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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

5 year blogging retrospective

     With the end of February I have been blogging for 5 years.  That makes me one of the most senior bloggers in Howard County.  I have posted close to 1700 times.  When I started blogging I wanted to re-engage with Howard County after having worked outside of Howard County for 11 years.  The blog has certainly done that more than I could have known.  It has connected me with so many interesting residents of our County.  Howard County is such a dynamic and thriving community.  I hope I have shared information in ways that informed readers about our community and the broader world in which we live.
     I started this blog to have a non political focus but that has been a challenge over the past year or two.  The current Administration and the Republican Congress have taken positions that I find reprehensible to my beliefs of what this Country should represent to the world.  This Administration's drift in an authoritarian direction horrifies me. Trump has so many disgusting qualities that it is hard to believe he could ever be seen a choice to lead this County.  Having said this I will try to keep a local focus to my posts (if I can do that!)
     You may have noticed that I post less frequently than I have in past years.   Last year I posted 127 less times than I did in 2012.  I wouldn't be surprised that the trend will continue.  It seems that every year of my retirement gets busier and I find less time to blog.  Plus every year I resolve to read more and this year is no exception.
     I really do enjoy and appreciate comments to my posts.  Even the negative comments!  So I encourage readers to post comments.

Monday, February 27, 2017

What happens in Maryland if the Affordable Health Care program is killed?

      While the Affordable Care Act has many flaws that have reduced its effectiveness in ensuring that everyone in Maryland has health care insurance the legislation has provided insurance for over 350,000 Marylanders, many of whom were uninsured before the ACA.  Who can forget the botched roll out in Maryland the first year.   Each year since fortunately has operated smoothly in expanding the health care safety net in Maryland.
      The Trump administration's agenda includes a repeal of the ACA and a replacement program that remains unclear.  Many officials in the Maryland Legislature are interested in setting up a Commission to study what repeal and reduction in the program's benefits would mean for Maryland residents.  The Senate Bill 571, with Sen. Guzzone and Sen. Kasemeyer as a co-sponsors, would establish a  Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission that would :
     "(i) conduct a study to assess the impact of potential federal changes 13 to the ACA, Medicaid, and Medicare;  
    ( ii) provide recommendations for State and local action to protect 15 access of residents of the State to affordable health coverage.  The study conducted under paragraph (1) of this subsection shall include: an assessment of the current and potential adverse effects of the loss of health coverage on the residents, public health, and economy of the State resulting from a repeal or weakening of the ACA, Medicaid, or Medicare;  an estimate of the costs to the State and State residents of adverse effects from a repeal or weakening of the ACA, Medicaid, or Medicare and the resulting loss of health coverage; 
     (iii) an examination of measures that may prevent or mitigate the adverse effects of a repeal or weakening of the ACA, Medicaid, or Medicare and the resulting loss of health coverage on the residents, public health, and economy of the State; and 
     (iv) recommendations for laws that: 1. may be warranted to minimize the adverse effects 30 associated with a repeal or weakening of the ACA, Medicaid, or Medicare; and 2. will assist residents in obtaining and maintaining affordable health coverage. "

   The Commission could hold public hearings around the State before submitting their report to the Governor and the General Assembly by the end of this year.
    Time will tell what type of health insurance coverage will be available in the upcoming years.  The dynamic between a Republican Governor and a Democrat controlled General Assembly will show how progressive Maryland really is.

     The local Indivisible group in Columbia is holding a town hall at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center on the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this Sunday at 5 pm.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Obama just missed making the top 10 Presidents

   C-Span has been doing a survey of historians since around 2000 on how they would rank our presidents.  While there is a positive bias toward more recent presidents it is interesting to see where the recently retired Barack Obama came in the most recent poll.  Obama came in at number 12 out of 44 past presidents isn't a bad place in your first poll.  When you look at how many of the past presidents who left office unpopular and are now ranked high it wouldn't be surprising to have Obama move into the top 10 in a few years.  An example of this is Harry Truman.  He left office with a 22% approval rating and is now ranked as the 6 best president.  Lyndon Johnson was so unpopular that he chose to not run for reelection but is now ranked at number 10.   In fact the period from Franklin Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson has been called the "golden age of the American presidency" with all five presidents in the top 10--- FDR (3), Harry Truman (6), Dwight Eisenhower (5), John F. Kennedy (8) and Lyndon Johnson (10).

