January 21, 2010
“Parting is such sweet sorrow…”
I moved to Frederick County from Baltimore County in the late summer of 2002. I was starting a new job in Northern Virginia, and I decided to move here so I could be within viable commuting distance of anywhere in the Baltimore/Washington area.
December 24, 2009
“I wonder as I wander…”
It's Christmas Eve. I'm not in a particularly political mood today. So let me just state, very quickly, that this health-care reform bill is better than nothing, but it's pretty weak tea, and doesn't do a thing to establish any competition for the private insurance industry, which is the root of the problem with our health-care system.
December 10, 2009
Removing the Stranglehold
The other day I was discussing the current economic situation with a conservative close relative of mine. He asked me, very simply, "Why is Tim Geithner still being employed by the administration?"
November 26, 2009
It Isn’t Just a Game
In November of 1979, Iranian militants invaded the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took more than 60 Americans hostage. A few were sent home shortly afterwards, but 52 of them remained captives of these terrorists for 444 excruciating days, finally being released after a long, arduous series of negotiations and a failed rescue attempt.
November 12, 2009
Fulfill the Promises or Face Consequences
There's a lot of anger out there. It's been out there for several years, and every year Americans take the occasion of elections to express this anger.
October 15, 2009
…A Good Thing
When I first heard that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize, my initial reaction was a mixture of pride and puzzlement. While it's always gratifying to have an American win what is perhaps the most prestigious honor in the world, it did seem a bit premature for the Nobel Committee to give its award to a man who's only been the leader of the Free World for a few months.
October 1, 2009
The Frederick County Republican Party recently attempted to engage in a clumsy bit of character assassination with a missive that tried to create controversy out of Democratic mayoral candidate Jason Judd's background with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). For good measure, they threw in a reference to their boogeyman-du-jour, ACORN.
September 17, 2009
A year ago or so, there was an ugly accident on a double-decker shuttle bus that serviced Washington Nationals’ games. A couple of young male passengers were killed when the bus ran under an overpass, prompting speculation about whether the passengers had stood up on the bus at the wrong moment, thus putting themselves in harm's way.
August 20, 2009
Another Intrusion into Liberty
As speed cameras seem poised to seep into Frederick County, the reactions from many have been fairly typical. On one side are those who don't care for what amounts to the latest of myriad assaults on the Fourth Amendment that have become common over the last decade or so.
August 6, 2009
Healthcare and The Pittsburgh Pirates
When I was younger, the Pittsburgh Pirates were a model baseball franchise, a team that contended almost every year and won its share of championships in the process. Thanks in large part to the Roberto Clemente connection, the Bucs were very popular in Puerto Rico, where I grew up.
July 23, 2009
I remember when I was first looking for a place to live on my own. I checked out quite a few neighborhoods in the Baltimore area, and among other things, I noticed that every school proudly displayed a placard declaring itself "drug-free."
July 9, 2009
The Wave of the Future
During the ongoing Iranian election crisis, an expression that quickly evolved from inspired observation to hoary cliché was "The Revolution Will Be Twittered." But even though the phrase has become tiresome, it doesn't mean that it's not reflective of a profound and game-changing development in the communications capabilities of ordinary citizens.
June 25, 2009
Public Option: Good Solution
There is no issue that has exposed the ideological bankruptcy of the American right more than the debate over the inclusion of a public option as an integral part of health-insurance reform. With a straight face, conservatives have argued, sometimes within the same interview, that any health insurance program run and funded by the government is doomed to fail.
May 28, 2009
In Defense of The Justice-to-be
Tuesday I learned, as a captive audience to cable news, that some things are not as they seem. For example, Supreme Court nominees are viewed differently, depending on your party.
May 14, 2009
All Democrats Have to Fear is Themselves
We currently stand at what could be a watershed moment in America's political history. As has been well documented, the Republican Party is in serious disrepair nationally. It has essentially been reduced to a regional Southern party, with a few scattered pockets of influence in the Midwest and West. It's become all but extinct in the Northeast, and its reach is shrinking rapidly on the West Coast.
April 16, 2009
Will This History Repeat Itself?
Fourteen years ago, on April 19, 1995, a young man named Tim McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 Americans. It remains to this day the worst act of domestic terrorism in American history.
April 2, 2009
On the other hand…what’s better?
