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Gubernatorial candidates speak in Frederick

  • Published in State

FREDERICK — Six candidates seeking to replace Governor Larry Hogan this fall came to make their cases at a candidate forum Friday night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Frederick. The forum was hosted by the Maryland chapters of the Federation of National Active and Retired Federal Employees and the Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW). 

Present were Democratic candidates Jim Shea, a former attorney and chairman of the University of Maryland’s Board of Regents; Krish Vignarajah, former policy director for First Lady Michele Obama; and James Jones II,. Former NAACP director Ben Jealous was represented by his running mate, Susan Turnbull, and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III was represented by his running mate, Elizabeth Embry. Libertarian Party Candidate Shawn Quinn, a retired Navy veteran and Newport News, Va., law enforcement officer, also attended. Declared candidates who were invited but did not attend included Hogan, Green Party candidate Ian Schlakman, and Democrats Rich Madeleno, Ralph Jaffe, Kevin Kamenetz, and Alec Ross.

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Continuing Trump hypocrisy

Trump Mocking Disabled ReporterA short time ago, President Donald J. Trump was calling for the resignation of Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester. The issue was the treatment of Trump’s nominee to head the Veterans’ Administration, Admiral Ronny Jackson. Senator Tester serves as the ranking member of the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee. That Senate committee is tasked with reviewing the qualifications of the nominee for that cabinet position left vacant with the firing by Trump of Dr. David Shulkin.
Admiral Jackson has since withdrawn his nomination in the midst of the controversy created when certain individuals raised allegations of misconduct on the part of Jackson who, quite famously, also served as the White House physician and has been in that position for the past three presidents.
Rather than try to capture the eloquence of the president’s tweet regarding his call for Senator Tester to resign, I will simply provide it for you here:

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Leadership for the few isn’t exactly leadership for us all

the signSee if you can spot the common denominators.
Stephon Clark, 22, was fatally shot by Sacramento police in his grandmother's backyard on March 18; police officers involved in the incident claim to have confused Clark’s cell phone for a gun.
Philando Castile, 32, was fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer on July 6, 2016 while reaching for his driver's license after informing the police officer that he had a licensed gun in the car.
Alton Sterling, 37, was selling CDs outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 5, 2016 when he was fatally shot by police after having been wrestled to the ground.
Nineteen-year-old Tony Robinson of Madison, Wisconsin was unarmed and fatally shot by a police officer on March 6, 2015, as was 34-year-old Rumain Brisbon of Phoenix, Arizona while reaching for a pill bottle in his pocket on Dec. 2, 2014.
Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice of Cleveland, Ohio had been holding a BB gun outside a recreational center when he was shot and killed by a police officer on Nov. 23, 2014.
Seventeen-year-old Laquan McDonald had been holding a knife and walking away from Chicago police when he was fatally shot 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014.
Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri, was fatally shot by police on August 9, 2014.
As you may have guessed, all of the aforementioned fatalities were African Americans.

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Mr. Zuckerberg goes to Washington

PHOTO BY PAUL K. SCHWARTZI recently had the opportunity to attend the Senate's combined hearing by its Judiciary and Commerce Committees, during which Facebook owner and creator Mark Zuckerberg fielded some five hours of questions.
Clearly the concern of the some 42 senators was user privacy and the protection of personal information in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the personal information of some 87 million Facebook users was improperly taken and used for unauthorized political purposes during the 2016 presidential election.
While a comparison was made by some Republican senators to the voter targeting done during the Obama presidential campaigns, the difference here is the deliberate flood of misinformation done by Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 Trump campaign.
Certainly user privacy and the protection of personal data are a concern of major proportions. Facebook is an enormously large company with over $40 billion in annual income, more than 25,000 employees and more than 2 billion monthly active users.
However, as I listened to the testimony I couldn't help but think that the true overarching issue is more than privacy; it is responsibility. What is the responsibility of platform providers to manage the content of those platforms?

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Democrats face a messaging problem

safe imageThe biggest issue facing Democrats as they head toward the 2018 midterm elections and their quest to retake both the House of Representatives and the Senate is to identify what Democrats are for and not just against. The search is for a rallying issue, so to speak.
The difficulty is that it is sometimes a bit challenging to distinguish the two especially when dealing with such a destructive force as the CONmander-in-Chief.
There are a couple of good places to start, however. First, simply look at all of the Obama Administration actions that have been, item by item, undone by the current administration. Re-entering the Paris Climate Accord since we are the only nation, and I said only nation thanks to Trump, who is not a signatory is one easy issue to adopt for Democrats. Climate change, by the way, is real, and not being part of the solution implies we are part of the problem. Current efforts to roll back automobile emission standards are a prime example.
Rescinding President Obama's executive order on DACA, Deferred Actions on Childhood Arrivals, only served to create an unnecessary crisis. How this issue will ultimately be addressed remains to be seen, but it is likely that it will leave casualties no matter how it is addressed, if at all.

