Thursday, May 12, 2022
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
While Baltimore City officials talk about a renaissance in the city you only have to look at the Baltimore Sun this morning to see a different picture. Today there were 20 pages of tax sale properties listed. That represents many thousands of properties in default on their tax bills. Not the sign of a healthy city that has a murder problem and a deteriorating Inner Harbor. Blue-collar cities that were healthy in the 1950s have been hollowed out in our digital tech age. How to move those cities in a new direction that restores health to the cities is the challenge they face this century. Are cities obsolete in a digital age?
Monday, May 9, 2022
So how would this change the Roe ruling? An argument could be made that the Equal Rights Amendment gives women the same right as men to control their health care decisions. This is the route that Justice Ginsburg thought the right should have been based on.
Thursday, May 5, 2022
The Harlem Globetrotters the entertaining traveling basketball team always had the Washington Generals as the team to beat. The Generals had to look like they had a chance to win but you always knew their job was just an act and that they would lose once again. This situation reminds me of how our politics plays out. Conservatives always want our country to never change and win temporary victories but always end up losing in the end. This reality makes conservatives disgruntled and bitter. Sometimes their disgruntlement causes them to even attack Congress.
With the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion this week conservatives are celebrating a seeming victory in their 50-year battle on abortion. Right now it is uncertain how long it will take for their victory to be undone but if history is a guide the victory will only be temporary.
Conservatives politically use conservative religious doctrine to support their political beliefs. Conservative religious beliefs, like conservative political beliefs, can never change or they lose their value. It is not surprising that almost all of the opposition to abortion has a strong fundamentalist religious basis. Opposition to change is the common theme in both. Conservatives have to get used to losing as there is nothing more certain than change.
Look for the Maryland General Assembly to move to attempt to put the right to abortion in the Maryland Constitution. This could even happen in a special session if the Supreme Court overturns Roe. The culture war is heating up and will play out in this year's state elections.
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
There is a great deal of speculation about who leaked the first draft of the opinion on the abortion case. Speculation has been mixed about whether it came from someone with the liberal justices or the conservative justices. Each side may have its reasons for leaking the opinion although Fox News seems convinced it was from the liberal side. My question in looking at this is "why was the first draft the one leaked?" By now there are probably second or third drafts either written or being written. Why were they not leaked? What is being played out between the first draft and the later drafts? Is the leaker trying to freeze each justice's position at the time of the first draft? There is obviously a 5-3 majority for overturning Roe. If Chief Justice Roberts decides to join the 3 justices in the minority then it will take one of the majority justices in the first draft to change their opinion to not overrule Roe completely. Roberts may have had some success in doing that in later drafts and that is why the first draft was the one leaked. Would any of the majority justices have the courage to be labeled as a traitor to the Right to Life movement now that we know where they stood in the first draft? It would seem to me that leaking the first draft now and not later is designed to freeze the first opinion in place than to change the vote in a direction of not overruling Roe.
Time will tell if the leaking side will ever be known but it will probably come out eventually. It took "Deep Throat" dying to have them revealed. Probably won't take a death this time.
Monday, May 2, 2022
The population of the USA grew last year by just under 400,000 for the entire country. That is a 0.0% growth and it is the slowest in the entire history of the USA. The declining birth, increased death rate from COVID and a slowing of immigration are the reasons for the slow growth. This might be a different story than what you hear on Fox News. Almost 50% of the growth was in the Hispanic population which you probably did hear on Fox News. Asian, Black, and multi-racial populations make up almost all the rest of the growth. The White population actually decreased in total numbers. This isn't the first time we have had a the fear of immigrants.
Without more immigration, our country will be in the same situation as Japan and Russia with a declining population of an increasingly aging population. Currently, the only place with a high birth rate is Africa and South America. The health of an economy depends on a healthy working population making programs like Social Security and Medicare viable. The ratio of workers to people collecting Social Security has gone from 16 workers per recipient in 1950 to 2.8 workers in 2013.
