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.

2020: a monoblogue year in review

I was very tempted not to do this – because who really wants to relive 2020 – but for posterity’s sake decided to go with it. In truth, this may be one of the shorter reviews I’ll ever do.

At the dawn of the year in January I wanted to take my writing in a new direction while examining the state of the TEA Party. That dearth of posts was made up for somewhat in February as I took a hard look at our political duopoly and played a second season of fantasy baseball. (Will there be a third? Stay tuned.) I suppose it was prophetic for this year that I was looking for the reset button, but not for the obvious reason.

It seems like forever ago, but remember when we heard that Rush Limbaugh had advanced-stage lung cancer and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union? (It’s more famous now for Nancy Pelosi’s speech treatment.) It was a rush to condemn, and I discussed it twice. Meanwhile, that long series on the Democrat contenders I began in March 2019 finally came to an end with the not-so-elite eight only for me to begin a new series on splitting the opposition – a look at the Indivisible movement, which continued in March with a look at its founders.

In that pre-pandemic era, I was surprised by some turns in the Democrat presidential race (looking back, the biggest shock was yet to come!) But what really got me was the hype vs. the reality regarding the CCP virus and how the world was placed on hold and eventually became a business state of emergency. Suddenly the state of the TEA Party didn’t seem as important.

After some server issues knocked me offline for a time in April, I returned to talk about a clash of the titans in my erstwhile political home, the Maryland GOP. The other clash I got into was the beginning of the anti-lockdown movement – remember 15 days to slow the spread? Some people actually took them at their word.

It was also the first anniversary of Rise and Fall, so I commemorated the event with a look in the rearview mirror.

The merry month of May brought the final installment of one of Maryland’s few remaining conservative blogging outlets, so I had my thoughts about my former cohorts at Red Maryland. But I also had some fun rebutting a request to talk about the National Popular Vote movement. (We now see why it’s so ill-thought out.)

That month the Delaware political scene began to fire up, first with Governor Carnage pulling the football out from First State businesses then my look at the statewide Delaware political races: U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Insurance Commissioner. I ended the month by detailing my weekend to remember.

June began with a long-neglected category of odds and ends, and continued with the conclusion of the long-neglected series on splitting the opposition. It also touched on the controversy regarding the Talbot Boys statue in Easton, which is still standing despite opposition.

Also still standing is the District of Columbia, which some want to make into a state despite the Constitutional mandate that it be a district. But who cares about the Constitution when it gets in the way of political power?

I do care about the Constitution Party, but it got some troubling news during that month, while the Delaware GOP field for governor expanded to five. Just as July began, though, one of the top contenders withdrew and endorsed another.

The sad news to begin the month was the season that never was, and I commemorated Independence Day with an encore performance of a post from 2016. I also came back with a fresh helping of odds and ends.

Our Delaware political races finally came into shape, with the added benefit of the now semi-annual monoblogue Accountability Project.

But most of the subsequent three months was devoted to perhaps my most devoted long-term project: a dossier series covering statewide candidates in both federal and state races. Thanks to that, I didn’t write on another topic until September when I finally discussed a day for adulting. I also made it three editions of odds and ends for the year.

Since it was time for the Delaware primary, I also got to make my fearless forecasts and found they were prescient picks. A few days later, the nation was stunned by the need for the notorious RBG replacement.

It was me that needed the replacement when October began. My trusty old laptop finally quit so I had to get a new one, which explained my absence. Later that month, I endorsed my choices for Delaware and asked if my former home in Wicomico County would lose its Republican County Council majority in a special election.

We had the election in November. The first thing I did was to admit I should never say never. I did even more odds and ends, including a milestone. Predictions were made and results were analyzed. And we also found out that people are leaving certain networks and social media outlets because they find them too biased against their point of view.

Oddly enough, I didn’t do a Thanksgiving post (part of the reason being we were away) but I considered once again the fate of the Constitution Party and defined some rights as the month wore on. It all led to December, which as is traditional led off with my anniversary post and the induction of the newest class of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.

The month actually had a lot of news about the Delmarva nine, as their fate in the revamped world of minor league baseball was revealed. It allowed me to make some pleasing non-political predictions.

I still found out that the Delaware General Assembly wasn’t waiting to come up with bad ideas and the Constitution Party wasn’t waiting to come up with excuses for their lack of performance in November.

Wrap it up with my annual Christmas post, and that’s how my year went. It went really slow and really quickly all at the same time.

2019: a monoblogue year in review

2019 was an interesting year, to say the least.

It began with a pizza lunch that was better than the “day of action”, but I found more comfort in catching up with some of the best artists I had reviewed for monoblogue music – a feature that finally saw its first (and alas only) local record review and other quick hits. January continued with my amazement at how quickly our safe harbor from Presidential politics had receded, meaning it was time for a widget. It was also time for some odds and ends from the holiday season, too.

In this busy month, I revised and expanded remarks I had published in The Patriot Post about our coming Constitutional crisis and reminded folks once again it was School Choice Week. But the best time I had was cranking up a new hot stove via a three part series on my fantasy baseball team comprised of Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame members.

I began February by considering the abortion question, and after the frivolity of odds and ends and so-called expert advice on running a blog, I noted the first casualty of the 2020 Democrat presidential race. We also endured our latest state of emergency and I remembered the rant that sparked the TEA Party. (Something I’m rather fond of.)

In March I reached a long-cherished milestone, my 5,000th post. In the days before that, I illustrated why $15 an hour is the wrong fight and talked about the “Jeremiah 29” conservatives. I also detailed how I got to hang out with the real pros of my avocation and with my Congressman at a local town hall meeting. But I also had fun with my version of March Madness, and checked out the newest ballpark feature before speculating who we would watch from it. Early in April I checked how I did, but it was a slow month (aside from another dose of odds and ends) because I finally released The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party and began its radio tour.

My March Madness featuring the Democrat candidates wasn’t enough, so I created a second, three part helping in May. I also detailed how one of those top seeds was losing the middle class and had his delusion of support.

Speaking of delusions, another was Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan considering a Presidential run against Donald Trump. He couldn’t pull the trigger on it, as we found out in June, but in the shadow of Memorial Day I took an opportunity to promote an event for those who may have pulled a trigger in defense of our nation.

Many months after the field came into being, I detailed the initial effort of the 25th player in the Democrats’ madness, although the DNC was now beginning to do its level best to cull it through debate qualifications. There were still more odds and ends, but I had more fun making the second stop on my radio tour and attending the Downtown Salisbury Festival – allowing me to renew a long-dormant series for the first and only time in 2019.

In July I began a new project in earnest – and had still more odds and ends to go through – but most of the month was spent discussing my book’s radio tour as I covered my experiences with TEN different stations. Combine all that with some upheaval going on in my world, and it’s no wonder I could only discuss who was in and out of the Democrats’ second debates. There were two more parts of the radio tour discussed in August, with the first instance becoming more of a philosophy discussion thanks to an old friend. Again, it was a slow month as President Trump got a new challenger and we once again dealt with a mass shooting tragedy.

A very slow September brought my annual 9/11 message, a new ranking of Democratic contenders, and a subtle but very important change to this website. My focus changed thanks to a move about seven miles to the north. I was starting over from my little corner, as I detailed in October, and one of my first moves in that direction was in the realm of accountability. So what was the first election I began to cover? Naturally it was Salisbury’s.

More on that in a moment, but the month finally brought my delayed announcement of the Shorebird of the Year and my picks and pans for Delmarva’s team – a team perhaps placed at risk by prospective changes to the minor league baseball system on a scale unseen in nearly 60 years.

During the month I also debuted a feature originally begun on my book site in July, a quarterly look at the state of the TEA Party. It had little impact on November‘s election in Salisbury, which (as I guessed) sadly featured blowouts in all its races and more or less kept a leftist status quo. But at least people showed up, unlike the election in nearby Delmar.

But the TEA Party could muster up its remaining forces and go to work sounding the alarm on a proposed regional gas tax scheme that reminds me a lot of the RGGI boondoggle. And while I did the usual Thanksgiving message, the month closed out with another reminder on how to buy American.

December opened as usual with two big guns: my anniversary commemoration and the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame induction for the three-player Class of 2019. But I also revealed that a lot of people keep telling me how to blog as well as the state of play for the Democrats at that moment. (How they connect: I don’t think either of those groups have a clue.)

