My thoughts and unanswered questions about the Uvalde shooting

You know me: in most instances I like to wait a few days and digest all sorts of takes, hot and cold, before I put up my two cents about events such as this.

I first heard about what some are calling the Texas Massacre (no chainsaw required) in the afternoon and evening after it happened. Initially I thought just a couple people were involved, putting it in the category of the type of school shooting where jilted ex-boyfriend decides he can’t live without his ex and plans to make sure no one else gets her either. Obviously that’s tragic but life rolls on – unless it’s local we don’t even remember the name of the school where it occurred a month later.

But as the reported death toll from Uvalde continued to increase, we began to hear about this as an event rivaling Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland. Because it was an elementary school and not a high school, the best parallel to me is Sandy Hook, and it just so happens I wrote at some length about it in the wake of the shooting four times – once the day of, the next two days on the folly of a gun ban and the media’s fascination with guns, and a wrapup of sorts a few days later like in this situation. After re-reading all I wrote on Sandy Hook, it’s amazing how closely the Uvalde shooting is hewing to that line, even to the point of reporting how close the kids were to a break. (Sandy Hook occurred days before Christmas break, while Uvalde occurred in the last days of the school year.) Even more scary was the fact that both lone gunmen shot their parental figure first, then took off to a school important to the parent. (Initially some reports were that the Uvalde shooter’s grandmother died; in fact, she was shot in the face but managed to survive.)

The passage of almost ten years hasn’t dissuaded me from a pro-gun stance because, just like Sandy Hook, the gun wasn’t the real problem: the problem was a child whose upbringing seemed to fail in a moral sense. What parent is “training up a child in the way they should go” if the kids are playing Call of Duty for hours on end and talking about shooting up a school on social media?

But we all know that the one approach from the Democrat Party is a demand to restrict our Second Amendment rights by banning what they term “assualt weapons” or “weapons of war.” In this case, as a start they’re talking about reinstating the “assault weapon ban” that was in place for about a decade between 1994 and 2004 – funny, that didn’t stop the Columbine shooting. In addition to that, they’re seeking to nationalize “red flag” laws that have turned tragic.

Yet the more I hear about the timeline of events in the Uvalde shooting, I think the focus on the gun is misplaced.

There’s a balance which has to be kept between freedom and security. We could create hardened compounds out of our schools, with metal detectors, intruder locks on classrooms, bulletproof glazing, and so forth, but what message does that send to a child? Besides, someone has to man a metal detector, locks can be left unlocked (like the back door apparently was at the Uvalde school because it was an awards day), and glazing does nothing if there’s an open door. None of these security measures are foolproof.

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about having an armed veteran or retired police officer volunteer his or her time at a school, much like a school resource officer. (This person could be the supplement to the employed officer.) Obviously, that’s going to be an availability issue at times because people have appointments and incidents which come up in real life. On balance, though, I think between this and various non-intrusive security and procedural upgrades we would do more to enhance school safety than a gun ban would ever hope to achieve. (Apparently there was a camera system at the school so they could track the shooter’s movements – after the fact, as part of the investigation. Wouldn’t it have been nice for the police to be able to tap into that?)

The problem with banning anything is that there’s an instant black market for the product if people still desire it – and they usually do. Ban smoking in an office building and you’ll walk through a cloud at the door. When people complain about that and the facility places a restriction on smoking by the doors, they just move farther away. When they still get the complaints the facility bans it on the property, so people go to their private cars for their nicotine fix. That’s how it works.

People didn’t stop drinking alcohol for Prohibition, they just made mobsters like Al Capone wealthier. If people want what the regressives consider “assault rifles,” they will get them somehow, to the benefit of criminals. Do you honestly believe people will give them up willingly, and do you want to be the law enforcement officer to try and enforce that?

I’m just as sick of reading about these tragedies as anyone else, although I’m not going to mock the “thoughts and prayers” crowd like others do because prayers for comfort and healing are always welcome to me. If the unthinkable happened to me I would appreciate the support as I tried to piece my life back together.

But I don’t have the answers. All I can tell you is that I strongly believe the gun ban proponents are barking up the wrong tree, and their alacrity after the incident just feeds the scuttlebutt beneath the surface out there about Uvalde being a government-backed “false flag” operation to seize the media narrative, take people’s minds off the horrible economy and whatever else the government is doing to usurp our rights, and lay the groundwork for disarming the population. Sorry to sound all Qanon on you, but that’s the thought process people have been led to after the last two-plus years of being told we shouldn’t question authority and if a schmuck like me can sense it, what does that say about the trust we have in our institutions?

Something in our institutions let the Uvalde shooter down, and he wasn’t equipped to deal with it in a manner acceptable to civil society. The gun was just the tool the shooter used to exact the price that over a score of people paid.

Threats and rumors of threats

There’s been something going around the country recently, and it’s a disturbing trend.

I brought up my news feed to get a little bit caught up after an emotional and draining day, and what do I see? Another school district cancelling classes for a day because of a threat against one or more district facilities.

Obviously in the wake of San Bernardino people take this stuff seriously, never mind the recent third anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. It was that incident which led to the most recent restrictions on gun ownership here in Maryland. Of course, I know of a handful of people who are convinced Sandy Hook never happened except as a “false flag” incident designed to be the pretext for confiscating our weapons, but I’m not into that sort of conspiracy theory. If the government has it in mind to do something, it’s eventually going to happen whether they get the excuse or not.

(The same mindset wonders about the third shooter in San Bernardino, since I recall the initial reports were that of three shooters, too. Maybe that neighbor did more than purchase the guns. But I digress.)

To me, this may not be a bad time to review policies and procedures for our local school district. It so happens that Friday was their last day before going on an extended winter break which runs until January 4, so there’s a chance over the holidays to look at the prospects for mischief and plan a course of action. While we’re not a large community, we are certainly no more immune from trouble than any other school district serving a county of 100,000 people. Nor do I think a limited concealed carry regimen within the school, through teachers who already have or wish to obtain the proper permits, is a bad idea. It’s certainly better than declaring schools a gun-free zone and watching kids be helplessly slaughtered by the first person who ignores that designation.