The future looks like fewer schools and more senior centers.
Thursday, April 28, 2022
During the Cold War, we thought the next world war would have a nuclear exchange that had the potential to end all life on Earth. We now see that having nuclear weapons does prevent two nuclear powers from fighting a war directly with their nuclear weapons but it is fought through a 3rd country like Ukraine. We have seen this less clearly with Vietnam and Syria where the United States and Russia (or the old Soviet Union) weaponized each side. The situation is far different this time when it involves a European country. It is also different from the breakup of the Soviet Union. The United States and NATO didn't become engaged in this way when the Soviet Union invaded Hungry in 1956 or Czechoslovakia in 1968 because they were then fellow members of the old Warsaw Pact countries. We didn't oppose members of the Warsaw Pact invading each other. It is now different when many of those Pact members are now part of NATO. It is clear that Putin sees this process of those countries now aligning against Russian as a true "Domino Theory" similar to what we thought when we invaded Vietnam. The "Theory" is probably more real when the dominos are next door to your country than halfway around the world.
Even when you spend billions in aid to Ukraine is it a cheap way to wage a war with Russia and have the deaths only with Ukrainians and not American soldiers.
Can we imagine how different World War II would have been fought or turned out if Hitler had nuclear weapons?
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
If you are confused about getting the 4th shot here is some information to consider. The Omicron variant is different than the earlier forms of the virus. In one way this difference is good in that Omicron and its variants tend to lodge in the upper respiratory tract of the nose and bronchial tube. If you get sick like bronchitis which is far less deadly than pneumonia which involves infection in the lungs that can lead to serious illness and death. The earlier forms of the virus caused more lung infections and complications that caused the surge in hospitalizations and deaths. Right now we don't see that surge with the later variants. Our present vaccines don't seem to protect us from Omicron infections of the upper respiratory tract but still protect against lung infections. Getting additional shots to protect against the current virus seems to have a very short-term benefit if any at all.
As long as the new variants remain upper respiratory illnesses it is reasonable to wait till there are nasal spray vaccines that are designed for the new variants. Those vaccines are now being developed and maybe the form that will be used in the future to fight viruses rather than shots. Stopping a virus in the nose is better than fighting it in the blood.
Sunday, April 24, 2022
I still carry a mask in my car and in my pocket but now I find myself evaluating if I want to wear the mask when I go into a store. If it is a crowded Saturday I might put on a mask. If it is a late evening when the store won't be crowded and I am only picking up a few things I might go maskless. More and more I see less mask-wearing even in Columbia where we have been better at wearing a mask.
As we learn more about COVID we have to factor in information that constantly has to be adjusted. Did the lockdowns only prolong the pandemic as it attempted to protect vulnerable people? The natural immunity developed by unvaccinated people may be the reason that the new variants seem to be less dangerous. The unvaccinated vulnerable people may have paid a heavy cost but they may have paved a way for this virus to move to a milder form and moved us past needed to do another lockdown.
I have to say that I no longer have much concern about COVID. I am comfortable traveling and eating in a restaurant. I am thankful that the vaccines and post-vaccine exposures have protected me from a serious illness. I now feel that riding in a car is now a more dangerous situation than exposure to COVID. That has always probably been the case but now I feel it more.
One lesson that I have learned from experiencing a pandemic is that our Country has such an anti-government segment that nothing short of another country attacking us will ever unite us. We can thank Ronald Reagan and his Republican followers for forty years of attacks on anything the government tries to do. When protecting the health of our population becomes controversial we are all on our own.
