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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Obama Weekly Address

George Wenschhof

We give thanks for the men and women who set sail for this land nearly four centuries ago, risking everything for the chance at a better life – and the people who were already here, our Native American brothers and sisters, for their generosity during that first Thanksgiving.

We give thanks for the generations who followed – people of all races and religions, who arrived here from every country on Earth and worked to build something better for themselves and for us. We give thanks for all our men and women in uniform – and for their families, who are surely missing them very much today.  We’re grateful for their sacrifice too.  

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Republican Weekly Address

George Wenschhof

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says that Thanksgiving is a great time to express gratitude and appreciation for the service of America's men and women in uniform.


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Friday, November 29, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

As Congress Stalls, States and Municipalities Raise Minimum Wage - States and municipalities across the country are leading a localized push to raise the minimum wage, driven largely by Democrats, who see an opening to appeal to working-class Americans at a time of growing inequity.

Efforts in Congress to raise the national minimum wage above $7.25 an hour have stalled. But numerous local governments — including those of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and the District — are forging ahead, in some cases voting to dramatically increase the pay of low-wage workers.  The Washington Post has more here.
Farm Bill Moves Closer to Passage - Supporters of the $1 trillion farm bill say they are redoubling their efforts to get a bill over the finish line after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The top leaders of the House-Senate farm bill have come close to a framework during several tense negotiating sessions in the past two weeks, raising hopes on K Street that legislation could squeak through Congress by the end of the year. The four negotiators spoke via conference call Tuesday and reported no new developments. has more here.


"Blue Slip" Custom will Allow Republicans to Block Judicial Nominations - The decision by Senate Democrats to eliminate filibusters for most judicial nominations only marginally enhanced President Obama’s power to reshape the judiciary, according to court watchers from across the political spectrum, because Republican senators can still veto his nominees to most currently vacant appeals court seats.

The new Senate rule clears the way for eight appeals court nominees who have already had confirmation hearings to win approval with simple majority votes, including three on the powerful Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which reviews federal policies and regulations. But it left unchanged the Senate’s “blue slip” custom, which allows senators to block nominees to judgeships associated with their states.  The NY Times has more here.


UN Reports N. Korea May Be Restarting Reactor - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced Thursday that its observations of a North Korean nuclear complex revealed possible preparations for a reactor restart that could provide the country with weapons-grade plutonium, according to multiple reports.

“Activities have been observed at the site that are consistent with an effort to restart the 5MW(e) reactor,” the IAEA's director general, Yukiya Amano, told the organization's board, Reuters reported, adding that without direct access to the site it was not possible to obtain conclusive evidence.
IAEA inspectors were expelled from North Korea in 2009, but monitoring of the country has continued at a distance through satellite surveillance and other methods.  You can read more here.
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Citizens-Montevue Sale Delayed

George Wenschhof

Last night, The City of Frederick zoning board of appeals issued their ruling in favor of the appeal of the subdivision by the Frederick Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) of land to enable them to sell the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Care facilities.

The unanimous vote will require the BoCC to either appeal the decision in court or resubmit the subdivision to the planning department in the city.

The zoning board of appeals found the city planning commission had erred in approving the subdivision because the application was incomplete and they had not considered the reason behind the subdivision and the impact it would have on the community.

This action will certainly delay the privatization of the facilities and sale to Aurora Health Management by the county; they had hoped to happen by the end of this year.

In addition to this set back, the county is still facing litigation pertaining to the sale, which led the Maryland Board of Public Works to delay approval of the sale, as long as there are unresolved legal actions.  This decision confirmed by the Board of Public Works despite theatrics by Blaine Young to proffer them a check for $200,000.

The action by the city zoning board of appeals highlights the continued reckless and ill conceived moves by Frederick County board president Blaine Young to privatize government services.

Particularly unsettling, in this case, is the contract purchaser has been managing the Montevue and Citizens facilities following ratification of the contract of sale.  In some ways it reminds one of the “fox guarding the henhouse” fables.

Collection of bad debt has been an issue with the facilities and there has been talk debt is being written off by Aurora that may adversely impact the county financially and would, if true, benefit the contract purchaser at the time they took ownership.

It appears the county in its rush to sell the facilities, failed to act reasonably and agreed to terms that were less than satisfactory.

Stay tuned.
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

U.S. Mortgage Trouble Reappears - U.S. borrowers are increasingly missing payments on home equity lines of credit they took out during the housing bubble, a trend that could deal another blow to the country's biggest banks.

The loans are a problem now because an increasing number are hitting their 10-year anniversary, at which point borrowers usually must start paying down the principal on the loans as well as the interest they had been paying all along.

More than $221 billion of these loans at the largest banks will hit this mark over the next four years, about 40 percent of the home equity lines of credit now outstanding.

For a typical consumer, that shift can translate to their monthly payment more than tripling, a particular burden for the subprime borrowers that often took out these loans. And payments will rise further when the Federal Reserve starts to hike rates, because the loans usually carry floating interest rates.