Health care exists for the purpose of keeping people healthy. Well, duh. A simple and stupefyingly obvious statement, most would agree. And, yet, it’s not a sentiment universally shared by everyone.
March 19, 2009
Imitating a Junta…
Back when I was a child, my parents once took a long, ambitious vacation to South America. When they got home they brought back countless little treasures from the countries they visited, an album's worth of beautiful photographs, and plenty of gripping stories to share. My brothers and I couldn't get enough of them.
March 5, 2009
Time to Kill the Death Penalty
In our world there are civilized societies and uncivilized societies. Civilized societies tend to be free and democratic, philosophically based on reason and not superstition, and have a healthy respect for individuals' rights to follow their own consciences.
February 19, 2009
The Future of News
When President Barack Obama held his first formal news conference of his young administration, he turned it into a historical moment. No, it wasn't the fact that at long last we have a president capable of speaking in complete sentences and providing nuanced, thoughtful answers to questions.
February 5, 2009
An Overdue Alternative
With our economy in dire straits, President Barack Obama has asked Congress to pass an economic stimulus bill to stave off a massive depression. There are many items in this bill to like – and some not to like, but there is one item that should be taking precedence over all others, and it's nowhere near being adequately addressed in this proposal, whatever shape it eventually takes.
January 22, 2009
A Sea Change
At noon on Tuesday, Barack Obama culminated his historic and unlikely rise to the presidency by taking the oath of office on the U. S. Capitol steps. It was a journey undertaken on a message that hearkens back to the words of the greatest American leader of the 20th century, Franklin D. Roosevelt – the rejection of fear in favor of hope.
January 8, 2009
The Matt Millens of Our Economy
The Detroit Lions just set a new standard for futility in the NFL, having just wrapped up the first winless season by a team since the league went to a 16-game schedule 30 years ago.
December 11, 2008
Time for An Adjustment
Seventy-five years ago this month, America put an end to the most ill-advised and misguided social-engineering experiment in its history. With the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, the nation rectified the reactionary mistake made by the 18th Amendment and repealed Prohibition.
November 13, 2008
Onward and Upward, Not Backwards
Now that the election is behind us, there's no shortage of analyses being offered by pundits left, right, and center about “What It All Means.” So here are a few bullet points of my own as a contribution to the discussion.
October 30, 2008
Another Round of Greatness…
Eight years ago, America was finishing up one of the best decades in the nation's history. We were at peace – after waging a successful war of liberation in the Balkans, a war in which no Americans lost their lives in combat.
October 16, 2008
Registration Fraud v. Election Fraud
Democracy works best when the voting franchise is as wide and as open as possible. That's why voter-registration drives are so important – and that's why democracy-haters are always trying to find a way to undermine them.
October 2, 2008
Unfettered Capitalism = Disaster
One of the mantras of the right is that free markets only function properly in the complete absence of government intervention. Deregulate everything, get out of the way, and let the market work its magic. It's as essential to conservative dogma as war fever and religious fundamentalism.
September 18, 2008
McCain’s Healthcare Plan – NOT
Despite the best efforts of our political news media to pretend otherwise, a presidential election is not a soap opera. Any presidential election is a serious and pivotal moment that determines the future direction of our country.
September 4, 2008
One Massive Blunder
John McCain, over the years, has been very meticulously building up a brand with the media as a serious, experienced "straight-shooting" politician, who was somehow a bit different from the other rubber-stamp Republicans.
August 21, 2008
Simple Isn’t The Answer
My high-school American history teacher was one of the best educators I ever had. He didn't mess around – he treated us tenth-graders like mature adults. He simply assumed that we were keeping up with the reading, and if someone didn't, he wasn't going to slow down the class for his benefit.
August 7, 2008
Breaching Our Security
"To protect and to serve." The venerable slogan of police forces nationwide. And, for the most part, law enforcement performs its duties professionally, effectively and within the constitutional bounds that distinguish America from repressive, totalitarian societies, such as the country currently hosting a major world sports event.
July 10, 2008
If the Truth Be Known…
One of the great unknowns of this year's presidential campaign is the impact the newer online media will have on the narratives that define Barack Obama and John McCain, as well as on the dynamics of the race itself.
June 26, 2008
A Possibility: Real Change for a Change
Perhaps the most common complaint citizens voice about their political leaders is that they're oblivious to the concerns of ordinary Americans. And there's a lot of truth to this.