Saturday, April 23, 2022
Monday, April 11, 2022
It used to be that our gas spikes were caused by Middle Eastern countries cutting back on production. Our present price spike however is caused by the lessening of the pandemic with life getting back to normal and the Russians invading Ukraine. This week as I was filling up (the first time in 2 weeks) it was nice to see some of the price rise had dropped. Next to me was a person filling up a very large truck ( not the one pictured but about that size). He had been filling up a few minutes before me and he still wasn't full before I was done. I can only guess how large his gas tank was but I am sure it was largely because his miles per gallon was so low. The average vehicle driven today is more likely to be a truck than a car unlike 30 or 40 years ago. Because of that increased size, the cost of a new vehicle is now $45,000. Our relatively cheap gas has only encouraged Americans to drive cars much bigger than in Europe where the price of gas can be double what we pay. Maybe now is the time to raise the gas tax to encourage people to buy more efficient vehicles rather than stop the gas tax. Better yet maybe a tax on fuel-inefficient vehicles could be distributed as a rebate to persons buying fuel-efficient vehicles. It would be like a carbon tax. All-electric cars would get the highest rebate. Maybe I could then afford a Tesla!
This answer to the recent price increase has been viewed very differently by conservatives and liberals. Conservatives mainly want to increase drilling for oil and liberals want to move away from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy. The conservative response is only a short-term answer that ignores the climate crisis. Conservatives are good at looking long-range at our debt problem but have a problem looking beyond today's gas price when it comes to the climate change problem.
Friday, April 8, 2022
Thursday, April 7, 2022
First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye
Looking at the pictures from Ukraine the past few days you wonder how anyone, even the Russian population, could be in support of an invasion that has mass murder of civilians as a war tactic. We know that much of the Russian population is not seeing what we are seeing and the state propaganda is giving them a distorted picture of what is happening. I used the quote from the Bible as the title of this post to remind us that our Country has fallen into similar distorted views of conflict that had similar mass atrocities. While our Country may try in some ways to limit civilian deaths in the conflicts we wage we shouldn't overlook our own Country's actions that had similar results.
There is an inside joke among the personnel of our State Department that goes like this. "Why will there never be a coup in the United States? Because there is no United States Embassy in the US." The meaning of this joke is that US Embassies are the places where many coups around the world are planned.P.S. 1
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
The best example of life imitating art has been the case the past week as I have started to watch the Ukrainian comedy that starred President Zelenskyy called "Servant of the People." This comedy series ran starting in 2015 in Ukraine. In the show, Zelenskyy is a high school history teacher who has a rant against government corruption in Ukraine. Unbeknownst to him one of his students is videoing his rant and uploading it to YouTube. The video goes viral and the student enters Zelenskyy into the Presidential race again without his knowledge. Because of the viral video, he is elected. Here is where life imitates the show. The comedy show becomes so popular in Ukraine that a political movement is really created against Ukrainian corruption and Zelenskyy is chosen to head the movement that gets him really elected president. I guess you could say only in Ukraine! But then I remember we elected an actor as president too. One episode has actors as Lincoln, Obama, and Putin. The show is hilarious. I can't help but be amazed at seeing Zelenskyy as a comedian 7 years ago and the courageous wartime leader today. Life really imitates art.
Maybe we can "pull a Ukraine" and elect Martin Sheen in real life after his appearance in the West Wing.
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
I have posted one blog on Wes Moore but I was able to go to his kick-off campaign for Howard County on Sunday. Having met Wes a number of years ago when I was doing some work in Baltimore I knew that someday I would get to vote for him one day and that day has arrived. To learn more about this amazing candidate click here for some info. Attached are 2 files with more information on his campaign.
Saturday, April 2, 2022
After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling voice, "Who was THAT?"
My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, "Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?" I mentally polished my halo and I said, "No, how are we alike?'' "You're both old," he replied.
A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor. She told him she was writing a story. What's it about?" he asked. "I don't know," she replied. "I can't read.
When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, "I'm not sure." "Look in your underwear, Grandpa," he advised "Mine says I'm 4 to 6." (WOW! I really like this one -- it says I'm only '38'!)
A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties. "They use him to keep crowds back," said one child. "No," said another. "He's just for good luck." A third child brought the argument to a close. “They use the dogs," she said firmly, "to find the fire hydrants."