Fortunately, the schools which have closed have done so without incident. And while no amount of preparation can assure our schools will be completely incident-free, perhaps now is the time to deal with the likelihood something could happen. I wish I’d thought of this before I sat down since I was in the same room as two of our school board members this evening, but I think they’re smart enough to read here. If we put them on the board they must have some intelligence, right?

Bye bye Beretta

We were warned about this all along, but everyone seems shocked that gun maker Beretta has followed through and decided to relocate its production to a new plant in Tennessee next year. The loss of 160 manufacturing jobs from its Accokeek plant will be the gain, once production ramps up, of Gallatin, a town which is a few miles outside Nashville and is about the same size as Salisbury. Here’s what Maryland is losing, from Beretta’s release:

Beretta U.S.A. anticipates that the Gallatin, Tennessee facility will involve $45 million of investment in building and equipment and the employment of around 300 employees during the next five years.

It’s worth noting that Beretta is not the only gun manufacturer potentially leaving Maryland. LWRC of Cambridge said last year “we simply couldn’t do business here” if the gun law passed, with 300 jobs at stake. Rumors of a purchase of LWRC by Colt were rampant earlier this year,  yet while no formal announcement has been made the Bob Owens piece I’m citing is useful as a reminder of what such a company means to a rural area.

Needless to say, Larry Hogan had the expected reaction on Beretta’s plight. Yet the question isn’t one of “high taxes and punitive regulations” so much as it’s a question of repealing a knee-jerk law passed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting – not that any law was going to stop Adam Lanza anyway, nor does this law stop a single homicide in Maryland. It was all feelgood legislation from the start; unfortunately, the powers that be chose not to back the referendum route which would have placed the law on the ballot at the same time as many who voted for it.

To change Maryland’s fate in this respect, not only does the state have to improve on its business friendliness but it also has to find the political will to overturn its onerous gun laws like 2013’s Senate Bill 281. Elections mean things, and not only do we need a governor willing to backtrack on this mistake but also enough of a General Assembly coalition to get a bill through the legislature. That part may be the most difficult, because getting to just 50 Republicans in the House and 19 in the Senate would be a minor miracle – yet Republicans need 71 and 24, respectively, to actually control the chambers. It’s mathematically doable but the odds of hitting the Powerball are probably much better.

So say goodbye to Beretta’s production, and know that it won’t be missed at all by the Democrats in Annapolis.

A look ahead: 2014 in Maryland

Yesterday I looked at how 2014 looks in Wicomico County, but much – too much, as I see it – of their decision-making is truly made in Annapolis. And with current governor Martin O’Malley attempting to burnish his credentials for a position inside Hillary Clinton’s administration – oh wait, he’s supposedly running himself, isn’t he? – it’s important to him that he establish himself with the progressive crowd.

What this means for us is that no tax increase is off the table, but it’s more likely we will see renewed efforts at green energy, gun control, and salvaging the failed Obamacare rollout in Maryland – but if worse comes to worse, it’s Anthony Brown who will be thrown under the bus. In the decision between a Maryland legacy and a White House bid, well, no lieutenant governor has succeeded his boss anyway.

Brown is probably the conventional wisdom favorite to succeed O’Malley and become Maryland’s first black governor; of course there are other main contenders on both sides. Attorney General Doug Gansler seems to be the Democrats’ backup plan but has endured a rocky start to his campaign; meanwhile Delegate Heather Mizeur seems to be the one establishing a number of truly far-left issues in the campaign – witness her idea for marijuana legalization.

On the Republican side, three top contenders seem to be out to appeal most to the conservative crowd, with a fourth joining the field in January. Harford County Executive David Craig obviously has the most well-rounded political resume, but Delegate Ron George represents a more populous area around Annapolis. Charles Lollar is running the most populist campaign, but he may receive a run for his money once the social media-savvy Larry Hogan formally enters the race next month. His Change Maryland Facebook page claims over 70,000 supporters of all political stripes – in a four-way Republican race, 70,000 votes might be enough.

There are only two other statewide races this year, since there’s no Senate race this cycle. With Attorney General Gansler abandoning his post to try for governor, there are four Democratic members of the General Assembly out to succeed him – Aisha Braveboy, Jon Cardin, Bill Frick, and Brian Frosh all seek the seat, and all but Cardin have officially filed. No one has yet filed on the GOP side, but 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Richard Douglas seems to be leaning toward a run, allowing the Republicans to avoid the ignominy of whiffing on a statewide race for the second cycle in a row.

Things are shaping up as a rematch of 2010 in the Comptroller’s race, as Republican William Campbell is again challenging incumbent Peter Franchot.

With so many members of the General Assembly attempting to move up to higher offices, it creates a cascading effect in the various General Assembly races. While the GOP is probably not going to see a General Assembly majority in the 2015-18 cycle – and has the headwind of being redistricted in such a manner to try and cut their minority – being on the wrong side of a lot of issues may make it tricky for Democrats to not lose seats. Republicans have a goal of picking up seven Senate seats, giving them 19 and allowing them to filibuster, and wouldn’t be unhappy with picking up the four House seats required to possibly bypass committee votes on key issues.

As I noted above, though, the key issues will be revealed once O’Malley introduces his legislative package to the General Assembly in mid-January, shortly before his annual State of the State address. Last year he got his gas tax increase to build the Red Line and Purple Line, authorization for offshore wind, and his onerous gun restrictions in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, so this year’s agenda will probably pivot back to measures he believes will help the state’s economy but in reality will probably redistribute even more wealth from the productive to the slothful, growing government at an even faster pace. Many of those dollars will address perceived shortcomings in education and health care.

That seems to be how O’Malley’s last package of revenue enhancements has worked, because the state once again is facing a structural deficit despite rosy predictions to the contrary. Old chestnuts like increasing the cigarette tax or combined reporting of business income will probably jostle for primary position with new initiatives like a mileage tax, additional penalties for cell phone usage, or a higher toll for being caught by speed cameras.

It’s somewhat difficult to predict the direction of the General Assembly before it begins, as items not on the radar in early January become bills introduced late in the session, some of which pass muster. The gasoline tax in its adopted form was one of those last year, since conventional wisdom predicted a straight per-gallon increase rather than the adoption of a partial sales tax which will increase regularly. Another dynamic which will affect timing is having the filing deadline for the 2014 ballot come during session – surely some will wait and see what their path to re-election looks like before introducing certain controversial bills. In previous elections the filing deadline occurred well after the session was over.