While I wished readers a Merry Christmas, the final weeks brought a burst of activity: the swan song of monoblogue music with one last review and the last top 5 list and a wrapup of my 2019 Rise and Fall radio tour closed the books on 2019, and not a moment too soon.

I remarked a year ago on site readership and how it had declined over the last several years as I reverted to part-time blogger status. This year the numbers fell a little more, down to 6,268 visits with a couple days to go. (This compares to 10,435 last year.) But then again this wasn’t an election year and my readership indeed rebounds for those occasions, so I’m not too worried. It’s still better to properly inform 6,000 readers than put up crap for a few times that many.

So my vision for 2020 (see what I did there?) is, for one, to cover the Delaware elections as best I can. I don’t see this as a state in play for Trump – particularly if creepy Joe Biden is the nominee from the Democrats – but it could be interesting to see what happens downballot. The GOP’s biggest handicap, as I see it, isn’t Donald Trump but a state party that doesn’t seem to mind losing. The beatings seem to be continuing until morale improves.

The second part of this vision is too lengthy to explain here, as it’s a multi-pronged approach to advancing the ideals I espouse here on a somewhat regular basis. In the first few days of the new year I will explain further; suffice to say it’s something of a different direction for me but also one with some familiar elements to it.

That, my friends, is called a tease. But isn’t that unrealized potential of a new year lurking around the corner always like that?

2018: a monoblogue year in review

Can you tell this was an election year? If not, read on and you’ll figure it out.

But it began by figuring out (in a tongue-in-cheek fashion) what I’ve been doing wrong all these years. Seriously, January got moving with my look at what my top 5 monoblogue music artists over the last four years have been up to and kicked into political gear with the annual countdown to terror.

That terror got underway quickly as General Assembly Democrats slapped down a Hogan veto and made employers sick. And the campaign wasn’t ignored either as Democrat Ben Jealous made some chicken poop claims and I had to dredge up my old sidebars.

I also found out our neighbors to the north were doing something right and got around to revealing perhaps my most unusual story idea ever from a Christmas card. I made the plea for common sense to wrap January, and as February dawned I found out my original pick for President in 2016 had put some in the Wall Street Journal with a piece on the post-2020 GOP. Later that month I got to play the Lord’s advocate (a refreshing change) but still had to lecture people that, in the aftermath of the Parkland massacre, guns aren’t the problem.

It took me awhile, but I got March backwards: it came in like a Lamb. In light of Conor Lamb’s surprise special election win I asked if a Lamb would be slaughtered in the First District. (Turns out his clone was.) It wasn’t as backwards as the furious backpedaling a number of Maryland Republicans made once their votes on the “red flag” bill were revealed, though.

It was the spring of my discontent with the state of the ballot as well, but it did give me an opportunity to go into some website plans – which, by the way, were delayed to an extent but now may be closer to realization thanks to a nice Christmas gift I received.

The month of April began by planting a farmer’s lament, but moved quickly into a look at our federal races. That was short-lived because I had to remind people that, in 2018, we determined General Assembly session winners and losers months after session was over. I also spent a perfectly good Saturday seeing the dregs of the Democrat gubernatorial field go through the motions of a debate at Salisbury University. (Combined, those who showed ended up with 24.7% of the vote, so dregs it was.)

The next week I spent a perfectly good Friday evening downtown, giving me the opportunity to put my thoughts on 3rd Friday to pixels.

Honestly, May wasn’t much to write home about, since I did a lot of repetitive items like record reviews, odds and ends, and the return of the Shorebirds of the Month. But I found time to address a critic and return to a tradition of detailing my Memorial Day weekend.

I didn’t have a June swoon this year, thank goodness. Instead I got revved up talking about wind energy, releasing the final Maryland edition of the monoblogue Accountability Project, making my endorsement in the state’s U.S. Senate race, and advising those vying for Central Committees across the state how to be a successful member. I also took the time to spin a tale of two events.

July began when I revealed my worst-kept secret: I have an agenda. In this case, it was a chance meeting with the Governor as an opportunity to promote school choice. It was much better to write that than it was a litany of big spending that some other guy running for the job had on his platform: I covered two of the most egregious examples during the month. But I got to see both gentlemen at the latest rendition of a long-standing political event – honestly, though, the runup to the Delaware primary was more interesting to write about.

And I wasn’t through with the First State, restarting a long-dormant series with an outdoor show featuring a Christian band and spending a night at the fair.

Speaking of fairs, I took two August posts to recount the Wicomico County version. But I also returned to politics with the announcement of my Delaware version of the mAP and another part of shooting fish in a barrel – some may call it a platform critique. It was already getting tiresome, so I spent some energy digging into where an “independent” campaign got its money.

In September I finally put that platform critique to bed because the Jealous campaign was going nowhere anyway. With Neal Simon’s campaign as inspiration, I took closer looks at financials on several groups of races: Wicomico County campaigns, District 37, and the most interesting one of all: District 38. By month’s end, that District 38 money was ending up in my mailbox as full-color mailers.

Once again I revived the tradition of remembering 9/11, but on a more light-hearted note I selected my Shorebird of the Year (going off the board, so to speak) and expressed my picks and pans as a Shorebirds fan. I even found time for more odds and ends.

October was a crazy busy month that focused on different angles for the election: people who couldn’t be bothered to file required campaign finance reports, neat ways to convert poll data to votes (as well as a second helping), critiques of mailing after mailing after mailing, and a direct comparison of voting records in the District 38 race over the last four-year term. One of those contenders also got a supportive visit from the Governor while our Congressman came to say a word for the U.S. Senate candidate. But I also found time for yet more odds and ends as well as October traditions the Good Beer Festival and Autumn Wine Festival as well as the GBF and AWF music as Weekend of Local Rock pieces. I also supported a great cause with a funny guy.

We all know what happened in November, and the election hits kept coming: a look at early voting, pregame thoughts, and two parts of immediate postgame analysis for starters – and, of course, associated odds and ends with the campaigns. Then I took a few mental health days before returning with my Thanksgiving message and shopping advice for Cyber Monday.

Wrapping up in December, I began the end-of-year watch by writing about my moody teenager and performing one of my favorite tasks: inducting new members for and updating my Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. Speaking of baseball, I opined on how Salisbury could be a better minor league town, too.

But the year’s last month brought a new look to odds and ends (and the site in general.) I also got to compare the Indivisible movement to the TEA Party (which relates to my forthcoming book, which also got a placeholder website during 2018) and provided the other usual year-end goodies of my Christmas message and top 5 records I reviewed for the year.

So that is how 2018 went. With a couple days to go, I’m some significant number of degrees of Rushalanches away from readership in my halcyon decade of 2007-16. Hey, at least I made 5 digits at 10,372, but then I really don’t promote the site on social media anymore, have fewer posts to link to, and found that people don’t think of me as much for political horserace analysis and advice nowadays – in large part because I’ve consciously stepped away from that scene. While I devoted a large part of my year to Campaign 2018, I was only made more jaded and cynical from the results and the easy manipulation of the electorate by “fake news” such as the overwhelmingly negative coverage of President Trump. If people don’t get the concept that fewer regulations and lower taxes at the federal level makes life better for them because they have more freedom to choose how they live their lives and spend the money they earned – well, I don’t know how else to help them. Lord knows I couldn’t influence the formerly Republican-held House to do its stated task of eliminating Obamacare.

So I’ll look closer to home, as perhaps I should have all along. If the Good Lord is willing to provide and answer my prayers in a positive manner, 2019 has the prospect of being an exciting year for me: a new (or new to us) home across the border, and the release of my second book The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party, which has already received a glowing pre-review from a major early participant.

Granted, there will be the fun of watching Democrat presidential contenders try to leapfrog farther and farther to the left. (Well, it’s fun until someone gets hurt or – Heaven forbid – we actually elect one of them.) Let the whole host of them try to appease the Indivisible Left, splitting the vote from the progressive wing while the establishment Democrat wins the nomination – just like the 2012 GOP Presidential race with the TEA Party. And Lord help us all if Hillary runs again.