May 29, 2008
Empty Words – and Actions
As this year's Memorial Day holiday draws to a close, it's fitting to note that some good news has come out of Capitol Hill. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2008, the bill that extends full educational benefits to our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, sailed through the U. S. Senate by a decisive 75-22 margin.
May 15, 2008
Signal Legislation, Unavoidable Question
As America's military commanders and troops brought World War II to a close, finishing off the formidable Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan war machines barely three and a half years after Congress declared war, our government at home expressed its appreciation for our servicemen's sacrifices with the landmark G.I. Bill.
May 1, 2008
A Missed Opportunity
Nearly 30 years ago, as oil prices soared and waiting lines at gas stations overflowed, President Jimmy Carter laid out a proposal to deal with it. The following is from a speech he delivered in the summer of 1979:
April 3, 2008
Of Traffic Woes and Solutions
Traffic congestion is an issue most of us can relate to, whatever our political leanings. A significant number of Frederick County residents – myself included – commute daily to jobs in the D.C. and Baltimore areas, sometimes crossing over into Virginia. License plates from Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania dot the major arteries in the region every morning and evening.
March 20, 2008
A Model Failure
When the Bolsheviks overthrew Czar Nicholas II and, after a civil war, established the USSR, they launched the first large-scale practical application of Karl Marx's economic theories. His worldview had its share of appeal to many Russians on paper, especially after centuries of oppressive monarchic rule.
March 6, 2008
Disqualified Presidential Candidate
Our next president will be one of three people – Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or John McCain. Two of them are sound, sane, intelligent, rational people who have the best interests of America at heart, and either of them will make a very fine president.
February 21, 2008
An All-Too-Infrequent Lesson
Last week two of Maryland's congressional officeholders saw their long-running House careers come to an unexpected halt: Republican Wayne Gilchrest, of District 1, mostly on the Eastern Shore, and Democrat Al Wynn, of District 4 in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. They lost in primaries to challengers Andy Harris and Donna Edwards, respectively.
February 7, 2008
One of the amusing sideshows of the Republican presidential nomination fight is seeing individuals like John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney desperately elbowing each other out of the way to stake a claim on being "the true inheritor" of Ronald Reagan's legacy.
January 24, 2008
From the Jaws of Victory…
According to a recent article in Baltimore’s Sun, the Democratic Party in Maryland is running roughshod over the Republicans in new voter registrations, with the donkey outpacing the elephant by a 3-to-1 margin. Similar trends are occurring nationwide, with turnout at Democratic caucuses and primaries absolutely obliterating the turnout registered at Republican electoral events.
December 27, 2007
Most of us remember the Terri Schiavo story, which raged three years ago or so. She was a woman whose life was hanging by a thread, and whose husband tried to honor her wishes by disconnecting the feeding tube that kept her barely alive. Her doctors had concluded that there was no remaining hope for her recovery.
November 29, 2007
Ring Around the Immigration Culprit
For all the constant talk about the immigration issue, it's amazing how shallow and superficial the discussion about it remains both locally and nationally.
November 15, 2007
The New Robber Barons
What would happen if the National Football League did away with its referee corps? While some might find excitement in the idea of each team doing whatever it desires to defeat its opponent, it's obvious that the resulting avalanche of injuries, disputed play and game outcomes, and other forms of disorder would destroy the league's credibility and ultimately cost it revenues as fans switch to other, less chaotic forms of entertainment.
October 18, 2007
Bartlett Should Switch His Vote
As the word indicates, a representative's job is to represent. It is to
reflect the views of the constituents of his or her district, and ensure
that those views are advanced in Congress.
October 4, 2007
For National Healthcare
It can be endlessly argued exactly how "free" most of our economic sectors
are, given how many industries are, in effect, monopolies - or
near-monopolies - run by only a small handful of players (tried to switch to
a different cable company lately?).
September 20, 2007
A Worthy Plan
As Gov. Martin O'Malley puts the finishing touches on his budget and tax
proposals and prepares them for release, we can all assume that his
political opponents have well-honed talking points ready to attack any part
of his plan that they find objectionable.
August 23, 2007
About a year ago or so, the Minnesota legislature drafted a budget bill
that, among other things, included a gas tax to be used for infrastructure
investment. The bill easily passed the state's legislature and went to
Republican Gov. Tom Pawlenty for his signature.
