’re getting into insofar as the duties of the office you seek are concerned.

Qualifications

As I briefly alluded to in the previous post, there are certain offices which require a specialization that limits the available pool of people who are qualified. For example, a county attorney would have to be a member in good standing of the state’s legal bar or a county engineer would have to be a registered engineer in the state. In a small county or other locality that could limit the potential pool of those who can seek the office to a few dozen or fewer. By that same token, party offices which are on the ballot would require the aspirant to be a member of that political party.

Most offices, though, have relatively few qualifications aside from age or legal standing, and in those cases where cities or counties have home rule and qualifications aren’t included in state law, those are usually found within the locality’s charter or constitution. However, these basic qualifications don’t include a list of duties which are also required (or requested) for participation: everything from regular public meetings and work sessions of a local council to the office hours required for someone like a clerk of courts. In the case of specialized positions, a careful reading of the law is good but having a friendly supporter who knows the office (perhaps having served there or in a similar position) is an even better asset.

To be or not to be in a party?

Once that question is answered, the next regards party affiliation. There are some offices (mainly municipal) which have elections deemed to be non-partisan, while county, state, and federal offices are almost always sought via partisan primaries. While there is no ironclad requirement to have a party affiliation to run for those offices, the rules – unfair as they may be – make it much simpler to run as a member of either the Republican or Democratic parties. There are myriad regulations which will apply in different states, so this general guidance comes with the caveat emptor that there are always exceptions to the rule.

As I noted above, more often than not municipal elections are non-partisan; thus your voter registration will not come into play insofar as appearing on the ballot. (In some cases, though, parties will send out a list of their endorsed candidates to registered voters as well as hand them out at the polling place.) But it’s a funny thing about municipal elections: there are many, many cases where they are begging for candidates to the point where the remaining legislative body might be required to appoint a town councilman because no one ran for the post in an election. If you’re lucky enough to be the sole applicant for such a position, congratulations and enjoy your term in office.

In the more likely case there will be a contested election, local rules will dictate the requirements for a primary, which (if necessary) is normally held several weeks before the general election and winnows the field down as required. There are also filing deadlines and campaign finance rules to be aware of, which will be more generally outlined a little later.

Learning the ropes

But since most of those who are interested in public office seek a legislative position such as a school board or county council seat, or to become a member of a larger body such as a state House or Senate, one of the best things to do in preparation for the task ahead is to learn the position. At a basic level, this is fairly simple: for example, many local city council meetings are broadcast online or via their public access channel so you can see how the meetings are conducted. (The agenda should be made available as well.) In addition, a good guide to that sort of parliamentary procedure is a book called Robert’s Rules of Order, which is widely available. Most legislative bodies use that as a basic procedural manual, adapting to local customs as necessary. Work sessions and other non-public meetings, though, may be conducted in a less formal manner to permit greater discussion and presentation.

However, the more difficult task may be learning about the legal liabilities and exemptions public officials in a particular state or locality are entitled to. There are laws against malfeasance and misfeasance in office that are put there to guard against people using the public trust to enrich themselves or to conspire with others for those ends; however, there are also exemptions from certain types of liability based on being a public official.

One of the best ways to find out about all these things is to ask those who have been in office about them. Of course, there is some circumspection required in that your political opponent who is already in the office won’t be readily volunteering information about the job, but there are others who would be on your side to ask, too. Having served in the office, they would know the ins and outs of the task as well as how to dot the i’s and cross the t’s to keep things legal.

Asking of experts and knowing the laws are even more important if the position you seek is an executive one – not just being a mayor or governor, but also for positions like clerk of the court or a commissioner of agriculture. In these cases, there are oftentimes staffing issues to be dealt with, especially if you’re faced with a decision whether to maintain the employees who may have been part of the problem with how your opponent ran things or be the new broom that sweeps clean and perhaps has to reinvent the wheel until they’re up to speed. Sometimes the office full of political loyalists is the obstacle that needs to be eliminated to better serve the public.

The platform

For executive positions, it helps to have a platform you want to implement, something which should be simple in principle (perhaps three to four main points) but have ideas and talking points to back them up. Let’s say you wanted to run for mayor because you feel city services are lacking for the taxes you’re paying. (And who doesn’t?) In that case your platform may be one of providing more efficient city services while holding the line on taxes, and that’s a start. The next logical step would be to determine what you would do with the surplus: perhaps you would rebate taxpayers through lower taxes, increase the frequency of trash pickup, or you may want to acquire land for a new park. In other words, a good platform should have a short-term item or two as well as a vision for the longer term. Bear in mind, however, that your executive vision can only go as far as the legislative branch will allow because, in most cases, they approve the budget. This is where the selling of your platform to voters comes in handy because the legislative branch has the most important votes in terms of running in office as opposed to for office.