But I’m really looking forward to the personal things I described two paragraphs ago. Over the last couple years this blog has sort of evolved from a political diary to a more personal one, reflecting (as always) what interests me and prompts me to write. So as 2019 dawns I wish it to be your best year ever, despite the seeds of chaos that will be sown by forces of darkness.

monoblogue music: 2018’s top 5

Once again, for at least the third year in a row, I was disappointed that I had fewer than 20 records to review – that in spite of adding a few unsolicited contenders for the prize, one of which is represented on this list (and another that just missed it.) Thanks to those two I had a couple extra contenders because otherwise my top 5 would have been sort of “meh.”

So after going back through all my 2018 reviews and reminding myself why I liked these albums, here are your top 5 for this year.

5. Maxwell James (self-titled)

Original review: July 14.

This debut straddles lines between several genres despite its short length – it’s a five-song EP. Taking elements away from classic country, blues, and alternative rock, Maxwell James puts them together in something that was a pleasure to listen to. Unlike a lot of other artists who give us too much filler to pad out an overly long effort, Maxwell makes you wish there were a couple more on the CD. It leaves a listener wondering which direction James will decide to go as his career advances.

4. “Buffalo Hotel” by Geoff Gibbons

Original review: January 27.

Gibbons presented the image of a rough-and-tumble Western-style artist based on the cover of this one, but it turned out he was rather far from the “hat band” style of country that’s dominated the charts over the last couple decades. Instead, he reaches back to a bygone time when country music wasn’t rock music played with different instruments, and when there is the rock influence it’s done with a light touch. It’s worth listening to for the stories that are told.

3. “Electric Bouquet” by Peak

Original review: December 16.

If you look at the album cover hard enough, you’ll figure out that it indeed is an electric bouquet. If you listen to the album long enough, you’ll wonder why these guys aren’t raking in millions on a record deal and tour. They certainly have the musical chops to do so – perhaps they have more talent than the market will allow.

This was one of the three “filler” albums I closed out my year with, and by a pretty good margin it was the best of the three. I’ll be interested to see what this group that intersects funk and rock will do with their next release.

2. “Isolated Thunderstorms” by Jared Weiss

Original review: August 18.

There’s no doubt that Jared can sing, since he’s a performer on the musical theater circuit. But this album became a winner because Weiss can also write very compelling songs that range the gamut from acoustic ballads to active prog rockers like my favorite song of all those I reviewed this year that comes from this album, Elusive Particle.

Another thing that set Jared apart from the rest was the sense of humor he has in his lyrics, a trait long-ago balladeers like Harry Chapin or Jim Croce could also pull off (and sell a truckload of singles in the process.) The music industry has changed since then, but good writing will still sell eventually.

1. “Campfire Party” by Justin Shapiro

Original review: June 9.

This was actually a very close competition between 1 and 2, but what pushed Shapiro over the line first was the multitude of well-written songs set with a backdrop of clear Southern rock influence – something that for me is really tough to beat having grown up and listened to Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers as they gave way to the heavier takes on the genre presented by Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, Jackyl, and others.

As I said in the original review, this one hit my sweet spot and try as he might, Weiss couldn’t dislodge it nor could anyone else. Not only did it end up in my top 5, but “Campfire Party” finished as the top one.

I should add that a couple albums from 2018 deserve an honorable mention as they were also contenders for these spots: “Inward” by Ghostly Beard (reviewed the week before Shapiro in June) and last week’s offering “Past” by Kate Coleman were also seriously considered for this list. It’s also unfortunate that Paul Maged didn’t finish his trilogy this year because that would certainly be in contention for a position – but I want to judge it as a whole despite the fact it will be released in three different calendar years.

Next week (or perhaps January 12, depending on how long the research goes) I’ll revisit these and my previous listed artists – at least those who are still around and making music – and see how they’re doing.

In the meantime, go check these folks out if you like good music!

2017: a monoblogue year in review

Perhaps more than any other, this was a year that tested me.

I guess that’s why it started with a treatise on “stuff.” 2017 had far less clutter here than in most years, that’s for sure. I also began an annual feature that follows the top musical groups I review.

But I continued January by reporting on a job-promoting event that actually occurred in December – it wasn’t the only time Annapolis would be in the news here as a new “90 Days of Terror” began. One enterprising Delegate, though, sought to lop 30 days off that reign of terror, while I also announced I would be tracking legislators across the border.

What really got my goat, though, was an attempt at deception that came about because a Presidential spoiler entered the race so late – yet it also gave me an idea who could better promote the Constitution Party I voted for. Being #NeverTrump came with a price to pay for one well-known blogger, though. That #NeverTrump attitude convinced me this would be “a Republican administration like no other,” but it was more than the “thanks for nothing” I gave his predecessor.

My cohort Cathy Keim also chimed in with her thoughts on God’s role in the Trump inauguration, the Golden Rule, and covered the March for Life for me. As for me and women’s issues. you know I had to chime in on the women’s march the day after President Trump was sworn in. And for all his faults, the new President started off well with the affordable energy crowd.

At month’s end, we lost someone who was sure Trump would prevail. Fortunately the Prince of Darkness hung around long enough to see Borat leave office.

In truth, Cathy started February by discussing one of her favorite topics, immigration. That led to me discussing two of my favorite topics: repealing Obamacare and renewable energy.

I came up with a new hashtag. I also came up with a new, much more politically purple state.

On the flip side, the Left decided to try and emulate the TEA Party and I got to cover it. But their emulation includes phony events and a general bad attitude, one which Cathy began March by discussing. She also related how families can make America great again in her view – even if interrupted on live TV.

As for me, I decided Trumpcare wasn’t really my cup of tea, and let the junior Senator of my state know in no uncertain terms that his budgetary objections are misplaced. Meanwhile, we steam away from our economic safe harbor into perilous waters.

I guess what really pissed me off though was being betrayed by our governor, who ignored job creation for dubious claims of safety. To show the typical thanks from the Left for a Republican reaching across the aisle, my one April news post discussed the Andy Harris townhall at Chesapeake College. The liberals in the district didn’t like him in May either.

Nor did they like Donald Trump when he announced an intention to allow for oil drilling off the Delmarva shore. (I liked it though.) I also weighed in on a controversy roiling a Maryland Christian school.

But the biggest thing I had to do was explain my hiatus from the site and what it means going forward. For one thing it meant all I talked about in June was the upcoming summer of discontent. In turn, I started July by explaining another long absence.

With the new abode, I could get back to doing a little bit of discussion on attitude and betrayal on a national scale. I also talked about the first halfway-serious 2020 Presidential candidate from Maryland not named Martin O’Malley and provided my usual coverage of a state political event. Many of those politicians were the subject of this year’s rendition of the monoblogue Accountability Project, which I released in August. Another annual event I chronicled was a day at the local county fair.

The events in Charlottesville prompted me to revisit an earlier assertion, while yet another obstacle to this website’s continued presence was surmounted.

I began September with a perspective on Hurricane Harvey, but it also set the scene for an increased tempo of work. And work was the subject of my Labor Day message, too, the first of three “holiday” posts that also commemorated 9/11 and Constitution Day.

But the month is also a sad time of the year for me, as it closes out the Shorebird season. At that time I always select my Shorebird of the Year in a seasonal review and discuss my picks and pans as a fan.

I also began a new, but eventually short-lived series of posts called DLGWGTW, which stands for Don’t Let Good Writing Go To Waste. It chronicled some of my social media comments. There were some of those in October, but outside of that I attended an event which continued a local controversy over the Civil War and another with a group of Civil War re-enactors, including a stand-in for President Lincoln.

Fortunately the latter event came after my week without a phone, although it cost me two prospective posts about the Good Beer Festival. Beforehand, I had waxed eloquent about the way things ought to be and found out about a surprising but exciting prospective development on the labor front in Sussex County, Delaware.

While I began a short-lived series in October, in November I renewed two long-standing ones with a Weekend of Local Rock reprise and a fresh batch of odds and ends. Neither odd nor an end described the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that began being discussed during the month, but there was a school of thought believing the 2017 off-year election had an odd but rectifiable result.

A group already beating the drums for 2018 came out to harass our Congressman at a local town hall meeting, but the “traveling roadshow” forgets how much ground needs to be made up to make this a competitive district.

Turning away from politics, I revisited one of my favorite series of posts from last year with an update and extended Thanksgiving greetings once again.