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We all should be "Mad as Hell" again

bs md house budget 20180322What's that you say?”
“Come again?”
“I can't hearrrrr youuuuu!”
That is, in essence, what our state legislators have said to taxpayers in the state of Maryland. Basically, their message is: I can't hear you, and even if I did, I don't really care!
As previously mentioned in this column, the recently-released federal tax plan hits the taxpayers of high-taxed states such as Maryland particularly hard. It is estimated that, as a result of the federal tax plan, Maryland taxpayers will see an increase of approximately $400 million in state taxes owed for the 2018 tax year.
What to do, what to do, what to do? Well, the state legislature has apparently decided to spend it and not return it to the taxpayers who, if nothing is done, will see an associated increase in their state tax bill come April 15, 2019.
Using the 2014 Personal Statistics of Income from the Comptroller's table for itemized deductions, the average increase in state and local returns for Marylanders with an adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less would average about $1000 in additional state tax per return.

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Keep your hands off the pension, dude

download 2Back, way back, in the early 1980s, the New York office of the United States Customs Service experienced a full-fledged scandal concerning illegal kickbacks, graft, extortion and more, much more, including obstruction of justice. High-level customs officials went to jail.
The Area Director of the Port of Newark was charged with illegally raising the prices a bit extra, shall we say, for licenses and permits in the port. The extra proceeds, apparently, were directed to his personal coffers, not the government's. Other high-ranking officials were indicted for other illegal activities such as outright theft of imported goods and, as did the Area Director, served time in prison.
While I was working at Newark I recall quite vividly the morning anxiety of wondering who was going to be taken away in handcuffs that day, the goal of which was to put all employees on notice. (Note to my right-wing readers: no, I wasn't among them.)
What was not done, however, was not allowing those who were eligible to retire and collect their earned pensions. The pensions had nothing to do with the penalties for the crimes committed. That was determined in a court of law. Yes, people lost their jobs but, if they were eligible, they did not lose their pensions because one thing had nothing to do with the other.

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Back to the Future via Biff - or Trump

downloadQuite the uproar was created recently with the announcement by the current occupant of the Oval Office of his intention to impose an across-the-board 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. His stated target is China for “dumping” steel on the U.S. market.
“Dumping” is actually a formal term and refers to a product being “dumped” on a foreign market by selling it at less than fair market value as a means of cornering the market in that foreign country. The price of the product in the importing country is far less than the price of the same product being sold domestically, in this case, China.
Back in the 1980s, the threat to our domestic steel industry was Japan. Trump, in his wisdom, is claiming that China is currently dumping steel on the U.S. market and his across-the-board tariffs are intended to address that unfair practice. Problem is that China currently accounts for only about two percent of our imported steel, so the across-the-board action is actually hurting allies such as Canada, which accounts for almost 50 percent of our imported steel.
A few months back, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross discussed imposing anti-dumping duties on Canada for its exports to the United States of softwood lumber. Anti-dumping duties are targeted to a specific country to counter the effect of the less than fair market value pricing. It seems baffling that if Chinese steel exports were the true culprit, then imposition of anti-dumping duties should have been the preferred course of action, if applicable.
Imposing or raising tariffs on imported products are designed to protect a specific industry. The United States Customs Service was created in 1789 to collect tariffs on foreign goods as a means of protecting the fledgling industries of the newly-created nation. In today’s global economy the rules are a bit different.

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Promises, promises, and is it tee time again already?

Trump on golf courseI know we are in the middle of winter, but I didn't want to let this issue escape my scrutiny. Besides, it is sunny in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Remember during the presidential campaign of 2016 how often candidate Trump complained about how many times his predecessor took time off to play golf? Quite a bit as I recall. I also recall quite vividly candidate Trump promising not to play golf if elected because there is so much to do there won't be enough time to play golf.
He stated over and over again how he will be working, not playing. How he would “stay in the White House and work his ass off.” He accused his predecessor of playing more rounds of golf than Tiger Woods, than the players on the PGA tour. Quite a difference between promises made during a campaign and the reality after election. Especially when it comes to golf and the presidency and Donald J. Trump!
Now for some of that post-election reality as it relates to golf and vacation days as a whole. Reality: Donald J. Trump during his first year in office took five times more vacation days than his predecessor Barack H. Obama.

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Is there a doctor in the house?

NFL ProtestsAdmittedly I am not a doctor. I never attended medical school. I never even played a doctor on television. I did stay too many times to count at a Holiday Inn Express, but somehow I still don't consider myself a doctor.
However, I do receive numerous emails every single day. Several hundred for that matter and I am not even Secretary of State. How Hillary Clinton kept up with all of her emails is beyond me. I recently received an email regarding ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Maybe the sender got confused with the concept of the deficit in light of the recently passed Republican tax plan.
Anyway, I decided to take a look at the information out of curiosity and discovered something quite alarming. The president of the United States may very well be struggling with ADHD. As a matter of fact, this president may be afflicted with a great many more afflictions than just ADHD.

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