Thank you for visiting our website

Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year Wish

Guy Djoken

As we are all getting ready to turn on the last page on the year 2007 and welcome 2008, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year with the hope that the new year will bring us together as we confront all the major issues we face and address them together.

Last year we were challenged on several occasions on issues such Affordable Housing & Hope VI implementation, Road Congestion, Immigration, Fort Detrick expansion, and the excessive use of Tasers by the Frederick County Sheriff's office. We also had the call for the removal of the Bust of controversial Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, who wrote the Dred Scott decision affirming slavery, from it's location outside of City Hall in the City of Frederick.

On many of these issues, we were able to work it out, respecting those who did not necessary agree with us. On other issues such as immigration, the passion ran a little higher and resulted in a discord that many of us were not very proud of. Thank God, our community is enriched by a new wave of leaders that are committed to change the status quo that has for many years marked the Frederick community.

Among tangible landmarks we witnessed is the first Street to be named to honor Mr. Lord Nickens for his lifetime contribution to social Justice in Frederick. This success was the result of E. Kevin Lollar, Director of Development of the Housing Authority of the City of Frederick. More than any other key players who help turn this dream into reality, Mr. Lollar is to be commended for understanding the significance of this and initiating the process.

Other landmarks include the election of Mr. Daryl Boffman as President of the Frederick County Board of Education and the successful implementation of Sam Williamson's project. Sam is a student at Ballenger Creek Elementary School, whose dedication and hard work resulted this month in a permanent memorial of Frederick's first black physician, Dr. Ulysses Grant Bourne. This was placed in the Frederick Memorial Hospital main lobby, a hospital where Dr. Bourne was not allowed to practice.

These few landmarks are a sign of hope for those of us who would like to see Frederick, one of the fastest growing counties in Maryland, become a model of tolerance, acceptance and diversity. The recent arrival of Mr. Henry Templeton, new director of the Frederick County Human Relations Department is seen by many of us as a blessing for our community. In the first few weeks in office, he has proven to be accessible, open and fair-minded and well suited for the job.

We look forward to working with him and other stake holders to build a more cohesive community in the days and years to come.

Guy Djoken is President of the NAACP, Frederick County Maryland Branch

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mukasey, Waterboarding, and the CIA Tapes

V. S. Lynch

After the disappointing Alberto Gonzales finally resigned as Attorney General, many people hoped that President George W. Bush would nominate to replace him someone who would conduct the business of the Department of Justice as if justice were the Justice Department's actual business.

The actions of the Bush administration have led to many allegations of illegal activity on the part of people from the highest levels to the lowest. The activities of the Department of Justice under Alberto Gonzales did nothing to indicate that serious, thoughtful legal decisions were being given or that impartial investigations were being conducted.

In fact, the Justice Department itself has been tainted by allegations of questionable activities, to include the hiring and firing of attorneys based on their political affiliations, and the issuance of legal opinions based on furthering political agendas rather than consideration of the Constitution and other laws.

It is important to the country that the Department of Justice be led by a person of utmost legal probity; a person who will provide legal advice and pursue cases based on the law, rather than on political expediency or the expectation of personal or political favor

Among the problems besetting the Justice Department have been various decisions defining the treatment and interrogation of detainees, especially in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal and questions about treatment of detainees held at Guantanamo. A case in point is waterboarding. Basically, when a person being interrogated is tied down, and water is poured on his face to the point where he is choking and gasping and afraid he will drown, that is waterboarding. It leaves no bruises, causes no bleeding, and can be done over and over.

The Bush administration has repeatedly asserted that it does not torture. Many people maintain that waterboarding is torture, and legal opinions and precedents exist in support of that view. However, Congress has not specifically passed a law saying that waterboarding meets any legal definition of torture.

So when Bush nominated Michael B. Mukasey for Attorney General, Mr. Mukasey was able to say to the Senate Judiciary Committee: "Torture is unlawful under the laws of this country. It is not what this country is all about. It is not what this country stands for. It's antithetical to everything this country stands for.

Mr. Mukasey also indicated that he would not permit contact between elected officials and line assistants or U. S. attorneys with regard to specific cases, and that hiring judgments would be based on qualifications for the job rather than political affiliation. Finally, when Senator Arlen Specter asked Mukasey if he would resign, were the President to violate his (Mukasey's) advice on the Constitutionality of an action, Mr. Mukasey said he would.

And that seemed good enough. Although he was approved by the smallest margin of any attorney general in more than 50 years, on November 8, 2007, Michael B. Mukasey was approved as Attorney General.