December always starts with a review for my website’s anniversary, which often leads almost directly into the induction of new players into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. After that, though, I parted with a Sunday thought and more odds and ends before wrapping the year up with my Christmas greeting, a short treatise on taxes, and a review of my top 5 albums of the year.

A departure from past years, though, is that I’m not going to look ahead to 2018 in a formal post. Truth be told, I’ve stepped back from the political and I just think my gut feelings aren’t as attuned to the scene anymore. So I’m just going to comment as things occur while I back away.

In another departure from past years, readership has tumbled to about 13,000 year-to-date. Obviously this is about where I was in year 1, so all that I gained in subsequent years is gone – but so is a lot of the hassle that went with building an audience (that was apparently pretty fickle) by posting daily – even if it was unimportant, barely readable dreck. One good bit of news is that I had my 500,000th visitor (according to StatCounter) on/about April 25. When you think about it, that’s a lot of people and visits over 12 years, probably more than 99% of blog sites have ever seen. So while I don’t have the huge numbers anymore and will probably be less than a drop in the bucket in World Wide Web history, I can always say that I don’t lose sleep over anything I write.

So that’s the year of monoblogue. Hopefully 2018 brings you everything you wished for.

2016: a monoblogue year in review

I don’t have as much to review this year, for reasons which I will remind readers of along the line.

So perhaps my first post of the year in January was prescient, as I talked about transcending the political. On the other hand, Cathy Keim was of the opinion this would be a pivotal year in politics. She didn’t like the push polling, either, and later in the month I speculated on who did it and why. She and I also discussed a controversial school board nominee in Baltimore County – controversial because she’s conservative.

But within the political for me was the expected turnover in the Presidential race. We also got an endorsement from a former VP candidate who chose populism over substance, while the battle lines were being drawn for the conservative movement. I still had reservations about the frontrunner and his effect on the GOP.

On the state level there were bad ideas about changing the terms of Central Committee members and automatic voter registration. There was a better idea from a wildly popular governor to attract manufacturing to our local region, but it went nowhere fast. However, we had our school board bill reintroduced, with an electoral twist.

I also had to point out one of the narratives which has bedeviled the state and nation for far too long, as assumptions need to change. Another of them was the red vs. blue mindset, to which I introduced white. And would the Baby Boomers ever leave the stage?

Cathy did me a favor and covered a state conference in several different parts, a conference that we found out later won’t have a 2017 edition. I also noted the belief our fair city hadn’t arrived yet because we’re missing a Cracker Barrel – even as a former mayor announced ambitious political plans – and formally remembered a late friend through music.

As is always the case in our first month, the state began its legislative session and those subjects lasted into February. While the elected school board bill advanced steadily, there was also talk in the state campaigns about manufacturing, a subject I often opine on. And I found our legislators weren’t always what they were cracked up to be.

We lost an esteemed figure in the conservative movement during the month. Looking back, death was a big news item in 2016, wasn’t it?

Yet our second month brought me the news I won a competition to review a wonderful (and very relevant) book. It’s definitely not part of the “PC groupthink” Cathy talked about, and perhaps it’s not a case study in using humor, either. But its author figured prominently when I reached a milestone. She also covered a Second Amendment event for me, as I was off being a newlywed. It was the first of her promotions from cub reporter through apprentice reporter (to cover a local appearance by Senate candidate Dave Wallace) to just plain reporter.

Still, while Cathy had her own thoughts on including women in the draft, found the weakest link in the abortion chain, and was perhaps prescient enough to discuss a hidden perk in the Electoral College (I rebuffed the national popular vote argument that came from it in the comments), it was the month I became more and more #NeverTrump – although Cathy could see why he was so popular – and the Iowa caucuses began to winnow the field for both Republicans and Democrats. Among that smaller group was Ben Carson, who got an interesting endorsement in time for the “SEC primary” that began March.

In its aftermath, I pled in vain for a unity ticket to stop Donald Trump since Carson saw the writing on the wall, too. And since Cathy was doing such a good job speaking about small victories, chicken farms – the subject of a later hearing I covered – and other agitators I decided to add another voice for energy commentary. (She even put me on her radio show.) Yet I didn’t need her to have my say on a federal energy policy.

So what was this Cathy wrote on “Cinderella men?” Maybe it had something to do with the totalitarian ideology that is Islam. I also found the need to editorialize on my loss of taste for talk radio and class envy in sports. In the sports realm I also announced a retirement tour for 2016.

Our third month also brought yet another twist on our electoral system, this time gerrymandering. I also thought ahead to 2018 given Governor Hogan’s approval ratings while hearing from a former governor at a book signing. (Never did get my copy, though. I was talking.) On the local front we heard from one Senate candidate while another received a passionate endorsement.

It was the same old same old as the “90 days of terror” wound down, as the Democrats rammed through their tribute to greed and power. (Now a bid for its repeal is making headlines.)

That affair came to a screeching halt in April. Cathy continued to make her points as well, speaking on building mosques, the culture of death, I was just concerned about a blogger I admire and a topic I visit often, manufacturing. I joined Cathy at a pro-life protest but also made some time to cover a local event hoping to continue a rebound.

As Donald Trump became more and more inevitable, I had to poke some fun at him. (But it was nice to see Maryland get a little candidate love while it lasted for a change.) I had my impressions (as well as a second helping and endorsement) on the Senate race, with my final bit of candidate coverage for both Senate and Congress (including a critical error, in my opinion, by one candidate that cost him my endorsement) two weeks before the primary. After our primary, though, there was another interesting race to attend to which would play out in May.

But I began that month with a serious thought piece on the audacity of faith. Rereading it, I can see why I’m proud of that analysis. Cathy also addressed faith with her coverage of the local edition of the National Day of Prayer Breakfast and perhaps peripherally with her case for homeschooling.

Yet politics beckoned and the first question was what to do with the “Trump Republicans.” I contended the increased turnout was more of being a contested primary. It became moot a couple days later, though. In spite of that, I noted the “lesser of two evils” endorsement and pondered the third-party effect that turned out to put Gary Johnson on the ballot.

So I turned to the Maryland GOP Spring Convention, noting the vast number of people vying, many as part of slates, for at-large Delegate and Alternate Delegate slots, the deepening National Committeeman race, and my usual coverage of the convention itself. I wrapped it up by checking how the slates fared. (Just as an aside, I think the aspect of my leaving the Central Committee people miss most is my convention coverage.)

As I prepared my monoblogue Accountability Project, I bounced off a column by Marita Noon with a Maryland-centric twist on it. Two of the female members of the Maryland General Assembly gave their spin on the session to the Wicomico County Republican Club. Unfortunately, too many of those bad bills became law because Larry Hogan’s veto pen must have run out of ink.

Turning to other subjects, I noted the passing of an online media enterprise and renewed my traditional Memorial Day weekend activities despite some rain. It took a couple weeks for me to finish that coverage.

But June began with me making a stand as #NeverTrump, which, along with the reaction and a desire for a do-over, dictated a lot of the rest of the year. (I’m sure it was just coincidence that Cathy had a piece on modern-day tyranny a couple days later.) Later in the month I found out I had company in high places. Still, I compared Trump’s ideas on trade with some other friends of mine, and found out our Trump headquarters made a national publication (before it did again in October.)

I returned to the state realm with the release of the 2016 monoblogue Accountability Project, which had two members garner perfect scores for the first time. On the local level, I compared a Wicomico County proposal with a program in place out in Garrett County, warning that it may be a budget-buster. Also a budget-buster: the idea of “clean energy.”

In the wake of the Pulse nightclub attack, I learned there was a fear…of Christians meeting to read the Bible. But there was no fear of drinking beer or listening to the bands. I also pined for a new political arrangement that would benefit all of us on this peninsula. But to start July our part of the peninsula was talking hockey.

Since the GOP convention was on the horizon – and the presumptive nominee was not stridently pro-life – there was a group looking to remind GOP convention attendees they were supposed to be the pro-life party. Then again, this was a question of whether we were a nation worthy of blessing, anyway. Not only that, it was rapidly becoming the season of my political discontent, so I laid out the case against Donald Trump in two parts. It led to a bit of a chilly reception at a later meeting.