If you are a government skeptic like me, you generally believe that there’s healthy pruning to be made among all its branches. Unfortunately, not everyone is of that same mindset and indeed there are many worthy tasks a local or state government should take upon themselves to do. It’s why the slash-and-burn approach to government isn’t popular or proper, and why there’s always a spoonful of sugar required for people to take the required medicine.

And just as there’s a role for government to play, there’s a role for knowing the legal rules around running a campaign. This is why you need some helpers.

Depending on the office, the first volunteer you may need is a campaign treasurer. That person tracks the money going in and going out, which is a vital part of the process. In small campaigns like those where a treasurer is needed, that person could be your spouse or significant other, a co-worker, or a trusted friend, but in more major campaigns it’s most helpful to have an experienced hand at your side because there are significant legal and financial ramifications for that person selected as campaign treasurer if deadlines are missed or improper reporting or foul play is discovered. You’ll find that having a good treasurer is like gold, and oftentimes the same person is used by a candidate as long as he or she is in office because then there’s no need to reinvent the wheel of learning the ins and outs of campaign finance.

In my opinion, after a treasurer says yes there are two other volunteer positions that need to be filled right away. The first is the person for coordinating the scheduling, which is extremely important: even in local races there’s a need for having someone who tracks the places the candidate needs to be to gather support such as forums, festivals, and fairs, leads organization of door-to-door and/or phone bank efforts on the candidate’s behalf, and can be the contact person and gatekeeper for the campaign.

A close second, particularly in this day and age, is the social media and website coordinator. (On a local level it may be possible for one person to wear both hats, but once you get beyond the municipal level it’s really two tasks.) Again, in my humble opinion, early on that person needs to impress upon the campaign treasurer that money should be spent on a good-quality, professionally-produced website and not something that looks like an off-the-shelf DIY job. If the funds aren’t there, the next best thing would be a well-run, frequently-updated social media site (in fact, the candidate can secure the domain name that redirects there until a more formal website can be secured) – on the other hand, good social media may be all that’s necessary for small local races and it’s still vital for any race, whether local, state, or national.

There is one other piece of advice I want to give before I move on, and this is an important one in larger campaigns: be prepared to “smile and dial.” As I said in part one, something I never liked to do was ask people for anything and money is at the bottom of the list of things I would like to ask for. Unless you have the means to self-fund your campaign, though, it requires you to ask for money and in-kind donations, such as a venue to conduct your fundraiser.

**********

This is about as far as I got with the subject, and aside from just writing the last five paragraphs about the volunteers it was the start of what I thought could be a nice pamphlet-sized e-book guide with more expert advice.

So I need two things: input on whether this is something viable for me to pursue, and, if so, more help from experts in the world of organizing campaigns. Most of those folks are a bit busy right now, but there will be a slack time sometime we may be able to talk.

I just get so frustrated when people who I think would be excellent candidates fail because they have no idea what they are getting into – maybe they found out too late that the economics weren’t viable or the family really wasn’t that supportive once the other side began giving out grief.

But there are still ways for them to help the cause: just look at me. Yes, I’ve been on the ballot before and won – and I have lost, too. Losing hurt, and I took it personally. However, in my case, the way I had served in the previous time made me indispensible to the cause so they found a way to keep me onboard until a vacancy occurred and I could be reappointed. And a few of them still miss me as I’m no longer around, but I’m in the next phase of life now.

If I had asked myself these questions earlier on, would I have become involved? Probably. But the learning experience about the process (and my individual abilities and talents) also led me to know that I have my place in the fight as a journalist, advocate, and observer, not as an elected official. Perhaps someone who reads this, though, may have the aptitude needed to advance the cause of Constitutional government as an educator and public official, and that’s why I wrote this brief series and put it out there as a possibility for revised and extended remarks. Let’s hope I can find some of those folks.

Running for office: what you should know

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series I spoke about Saturday: the beginnings of a tome about how to run for office. Let me know what you think about the progress so far.

**********

Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage. – President Dwight D. Eisenhower

We may think elections are corrupt, particularly in the wake of the controversial 2020 balloting. Yet on the day after that fateful election, thousands of people woke up determined to change things, and the way they decided to make the corrections was to run for office.