Once we get beyond the session in April, the primary campaign will ramp up immediately because of the new experience of a June primary. The Democrats tried to change this eight years ago, fearing a bruising primary fight between Doug Duncan and Martin O’Malley, but succeeded this time because of changes in federal law requiring longer lead times for overseas military voters. Instead of pushing the primary back a couple weeks to comply, though, they decided on a full 2 1/2 months.

At this point there are three main contenders on the Democratic side, and I think that number will stay the same – my thought is either Dutch Ruppersberger will pass up the race (more likely) or, if Dutch gets in, the damaged goods of Doug Gansler will drop out. Obviously there will be more than three on the ballot but some fall under the auspices of perennial candidates who I think are just working on that line in their obituary where it says so-and-so ran for governor five times.

For the GOP, the same is true. In their case, I don’t think there’s enough money out there for four main contenders and whoever raised the least in 2013 is probably the one who exits the race after Larry Hogan makes it formal. In Hogan’s 2010 gubernatorial bid he lent his campaign $325,000 so presumably Hogan has the personal wherewithal to use as seed money; perhaps the dropout will agree to be the running mate of another contender.

It’s interesting, though, that the problems Maryland faces – at least the ones not of their own making, a category in which I’d include the overregulation of local county and municipal governments – are very similar to those faced right here in Wicomico County. Maryland has the “benefit” of being the host state for thousands of federal government worker bees, but little industry to speak of. It’s notable the campaigns are now paying lip service to the concept of re-establishing a manufacturing base, but the process will take at least a couple terms of office and will certainly be at odds with the stated goals of some among the Radical Green who desire a pristine Chesapeake Bay. Development and a reasonably clean Bay can co-exist, but if you want circa-1600 conditions that won’t happen.

And because there are so many who depend on government for their livelihood as workers – or survival as dependents – the concept of “One Maryland” is laughable on its face. The needs of Baltimore City or Somerset County residents don’t often coincide with the desires of your average denizen of Takoma Park or Chevy Chase, but supposedly they are all “One Maryland.” I think there are at least four Marylands – the energy-rich areas of the state’s panhandle, the I-95/I-270 corridors stretching from Harford County on the north to the Beltway suburbs hard by the District of Columbia and back towards Frederick, the bedroom suburbs of southern Maryland which are rapidly changing in political posture, and the Eastern Shore, where agriculture and tourism coexist, but in an occasional state of hostility. One can’t even say that their needs are similar because jobs are plentiful around D.C. but tougher to come by on the Eastern Shore and in Baltimore proper.

It’s not likely one man (or woman) can unite these areas, but the question is which coalitions will hold sway. Finding the right combination will be the key to success for the state in 2014.

2014 Maryland dossier: part 5 (Second Amendment)

You know, if it hadn’t been for an overzealous overreaction to the Sandy Hook shooting this wouldn’t be an issue. But Maryland went way overboard – despite the hundreds and hundreds who descended upon Annapolis in a vain attempt to convince the majority of lawmakers otherwise – and it’s now on my front burner as a top issue.

I happen to believe my concealed carry permit is the Second Amendment, so let’s see how the GOP candidates compare.


David Craig:  I will work to repeal ill-conceived legislation such as Senate Bill 281 passed in 2013 that do nothing but undermine the 2nd amendment.  I will protect the rights of responsible firearm owners and hunters.  And I will support Maryland becoming a “shall issue” state to enable law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. (campaign website)


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.” (WCRC meeting, July 22, 2013)

Ron George: Ron made sure to remark the Second Amendment “has my full support,” noting he was the only Delegate to actually testify at the afternoon regulatory hearing in Annapolis. He noted eight different problems with the regulations, where legislation was being written in. (WCRC meeting, September 23, 2013)

Charles Lollar: I believe in our Constitution and I believe our government has no right to remove our right to keep and bear arms and/or make it nearly impossible for citizens to carry weapons, if they choose to do so. Law-abiding citizens should most definitely be permitted to conceal carry their weapons. (campaign website)


…the Second Amendment “is the lifeline of your freedom.” (Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner, March 23, 2013)


It’s no shock to me that the Democrats don’t discuss the issue, neither as an “achievement” or something which needs to be addressed.


I somewhat oversimplified my position above, but suffice to say that all three candidates thus far score highly.

The only question I would have about David Craig‘s position is just what he means by “shall issue” because even those states have a wide range of restrictions on who shall be issued to. (This is a good reference to what I mean.) It’s not just repealing SB281 or even becoming “shall issue” – that’s just barely at minimum what should be done. I would rather see us fall into the “unrestricted” category but I’m not sure David would show that much leadership. Still, I believe a solid 8 of 11 points is in order.

The same goes for Ron George, who gets kudos for testifying against the so-called Firearm Safety Act of 2013. He’s also shown a pretty good voting record on the subject, but it’s a little disappointing he doesn’t trumpet this on his website. I think he’s just a shade better than Craig, so I give Ron 8.5 points.

I know Charles Lollar has been out front and outspoken about the Second Amendment issue, moreso than any of the other candidates. The only question I have is how far he would take us in the right direction. But I think he understands the issue enough, and the fact he’s making the case at most of his campaign stops and has adopted this as a primary issue gives him just that much more credence that he should get 10 points out of 11.


I will eventually work my way back to the Obamacare question – as the campaigns slowly work on their answers to the issue, I gather – but my next post will discuss the War on Rural Maryland and what these three plan to do about it.

The first real poll

Yesterday the latest Maryland Poll from Gonzales Research came out (h/t Maryland Reporter), and it suggests that we have a long way to go in educating the voters of this state about the real facts at hand. But there are a few encouraging signs, I suppose.

In the nine months since a similar sampling in January, we can now determine that Barack Obama’s job approval has gone down six points in the topline, from 64% to 58%. But the difference between “strongly approve” and “strongly disapprove” has plummeted in that span: it was +19.4 in January but is now just +6.7. A 13-point swing in that demographic suggests the national economic situation of an ongoing sluggish “recovery” is taking its toll.