July 26, 2007
Hypocrisy Will Out
A little over a year ago, the Republicans, who then controlled the Senate,
moved aggressively to address the most important issue confronting our
nation at the time.
June 28, 2007
Virginia's Anti-Tax Foolishness
The difference between pragmatism and dogmatism can be boiled down to the
way each mindset assesses a solution to a problem.
June 14, 2007
Coming Up Fast on the Rail...
Last Friday afternoon I stopped at a local health club after work, as is usually my routine. When I was getting ready to mount the elliptical, I noticed that the nearby TV was tuned into one of the cable news stations, spewing out the latest blow-by-blow on the all-important Paris Hilton saga.
May 31, 2007
Time Is Running Out
There are few political issues as potent with the general public as gas
prices. The issue hits everybody. Most of us drive at least a little bit,
and thousands of Frederick County residents deal with long commutes to the
employment hubs of the Baltimore-Washington metro areas.
May 17, 2007
A Penny Saved Isn't Necessarily
The late Dave Berg was one of the 20th Century's great American satirists.
His work tends to be unduly overlooked by many, because the primary canvas for his work was the kid-oriented Mad Magazine.
May 3, 2007
Aha! Now, There's The Rub
Legend has it that, in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt happened to be
munching on a few sausage links one morning while perusing Upton Sinclair's
earthshaking new novel, "The Jungle." As he leafed through the chapter that
described the process of sausage-making in graphic detail, the president,
revulsed by what he was reading, spit out his breakfast and threw it in the
April 19, 2007
The Crux of the Matter
One of the most common arguments that employers use to justify the hiring of
illegal immigrants is that "you can't find an American citizen to do the
work." This is repeated so often by those who game the system that it's
retransmitted in the media without question. But it's a completely
inaccurate statement as it stands - it's in need of a small adjustment.
April 5, 2007
Killing a Dinosaur
For the two centuries our Constitution has been operative; we've always featured an odd way of choosing our national leader. While just about every executive and legislative office in the country is awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes, the President of the United States is determined by a more convoluted algorithm that may or may not reflect the actual will of the voting public.
March 22, 2007
..and they're loading into the gate
In a chronological sense, it's way too early to be talking about the 2008 presidential race. But it's easy to get sucked into the discussion. In a practical sense, President George W. Bush's abysmal approval ratings signal that the American public is more than anxious to move on and start fixing up the immense domestic and international damage caused by this sad, failed administration.
March 8, 2007
To Execute or Not
The General Assembly has been debating the retention of the death penalty in Maryland. The debate has been emotional at times, with passionate advocates for both sides of the issue. And it looks like it's going to be a very close vote when it comes to the floor of both houses of The General Assembly.
February 22, 2007
The Raise as Catalyst
Last week, the Frederick City Board of Aldermen voted 4-0, with one member absent, to make a small adjustment to the $69 million city budget; an adjustment that constituted 0.0008% of that $69 million figure, and one that will not even take effect for three more years, when its impact on the
budget would be even less significant.
February 8, 2007
Eternal Vigilance Isn't Enough
There's a famous Internet rule known as "Godwin's Law," known by all who
post regularly on web forums. Simply stated, Godwin's Law stipulates that
the productive phase of any Internet discussion - on any subject - comes to
an end as soon as one of the participants makes a comparison to Hitler or
January 25, 2007
Single Shot Isn't the Answer
There's a common line of thought in our society in which some believe the
best way to deal with a problem is to declare it illegal, and then the
problem will go away. The extreme example of this logic came nearly a
century ago, with Prohibition.
January 11, 2007
Put Out The Smoking Ban
We've got a lot of issues in Maryland. Things that need improvement, messes we need to clean up, initiatives we need to launch. Our new General Assembly has convened, ready to tackle the projected budget deficit, health care, education, our tax structure, emissions standards, and transportation, among other things.
December 28, 2006
One of the more insidious features of right-wing propaganda is its hostility
to scientific research, particularly the research that arrives at
conclusions that are, shall we say, inconvenient to right-wing interests.
November 30, 2006
"The Good, The Bad and The Ugly"
Everyone else seems to have already issued their perspectives on the recent
election, but I haven't done this yet. So, on a slow news week, I thought
I'd offer my impressions.