There’s only one big problem with that: while running for office seems relatively easy – hey, I just fill out a little paperwork and get my name on the ballot, right? – the hard truth is that there is a process involved. This guide was intended to make the complex understandable and break the daunting task of electoral success down into easier steps, with the goal of winning elective office so you can more easily work to make needed changes.

It should be noted up front, however, that I’m writing this from the perspective of a conservative Christian who is most interested in getting like-minded people into local and state offices. While this guide could, in theory, be used as a how-to book for running for President, be advised that there were over 1,100 people who ran for that office in 2020 and you heard about only two or three of them who had national party backing, tons of press coverage, and millions upon millions of dollars to work with. If you already have all these qualifications I don’t believe you will need anything costing less than what your high-dollar consultant would charge for a nanosecond of his time.

As for the rest of you who wish to be service-minded citizen legislators and have no desire to make politics your sole purpose in life, read on, but bear this in mind: your desire to be a public servant doesn’t necessarily need to be only on the elective front. The world also needs volunteers to serve on the various boards, agencies, and other entities which affect people’s lives in the community. Oftentimes those who secure these unpaid positions, such as members of the zoning committee, library board, or other community service posts, parlay their experiences there into elective office by making those connections and friendships that ease the transition into elective politics. That’s a little bit of free advice for you (and also a good start to knowing yourself and knowing how to campaign, as you will find out.)

Another option is to make yourself indispensable to someone seeking office themselves. As you will eventually read, campaigns need volunteers. Sometimes those volunteers become paid staff and, every so often, become the successor candidate in his or her own right once the officeholder moves up or moves on. It’s certainly a good way to learn the ropes and can be a lot of fun if you’re working with the right candidate and the right people.

Since there’s so much to know about the process, I broke it into five “knows,” some of which I’ll delve into in this post and the next one, with others that may come as future writings of mine:

  • Know yourself. This is the necessary first step before anything else can be accomplished.
  • Know the office. Not just the procedures for being elected to it, but the duties and powers that are implicit in the position for which you are running.
  • Know the rules. Most of this will have to do with party politics and campaign finance, but there are other coordination issues which can trip up first-time candidates as well.
  • Know how to campaign – time and money. A successful campaign requires good time management skills since you can only be in one place at a time. It also requires enough funding to make building name recognition more successful in the places where you can’t be.
  • Know how to win. When you are successful, do so with grace and humility. Be a leader and an example for others to follow.

Remember first that you don’t have to do this all by yourself; in fact, in most places you can’t go it alone because you need assistants just to be legally able to run.

My goal in writing this is to help create a crop of citizens who will devote a period of time in their life to bettering their community through the public service of political office.

Know yourself: Are you up for the challenge?

Since it’s most likely you’ve made the effort in reading this with the goal of running for and winning office, the first thing you should consider is what you want to accomplish by being there. You should really have a clear set of goals or governmental philosophy in mind, particularly if you’re running for an executive office. There you will certainly run into those whose desires are the opposite of yours: for example, you may be all in favor of reasonable growth and development in your area but others you’ll be working with may want all new development to come to a screeching halt – so it helps to be an eloquent spokesperson for your point of view. It’s also a good time to decide whether you will run under a party banner or not, although generally municipal races are non-partisan. (In most states, though, anyone who has access to voter registration records can likely find out your affiliation and voting pattern.) Regarding those party procedures, we’ll get to that a little bit later.

The next thing to weigh on that balance is your personality type. If you’re an introvert who doesn’t like to deal with people, this would not be the career (or even term or two in office) for you. Obviously you’ll have to put yourself out before the public on the campaign trail in order to earn their trust and their vote, and that’s not an easy thing to do for a person who likes to keep their private lives to themselves – and that’s even if you don’t have skeletons in your closet, a point I will get to shortly. Temperament is also key: voters don’t tend to look kindly on people who are known for flying off the handle and being verbally abusive. As you read on, you’ll find that secrets are hard to keep when you seek to become a public official.

Moreover, once you get into office the main thing constituents will expect for you is some sort of service and to remain active in the community. As their representative in an elected body or head of government, your personal “to-do” list becomes subordinate to the needs and desires of those who won’t necessarily choose those times convenient to you to express their opinions and requests. Elective office is certainly different than a 9-to-5, 40 hour per week job.

And speaking of job, another factor on your personal scale would be your financial situation. While we often hear of politicians who get fabulously wealthy after attaining high office, I’m hoping those of you reading this are in it for the right reasons and not as a get-rich-eventually scheme.