By the same token, the 54% job approval Martin O’Malley enjoyed in January was a mirage, too. O’Malley now finds himself in a statistical dead heat, with 48% approval and disapproval in the October poll. But that difference between “strongly approve’ and “strongly disapprove” has once again moved more than the six-point decline on the topline, going from a +0.2 in January to a (-15.1) now. That’s an even more pronounced 15-point swing not shown by a 6 point drop in the headlines. Tellingly, nearly 3 of 10 Democrats now disapprove of O’Malley.

But that doesn’t seem to reflect on Anthony Brown, who leads the first non-campaign poll by a fairly similar margin to the Garin-Hart-Yang poll released by Brown’s campaign last month. The Maryland Poll has Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman at 41%, Doug Gansler/Jolene Ivey at 21%, and Heather Mizeur at 5%. (Maybe she can have Wayne Gilchrest as a running mate. As an aside, Mizeur also got the endorsement of Salisbury City Council member Laura Mitchell.)

Unfortunately, the numbers trend the wrong way on some key issues. While 49% of Marylanders polled favored the death penalty and 44% opposed it in January, those numbers are now reversed in that 49% favor the law rescinding it and 44% said no. Then again, its support was rather soft all along because it had a strong approve/strong disapprove ratio of (-3.2) in January while the repeal now has a +5.5 ratio. In part, this is probably because of the state’s reluctance to use the death penalty and the over-sensationalized Kirk Bloodsworth case. However, I would wager that if you put a name and a victim to a case (e.g. Thomas Leggs and Sarah Foxwell) the support for rescinding the death penalty repeal declines drastically. (In that case, Leggs pled guilty to avoid the death penalty, while the family agreed because of the probability of endless appeals.)

Meanwhile, those who responded to the poll must have believed the onerous gun laws passed by Martin O’Malley and Democrats would actually curb crime. When asked in January, support for an assault weapons ban in the immediate wake of Sandy Hook was 58-40 (with a +17.5 intensity of strongly support/strongly oppose), while background checks passed muster by an 88-11 figure overall. But the gun law as passed maintained its 58-40 support (with only a slightly lower +16.7 intensity.) That, my friends, is a sadly bamboozled and gullible public.

Yet when it comes to the pocketbook, people get it. When asked whether a 10 cent per gallon gasoline tax was acceptable in January, just 26% favored in with 73% opposed. The intensity of opposition was just as stiff, with a factor of (-50.8) strong approve/strong disapprove.

So now that the reality of a 21 cent per gallon increase spread out over three years has smacked Free Staters in the pocketbook, they hate it even more. 22 percent approve of the tax hike, while 76 percent oppose it. Intensity remains as strong, at a factor of (-50.7). Most telling to me is that the Democrats don’t tout it as a success.

Knowing that, where do we go from here? It appears to me that the emotional appeals of Democrats have worked on the above non-fiscal issues because those polled are probably not affected – the chances are small that someone knows a person who’s been heinously murdered by someone who would receive the death penalty, and for those who do too many are blaming the tool used for the victim’s demise.

I can sit and stare at a gun with a 30-round magazine all day, but as long as I don’t pick up the weapon and make the physical motion to fire it, the gun is inert and harmless. Thousands of Marylanders have access to a gun, most have never fired it outside the confines of a closed gun range. Those who use the tool of a handgun otherwise are more often than not breaking enough laws already that the so-called Firearm Safety Act of 2013 won’t prevent them from carrying out their mayhem. However, another person with a weapon just might.

Someone out there probably collects the rare news stories of crimes prevented by the presence of a gun, but the narrative of “if it bleeds, it leads” plays into the hands of those who would usurp our Second Amendment rights. Yet if the hapless victim of random violence had his or her own weapon, things may have played out differently. Instead, the state is placing a burden on those who simply wish to defend themselves, and I thought government was supposed to be about empowerment. That’s what liberals tell me, anyway.

Liberals like Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, and Heather Mizeur.

And by the way, where is the Republican poll? I think the Gonzales pollsters have fallen into the same “one-party state” trap Doug Gansler did. I’d like to see something more scientific than a blog poll on that race.


Since I didn’t get a GO Friday feature this week, I added my own two cents as I told you I would. This place doesn’t go dark.

But if you want to be considered for GO Friday next week, just let me know.

2A townhall draws over 500 citizens

The signs were pointing to a contentious night, but most of the anger was directed toward Annapolis and Washington.

2A meeting sign

I will grant that I arrived a little late because we had a truncated Wicomico County Republican Club meeting – one which literally lasted five minutes, long enough to swear the new officers in – so I did not hear any introductions or opening remarks from event host and Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis, who had a show of support from several other local sheriffs.

When I picked up on the proceedings, Congressman Andy Harris was speaking about the lack of NICS prosecutions at the federal level, with a particularly appalling lack of enforcement in Maryland. “States like Maryland will not enforce the law,” Harris charged. “Maryland is one of the worst states” in reporting mentally ill people to NICS.

“This is not about stopping Newtown,” Harris added. Instead, we should enforce the laws we have before adopting new ones.

2A meeting crowd

While Harris drew a very good response from the audience, it was no match for the reaction to always-outspoken Delegate Mike McDermott.

Senate Bill 281, he said, is “not redeemable…it needs to die on the vine.” McDermott added that “if it needed pulmonary resuscitation, I’d stomp on its chest.”

“This is about feeling like you’re doing something,” McDermott continued.

And while there have been “behind-the-scenes negotiations” on the “most intrusive” parts of the bill, the Delegate believed “this is the week to watch” regarding its fate. We still need a good display of public outrage every day the bill doesn’t advance, until April 8. He also noted the bill was assigned to two different House committees, a tactic occasionally used “to water down votes” of confirmed opponents who sit on a particular committee. Not only is the bill being heard in the Judiciary Committee McDermott serves on but it’s also been placed under the auspices of the Health and Government Operations Committee.

He also believed the bill sends “a mixed message” by creating criminals out of law-abiding citizens, and exhorted us to stand firm and make our voices heard.

Event host Lewis began by repeating his testimony on behalf of the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association on House Bill 294 (the crossfiled companion bill to Senate Bill 281 now being considered in the House.) He also repeated his oath of office, further pledging “we will fight for you to the end on this issue.”