November 16, 2006
Issues To Be Addressed - Now!
Now that the dust has settled on the elections and we're being treated to the usual spectacle of the mainstream media getting every narrative about them about as wrong as possible.
November 2, 2006
A Bright Light in The Sixth
The nonpartisan veterans' organization IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
of America) recently conducted a study of congressional votes to determine
which of our elected representatives truly support our troops, and which of
them don't go beyond slapping a couple of magnetic ribbons on their
October 19, 2006
Media Transformation Changing America
In a recent Frederick News-Post Political Notes piece, County Commissioner
Mike Cady bemoaned the existence of the Frederick News Post forums, calling
them a "tremendous disservice to everybody."
October 5, 2006
GOP Split Provides Ray of Hope
The Republican Party, over the last 20 years or so, has been characterized
by an uneasy coalition between its theocratic wing and its libertarian wing.
September 21, 2006
Now that the primary dust has settled, two conclusions are pretty obvious in
the county commissioners' race: (a) there is significant resistance to the
idea of reckless, unbridled growth in Frederick County; and (b) name
recognition is an even more important attribute than a candidate's stand on
September 7, 2006
Random primary thoughts...
I'm a bit perplexed at what makes a Real Republican these days. Apparently
one must be a Developer Darling, and apparently Lennie Thompson and Ed Lulie
don't live up to that lofty standard.
August 24, 2006
Throw the Bums Out
I never thought there would be a time when I'd feel sorry for Roscoe
Bartlett. And I can't say I really do, even now, seeing that he remains the
favorite to win re-election to his eighth term in Congress (that's five more
terms than Mr. Term Limits originally pledged to serve, for those keeping
score at home).
August 10, 2006
Media Alternative Strikes Again
I am writing this with the polls still open in the Connecticut senatorial
primary. I mention this because I have no idea who's going to win, but by
the time this article hits the airwaves we'll all know.
July 27, 2006
A Campaign of Misdirection
Michael Steele, the Republicans' candidate for the retiring Paul Sarbanes'
U. S. Senate seat, is furiously trying to package himself as some sort of
moderate. This is Maryland, after all; our population is generally
well-educated, literate, and pro-science, and therefore less prone to
Republican demagoguery than that of most other states.
July 13, 2006
A Growing Scandal of Religious Intolerance
"It can't happen here." That's what we always tell ourselves here in the land of the free, whenever we hear about some outrageous incident in another country, particularly one that involves the persecution of a designated group of people. We're America. We have our Constitution. We're the freest, the most welcoming, and the most tolerant country on the planet. That's what all our troops out there are fighting for.
June 29, 2006
YearlyKos Taking Hold
I am a heretic. I am angry. I am a naive adolescent who doesn't know his
place. I am an uppity little brat. I need to step aside and let the adults
run things. I wallow in fever swamps.
June 8, 2006
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
I got up this morning, got ready for work, and drove off into the light-gray
dawn daylight. Blackbirds warbled, flowers bloomed, and fluffy white cumulus
clouds floated above to signal the arrival of morning in America.
May 25, 2006
Another Roadblock to Education
Monday's edition of The Frederick News-Post featured a prominent front-page piece describing senior citizens' concerns over the lack of savings by many of our young people. Though some of it was the typical kids-these-days, there's no doubt that the real wages offered by entry-level jobs have tanked badly in our current economy, and this has severely impacted many teenagers' ability to save.
May 4, 2006
Another Attack on Freedom
Imagine that one morning, in the not-too-distant future, you fire up your email server and see a note from John Ashbury, the publisher and editor of The Tentacle. But instead of a plea for articles, or a list of cute jokes, or a clarion call to save America from the lurid horrors of a Nancy Pelosi speakership, the note is a somber notification that The Tentacle must cease operations due to prohibitive bandwidth costs.
April 13, 2006
Here's One Possible Solution...
One of the many memorable scenes in the Coen brothers' classic movie "Fargo" features the conniving car salesman, played by William H. Macy,
"negotiating" a deal with a potential customer. After a few minutes of back-and-forth, hemming and hawing, Macy's character tells the prospective
buyer that he's got a rock-bottom offer for him, but that he has to clear it with his manager first.
March 30, 2006
Disaster at The Post!