That discontent with both the political situation and my body of work led to the admission that I had to throw in the towel on being a daily blogger. So it was a few days before I got back into things with a report on a traditional political event that actually was preceded by a few days by a great fundraiser and other local events.

I wrapped up the month with a compare and contrast piece on manufacturing, but began August with a micdrop bombshell: submitting my resignation from the Central Committee. It led to a new road that I’m now pursuing as well as my first post-GOP teaching moment. A few days later came another one dealing with Medicare. Conversely, I disagreed with my “partner in crime” on defunding Donald Trump. And, I asked, what is a flip-flop anyway?

It had been awhile since Cathy had contributed, but her and I got back together to discuss the various party platforms when it came to life issues. On her own, though, she returned to familiar topics of hers: immigration and Islam. She also took a hard look at the fear of being called racist.

Lastly, before Labor Day came and the campaigns really began, there was speculation that Andy Harris wanted a more prominent position. But I began September with the answer to the most trivial of questions: pitcher Mike Burke was my 242nd and final Shorebird of the Week. As always, it led to my season wrapups: Shorebird of the Year and picks and pans. I also debuted a fun five-part feature at the end of the month, looking at the art of the trade from an Orioles’ perspective.

Labor Day became more prominent in Maryland as Governor Hogan decreed it to be henceforth the final day of summer vacation for Maryland school kids – a good idea, but done with the heavy-handedness of the state behind it. But it was that day I talked about a different union between the GOP and conservative activists, and later in the month I took a frank look at the Senate campaign.

But as usual for the date I reminded people about 9/11, which came a couple days before the primary election up in Delaware. As a family that derives most of its income from the state, I felt I had to say something about it. At the end of that week, I celebrated our Constitution along with dozens of others here in Salisbury.

Opining on the gift of children, Cathy continued to find interesting subjects to comment on. I particularly liked her call to stand up and legislate! (And by legislate, she meant with the power of the purse, not more law.) Things didn’t always compute with her, just as the Ted Cruz endorsement of Donald Trump didn’t compute with me, either.

I don’t do a lot of book reviews in a year, so I moved from the reality of today in the first one to a well-done re-enactment of history for the second.

In October, I did a lot of posts but many of them were series posts. There was the look at that pesky electoral map, though, which as it turned out was Hillary’s Achilles’ heel, as well as yet another Trump bimbo eruption.

Most importantly, though, I embarked on the quest to find and endorse my choice for President. While Cathy was coy about her choice, she made the trip to Annapolis to check out one of the final stops on Franklin Graham’s Decision America tour. At month’s end and into November I wrapped up Congressional races in both Maryland and Delaware, the Maryland U.S. Senate race, and Delaware’s two highest statewide offices. I also took the time to study up on some local ballot issues.

So on the eve of the election I made my wild guesses and was shocked at what might pan out. After final thoughts on the election it was time for a series of postmortems looking at various aspects, including Donald Trump’s potential for success with those involved with manufacturing. On a related note, I renewed a call for shoppers to buy American for the holidays.

And did you know there are people trying to help me? I think I do okay on my own, but it was much-needed snark for me after the election. Unfortunately, the good feeling was short-lived: after bringing her on just a few months earlier, I lost the services of Marita Tedder (who wrote under her previous married name Marita Noon) when she declared her work finished. It led me to discuss the state of the writing business.

To begin the holidays, I gave thanks and it led to a week of introspection as December rolled in and my site celebrated eleven years.

One thing I missed, though, was the Maryland GOP Fall Convention – no coverage, and just a “meh” set of options for party leadership to pick from. I still gave that person some advice, though. I also missed Cathy Keim, but after a long break she explored the “deplorables” and pure of heart in a great two-part series. And I finally did the last 2016 election postmortem after the write-in votes were finally tallied.

I explored the idea of Carrier economics as Donald Trump got the official votes needed for President and promoted a key event, but my month was spent more on the less weighty side of things, such as my Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame induction post and extending Christmas greetings. Tomorrow I will look ahead to 2017 in just one post and Saturday, on New Year’s Eve, I will wrap a bow on 2016 by selecting my top 5 records out of those I reviewed this year.

By my count, that’s 188 links that define my website’s year. But the other measuring stick I have is readership, and unless my last few days come in with some huge numbers it looks like I will be a shade under 30,000 readers for 2016. It’s the lowest I’ve had since I started using this particular statistical program in 2007.

I suspect some will consider that punishment for not toeing the party line, holding my nose and supporting Donald Trump, but I’d rather have a clear conscience and stay true to principle. If I never get back to the readership numbers I had from 2012-14 I can at least say I’ve made an effort and said my piece. It’s not like no one reads here, either, as 30,000 readers would still be about 600 a week – and those who were here from the beginning know I was ecstatic the first time I made 500 way back when.

So that’s the year of monoblogue. It was a year where, arguably, more transition was made than any other. Hopefully 2017 will be a year I settle into a nice little groove.

2015: a monoblogue year in review

I think this is the third time I’m going to try this, and I found out the last two times it’s fun to take a look back. Read on and see if you agree.

Even though Republicans were set to take over Congress, political infighting at both the state and national levels kicked January off, with the expected results of a power struggle. Andy Harris, just into his third term, had to explain an unpopular vote. Yet while there was agreement in the state that the city of Baltimore needed to be revitalized for Maryland to succeed, it seemed like the Maryland General Assembly had different priorities in its pre-filed bills. We would eventually get a bill to give Wicomico County an elected school board as well – even though it wasn’t what I wanted – but I made my plea for accountability before its filing by our five freshman representatives working as the Wicomico County delegation.

Local agricultural interests cheered when newly-inaugurated Governor Hogan pulled strict regulations with hours to spare, giving Radical Green plenty to whine about. With that in mind, on the energy front I questioned the role wind power could play, even during a chilly winter.

But in the end we found out what the Koch brothers don’t have, and that kept me laughing into February. We began the month with the first of many “it” candidates for 2016 forming the dreaded exploratory committee. Closer to home, though, our new governor laid out an ambitious agenda while the opposition whined about its negativity. Speaking of Democratic pet projects, I also made it a series of sorts on wind power in noting they weren’t getting their subsidy anymore but were trying hard to convince Congress to renew it.

February was the month I decided I didn’t need to be “mono” anymore, bringing contributor Cathy Keim on board with this post on Common Core. Adding her was perhaps the best blogging decision I ever made. On a completely different level I also noted former candidate Dan Bongino was branching out with his message.

Advancing the story on our elected school board, the month brought the scheduling of the hearing for it. The General Assembly also took up a “death with dignity” bill that Cathy opposed and increased the speed limit on certain highways. Yet with the prospect of the O’Malley PMT regulations clearing the General Assembly, Governor Hogan reached a compromise that would adversely affect local farmers anyway – despite what state groups may have claimed.

Another carryover from the previous month was the saga of replacing General Assembly members, which brought legislation seeking special elections. The fate of many legislative items took up my March; although the appointment question was settled in court I had a better suggestion and one ill effect of Obamacare was addressed. We were still stuck with the rain tax mandate, though. I challenged elected school board opponents after the hearing but the noisy, tiny minority won nonetheless.

There was no surprise, though, that Radical Green hated the phosphorus regulations. I knew that was coming, and they tried to convince legislators to pass the O’Malley version. Cathy also knew another disaster was coming with funding the federal Department of Homeland Security as the GOP folded like a cheap tent. On the other hand, Democrats were scared of Scott Walker nationally and made big claims locally.

In other 2016 news, we were shocked by a political lifer’s retirement announcement but began to formally fill out the GOP presidential field.

The local pro-life community had a gala fundraiser, but religious freedom was a subject both Cathy and I tackled at months’ end.

Once in awhile I get it wrong, but in this case I was happy to report my error about an event that would eventually occur in April. And that’s not the only reason it’s one of my favorite months, as the crack of hardwood against horsehide heralds a new baseball season where I guessed the Shorebirds’ roster.

Back in the political world, Cathy and I teamed up to discuss the redefinition of birth. I also was puzzled by a logo and, as the “90 days of terror” that is the General Assembly session wore down, I opined about Governor Hogan’s first veto but also took a look at what we avoided thanks to a local Delegate. After the session, our governor made a stop at Salisbury’s 3rd Friday event while I stopped over in Ocean City to see some old friends at the state GOP convention. Later that month, we got a full report from our GOP delegation at the Wicomico County Republican Club meeting while I suggested some ideas for 2016.