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

World-renowned luminarium attraction set to light up Columbia during 50th Birthday Celebration

    As the Columbia 50th birthday celebration get closer the Columbia Association had this information about one way we will celebrate.

"The famed Katena Luminarium has thrilled audiences in Europe and will be part of the festivities during the Columbia Festival of the Arts from June 16th to 18th at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront. Luminaria are monumental inflatable structures designed to generate a sense of wonder at the beauty of light and radiant colors, all within a dazzling maze of winding paths and soaring domes. It was designed by the Architects of Air’s founder and creative director, Alan Parkinson."

"The weatherproof luminarium will be situated in the open space adjacent to Whole Foods Market off Little Patuxent Parkway. The experience will be free of charge to enter. The luminarium is accessible to wheelchairs and people with mobility difficulties. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult (maximum of four children per adult)."

     Link to the articles that Len Lazarick has written on Columbia's history.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Gun advocates in their alternative world

      Yes, we live a liberal bubble in Columbia.  A trip to many other parts of our Country shows how different we are.  The picture above was taken in Florida, a gun loving, stand your ground kinda place.  That is a non functional weapon on top of this Jeep.  It was proudly parked outside a guns and ammo store.  I kinda expected a bumper sticker on the Jeep that said "My other vehicle is a tank."
      I have long recognized that I will never fully comprehend the mentality of people living in the 21 Century thinking that carrying guns for personal protection, like it was the 19th Century in the Wild West, makes sense.   I can understand hunters and other recreational users of guns.  As a former hunter/gun owner who grew up in a rural area I knew many people who owned guns for those purposes.  I can't imagine any of them ever thought of packing a sidearm when they went to town. It's the concealed weapons, stand your ground advocates that I don't understand.
       The latest example of distorted thinking was the recent House Republicans voting to give people the Social Security Administration has determined to be mentally incompetent to handle their own affairs the right to own a weapon.   I know that the NRA feels that any, and I do mean any, restrictions on owning a weapon is a slippery slope they will fight us going down.


This is who supposedly need extreme vetting

But not this person

    Proud to be a Marylander!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Read Dr. Seuss at a local elementary school


    The United Way of Central Maryland is sponsoring events in our area to read a Dr. Seuss book at a local elementary school on March 2nd.   This is an opportunity to engage with local elementary school students in a fun way with the zaniness of Dr. Seuss.  Here are the links to volunteer at 2 local elementary schools.   I will be at Talbott Springs Elementary.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Image result for #resist
  You knew if was only a matter of time until Meetup groups would start forming to organize against the craziness of the Trump Administration.   The groups are organizing around the hashtag #resist.

     Somehow putting a bumper sticker on your car that says "Don't blame me I voted for Her" doesn't seem to be a strong enough protest.  There are a couple of #Resist Meetup groups that are forming locally.  The Ellicott City group seems to have a number of members but no mention of a meeting.   The Columbia group has a meeting scheduled at Wegman's for next Wednesday February 22nd. 
    Does anyone know of other opposition efforts locally?

    Seriously folks can you imagine how many Congressional investigations would have been held by now if Clinton would have contacts with Russian officials like the Trump Administration?  I am still waiting "to get sick of winning."


Monday, February 6, 2017

Now is the time to rewatch the movie "The Big Short"

      Now that Trump has issued an Executive Order undoing some of the regulations of the Dodd Frank law because some of his wealthy friends can't get loans, it might be a good time to watch a movie that shows why those friends shouldn't get those loans to bring down our banking system.  "The Big Short" shows how you can manipulate the system to steal other people's investments and enrich yourself.  The movie is a little hard to follow in some ways but the message that is clear many in the investment business have the power to bring down our financial system if left unchecked.  Amazing how short our memories can be.  Think it can't happen again?

     Here is an explanation of the law.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Support immigrants in Howard County by supporting Foreign Information and Referral Network (FIRN)


     FIRN has been supporting newly arrived immigrants in Howard County for many years.  You can support this valuable organization by making a contribution or participating in their 5K walk/run.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Then and now

Remember when we had an adult in the White House instead of a twelve year old?