Once upon a time, in another world, in another era, The Washington Post was a great newspaper. The Post was serious about the practice of journalism and investigative reporting, and it was not shy about revealing uncomfortable truths about our government, even if it meant upending established power structures – actually, shining a bright light on the practices of these power structures was The Post's job.
March 16, 2006
A New Road Through The Wilderness
Many years ago a friend of mine was reading a William Safire column reprinted in the local newspaper. He kept shaking his head, and eventually came over to me and pointed out the issue – Mr. Safire was taking an anti-poverty advocate to task because of some dubious, four-degrees-of-separation "connection" to a pro-choice group. He probably figured this would discredit the activist in the eyes of his readership.
March 2, 2006
The New Cyberspace Media
About a quarter-century ago, back in the pre-Internet dark ages, a bright young Kansan named Bill James, a hardcore baseball fan, began taking a closer look at the sport's conventional wisdom. He began to design all kinds of little studies, questioning many of baseball's old-school assumptions.
February 17, 2006
Packaging and Marketing
If I were starting a business and needed a top-notch sales and marketing manager, I'd make sure I hired a Republican operative. As distasteful as the party's worldview is, as hypocritical as they are on issues like fiscal responsibility and the size and reach of government, Republicans are utter geniuses when it comes to packaging and marketing their agenda and their candidates to an unsuspecting public.
February 3, 2006
Legislation and Marriage
A certain Republican delegate in the Maryland General Assembly has decided
that the main issue facing Marylanders this year is not health care, not
education, not our road and highway infrastructure, not jobs and the
economy, and not even taxes, but the "protection of marriage."
January 19, 2006
An American Foundation
Several years ago I underwent a complex and serious surgical procedure.
While the prognosis was good, the outcome still depended upon the skills and
dexterity of the surgeon. Luckily for me, he performed his work flawlessly.
I was home from the hospital within a week, and it wasn't too long before my
life was back to normal.
December 16, 2005
A Signal of Success or Panic?
Max Cleland was a Vietnam War hero. While serving during that conflict, he earned the Bronze Star and the Silver Star, and came back to America leaving both of his legs and part of one arm behind. He entered politics, and served as a state legislator and as secretary of state in Georgia, eventually winning election as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 1996.
December 1, 2005
The Once and Future Season
It's that time of the year again. The Most. Wonderful. Time of the Year. The time of year when we're as likely to throw parties on Tuesday nights as on Saturdays, when we hope our metabolisms don't notice that we're ingesting three times as much food as usual; when we peruse weather reports like they're mutual-funds statements; when we reacquaint ourselves with the local malls; when far-flung family members catch up with each other; and, of course, when millions of Americans celebrate a holiday, in most (but not all) cases Christmas.
November 17, 2005
A Clear Message
Richard H. Black was the ultimate entrenched politician. Unbeatable.
Popular. The best man to represent Virginia's District 32, a rock-solid
Republican enclave in Loudoun County.
October 6, 2005
Darrow v. Bryan Redo
Eighty years ago in Dayton, Tennessee, a local teacher named John Scopes
broke his state's law by teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to a
high school class. The trial that followed became nationally famous as the
"Monkey Trial," in which evolution was pitted against the state-supported
view of creationism.
September 15, 2005
It is tempting to go on a rant about the specific failures of our governments – local, state, and federal – in the wake of the Katrina disaster, an event that has blown away the 9/11 terrorist attacks in its scope, impact, death toll, property damage, and potential economic, social, and political consequences for the nation.
August 25, 2005
Can Illegal Immigration Problem Be Solved?
The recent flap in Virginia over day laborers congregating at a local 7-11 has triggered the usual overheated rhetoric about legal and illegal immigration, with no shortage of political figures elbowing each other aside in the rush to demagogue, pander, and scapegoat.
August 4, 2005
The Good News and the Bad
Budget surpluses are good things. Heck, they're great things. It's always nice to get a little bump in our paychecks. It's quite a satisfying feeling to finally get those credit cards cleared out, at which point we vow to never run them up again, at least until that new portable DVD player enticingly coos our name from the Best Buy shelves.
July 21, 2005
Restructure Our Tax System
They say the definition of "mixed feelings" is watching your mother-in-law backing your Mercedes off a cliff. That's certainly a good illustration for many, but all joking aside, there are few events that stir up conflicting emotions the way real-estate assessments do for those of us who own property.
