Richard B. Weldon Jr.
September 18, 2017
A Caretaker Government
disasters are reasonably predictable, or at least our 24/7 news cycle presents
us with sufficient notice to be at least partially prepared for the worst
aspects. Two recent examples, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, offer both proof and
August 21, 2017
The Seduction of Silence
you look, everything you read, and almost everything you hear these days
regards either the existence or the removal of iconic historical monuments to
those who fought for the losing side in our “long national struggle.”
July 31, 2017
Governing by Tweet
characters. Social media platform Twitter created the infamous text limit in
order to allow messages to be sent by the Short Message Service, or SMS. Anyone
wishing to express a thought on Twitter must cull it down to the essentials,
and say whatever needs saying with only 140 characters.
July 24, 2017
The Curtain Hasn’t Fallen on the Congressional Circus
is like crack cocaine for a political junkie. Once you turn it on, even just
the audio stream, morbid curiosity keeps you tuned to the unfolding train
wreck. Add in the Trump Administration’s responses, and it’s truly one of the
world’s most compelling forms of entertainment.
July 17, 2017
Magnolia Battlefield: A clash over aesthetics
a Founding Father, John Adams said: “The
moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the
law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect
it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”
June 19, 2017
Searching for a Reason
told us it was collusion. Whispered conversations between Trump campaign
officials and Russian government officials, in the dark hallways of power in
Washington, in secret meetings in Trump Tower, or in tightly access-controlled
government buildings in the former Soviet Union.
May 2, 2017
The Insolence of Man vs. History – Part Two
yesterday’s column, the removal of the Roger Brooke Taney bust from in front of
Frederick City Hall was the basis of an examination of the role of monuments to
remind us from where we’ve come.
May 1, 2017
The Insolence of Man vs. History – Part One
starts with a perceived wrong. It ends with the pretense that by altering a
physical representation, we can remove a blight from our nation’s history.
December 12, 2016
Two Years Under Charter
Frederick County celebrated the first two years of the Charter form of
government. Okay, maybe celebrate isn’t the right word, at least not for
November 21, 2016
Jefferson’s Enduring Creation
a trip to Monticello, the home and final resting place of Thomas Jefferson, the
third President of the United States of America. Really, if you haven’t
already, take the trip!
November 18, 2016
Fighting the Dopey Instincts
instincts. We’ve all got them. What distinguishes the real dopes from the rest
of us occasional dopes is that most of us skillfully manage the tendency to
think and act like a real dope.
November 14, 2016
Ins and Outs as of January 20, 2017
funny thing about national elections is that they often don’t end up as
envisioned by political pundits. On rare occasions, the outcome rattles the
political establish to its core, and the repercussions are felt long afterward.
July 25, 2016
A Gathering of Elephants
week, the National Republican Convention drew party faithful to Cleveland, Ohio,
like moths to a flame. Luckily, the only one who got burned was anarchists,
whose flame jumped to their own clothing from the American flag they were
trying to burn, and to their fellow protestors.
June 20, 2016
Falling in and out of “Like”
some inexplicable level, the idea of the Donald Trump candidacy is truly
appealing. Is it the whole outsider thing? Is it the aspirational interest in
the rogue billionaire who largely self-funded the primary campaign? Is it the
thumb in the eye to the political and media establishment?
May 9, 2016
Consider the Circumstances
the last few weeks, Frederick’s local news has been replete with non-political
stories about political personalities, both those who serve in office currently
and those who used to. Much of that news has been less than flattering.
March 14, 2016
The Promise of Charter
sounded like the salve to our political wounds, a form of government that
promised focused vision, cooperation and responsibility. For decades, the
process of running a large and complex county by committee, with five people
who shared executive and legislative duties, was clunky, confusing and often
led to crazy ideological swings every four years (Growth vs. No Growth).
February 22, 2016
The value of political insight
would be within reason to expect that two decades of active, involved political
experience at the local, county and state level might increase the value of
political wisdom to the person who acquired that experience.
January 18, 2016
State of the Union: Show v. Substance
Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union address last Tuesday night was much
anticipated. Democrats (and major media outlets except Fox News) all waited with breathless anticipation for what they
hoped would be a historic rallying cry for liberal principles. They were
December 7, 2015
In less than two months, registered voters in Iowa will brave the
Midwest cold to gather in community rooms, church social halls and gymnasiums
to cast what are loosely defined as the nation’s first votes for president.
November 23, 2015
The State of the Media
The national news
media claims to be under assault by the Republican candidates for the
presidency. There’s no question that GOP candidates like Donald Trump, Ben
Carson and others see benefit in forwarding a dialogue about the lack of
fairness in how Republican candidates are covered versus the more favorable
reporting on Democrats.
October 19, 2015
A Mother’s Misguided Passion
Thursday’s Frederick News-Post featured an above the fold, front page news story entitled “Saving lives,
raffling guns: Firehouses raise funds with firearms.”
October 12, 2015
When will we learn?
Another group of students doing nothing more than attending class
at their local community college lay dead and wounded at the hands of a sick
and twisted loner. They went there to learn, they left there in body bags and
on gurneys, victims of an angry and confused young adult.
September 28, 2015
Narrowing The Field
it was Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He was the guy who told us all that he would be a
much better candidate. His past experience (in 2012) had taught him the
importance of being healthy, focused and prepared for the grueling slog that is
the presidential primary process.
September 7, 2015
Renaming Mount McKinley
a move right out of the film Wag the Dog,
President Barack Obama flew to Alaska to spend a few late summer days away from
DC. Not sure if he was looking for warmer weather, or maybe safer surroundings,
but he and his multi-million dollar retinue loaded up the jumbo jets and flew
August 31, 2015
It’s a long way to the Primary – Part 2
a recent national poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, Donald Trump leads
the second place candidate, Dr. Ben Carson, by eleven (11) points.
August 27, 2015
Trump v. Univision: A Lesson in Politics
Trump candidacy just keeps redefining traditional presidential politics. The
most recent example tells us more about the “Trump for President” movement than
anything that has happened to date, and considering how much has happened since
Donald J. Trump announced, that’s saying something.
August 24, 2015
It’s a long way to the Primary – Part 1
last few columns have analyzed the outsider phenomenon in the Republican
presidential primary. Time to look at the insiders.
August 10, 2015
week’s column explored the Trump candidacy, trying to examine the motivation of
voters to a candidate unlike any campaign in recent memory.
August 3, 2015
consequence of having a legitimate celebrity in a contested political race is
that our attention is drawn to the process like a moth to a floodlight. Donald
Trump is the light, and the media, GOP voters and pretty much everyone else are
June 22, 2015
first, it felt like a joke. It had to be, right? Real estate mogul, business
tycoon, entrepreneur, TV celebrity, beauty pageant producer and bad hairdo
owner Donald J. Trump announcing his candidacy for President of The United
June 16, 2015
you saw his commercial? There he was, looking very fatherly, sitting sideways
with his hands in lap, gazing at us – full of sincerity and seriousness – in
his open-collared shirt and blue blazer.
May 4, 2015
A Man in Charge
strode into the press conference reeking of a mixture of confidence and
control, exactly the characteristics that had been missing from previous media
opportunities. Following a night of rioting, looting, arson and angry
confrontations between protesters and law enforcement, the Governor of Maryland
simply and clearly described his objectives.
April 13, 2015
The Battle of Trout Run
a potentially toxic mix. A local elected body, a controversial religious
organization, competent staff and a small group of vocal civic activists.
March 16, 2015
Republicans miss the bus…again
play the analogy game. This will require an active imagination, but let’s
pretend that the Obama Administration is a charter bus. All of the president’s policies,
cabinet officers and Executive Branch employees are stuffed inside. His bus is
roaring down the proverbial road, the ultimate destination is the end of his
term, his legacy, if you will.
February 23, 2015
Rocky Roads and Rough Waters
is no doubt that those of us who strongly supported charter government were
employing a measure of hope in our strategy for the new government.
January 26, 2015
Invisible Rabbits and Declining Memory
We’re returning to familiar ground, this time the stage at Frederick Community College’s Jack Kussmaul Theater. This column, if you bother to go back through the decades-long history, occasionally touches upon the theme of community theater in Frederick.
January 19, 2015
Letter Writing Legislators
Recently, 27 state delegates and senators, all Democrats, submitted an open letter to MarylandReporter.com. The letter is intended to serve as advice to newly elected Gov. Larry Hogan as he prepares to take the oath of office on Wednesday.
December 29, 2014
Time to Move On
The Christmas cookies have been consumed, the jolly old man is comfortably back at his workshop at the North Pole, and the world braces for the unknown – both good and bad – that awaits us in the New Year.
December 15, 2014
The Senate Intelligence Committee, led until January by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D., CA) issued a majority report on a two-year staff investigation of enhanced interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the War on Terror.
December 1, 2014
No Substitute for Good Judgment
The only thing obvious about the evening of November 24 in Ferguson, Missouri, was the utter predictability of the outcome. A several-month long grand jury deliberation, the inevitable leaking and speculating about the sealed testimony, and the 24-hour cable news cycle’s thirst for relevant (or even irrelevant) information set the tone.
November 17, 2014
Meet the New Boss
A recent column discussing the local general election results consumed more space than the esteemed publisher prefers, so musings about the gubernatorial outcome just didn't fit.
November 10, 2014
Shaken, Stirred and Spilled
It seems as though everyone is writing about last Tuesday. The results were so mind-altering, so earth-shattering that you can't really blame the keyboard commandos for being drawn to this story like so many moths to a flame.
October 20, 2014
Two Weeks Out
Really, we shouldn't even be having a conversation about the race for governor. In Maryland, the election of the Democratic Party candidate should be a virtual given. With a greater than 2-1 voter registration advantage statewide, there should be no mystery here.
October 13, 2014
So you think you know Blaine Young? (Part 2)
In my column last week, Blaine Young responded to questions about the important personal and professional influences that have informed his view of the world, and the work that he tries to do. It should come as no surprise that some prominent old-school political types fall into that category, but he is far from myopic about what really matters in life.
October 6, 2014
So you think you know Blaine Young?
The headline above this column is designed to elicit an immediate response. This is not rhetorical, as almost every person of voting age in Frederick County has an answer. That was the motivation for this two-part piece.
September 29, 2014
Six Weeks and a Wake-up Call
Back in the Navy, the passage of time was tied to the number of months, weeks, days and hours until some momentous event, such as returning home from a patrol.
September 22, 2014
Into The Looking Glass…Darkly
Once again, it seems as though we’re learning to hate our own creation. This time, our collective outrage is focused on the world of professional sports. We love them on the playing field, but we cringe at the headlines reporting their human frailties.
September 1, 2014
Getting It Right (Correct)!
So, this is my not-so-triumphant return. I've been in exile, the victim of a combination of poor judgment on my part and intolerant elected officials who take offense to opinions that differ with their own.
September 2, 2013
Prepare Yourself: The City Election Is Near
Consider this a call to arms for registered voters in the City of Frederick. You are one week and a wakeup call away from the Primary Election Day for mayor and the Board of Aldermen.
August 26, 2013
Which Newt Will We Get?
So, former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich (R., GA) is undergoing his next political reinvention.
August 19, 2013
Different Race, Same Old Horses – Part Two
So, the winds of change will blow across Frederick County in 2014. The big question is: Will we see new faces and hear new voices?
August 12, 2013
Different Race, Same Old Horses – Part One
It seems as if our whole political world is changing. The 2014 election heralds the beginning of a new phase, a new form of government for our county.