The number of borrowers missing payments around the 10-year point can double in their eleventh year, data from consumer credit agency Equifax shows. has more here.


U.S. - Afghan Security Agreement Near Collapse - Efforts by the United States and Afghanistan to finalize a long-term security arrangement appeared on the brink of collapse Monday as Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a new set of demands, and the Obama administration said it would be forced to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of 2014.

In a two-hour meeting here, Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s top national security adviser, told Karzai that if he failed to sign the bilateral security agreement by the end of this year, the United States would have “no choice” but to prepare for withdrawal, according to a statement by the National Security Council in Washington.

Karzai told Rice that he would sign only after the United States helps his government begin peace talks with the Taliban and agrees to release all 17 Afghan citizens being held in the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, according to Afghan and U.S. officials. The Washington Post has more here.


Democrat Declared Winner in Virginia AG Race - This will still likely drag on for weeks, but Democrat Mark Herring was officially declared the winner Monday of the Virginia Attorney General's race by just 165 votes out of more than two million votes cast over Republican Mark Obenshain -- 1,103,777 to 1,103,612.

If the result holds up, Democrats would control all five statewide offices -- governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and the two U.S. Senate seats -- for the first time in a generation, since 1969 when Democratic politics were very different. In states like Virginia, they were culturally conservative and dubbed Dixiecrats for the most part. It would also be the first time a Democrat was elected attorney general since 1989.

That represents a significant shift in the politics of Virginia, a state that had been traditionally conservative. Before President Barack Obama won Virginia in 2008, no Democratic presidential nominee had done so since 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas swept most of the country following John F. Kennedy's assassination a year earlier.  NBC News has more here.


Poll Shows Republicans with Slight Edge on Ballot Test - Another poll shows the Democratic advantage on a generic congressional ballot has been wiped away since the troubled launch of ObamaCare last month.

A CNN-ORC poll released Tuesday found Republicans hold a slight advantage — 49 percent to 47 percent — on the ballot test going into 2014. That is a 10-point reversal among registered voters in the last month.
A CNN poll in October showed a Democratic advantage of 50 percent to 42 percent. Similar polling during, and shortly after, the government shutdown showed similar results. But as the focus turned to the plagued rollout of the ObamaCare health exchanges, that advantage has been erased.

A Quinnipiac poll earlier this month also showed a 9-point turnaround in a generic congressional ballot test for Republicans.

Republicans hold a 17-seat advantage in the House going into the 2014 elections. And even with a large generic ballot advantage last month, Democrats had an uphill climb to retake the chamber. has more here.


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Monday, November 25, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Iran Nuclear Deal a First Step - The Obama administration moved quickly to sell the agreement to nervous U.S. allies, particularly Israel, and to persuade lawmakers not to push ahead with new economic sanctions that could prompt Iran to abandon the six-month freeze on its nuclear program set under the accord. In interviews, Secretary of State John F. Kerry defended the deal, saying that the United States and its allies believe that the agreement ensures Iran will either abide by the terms or face the reinstatement of measures that have crippled the country’s economy.

“We have no illusions. We don’t do this on the basis of somebody’s statements to you. We do it on the basis of actions that can be verified,” he told CNN.

Kerry also acknowledged that keeping the deal on track could prove to be more arduous than securing the landmark agreement had been.

“The next phase, let me be clear, will be even more difficult, and we need to be honest about it,” he told reporters after the pact’s first phase was approved by diplomats from Iran and six major world powers. “But it will also be even more consequential.”  The Washington Post has more here.


Syria Peace Talks To Begin January 22 - An international peace conference aimed at ending Syria's civil war will be held on January 22, the first face-to-face talks between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels seeking to overthrow him, the United Nations said on Monday.

The United Nations is hoping for a peaceful transition in Syria, building on an agreement between world powers reached in June last year. The deal calls for the warring sides to agree to set up a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities.

"We will go to Geneva with a mission of hope," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.

The announcement came as Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi met senior U.S. and Russian officials in Geneva in his latest effort to get negotiations on track to end a war, now in its third year, that has killed more than 100,000 people. has more here.


Obama To Call on Congress to Pass Immigration Reform - President Obama on Monday will call on Congress to pass “commonsense immigration reform,” according to a White House official.
Obama will speak Monday morning in San Francisco, urging House Republicans to take up the issue as soon as possible.

Obama will highlight key principles that must be a part of any bipartisan comprehensive effort, the official said, including continuing to strengthen border security, creating an earned path to citizenship, holding employers accountable and bringing our immigration system into the 21st century. has more here.


President Marks as Manager Drop in New CNN Poll - Only four out of 10 Americans believe President Barack Obama can manage the federal government effectively, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday morning also indicates that 53% of Americans now believe that Obama is not honest and trustworthy, the first time that a clear majority in CNN polling has felt that way. has more here.