June 29, 2005
Judged By the Company He Keeps
One of the ways extremist Republicans worm their way into office in Maryland is by masquerading as "moderates." Our state, thankfully, is small enough and educated enough that the deep pockets of profound ignorance that fuel extreme right-wing movements aren't very widespread.
June 15, 2005
Peak Oil and a Bumpy Ride
It wasn't all that long ago that my cell phone was about the size of a small refrigerator, fitting into my pocket about as comfortably as a Silverado in a Patrick Street parking spot. And it didn't even flip shut, resulting in the occasional unwitting 50-minute call to San Bernardino.
June 1, 2005
Sometimes it appears that our governor's deepest wish is to turn the progressive, prosperous, and highly educated state of Maryland into some
sort of Mississippi-on-the-Chesapeake. He claimed to be a "moderate" when he was running for office, only to rush to his true far-right roots the instant he planted his behind on the chair adjoining his State House desk. Sounds
like a certain national elected official we all know, but never mind.
May 18, 2005
Real ID Real Bad Idea
Ronald Reagan once famously referred to the Soviet Union as the "evil empire." And while that rhetoric might have been a bit over the top, it's certainly true that the old, and now thankfully defunct USSR, was a brutally repressive regime that represented an enormous threat to humanity around the world.
May 4, 2005
Getting Our Just Desserts and Why
I love Cable 10's Pressing Issues. It's so refreshing to see a political
discussion show that's made up of real citizens discussing real topics,
instead of professionally coiffed spinmeisters showing off their skill in
talking-points recitation while avoiding anything resembling substance.
April 20, 2005
Time to Walk the Walk
There is nothing that changes one's life quite as dramatically as a medical emergency or the onset of a long-term illness. When such an unwelcome event enters our lives, we push aside most of our other concerns. Dealing with a chronic, degenerative illness requires a long-term reprioritization of material, financial, and spiritual resources, and life is never quite the same again.
April 6, 2005
Terri Schiavo and the Culture of Life
Sun Hudson was his mother Wanda's pride and joy. Though the infant Texan boy
had been born with severe deformities, his mother showered him with every
ounce of love, caring, and nurturing she could muster, doing everything she
could to keep him alive.
March 17, 2005
Hypocrisy and Devastation Hand-in-Hand
The whole slots saga resembles more a soap opera than an action thriller, with Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich indulging more in self-righteous
preening and opportunistic posturing than in really making efforts to deal with Maryland's budget shortfalls. (When he's not putting ice-skaters in charge of the Port of Baltimore or employing "consultants" to spread lies about his political opponents, of course.)
March 3, 2005
Upside of the Downside
Does the name James Guckert ring a bell? No? Then, how about the name Jeff Gannon? Still drawing a blank? You're not alone. Let's do some catching up.
February 15, 2005
Shell Game in Politics
One of the keys to the Republicans' electoral successes over the last few years has been their ability to make campaigns and elections about
everything EXCEPT meaningful, substantive issues. A national political party cannot win elections if it is openly hostile to fiscal responsibility,
education, health care, women, minorities, and working people, as the Republican neoconservatives (and their fellow travelers on the religious
right) who have come to dominate the party are.
January 25, 2005
Freedom. Freedom! FREEDOM! FREE-DOM!!!!
For a moment there I thought Aretha Franklin had just been sworn into the Presidency. But no, it was just our old platitude-muttering favorite, George W. Bush himself.
January 14, 2005
Does Medical Malpractice Law Go Far Enough?
The complex issue of medical malpractice has increasingly forced its way into the national news spotlight in recent years, and the media maelstrom has now arrived upon our state.
December 13, 2004
Accountability! It's Such a Beautiful Word
Part of what has made America such a successful nation over the centuries has been its embrace of public accountability. Political leaders at every level are subject to periodic performance reviews from the voters. If they convince enough of the voters that they have delivered, they get re-elected; if they don't, they're out searching for alternate careers.
November 29, 2004
America Is Headed South
Back in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected President, many thoughtful and
rational Americans resisted the urge to buy into the Gipper's shallow
feel-good sloganeering and image-heavy, substance-free rhetoric. Among these
was the Frank Church, the venerable senator from Idaho, who remarked upon
Reagan's election: "What I fear most," he said, "is the Latin
Americanization of America."