July 22, 2013
How The Scorecard Really Works
Once again, the always questionably credible League of Conservation Voters is out with its annual assessment of votes cast by our state legislators.
June 24, 2013
When winning is losing
When you hold a political affiliation for 30 years, it’s hard to let it go. Harder still when the holder’s basic ideology stays the same, yet the party flops all over the philosophical map.
June 3, 2013
Paying the Price – or Not
The public's reaction to the Frederick Board of County Commissioners on a number of controversial decisions lays the groundwork for the 2014 campaign.
May 20, 2013
The Business of Government
You've heard it before. "Government should run like a business." Conservative candidates and office-holders cite it like a mantra. It's often used as an excuse to cut jobs or programs, drawing a parallel with the private sector's focus on shareholder return.
April 15, 2013
A Post Mortem and a 2016 Vision
As the confetti and balloons fell from above on another session of the Maryland General Assembly last Monday, the most progressive 90 days of lawmaking in recent memory came to a close.
April 8, 2013
The General Asylum At Work
An abundance of power encourages arrogance, and access to unlimited power encourages moral and ethical collapse. Nowhere is this truer than in the Maryland General Assembly.
April 1, 2013
Same ol' Same ol' from Same Direction
In a replay of the ideological battles of decades past, a group of concerned parents/residents have banded together to fight Winchester Hall. Over the years, the alphabetic alignment of the acronym has changed, but the background is stunningly similar.
March 25, 2013
There is hope for America
For the best part of two decades, people of faith have expressed increasing concern that our society was collapsing into a moral morass, a veritable cesspool of debauchery fueled by easy access to images and language that objectified, demeaned and denigrated.
March 18, 2013
Stupid Leadership Equals Stupid Results
First it was the original debt deal. Then it was the fiscal cliff. Next up is the continuing resolution for all but the Defense Department. Then it will be the next debt ceiling extension.
March 11, 2013
Handicapping a City Horse Race – Part 2
Last week we talked about the Frederick City incumbent, Mayor Randy McClement, and his highest profile announced opponents from the opposite party. Mayor McClement also faces possible opposition from within his own party.
March 4, 2013
Handicapping a City Horse Race – Part 1
So, the candidates are lining up to claim the fancy wood-paneled office on the second floor of Frederick's City Hall.
February 11, 2013
Escapes Within Easy Reach – Part 2
Last week’s column focused on the motives for a serious case of wanderlust. It isn't hard to satisfy those cravings; it isn't really expensive and you don't have to go far.
February 4, 2013
Escapes Within Easy Reach – Part 1
A calm starry Southern Maryland night. The gentle lapping of the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River at their point of confluence. The gentle rustling of the breeze through marsh grass and pine needles. A symphony of shorebirds sings you to sleep and wakes you in the morning.
January 7, 2013
“Les Misérables:” A Triumph
Movie reviews are normally reserved for the qualified. Not this time. Employing what little theatrical skill remains, here's a film review by a completely unqualified analyst.
December 31, 2012
Memo from The Prediction Department
Tomorrow brings in 2013, the unfulfilled promise of a new year in which to renew, refresh and reinvigorate. People typically resolve to do things differently, to be healthier and better than they were in the year past. Sadly, most of these resolutions barely survive the month, much less the year.
December 24, 2012
Finding Peace and Solace
There hasn't been a time in recent recollection when the promise heralded by a humble birth in a dusty stable has had as much meaning as it does right now.
December 17, 2012
“Stupid is as Stupid does!”**
Ignorance is unavoidable. Regardless of the venue of expression, it is virtually impossible to follow news of any type and not be confronted by ignorance.
December 3, 2012
The Perils of No Tax Increase Pledges
It's a topic that's been covered before, here on these very pages. A Washington lobbyist, acting as a political power broker, convinces scores of candidates for state and federal office to sign a pledge to never, under any circumstances, raise taxes.
November 26, 2012
A First Step In The Right Direction
The appetite most Americans have for a solution-oriented United States Congress seems to be spurring state and local leaders to take action.
November 19, 2012
New Steps to a New Government
Frederick County voters sent a signal on Election Day. Not satisfied with the status quo, and unswayed by the arguments of many politically connected and populist messengers, a larger than expected majority rejected our venerated commissioner form of government.
November 12, 2012
Winners and Losers
Once again, political prognostication turns out to be a dangerous game. At the national level, President Barack Obama will make a return visit to the west front of the U.S. Capitol in mid-January to recite the oath of office.
November 5, 2012
Analyzing Ballot Questions
The respective political cases have been made. Facts were argued, slickly produced ads have run, and all manner of distortions have been offered.
October 29, 2012
A Blind Eye to a Vision for The Nation
We have a choice to make on November 6. For most of us, the choosing is already done. For a smaller group, the votes have already been cast. Early voting makes that possible and convenient.
October 22, 2012
The Answer to The Question
This column started life as an ode to the question that I get asked the most. It relates to my decision to dis-affiliate with the Republican Party.
October 15, 2012
To The Victor, No Spoils
Last Thursday night gave us the one and only debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., WI), which was held in Danville KY.
October 8, 2012
A Slam-Dunk Election Snapshot
President Barack Obama is a self-acknowledged basketball aficionado. He adores the game, going so far as to have a court installed on the White House grounds.
October 1, 2012
An Embarrassment of Riches and Greased Palms
It really doesn't matter what you personally think about government-sponsored gaming. The truly pathetic aspect of the current debate is how much money the various interests are pouring into the campaign, and the motivation behind the investment.
September 24, 2012
The Results Aren’t Pretty – There or Here
September 11, 2012, will be remembered as the day when Islamic jihadists attacked sovereign U.S. territory for a second time in 11 years.
September 17, 2012
The Good, Bad and Ugly at the Conventions
If Tampa represented the core GOP conservative coming-out, Charlotte was an old-fashioned good time, rocking and rolling progressive party.
September 10, 2012
Media Focus Misdirected in Tampa
Last week's column was saved in memory before the first GOP convention speech was given. The analysis was saved for today.
September 3, 2012
Opposition Characterization and Actuality
So, it was party time in Tampa Bay, Republican-style. Hurricanes and tropical storms aside, it was a beauty pageant week for the GOP. Well, considering the amalgamation of stupid hats and garish outfits, maybe beauty pageant isn't the best description.
August 27, 2012
A Guide to a Tortured Ballot
Politicians seem to do everything in their power to make the practice of democracy as complicated as possible. Like everything else, on one hand we fuss about the lack of voter enthusiasm, and then we load up the ballot with complex and confusing questions.
August 20, 2012
An Odyssey Unlike Any Other
The only people who will ever truly understand the phrase "serves at the pleasure of the mayor" is someone who actually does.
August 6, 2012
What to do? What not to do!
On the eve of another election, this one a municipal election in Brunswick, lots of random thoughts are rolling around this writer's cranial cavity. The most cogent thought relates to the $100 property tax rebate program.
July 30, 2012
Is it just me, or does this summer seem like a drag? The first problem was taking a week's vacation to Myrtle Beach in early June. Normally, vacations have always been a late summer thing, but the chance to spend a whole week at the shore with the children and grandchildren was just too tempting.
July 23, 2012
Finding a Solution
They say that guns don't kill people, people kill people. On that fundamental point, advocates of the Second Amendment to The United States Constitution are right. In fact, they're dead right.
July 9, 2012
Rest In Peace, Dale Driscoll
Our journey through life is aided by those who help us when we need it most, even if we don't realize it at the time.
June 25, 2012
Government Success With a Little Pain
The Baker Park swinging bridge is an iconic symbol of a beloved public green space amidst the hustle and bustle of downtown Frederick.
June 18, 2012
Regulating Cabs – Fair or Foul?
It probably seems like too much government, and it just might be. A recent flap has arisen between Blaine Young, the president of the Board of County Commissioners and the Board of Aldermen of the City of Frederick.
June 11, 2012
The Joys – and the Pain – of a Family Vacation
Someone (probably Erma Bombeck) once wrote that "there's nothing better than spending time with family, until you're stuck inside in the rain." A week-long family beach vacation, at first blush, sounds like a memory-making, relationship-building and happiness-off-the-chart inducing good time.
May 28, 2012
What Makes Us What We Are?
Last week, the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 100th anniversary, 100 years of providing a resource for Frederick County businesses of all sizes to grow, employ, invest and prosper.
May 21, 2012
Who’s better to lead in this economy?
Last week, we examined the presidential race from the perspective that one candidate's view of business was more positive while the other perspective was more negative.
May 14, 2012
Corporations – Good or Evil
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney defends the principles of free-market capitalism as the cornerstone of his candidacy. It's easy to see why. His own business acumen has made him a multi-millionaire.
May 7, 2012
There was a time, not so many years ago, that then-President George W. Bush was accused of carrying out a dangerously irresponsible expansionist foreign policy.
April 30, 2012
History tells the story of the delicate balance of power envisioned by our founders. The executive branch of our government was designed to be the method through which federal work got done. The legislative branch was intended to be the branch that defined and authorized that work, and the judicial branch was created to adjudicate the differences.
April 23, 2012
Saving the Players
Frequent readers will understand the passion for The FrederickTowne Players, a local community theater group. Between politics and local theater, my little universe has expanded far beyond anything I could ever imagine.
April 16, 2012
The General Assembly wrapped up its business at midnight April 9th...well, sort of. The state’s Constitution requires the General Assembly of Maryland to meet for 90 days, from the second Wednesday in January until the second Monday in April.
April 9, 2012
Apples to Oranges
Frederick County's political history is marked by wide swings in voter preference. Typically related to the issue of residential growth, the last several commissioner election cycles have seen pro-growth boards replaced by slow or no-growth boards, if not every four years, at least every eight.
April 2, 2012
For Political Junkies, It Doesn’t Get Any Better
Trust me, tomorrow really matters. Exercising your rights to vote in a primary election sends the final combatants into a head-to-head battle for the general election.
March 26, 2012
Religion and Principles
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is undoubtedly a man of faith. Everything he has said and done throughout the Republican presidential primary season affirms that fact.
March 19, 2012
Democrats, most notably those closest to the president, claim a whole list of things that you cannot blame on Barack Obama.
March 12, 2012
President Barack Obama took advantage of a Super Tuesday press event to steal the spotlight from the Republican candidates aspiring to replace him.
March 5, 2012
The A&E Network runs a popular show called “Intervention.” The show features people struggling with addiction, and chronicles the travails of their loved ones as they force the addicts to see the impact of their self-destructive behavior on themselves, as well as the catastrophic result on everyone and everything around them.
February 27, 2012
Former Pennsylvania Senator and GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum is riding high among Tea Party-identified and likely conservative Republican voters. He gained significant momentum by surprising Mitt Romney in a three-state primary/caucus sweep a couple of weeks back.
February 20, 2012
Punditry All Around
Instead of the usual several hundred words on one topic, how about flitting around from issue to issue to cover the spectrum?
February 13, 2012
Health vs. Religion
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Service Kathleen Sebilius announced recently the Obama Administration's rollout of the regulations regarding the national healthcare initiative.
February 6, 2012
The Foundering GOP Message
Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus was being interviewed by CBS News Bob Schieffer on the Sunday morning political talk-fest a week ago yesterday.
January 30, 2012
Open for Business
The next big battle between state and local government might just play out along a highway in Frederick County.
January 23, 2012
Appalling and Disgusting
The truly memorable moment of the South Carolina primary debate last Thursday night occurred within the first 10 minutes.