However, it’s a fact that most people who work for a living would probably have to take a pay cut to take a job as an elected official – oftentimes, it’s a full-time job that pays like a part-time one. For example, the job of County Executive of a county near my home – a county of 100,000 people which has a city of 35,000 as its seat and is a regional hub for a metro area twice that size – will have an annual salary of $107,000, beginning with the next term. (As a private-sector comparison, that salary is about what the average construction manager would expect to make.) In the brief history of the position, the county has elected two executives, one being a longtime government employee and the other a self-employed businessman. Someone with the type of experience required may see the salary as insufficient for their needs, and the same holds true for representative positions. On the other hand, offices where this may be less of a problem are more specialized positions such as county attorney, sheriff, engineer, or insurance commissioner. Those positions may pay more commensurate to the required education and experience.

Rehashing your past

Next on the consideration list is a sad fact of life: the advent of social media and easily accessible public records means it’s more likely any misstatements or mistakes in your past will be dredged up. Any off-color joke you passed along because you thought it was funny, fight you had with a neighbor where the police were called, nasty divorce, or history of drug use (as in “I did not inhale”) will surely find its way into a campaign, sooner or later. Whether it’s a disqualifying factor really depends on the offense, the voter, and the position being sought.

In 2020, there were two Republican candidates in my state of Delaware who ran for federal office despite serious mistakes they had made in their lives that landed them in prison. While Matthew Morris could not overcome this and other factors in losing his U.S. House primary, U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke made opioid addiction a key part of her platform. Once incarcerated as an addict and convicted drug runner, Lauren got herself clean, served her sentence, and later ran a religious-based organization focusing on teens who were disadvantaged. More importantly for this narrative, she was up front about the issues she had, choosing not to try and hide them. While she was unsuccessful running against an incumbent in a heavily Democrat state, she brought issues to the forefront which may have been ignored with a more conventional candidate.

As I see it, to be a public servant honesty is the best policy. There are always people who envy you, covet what you have, and don’t want you to succeed. Like crabs pulling the one which is managing to escape back into the cage, their job seems to be that of preventing others to be successful.

Getting buy-in

Once you have convinced yourself that you’re emotionally able to run for and succeed in office, and you verify your financial situation is such that you can handle the job with or without sacrifices, the next important step is securing the blessing of your family. Without them in your corner, you may gain office but lose everything you love – and that’s no way to live.

It’s obviously easier for a single person to run for office, but many of those who have the most desirable traits for officeholders are also the ones who have settled down in life and begun a family. If that’s your situation, then getting the buy-in from the wife and kids is the logical next step. They have to be made aware of the proverbial anal exam your life will undergo and prepare themselves for it – even the most popular person in town has a few enemies with an axe to grind and those in the political opposition who don’t mind playing dirty to keep the other side down. This is particularly an issue when a candidate has school-age children; truthfully family concerns are the biggest hurdle against “normal” people running for office. It may not be the main thing for an aspirant for a local position, but once you get into the realm of state legislator and higher office, security of loved ones becomes a little bit of a concern.

Finally – and this is somewhat related to the personality aspects I began this post with – one running for office needs to ask whether he or she can complete the sale to a voter. In the end, elections are about you convincing the majority of the electorate that you are the proper person to address their concerns, provide constituent service when required, and remain a vital part of the community despite having other duties. No candidate is going to get 100 percent of the vote in a contested election, but the idea is to have the most votes of anyone running in cases where there’s no Electoral College to contend with.

In the next part, we’ll look at knowing the office.

The problem with being just opposition

Over the last few days I’ve gotten very frustrated with the system, so rather than get mad I think I’m going to not let good writing go to waste. More on that in a few paragraphs, but allow me the license to tell you a few reasons why I’m in such a way these days.

Here in my Laurel School District, we have an election for the one seat available on the school board this year. The two candidates are a lady who’s seeking her third term on the board and a gentleman who I’m guessing is a political newcomer, and very possibly may have ideas that can shake up the status quo his opponent would presumably maintain considering she’s the president of the board and seeking yet another five years running our public schools.

The interesting thing, though, is that Linda Hitchens, the lady in question, has run unopposed her first two times through in 2012 and 2017; thus, there was no actual election those years. So one would think that she would be easier to contend with because she’s never run a real campaign to keep her seat – once the filing deadline in her previous two tries passed with no opponent, the seat was hers by acclamation. However, she’s amassed the campaign money to pepper the district with signs in front of houses on the east end of the district near where she lives (and by the dentist office I went to Friday – no cavities!) There’s not much on my more rural end of the district, though.