November 15, 2004
Democrats Need Better Remedies
Now that the dust has settled somewhat upon this past election, we're being
treated to all kinds of quick and dirty armchair analyses in our news media
regarding what the Democrats should do to regroup.
November 1, 2004
Four More Years of the Same, or a Change?
Well, the 2004 election is staring right at us. All sources have this
election as a dead heat. Anybody who claims to know who's going to win is
just blowing hot air.
October 18, 2004
Kerry 3, Bush O, But The Contest Isn't Over
The presidential debates of the last couple of weeks bring to mind a classic
storyline from the late Charles Schultz' venerable Peanuts comic strip.
October 4, 2004
What One Hand Gives, The Other Takes Away
Whenever I anticipate that I-270 is likely to be a brick wall for my commute
home, I bail out of the DC Beltway as soon as I cross the American Legion
Bridge and cut through Potomac.
September 20, 2004
Doing What We Can - Maybe
It was a few days before the 1972 general election in Puerto Rico, where I
grew up. While islanders couldn't (and can't) vote in U.S. presidential
elections, the local races had everybody buzzing. I was eight years old, and
this was my introduction to high-stakes politics.
August 30, 2004
Not As Safe And Far More Vulnerable
One of the more tragicomic sideshows of the 2004 presidential campaign has
been the complete inability of the Bush camp to come up with a positive
August 16, 2004
Proving P. T. Barnum Right Again
One of the enduring challenges that we humans face on a daily basis is
separating emotion from reason. This constant inner struggle affects us in
almost every aspect of our lives.
July 30, 2004
Barack Obama Lit A Fire
We live in a culture of hype. Our mass media is constantly pumping up the
latest sports car, the latest fad diet, the latest special movie effects,
and the latest childbirth techniques as if they would forever establish a
new standard in their categories, leaving the competition behind, and
affecting that ever-popular Paradigm Shift for the next thousand years.
July 19, 2004
Some Things Are Imperative
"We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us." -- President Abraham
Lincoln, November 10, 1864.
July 6, 2004
Right-Wing Censure Effort Backfired
One of my favorite editorial cartoons of all time dates back to the late 1980s. It features a panic-stricken Salman Rushdie running for his life as he's being chased by a pack of angry Muslim clerics targeting him because of his allegedly blasphemous work, "The Satanic Verses."
June 14, 2004
Is America a "Christian Nation"?
There is no shortage of religious denominations that are fond of making the claim that America is a Christian nation. And they're partly right, in a
very narrow sense.
May 24, 2004
Immigrants Will Assimilate, Just Give Them Time
Not long ago I had some furniture delivered to my home. I dutifully camped out at my house during the proper time-slot designated by the store, and
waited for the truck to arrive with my spanking new recliners.
May 11, 2004
A College Education? Now More than Ever!
Most of us remember our adolescence. Sometimes it was idyllic, sometimes it was confusing, and sometimes teen angst washed over our pathetic little existences to the point where we couldn't perform functions as basic as cleaning up our rooms.
April 26, 2004
Over 30 years ago that pleasant little salutation was perhaps the last word
young American men wanted to hear. It was the Selective Service's way of
letting them know they'd just been drafted into the military.
April 13, 2004
Is Bush Losing His Primary Base?
Not long ago I was filling up at a local gas station. Next to me were a
couple of thirtyish men pumping gas into their silver pickup truck.
March 26, 2004
Something For Nothing
One of the most pronounced human tendencies is the intractable desire to get
something for nothing. We start early - as children. Christmas isn't
important to us because it's a major religious holiday or because it's an
opportunity to spend time with family - kids like Christmas because they get
a big haul of loot.
March 11, 2004
I Hope My Vote Gets Counted in November
On Tuesday, March 2nd, I left my job in Virginia a little early. I wanted to make it to Mount Pleasant to cast my vote in the primary election, and wasn't in the mood to deal with the usual pleasures of the I-270 rush-hour logjams.
February 27, 2004
Who Do Your Trust? or Happy "Trails" To You
It's Friday afternoon. You're taking your mother-in-law out in the evening, so you saunter over to your favorite ATM for a stack of fresh twenties. You all hit the show at the Weinberg, gallantly cover the bill, and edge one millimeter closer to her ever-elusive approval.