Now we are learning who we really got. On December 19, in a speech before the American Bar Association, Mr. Mukasey made it clear that he supports a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) bill that provides retroactive immunity for the communications companies that participated in warrantless surveillance of the American public. This surveillance is allegedly necessary to protect the United States from terrorists.

It appears this warrantless surveillance was taking place at least 6 months before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Yet, with all that information at their disposal, the Bush administration was not able to prevent those attacks. We would have been no worse off in terms of safety from terrorists, and much better off in terms of protection of our Constitutional rights, had such surveillance not been taking place.

Further, on December 6, 2007, we learned that the CIA had destroyed videotapes of the interrogation of two detainees. Possibly, one of the interrogation techniques captured on the videotapes was waterboarding. The tapes were made in 2002 and destroyed in 2005. On December 8 the CIA and the Department of Justice announced a joint inquiry into the interrogations and the destruction of the tapes.

Since the CIA and the Department of Justice each had some jurisdiction over the making and protection of those tapes, as well as the conduct of the interrogations, they are, ipso facto, investigating themselves. The Senate and House Intelligence Committees are both prepared to conduct their own investigations into the making and destruction of these tapes, as part of their larger investigations into allegations of torture and other possible illegal activities on the part of the CIA and the Justice Department.

However, Attorney General Mukasey has refused to allow the Justice Department to release information regarding its investigation into the destruction of the tapes, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union and other members of the legal community to call for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the matter.

Mr. Mukasey sees no need for either Congressional investigations or a special prosecutor. He is content to allow the CIA and the Justice Department to investigate themselves, and to stonewall Congressional investigations into their activities. We are right back where we were with Alberto Gonzales.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Politico Sunday Talk Show Tip Sheet

With only days before the Iowa caucuses many of the Presidential candidates will be appearing tomorrow morning on the Sunday political discussion shows.

Democrats Obama, Edwards, Clinton, Dodd and Biden along with Republicans Huckabee, McCain, and Thompson will be appearing on different shows and at different times.

To read a heads up on tomorrow's talking heads and who are the guests click here:

Will Any Democrats Drop Out After Iowa?

With such an early and compressed primary schedule some Democrats running for President will see the handwriting on the wall and drop out after the Iowa caucuses. Or will some stay in due to the closeness of the primaries and try to play the spoiler in the race?

After the Iowa caucus next Thursday on January 3, 2008, New Hamsphire's primary will follow in less than a week on January 8, 2008. After the South Carolina primary on the 26th, close to half of the states will hold their primaries on February 5, 2008 - the new Super Tuesday.

Another unfortunate byproduct as a result of the closeness in the primaries is that these states will have already printed their ballots so even if a candidate drops out their name will still appear on the ballot.

Five weeks from now after the Super Tuesday vote many questions will have been answered as to which candidate the voters support. Will a clear leader emerge or will the Democrats be heading to a broker-ed convention?

Former Senator Mike Gravel (Alaska) has not raised any significant money and was not invited to participate in the last several Democratic Presidential debates so even when he drops out it will not have any impact on the other candidates in the race.

Senators Chris Dodd (Conn) and Joe Biden (Del) along with Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Oh) have all had lengthy and distinguished public service careers. Both Senators Biden and Dodd have served in the Senate for three decades. Congressman Kucinich began his political career becoming the youngest elected mayor of Cleveland, Ohio in 1972.

Governor Bill Richardson (NM) is polling in fourth place nationally and needs a solid showing in Iowa to boost his fund raising and further his campaign efforts. After serving for 14 years in Congress, he also was appointed Ambassador to the U.N. and Secretary of The Department of Energy.

After the results of the Iowa caucuses, it will be clear as to if they should continue in the race for the Democratic nomination. Unless there is a strong surprise showing by Senators Biden and Dodd look to see them both drop out if not after Iowa, certainly after New Hampshire.

They will both realize a continuation of their campaigns would be a foolish endeavor. Who they endorse will be interesting for their supporters could certainly aid the eventual Democratic nominee. It is also rumored that Biden would like to be considered as a Vice-President running mate or as Secretary of State.

Kucinich has principal positions on the issues he will want to continue to articulate even though he realizes he is not a serious candidate for the Democratic nomination. So look to see him stay in so he can use this exposure to express his positions.

Governor Richardson's fund raising has him fourth behind Senators Clinton (NY), Obama (Ill) and former Senator Edwards (NC) so anything but a finish in the top four in Iowa would be a major blow to his campaign. He will most likely stay in the race until Super Tuesday. Richardson is also rumored to be in consideration as a Vice-President running mate and Secretary of State. Should he drop out of the race, his endorsement will carry significant weight.