So it’s very frustrating to me that, as a first-time candidate who has no name recognition in the district, that Joe Kelley – insofar as a search of the dreadfully inefficient Delaware state campaign finance website has shown – doesn’t even have a campaign finance account set up.

(As an aside, I can’t figure out why Delaware’s campaign finance system is so difficult while Maryland’s is very straightforward, when they use the same platform.)

Even more so, when Joe has the free opportunity to expound on his platform thanks to the Delaware Independent website, he doesn’t respond. Is he going to do the same to the Laurel Star newspaper if they come calling? I may not like the status quo – and you can’t get much more status quo than the board president – but if I’m not presented with a good alternative why should I even bother to vote? At that point, just having the votes of the people with signs is massive overkill for Hitchens, since I bet I saw 5o of them in driving around.

And then we have the case of one Christopher Hill, who is supposedly running for Congress as a Republican in the same primary as perennial candidate Lee Murphy. The only reason I knew this, though, was because I stumbled across Hill’s FEC filing on their website doing research for my election sidebar, which led me to find his own campaign website that I link to. But even the state Republican Party refers to him as “Chris Hall.” (Maybe they’ll change it after they read this.)

This came to mind because of a bizarre incident. A couple weeks back I received a text that went like this: “Hi Mike, Christopher Hill here. If you have a chance, give me a call about the race. (phone number.)”

This came on a late Sunday afternoon; in fact, I was at a Shorebirds game. So I couldn’t get back to him that evening; as it turned out it took a few days. But once I got back to Christopher via text I realized it was probably a case of mistaken identity since he said, “all I need is Smith’s cell number,” which I don’t know. So he apologized. (Then again, I should ask how he got my cell number.)

But if you look at Hill’s efforts thus far, you find a off-the-shelf Wix website he occasionally updates but no social media. If he thinks he’s going to beat Lee Murphy (let alone knock off LBR in November) with a campaign run from a website, well, life doesn’t work that way. Perhaps Hill believes he can make the rounds of various festivals and fairs this summer, such as the Delaware State Fair, but the groundwork should have been laid several months ago.

Now I don’t want to sound overly critical, but I believe there are a number of people who get into politics rashly. For example, right now at the top of Hill’s website in something like 72-point font is “Day 1: Drafting an article of impeachment against Biden for allowing the states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to be invaded by illegal aliens.” A lot of people may agree – and, let me tell you, it’s more than those three states thanks to Joe Biden’s overnight air shuttle service – but that accounts for one day. And did he have to make this into a rant at the front of your campaign website? Is this a blog or a campaign he’s running?

In the case of Joe Kelley and our local school board, he filed for the job first but had to know that Linda would be running again. Did he plan for that likely occurrence?

Obviously, there are cases where circumstances get in the way of a campaign but there are too many times where I see people with good ideas about government crushed down by a system stacked against them. But then again, there are rules out there that all sides have to contend with so the playing field becomes more level. Somewhere in the past, all those people in the system were once neophyte candidates themselves but they figured out how to get into the clique. And that leads me to the idea of good writing not going to waste.

This was sort of a rash decision somewhat in the vein of running for office, but then again I’ve been there and done that several times in Ohio and Maryland. And if I cared to right here, I could tell you in several paragraphs about the exhaustive differences between those two situations which led me to essentially the same party office, but on a varying scale.

Long story short: after the 2020 election I hatched an idea that for awhile was going to be another book, and could yet end up being so after all once I blow the dust off of it.

I had set up five “how-to” main points, and had written out in draft form an introduction and lead-ins to a couple of these chapters. The reason I stopped was because I was in a quardry whether to write it straight up, or make it sort of a narrative that followed Joe Sixpack on his race to become mayor of his town – or did that sound too hokey? But the burning passion faded as other things took precedence so I haven’t worked on this project since the tail end of 2020.

Honestly I don’t know if this project will ever become a book, but in seeing how some of these nascent local campaigns are going I think it’s time to share what little expertise and observation I have and put up some of these ideas as blog posts. If I get enough of a positive reaction and more expert input – which was also part of the plan, but I hate asking for anything – maybe I can go forward with the project after all. (It’s not just 5:00 somewhere, there’s also an election somewhere.) Perhaps you can think of the next two to three blog posts as a lengthy book proposal, but over the next few days I’ll do some editing and drop these on you as a series of posts and see what reaction I get.

There was a reason I started writing all that back at the end of 2020, and I have to remember that everything occurs in the Lord’s time, doesn’t it?

Update 4/24: I did find a questionnaire Kelley filled out, from the League of Women Voters, so now I have a little bit of an idea where he stands. Most of my point still remains, though.