The month ended with our state suffering a black eye. Many of the policies at the root of the problem came out in May when the Democratic presidential race moved farther left. But I don’t think his entry was radical enough for this activist and her wild claims about the energy industry. On the GOP side, the list of contenders expanded rapidly. With so many contenders I thought it would be a good idea to organize debates in a fair manner.

Summer driving season became a little more bearable as Governor Hogan announced toll reductions, but I gave him a list of bills to veto while he was at it.

I kicked off summer with a Memorial Day weekend to remember, including the music. But June brought the usual idiocy from our former governor and his party allies; a lack of intelligence was also exhibited by the current occupant who failed to use his veto pen in a more appropriate manner as well as a Supreme Court majority that blew it twice in a week. The courts had another opportunity to set something right, though.

Distrust of government was everywhere: trade agreements (times two), rail boondogglesteaching history. Even the speaker for the Maryland GOP’s annual dinner was an outsider candidate. Cathy added a book review about Common Core to the mix, too.

On the other hand, we took the process the state gave to us and picked two new Wicomico County Board of Education members – much to the chagrin of local liberals.

I also opined on the next possible development hotspot, even if it’s a decade later than planned. Something else that was later than planned was my monoblogue Accountability Project that came out a month behind schedule.

July kicked off the process by which I determined who I would back in the 2016 presidential election. I looked at education, Second Amendment, and energy to begin the selection. Meanwhile, statewide politicians descended on Crisfield for an annual event.

I also cast a skeptical eye at Maryland business climate improvement based on a nationwide survey of small businesses, but this came before a regulatory reform effort. However, Cathy pointed out one legacy Larry Hogan kept. Nationally, we got the first rumblings about dissatisfaction with Speaker of the House John Boehner. Maybe it’s that squeezing of the middle class thanks to Obamacare.

And while I kept the site dark on Independence Day, I wanted to make sure I expressed my pride in America.

August began with a report that hit me where I live – building permits have ceased as part of the War on Rural Maryland. Speaking of rural Maryland, I also spent a day at our rebadged county fair. Here in Salisbury, we found out who filed for the 2015 election. Two candidates started their efforts with a community barbecue.

I also continued my series on the 2016 Presidential election with posts on social issuestrade and job creation, and taxation, while I handicapped the first GOP debate. After that, the talk was about Donald Trump and how much interest he was receiving. Later in the month, Cathy wrote about what was said by John Boehner regarding a different candidate.

Planned Parenthood was big news, and a rally in Easton brought over 100 who wanted them to lose their federal funding. (That may have been my headline of the year, too.) While my coverage may have had some bias, Cathy thought the local TV station really showed its true colors. But Planned Parenthood even affected the national political races.

As September began, we found out Larry Hogan has work to do to gain the confidence of small businesses, but with the occasion of Labor Day it was time to see how worker freedom was progressing.

I had my thoughts on the Kim Davis situation, while Cathy weighed in on the Iranian deal and the very soul of the GOP. It was time to get serious as summer was coming to a close, which also meant it was time to pick a Shorebird of the Year and relate things from a fan’s perspective.

Also that month, my presidential series came to an end with an endorsement after a look at immigration, foreign policy, entitlements, and the role of government.  On a local political note, we all survived the monsoon that was the WCRC Crab Feast and began a series of hearings prescribed to determine the shape of our local board of education, to which I added history and context. Those hearings were dull, however, compared to the one involving Radical Green.

And of course, those seeking election were there at 3rd Friday, as was I. The campaign moved into October with one pet project shot down in flames and aspirants revealing their financial positions as the day of voting drew near.

Nationally, we learned that John Boehner finally resigned, which prompted Cathy to thinking about the truth and the spin. She also covered the second Easton Planned Parenthood protest since I was away. I did make it to a local pro-life fundraiser, but I was more concerned about the state of making things in the country. We also got some tough love and a tax plan from my endorsed presidential candidate.

The fall is also festival time around these parts, so I wrote and photographed the Good Beer and Autumn Wine festivals.

The Salisbury city election came in November, and although only one of my two endorsed candidates won, I was encouraged by the new composition. After four tries, my friend Muir Boda finally won an election so his swearing-in was emotional. However, it also created a headache for our local Republican club.

The county GOP, though, had a successful Lincoln Day Dinner and hosted the kickoff for a U.S. Senate candidate that Cathy covered. But an event in another state made me ask: what about non-partisan elections and redistricting? I also had to say goodbye to electing my endorsed presidential candidate, but renewed my acquaintance with the state GOP convention after a yearlong hiatus.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, Cathy related a class she attended that could make a difference and made a modest immigration proposal. I also related how our state tax policies were scraping the bottom.

After I closed the month before by supplementing my posts with a celebratory “10 from 10″ series, December opened with my tenth anniversary. Just as a reminder:

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

Politics slowed down a bit for the holiday, but I did have to ask Radical Green what they would do for business around here if the chicken farms went away? (No answer yet.) Cathy began what should be an ambitious series on immigration, which I look forward to reading more from. And not everyone likes Donald Trump – or the GOP, for that matter. I also wrapped up the city elections by seeing who gave to what (or to themselves.)

I also let you know that high wages may not be the problem with American manufacturing, and that the government shouldn’t always be our answer. Sadly, we just keep doing the same old thing – it’s always about more revenue.

For those non-political things, I returned to baseball for a day with my newest Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame class, gave you the top 5 records I reviewed this year, and said goodbye to a friend with my Christmas message.

That’s where I’m going to leave it because this is always a long post to compile. I counted 157 links, so you have a lot of reading to do – it may take you until 2016 to do so. In the next few days I will pull out my crystal ball and see if I can look forward to events locally, statewide, and nationally.

2014: a monoblogue year in review

I did this last year for the first time and decided it was so fun that I’d do it again. Just like last year, the plan is to then look ahead at the possible developments for 2015 (and, as an added bonus, evaluate what kind of prognosticator I was.)

So here are some of the highlights for monoblogue in 2014.


In January, my year began on the Salisbury Plaza as the city tried something new and found success with it.

But as the holiday lull returned to normal, it was made known that Andy Harris angered some in the district as they panned his vote on the omnibus budget bill. Even I got a little criticism from those who thought I was defending Andy.

On the Maryland campaign front, we all waited with bated breath for the official Larry Hogan announcement – even as he had to postpone it for a snowstorm. Otherwise, the gubernatorial campaigns revealed their 2013 fundraising prowess and as is usually the case Democrats had the upper hand.

Meanwhile, the other statewide GOP hopeful was our guest at the Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. It was also a month where I explained the real unemployment number with a little help, and learned a little about the extra time politicians put in.

Most of the February action was on the campaign front, where Larry Hogan continued making news by opting for public financing and avoiding questions, while fellow hopeful Charles Lollar found an intriguing running mate (as did Ron George), and surprisingly won a straw poll. Hogan led in the first real poll, but the margin was a little smaller in poll number two.

I also finished my first look at campaign finance for local contenders in two districts, but a lot changed at the filing deadline as familiar names switched races or withdrew.

On the first of March I talked about a long form letter I received from the Hogan campaign, while later I noted he also had some interesting backing for his public financing matching funds. Like the campaigns, I also talked about that three-letter word, J-O-B-S, a subject which came back later in the month.

News was made when a local group began demanding more local control by leaving the state association while another venerable local organization heard from county candidates.

I also looked forward to another November election (which actually happened earlier this month) and took a stab at who would be on the Shorebirds roster for the 2014 season. But my big step away from politics occurred when I announced and debuted a new, fun feature.

Spring arrived in April, while the end of the “90 days of terror” allowed campaign season to blossom. All four GOP gubernatorial hopefuls were represented at our Lincoln Day Dinner. I also updated their financial picture and checked out where some stood on restoring our manufacturing and on taxation.

Meanwhile, I attended my last state Republican convention for the 2010-14 term in Bethesda, writing about it in two parts with some leftovers.

In not-so-political news, I followed up on the local story about our teachers’ union which I again updated with some not-so-shocking developments as May began. The state version of the teachers’ union also staked its support of two local candidates.