“This is the right thing to do for the right reason,” Lewis added.

A representative from State Senator Jim Mathias’s office spoke on his behalf, saying he “sends his deep regrets” about not being able to attend due to the Senate session. While the statement contained his point about assisting with the abortive Senate filibuster of the gun bill and his hope that it would be defeated in the House, Mathias also swerved off-point a little by his boast about being “able to work across the aisle” on topics like the gas tax and death penalty repeal.

Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello made the case that “armed thugs in Salisbury don’t care about these laws.” He advocated for an armed deputy in each school to keep them from being “soft targets” and asked us to “hit the pause button on emotion.”

“If you want to protect yourself, the government shouldn’t stand in the way,” concluded Matt, who later called the event “a very cathartic night for me.”

While the opening remarks took around an hour, the bulk of the meeting – which lasted well over three hours – was taken by a number of citizens engaging in a question and answer session with the participants.

Right off the bat, questioners were accusatory in tone toward the state and federal government. “We need to cut (Governor O’Malley) short…he is dangerous,” the initial questioner said. On his mind was the most recent ammunition shortage, to which Congressman Harris responded “we’re not getting a good answer” on Congressional inquiries. He was trying to speak with various ammunition manufacturers to see whether the large government orders were curtailing general consumer availability.

Others were adamant about maintaining their rights in other ways. Here’s a selection of quotes from citizens I jotted down.

“Law-abiding citizens don’t want to be outgunned.”

“Anyone who is naive enough to believe registration doesn’t lead to confiscation is out of their minds.”

“The issue has nothing to do with public safety…(it’s) subverting the Constitution.”

“Once the defensive weapons are gone, you can kiss everything else goodbye…the Second Amendment is our final reset button.”

Another questioned why we don’t adopt the Eddie Eagle program in our schools, with many speakers relating their early introduction to guns.

Yet schools held another manifestation of the problem. A thirty-year veteran teacher recalled the days when kids would come to her class prepared for hunting after school, including being armed with hunting knives inside the school and loaded weapons in their vehicles outside. Now, however, convicted felon juveniles given the choice between “school or prison” are in her classroom without her knowledge. Delegate McDermott chimed in to note he had drafted bills addressing this concern, bills which would have allowed armed school guardians (whether with weapons or tasers) and permitted off-duty officers to carry their guns on school property.

McDermott added his own dig at the gas tax as well, quipping we should use the new funds to “pay for the roadways leaving Maryland, because that’s where the congestion will be.”

There was one well-dressed gentleman who disagreed, believing assault weapons should be banned. However, he was “willing to compromise,” in part because “I don’t understand guns.” Lewis was among many who would be happy to make that introduction.

Matt Maciarello may have believed he would get away without some questioning, but I wondered, knowing that Lewis had pledged not to send his deputies on what he later termed a “suicide mission” at our Lincoln Day Dinner, whether Matt would refuse to prosecute anyone charged with violating the law. Obviously I put him on the spot because he couldn’t make such a blanket promise – I can understand the reasoning since all cases are different, and hopefully the question will be moot.

Another asked him about when civil disobedience was appropriate, which brought up another response Matt had to think about.

One final statement I want to relate was one made by Sheriff Lewis in answer to a question, as it’s also answering something I’ve brought up here. Said Lewis, “I don’t aspire to be a Delegate, I don’t aspire to be a Senator. I aspire to be a sheriff.”

Well, Mike, if you plan on continuing to be my first and last line of defense against tyranny and supporting my right to keep and bear arms against the overreaching arm of the state, brother, you’ve got my vote. One less office for the local Republicans to worry about.

One disappointing aspect of the night, though, was how few local politicians attended. However, Salisbury City Council member Debbie Campbell came after the conclusion of the Council meeting and I was told County Councilman John Hall was also there. But that was it, and that’s really disheartening.

Testimony opposing SB281

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

Testimony in opposition to SB281:
Firearm Safety Act of 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully submitted,

Michael Swartz
Salisbury, Maryland


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


Perhaps I don’t do this as much as I should, but in perusing the overall navel-gazing we in the conservative movement have undertaken since November’s losses I wonder how many have stepped back and looked at the big picture. Why, we cry, did so many vote for Barack Obama and the Democrats?

More and more I hear the phrase “low-information voter” bandied about. It goes without saying that, with the rare exception of a Presidential debate, the audience for any random episode of “American Idol” or “The Bachelor” is many times greater than the one for any single news or public affairs program. In truth, that’s nothing new because documentaries have been seen as necessary evils on major networks for years – that’s why you rarely see them on network television anymore. Once upon a time, television was thought of as an educational medium and weekends were devoted to highbrow programming rather than sports. But that went away decades ago and now the NFL, NASCAR, and golf are the primary triumvirate of weekend television viewing.

Yet with the more recent “bread and circuses” approach to American life and the shortened attention span most of us have – what was I talking about again? Oh, yeah – politics seems to be out of sight and out of mind to most unless there is a crisis manufactured for public consumption by either current events, the media, or both, with the simpler the explanation the better. Witness the sudden emergence of gun control as an important crisis after the Sandy Hook massacre; not only did it bring an issue to the forefront where emotions could be easily manipulated to bring out the desired political movement, but it also served as yet another distraction to economic and national security issues which are less exciting to discuss but very important to our everyday lives. The odds of a child being mowed down in a Sandy Hook-style assault are still very remote, but the risk to our economy stemming from dangerous financial choices? Almost a certainty, but a certainty not easily broken down to the level of a soundbite.

Unfortunately, people aren’t naturally disposed to look beyond the superficial, day-to-day routine of life. I admit that there are times when I wouldn’t mind just chucking it all and allowing someone else to take the load off my shoulders. We’ve heard the stories before about those who finagle the system to collect disability payments or otherwise transfer wealth from those who work to their own coffers. But instead of descending to their level, there are some of us who would rather work to give a hand up rather than a handout. I am certainly not a wealthy man and I’m not too proud to accept the donations which occasionally come my way thanks to my work here, but what I make I earn and I sleep well enough at night because of that.