A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said, "she lives at the airport, and whenever we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we're done having her visit, we take her back to the airport."
Friday, April 1, 2022
According to some papers that have been publically released from the boxes that Donald Trump took to Mar-a-Lago, the National Security Agency has been working with the CIA on developing these "bird-like" drones that will be unnoticed in urban areas with large bird populations. The report stated that the only problem with these drones was their limited range of 10 miles. Columbia was identified as the most urban area that could be reached from the NSA headquarter. An NSA spokesman wanted to reassure local residents that these drones were too light to carry any armaments and would only be used for surveillance. Residences are asked to notify NSA if any of these drones accidentally crash in your yard. There is a phone number to call on each drone. No reward was mentioned. Now you have something to look skyward on in our area.
Sunday, March 27, 2022
As we get back to having some normalcy to our lives we might consider a "Night Out at the Robinson Nature Center." This evening gives you a chance to experience this community resource and participate in some interesting programs and learn a little. Here is the information on the evening.
Saturday, March 26, 2022
Are the Russian citizens willing to allow their leader to turn Russia into North Korea? That is where they are headed.
Friday, March 25, 2022
The US Census is starting to release some information from the 2020 Census. This may be the last census that is conducted in the traditional way we are used to. The census in the future might rely on other online data sources that may be more exhaustive than the model used by the census.
The most significant finding is that the population has been growing so slowly. Our growth rate is the lowest since the middle of the Great Depression year of 1937. Low birth rates, low immigration rate, and a higher death rate because of COVID are the causes. The movement from the Northeast and Upper Midwest to the Southeast and Southwest continues. Greater mobility seems to cause people to move away from colder climates to warmer climates. Florida, Texas, and Arizona saw the greatest net increase mostly from people moving there from other states. This migration will be interesting to watch in how that plays out politically. Florida seems to have become more conservative and Texas and Arizona less conservative. Some of the changes in Florida may be related to the Cuban American population becoming more conservative. One state that has had a significant increase in population is Idaho. From news reports I have seen this is a result of conservatives and younger tech workers from California moving there. Having been to Idaho last year there seemed to be a lot of housing being built near the cities there.
In looking at income and levels of poverty it is not surprising that states with low educational levels had the highest rates of poverty and high tech states the highest income levels. The disparity among states on income is growing. The rich states (i.e.high educational levels) are getting richer and the poor states (i.e. low educational levels) are getting poorer in our increasingly digital world. Much of the red state/blue state political reality can be explained because of this reality. The many Red States are feeling left behind in our digital world with blue color workers losing high wage union jobs for low wage work without benefits at companies like Walmart and Amazon.
The 2020 census seems to be showing that the low birth rate that has been occurring over the past 30-40 years will probably continue and our future growth will have to depend on increased immigration. Without the increase in immigration, our Country will be looking at a net population decrease in the future. Some countries like Japan, Italy, and Poland have already reached that point. Look for Russia to follow those countries in the near future.
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
We knew that Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee would pose questions that had more to do with winning conservative votes if they decide to run for President in 2024 but Sen.Ted Cruz took this approach to a new level of racism yesterday. His question had nothing to do with whether Judge Jackson was qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice and his question came with visual props. Here is his question and Judge Jackson's response. We see her pause before she answers and here is what I assume is going through her mind and wondering if she should say this, "Senator Cruz would you ask this question if I was white?" Or maybe "Senator maybe as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee you should spend more time reading law books than children's books." She was polite enough not to take him down as he deserved to be. This is what happens when white racists Democrats fled to the Republican Party when Lyndon Johnson got civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s. Not all Republicans are racists but if you are racist you are probably a Republican.
As a black woman trying to become a Supreme Court Justice, you have to be more careful in seeming to be confrontational than if you are a white man. Here is the proof.