The manufacturing thread I had began in previous months took my site in a new direction with an exciting new opportunity for me – and the grand opening party was fun, too.

I looked at a day in the life of a couple campaigns and speculated on some polling data I was given, while making my first endorsement of the primary season. But my real emphasis was on voting records.

It’s also fun to look back at someone who tripped over a molehill. That post may have my sentences of the year:

I’d like to come out of the ground a couple years early and see that shovel shoved right back into Mike Miller’s face. Let’s show the arrogant bastards that we can win this state, and leave that little molehill as the pile of dirt we displaced in our resurrection.

In other news, I talked about a Memorial Day tradition of mine and some non-political pork. When it comes to ribs, I am generally there whether in Salisbury or Snow Hill, which helped to lead off my June coverage.

That month actually began early on the 1st as I wrapped up my post on our Republican gubernatorial debate at Salisbury University. Days later we learned two gubernatorial candidates would not receive public financing, which all but doomed their campaigns. Lost in that was a good commercial and even better platform summary, even if it wasn’t from the candidate I eventually endorsed.

The primary also marked the end of my own campaign, and although it wasn’t successful I had no regrets. And once Larry Hogan won, I trained my fire on the prospect of a free-spending Anthony Brown.

I also did my part to support the troops, and did a final update on Troopathon in July. That sort of went with my Independence Day message.

The party message for Maryland Republicans was unity, despite depressing poll numbers. And even though there was a diversion into race-based politics, the campaigns marshaled their supporters to a surprisingly pleasant summer tradition in Crisfield.

While the diversion into race-based politics was real, immigration in a fictional sense was the subject of one of my book reviews for the year.

With the primary over I finally got a chance to delve more deeply into subjects like energy security, ethanol, and so-called “dark money.” The latter two featured an otherwise obscure politician I’ve taken in as a poster child for the loony left.

August reminded me of the spineless Republican establishment and a press with a lack of curiosity, one which keeps falling for diversions. Despite all that, the polls were beginning to look better and one Democrat crossed the aisle to endorse Larry Hogan.

Our Congressman had a townhall meeting here that I covered, and a local Delegate who could eventually desire that seat has at least a few fans.

Personally I would like to see an August event made year-round, at least here on the Eastern Shore. I also made the case about needing to bolster our lagging employment, and recounted an annual Wicomico County event.

The campaigns became more serious after Labor Day and September began, but first I had to select my Shorebird of the Year and rate my fan experience. It really kicked off the following weekend as we held an annual Republican Club tradition and opened a headquarters. Three weeks later we increased the intensity with a special Patriot’s Dinner featuring a nationally-known speaker. So while there was one deposed Delegate who felt the MDGOP wasn’t helping a candidate enough, I figured that as long as we didn’t have a sudden exodus things would be fine.

In fact, some were even looking ahead to 2016, with one potential candidate trying to rally people in the pulpit.

On a more personal level, I looked at 9/11 with a different perspective, one perhaps foreshadowed by my reaching the half-century mark.

October always brings two of my favorite events, as the Autumn Wine Festival and Good Beer Festival both take over Pemberton Park on consecutive weekends. While we didn’t attract a statewide candidate, the reaction at our booth mirrored the polls that improved during the month.

One local race I focused on was the District 38 race, as I (and others) questioned the rhetoric and record of Senator Jim Mathias, who hasn’t always been an ally in the “War on Rural Maryland.” Meanwhile, another race brought statewide firepower, but a number of candidates were featured in a forum sponsored by our newest newspaper. All this for my impassioned plea to local voters.

But the most uplifting event may have been one I attended for the first time, a dinner and fundraiser for a good cause – that of life.

Without a doubt, the highlight of November was the election, where we found out a lot of hard work paid off. Beforehand, though, I wrote my political will and in the aftermath, I opined that early voting isn’t worth the expense.

The glow of victory, though, gave me the opportunity to wax eloquent on an ambitious manufacturing goal and putting the right people in charge of both the levers of the state government and state Republican Party. I also highlighted just how loony my left-wing poster child can get.

Even in the days after the election – before any winners were even sworn in – we had candidates lining up for the next one.

After the election I also hit a milestone, which came less than a month before the December anniversary of this site. The early part of the month also yielded one of my favorite annual posts as I added another member to the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.

But as a county we made a transition for the first time, an event which featured a special guest. No such transition was made by the state GOP, though, which re-elected a Chairman for the first time in a long time. One reason the election went so well was money from a Congressional benefactor, one who ran into much criticism in the last few days.

Policy was back on the front burner, from phosphorus regulations in our state to a renewed push for populism from my favorite quotable leftist. Their month was made by a Presidential entrant, although a former candidate was vindicated thanks to market events.

And besides the upcoming look at 2015, my last link comes from the music I liked from 2014.


I had a very hard time culling all 400+ posts I did in 2014 to a highlight reel of about 120 – at one point I was on a pace to place over 200 links before I did some editing of some things I liked but didn’t make the cut. As I noted in my anniversary post, this year was my best ever in readership so I must have done something right.

As I noted a long way above, I will now provide a look forward to 2015 at the county, state, and national levels. It should be fun.

monoblogue music: 2014’s top 5

From March to November I had a regular feature where I reviewed new and recently-released music by request. (Right now this feature is on a hiatus, but I’m thinking it comes back in 2015.) Most lists at this time of year are a top 10, but since I only reviewed about 20 releases the cream of the crop would seem to me to be the top five.

So without further ado, what did I like best in 2014?

5. “The Last of the Originals” by Billy Roberts And The Rough Riders

Original review: August 30.

While the album veers into country territory because it’s Roberts’ ambition to make it big in that genre, there’s enough other influence shown to please fans of country-tinged rockers like the Eagles or Neil Young. That willingness not to sound just like everyone else on the country Top 40 chart sets Billy apart from the rest, even moreso than his lack of a Southern twang. This is despite the fact he’s far more southern than most as Billy is an Australian native.

It will be interesting to see what Billy does to follow this release up. Unlike a lot of other musicians, he seems to be social media-shy so I’m not sure just what is on tap for him in 2015. Perhaps he’s one of those who will remain true to his craft and do the music he likes.

4. “Moanin’ at Midnight: The Howlin’ Wolf Project” by Tomas Doncker Band

Original review: May 24.

One of two releases I reviewed from this band, which seems to spend all its time playing, recording, and helping out other regional artists, the tribute to bluesman Howlin’ Wolf scored with both the remakes of classic blues tracks and the couple originals added in the same vein. Most of the songs are familiar, but this new spin paid a good tribute.

The band continues to thrive in their native New York City area, which was the subject of their other release I reviewed later called “Big Apple Blues.” Their frenetic pace looks to continue in 2015 as the True Groove family of bands has a lot up their sleeve, according to the band’s Facebook page.

3. “Insubordia” by The Lost Poets

Original review: July 19.

This is an album I actually took time to listen to a few times after I reviewed it because I enjoyed it so much, probably because it fit closest to my favorite genres. So the only reason it fell to number 3 on my list was the fact it only had four real songs. It would have been interesting to have a few more songs to see where they could take their sound.

As it turns out, there is a little bit more from them as we enter 2015. A few days ago The Lost Poets put out a single called Mouth that stays true to their slow grunge roots. I took a listen (it’s on their Soundcloud page) and was relatively impressed – whether this is a one-off or intended to be the bridge to a larger project will be something to watch as the new year develops.

As for the top two, I could almost flip a coin. Both are good in their own right, and I’ve gone back and forth on the order. But I decided to go this way after hearing both again.

2. “Turn the People” by Monks of Mellonwah

Original review: March 15.

This was the very first release I reviewed, and marks the second appearance of an Australian artist in my top 5. Monks of Mellonwah did a nice job of seamlessly shifting musical gears on this release, which was a compilation of three previous EPs into one full-length model. It led to a brief U.S. tour over the summer.

The band has ambitious plans for 2015, though, with a new release in the works and plans for another U.S. tour which could bring them a little closer to this area. The Monks appear to be on the cusp of commercial success which could vault it into the big leagues of household names in pop music.

1. “Diamonds & Demons” by Paul Maged

Original review: November 1.

