Trump, Pence and Nuclear War

NuclearExplosionTurns out the President of the United States may not be a misogynist after all. He’s a misanthrope.
There is little else to conclude after the events of the past week.
It began with the breaking news that White House Staff Secretary for President Donald Trump, Rob Porter, apparently beat two of his ex-wives.
The information came to light when the FBI investigated Porter to give him security clearance. The story, complete with pictures of one of his wives with a black eye made the rounds and the White House began spinning like a turbo-charged child’s top.


Midsize Hyundai offers functional value

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata is an affordable, generally pleasant midsize sedan that’s less polished and fancy than the leading competitors. COURTESY PHOTOThe 2018 Hyundai Sonata is an affordable, generally pleasant midsize sedan that’s less polished and fancy than the leading competitors. COURTESY PHOTO  Today’s car shoppers have many options for functionality and value. These qualities once defined the midsize family sedan class, but many buyers have turned instead to less expensive compact cars or to roomier crossover SUVs.
As many purely practical car shoppers look elsewhere, many midsize sedans have increasingly prioritized style and luxury to succeed in a more premium niche. But if you just want something comfortable and functional and still prefer a spacious four-door sedan, you should check out the newly-updated 2018 Hyundai Sonata.
The Sonata isn’t a dramatically-styled sports sedan like the latest Honda Accord, whose luxury-grade looks and driving experience elevate it above the family car norm. But the Sonata is also less expensive, with the well-equipped base SE model presenting a particularly strong value.
The 2018 Sonata starts at $22,935, and according to pricing site, you should be able to haggle it below $20,000. That’s an advantage of some $2,500 over a base Accord, and Hyundai also throws in an Android Auto/Apple CarPlay-compatible touchscreen, a blind-spot monitoring system and a long warranty.


Flying under the radar once again

for sale sign outside houseMonday’s Reuters “exclusive” report about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dropping their investigation on the Equifax data breach caused quite a stir in DC (Exclusive: U.S. consumer protection official puts Equifax probe on ice – sources: February 5, 2018). The exclusive cited unnamed sources. However, a spokesperson for Transunion (a credit repository) suggested that cybercrime is not within the jurisdiction of the CFPB. 

Later that day, Reuters cited Democratic Senators’ concerns and outrage over the alleged investigation pullback. The next day, Reuters reported that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin desired to meet with CFPB’s Acting Director Mick Mulvaney, based on its initial reports of dropping the Equifax investigation. In the same report, Reuters cited the CFPB’s spokesperson saying that the CFPB was working with other government agencies on the Equifax data breach.


Excessive force charges against cops

gavel2There has been much discussion in recent years about use of excessive force by police officers, in the performance of their often difficult duties. The Courts have made it clear that when making an arrest a police officer is entitled to take reasonable measures to make the arrest in a manner that protects both the public and the police. What evidence may be admissible in a case alleging that an officer acted unreasonably in using force while making an arrest was explored by Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals in a recent case called Wesley Cagle v. State of Maryland.


MS-13 and a parade

handcuffed manGang violence isn’t new in Montgomery County. It isn’t new anywhere in the country.
It is dangerous and serious, but the federal government has never been particularly good about dealing with the problem and the Trump administration is particularly inept in its ability to deal with one particular gang - MS-13.
The gang has been active for at least a decade and a half in Montgomery County and has been responsible for some horrible crimes, particularly in the immigrant community.
John Cronan, an assistant attorney general said Tuesday the Trump administration will not protect immigrants who come forward to testify against MS-13 members - particularly otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants who fear deportation.


Remember to “Turn out the vote”

FB IMG 1508619290410You might remember my column from a few months back on Oct. 5, entitled “Turning rhetoric into action with results.” It focused on efforts of Democrats at both the county and state levels to more effectively garner grassroots support for Democratic candidates. Consider this column to be a sequel or follow-up to that earlier column.
On the topic of turnout and grassroots fundraising, I attended a precinct organization meeting several weeks ago attended by more than 100 precinct leaders, district liaisons, and area coordinators. The function was hosted by the Montgomery County Democratic Party. During this meeting, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) presented the Montgomery County Democratic Party with a check for $60,000, representing grassroots fundraising at its finest.
As our other Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) often points out, grassroots fundraising primarily accomplishes two things. First, it makes the small donor feel more a part of the campaign process. Second, it causes the candidates to pay closer attention to the issues important to these small grassroots donors.
This is how it should be and this is at the core of how Democrats intend to reverse the current tide in elections at every level as we approach the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential elections. The importance of turning the tide cannot be underscored enough as the effort involves growing the grassroots in individual state legislative districts across the entire country to start taking back state houses as we approach the 2020 census and the accompanying redrawing of Congressional district lines in 2021.


Pair of small crossovers has hidden flaws

2018 Toyota C HR cropped for webThe 2018 Toyota C-HR looks sporty and modern, but it’s humdrum to drive and its in-cabin connectivity is below par. COURTESY PHOTO  Sometimes, a car can stand out so positively in certain ways that it is worth forgiving its weak points. Other times, however, a car’s strengths can leave you blind to any flaws. The latter is a far more dangerous proposition, because you might only notice a vehicle’s downsides after you’ve already driven it off the lot.
Such a trap is easy to fall into when considering a pair of subcompact crossovers, the all-new 2018 Toyota C-HR and the freshly updated 2018 Mazda CX-3.
The Toyota mixes concept-car styling with five-door practicality, an elevated seating position, respectable gas mileage and an affordable base price of $23,495. The Mazda, meanwhile, trounces its ordinary-feeling competitors’ driving dynamics with sporty handling that makes it feel comparatively luxurious.
But look carefully at both of these crossovers before buying. While they may indeed fill the right niche for you, their compromises can also leave you wondering: “But... why?”


Finding a rental is not that easy folks

for sale sign outside houseSome housing experts are excited about the recent one-half of one percent uptick in the homeownership rate, saying it’s at a three year high. The Census’ most recent release of the Quarterly Residential Vacancies and Homeownership described the move as “not statistically different” from the previous quarter or year ( 

Essentially, the homeownership rate remains historically low. This dovetails with the Census’ most recent renter moving data indicating that the percentage of renters who moved in 2017 was the lowest since 1988. 

So, it should not be a surprise that rents are on the rise, and it’s becoming even more difficult to find a rental.


A witness for now - pending charges

gavel2The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as similar provisions in the Maryland Declaration of Rights, protect the right of an accused to confront witnesses against him. 

These protections allow for wide latitude on the part of a defendant’s attorney in cross-examining witnesses called by the prosecution. Maryland’s Court of Appeals last week addressed how to handle questioning of a witness who faces his own criminal charges, in a case called Manchame-Guerra v. State. 

The opinion by Chief Judge Barbera indicates that the defendant was charged with murder in a shooting death.


Racists are simply and merely lazy

Charottlesville 2Racists are lazy.
There is no way around that realization. It takes some effort to view people as individuals and then weigh the good points against the bad points to make a determination about the quality of each individual. It is far easier to paint groups of people with a broad brush and take the individual assessment out of the equation. It is much easier to accept or condemn them as a group basing the decision on factors such as race or religion, or, for that matter, any of a host of other considerations such as income, country of birth or ancestry, level of education or any of a myriad of other subjective factors.
When it comes to race, that is a real easy one; it's as easy as distinguishing black, maybe brown, from white, no research necessary.