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
The failure of the Russian Army to quickly conquer Ukraine has been pointed to by many as the result of the incompetence of people around Putin. Narcissists like Putin can't accept having smart people around them only compliant people. Competence and unquestioned compliance are usually not compatible. We have also seen this with our recent narcissist leader--Donald Trump. Who could forget his first Cabinet meeting where everyone had to praise their leader. Do you think any of the cabinet members would ever dare to contradict any of his incompetent ideas? Anyone with any competence was left shaking their heads at the stupidity of Trump. While there was a quick turnover of competent leaders at the Departments of State and Defense and the National Security Office the most incompetent Cabinet member, Dr. Ben Carson, was one of the few members to stay the whole term. How can we forget Trump's inability to attract competent lawyers to represent him in his legal troubles? When you are left with Rudolf Giuliani as your lawyer you know you are in trouble.
It would be scary to think where we would be at with Trump as our leader in the Ukraine conflict. There might be some truth to the theory that Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if Trump was president because Putin would leave it to Trump to weaken NATO.
Not all narcists become sadists but it came close when Trump said he told "his folks" to stop the testing for COVID because it was hurting his poll numbers. He was not willing to try and prevent the deaths of citizens from COVID if it hurt his poll numbers.
Thursday, March 17, 2022
Many of you may not have heard of Wes Moore who is running for the Democratic nomination for Maryland Governor this year. I met Wes when I was working on a Baltimore Grandfamilies program more than 12 years ago. He had contacted me to talk about how a program he was developing in Baltimore could partner with our program. My program worked with grandparents (mostly grandmothers) who were raising their grandchildren. Wes was developing a program working with youth being raised by single mothers. I came away from that meeting thinking I had never remembered meeting a more dynamic or charismatic person in my life. I said to some people that I may have met the person who might be the first black President in our Country. Of course, Obama hadn't appeared on the scene then. I knew I would be voting for him one day. Now is that day. I want to share the life story of Wes now.
The local campaign manager for Howard County has organized the local effort to get out into Columbia this Saturday to get Wes' message out to our community. To help this Saturday and future Saturdays here is the information:
|When||Sat Mar 19, 2022 10am – 1pm (EDT)|
|Where||Warren's Barbershop, 7290 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, MD, 21045|
|Who||Wes Moore for Maryland*|
To email for more info contact:
An old Russian man walks up to the corner newsstand, buys a paper, looks at the front page, and throws it away.
The next day, the same old Russian man walks up to the corner newsstand, buys a paper, looks at the front page, and throws it away.
On the third day, the same thing happens and the newsstand man, beside himself with curiosity, says, "Why do you continue to buy a newspaper, look only at the front page and throw it away."
The old Russian man says, "I'm looking for the obituaries."The newsman says, "But the obituaries are not on the front page."
The old man says, "The one I'm looking for will be."
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Before Zelensky became a modern-day Churchill he was known as the person that Trump tried to bribe with only giving weapons to Ukraine if he agreed to investigate the son of his likely political opponent. This was the basis of Trump's first impeachment. Can you imagine what the situation would be like now if Trump was still president? Would he have already tried to pull the US out of NATO? Would he have been so compromised by Putin that the US would stand alone in not condemning the Russian invasion? Something to think about as you see all the Congressional Republicans giving a standing ovation to Zelensky today while still being afraid to criticize Trump. Today we will see what a brave person looks like and what political cowards look like.
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
I have been following the transmission rates of COVID in Maryland posted on a daily basis on the Facebook page Maryland Vaccine Hunters. It had been showing a rapid decline in transmission for the past month but in the past few days, the trends are slowing rising again in many counties like Howard. Has the BA.2 variant of Omicron started to take hold in Maryland and the US? If we look at what is happening in Europe we may be seeing what will be here very soon. Below was reported in the New York Times today.
"Europe has often been a few weeks ahead of the U.S. with Covid trends — and cases are now rising in Britain, Germany, Italy, and some other parts of Europe. The main cause appears to be an even more contagious version of Omicron, known as BA.2."