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Sunday, November 24, 2013

An Early Look at 2014 Frederick County Election

George Wenschhof

Winchester Hall
The 2010 election year was a bad one for Democratic candidates in Frederick County, Maryland and for Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The surge in Republican conservatism, led by tea party zealots, resulted in a net gain of 60 seats for Republicans in the House.

Locally, where Republicans have held a voter registration majority for a long time, only two Democrats would be elected out of twenty-one elected seats on the ballot.

They were Ron Young, who beat three term Republican state senator Alex Mooney in district 3 and Galen Clagett who won reelection to state delegate in district 3-a.

Ron, who won by about 1,000 votes, was aided by the like number of vote advantage he received through the early voting from the poll conveniently located in The City of Frederick, which has a strong Democratic voter registration.

The Young-Mooney contest went against the national trend as Mooney was a right wing “tea party” conservative way before the tea party existed, although the district had been gerrymandered to have a majority of Democratic registered voters.

In none of the other 19 local races did Democrats even come close.

The inability to field a candidate for several of the top races in the county certainly hurt Democrats as did the failure of the Democratic candidates running for board of county commissioner to come together to form a slate.

County Sheriff and State’s Attorney headline the ballot and are two prominent elected positions in the county.  The failure to have a candidate on the ballot for these two positions as well as the high paying Register of Wills position did not help the other Democrats who were running for office in 2010.

The race for the board of county commissioners was a disaster for Frederick County Democrats in 2010 and a major focus of the 2014 election will be the race for county executive and the council, as the change to charter government is implemented.

All indications are the over 24 year local struggle over how to best manage growth in Frederick County will continue with the announcement by Democrat Jan Gardner she is running for county executive.

Present at her announcement, were the former members of the 2007-2010 board who made up the managed growth “dream team” during the 2006 election; John “Lennie” Thompson(R), David Gray(R) and Kai Hagen(D).

There has been a lot of talk about Democratic candidates challenging Gardner, so it will not be surprising if there is a contested primary.

Whether board president Republican Blaine Young, who has angered many voters by spending his term in office pursuing privatization of government services, will run for the county executive position remains a question, putting on hold, the much anticipated struggle between two candidates with opposing ideologies.  During a recent chat on the street, Young told me he would be announcing his intention next year.
Republican county commissioner Billy Shreve, who rode Blaine Young's coattails to election in 2010, has also been in the rumor mix for county executive, but is not considered a strong enough candidate for the position.  If he decides to run for office, look to see him either run for one of the two at large positions on the council or state delegate.

The new seven member county council will have five members representing districts and two members who are elected countywide.

It will remain a difficult contest for a Democrat to be elected countywide, due to voter registration, but a solid candidate, like a Jan Gardner, will be competitive and can surely win. 

Democrats will have a little easier go in several of the council member districts, especially the two made up primarily of voters from The City of Frederick and the district that includes The Town of Brunswick.

The Charter defines the council as part time members who earn only $22,500 and this will surely impact the strength and the number of candidates who will run for these positions.

The combination of at large and district elections for council members will also make it difficult for growth oriented candidate slates to develop, but look for the opposing ideologies in this area make an effort to do so.

The county sheriff position is another high profile position and interestingly, two term sheriff Republican Chuck Jenkins has been rumored as a candidate for the county executive position, should Blaine Young choose not to run.

If Jenkins decides to run again for sheriff, it will not be a free ride this time.  Republican Kevin Grubb, a former City of Frederick police captain who has established a candidate committee and Democrat Karl Bickel, who was unsuccessful in raising the needed signatures for an independent run in 2010, are both expected to run.

Whether Democrats will have a candidate for state’s attorney remains a mystery.  Republican Charlie Smith is expected to run for reelection.

The state delegation comprising of two state senators and six state delegates elected by Frederick County voters have been redistricted with the demarcation line being just north of The City of Frederick.

Due primarily to voter registration, look to see Republicans elected in district 4 with state senator David Brinkley and delegate Kelly Shulz a lock for reelection.  Republican state delegate Michael Hough, who was redistricted and delegate Kathy Afzali will be favored in the other two delegate positions.

In district 3, state senator Ron Young should win reelection, but expect a challenge to come from Republicans who are angered by his votes in Annapolis supporting same-sex marriage, the gas tax and the dream act.  

With the announcements by state delegates Galen Clagett(D) and Patrick Hogan(R) they will not be running for reelection and with redistricting creating a new seat for district 3-b, all three seats will be considered “open seats” and as a result, will be competitive.

City of Frederick aldermen Carol Krimm and Karen Young, Stephen Slater and Ryan Trout are among the Democratic names being mentioned with county commissioner Paul Smith and city alderman Shelley Aloi among the Republicans being mentioned at this time.

Look to see Democrats win at least 3 of the four seats in district 3 with a strong possibility of a sweep that would balance the Frederick County state delegation.

