Monday, October 28, 2013

Two Launches and Damage Control

Last week I had the pleasure of attending two kick offs for local political offices. On last Wednesday (October, 23), I attended the kick off for Guy Guzzone's state senate campaign in the Great Room at Savage Mills. The room was filled for the well-liked Guy, and he noted during his speech that he has amassed over one hundred sponsors already. Without another Democratic opponent, and no Republican filings as of this date in District 13, the road looks rather unobstructed for a Guzzone senatorial victory.

I also attended the campaign kick-off for Courtney Watson in her bid for Howard County executive on
October 24. Like Guy's event, it was very well attended, and I was greeted by most of the same people who I had seen the night before.....which is definitely not a bad thing. HoCo luminaries  such as Ken Ulman, Calvin Ball and Ed Cochran were in attendance, so I felt like I was in good company.It was held at the club house in Maple Lawn.  Courtney's path to the county executive offices in Ellicott City  is not as unobstructed as Guy's transition over to the Senate. Allan Kittleman is the Republican challenger to the county exec seat, and the current state senator is not to be ignored. Allan is virtually everywhere. He is even appearing at venues that are typically dominated by Democrats. I have seen him pressing the flesh at Frank Turner's campaign kickoff, greeting folks at Highland Days, and serving enchiladas at the annual "Men in the Kitchen" event, sponsored by the Howard County Center of African American Culture. I think that it will be a spirited campaign between Courtney and Allan. Courtney is a shrewd politician, and I think her accomplishments, as well as the Ulman legacy will play in her favor. But....November 2014 is still more than a year away.

Now, all that noise  in the background,that I am trying to ignore is the Gansler campaign trying to conduct damage control. The latest is Doug's appearance at a beach party in Delaware, where his son was playing DJ. There may, or may not have been teenage drinking going on. But the great question is, should the AG of the Free State have done something about it, what, if anything, should he have done about it and my question is should he have been there in the first place? I thought this latest incident would just pass over.....then I saw the  distinguished panel  of journalists and politicians on "Meet the Press" discussing Gansler's travails, and I thought  that his campaign for Maryland governor's mansion may be in deep trouble.

In Doug's case, the  Democratic primary is still a few months away, so maybe his damage control campaign will bear fruit. In the meantime, the Brown/Ulman group remains quiet about Gansler's troubles....and continues to rack up powerful endorsements. The latest polls are tipping in favor of the Brown/Ulman team, but a Redskins vs Broncos football's not over until it's over.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Just a Little More Weird!

To say that the atmosphere in the nation’s capital has been “weird” for the past couple few weeks is an overwhelming understatement. The strangeness, to me, began with the senseless and tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. Out of nowhere, and purely unexpectedly, 13 lives were snuffed out. Then on last week a young lady drove down from Connecticut to try breach the White House barrier, be chased down Pennsylvania Avenue, and have her life ended beneath the ever watchful dome of the Capitol building. And if it could not get any weirder, someone stood in the center of the National Mall on last Friday, poured gasoline all over their body, saluted the Capitol Building (according to the Washington Post), and set himself on fire. Despite efforts by passing joggers, he was burned beyond recognition.
Now when you add 80 plus year old World War II veterans “crashing” through barriers to see the WWII Memorial, tourists climbing over barriers to see sites closed because of the shutdown, and Federal employees protesting or camping out on the Mall because they are on furlough…..DC seems to becoming a very bizarre place.
The common denominator, with the exception of the Navy Yard shooting, seems to be the closing of the Federal government. The government has been shut down since October 1st, because of the failure from the do-nothing Congress to pass a budget. The excuse is , of course, changes have to be made with Obamacare. It is as if this, supposedly, intelligent body of lawmakers does not realize that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and was upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional. But I digress.
The original focus of this blog was to give some thought on the incident that happened last week when the young lady was chased down Pennsylvania Avenue, after trying to crash the gate of the White House with her car.  It seems that she was stopped at the Capitol, but she gunned her car into reverse, running into a Capitol police car, and giving them chase around the Peace Statue, then into a barrier that protects the Capitol building.
From eyewitness accounts, when her she was stopped at the barrier, a child was retrieved from the car, and “that’s when the shooting began.” The young lady was subsequently killed, but the thing that bothers me, except for using the car as a potential weapon……she was unarmed.  No weapons were found in her car. She never fired a shot at the pursuing officers.
Now I understand completely the argument that the car could have been a bomb, and maybe the officers did not have time to evaluate her intentions. In this age of terrorist attacks, and movies about terrorist attacks,especially against DC, who could blame them. The mental health argument has also been used, and the “fact” that she had post partum depression. (But the child was over a year old…..) Anyway, I can understand why the family would have a lot of questions. I expect to see a lot of legal action as a result of this incident. And, not surprisingly, her sisters have acquired a lawyer.
My intention is also not to be critical of the Secret Service agents or Capitol Police. Yes, I do wish that they did not have to kill this seemingly confused woman. But they do have a mission to protect the White House and the Capitol. And, not unlike me, they are furloughed federal employees, who have to show up to work every day…..and have no idea when they are going to get paid. They are just a small sample of the hardworking people caught up in this government shutdown.
My closing thought is, could the shutdown be making the Washington area a little more dangerous……or just a little more weird?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How Long?