Oddly enough, it’s my first and last reviews of the year that make up the top two, like bookends. But the deciding factor in picking Paul Maged as number one was, as I said in my initial take, “this is perhaps the best example of straight-ahead rock and roll I’ve come across.” Technical wizardry can make up for a lot of faults, but talent has its way of shining through in the end and I enjoyed listening to the album again.

Considering how many fires Paul has had his irons in over the years, it’s hard telling what direction he will take in 2015. I think he’s ready to take the next step musically, but the market and his hard work will do a lot to determine that as well.

As for this tiny little division of monoblogue, I’m hoping that it continues in 2015. I suspect that things will pick up again after the holidays and ideally I’ll have enough to do a full top 10 next year. Then again, though, five is definitely the cream of the crop so maybe I’ll stick with it.

Anyway, as I always say, go listen for yourself. The links are generally in the original reviews.

Looking backward and forward

Let’s face it: the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the forgotten time in the news cycle. So little of import happens that the news becomes retrospectives of the prior year and predictions of what may happen in the next. I’ve found the reason this works so well is that many of the newsmakers go on their own extended holiday, so no one is really in a position to create hard news.

So over the next few days between now and the New Year I’ve lined up reprisals of some of the features I enjoyed putting together at the end of last year, with one new addition. Tomorrow I will debut my top 5 list for monoblogue music, and Sunday I’ll put up the year in review for my site.

Turning to 2015, Monday through Wednesday will be a look forward at what I think will be some of the things to watch for in 2015, as well as thoughts on how some of what I foresaw in 2014 actually came out.

Believe it or not, though, these are some of the more time-consuming posts I do over the course of a year – I spent parts of several days putting together my year in review piece, for example. You now have a glimpse of the subject matter, so what will draw you in is what I have to say about it.

Stay tuned.

A monoblogue year in review

Having a holiday schedule based on Wednesday holidays seems to play havoc with the news cycle, as there’s not much going on with Maryland politics right now. By the time the holiday hangover is done, it’s the weekend.

So over the next four days I’m going to provide for you a look back and look forward. As part of that, tonight’s post will be the look back, with some of the highlights of my political coverage – and a couple other items tossed in for fun as well. This is the first time I’ve tried this, so I’ll see how it goes.


The year began, as it always does, in January. As will be the case even moreso this year, political fundraising was in the news as there was a surprise leader in the gubernatorial money race on the GOP side. Another highlight of the month was a spirited and enlightening discussion of state issues at the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting – something all too infrequent this year, unfortunately.

But the highlight of the month was my two-part coverage of the Turning the Tides conference in Annapolis. which had a plethora of good speakers and discussion. It was so good I had to post separately on the morning and afternoon events.

In February my attention was turned to several topics, particularly providing coverage of the financing and the events surrounding the Salisbury municipal elections, for which the primary was February 26th. A key issue brought up was a state mandate for the city to help pay for cleanup of Chesapeake Bay, to the tune of $19 million a year.

Another state mandate took center stage in February, as the Wicomico County Council held a Tier Map forum to find out citizens weren’t exactly enamored with the idea. As part of that I read from my written testimony on a Tier Map repeal bill, which wasn’t the only testimony I wrote – I also put in my two cents on the gun grab bill.

We also found out that month that the Maryland GOP would get new leadership following the resignation of Chair Alex Mooney.

March found me continuing my coverage of the Salisbury city elections, but only backing one candidate. More important were local developments on the state level, where the Second Amendment was a hot topic for a local townhall meeting and our county’s Lincoln Day Dinner.

But the highlight for me, by far, was my day at CPAC. That turned out to be a two-part set of posts.

As the area began to wake up from a winter slumber in April, so did the political world as it turned from the General Assembly session to the 2014 campaign. The Salisbury city elections went as expected, so I turned my attention to the race for state party chair. Interim Chair Diana Waterman ran a campaign which was at times embroiled in some controversy, but prevailed on enough supporters to make it through the lengthy grind of campaign forums (including one in Cambridge on the eve of the state convention) and win the remainder of Alex Mooney’s unexpired term. But even the convention itself had its share of ups and downs, particularly a chaotic ending and a rebuff to new media.

While that was happening, the 2014 election was beginning to take shape, with familiar names both trying their luck again and trying for a promotion. Others had interesting endorsements as feathers in the cap.

But it wasn’t all political in April. The outdoor season began with two local mainstays: Pork in the Park and the Salisbury Festival. I also found out I was immortalized on video thanks to Peter Ingemi, better known as DaTechGuy.

Those things political slowed down in May, with just a little reactionary cleanup to the state convention to begin the month, along with other reaction to the recently-completed General Assembly session. In its wake we also had turnover in Maryland House of Delegates GOP leadership.

But one prospective candidate for governor announced other intentions, leaving another to confirm what we knew all along.

On the fun side, I enjoyed Salisbury’s Third Friday celebration with some friends and stopped by to see them at another barbecue festival, too.

June began with a visit from gubernatorial candidate David Craig, who stopped by Salisbury and in the process gave me an interview. And while he didn’t make a formal tour, fellow Republican Ron George made sure to fill me in on his announcement and establish tax cutting bonafides. We also picked up a Republican candidate for an important local seat and found out political correctness pays in the Maryland business world.

A local doctor gave us his perspective on Obamacare and our area celebrated the chicken in June, too. I also learned of a special honor only a handful of political websites received.

As is often the case, our wallets became a little lighter in July. In the aftermath, we found out who David Craig picked as a running mate and welcomed both of them to our Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. I also talked about another who was amassing a support base but hadn’t made definite 2014 plans at the time.

On the other side of the coin, we found the Democratic field was pressing farther away from the center, a place the GOP was trying to court with the carrot of primary voting. Meanwhile, the political event of the summer occurred in Crisfield, and I was there.

There were some interesting developments in the new media world as well – a plea for help, a shakeup in local internet radio, and my annual monoblogue Accountability Project all came down in July.

The big news in August was the resignation of State Senator E.J. Pipkin, and the battle to succeed him. And while one gubernatorial candidate dropped out, another made his intentions formal and stopped by our Wicomico County Republican Club meeting as well. Even Ron George stopped by our fair county, although I missed him.

It seemed like the gubernatorial campaign got into full swing in September – Charles Lollar announced in an unusual location, the Brown/Ulman Democratic team came here looking for money, Ron George tangled with Texas governor Rick Perry and showed up to make it three Wicomico County Republican Club meetings in a row with a gubernatorial candidate, and Doug Gansler decided to drop by, too. On the other side, Michael Steele took a pass. I also talked about what Larry Hogan might do to fill out the puzzle.

Those up the Shore made news, too. Steve Hershey was the survivor who was appointed State Senator, and I attended the First District Bull Roast for the first time. I’ve been to many Wicomico County Republican Club Crab Feasts, but this year’s was very successful indeed.

September also brought the close of our local baseball season. As is tradition I reviewed the season, both to select a Shorebird of the Year and hopefully improve the fan experience.

October was a month I began considering my choice in the gubernatorial race. That became more difficult as Larry Hogan took an unusual trip for a businessman and Charles Lollar’s campaign worked on self-immolation, while Doug Gansler needed his own damage control.

I also had the thought of going back to the future in Maryland, but a heavy dose of my political involvement came with the tradtional closing events to our tourist season, the Good Beer Festival and Autumn Wine Festival.

Most of November was spent anticipating the Maryland GOP Fall Convention; in fact, many were sure of an impending announcement. Honestly, both may have fallen into the category of “dud.” But all was not lost, as the month gave me the chance to expound on manufacturing and share some interesting polling data.

Finally we come to December. While the month is a long runup to the Christmas holiday, I got the chance to again expound on manufacturing and come up with another radical idea for change. We also got more proof that our state government is up for sale and those who are running for governor place too much stock in internet polling. My choice is still up in the air, even after compiling an 11-part dossier on the Republicans currently in the race.

Locally, we found a good candidate to unseat a long-time incumbent who has long ago outlived his political usefulness. And the incumbent will need to watch his back because Maryland Legislative Watch will be back again to keep an eye on him and his cohorts. I’ll be volunteering for a second year,

And while I weighed in on the latest national diversion from the dreary record of our President and his party, I maintained two December traditions, remarking on eight years of monoblogue and days later inducting two new players into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.

You know, it was fun going down memory lane for 2013. But tomorrow it will be time to look forward, beginning with the local level.