Ode, revisited

Everyone has a different way to grieve. I found it was cathartic to write about my brother LJ when he passed eleven years ago, so perhaps my jumbled thoughts will be best served by remembering my dad Joe here in this forum.

There are a number of personality (and other) traits I inherited from my father. I have my whole slew of dad-isms, such as “whadda ya think this is? Giveaway day?” He and I shared the same svelte figure (probably because he gave me his Pepsi habit), enjoyment of bowling and Polack food, and ambition to be a homebody. Dad was not one to take a whole week’s vacation, as he was ready to head home after four days max. I feel the same way: the only saving grace on the Florida trip was that we broke it into several stops, my mom and dad being second-to-last for 2 1/2 days.

Growing up, my mom and dad would be up at 5:30 in the morning so he could go to work fixing all that went wrong with the machinery at a concrete block plant. (Mom made breakfast for him, then after he left she had to help LJ and I get ready for the bus at 7:10, with Tom coming a little later until he got to middle school.) The next time we saw Dad, he was grubby and ready for dinner at 5:00. After dinner it was time to watch TV for a couple hours before he went to bed, although in the summer that was the time he would go out and cut the grass – all five acres of it, with a little lawn tractor. So this was a three or four evening a week chore, which my dad didn’t mind too much since he was alone with a good cigar to smoke.

(By the way: one thing I did NOT get from my dad was his mechanical aptitude. That stopped at my late brother LJ. Why do you think I work at my end of the building business?)

But the dad I grew up with wasn’t the dad I last saw back in October – dementia made sure of that. Once or twice in the couple days we spent there we got glimpses of what my dad was, like when he sat in for a game of cards and the memory of how to play that game came back to him, but much of the time he was a cantankerous old man trapped in his wheelchair, reduced to living out his days rolling between the house and his post out in the shade of the carport where he went out to get his “smoke.” He needed help to go to the bathroom, which I’m sure embarrassed him to no end. My dad was always a bit fussy but had an off-kilter sense of humor – imagine losing the humor part and that was my dad the last time I saw him. One of those bathroom trips was the one and only time I ever heard a cuss word from him in my life – and trust me, the three of us boys gave him a lot of opportunities.

So pardon me if I’d rather remember the family provider and role model for being the man I am. He was married to my mom for over 61 years, and she’s devastated by the loss, even though we knew it was coming. When we said goodbye to my dad in October, I knew it was really goodbye for us. But my mom was there until the bitter end, when home hospice care finally came in on his last day or so. And typical of my dad he wanted no fuss about his passing, as he requested to my mom that no service be held.

If there’s one blessing in my life (besides my wife) it’s the fact my parents lived to a ripe old age – ironically my paternal grandparents were both gone by the time I was seven, so longevity wasn’t on my dad’s side. He was the last of six Swartz children to survive, beating my Uncle Ronnie by about a year. (I know my Uncle Butch went first when I was a teenager, but I forget the order that my aunts Lucy, Rita, and Jane went in.) Making it to the age of 86 is pretty good for the family.

Despite the fact he never touched a computer, that’s where I’m going to remember my dad, Joseph Swartz. He lived a good life.

The bite of inflation

Let’s begin 2022 by talking about an issue that has bullied its way into our national consciousness in the past year, inflation. All of us are paying more for various items, but in my case it’s measured with a quirky but useful yardstick.

I have a Friday lunch routine that began a couple years ago. In my “real” job I work four nine-hour days Monday to Thursday and have a four-hour Friday, meaning my weekend generally begins at lunchtime on Friday. So to start my weekend I go to Chick-Fil-A and order the same thing each week: a spicy deluxe meal with a side salad in lieu of the fries and a diet Dr. Pepper. (In and of itself, that’s a routine because it’s about the only time I drink Dr. Pepper. The one thing I don’t like about Chick-Fil-A is that they pour Coke products and I’m a Pepsi guy from way back.)

Because I always get the same thing, I know exactly how much it will cost before they ring it up. Thus, I was surprised a few weeks back when the number increased for the second time this year – sure enough, a look at my old bank statements confirmed this. Back in April that combo set me back $8.93, and over the summer it went up to $9.29, which was the number I was expecting. Instead, they told me it was $9.89!

Doing some hasty public school math with my phone’s calculator, the first increase was 4.03% while the second was 6.46%. Combined, in the space of about six or seven months, the price for my meal went up 10.75% – that’s pretty steep, because I don’t recall my income going up 10.75%. (I did get a raise in 2021, but not that much.)