There are still enough of us who care to make a difference, but the way we interact with people has to change. Yes, I’m quite aware that insofar as marketing goes I can exist in a nice little niche of the choir I generally speak to and scratch out somewhat of a living, but my job isn’t one of sitting within this comfort zone. Besides the obvious of trying to feed the family and keep a roof over our heads, my job, as I see it first and foremost, is to be an educator whether through my journalism or being what some call an “opinion leader.”

If you read my book you would see that I have a lot of ideas, and I try to briefly explain my rationale for thinking as I do. But I understand that not everyone can or will buy the tome, nor can they carry it wherever they go. So I have to go beyond the pages and take what it says to heart in an effort to bring people to our side. The problem is that I don’t react to things on the same emotional level that many other people do, and it’s more of a struggle when you put logic up against emotion. Using Sandy Hook as an example, the knee-jerk reaction of banning “assault weapons” doesn’t take a number of things into account:

  • The moment the Sandy Hook shooter stole his mother’s (legally owned) guns – including handguns – he broke the law. Criminals, by definition, don’t follow laws.
  • Several of the features which make a rifle appear to be an “assault weapon” are simply cosmetic or for convenience, like a pistol grip for better control of the weapon. A truly automatic, military-style weapon is rarely seen on the streets and wasn’t used at Sandy Hook, either.
  • As a practical matter, how does a blanket ban affect someone who is in law enforcement? Let’s say they have a “banned” weapon for work – do they have to leave it there when they go home?
  • What about those who already own these blacklisted weapons – will they be compensated at market value for the loss of their property? I’m not holding my breath.
  • Finally, there is this thing called the Second Amendment. It’s not about hunting, the National Guard, or self-defense on more than a peripheral level. It’s more about self-defense of liberty. Maybe one out of ten million gun owners would feel justified in taking the law into their own hands and playing the vigilante. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is highly unlikely.

The reason I called this piece “Erosion” is that we are watching a slow-motion weathering away of the rights we should consider inalienable rights. Too many equate the bounties of our standard of living to our “rights,” believing we are owed a living and the “freedom” to veg out and watch “The Big Bang Theory” just on account of being an American.

These are the folks who ask: four people were murdered at an American consulate in Benghazi? What difference does it make? That’s over in Libya, where that crazy guy we bombed awhile back runs the show…oh, he died? Why are we messing around with those camel jockeys anyway? The answers are there, but the desire to find out the real story doesn’t seem to exist within most Americans.

And if I had that answer, I would be running a website with 15-20 million viewers per week (like “American Idol”) instead of one which barely scrapes by with a couple thousand. If I’m preaching to a small choir, the lesson I want to impart is one of spreading the word above and beyond what this website directly reaches. Let’s be teachers as well as advocates.

Odds and ends number 69

It’s not meant to be a weekly Saturday fixture, but thus far in 2013 it was worked out that I’ve done an O&E post each Saturday. (I have to look the prior one up to see what number I am on – can’t duplicate the series, you know.) So once again I have a boatload of items which deserve anything from a sentence to a few paragraphs, but not enough for a full post by themselves.

First of all, the news is full of angst over the Sandy Hook massacre, mainly because the knee-jerk reaction has been: we need more gun laws. But MDYR president Brian Griffiths called Governor Martin O’ Malley’s new gun provisions just simple posturing:

Instead of introducing supporting meaningful proposals that would actively reduce gun crime, O’Malley has decided to sign on to proposals that will have only one meaningful impact: to inhibit the ability of law-abiding Marylanders to purchase and possess firearms.

Yet I suspect one proposed Maryland gun law will go nowhere. Delegate Pat McDonough is slated to introduce “The Criminal Gun Control Act,” which, as he terms, will:

…prohibit any offender convicted of a criminal act involving a gun from receiving any form of early release.  This proposal would include parole, probation, or good time early release credits.  The bill would also disallow a plea bargain.

After claiming 40% of all Baltimore City gun murders were perpetrated by felons with previous gun law violations, Pat added:

The solution to gun violence is not to destroy the Constitution and law abiding citizens’ rights to bear arms.  Politicians are hypocrits (sic) when they attack good citizens and pass laws that benefit criminals like early release.

I thought, though, there was already an extra five years tacked on to a sentence for committing a crime with a gun. Perhaps someone in the judicial system can clue me in on why that’s not effective.

Meanwhile, Maryland Shall Issue is more succinct and to the point:

Respectfully tell those you speak with that you are against Gun Control in all its forms. You do not need to pick the magazine limits, or discuss the definition of so-called “Assault Weapons.” You must make your representatives understand that all Gun Control must be off the table.

Compromise is not possible when it comes to fundamental rights. Our lawmakers must be told that we will not willingly give up any of our rights. They will need to take them from us.

Maryland faces elections in 2014. Make sure they know we will remember who stood for our rights, and who wanted to deny your fundamental right.

Of course, when the chips are down and government has overstepped their bounds, there is the option of non-compliance, a route that Patriot Post editor (and one of my few bosses) Mark Alexander is vowing to take.

I hereby make this public declaration: In keeping with the oath I have taken in the service of my country, I will “support and defend” Liberty as “endowed by our Creator” and enshrined in our Constitution, “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Accordingly, I will NOT comply with any defensive weapons ban instituted by executive order, legislative action or judicial diktat, which violates the innate human right to defend self and Liberty, as empowered by “the right of the People to keep and bear arms.”

After all, wasn’t it Hillary Clinton who said “we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration?” Last time I checked, inalienable rights endowed by our Creator trumped laws which violate same.

Now it’s time to turn to another issue where our state government is failing us: economic growth and opportunity. I talked about one aspect of this the other day, but Change Maryland and Chairman Larry Hogan also had some suggestions for Martin O’Malley on rebuilding Maryland manufacturing:

Since 2007, Maryland lost 20% of its manufacturing employment base, the 10th worst decline in the country.  Over 26,000 manufacturing jobs vanished during that time.

“It is unacceptable that the state’s most powerful elected officials do nothing with numbers as clear and convincing as these,” said Hogan.”These are the results you get when economic development is nothing more than cherry-picked pie charts and bar graphs in the Governor’s power point demonstrations.”