January 16, 2012
Raw Political Ambition – Nationally and Locally
Why is it that partisan politicians constantly place their own aspirations ahead of their party's best interests?
January 9, 2012
The Looming Assembly
The time when all good little legislators pack their grips and head for Annapolis is near at hand.
January 2, 2012
Twisted New Year's Resolutions
So, we made it. Another year, another set of promises to make for the coming year that we probably won't keep.
December 26, 2011
The World’s Worst Job
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner might have the world’s worst job. Sure, he gets driven around in an armored SUV, and it’s a little hard to be sympathetic to a guy who makes close to $200K per year for a job that only requires you to be at work about a third of the time (or less).
December 19, 2011
More fiddlers amidst the fire
So, the Frederick County Board of Education cannot decide who should serve a one year term as President. Big deal.
December 12, 2011
Recalling the past
The many political opponents of County Commissioner Blaine Young will seemingly stop at nothing in their quest to turn the clock back to prior to November 2010.
December 6, 2011
The Sixth District – Part Two
In Part One posted yesterday, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's chief of staff, Bud Otis, revealed that his political aspirations trump his loyalty to his employer. Former State Sen. Alex Mooney seems intent to seize upon this moment of confusion to jumpstart his own campaign for Congress.
December 5, 2011
The Sixth District – Part One
Speculating over the political future of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R., MD 6) has fast become a routine spectator sport. It's just too juicy to ignore, the idea the 10-term congressman might be vulnerable after two decades of electoral dominance.
November 28, 2011
A less perfect Union
We don't expect a perfect Union. The Founders didn't promise perfection; they promised a structure in order to work toward a "more" perfect one. Historically, we always understood that perfection in government is a fantasy, politics is a people business. That's where the problem comes in.
November 21, 2011
The Case for Huntsman
It's best to a leave a primary fight up to the members of a party. Unfortunately, sometimes a little outside prodding is needed to open some eyes.
November 14, 2011
A Tattered Legacy
The air in the hills around Beaver Canyon is heavy these days. State College, PA, the shrine to success in the ranks of collegiate football, finds itself the center of a storm the likes of which we haven’t seen since the priesthood sex scandals surrounding the Roman Catholic Church.
November 7, 2011
Derailing the Cain Train
Seems like it always come down to a sex scandal. Herman Cain, the gospel-singing, core conservative, and former pizza chain CEO, has seen his national popularity among GOP and Tea Party voters rocket since September.
October 31, 2011
Protesters: Listen to Your Grandparents
Oh, great. A bunch of disaffected 20-somethings, angry about the difficulty of finding a job in a tough economy and frustrated that wishing for a profitable career just hasn't made it so, gather in smelly clusters and hold up crude signs.
October 24, 2011
The GOP Beauty Pageant
The latest debate, hosted this time by CNN on October 23, fell into a familiar pattern. These events are intended to grant Republican primary voters insights into the style and substance of the candidates for president. Instead, they've become an embarrassment.
October 17, 2011
Who's to blame?
First it was the National Football League. Billionaire sports team owners and multi-millionaire professional athletes squabbling over the distribution of monies collected from supportive fans and media outlets that spoon-feed those same fans.
October 10, 2011
When is good good enough?
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, must be a little mystified during this GOP primary season. You have to give the guy an “A” for effort; he's certainly been trying to keep his best foot forward and out of his mouth.
October 3, 2011
A Pathetic Protest – Part Two
Last week, we reviewed the underwhelming and repetitive protests targeting Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R., MD 6th). The idea of a bunch of ex-hippies and Democratic Party insiders regularly gathering to fuss about a guy they cannot beat through the electoral process just gets tiresome.
September 26, 2011
A Pathetic Protest – Part One
There they go again! MoveOn.org, the environmental "movement" and the Democratic Party's calendar must have a 90-day tickler note. Something like: Change of Season, time to go protest at Congressman Roscoe Bartlett's office.
September 19, 2011
A Measure of Humanity
One week removed from the solemn remembrances of Sept. 11, from flags waving on front porches and yards of proud Americans bound together by overwhelmingly national pride, the reactions of a handful of political activists’ risks redefining our historic commitment to humanity and dignity for those among us of lesser station in life.
September 12, 2011
Last week on Labor Day, James Riddle Hoffa, Jr., the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, finally started acting like the thug we all suspected he was harboring deep inside. His father was the lion of the modern American labor movement, the birthright genius of rousing a rabble to action.
September 5, 2011
Speeches, plans and power
It’s Labor Day, and the week of the big Capitol Hill speech by President Barack Obama. His lackeys and messengers call this the JOBS speech, and it ought to be a whopper, since he needed 10 days in Martha’s Vineyard to concoct it.
August 22, 2011
Creation vs. Evolution: Re-staging the battle
If you’ve read these columns, you’ll recognize a familiar pattern. Every few years, the call of the live stage is too strong to ignore. A show comes along that peaks an interest, and the juices start flowing.
August 15, 2011
Malaise or Dysfunction?
We find ourselves in a national funk, and not the George Clinton/Parliament Funkadelic kind of funk. If you don't get the reference, run a Google search on George Clinton or download Give Up The Funk, Atomic Dog, or Flashlight.
July 25, 2011
America's game; Brunswick's triumph
It was America in miniature, all of the best of our great nation displayed on a local Little League field.
July 18, 2011
Put Down the Shovel and Stop Digging!
Turn on a radio or television. If you don’t hear a politician or pundit drone on about the debt ceiling debate, then you‘ll hear an issue advertisement on the same subject.
July 4, 2011
Let's be clear. This is not some socialist call for a new holiday to replace the birth of our great nation. We must maintain a celebration of the founding of our country, the brave and daring realization of the dream of patriots to break free of oppressive British rule and establish a democratic government of, by and for the people.
June 20, 2011
Studying the Privatization Study
Oliver Porter, the consultant chosen by the Board of County Commissioners to study privatizing certain county government services, unveiled his report last Thursday.
June 13, 2011
Packing or Unpacking Politically?
So, the county commissioners want to examine privatizing services. Nothing new here, governments at all levels have looked to shift certain services from the public to the private sector for decades.
June 6, 2011
Stop the NCAA Madness
Madness is an overused term that describes the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) annual basketball tournament in March of each year. Madness seems to be a fitting jump-off point for a discussion about the nature of amateur athletes and higher education.
May 30, 2011
One man's annoyance is another's salvation
Pick a nuisance that generates neighborhood complaints: noise from a highway; noise from a siren; lights from a ball field; traffic from an industrial site; or odors from a farm. What’s your poison?
May 9, 2011
King of the Straw Men
Some politicians thrive on bold, brash action. Others create their political success on grand visions and the ability to share that insight with voters.
May 2, 2011
At the April 26 Board of County Commissioners work session, Board President Blaine Young and long-serving Commissioner David Gray got into a little manhood contest over the budget.
April 25, 2011
Secession: Frederick’s Burning Question
This coming weekend marks the 150th anniversary of a Special Session of the Maryland General Assembly. Events of 1861 presaged the great and climactic war that was to come, the war for the very heart and soul of our young nation.
April 18, 2011
Lowered expectations and shredded paper
It ends in a shower of confetti. The 2011 Maryland General Assembly came to a close last Monday, the gavel drop at midnight concluding 90 days of debate and posturing.
April 11, 2011
Idiocracy: Congress, the President, and the federal budget
New York Democratic Sen. Charles (Chuck) Schumer brought the kind of clarity to the current FY 11 federal budget debate that had been missing for the last several months. Remember, all this talk of shutting down the federal government over an inability to reach agreement on a continuing funding mechanism should have been resolved last September.
April 4, 2011
An Inconvenient Newt
Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich (R., GA) knows a thing or two about the principle of shutting down the federal government in order to win a budget fight.
March 28, 2011
County Delegation’s Surprise Success
Spring is trying to squeeze its way into the weather forecast in mid-Maryland, but winter seems intent on hanging around a bit longer.
March 21, 2011
Random Observations – Part Two
Last week, local issues took center stage here. Today, state and federal political challenges warrant some scrutiny.
March 14, 2011
Random Observations – Part One
From the bottom to the top, this has been a fairly significant couple of weeks – from Frederick’s City Hall, to Winchester Hall, all the way to Annapolis and Washington.
March 7, 2011
The Death of Common Sense
It starts with a few silly reactions and stupid statements. Left unchallenged, the makers of those remarks are emboldened to expand the reach of the inane and inappropriate. The rest of us start off laughing, but end up regretting having allowed it to become the new normal.
February 23, 2011
Bargaining for The Collective Interest
Governors across America are faced with the worst possible scenario. Can they save their governments from certain fiscal ruin by obtaining concessions from government employee unions to offset personnel costs?
February 21, 2011
The Keys to The Stadium
Motherhood, baseball, and apple pie. These three things nurture us, sustain us and entertain us. It seems our entire national ethos revolves around these things. How, then, accepting the role each plays in defining our character, could any of these become the basis for a local political controversy?
February 14, 2011
When $74 Billion Just Isn’t Enough
Last week, Rep. Harold Rogers (R., KY), the chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, announced the Republican spending cuts to President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget. The sweeping GOP spending cuts lop off over $74 billion of programmed spending by the Obama Administration, and gut hundreds of programs popular with Democrats, inner city voters, and liberal special interests.
February 7, 2011
Showdown at the Budget Corral
It was a classic clash of special interests and unpopular choices. The Tuesday, February 1, Board of County Commissioners meeting to discuss the Fire and Rescue division budget and fire tax turned into a shootout. The rhetorical bullets were flying in the first floor hearing room at Winchester Hall.
January 31, 2011
Gun Politics – Part Two
Gun rights debates aren’t just the national argument du jour, either. We have a pretty hot little gun dispute simmering right here in Frederick County.
January 24, 2011
Gun Politics – Part One
How appropriate it is to have a discussion of the politics of gun control in the weeks following the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of six people who attended her Congress on the Corner event in Tucson, Arizona.
January 20, 2011
Dogs and double standards
How does one defend the practice of dog fighting and animal cruelty? Simple answer: One doesn’t!
January 17, 2011
Play the cards we’re dealt – Part One
The title conjures images of felt-covered tables, cigar smoke, and classic bluffs with an empty hand. Take away the cigars thanks to political correctness, replace the felt tables with marble hallways, and you have the challenge faced by the new Frederick County legislative delegation.
January 10, 2011
A Political Journey – Part Two
Last week, we examined the first phase of a political journey from small town administration to the state capital. Left unanswered was the question of design and intent.
January 3, 2011
A Political Journey – Part One
There’s no other way to tell this story than to be brutally honest. This is a primer on how to achieve a position of power, influence and privilege. The fable is followed by a dire warning and a prediction, so you’ve got to stick it out to the final curtain.
December 27, 2010
The New Ringleader
Maryland Republicans spoke loudly at their recent state party convention. Given the choice between two very different candidates and personal styles, convention-goers chose recently defeated State Senator Alex Mooney of Frederick and Washington County.
December 20, 2010
Defining the Division
Asked recently about the state of our Republic, the challenge wasn’t describing the problem, the really hard part was trying to diagnose a prescription for change.
December 6, 2010
Rediscovering Christmas Magic
Crisp December breezes carry the promise of another Frederick winter. Scarves, toques, gloves and overcoats emerge from hibernation in boxes tucked away in attics and basements. In some places, the chilling change of seasons and onset of winter’s icy breath brings with it a bunker mentality, the desire to burrow in with a cup of hot chocolate and a crackling fire.