One of my favorite comedians in my formative years was Richard Pryor. And while his routines were as “blue” as can be, he did have one routine that ended with the phrase…”How long will this bull____ go on?” That seems to be my mantra for the government shutdown on October 1st. I  have tried to understand and rationalize the reasoning for the sequester that  recently occurred….and could not reach a reasonable understanding. Now I am trying to wrap my mind around the reason and cause for our current predicament. Once again, to me, it makes no sense.
I know all of the mechanics of the shutdown, and the intractable politics of it. But to shut down the most powerful government in the world, because some in the Congress do not want to provide universal healthcare coverage…..this is far beyond my ability to comprehend. What must our neighbors in Canada think, and what must the rest of the world be thinking.
We all realize by now that our current Congress is dysfunctional. Paralyzed for all intents and purposes due to a deficit in leadership.  President Obama has attempted to compromise as best he can on all issues. But it’s hard to play the compromise game, when the goal posts are constantly being moved. So the last gesture by the House is to fund the government…but delay Obamacare for one year, or delay the individual mandate. Of course the Senate rejected it. Why should the Affordable Care Act be delayed any more than it is? We have been preparing for this for well over two years, so anyone affected by it should be on board by now…one would think.
But the Congress dragged  its feet last night, and purposely allowed the government to run out of money for one reason, and one reason only. Because they can do it. It would be easy to state the obvious reason, they want to see President Obama fail…but they also shut down the government under President Clinton’s watch. They not only want to see Obama fail, they want to see Democrats fail.
My overriding question …. is this why we elect officials?  Is this the reason that we send people to Congress? Just so they can continue to frustrate us. Just so they can not listen to us, and get over run by a small faction like the Tea Party? If we learn nothing else from this debacle….it should be that it is very important who we vote for, and who we elect to represent us.  We need to elect people from both parties, who can work collaboratively, no matter the difference in political ideologies.
Overall,  in my opinion, shutting down the government is just plain…stupid. The loss of money to keep the government shutdown is astronomical. The inconvenience and potential suffering it will cause is extraordinary. And all because the majority party in the House does not like Obamacare…..that’s just incredible. We are the United States people….we are better than this.
How long……….?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I have not posted in quite a while, and there has been a lot going on. The local and national political scene has been abuzz with activity. I think in some way, shape or form, I have met every Howard County or Maryland candidate running for....anything. I wanted to write about everything that I have encountered, but either time or opportunity would not allow it.

But the tragedy on yesterday jolted me out of my bloggers malaise. I wanted to post this before the whole event begins to become political, and the cries to do something about gun control and mental health issues start to fill the airwaves. Basically the senseless shooting at the Washington Navy Yard was an inside job. Someone posing as one of "our own" launched an attack on innocents....waiting to pay for their breakfast. Innocent people who left home on yesterday morning...never to return. Just because someone had a vendetta against the government.....or was just having a really bad day.

It seems that these sort of senseless acts have become almost commonplace in our society. It has been a few months since the Sanday Hook tragedy, so I am sure people have been wondering, what is going to happen next? Well it happened on yesterday. Thirteen innocent souls were taken from us. Thirteen families have  to grieve and plan unexpected funerals. Thirteen futures have been tragically snuffed out.