Early indications are 2014 will be a better year than 2010 for Democratic candidates running for election in Frederick County.

Stay tuned.
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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Obama Weekly Address

George Wenschhof

The President spoke of how his administration has focused on rebuilding the nation's economy in his weekly address.

"After decades in which the middle class was working harder and harder just to keep up, and a punishing recession that made it worse, we made the tough choices required not just to recover from crisis, but to rebuild on a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth," he said. "Five years later, we have fought our way back."

The president touted his work on energy and health care as key economic boons. He noted steady job growth the economy has seen in recent months, underscoring 200,000 new jobs created in October.

He also noted that the auto industry has essentially recovered from its near bankruptcy and bailout and is helping support growing U.S. manufacturing. All this happened while the deficit has been cut in half, he added.


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Republican Weekly Address

George Wenschhof

In the Republican weekly address,Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) criticizes the rollout of The Affordable Care Act.

“Many families are now learning that they may not just lose their plan. But if they like their doctor, they may lose their doctor too,” Burgess said. “It’s a train wreck for doctors, a train wreck for patients, and most importantly, it's a train wreck for the American people.”


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Friday, November 22, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

A Sad Day -  Few tragedies loom as large in the American psyche as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who was gunned down in Dallas a half-century ago today.

Now, we pause to remember that dark day in the country's history — recalling a shared trauma that can feel both political and personal.

"I remember it as if it were yesterday," President Bill Clinton told NBC News' Tom Brokaw earlier this year. "He meant something to the country and he symbolized the future. And it was as if he was snuffed out."

It was raining in Dallas on the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, when Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy touched down at Love Field amid a five-city swing through the Lone Star State.  NBC News has more here.


Democrats End Senate Filibuster on Executive Nominations - The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate, in a historic and bitterly fought rule change, stripped Republicans on Thursday of their ability to block President Barack Obama's judicial and executive branch nominees.

The action fundamentally altered the way Congress' upper chamber has worked since the mid-19th century by making it impossible for a minority party, on its own, to block presidential appointments, except those to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The change in the so-called "filibuster" rule does not apply to legislation, which can still be held up by a handful of senators. has more here.


Hillary Clinton Beats Bush, Rubio in Florida Poll - Former Gov. Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are tops in their respective party primaries and run neck and neck in Florida in an early look at the 2016 White House race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Secretary Clinton tops U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and other possible Republican candidates, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.
Gov. Bush gets 22 percent in a hypothetical GOP primary with Rubio at 18 percent, New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie at 14 percent and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 12 percent. No other candidate tops 9 percent, with 12 percent undecided.
Clinton sweeps a Democratic primary with 70 percent, followed by Vice President Joseph Biden at 9 percent and no other candidate above 4 percent. Ten percent are undecided.
Head to head, Clinton gets 47 percent to Bush's 45 percent. She tops other Republicans:

45 - 41 percent over Christie;
  • 50 - 43 percent over Rubio;
  • 51 - 41 percent over U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky;
  • 50 - 42 percent over U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin;
  • 52 - 36 percent over Cruz.

  • Quinnipiac has more here.


    Afghanistan Rejects U.S. Offer for Quick Security Deal - The future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan remained in doubt on Friday after a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai rejected a U.S. call to sign a security pact by the end of the year rather than after next year's presidential election.

    The United States has repeatedly said it will not wait until after the April 2014 vote to seal the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and rejected Karzai's suggestion for the signing to take place next year "properly and with dignity".

    Without an accord, the United States could pull out most of its troops by the end of 2014, as it did two years ago when it failed to negotiate a deal with Iraq.

    "We do not recognize any deadline from the U.S. side," said Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Karzai, as Afghan tribal elders considered the pact for a second day. "They have set other deadlines also, so this is nothing new to us."  You can read more here.


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    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    Daily Political Wire

    George Wenschhof

    Reid and Senate Democrats Close To Altering Filibuster Rule - The Senate is on the verge of striking down the long-standing filibuster rules for most presidential nominations, potentially doing so on a party-line vote that would alter nearly 225 years of precedent.
    Democrats, infuriated by what they see as a pattern of obstruction and delay over President Obama’s nominees, expect to trigger the showdown by bringing up one of the recent judicial nominees whom Republicans blocked by a filibuster.

    According to senior Democratic aides, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) will set in motion a complicated parliamentary process that ends with a simple-majority vote setting a new rule that will allow for swift confirmation of executive branch nominees and most selections for the federal judiciary without having to clear a 60-vote hurdle.  The Washington Post has more here.


    Obama Says U.S. Will Respect Afghan Sovereignty - President Obama wrote in a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai Wednesday that the U.S. will continue to respect “Afghan sovereignty” under a new security agreement.

    Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to a deal Wednesday that outlines how the U.S. military forces remaining in Afghanistan will proceed after the Obama administration’s 2014 withdrawal deadline.