November 29, 2010
Once a scribe, always a scribe
No, I never really stopped. In fact, some of the best stuff I’ve written was conceived during the pseudo self-imposed hiatus brought about my attempt at humor on these very pages. No need to revisit history, you know the deal.
June 7, 2010
President Barack Obama may not have been my choice, but I also don’t think he’s unfit, unqualified, or unworthy of the office of President of the United States. The “Birthers,” conspiracy nuts, and ultra conservatives, who suggest otherwise, sound a little goofy.
May 31, 2010
Is it just me?
Is it just me, or do you also wonder how a Mexican can argue logically that America’s borders should be open while you’d be jailed for up to 10 years if you entered Mexico illegally?
May 24, 2010
Our Delegation – How’d they do?
Next to stepping down early, one of the hardest things to do is to look back at the just-completed General Assembly session to score the Frederick delegation.
May 10, 2010
Up is Down, and Down is Up
Musing about traditional party politics is becoming a habit. The tidbits are just too juicy to ignore, especially for the political junkies of the world.
May 3, 2010
First a diagnosis, now the treatment
Having written a warning column about the Republican Party’s challenges, it seemed time to turn to other subjects.
April 26, 2010
A Shining Moment – or Disaster?
My old political affiliation finds itself locked in a struggle. It’s a struggle over definition, philosophy, and purpose.
March 29, 2010
A Love Letter
If he were still here, I’d ask Tom “Petey” Nuse if it was okay to write a love letter to his wife, Wanda. He’s no longer with us, but I suspect he might grant his approval. My wife won’t mind, either. She has always referred to Wanda as my girlfriend.
March 22, 2010
Spoiling a journey
They say a journey begins with the first step. This little essay describes a journey that began with a dinner conversation.
March 15, 2010
It started the way these things usually do. While working on a vehicle in an alley, a resident noted heat and smoke coming from a garage behind their home. A small fire quickly consumed the combustible material that had been collected over many decades and spread throughout the old buildings. The fire engulfed three separate garages initially, but very quickly spread to all six garage buildings in the row.
March 1, 2010
Change you can shovel
There is no doubt that global climate change is an issue. Scientists might argue about the differences between cyclical changes and man-made forces as the principal accelerant behind the changes, but there are definitely verifiable changes.
January 25, 2010
The Law – Revisited
It just wouldn’t do to pretend to have enough credibility as a political participant or observer to update the great work penned by French statesman and economist Frederic Bastiat. Monsieur Bastiat’s best-known work, The Law, was published in 1850, written during and after the French Revolution of 1848. French society was turning to socialism, and M. Bastiat crafted an essay designed to halt the conversion.
January 11, 2010
General Assembly Journal 2010 – The Final Chapter
It ended in a scene not unlike the day it all began. Standing in the threshold of Room 324B of the Thomas Hunter Lowe House of Delegates Office building, staring at a small office furnished with well-worn but very nice wooden desk, cabinets, side tables, and credenza.
December 28, 2009
The United States Senate, arguably one of the most revered and venerated deliberative bodies in the world, is holding midnight voting sessions on a bill that will impact a major share of the national economy.
December 7, 2009
Quagmire or Necessity?
President Barack Obama laid out his plan for a troop increase in Afghanistan this past week in a prime time speech from the United States Military Academy at West Point New York.
October 26, 2009
Perspective, Chi-town style
No, this is not some obscure reference to foodie preferences for deep dish pizza or hot dogs slathered in onions, mustard, bright green relish, celery salt and a pickled green tomato.
October 19, 2009
Crazy Like a Fox...
Senator Olympia Snowe (R., ME) has never been an easily defined politician. In fact, in many ways, Senator Snowe defies categorization in the traditional political sense.
September 7, 2009
Defining Political Silliness
The President of the United States wants to talk to school children…oh, the horror! This guy wants to be granted access, though a web-based seminar, to our young impressionable minds. What terrifying subliminal messaging will be employed, what under-handed attempt to draw American schoolchildren into the evil web of progressive policy is afoot?
August 24, 2009
Undermining a Legacy
United States Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy (D., MA) is dying of brain cancer. This is an indisputable fact, acknowledged by even the normally tight-lipped Kennedy public relations machine. This should be a sad moment in American history regardless of your opinion of his political ideology and sordid personal history. Senator Kennedy has been one of the leading progressive voices in American political history.
August 10, 2009
MoveOn.org, that bastion of liberal thinking, is now in the business of defining speech. They’ve always considered themselves better than everyone else, now they’re defining by just how much they are better.
August 3, 2009
Failure may be the only option
Okay, by now you have to have spent time wondering why, in spite of all of the rhetoric thrown around over the last few decades, we’re no closer to substantive and meaningful healthcare reform than we’ve been before.
July 20, 2009
Maverickism and mistakes
Yes, dear reader, the first word in the title is not actually a real word. No, you won't find it in spell check or even the new slang version of the dictionary. Not yet, at least.
July 13, 2009
Becoming a Billionaire – Part 2
Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks is a billionaire industrialist who lives in a grand mansion at 987 Fifth Avenue in New York City. He's gruff, focused, and intent on building his empire, in spite of the onset of the Great Depression. He has a great deal of affection for his large staff, especially his personal assistant, Grace Farrell, although he goes to great lengths to not let that be known.
July 6, 2009
Becoming a Billionaire – Part 1
In the last few weeks, the transformation of my life from a relatively normal one to one of a 1920s industrial tycoon began.
June 29, 2009
The Bagel Master Burgermeister
So what is it about a very friendly and congenial local shop keeper that suggests he has the tools to the lead the City of Frederick? Only in City of Frederick politics could the phrase "He's a really nice guy" be considered pejorative.
June 22, 2009
Political Gut Checks
As my time in the political spotlight continues to wind down, I seem to be increasingly reflective. Not just about my own experience, but about politics and politicians in general.
June 15, 2009
Rest Easy, Good and Faithful Servant
Sadness settled over the Middletown Valley this weekend. As longtime residents of the Town of Middletown hear the news, voices were hushed in conversation and steps along Main Street lost some of their bounce.
June 8, 2009
The Summer of Our Political Discontent
Looks like it’s shaping up to be a scorcher. No, I don’t mean the summer temperature. I’m talking about the tone of public discourse.
June 1, 2009
The Empathetic Activist
President Barack Obama has thrown down a political gauntlet with the selection of federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the next United States Supreme Court justice.
May 25, 2009
The Art of Political Prevarication
Here's a hypothetical: A major politician holds a news conference on a very sensitive topic – the use of enhanced interrogation tactics to elicit information from enemy combatants and terrorists. In the course of the press event, a reporter asks this nationally known public figure a specific question about whether or not they were officially briefed on this subject while the tactics were actively being employed.
May 11, 2009
A recent set of news articles out of Anne Arundel County raise the issue of voter expectations for elected officials.
May 4, 2009
Rebranding the Grand Old Party
Last week, Eric Cantor (R., VA) the Republican Whip in the U.S. House of Representative, spoke to the Republican faithful in Frederick. Congressman Cantor, arguably the fastest GOP rising star in the House, laid out a cogent argument for sticking to the core principles of the party and denying the clamor for fundamental, structural change.
April 27, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 12-Part 2
Last week, we started a review of the fallout from the just completed General Assembly session. Let's pick up where we left off.
April 20, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 12
The General Assembly Department of Legislative Services produces a document each year summarizing the legislative session. This year, I thought I’d produce my own right here on The Tentacle.
April 13, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 11
A race worth saving? No, this is not some deep philosophical question about the future of mankind. The race is the Preakness, and the question relates more to the last minute effort to avoid a potential bankruptcy sale.
April 6, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 10
One week left, and the plate’s still pretty full. Major issues remain to be settled, yet the 426th Session of the Maryland General Assembly adjourns Sine Die a week from today.
March 30, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 9
One of the most contentious issues to storm Annapolis this legislative session hit the floor of the House of Delegates March 25. This matter has already been fully vetted in the Senate, not because the Senate is more important (it isn’t), but because passage of this bill was seemingly less likely than in the House.
March 16, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 8
Granting Personhood! Yes, I know what the editor is saying. What a terrible example of poor grammar in an opening. Unfortunately, I don’t make this stuff up, I just write about it!
March 2, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 7
Last Friday – the 27th – marked the 45th day of the legislative session, otherwise known as halfway day. What a difference a month makes.
February 23, 2009
Let me perfectly clear: my thinking on the subject of today’s column has evolved over the course of the last 30 years, and was clearly influenced by my experience in the Maryland House of Delegates over the last six years.
February 16, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Part 6
Another whirlwind week in Annapolis. From helicopter trauma transport to expensive steak lobbying dinners, the range of topics spans the important to the ridiculous.
February 9, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 5
Four weeks gone, but it seems like four months. Already we’ve seen some interesting debates and disputes, but the really troubling stuff lies ahead.
January 26, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 4
You can tell the 426th Maryland General Assembly is underway. Pick up any newspaper (assuming they still make home delivery in Frederick County), or turn on your evening news, and you’ll be assaulted with unmistakable evidence in the form of a failure of logic and reason.
January 19, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 3
The 426th Session of the Maryland General Assembly opened at noon last Wednesday. The normal pomp and ceremony seemed somehow muted, likely due to the budget storm clouds on the Annapolis horizon.
January 12, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 2
You stand at the base of the impressive marble steps and gaze up at the Georgian-era brick edifice to state governance laid out before you. This building, the Maryland State House, has served as the home of the state legislature since 1772.
December 29, 2008
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Volume 1
In a nod to my Navy submarine background, a common countdown tool was the number of days and a wake-up call until some significant milestone.
December 8, 2008
Where does it end?
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peacefully assemble, and to petition the Government for the redress of grievances.”
Amendment 1 to the Constitution of the United States
December 1, 2008
Anatomy of a Correction
On November 20, I gave a lunchtime speech to the Frederick County Builder's Association. After more than a dozen years in public service, these public speaking opportunities have become something I look forward to.
November 24, 2008
At a recent Board of County Commissioners hearing, Commissioner, and self-described "country lawyer, John L. "Lennie” Thompson, Jr., gave Annapolis lobbyists a piece of his mind. Lennie needs a new enemy; his style of bare-knuckled populist politics works best when he has a boogeyman to attack.
November 17, 2008
Avoiding The Temptation
I supported John McCain throughout the recent presidential election. Having written an entire column about why, there's no reason to re-plow that field.
November 3, 2008
The Big Non-Surprise
Former Secretary of State and highly decorated U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell, a registered Republican, rocked the political establishment recently. On NBC's Meet the Press, General Powell revealed that he is abandoning his political party and endorsing Sen. Barack Obama, for President of The United States.
October 27, 2008
Leaves reflect the autumn color palette in the Catoctin Mountains, a brisk fall breeze sends people scurrying along Market Street in downtown Frederick, and General Assembly members start thinking about making hotel arrangements in Annapolis.
October 20, 2008
The Road Less Traveled
The esteemed publisher of The Tentacle has asked regular contributors to offer some words reflecting their preference for a particular presidential candidate over the other. The condition for submission was that the piece was supposed to reflect why we support our guy, not our critique of the opponent.
October 13, 2008
A Treatise on Partisanship
The defense of partisanship, by either one of the two major political parties, amounts to nothing more than the defense of an outmoded system of governance that has consistently failed to meet the expectations of voters.
October 9, 2008
Slots and The Second Debate
Lots of debate, discussion, and focus on politics in the last few weeks is responsible for a swirling mix of thoughts.