Of course, there are costs involved, and the restaurant wants to stay profitable. So the increase has to be passed along to the consumer somehow, and since CFA hasn’t been cutting corners on the food they’re forced to charge more for it.

First and foremost, the smiling lady behind the Chick-Fil-A counter almost certainly has a higher wage now than she did when the year began, as do all her behind-the-scenes helpers. More importantly, the cost of the raw materials have gone up as chicken isn’t so cheap anymore, nor is produce or bread for the bun. It costs more to power all the food service equipment required to bring my sandwich and salad to my waiting hands.

But our nation got used to inflation that ran maybe 1-2%, meaning we might see just a modest increase every year. Now that we have so much funny money floating about, however, we got saddled with two significant hikes in six months. (And yes, I realize all this started with the last president. But he only did one stimmy, in reaction to the forced shutdown of “non-essential” businesses and complete revision of the service model for restaurants like CFA. In and of itself that was a gross overreaction, but I digress…)

Obviously I’m diving into the anecdotal here, but as a busy family we eat out a lot: usually three to four times a week for dinner. So we are attuned to the steady rise in prices that’s seemingly accelerated since the CCP virus began to take its toll on the restaurant industry and its players almost two years ago. It doesn’t matter if they’re chains like Chick-Fil-A or Texas Roadhouse or local restaurants such as Laurel Pizzeria, Pizza King, or La Tolteca in Salisbury – every time we go there it seems some of the prices have gone up a quarter here and 50 cents there. We get that costs are going up and food service is a brutal business model right now, but there has to be an end somewhere.

Perhaps if we stop with this artificial stimulation of the economy where valueless dollars are printed, we can eventually get back to that nice, predictable, and steady 1-2% annual increase (and bring back the period of not so long ago where wage increases were faster than inflation.) Otherwise, my over/under on my Friday lunchtime meal by the end of this new year is $11.50. Any takers?

We can make a partial course correction in 10 months. Hopefully some inspiring candidates for said change will step forth in the interim here in Delaware.

2021: a monoblogue year in review

As two weeks to stop the spread drags ever closer to two years, it’s time once again to review where I’ve been during the year.

My first post in January had perhaps the best first line of a year and perhaps the worst prediction. I began by saying, “From all appearances, January 6 may be a momentous day in our nation’s history, and grassroots supporters of Donald Trump will either be elated or despondent at day’s end.” But then I made the prediction, “Given that the 6th (a Wednesday) is a regular workday for D.C. and everyone else, I wouldn’t expect a major six-figure crowd there as there was for previous pro-Trump rallies.” Okay then. Upon further review, though, I still think it’s true that “if there really was an insurrection you would have had hot and cold bleeding politicians.” In that month I also had a rare guest opinion regarding Kamala Harris and shared my thoughts on becoming the loyal opposition.

What a way to begin the year, huh? I also started the second hundred of odds and ends, threw shade on my erstwhile professional organization, looked at the Gamestop stock phenomenon and asked what is truth?

It may have come out in February, when I reviewed my pleasing predictions. I also had to inform you of a new local grift as well as deal with another waste of energy and – believe it or not – more odds and ends. But the month gave those of us on the Right the sads because we lost our truth detector, a legend who finally repaid the talent he had been loaned.

I began my March by pondering the prospect of Trump fatigue, talking about some misdirection, then getting into local impact races. I then took a first look at how our state stacks up political district-wise before concluding with (you guessed it) even more odds and ends.

There was more of a Delaware focus in April as I looked at the changing of the guard in state political advocacy groups and attended one of the newbies’ local meetings, which had a heavy Second Amendment influence thanks to its location. That came in handy for a supportive 2A solution my member of Congress would never adopt, even though she should.

Then again, if Delmarva were a state she would possibly have company in Congress. I reprised a post I did in 2017 based on this cycle’s results and found we were still a purple region. Yet I found time to discuss infrastructure, too, and got myself back into practice for both the resumption of the Shorebirds season and a pictures and text post for the first time in over two years, well before the CCP virus hit us!

I began May with treatises on government dependence and fear before turning my attention to competing endorsements and disappointing results of the state’s school board elections. To make it a trifecta, our state also advanced a terrible idea – but what else is new? One thing new was a radio host with a radical thought I expanded on.

Part of my June docket had to do with the aforementioned radio host, who got some competition that ended an era in talk radio. But I brought back two things in the month: the odds and ends you breathlessly waited two months for and the Shorebirds of the Month I very, very impatiently longed to do for nearly two years.