When will it stop? Even Dr.Janis Orlowski chief medical officer from Washington Hospital Center, where most of the wounded were treated, said that it "has to stop!" And she is in the business of treating gun shot wounds and reacting to mass casualties. She made a plea to our politicians to "put us out of business."

The talks about motives and gun control and the NRA will start soon enough. But today, we should all remember the victims and their families. Keep them in our thoughts and prayers. Afterwards.....let's try to find a way to make this stop!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Scandals and Secrets

Well, to some skeptics, the Obama Administration is on the verge of going into a “tailspin.” Suddenly an administration that had ‘nary a scandal during the whole first term, is now mired in them. Of course it all depends on how you define “scandal”. Dictionary .com  defines scandal as a disgraceful or discreditable action, circumstance,  or an offense caused by a fault or misdeed. It does not define it as taking the blame for circumstances that already existed before you became President.
I am elder enough to remember President Nixon’s Watergate scandal. I was in high school, and did not understand the whole story, but I was told that the President “lied to the people.” A two-bit burglary mushroomed into a scandal that eventually made a President resign from office. I recall the arms for hostages incident back in the1980’s, and I remember seeing a lieutenant colonel take all the heat for the wrongdoings of the Reagan Administration. I always said that this scandal was much worse than Watergate ever was….but like Teflon it slid off of Mr. Reagan, and even to this day, it’s not mentioned very often.
The Clinton administration scandal involved sex, of course. I recall the grandfatherly CBS correspondent, Bob Schieffer reading the graphic sexual descriptions in front of the Supreme Court….even I was embarrassed for him. This lead to Mr. Clinton’s impeachment….but today he remains one of our most popular Presidents.
My take on the Obama scandals is that they are a distraction. The President was elected on a clear mandate from the people on last November. He was and is on a clear path to getting things done that he was blocked from during his first administration. Things like immigration reform, Obamacare (which the Republicans have tried to block at least 39 times), gun control, jobs, sequestration, etc., etc, etc. Now ALL of a sudden these, so-called scandals take precedence.
The Republicans are still talking about Benghazi. A very unfortunate and very tragic incident, where we had four diplomats, to include an ambassador, to get killed. It’s true that the administration may have awkwardly tried to explain what happened on the Sunday talk shows…..but I think that it hardly qualifies as a scandal. A U.S. Embassy was attacked. Even if security had been “beefed up”, as we are told was requested….the embassy would have still been attacked. Probably with the same consequences.
A Senate subcommittee spent three days investigating the IRS, and why they  had closely investigated tea party related groups who wanted 501c status.  Investigations by the Internal Revenue Service are nothing new. The IRS has investigated and audited groups and individuals since it came into existence. But these groups…some with undisguised intent to overthrow the government….feel that it’s unfair that they were singled out. What is not mentioned in the news is that none of these groups , as far as I know,were denied non-profit status. What is mentioned and shown by the the media is footage of these rhythmically challenged IRS employees trying to learn the “Cupid Shuffle”. (my wife and I laugh every time we see that video) My question is….where is the scandal?
The last one that I will mention is the fact that the National Security Agency (NSA), listens to our phone calls and monitors our emails. (although the President assures me that they don’t…..I may differ with him on that) My take on that is …..”DUH”….that’s why they are called the National Security Agency. I am certain that every time that I pass by NSA on my way to Fort Meade, that they know who I am. Again…this is nothing new. The Bush Administration signed The Patriot Act after the tragedies of 9-11, authorizing NSA to monitor phone traffic. No one seemed to have a problem with it then. I doubt seriously if the Obama administration is using NSA any more aggressively.  If he is, it has worked, because it has kept the terrorists at bay….and besides my phone calls are pretty boring.
The recent admission by a federal contractor named Edward Snowden that he is the person who leaked the details of the NSA workings has not helped matters any. As of this writing he is running around the world seeking asylum….from the USA. The question is, is this a black eye for the administration, or is this just some guy who has broken the law?
I’m sure this will play out like an episode of the old sitcom “Run Buddy Run” in the upcoming weeks. Is this Snowden guy a traitor or a whistleblower….who is seeking asylum? Time will tell.