    The U.S. is considering maintaining 9,000 to 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after the withdrawal. The agreement needs to be approved by Afghanistan’s parliament and the Jirga, a group of 2,500 Afghan elders.

    While the Obama administration wants it to be finalized as soon as possible, it could be delayed from being implemented. Karzai announced Thursday that he wouldn’t want the agreement to be signed until after Afghan elections in spring 2014.

    “We look forward to completing this agreement promptly,” Obama wrote in the letter. The U.S. had wanted to reach an agreement by Oct. 31.

    Obama assured Karzai Americans will not conduct raids on Afghan homes unless there are “extraordinary circumstances," according to the letter. has more here.


    Global Economy Stumbles as China, Europe Falter - The fragile global economic recovery took a step backwards this month as businesses across the euro zone and China's vast factory sector grew at a milder pace, business surveys showed on Thursday.

    While growth in Germany was resurgent, French business activity took a tumble and contracted, underlining how lopsided the euro zone's recovery from recession is.

    Patchy recoveries in developed countries meant demand for China's manufactured goods from abroad fell to a three-month low in November, bolstering expectations that the world's second largest economy could lose some vigor this quarter.

    "This is evidence to suggest the European economy is struggling to gain momentum and the Chinese numbers certainly were not great," said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank. has more here.


    Rep. Radel Takes Leave of Absense from Congress - Hours after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine, freshman Florida GOP Rep. Trey Radel said he is taking a leave of absence from Congress and will donate his salary to charity while he undergoes rehabilitation for addiction.

    “Sometimes in life, you need a wakeup call. This is my wakeup call,” he said Wednesday night in Cape Coral, Fla.
    The first-term lawmaker, 37, pled guilty to a misdemeanor count of possession of cocaine in D.C. Superior Court earlier Wednesday, after being swept up in a drug sting in late October. He was placed on probation for a year.
    “I’m struggling with this disease, but I can overcome it,” Radel said, speaking in Florida. has more here.


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    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    Daily Political Wire

    George Wenschhof

    Iran Nuclear Talks Continue, U.S. Sanctions Delayed - World powers aim to reach a preliminary deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in politically charged talks resuming in Geneva on Wednesday.
    Seeking to end a long standoff and head off the risk of a wider Middle East war, the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany came close to winning concessions from Iran on its nuclear work in return for some sanctions relief at negotiations earlier this month.

    Top policymakers from the six have since said that an interim accord on confidence-building steps could finally be within reach. But diplomats caution that differences remain and could still prevent an agreement. has more here.


    Afghans Demand U.S. Admit Military Errors - Months of fraught negotiations and public posturing over how a long-term American military force could remain in Afghanistan have suddenly come down to a demand for a single personal gesture: a display of contrition by President Obama for military mistakes that have hurt Afghans.

    Afghan officials said Tuesday that in return for such a letter from Mr. Obama, President Hamid Karzai would end his vehement opposition to American counterterrorism raids on private Afghan homes — one of the most contentious issues between allies over a costly dozen-year war — clearing the way for an agreement to keep a smaller American troop force in the country past the 2014 withdrawal deadline. The NY Times has more here.


    Rep. Trey Randel Charged with cocaine Possession - Rep. Trey Radel, a Florida Republican elected in 2012, will be in court Wednesday on charges that he possessed cocaine.

    Radel, 37, was charged with misdemeanor possession of cocaine in D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday. has more here.


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    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Misdirected Calls Most Likely Data Error

    George Wenschhof

    Donna Kuzemchak
    In the reactionary frenzy to the negative robo-calls to City of Frederick voters highlighting the failure of Democratic alderman-elect Donna Kuzemchak to pay her property taxes on time, rumors spread rapidly concerning calls that may have misdirected a few voters to the wrong polling location.

    The robo-calls attempting to denigrate Kuzemchak were made on behalf of the campaign of Republican alderman-elect Phil Dacey.

    Both candidates, would go on to win election to the five member board.

    Interestingly, it was the local paper who first reported on May 14 of this year that newly announced alderman candidate Donna Kuzemchak had not paid her property taxes with an article and photo displayed above the fold on the cover of the newspaper.

    I remember interviewing Kuzemchak afterward and her expressing disappointment they never published she had paid her taxes, despite several requests that they do so.

    Immediately after the election, what followed the disclosure of the negative Dacey campaign robo-calls directed at Kuzemchak, was what began as a trickle of information about voters receiving calls misdirecting them to the wrong polling location.

    The initial rumor had it the Dacey campaign was also behind these calls as some of the calls had been received from residents of Worman’s Mill. This was salacious, because as a member of the city board of appeals, Dacey had voted in favor of the developer and against residents in a dispute over a change in the proposed town center. Misdirecting those voters may have been advantageous to the Dacey campaign.