September 29, 2008
Take a Chance
Well, it seems as though every expert, bush league moralist, and elected opinion maker is busy sharing their opinions on the question of slot machines in Maryland. In fact, the rush to find a microphone is so overwhelming that it sounds like a stampede.
September 15, 2008
A Media Vetting
Sally Quinn, a noted national political journalist, finally said aloud what many have long known about professional political journalists.
September 9, 2008
Summer’s Dog Days: Elephant Time – Part 2
So, after a cautious decision to postpone the GOP festivities in St. Paul, Gustav's lack of massive destruction allowed a resumption of good old fashioned partisan-bashing.
September 8, 2008
Summer’s Dog Days: Elephant Time – Part 1
Two weeks ago, Barack Obama wowed 'em in Denver. Last week, John McCain tip-toed across the balance beam of public opinion, beginning the week with a compassionate whisper and ending it with a partisan roar.
September 1, 2008
Dog Days of Summer – Donkey Chronicles
We're into the heart of the most active season for a political junkie, the Super Bowl of partisanship. The conventions show the best and worst of the two major parties, and in this cycle, all of that magic is playing out over a two-week period.
August 25, 2008
Stimulation or Strangulation?
Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Montgomery County, thinks he's found the answer to tough economic times for the 50 states. In his view, the recent federal economic stimulus checks were so beneficial for individual Americans that he wants the federal government to issue similar stimulation to each state.
August 18, 2008
I became a grandfather back in January. It's almost as great as everyone has ever said. I describe it this way: It's all of the love you had for your own children, without the crushing burden of responsibility!
August 11, 2008
Hanging it up…
…a stethoscope, that is. On August 8, Dr. Wayne Allgaier snapped the closure on his leather medical kit for the last time. Last Friday, he hung the stethoscope up for the last time.
August 4, 2008
Who's watching the watchers?
Picture a rally against the death penalty or a gathering of anti-war protesters. Peace signs, Grateful Dead music, chanting, tie-dyed clothing, and soap-box speeches about injustice, inequality, and corrupt abuse of power.
July 28, 2008
Seniors and the Silent Treatment
2005 was a big year in Maryland for advocates for senior citizen issues. Maybe a more accurate way to say that is that 2005 should have been a big year for senior citizens.
July 21, 2008
Building Community Capacity
How do we measure the health of a community? Is it wealth-based? Maybe a healthy community is one wherein there are enough jobs paying a sufficiently high wage to sustain a family.
July 14, 2008
Presidential campaigns are fraught with challenges and obstacles. One of the biggest is how, in a national race in the cable television age, can a candidate define himself and his opponent in a way that highlights differences without alienating too many voters.
July 7, 2008
Political Street Gossip – The Final Chapter
In an effort to run the table, and to affirm that I really have no idea what I'm talking about, I thought I'd weigh in on the 2010 gubernatorial race.
June 24, 2008
Political Street Gossip – Part 5
Yesterday, we ended our discussion of Frederick’s delegation races in 2010 with an observation about Sen. Alex Mooney's vulnerabilities. Here's some proof of that.
June 23, 2008
Political Street Gossip – Part 4
We've looked at federal, city, and county upcoming election cycles. The 6th District congressional race is upon us, the others are more distant and definitely less clear.
June 16, 2008
Political Street Gossip – Part 3
One set of elected officials sure to change in 2010 is the gang of five in charge at Winchester Hall. Several incumbent commissioners are looking beyond their current board service to Annapolis, interested to trade in the long hours in the snazzy new first floor hearing room for a case of Severn River fever.
June 9, 2008
Political Street Gossip – Part Two
Continuing last week’s theme, this week we’ll examine the next chronological ballot contest – the City of Frederick’s 2009 election for the mayor and Board of Aldermen.
June 2, 2008
Political Street Gossip – Part One
A recent Market & Patrick Street corner conversation has fueled my political speculation gene. A prominent Fredericktonian, known as a quiet – albeit generous – type, asked what I thought about the upcoming federal, city, county, and state elections.
May 26, 2008
Elementary, My Dear Watson – Part Two
Last week, we covered the symbols and name recognition in Maryland. This week, we look at how to make a speech about how a legislator works interesting to a fourth grader. No small feat, that!
May 19, 2008
Elementary, My Dear Watson – Part One
No, not the off-handed comment famously rendered by the brilliant English detective Sherlock Holmes to his trusted companion, Dr. Watson. I’m talking about that generation of learners who fill our elementary schools, our next generation of leaders, scientists, entertainers, and thinkers.
May 12, 2008
Always There When Needed
A consequence of political service is speeches. They run the gamut in both topics and the diversity of organizations before which the speech is given.
May 5, 2008
Even when you know you're right…
...you might still be wrong. Seems obvious, right? So obvious that it shouldn't have to be said. Unfortunately, in spite of the clear nature of the conclusion, the business of politics is about absolutes.
April 28, 2008
General Assembly Journal 2008 – Volume 11
Any General Assembly wrap-up would be incomplete without a scorecard of the work of the Frederick County Delegation. Normally, this column avoids conflict with other delegation members, and focuses on the back-and-forth with the county. Not this time, kiddies! Ahead: some serious onion peeling!
April 21, 2008
General Assembly Journal 2008 – Volume 10
Last week, we spent some time considering the end of the General Assembly session. The conclusion: Rest easy Marylanders, the legislature has gone home for the year.
April 14, 2008
General Assembly Journal 2008 – Volume 9
It never ceases to amaze. The Maryland General Assembly Session is 90 days long, as defined in the state constitution. Legislators are summoned to Annapolis on the second Wednesday of January every year. At that moment, the 90-day session seems almost eternal, the thought of time away from home and family adds burden to those long winter nights.
April 7, 2008
The Yin and the Yang of Annapolis
This place is really odd. There is just no more appropriate one-word definition. We begin our legislative session in middle of winter’s icy grip, and we end it in all of spring’s emerging glory.
March 31, 2008
Hang ‘Em High, Just Not in Maryland!
As the 2008 General Assembly session starts to wind down, the issues are easier to define. The big revenue shortfall is the 800-pound gorilla, but there a whole bushel of other topics that have garnered the attention of the press corps.
March 24, 2008
General Assembly Journal 2008 – Volume 5
Okay, I’m not talking about that show where they talk to dead people. This is Cross Over Week, the constitutional deadline for bill passage in the House and Senate so bills can “cross over” to the other chamber by Sine Die.
March 17, 2008
General Assembly Journal 2008 – Volume 4
Less than four weeks to go, and some of the biggest battles remain to be fought. Seems odd, but it’s completely natural in Annapolis.
March 3, 2008
General Assembly Journal 2008 – Volume 3
The Mid-way Point
No, the title does not refer to the famous naval battle involving bombardment of the island in World War II. I’m talking about being halfway through the 425th Session of the Maryland General Assembly.
February 25, 2008
Pondering a Political Future
At a Farm Bureau/Pomona Grange legislative luncheon a few weeks ago, audience members were treated to a little surprise along with their roast beef and ham.
February 18, 2008
General Assembly Journal 2008 – Volume 2
With all of the presidential sweepstakes hoopla, I’ve let the Journal slip to a back shelf. It’s time to brush the dust off the leather binding.
February 11, 2008
Political Stupidity Masquerading as Conscience
So, the GOP has its presumptive nominee. With all due respect to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, it just ain’t Hucka-happenin’!
February 4, 2008
Trash, Manure, and Politics
No, the title of this piece is NOT a game of “which of three things is not like the other,” mostly because the differences are so insignificant.
January 28, 2008
Presidential Wannabes – The Democratic Field
My last column dealing with the presidential race broke down the GOP field and offered worthless advice, but no less worthy than the advice being offered by big whig media pundits. This week, the fickle finger of foolishness is pointing at the Democratic Party presidential wannabes. They’d be wise to duck.
January 22, 2008
The President Visits Frederick – Chapter Two
Once the other greeters had arrived, a member of the White House advance team called us together for a briefing. Nothing is left to chance, and every single movement is scripted. You’re told where to stand, how to line up, and where to go once you’re spoken to and shaken hands with the president.
January 21, 2008
The President In Frederick, Chapter 1
Okay, having the President of the United States in Frederick isn’t really such a big deal. In case you didn’t know, he spends many weekends up at Camp David. In fact, I think at the end of his two terms, he will have spent more time in the Catoctin Mountains than any previous president.
January 14, 2008
General Assembly Journal 2008 – Volume 1
With the tension of the recently completed special session still hanging thick in the Annapolis air, and the unusual spring-like warmth banishing the normal overcoats and gloves, 188 legislators again descended on the state capitol to begin the 425th session of the Maryland General Assembly.
January 7, 2008
Presidential Wannabes – The GOP Field
Since offering unwanted advice to national presidential candidates seems to be the new media cottage industry, here’s my attempt to play with the big boys.
December 31, 2007
Presidents, Priesthood, and Politics
Should a candidate for president have to explain their faith to the American voter? Do people who aspire to hold the highest elected office in our nation have an obligation to make each of us feel comfortable with their personal view of theology and how that faith influences their life and politics?
December 17, 2007
The Delegation Workload – Part 3
We’ve already examined the county commissioner’s legislative wish list; now it’s time to turn our attention to the other groups seeking legislative support in Annapolis.
December 11, 2007
The Delegation’s Workload – Part 2
We’ve already looked at the county commissioners’ bill proposals that the county’s legislative delegation will wrestle with, now we’ll consider the bills that affect the whole state, not just our county. These face a much more difficult, if not impossible, path to passage. We’ll also take a gander at the policy statements of the Board of County Commissioners.
December 10, 2007
The Delegation’s Workload – Part 1
It hardly seems possible, but we’re less than a month away from the start of the 2008 General Assembly session. Last week, I included a highlight of the Board of County Commissioners legislative package. If you’re anything like the dozens of people who approached me this past week, you’re looking for more information, so here goes.
December 3, 2007
Christmas Cash & A Potpourri
Once again, the powers-to-be at Clear Channel Radio’s WFMD held their annual radiothon for Frederick County’s children. Christmas Cash for Kids consumed large chunks of air normally reserved for political, social, and financial chit-chat.
November 26, 2007
Exhaustion Begats Success
The special session is over, and the Thanksgiving break has given me much-needed physical and emotional separation from Annapolis, the State House, and the political process.
November 21, 2007
General Assembly Journal Special Session 2007 Part -3
No amount of prognostication could have seen the mess that this special session became. Called by Gov. Martin O’Malley to address the structural deficit, we found ourselves in the midst of a political test of wills between the House and Senate.
November 12, 2007
General Assembly Journal Special Session 2007 Part – 2
First, it was hailed as the most progressive re-write of a tax code in the nation. Liberal and progressive advocacy groups celebrated Gov. Martin O’Malley’s planned income tax revision as a just and responsible shift of the tax burden away from the working poor and onto the backs of the wealthy.
November 5, 2007
General Assembly Journal – Special Session
Last Monday was a day of rallies, political meetings, and an evening Joint Session of the Maryland General Assembly
October 31, 2007
Martin and His Merry Band of Hucksters
The special session of the General Assembly looms over state legislators
like a specter; how appropriate that today is Halloween. Instead of the Grim
Reaper looking to take your soul, these guys (and gals) merely want your
October 29, 2007
Special Sessions: Not So Special Anymore
The Constitution of Maryland acknowledges that a 90-day annual legislative session limitation may necessitate additional meetings. An unexpected crisis, a major disaster, or some other unpredictable situation might necessitate bringing legislators back to the State Capitol.