But we also had to deal with it being pride month and with the avalanche of fake facts, for which I passed along some advice. I also talked about really fixing our Senate and announced someone wanted to fix the House – or at least represent us better – yet again, for the third straight election.

July began with a whimper and not a bang thanks to the Delaware General Assembly closing up shop a bit early, but I still did an accounting on them for this session. I also had some ideas to build up the state’s manufacturing base that led, of course, to more odds and ends. Yet after I discussed how not to be an aspiring writer, I foreshadowed an August post by discussing an upcoming event on Critical Race Theory, which eventually led off our eighth month.

It was a mellow sort of month as I looked at true lies from the opposition, dealt with a #TBT-style correction, and discussed growth in a post-growth town. I even got to do a brief rebuttal to a TEA Party critic because I put up one of my favorite post titles about beggars and hangers-on, too.

A long-neglected division of my site got a two-part update in September, but that wasn’t all. I took an updated look at the new 9/11 two decades later then, in the wake of California governor Gavin Newsom, I fantasized about the idea of a John Carney recall. And while I shockingly did more odds and ends, I had fun looking at my carbon offset and began wrapping up my Shorebirds coverage by detailing the final day and announcing my Shorebird of the Year at month’s end.

Former Trump administration official and Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson visited a local church to begin October, where we heard he was a pretty good brain surgeon, too. (A brain surgeon starting a new political organization, that is.) And once I got through my picks and pans as a Shorebird fan, I opined about a visit to the land of another potential Oval Office candidate, Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Once we returned home, there were rumblings of a pending electoral bloodbath in 2022 that had the far-left opposition worried. And before I closed the month with another edition of odds and ends I talked a lot about Patriots for Delaware, promoting and covering their Unify Delaware Festival and preliminary report on the 2020 election and voter integrity in the state. I even got one more post in November out of them thanks to the long-awaited return of Weekend of local rock.

Earlier in the month, though, we had a bellwether offyear election with (mostly) pleasing results, but the election in Delmar, Maryland was a broom that swept clean. I also began a look at redistricting I would follow on after my Thanksgiving message and Black Friday tradition.

As always, December began with my anniversary post, a sweet sixteen celebration this year. It was once again quickly followed by another tradition: the induction of a new class into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. I then pivoted quickly into a pair of thought pieces spurred by comments by the chair of the Delaware Libertarian Party before embarking on a three part series on the state’s legislative redistricting. Then I did one last odds and ends for the year before turning my scattered sights to the Pandora’s box of China, criticism of our Congressperson from her left (not much room there), a look at renewable energy, and the annual Christmas message.

That’s where I left it for another year. After a few days away I’m ready to start 2022 strong.

Wishes for a Merry Christmas 2021

Looks like we made it.

Although I always write these a few days in advance, I’m going to presume we weren’t wiped out by the Omega variant, so here’s my greeting to you. I was sorely tempted to repeat last year’s greeting because most of it is still in effect in certain portions of our ailing nation.

Fortunately, the part which holds most true can be excised from it, making this year’s message rather simple:

“Regardless, we must press on, and our biggest asset in that regard is the One who sent His son to be our sacrifice, that Savior whose birth we are celebrating tomorrow… My simple prayer this Christmas is that my readers come home, returning to a life with its priorities in order: God and family first, ‘stuff’ somewhere toward the end.”

With my wife this year, I didn’t buy her “stuff” that goes in a closet or quickly finds its way to a yard sale, I bought her an experience and memory where she will get to enjoy life in a different way for a few hours. The memories will be her gift. I’m echoing the last big holiday in saying I’m truly blessed, as my needs are pretty much taken care of and my wants are few.

In thinking about this holiday, I know Jesus received gifts when he was born and I’m sure all were useful to Him (some more than others.) But there comes a point where we have to ask ourselves what the most thoughtful gift we can give to someone is, and whether we are giving gifts to satisfy needs or cater to “wants” because we don’t want to sacrifice for what they need. In this case I’m thinking more about kids, having been around “only childs” most of my adult life. Some were way too spoiled with stuff by well-meaning family members who thought it would placate the kids, but turned out to do the opposite.

To that end, we’ve talked about inflation and the price of “stuff” a lot this year. While there is a risk of inflation in the waistline from consuming those Christmas cookies from your friends and co-workers and in gathering with the family for the Christmas meal and eating WAY too much, it should be remembered that there is no inflation with God’s love because it remains constant.

This is my Christmas message to all of my readers, as tomorrow my site will be dark.

Merry Christmas.