    Not only was this information salacious, but if true, the rumor continued, might be a criminal offense and may be cause to remove Dacey from office, before he is even sworn in, paving the way for another candidate to perhaps take his place on the board. The Republican name heard most often was Katie Nash, who lost in her attempt to be a member of the board.

    During the early days following the election, in this high tech world, sent to my cell phone was the recorded message that had been received from Republican alderman Shelley Aloi. No wonder they call them “smart phones”!

    The fast growing and ever changing gossip now had alderman Shelley Aloi, who had lost in her bid for the Republican mayoral nomination behind the robo-calls that misdirected voters.

    Well, it appears what happened is both the Republicans and Democrats inadvertently misdirected a few of their own voters and there was no apparent nefarious intent.

    The Frederick County state Democratic Central Committee used volunteers to make calls to Democratic voters and at one point, off a prepared script, placed some to Worman’s Mill voters. They quickly realized they were giving the wrong polling location out when informed by the voters and quit making their calls.

    Chair of the committee, Myrna Whitworth assured me they did their best to correct the calls, once they were aware of what happened.

    Phone calling voters to get out the vote has always been present in political campaigns and this appears to have been an unfortunate event and very limited in the number of calls that were made.

    The Aloi campaign sponsored robo-calls were directed at Republicans, highlighting she had been the only Republican elected alderman in the last election and the importance to get out and vote. The end of the call included a reference to their polling location.

    In the case of the person who sent me the recording, it was the wrong polling location. Robo-calls are made by firms who use computers that work off of telephone numbers they have or are provided by the campaign.

    When I spoke to alderman Aloi, she said it was a data error and to the best of her knowledge only involved a handful of voters.

    As I mentioned previously, the errors made by Republican Shelley Aloi's campaign and the local Democratic central committee misdirected a few of their own voters.  This is not something they would aspire to do.

    City attorney Saundra Nickols told me the city was looking into the calls that misdirected voters and that she had nothing further to say, other than the mayor may have something to say on this matter soon.

    Having followed elections for a lifetime, one constant is voters complain about negative campaign mail and in recent years, about robo-calls.

    Unfortunately, political operatives know negative spin and robo-calls often work and continue to convince candidates to use them.

    However, it is the voters who have the final say.

    Voters should not get discouraged with the political process. Let candidates know you oppose negative campaigning - stay informed, get involved, vote and make a difference.

    Stay tuned..


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    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Daily Political Wire

    George Wenschhof

    Afghan-U.S. Security Pact Hits Impasse - Afghan President Hamid Karzai has rejected a provision of a U.S.-Afghan security pact, putting the entire deal in jeopardy just days before the country's elite gather to debate it, a senior Afghan official and a Western diplomat said.

    The question of whether foreign troops will be able to search Afghan homes after NATO's combat mission ends next year has long been a sticking point of an agreement setting out the terms under which remaining U.S. forces will operate there.

    But in a series of meetings over the weekend the enter-and-search issue emerged as the biggest roadblock facing the security pact as Karzai dug his heels in, the Afghan official, who has been close to the talks, told Reuters.

    Without an accord on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), Washington says it could pull out all of its troops at the end of 2014, leaving Afghanistan's fledgling security forces on their own to fight the Taliban-led insurgency.


    DSCC Sets Off-Year Fundraising Record for October - The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $4.8 million in October, setting a record for a non-election year for the committee.
    The DSCC outraised the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which brought in $3.8 million. That was a big jump for the NRSC — its best fundraising month this year — but not enough to catch up to their Democratic counterparts.

    The DSCC now has $11.1 million in the bank for the 2014 elections, with $6.2 million in debt, down from $7.5 million a month ago. The NRSC has more than $5 million in the bank and no debt. has more here.


    Obama "Fix" for Health Care Coverage Hits Roadblocks in States - State regulators aren’t rushing to President Barack Obama’s rescue after the White House’s attempt to fix the rising wave of canceled health insurance policies.

    The president’s decision to extend the renewal window for existing health plans won’t work for the millions losing their coverage unless insurers and state insurance regulators give their blessing.

    Part of the problem is that the president is trying to layer his fix on top of an already complex set of regulations governed by the states. Each state manages its own markets and writes its own laws and rules. So even some states that are interested in the proposal might be unable to act on it.

    State regulators and insurers are also worried that extending existing insurance policies for another year or more could drive up premiums for those in new health plans, which will have to ignore a person’s health status and include more robust consumer protections. Those concerns prompted Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to reject Obama’s plan just hours after it was announced Thursday. has more here.


    American Health Care Needs Reform - Even as Americans struggle with the changes required by health care reform, an international survey released last week by the Commonwealth Fund, a research organization, shows why change is so necessary.

    The report found that by virtually all measures of cost, access to care and ease of dealing with insurance problems, Americans fared poorly compared with people in other advanced countries. The survey covered 20,000 adults in the United States and 10 other industrial nations — Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain, all of which put in place universal or near-universal health coverage decades ago. The United States spends far more than any of these countries on a per capita basis and as a percent of the national economy.