Just over a year ago, (New York’s) Governor Cuomo forged a three-way agreement with the senate majority leader and assembly speaker on executive proposals to cut taxes and create jobs in advance of the 2012 legislative session.  The corporate income tax rate for Empire State manufacturers was cut to 6.25%.  Maryland’s rate is 8.25%. New York’s decline of year-over-year manufacturing jobs is 1.4%, less than half of Maryland’s decline during the same period.

Hogan urged that, like so many other areas where O’Malley has followed Cuomo’s lead, a tax cut for businesses should be considered. Yet the advocacy group stayed on O’Malley this week like white on rice, also condemning his bloated budget:

This budget increases spending 4% over last year, to a record $37.3 billion, and does nothing more than continue the spend-and-tax governing that Martin O’Malley feels will further his political objectives.

Nowhere in this budget document is any mention made to helping Maryland’s blue collar workers and other regular working people. However, we’re all told to wait for some undefined sales and gas tax increase later on that will hit poor people the hardest.

Missing is any understanding whatsoever on how to bring jobs and businesses back to Maryland.

Hogan had more criticism for the Governor:

Martin O’Malley also showed again today in the budget briefing slide show for reporters why he is the most partisan governor in America, lauding the President for wanting to raise the debt ceiling and blaming in advance the U.S. House of Representatives for any largess that may not come Maryland’s way.

Martin O’Malley only wishes he had a debt ceiling, but unfortunately for hard-working Maryland families he has to raise taxes and fees on an almost annual basis to maintain the wish list he calls a budget. The $37.3 billion docket proposed for FY2014 is the largest in Maryland’s history and is a far cry from Bob Ehrlich’s last budget in FY2007 that totaled $29.6 billion. (Ehrlich’s last budget, by the way, was 12% higher than the $26.4 billion tab the previous year, in FY2006.) Up 4 percent from last year, O’Malley speaks of “cuts” but those cuts are only in his fantasies because the budget is 26% higher than it was seven years ago and up 41% from FY2006 levels. For most of the rest of us, we’ve not seen a 41% increase in our salaries since 2006.

It’s worth pointing out on the whole job creation issue that small businesses across the country fret about the impact of government, with the results of a new survey by the advocacy group Job Creators Alliance pointing this out.  Taxes were the number one issue, with fully one-quarter of the 600 small businesses survey placing it atop the list. Add in the effects of Obamacare and government regulations, and the response swells to nearly half of those surveyed.

The group was pessimistic in its assessment, stating:

As America’s small business owners look forward at 2013 they do so with a great deal of concern about the obstacles Washington is placing in their path. As the engine of job creation, pessimism among small business owners does not bode well for job growth this year.

Lest we forget, 7 to 8 percent unemployment seems to be the “new norm.” Of course, if they untied the hands of the energy industry we could do a lot better. (That includes Marcellus Shale, Governor O”Malley, but not your pipe dream of offshore wind.)

But to get jobs, we need a better educational system and that means giving parents a choice in where to send their child for their education. National School Choice Week begins next Sunday, but no local organization on Delmarva has yet stepped up to participate in an event. (There are 22 in Maryland, but all of them are on the Western Shore. No events are planned in Delaware or on the eastern shore of Virginia.)

As it turns out, my fiance made the choice to send her child to a private, faith-based school. It’s good for her, but it would be even better if money from the state was made available to cover her tuition and fees. Years ago I volunteered for a political candidate whose key platform plank was “money follows the child” and I think it makes just as much sense today.

So that’s yet another wrapup and cleaning out of the e-mail box. We’ll see if I go four Saturdays in a row next week.

On the gun grabbers

Facebook comments so good I couldn’t let them go to waste there. They were in response to this post by Martin O’Malley:

Progress is a choice. So long as gun violence continues to take the lives of our fellow Marylanders, there are choices we must make together to protect our children, our families and law enforcement personnel who put themselves in harm’s way every day. Today, we’re putting forward a comprehensive set of public safety initiatives that will improve the safety at our schools, make meaningful mental health reforms, and enact common-sense gun safety measures like banning military-style assault weapons and limiting high-capacity magazines. We’re also proposing the largest investment in Maryland’s police forces in 20 years and calling for a renewal of our DNA law that has taken 510 murders, rapists, & other violent criminals off MD’s streets.

Naturally I had to reply:

“Progress is a choice.” Yes, we can progress towards liberty or regress back to tyranny. Our governor rarely makes the right choice in that regard.

As for the comment above about 50 to 60 rounds: frankly it’s none of your damn concern how many rounds a magazine has. No one has ever complained they had too much ammunition to do the job and if my home were ever invaded by a multiple-person group I sure don’t want to be limited to 10 rounds at a time.

Safety in schools isn’t something which can be provided by the waving of a magic wand or more laws rendered meaningless by the fact criminals, by definition, ignore them. It requires a sea change in attitude and a respect towards life missing from a society which promotes abortion as a matter of convenience and a culture which doesn’t teach the lesson that violence depicted on film isn’t the same as in the real world, where actions have consequences.

And if that wasn’t good enough, someone dared to question my understanding of the Constitution:

Among those of us who “spout off the Constitution” there are many who understand the situation we had lately endured when it was written: we had spent close to a decade and the lives of many fine men and women to throw off the yoke of tyranny expressed by the British Crown. Needless to say, the men who wrote the document wanted to insure that no such fate awaited their progeny, so they wrote the Second Amendment to protect the remainder of the Bill of Rights.

For example, when taken at its word, the Third Amendment (“No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law”) doesn’t seem to have application in the modern day. But in the context of the time and the overall purpose of the document, which was to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” it makes more sense because soldiers of the Crown were known for this practice.

The Second Amendment, at its core, is certainly not about hunting and wasn’t superseded by the creation of the National Guard. It’s about the people who wish to protect themselves from a tyrannical government and expressed an inalienable right.

Perhaps you should learn more about the Constitution before you tell those of us who understand the intent about spouting it.

And to the original point: all that would be done by banning so-called “assault weapons” would be to make otherwise law-abiding citizens either criminals or sitting ducks for those who don’t care about following laws – or, for that matter, the value of human life.

But I wasn’t through yet.

