Wednesday, February 22, 2017

On Israel and BDS

Going beyond Howard County's borders for a moment, I want to go on the record supporting HB949 and SB 739.

These bills, if passed and signed into law, would "ban the state of Maryland from offering procurement contracts, or making any investments in companies that boycott Israel."

Israel is not perfect.  No state is.  Moreover, I expect more of our democratic allies...Canada, the U.K., and Israel to name a few.  And finally, I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not possess the will necessary to forge a governing coalition that would take the steps required to set the stage for successful negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.  Of course, he needs partners on the Palestinian side who are willing and able to be statespeople, to make the sacrifices that Arafat was unwilling to make in the waning days of the Clinton Administration in his negotiations with Ehud Barak.  Barak put a once-in-a-lifetime deal on the table, and Arafat - like a coward - walked away.  

That said, the Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is pressuring Israel is negotiate with the Palestinian Authority at a time when the PA does not appear committed to acting like a responsible government. Yes, we can talk about settlements and how individual Palestinians have been treated.  We are debating, for the most part, legitimate arguments.  The problem is that an Israel that feels threatened is more likely to turn to its more reactionary parties and figures who will promise their constituencies security (while their actions may actually compromise Israel's long-term security interests).  

The BDS movement, through economic coercion, is not incentivizing Israel to head to the negotiating table (again, with whom precisely?).   And regardless of what one thinks of Bibi, he will eventually pass from the scene.  Punishing him, or his government, is not the best path for those truly seeking a just peace in that troubled corner of the Middle East.  

So I hope that our entire Howard County delegation supports the appropriate bills.  Israel remains an ally, and it should be treated like such.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Kasemeyer: Vulnerable in a Contested Primary?

First, Happy Presidents’ Day.  C-SPAN released their 2017 Survey of Presidential Leadership.  For the first time since C-SPAN began their rankings (2000 being the premiere year, and 2009 being the second), John Tyler slipped behind William Henry Harrison. (39th and 38th respectively).  This is mockery and a sham.  Say what you will about the miserable Confederate bastard, he faced down a surly Cabinet and insisted that he was, in fact, President upon the passing of Harrison.  Not “Acting” not still “Vice President,” but the full deal with all of the powers of the Office.  This set an important precedent.  For that, he deserves to finish ahead of Old Tippecanoe.  Slightly ahead.

Turning to the “just for fun” 12th State Legislative District survey I recently fielded, it is vital to recall that it is not statistically valid.  It may, in fact, possess just a hint of directional value.  I made this clear from the outset so don’t come whining to me about it being too small a sample or not methodologically grounded or some similar gripe.  Go buy a Natty Boh and weep in it.

A total of 19 individuals participated in the study, hopefully all according to the rules (only one vote per person, must be registered voters who reside in the 12th and plan on voting in the 2018 Democratic State Senate Primary Election).

The precise question verbiage was:

“Looking ahead to the 2018 Maryland State Senate Democratic Primary Election in the 12th Legislative District, would you prefer the Democratic nominee to be Ed Kasemeyer or someone else?”

The results are: 

Someone Else        63%
Ed Kasemeyer        37%

Something tells me that if I wrote this question for District 13, and the match-up was between Senator Guy Guzzone and “someone else,” Guzzone would have been the preference of 75%+ of the respondents (assuming a similar sample size and composition).

So what does this mean?  Perhaps absolutely nothing.  But maybe everything (as far as the known Universe consists of slices of two Maryland counties).  I think it means that a populist/progressive Democrat, with sufficient resources, could give Senator Kasemeyer a serious primary challenge.  At the risk of being reductionist: an outsider-y populist might play quite well in Baltimore County while someone more to the Left of Kasemeyer could appeal to the liberals who comprise a healthy percentage of the Democratic vote in Howard County.

In short, if Senator Kasemeyer wishes to seek re-election, he cannot take his base for granted.  Those numbers (albeit from a sample as large as two focus groups) are reminiscent of any one of a number of long-term incumbents who aren’t as connected with the grassroots as they should be.

Definitely something worth watching.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.



Friday, February 17, 2017

Christine and me

I once gave Christine O’Connor some free campaign advice. Nothing major, mind you, just a couple of lines she could use at candidate forums. On a scale of life-regrets, this equates to roughly a stubbed toe.  Looking back, I wish I had avoided it.

It was September 2014 and, from a communications perspective, she was busy underwhelming the crowd at every candidate event she attended.  Frankly, her over-reliance on platitudinous remarks annoyed me. I felt compelled to try to help her up her game, if only a little.   So I sent her an email which included the following:

“Relate it all back to a larger, future-oriented vision:

‘I know that the school operating budget is no mere ledger of data points, it is a statement about our values and about how best to educate our children.  I know what they need in the classroom and I will work to ensure that they have the tools they need to learn and grow and that, at the moment they turn the tassels on their graduation caps, they will be ready for college or the workforce.’"

I thought it would work with her voice, accessible…folksy even.  Sure enough, she used some version of that line shortly thereafter.

Flash forward to early 2017, and we see less of a "values” and “vision” focus.  Now, apparently, Ms. O’Connor has other concerns top-of-mind.  In a communication with the ironically monikered Howard County Hate Watch, she writes, “We need to get more about Christina.  What can I do?”

Nice “growth.” 

Suffice to say, she will be receiving no further counsel from these quarters.  Scratch that. I will offer up one more piece of advice: she should not run for re-election.  If we have seen her apogee, that just isn’t good enough for Howard County.  Public service isn’t for everyone…some folks just don’t have the “tools they need to learn and grow.”

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Emails to a Middle Aged Curmudgeon

"On some grave questions, there is no difference to be split; one does not look for a synthesis between verity and falsehood; the sun does not rise in the east one day and in the west the next." - C. Hitchens

This, of course, is why it is a fool's errand to give credence to the smoke and mirrors arguments coming out of the Trump White House.  Half-truths, "alternative facts," off-the-cuff prevarications, and outright lies do not, and can not, constitute a governing philosophy in a Constitutional Republic.

Granted, the "reality challenged" have been growing in strength for some time...particularly within the entity which calls itself the Republican Party.  From the theocrats to the science-deniers, there are those who aren't willing to accept facts.  With the rise of alt-media, there is always a voice willing to support their world-views, no matter how disconnected they are from the world in which we actually live.

Isn't Mitt Romney looking much better these days?

This phenomenon is not limited to the current occupants of 1600 can see examples of it right here in Howard County.  From the sad display over at Howard County "Hate Watch" to the vituperative No Sanctuary HoCo folks, there is a willful disregard exhibited toward reasoned debate.  Bluster and ad hominem attacks, with words as cudgels, are the order of the day with such sites.

It is difficult to seek to find a middle ground with those who possess such mindsets.  If one attempts to bargain in good faith and take the moral high ground, one might get submarined.

Perhaps it is a better use of time to wait until rational actors appear...real states-people and not poseurs.  In the meantime, one can look east every morning for the reliable sunrise.  That is a fact.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.