October 15, 2007
Real ID: A Study in Contrast
Think back to September 11, 2001. In that horrific environment and - more
importantly - in the aftermath, a frantic flurry of activity framed the
October 9, 2007
Rest In Peace, Dr. Joe
God must have needed a top-notch forensic pathologist on the Heavenly
medical team, so He summoned Dr. Joseph O'Connell home.
October 8, 2007
The View from the Capitol
Things are quite unsettled in old Annapolis town. The summer has ended; the
Naval Academy is back in full academic swing, and the Main Street tourist
shops shift from appealing to warm weather out-of-towners to the sweater and
September 24, 2007
Striking the Deal
I really wanted to write about the Great Frederick Fair, but Patricia Kelly
did such a great job on last Thursday's Tentacle, I wouldn't pretend to try.
September 17, 2007
A Political Manifesto, Part II
Last week's column ended talking about compromises to improve access to
healthcare. Any real solution costs money, big money.
September 10, 2007
A Political Manifesto - Part One
Who am I? This is a rhetorical question, but also an important exploration
of philosophy, a political self-assessment in the face of aging, maturing,
September 3, 2007
Last week's mail included an invitation to a ground-breaking ceremony. This
isn't a small event. This ceremony, designating the beginning of a major
construction project, signals the most significant change in the history of
August 27, 2007
Solution or Problem: Which part are you?
I'm writing this from a fourth floor balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Families are spread out on the sand below; children are frolicking in the
wind-whipped surf. The Maryland Association of Counties summer conference is
in full swing.
August 13, 2007
The County Legislative Process - 2008
Instead of thinking about Annapolis and January 2008, I've been spending the
summer on home repair projects, carnival attendance, and "Seussical."
Unfortunately, a trip to Winchester Hall last week ended my summer revelry.
August 6, 2007
A Tragic End to an Annapolis Debate
House Bill 398, introduced in the 2005 Session of the Maryland General
Assembly, was introduced as a result of cases such as the infamous Peterson
murders in California. In that case, Scott Peterson was charged with the
murder of his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn child.
July 30, 2007
The Doctor Is In
No politics, no egotistical public servants, and no mention of the growth
debate in Frederick County. Today, we're talking Seuss.
July 23, 2007
Illegal Immigration: The New Battleground
Sure, you'd think Texas, New Mexico, or maybe even Arizona, right? Not even close. The latest skirmish in our most challenging public policy battle is in Georgia, at least a thousand miles from the U.S.-Spanish border.
July 16, 2007
Taxes, or Cuts and Slots
Last Tuesday, Gov. Martin O'Malley rolled out his proposed budget cuts. They
are designed to ease the $1.5 billion structural deficit facing Maryland in
the next budget.
July 9, 2007
The Changing Face of Political Conversation
People love to talk politics, even though it's supposedly one of those
things we're taught to avoid with strangers. You know, talking religion,
politics, and sex with strangers is somehow dangerous.
July 2, 2007
Is the Fairness Doctrine Really Fair?
Progressives would have you believe that the airwaves are controlled by rabid, mouth-breathing conservative talk show hosts who force their abusive viewpoints on the poor, unthinking American public.
June 25, 2007
Saturday in the Field
One of my favorite bands from my youth is Chicago. One of their signature
songs is called Saturday in the Park. The band sings about spending a warm
summer's day in a park, with people escaping the bonds of city living for an
June 18, 2007
Political Issues Deficit Disorder
Okay, it's too hard to focus on just one aspect of the cornucopia of
political news spilling out, especially the news from Annapolis. Instead of
one long analysis of one issue, my attention this week will wander over a
bumper crop of fun, ironic, and pathetic stuff.
June 11, 2007
Where do they go from here?
The Fredrick News Post front page causes most politicians to hold their
breath. We all walk out front, pick it up, pull open the plastic bag, and
then squint to see if something we said or did worked its way through the
editorial process and onto the front page.
June 4, 2007
The Big Race
The presidential race is heating up to match the weather outside. It's in the 90s, and the campaign rhetoric between the candidates is well over 100
May 28, 2007
Failure to Communicate
The warden in Cool Hand Luke summed it up nicely when he said: "What we have
here is - failure to communicate".
May 21, 2007
Old Soldiers Don't Fade Away
George W. Owings, III, was relieved of his duties as the Secretary of the
Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs by Gov. Martin O'Malley on May 7.
Secretary Owings was not dismissed for any reason other than he had been
appointed by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.
May 14, 2007
Political Winners & Losers (Part Two)
In last Monday's entry, we analyzed federal and state politicos and
organization on the winning and losing sides of the electoral and
ideological battlefield. This week, in addition to a few statewide
stragglers, we bring the focus a little closer to home.
May 7, 2007
Political Winners & Losers (Part One)
It's been an interesting year gone by for politics, from the federal to the local level. Since I'm sick of my work being picked apart by pundits possessing half-knowledge, it's only fair to provide my own questionable analysis.
April 30, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007- Wrap-Up
Sine Die and Wrap Up (Volume 3)
This week we'll continue our examination of the policy successes and
blunders of the 423rd General Assembly.
April 23, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 - Volume 13
Last week, we spent some time examining what didn't get done regarding the state budget. This week, we'll examine some policy successes and blunders of the 423rd General Assembly.
April 16, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 - Volume 13
The 423rd Session of the Maryland General Assembly will be known more for
what didn't get accomplished than for what did. In past years, I've
suggested that sessions are often measured as much by the bad stuff that
doesn't happen as the good stuff that does. Here's a twist on that idea.
April 9, 2007
Instead of a General Assembly Journal, today's column is a prediction of sorts, a look into a jaded crystal ball at the near term political future for the Republican Party. The Journal wrap-up and Sine Die review will appear here next week.
April 2, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 - Volume 11
Last week was full of disappointments and depressing outcomes as the General
Assembly session moved toward its final week.
March 26, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 – Part 10
When I’m at
home, I start my weekday mornings with Bob Miller, Dave Conrad, Diana Gibson,
and the other contributors, commentators, and regulars on WFMD’s Morning News
March 19, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007-9
to go in this year’s General Assembly session and yet 90% of the work remains
to be done.
March 12, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 - Volume 8
Local courtesy: a unique, uncodified phenomenon in Annapolis whereby bills
that only affect one jurisdiction are given an easy path to approval.
March 5, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 - Volume 7
The House Health and Government Operations Committee held a hearing on House Bill 945, which adds anti-discrimination provisions to the Maryland Annotated Code for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
February 26, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 - Volume 6
It's been a week of ethics, Bay reefs, healthcare, Cal Ripken, and truck nuts. If these subjects seem oddly out-of-place, disconnected, or misplaced,
remember that this is Annapolis and the General Assembly is in session.
February 19, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 - Volume 5
When someone asks a purely rhetorical question, wise respondents reply:
"When did you stop beating your wife?" There is no right answer here; the
trap being if you say you didn't, does it mean that you do beat your wife?
February 12, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 – Volume 4
A special treat during the 90 day session is a trip to Famous Dave's in
Annapolis. For each of the last four years, I've had the occasion to dine
with two skilled veterans from the Frederick delegation, Don Elliott (R.,
Frederick/Carroll) and Paul Stull (R., Frederick).
February 5, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 - Volume 3
Be Happy, but Worry!! - I borrowed those words from Warren Deschaneaux, the General Assembly's lead policy analyst. When I think of Warren, I'm reminded of the old E.F. Hutton commercial. When Warren speaks, everyone listens.
January 29, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 - Volume 2
Like a good road map, a review of the major issues pending before the
General Assembly helps determine the direction our state is headed.
January 22, 2007
In a cruel weather twist, Maryland's coldest day so far this January was
reserved for the gubernatorial inaugural festivities.
January 15, 2007
General Assembly Journal 2007 - Volume 1
The cracked and faded leather binder containing the General Assembly Journal
for the last four years is full of wonderful memories. The awe and
anticipation of a freshman lawmaker, the frustration of partisan political
battles won and lost, and the indigestion from hundreds of rubber chicken
dinners fade away into the mind's recesses.
January 8, 2007
The Cradle of the Nation
The City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, is a great American city, and not
only because the Eagles, Flyers, and Phillies play there.
January 1, 2007
A Battle over Leadership - Part Two
With the Senate GOP leadership question settled, all eyes were focused on
the House Republican Caucus. Current Minority Whip Tony O'Donnell of
Southern Maryland teams with Boonsboro's own Chris Shank for leader and
December 26, 2006
The Leadership Battle - Part One
The Maryland State House of Delegates and Senate are going through the steps
to organize themselves for the upcoming General Assembly Session.
December 18, 2006
Correcting the Record
Writing a column here on a regular basis allows one the chance to
occasionally smooth out some curves and twists in things others write and
say, especially when it comes to politics.
December 11, 2006
Mountains and Molehills
More Machiavellian than Shakespearean, the question of who should serve as the next president of the Board of County Commissioners is blossoming into a major political brouhaha.
December 4, 2006
Haircuts and Headlines
Okay, I know. You don't pick a fight with a guy who buys ink by the barrel.
Since Myron Randall is the guy who buys the ink for the Frederick News-Post,
and opinion columnist Joe Volz is an "independent contractor, the old adage
won't apply to this column.
November 27, 2006
Years ago, Fox’s MAD TV featured a skit with this article’s title. The skit was centered on a dating service where the applicants were something less than beauty queens and handsome princes.
November 20, 2006
The Ehrlich Legacy
Historians use a rear view mirror to assess the relative merits of a politician's tenure. Opinion writers do the same thing, but they lack the credibility ascribed to their historian counterparts.
November 13, 2006
Mopping Up the Debris
As of last Wednesday, you no longer have to fear that blinking light on the
answering machine; the political robo-calls are finished - for now. A
weekend ago, I spoke with Rudy Giuliani, Laura Bush, Bob Ehrlich, Kendal
Ehrlich, and Michael Steele.
November 10, 2006
The Secret Campaign Journal Entries
Back in the late summer, the idea of writing a running campaign journal, patterned after the General Assembly journals written during session, seemed like a really interesting project.
November 6, 2006
What Tomorrow Brings
One more robocall, attack mail, radio commercial, or newspaper ad probably
won't influence a single vote. If a candidate doesn't have that stray vote
locked up by now, nothing that happens today and tonight will change that.
October 30, 2006
Have you ever noticed..?
Have you ever noticed...how candidates who get endorsed talk about how
important the endorsement is while those who don't question the value of
October 16, 2006
The Case for Charter
The debate about the form of governance employed by Frederick County has
raged back and forth for decades. Voters have weighed in several times,
always voting to retain the current form, the Board of County Commissioners.
October 9, 2006
The View from The Bowl!
Former Florida Congressman Mark Foley is a pervert, probable pedophile, and undoubtedly an immoral man. He deserves our scorn, revulsion, and disgust.
October 2, 2006
Miscellaneous Observations: Lesson Learned
Some lessons are harder and more painful than others to learn. In addition
to weekly contributions to The Tentacle, some of my observations made their
way onto the Frederick News Post Forum.
September 25, 2006
A Press Release Fantasy
What follows is a personal fantasy of a press release drafted and released by the Bush Administration following the recent gathering of the United Nations in New York City.
September 22, 2006
All Things Fried and Fattening
The world passes by the GOP tent behind Building 9 at the Great Frederick
Fair. Well, at least the world within the grounds of the fair.
September 18, 2006
What the Primary Hath Wrought
The favorite position for a political pundit is to look back and play
armchair quarterback on a recently held election. Even the most stupid of
predictions can be made to look a little smarter.