In local good news:
My friend Tom Coale officially entered the race for Delegate for 9B. Gridlock between Bethesda and Columbia kept me away from his announcement, but we wish him luck.  I was able to attend Janet Siddiqui’s announcement that she will  seek to be the newest member of Team 13. She will be seeking the  delegate seat currently held by my buddy Guy Guzzone.  Guy announced at his annual pizza party that he will be seeking the state Senate seat, currently held by my friend Jim Robey, who has announced his retirement. 2014, is going to be a busy year!

Monday, June 3, 2013

And So It Begins!

Well, I wish that I could be there, but at 8:45am...this morning (3 June 2013), Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown will announce his running mate for Governor on the Columbia Lakefront. Judging from all the emails, invitations, Facebook posts and robocalls that I've guess is that his running mate will be Ken Ulman? Just a wild hunch...regarding the worst kept political secret in HoCo history. (I could be wrong, I've only been here for 12 years)
My first impression is that this is a formidable ticket. I think that Ken's path to the Governor's mansion would be...let's say...complicated. Teaming up with Anthony is an excellent move. Although they make a strong team, the primary will not be a cakewalk. Heather Mizeur surprised everyone earlier this year by winning a straw poll for Governor out in Western Maryland. Doug Gansler has raised an impressive amount of money in his gubernatorial bid. It is rumored that he may announce in the fall....but I'm wondering if his camp may change their strategy. Who will be Doug's running mate? Heather?? ( So many people have squashed that theory for me in the past few days.....but politics can be unpredictable) Dutch Rupperberger is also rumored to be looking at being a candidate....he must be getting tired of the nonsense in DC.
I wish Anthony and Ken all the best. We honored Ken last week at the Howard County Democratic Party Jefferson Jackson Dinner. It was well deserved. He has accomplished so much in his 39 years, and he will continue to make strides for the county and state of Maryland.
So those who can make it...have fun at the Lakefront celebration. I will be there in spirit, knowing that this is only the beginning, of what will be a very interesting election season.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Shifting Sands

Changes are happening, especially on the Howard County political scene. I had the privilege of attending Jon Weinstein’s announcement for political office on last Saturday. He is running for the council seat in District 1 if you did not hear. It is Courtney Watson’s old seat…or present seat. That is assuming that Courtney is running for county executive in 2014…..ok, she is probably running.
Jon’s announcement was unfortunately overshadowed by the untimely and unexpected death of blogger Dennis Lane. The most magnificent “Wordbones” is no longer with us. A victim of a senseless and brutal murder at his home in Ellicott City. (A place where we never have brutal or senseless murders) Jon was visibly shaken by Dennis’ death during his announcement. He was supposed to be on Dennis’ podcast on that Friday, and was going to announce his candidacy then. As the fates would have it…that never happened. I never met Dennis. He was one of the bloggers who could not make it to CDC’s blogger event a few months ago.  So, as a very new….and infrequent….blogger, I feel totally unqualified to write a tribute blog to Mr. Lane.  But I have gathered from others that he was a blogging trailblazer, and set the standard for Hocoblogs.
The Democratic Central Committee….which I proudly serve on…will also be up for election at the June primary next year. I have heard of several people running, so I wish them luck. I plan to run again also…so watch this space for my announcement for re-election to the Howard County Democratic Central Committee…ok, I guess I just announced it…now I  just have to file.
As for my political endeavors, my term as the President of the Columbia Democratic Club ended on last week. Of all the jobs that I never was paid for, being CDC President was my favorite. I got to meet and talk to some amazing people during my tenure.  The forums and meetings that we had were incredible. I am very thankful for the opportunity, and wish Al Liebeskind a wonderful term as the new President of CDC. I will still be active with CDC (I’m still on the board)…..I just won’t have to pick up the key to Jeffers Hill every month.
There are plenty of other changes going on in the county and state, politically. Anthony Brown has announced that he’s running for governor, with an instant endorsement from Martin O’ Malley. Will this affect Ken’s decision?  Since Doug Gansler has raised more money than anybody….when will  he announce? Moreover, what will Guy and Calvin do? Inquiring minds want to know.  Stay tuned….it’s going to be a great  and interesting, political year!