"BA.2 has already begun to spread in the U.S., as well. It accounted for about 12 percent of newly diagnosed cases last week, according to the C.D.C. The variant may also be the reason that the amount of Covid virus detected in wastewater is rising in about one-third of American cities that track such data. Wastewater samples tend to be a leading indicator of case counts.
If that pattern repeats, BA.2 would be about to end two months of falling case counts in the U.S. Since mid-January, the number of new daily Covid cases has dropped more than 95 percent and is now at its lowest level since last summer, before the Delta surge."
Monday, March 14, 2022
We all know that Ukrainian Prime Minister Zelinski was a comedic actor in his previous life. Here is a link to his show that shows a different side of him. In the show, he plays the role of Prime Minister. Unfortunately in the US we only get a stupid game show host who plays the fake role of a demanding boss. We know how that turns out when he tried to bribe Zelinsky to "do a favor for him." Next time maybe we should look overseas for our leaders.
Maybe you missed this news over the weekend
Saturday, March 12, 2022
Recently when the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov denied that Russia had invaded Ukraine and called it "fake news" it reminded me our where he may have learned this from. Remember when he met with Trump in the Oval Office after firing Comey from the FBI and joked with the Russians that he had taken care of his Russian problems? This coming from the man who called Putin a genius in how he went about the Russian invasion. We have long seen what the face of a "Putin want-to-be" looks like in the United States. It has been reported that Trump would have pulled the US out NATO if he had been re-elected. It is hard to know if he would have been able to do that but it is possible that another Trump term would have given Putin everything he wanted without invading any countries. Don't forget that Trump tried to withhold assisting Ukraine until they provided information on Hunter Biden and claimed that it might have been Ukraine that hacked the Democrat National Committee instead of Russia. Maybe someday we will learn what information the Russians have that they hold over Trump's head. Maybe that is why Putin smiles when he sees Trump.
Friday, March 11, 2022
Above is a picture of the price of gas that I took on March 10, 2020, as we started to "shelter in place" with the impending pandemic. As we now experience $4 gas I wouldn't trade places knowing what it was like to give up much of our normal activity. Remember the taped-off tot lots?
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
As I listen to the news reports about people in Ukraine are having time convincing their relatives in Russia about what is happening in Ukraine. Putin has been attempting to limit access to any information that doesn't come from his government-controlled sources. It is hard to know how successful this can be in a time of VPNs and social media sources. 2022 is not the 1960s. This situation reminded me of how Fox News and conservative social media platforms try to do the same thing. I have relatives who have said they have stopped listening to traditional news sources because they are "fake news." One relative told me in 2020, before the election, that news about the COVID virus would go away after the election because it was just to hurt Trump's chances to get re-elected. They said that the Democrats thought that the Mueller investigation would do this but it failed so they had to find some new way and the virus was what they are using. Looking at my relative's social media they have fallen into Trump's belief that the election was stolen. They talk about voter fraud in cities. When I point out that our own government officials have indicated that there wasn't voter fraud they ask me if I always trust the government. The worst was an email from a relative that repeated Qanon theories after the January attack on the US Capitol.
The separate media worlds that liberals and conservatives live in today will have significant impacts on the future of the United States. As a liberal I know I would never choose to live in a red state and they would never choose to live in a blue state. I even have felt discomfort when I visit places where you see Trump and "Go Brandon" flags. I feel like I am in enemy territory. Makes you long for the days of having a Walter Cronkite that we all could trust to give us the news. Those days are long gone.
If anyone thinks that MSNBC is just as bad as Fox News, how many MSNBC broadcasters have moved away from MSNBC to other more conservative like Fox News. I know that Tucker Carleson once was a conservative broadcaster on MSNBC but with Chris Wallace following Bret Brier, Jonah Goldberg, Stephen Hayes, and Nicole Wallace Fox News is truly becoming our country's version of the Russian Pravda station of old.