September 11, 2006
September 11 Remembrance
(Today, Delegate Weldon will deliver a speech in Brunswick on the fifth
anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
Here are his remarks.)
September 11, 2006
The State Races IMHO* - Part Four
Today we'll focus on statewide races for governor, attorney general, and
September 8, 2006
Federal Races, IMHO* - Part Three
At the top of the ballot in this non-presidential election cycle, Maryland
voters are facing some big choices. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, retiring after a
long and respectable (but not brilliant) career in the upper house of
Congress, leaves a very rare open seat in the chamber.
September 4, 2006
Cutting off Your Nose to Spite Your Face
I'm interested in sparking a dialogue, and thought this column might have
that effect. I am mystified by a phenomenon I see emerging in the upcoming
September 1, 2006
What it takes, IMHO - Part Two
This column is intended for those who either really love local politics, or those who just pay no attention whatsoever.
August 28, 2006
What it takes, IMHO – Part One
Anyone who has spent any time reading web forums or posting on blogs knows that the abbreviation IMHO means In My Humble Opinion.
August 21, 2006
Campaign Journal 2006 - Part Three
It's time to unlock the top-secret journal for the third entry. I mentioned
candidate surveys and questionnaires in an earlier entry. Here's a short
list of the surveys received to-date.
August 14, 2006
Bob Ehrlich's Big Victories
Three huge victories in just a few short weeks! Bob Ehrlich begins the real
campaign season with a series of huge policy and political victories over
the state Democratic machine and the House and Senate leadership.
August 7, 2006
Why Do We Even Care?
Once again Americans are exposed to a major celebrity's bad behavior simply
due to their notoriety. It's been stated here before, but these idiots
really ought to stick to their scripts.
July 31, 2006
Campaign Journal 2006 - Part Two
The campaign kickoff event was a perfect beginning. Nothing went as planned,
but the outcome was perfect!
July 24, 2006
A Big Political Week
The last two weeks have been big politically for Gov. Bob Ehrlich, including
what might be considered the fabled "banner" week. The media is poll crazy
right now, with every week seeming to yield a new result. The most
anticipated are the non-partisan, unbiased polls.
July 17, 2006
A Sad Case of ''Told You So''
Looking back on the 2006 General Assembly's Special Session, the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate were determined to shift responsibility
for high electric bills from their flawed deregulation scheme to Gov. Bob Ehrlich and the Public Service Commission (PSC), or at least his appointees to that commission.
July 10, 2006
Campaign Journal 2006 - Part One
Serving in the Maryland House of Delegates is an unforgettable honor. It's historical (no one can ever take away the fact that you have served), and
nothing compares to walking into the House Chamber to do the business of the people of Maryland.
July 3, 2006
A Roller Coaster Week
The morning routine has been the same for years. Up at 5:45, read The Frederick News Post cover-to-cover, and finish the front section in time to put it on the dining room table before my oldest daughter, Morgan, came upstairs to get ready to go to work.
June 26, 2006
Summer Solstice and Random Reflections
Normally, this column is researched and written between Monday and Thursday.
It's good to leave the multi-talented editor a little time to "clean" things
up before the weekend.
June 20, 2006
Special Session: An excuse to do little – Part 2
In yesterday’s column the stage was set for General Assembly action on the Baltimore Gas & Electric rate situation, and consideration of a child sexual predator law. It was a long day.
June 19, 2006
Special Session: An excuse to do little – Part 1
Here we go again, wrestling with a complex and confusing issue in a very compressed timeline. Last year it was medical malpractice, and given the time and ability to focus, the outcome did very little to solve the problem, but both sides ended up claiming victory.
June 12, 2006
Maryland’s Deregulation Drama
Before the curtain rises on the planned special session this week, I thought I’d fall back on my theater background to “set the stage” on this unfolding drama.
June 9, 2006
Like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, legislators across
Maryland are packing their bags for a return to Annapolis as early as next
June 6, 2006
One Year’s Worth of Accomplishment – Part 2
In a follow-up to yesterday’s column, here’s more evidence to rebut the claim that nothing worthwhile can be accomplished by a politically divided state government.
June 5, 2006
One Year’s Worth of Accomplishment – Part 1
Looking back over the last four years in Annapolis, one can’t help but note the study of contrasts. Political pundits predicted one of the least productive four-year terms in legislative history, chalking it up to the pitfalls of divided government.
May 30, 2006
Inspiration comes from odd and interesting places and sources. Wandering into Wal-Mart recently in search of some odd or end, a ball cap-clad lad and his wife nodded a casual greeting as they passed by.
May 22, 2006
Cleaning Up or Cleaning Out?
How can it be that the two political parties in Maryland could see the upcoming election in such different ways? Republicans see a thrown-together
mess, a scramble to allow access to early voting in mostly Democratic precincts, almost guaranteed to facilitate voter fraud on a massive scale.
May 15, 2006
''Give me your tired, your poor…''
Our nation is struggling to deal with a problem that threatens to alter every aspect of our lives. Employment, education, healthcare, and housing are all at the center of the debate over our national immigration policy.
May 8, 2006
Work here, live somewhere else
The popular economic development slogan these days is “Live Here, Work Here.” Unfortunately, for thousands of teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other mid-grade professionals, it’s nothing more than a mocking reminder that the cost of a house in Frederick County is far above their reach.
May 1, 2006
Adequacy Standards: To test or not to test
Winchester Hall - that bastion of normalcy and reasoned, rational debate -
is buzzing over the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, or APFO.
April 24, 2006
The Wisdom of My Father
Tim Russert, the Washington Bureau Chief for NBC News and the host of Meet
the Press, wrote a great book two years ago. His book - Big Russ and Me -
was a national best seller, and is about to be followed up with a collection
of letters sent from readers around the country.
April 17, 2006
General Assembly Journal – Part 16
By all accounts, the just concluded session of the Maryland General Assembly was one of the most tense and contentious in recent memory. Senate President Mike Miller (D., Calvert/PG) was asked what he thought of divided government. His response was that he hoped it wouldn’t happen again for a long time.
April 14, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 - Part 15
(Editor's Note: In a special edition of his General Assembly Journal,
Delegate Weldon provides a blow-by-blow account of the doing on Sine Die in
Annapolis. It is very enlightening.)
April 10, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 - Part 14
As you read this column, I'll be hooking up my laptop in the House Chamber,
preparing for a long final day of the 421st General Assembly Session.
April 3, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 – Part 13
(Editor's Note: The General Assembly is proceeding with legislation that will curtail the powers of the governor's office and enhance those of the
legislative leadership. Mr. Weldon has reviewed these bills, and quotes the legislative notes, which simply define the effect of the bill. He then adds
his own commentary. It is a lengthy piece, but worth the time expenditure.)
With eight days left in the session, a flurry of activity is underway in the legislature that would fundamentally and irrevocably alter the balance of power as defined by the Constitution of the State of Maryland.
March 27, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 – Part 12
Two and a half weeks left in the 421st Maryland General Assembly, and the monkey business meter is registering off the chart.
March 20, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 – Part 11
The 2006 County Legislative package is winding its way through the maze of legislative action during the 90-day session. Some of these bills were requested by the county commissioners and some by other groups and organizations needing legislative intervention to solve a problem.
March 17, 2006
The Myth of Electricity Deregulation
In 1999, the Maryland General Assembly passed the inappropriately titled Electric Utility Industry Restructuring Act (SB 300). A significant part of this bill was the rate reduction. It specified that Maryland electric power consumers would benefit from a reduction in electric rates, followed by four years of a freeze in the electric rate.
March 13, 2006
General Assembly Session 2006 – Part 10
We’re just past the halfway point in the 90 days of the 421st General Assembly session. So much has already happened that it’s hard to believe the really hard stuff lies ahead. This week we’ll recap some of the big issues, and consider a forecast of things to come over the next five weeks.
March 6, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 – Part 9
Two of my bills are making their way through the legislative process, one with a bullet, one with an anchor.
February 27, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006-8
In store today, a new approach to this journal. Below you will find the actual text of my bill, House Bill 260, The Utility Consumer Protection Act. Below that you’ll find my testimony in support of the bill. It is scheduled for a hearing tomorrow before the Economic Matters Committee. The numbers listed are line numbers so that legislators don’t get lost.
February 20, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 - Part 7
The Clean Indoor Air Act is back! Last Tuesday we saw the hearing on this
February 13, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 – Part 6
It was the week after the great marriage debate, and Annapolis still stood. Contrary to media reports, the Earth did not split open, and the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth isn’t because of same sex marriage, it’s over a lack of parking.
February 7, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 - Part 5 (2)
Last Thursday morning the Republican Caucus decided to drop the petition
calling for an amendment to the state's Constitution defining marriage as a
union between one man and one woman, even though the signature of Del. Joan
Cadden (D., Anne Arundel) was flawed. (See yesterday's Journal entry for the
preliminaries in this struggle.)
February 6, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 – Part 5 (1)
Last week saw the drama (?) of a partisan clash over the definition of marriage play out fully. Recently Baltimore Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdock held that the Maryland Annotated Code definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman was unconstitutional.
February 2, 2006
Expressions of Beliefs
At the January 19's mayor and board meeting in the City of Frederick, newly
elected Alderman C. Paul Smith offered an invocation. In his extemporaneous
prayer, he closed his prayer in the manner he has been taught, by
acknowledging the existence of Jesus Christ.
January 30, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 – Part 4
You’d have thought it was a mutiny in progress. Several Washington County legislators (present company included), mostly Republican, and mostly loyal to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, voted to override one of his vetoes.
January 27, 2006
General Assembly Journal - Extra
Last Friday was a banner day for parliamentary wonks and legislative historians. Changes to House rules are complicated, confusing, and calculated to strengthen the majority and/or weaken the minority.
January 23, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 – Part 3
This place is truly upside down. Three years ago, the watchword was belt-tightening. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich was warning anyone who would listen that jobs, programs, and projects would see cutbacks in the next two years.
January 16, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 - Part 2
It seems like it was just yesterday when I wrote my first Journal column in
2003. I was still a starry-eyed freshman delegate, awed by the people, the
process, and the power.
January 13, 2006
A Clarification and An Apology
Sometimes we repeat rumors without classifying them as such. And then we
have to go back and write a clarification. That is what this is.
January 9, 2006
General Assembly Journal 2006 - Part 1
Today isn't actually the night before the start of the 2006 General Assembly
session; it's the night before the night before. Time to pull the cover off
the Journal jalopy, tune up the engine, and polish the chrome.
January 6, 2006
A true crime story
Washington State employee Debbie Koepp is about to be fired from her job.
She has worked for the state for nine years. The story behind this shows a
real crime about to be committed.
January 3, 2006
Politics in the New Year – Part Two
Picking up where we left off yesterday, here are some predictions for the political landscape in 2006 in the county races.
January 2, 2006
Politics in the New Year
Before the horns, bells, hats, and sparklers come out, here are some political predictions at the state level for 2006: tomorrow, the county races.
December 27, 2005
The Real Princes of Darkness
Last February, the Maryland State Democratic Party was apoplectic over former Ehrlich Adminsitration appointee Joe Steffan and his involvement in spreading rumors about Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and marital infidelity.
December 23, 2005
A Literal Christmas Card
It's easy to love Christmas time. Cold winds drive us deep into fleece, cashmere, and wool. We wrap every inch of exposed flesh in layers of protective cloth, and practice that tilted, bent-toward-the-wind walk we employ whenever we venture out of the warm environs of our homes.