    For that, it gets meager results. Some 37 percent of American adults went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when sick or failed to fill prescriptions in the past year because of costs, compared with 4 percent in Britain and 6 percent in Sweden. Nearly a quarter of American adults could not pay medical bills or had serious problems paying them compared with less than 13 percent in France and 7 percent or less in five other countries. Even Americans who were insured for the entire year were more likely than adults abroad to forgo care because of costs, an indication of how skimpy some insurance policies are.  The NY Times has more here. 

    Pelosi Says Democrats will "Stand Tall" in Support of Obamacare in 2014 - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are not losing confidence in President Barack Obama’s ability to make the Affordable Care Act work and don’t fear Obamacare’s effect on their chances in next year’s elections.

    Appearing Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Pelosi said, “I don’t think you can tell what will happen next year” when voters cast ballots in the mid-term elections, but “I will tell you this: Democrats stand tall in support of the Affordable Care Act.”

    She said implementation of the health care overhaul “is an issue that has to be dealt with, but it doesn’t mean, ‘oh, this is a political issue so we’re going to run away from it.’”

    The Affordable Care Act (ACA) “is a very important pillar of economic and health security for the American people” and “is right up there with Social Security (and) Medicare, affordable care for all Americans as a right, not a privilege,” Pelosi said.

    In states such as Kentucky and her own state of California, she said, “It’s working very well.” NBC News has more here.


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    Saturday, November 16, 2013

    Obama Weekly Address

    George Wenschhof

    President Obama focused on energy independence in his weekly address, by touting increased natural gas production, more efficient energy use and a drop in carbon emissions in his speech, arguing that lower carbon emissions don't slow economic growth.

    "Between more clean energy, and less wasted energy, our emissions of dangerous carbon pollution are actually falling. That’s good news for anyone who cares about the world we leave to our kids," he said. "And while our carbon emissions have been dropping, our economy has been growing. Our businesses have created 7.8 million new jobs in the past 44 months. It proves that the old argument that we can’t strengthen the economy and be good stewards of our planet at the same time is a false choice. We can do both. And we have to do both."


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    Republican Weekly Address

    George Wenschhof

    Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) used Saturday's Republican address to accuse President Obama and Democrats of committing “political fraud” in their marketing of the healthcare law.


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    Friday, November 15, 2013

    Daily Political Wire

    George Wenschhof

    Obama Apologizes on Health Care Rollout - The political fallout from the botched launch of the health-care law is presenting congressional Democrats with one of their toughest tests of party loyalty in the five years of the Obama administration.
    House Republicans are expected to pass a bill Friday that could dramatically undermine the law. And after years of trying to impale the initiative, GOP leaders are hopeful that the political turmoil over the rollout will provide them the support of a sizable bloc of Democrats.

    In the Senate, moderate Democrats facing reelection battles next year have assembled legislative alternatives designed to fix some of the problems and provide political cover for themselves.

    Into this caustic mix stepped President Obama with his announcement Thursday that he will allow insurance companies to continue offering plans that do not meet the new law’s requirements.  The Washington Post has more here.


    White House Says it Will Veto House GOP Bill on Health Care Fix - The White House issued a formal veto threat Thursday night of a bill offered by House Republicans that would allow insurance companies to continue offering health plans that existed before the beginning of the new year.
    The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), is coming up for a vote on Friday.

    In a statement from the Office of Management and Budget, the administration argues the law is intended to “sabotage” ObamaCare.

    “[The bill] rolls back the progress made by allowing insurers to continue to sell new plans that deploy practices such as not offering coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, charging women more than men, and continuing yearly caps on the amount of care that enrollees receive,” the statement said. has more here.


    C.I.A. Collecting Data on International Money Transfers - The Central Intelligence Agency is secretly collecting bulk records of international money transfers handled by companies like Western Union — including transactions into and out of the United States — under the same law that the National Security Agency uses for its huge database of Americans’ phone records, according to current and former government officials.

    The C.I.A. financial records program, which the officials said was authorized by provisions in the Patriot Act and overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, offers evidence that the extent of government data collection programs is not fully known and that the national debate over privacy and security may be incomplete.       

    Some details of the C.I.A. program were not clear. But it was confirmed by several current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter is classified. The NY Times has more here.
    U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy Arrives in Japan - Caroline Kennedy, daughter of slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy, arrived in Japan on Friday to take up her first high profile job in public office, making a late start to a political career for which her family is renowned.
    Kennedy, sworn in as U.S. ambassador two days ago, received a warm welcome at Tokyo's Narita Airport, smiling and waving at reporters, and carrying a bouquet of flowers.

    The 55-year-old lawyer takes up the post a week before the 50th anniversary of her father's assassination.

    Kennedy, the first female U.S. ambassador to Japan, was an early and prominent supporter of Barack Obama in his initial quest for the presidency in 2008, and also campaigned for him. NBC News has more here.