And I’m glad to see Americans get my point. A Rasmussen Poll out today states the answer to the question:

“The Second Amendment to the Constitution provides Americans with the right to own a gun. Is the purpose of the Second Amendment to ensure that people are able to protect themselves from tyranny?”

“The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 65% of American Adults think the purpose of the Second Amendment is to make sure that people are able to protect themselves from tyranny. Only 17% disagree, while another 18% are not sure.”

I guess the 17% are all on this thread. Glad most Americans still get it.

Of course, I can say all I want but at the present time too many in the Maryland General Assembly have the mistaken notion that the Second Amendment is antiquated and was only meant for a time when muskets were the rule. Or gun grabbers consider it a “public health issue,” which couldn’t be farther from the truth. (On the opposite hand, most of them believe murdering an unborn child is a matter of “choice.”) They even bill themselves as supporting “smart” gun laws:

The Governor’s anti-gun violence package will reduce gun violence, make our communities safer, and become the standard for smart gun legislation in this country. Smart Gun Laws Maryland will be working to see that the legislation is not watered down by the General Assembly and is enacted into law. We will be mobilizing thousands of Maryland citizens to engage in the political process, contact their legislators, and send an unequivocal message of support for the Governor’s proposal. Now is the time for strong gun legislation nationally and in the state of Maryland.

Many of the members of their steering committee are veteran gun-grabbers and liberal advocates: Lisa Miller Delity, a board member of CeaseFire Maryland; Vincent DeMarco, who is taking time out from trying to ram Obamacare and an increased tobacco tax down our throats to assist in this effort; Matt Fenton. the former president of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, which evolved into CeaseFire Maryland; Eric Gally, a gun-grabbing lobbyist; Gary Gillespie, who heads the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council; Rachel Howard of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University; Michael Pretl, a local environmental advocate and attorney who must be tired of trying to usurp our property rights; and the Rev. Donald A. Sterling, a Baltimore pastor.

I don’t know what their problem is, since Maryland already gets a “B” grade on restrictive gun laws, as did Connecticut – but they ranked 4th out of 50. Yet still Sandy Hook occurred.

But as a response to this group and O’Malley’s efforts, we who believe in the Second Amendment obviously need to mobilize thousands of Maryland citizens ourselves; people who understand the clear intent of the Founding Fathers and won’t be cowed by media shills and others who would accuse of being butchers – while they callously exploit the murder of 20 children and six adults by a criminal for political gain at the expense of law-abiding citizens like 99.9% or more of gun owners are.

A good start in fighting back will be a rally in Annapolis tomorrow that my blogging friend Jackie Wellfonder is planning to attend – surely she’ll have a rundown, as will others. There will also be a need to testify against any and all bills in the O’Malley legislative package, which can be followed on the General Assembly’s newly revamped website. Those of us who are activists should become closely familiar with that site.

Some say they have enough votes to pass this bill, and it’s indeed possible they could. But don’t forget there could also be the opportunity to petition them to referendum should they pass, and as last resorts we have the courts and the fact all 188 state legislators are up for election next year.

We can win this fight. Don’t let the siren song of a small minority of public opinion fool you into giving up your liberty.

The new year

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am not a big fan of the holidays. Perhaps it’s because of other tasks I have to do in my life, but nearly seven weeks out of the year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is a lot of festivity to deal with all at once. (It seems to me more like about three solid months, what with some store getting out their Christmas stuff in early October.) Meanwhile, we sometimes lose sight of other important things when we let our guard down during that period.

I thought about calling this post “back to normalcy” but then I pondered: what is normal anymore? While the holiday season masked a lot of what was going on, the fact that a lot of bad law took effect at the stroke of midnight last night wasn’t lost on me. For example, the Obamacare taxes, by and large, weren’t on the fiscal cliff table.

And about that fiscal cliff: what kind of compromise is it when one side gets practically all of what it wants while the other gets hollow promises of something happening in the future? Let’s try it this way: make $1 trillion of annual spending cuts now and eliminate Obamacare, and we’ll discuss raising taxes later. How far do you think that would fly? They’re asking conservatives to sell out and why should we? Democrats lied to both Reagan and Bush 41 about making spending cuts (remember, they were in the House majority then and generally held sway in the Senate.)

Wouldn’t it be a refreshing change to come into a year not fearing the end result but confident things will get better? I sort of sense the same feeling those Baby Boomers among us who were struggling through the Carter era had among a lot of people today who weren’t yet in the workforce back then. (You can count me in among that group, since I was only 12 when Carter was elected.) We really didn’t come out of the Carter recession until about 1984 where I lived; fortunately that was just in time for Ronald Reagan to be re-elected easily. (He even carried Lucas County, my birthplace and home of union-heavy Toledo, by a slim margin. The county in which I was living at the time, GOP stronghold Fulton County, went 73% for Reagan. By comparison, it was only 55% for Romney this time.)

Yet look at what we now think is “normal.” Is 8 percent unemployment acceptable when we had under 5 percent a half-decade ago? Economic growth at 2 percent or less? Seems like the only governmental figure growing at over 5 percent annually is the national debt, as we tack another trillion dollars annually onto a toll now exceeding fifteen trillion dollars. By my public school math, then, that’s increasing at around 6 to 7 percent every year. Is that the new norm as well?

We can – and should – do better.

On Thursday we induct the 113th Congress, which will inherit the still-warm seats of the 112th Congress which seemed to be in no rush to get out of town. Next Wednesday legislators in Maryland will begin their annual session, one which promises higher taxes on working Marylanders who have to fill up their gas tanks, make a certain amount of money, or use tobacco products. It also promises more restrictions on counties and localities who already have their hands firmly tied by Annapolis.

Freedom lovers will also face an increasing headwind in the area of Second Amendment rights as “assault weapons” have become the scapegoat of choice for other societal factors leading up to the Sandy Hook massacre. It’s nothing for certain members of Congress and other lawmakers to wish to violate the Second Amendment in the best of times, but emotions are still running high in the aftermath of the Connecticut incident. Those who are more sane tend to point out that Connecticut was already one of the more restrictive states for gun control, but law didn’t save those murdered. (Isn’t murder against the law? Didn’t seem to stop the assailant, did it?)

So call my glass half-empty right now. I’ll do what I can to restore the country to greatness, but I can’t do it alone.