December 19, 2005
Redemption vs. Justice
Most people take no solace in the death of Stanley "Tookie" Williams. Mr. Williams died by lethal injection in the early hours of December 13 in the
death chamber at San Quentin Prison in California.
December 12, 2005
Let the Good Times Roll
The Spending Affordability Committee met in Annapolis last Wednesday to discuss state spending levels for FY 2007, which begins July 1.
December 9, 2005
Medicare Part D, Boondoggle or Benefit?
The federal Medicare program has always included a prescription drug
component. That program is limited in terms of who can access the benefits,
and very limited in terms of which drugs are covered and for how much.
December 6, 2005
Radio's Power to Open Hearts
Frederick's Clear Channel radio outlet has wrapped up another year of Christmas Cash for Kids. WFMD's very talented and even funnier morning man, Bob Miller, has once again proven that he needs every inch of his considerable girth to accommodate an oversized heart.
December 5, 2005
The Christm.., I mean Holiday Season
My neighbor has his twinkling lights hung across his front porch, and my family is planning how we re-arrange the living room to accommodate our
ever-growing array of Christmas decorations. Two nativity scenes, numerous Santa's and Frosty's, and a village of small ceramic buildings all need to
supplant other important family mementos, for at least a few weeks.
November 28, 2005
Common Sense Transforms Transition
My involvement with Mayor-elect W. Jeffrey Holtzinger dates to my time
working as the chief operations officer of the City of Frederick in the
administration of Mayor Jim Grimes.
November 25, 2005
A 2006 Session Primer
It's hard to believe that we're already talking about the legislative
session. It seems like it was just yesterday when we were talking about Sine
November 21, 2005
Missing the Point
Baltimore’s Sun (henceforth known as the BS) does a lot of good. They bring a “big city” feel to Baltimore news coverage. They highlight the good things that happen in Charm City, serving as a print counterpoint to the frequent violent drug and gang-related street crime that continues to plague that city.
November 14, 2005
The Disappearing Moderates
– Opposition Opposed to radical or extreme views or measures, especially in politics or religion.
– Being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme.
November 7, 2005
Raising the Bar
The City of Frederick election is over. All of the ballots have been
tallied, and 30% of the voters of the city have spoken.
October 31, 2005
It hardly seems possible, but tomorrow Frederick City voters go to the polls to elect the next mayor and Board of Aldermen.
October 27, 2005
Michael Steele, A New Kind of Republican
Recently, my General Assembly committee held a follow-up discussion on some
bills that were passed two years ago. It's a refreshing departure for a
legislative committee to look back and test the effectiveness of bills from
October 24, 2005
Rep. Curt Weldon, Firefighter and Firebrand
W. Curtis Weldon, better known as Rep. Curt Weldon (R., PA), has always been a major influence in my life. From his early days as the mayor of a small town on the Delaware River in southern Pennsylvania, Curt has been someone I look to for guidance and influence.
October 21, 2005
Spike Lee and Toledo
Spike Lee considers himself a modern day observer of American life through
the lens of a camera. I consider him a racist. Just because he doesn't wear
a white sheet and hood shouldn't disqualify him from the ranks of our
nation's most prominent bigots.
October 17, 2005
An Indictment of the National News Media
Dana Milbank, a normally respected political reporter for The Washington Post, has sunk to a new low in the October 12 online edition in an article entitled "For President Under Duress, Body Language Speaks Volumes."
October 10, 2005
Frederick's Choice for Mayor: Young or Holtzinger?
Frederick City voters will have a real choice on Election Day. Happily, the choice will be between two very qualified candidates, who both appear
committed to running a positive, issue-oriented campaign. We've heard enough about blaming past administrations for current Frederick problems,
some true, some not.
October 3, 2005
Rest in Peace, Charlie Leopold
Last Friday the City of Brunswick, and the people of southwest Frederick
County, said goodbye to one of its stalwarts, a quiet giant known more for
what he did than what he said.
September 26, 2005
Suffer the Little Children
A registered child sexual offender, who was fully compliant with Maryland state law regarding registration, recently walked into an Anne Arundel
County elementary school.
September 22, 2005
What is Minister Farrakhan Thinking?
Hurricane Katrina left broken lives and spirits in her wake. Now, Hurricane
Rita looks to spread damage and destruction across Texas.
September 19, 2005
Pass a Senatorial Sickness Bag
The tortuous questioning of D.C. Circuit Judge John Roberts, nominated as
Chief Justice of The Supreme Court of the United States, is over. Ahead lies
the vote by the member of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.
September 16, 2005
Righting the Course
Yesterday a federal judge handed down a ruling claiming the addition of the phrase “under God,” added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, violates the constitutional protection from the government’s ability to establish religious preference.
September 12, 2005
Horses and Horses’ Posteriors
Well, the Maryland Stadium Authority has reviewed the proposals and evaluated the proposed sites. Frederick County tried hard to make the final cut. Our entry, focused around land bordering Mount Saint Mary’s, met many of the criteria established by the powers-that-be.
September 8, 2005
Needed: A Means Test for Disaster Response
Since the force of Hurricane Katrina swept through the northern Gulf, I’ve been re-evaluating a career in local government. I’ve been trying to imagine what the local governments that I worked for would have done if a cataclysmic natural disaster had struck during my tenure.
September 5, 2005
A National Disgrace
Hurricane Katrina swept through the Mississippi delta, leaving a terrible
swath of death, destruction, and despair in her wake. We've all been riveted
to the wall-to-wall coverage. From Fort Walton Beach on Florida's panhandle
to the Louisiana swamps, families' lives have been tragically altered by
this blast from Mother Nature.
August 29, 2005
A Class Act in Annapolis Moves On
He fought like a caged tiger on the issues he believed in. He is a liberal in every sense of the word; some of his most eloquent floor speeches came fighting for causes such as equality for homosexuals.
August 22, 2005
Voting Rights: Where's the beef?
The National Democratic Party, led by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, would have us believe that voters, especially minority voters in large urban centers, have been denied their right to vote throughout the nation.
August 18, 2005
Inside Baseball: Holtzinger Hits Home Run
One lesson a short tenure in politics teaches you is that politicians care a lot more about politics than most citizens do. It gets so bad that a phrase has been coined to define a politician too wrapped up in political minutiae.
We refer to that as "inside baseball."
August 15, 2005
A Non-Profit Lie and a Mother's Pain
NARAL Pro Choice America, a non-profit political action organization, paid millions to lie to the American people. It purchased time and ran a television advertisement that claims that Judge John Roberts, while serving as an assistant solicitor general in the administration of President George H. W. Bush, argued in favor of violent extremists and abortion clinic bombers.
August 9, 2005
The Race for Alderperson – Part 2
Yesterday my microscope passed over the Democrats and a Green Party candidate for aldermen of The City of Frederick. Today, we turn our attention to the Republicans, including a couple of last minute additions that swelled the ranks as the deadline approached.
August 8, 2005
The Race for Alderperson – Part 1
Last week, the mayor’s race in The City of Frederic’s upcoming election was the subject of my unqualified punditry. This time, I’d like to share my equally questionable perspective on the Democratic aldermanic primary race.
August 4, 2005
That Peaceful, Laid-Back Antidote
Summer holds numerous magical moments for us in Frederick County. Even when the heat is blistering like the last few weeks, residents can partake of special joys denied those who prefer more densely populated environs.
August 1, 2005
Frederick’s Primary Primer
What qualifies this writer to opine on the City of Frederick’s primary election? Nothing specific, but when did lack of qualification ever stop an opinion writer?
July 28, 2005
Frederick's Best Little Whorehouse - Volume Three
Opening weekend for Fredericktowne Players Production of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" is behind us, and there are only three shows left before this chapter in my life closes for good.
July 25, 2005
Random Thoughts for a Hot Summer's Day
How in the world does Roy Meachum do it? Writing a regular column is tough stuff, developing an idea, doing research, and then composing rational thought in understandable prose is a lot more difficult than it seems.
July 22, 2005
Frederick's Best Little Whorehouse - Volume Two
Fredericktowne Player's (FTP) summer musical, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, is struggling through Tech Week, the theater's equivalent to Hell Week in the military academies.
July 18, 2005
Hollow Clamoring Everywhere You Look
Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan’s traction-less gubernatorial campaign continues to struggle to find a voice. The latest lame attempt is to attack Governor Robert Ehrlich for holding a campaign event at a private golf club in the Baltimore area.
July 11, 2005
Maryland and Taxes –The Truth
Pundits speculate about where Maryland falls among the other 49 states on taxes. Writers, depending on the editorial bent of their paper, either beg for more taxes to pay for increased services (Baltimore’s Sun) or attack Maryland’s standing as anti-business (The Washington Times).
July 8, 2005
Frederick's Best Little Whorehouse - Volume One
Nope, I'm not regurgitating the Black Book controversy. This is not an article about the upcoming elections across the state, either. Nor is it about the Frederick city contest which is underway.
July 5, 2005
A Revolution in the Health Care Industry
It's somehow fitting, me writing a column on a revolution on the 4th of July. It isn't as though I was struck with a flash of inspiration thinking
about those early patriots, though.
June 27, 2005
Storm clouds gather over MCI Hagerstown
The Hagerstown Herald Mail, one of my five morning papers, runs an on-line poll as a popular web feature. Readers can comment, as long as they are respectful of other readers.
June 24, 2005
Circus of the Sun
Cirque Du Soliel, the internationally renowned European-style circus, has set down temporary roots in Baltimore's Fells Point.
June 20, 2005
Eastalco, a Campfire Nightmare
Okay, campers! Grab a marshmallow, two graham crackers, and a piece of chocolate. Over here is a pile of green twigs, with the ends whittled down to a dull point.
June 13, 2005
A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing
The House of Delegates’ Democratic Caucus has decided to form a Democratic Business Caucus. Speaker of the House Michael Busch (D., Anne Arundel) and Delegate Galen Clagett (D., Frederick) are leading the effort to set up this new group.
June 6, 2005
A Teenage Early-70’s Obsession
I came of age in a turbulent time of congressional hearings, cover-ups, and callous abuses of power. I was very interested in the Watergate affair, the Nixon presidency, and the national mood during and after the resignation of Richard M. Nixon.
May 31, 2005
The Great Teen Help Card Controversy
Access to public health information or governmental incursion into the child/parent relationship? This is the question facing the Frederick County Board of Education (BOE) in deciding whether or not to distribute the Teen Help Card.
May 23, 2005
Oh, Marty, Thou Doest Protest Too Much!
Is this the best that Martin O’Malley can come up with? Now he’s trying to blame Gov. Robert Ehrlich for dirty tricks because the media is once again reporting on rumors of past marital infidelity.
May 16, 2005
Random Post-Session Observations
Since the end of session, I've been spending a good deal of time talking to groups and organizations around Frederick County about what happened when the General Assembly met this year.
May 9, 2005
A National Sense of Humor
The White House Correspondent's Dinner is one of official Washington's signature events; the chance for the media and political elite to break bread, tip a glass, and not take each other too seriously.
May 5, 2005
A Perfect Political Storm
The Frederick News Post attributed that quote in this headline to me in a story in last Sunday’s paper. The quote centered on a visit to Frederick last Friday by both Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley.
May 2, 2005
Performing on a Different Stage
Normally, I use this space to talk politics with you. Today, I thought I’d veer radically off course and talk about community theater.
April 28, 2005
Painters with Broad Brushes
I love to draw and paint, unfortunately, my level of talent doesn't' justify a more serious commitment to the fine arts.