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    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    Majority Should Elect Mayor of Frederick

    George Wenschhof

    Mayor Randy McClement
    The off year City of Frederick election ensured another low voter turnout with incumbent Republican mayor Randy McClement winning reelection by receiving the votes of only 12% of the registered voters in the city.

    The official returns show mayoral candidates received 8,354 votes out of 35,498 registered voters.

    Even more important, with three candidates running for mayor, he did not receive a majority and won with a plurality of the vote.

    The 4,121 votes McClement received fell short of a majority and were 49.56% of the votes cast.

    Democratic mayoral candidate Karen Young received 2,586 votes (31.10%) and Unaffiliated candidate Jennifer Dougherty received 1,588 votes (19.10%).

    The remaining 59 votes cast were write-ins, over and under votes.

    Interestingly, the combined votes for Young and Dougherty equaled a majority of the vote (50.2%).

    This is not to suggest the voters of these two candidates would join to support the candidate who received the higher number of votes.

    What a large number of cities across the nation do in this situation is they require and hold a runoff election between the two candidates who received the top votes in the general election.

    The one negative associated with a runoff election is the added cost to an election.

    With this being the first time three candidates have run for mayor in The City of Frederick, it is unlikely runoff elections would be a common occurrence.

    On the other hand, with Jennifer Dougherty paving the way and showing that running as an Unaffiliated candidate can be done, it may encourage others to do so in the future.

    It would be wise for the city mayor and board of alderman to address this issue.

    After all, requiring the mayor to receive a majority of the vote has a democratic ring to it.

    Stay tuned.

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    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    Daily Political Wire

    George Wenschhof

    Mizeur To Name Coates as Running Mate - Maryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Heather R. Mizeur plans to name Delman Coates, a Prince George’s County minister and outspoken proponent of same-sex marriage, as her running mate on Wednesday, according to a person close to the campaign.
    Coates, 40, is senior pastor of the 8,000-member Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, and he has been an advocate of several progressive causes, including expanded access to health care, voting rights and immigration reform.  The Washington Post has more here.


    Hawaii Becomes 15th State to Legalize Gay Marriage - President Obama on Tuesday night commended the state legislature in Hawaii for approving a bill legalizing gay marriage.

    “I’ve always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today’s vote makes me even prouder,” Obama said in a statement. “And Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those in Hawaii whose families will now be now given the security and respect they deserve.”

    The bill legalizing gay marriage passed the Hawaii state Senate in a 19-4 vote Tuesday.

    Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expected to sign the bill on Wednesday. has more here.


    Palestinian Peace Negotiating Team Resigns - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday his peace negotiators had resigned over the lack of progress in U.S.-brokered statehood talks clouded by Israeli settlement building.

    The development would mark a new low point for the talks with Israel that resumed in July and which officials from both sides have said have made little headway.

    In an interview with Egyptian CBC television, Abbas suggested the negotiations would continue even if the Palestinian delegation stuck to its decision.

    "Either we can convince it to return, and we're trying with them, or we form a new delegation," he said. has more here.


    White House Issues Statement of Concern on Israel Settlements - The White House on Tuesday issued a sharp public rebuke of the latest Israeli settlement plans and accused Israel of endangering peace talks with the Palestinians, a second-term priority for President Obama.

    In an emailed statement, National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the Obama administration was “deeply troubled” by reports that Israel has issued tenders for 20,000 settlements in the disputed West Bank. She said the administration was seeking “further explanation” from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

    “Our position on settlements is quite clear: We have always considered the settlements to be illegitimate,” Meehan said. “We have called on both sides to take steps to create a positive atmosphere for the negotiations. We do not consider settlement planning, even in its early stages, to be a step that creates a positive environment for the negotiations.”  You can read more here.

    Senate Hearing on Yellen Nomination to Begin Thursday - The current Fed vice chairwoman shouldn’t have any problems garnering the committee’s majority approval before facing a Senate vote later this year or in early 2014. But that won’t stop senators from putting a spotlight on Yellen and the U.S. central bank on Thursday as the committee examines President Barack Obama’s choice for one of the world’s top economic jobs. has more here.


    Feinstein Backs bill to allow Americans to keep health plans - Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., announced Tuesday that she will support legislation aimed at repairing the now-broken promise that the president -- and many senators -- made to Americans when the Affordable Care Act was passed: That if they liked their health insurance, they could keep it.

    Feinstein will co-sponsor legislation that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., announced last week. The bill would extend the so-called "grandfather" clause and require insurance companies to keep offering insurance plans they sold before the health care exchanges opened on Oct. 1.

    Support from Feinstein, who represents a solidly blue state, illustrates that a growing number of Democrats are worried about what effect the health care law's turbulent rollout could have on the party. Earlier Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton said President Barack Obama should consider changes to the law to allow Americans who are losing their insurance plans to keep them if they desire to.  NBC News has more here.


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