A longer and more evenly spread out primary calendar would favor more debate and an opportunity to get to know the candidates. But with a compressed and front loaded primary schedule, it is virtually impossible for eight candidates to effectively compete.

Although all of the Democrats running for President have strengths, some should drop out after Iowa and certainly after the New Hampshire primary.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bush to Veto Defense Authorization Bill

Politico has a story on this latest move by President George W. Bush. Click here to read in full:

Reportedly, a provision buried in the Bill would allow victims of state sponsored terrorism to sue countries for damages. The Iraq government fearful of lawsuits stemming from the Sadamm Hussein regime lobbied Bush for removal of this provision with the threat of removing 25 Billion of Iraq assets from U.S. Banks.

Seems like yet another example of a misguided U.S. foreign policy under the Bush administration.

My Second Holiday Wish

Connie Castanera

Last week my wish for this holiday season was for ALL to feel valued, loved, appreciated, and respected. This week, I would like to add to last week's wish. If we were all truly valued, loved, appreciated and respected, we probably wouldn't need to discuss the tragic results of those who drive while impaired (DWI) or drive under the influence (DUI), because we would all be more likely to make good responsible choices. But that is not the case.

We all know someone who is notorious for being irresponsible about drinking and driving. These tend to be people who truly don't value their own life or the lives of others. These are people who clearly don't or won't think about the possible consequences of their actions before getting behind the wheel of an automobile.

Offenders could be parents, children, friends, family friends, or neighbors. They are usually people who think that they are careful drivers, believe that they are not too impaired to drive, and who often refuse to consider the warnings imposed on them by those of us who care.

I could cite statistics about how many deaths occur due to DWI or DUI, and it may or may not impress you. The truth is that if even one person dies tragically due to another person's irresponsible actions and choices, that is one too many.

We have all seen local news features about innocent people who have lost their lives due to the irresponsible choices of others, or about those who have lost their own lives because of an irresponsible choice to drive while impaired or under the influence. We find it sad, but the truth is that we all know someone in our own family or circle of friends or co-workers that could have easily been the perpetrator in that sad story.

If you can think of someone who could easily become the perpetrator of an accident due to irresponsible DWI or DUI, now is the time to do your best to prevent a tragic event from happening. Yes, I am suggesting that you step up and do your best to prevent a possible offender from driving. You may not succeed on your own, but you can enlist the help of others.

This New Years Eve (when people are most likely to drink too much), I am suggesting that you take notice of those that have had too much to drink and, if necessary, take steps to prevent them from putting themselves and/or others at risk. You can take their keys away, hide them, or do whatever you can to keep them from driving. You may need to call the police, which may result in someone you care about being angry with you. But, consider the alternative.

If you are successful in preventing a possible tragic outcome; you may never know, but you surely won't be thinking, "If only I had tried harder to keep _____ from driving while intoxicated, I could have saved a life." Every life is precious.

I'm not suggesting that you "make it your responsibility" to prevent someone from driving while impaired. But, I am suggesting that you do what you can to encourage responsible behavior in others. Sometimes that means making responsible choices for someone who is not able to make responsible choices for themselves.

In my opinion, the punishment for driving while impaired is not severe enough. If it were, we wouldn't be seeing as many drinking-related fatalities on our roads. People are willing to take the risk and drive after having several drinks. Perhaps, we should take away a driver's license for a longer period of time on the first offense; impose hefty fines, community service, and perhaps meaningful jail time. Dying in a tragic accident is far more severe.

Here is a website that provides information on Maryland drunk driving laws, including the most recent updates.

My wish for the New Year is that we all look after our fellow human beings, assist and encourage them to make responsible choices when it comes to driving. The life saved may be the life of your loved one, but, no doubt, the life of a person who is loved by someone.

I wish you a safe, happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year in 2008!

New U.S. Foreign Policy Necessary

The tragic death of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto yesterday underscores the importance of a coherent U.S. foreign policy that is firmly based on the support of human rights all over the world.

President George W. Bush and his administration moved quickly after the terrorist actions on 9-11-2001 by invading Afghanistan which at the time was under the rule of the Taliban who were providing safe haven to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

After a successful U.S. military campaign, President Hamid Kharzi was installed and backed by the Bush administration. However, since Kharzi became President, domestic programs in the areas of health, education, transportation, and employment have been complete failures across Afghanistan.

President Kharzi's travel in Afghanistan is infrequent and when it does occur is only done under heavy military guard. The Taliban is back and roaming freely in the mountainous border region with Pakistan while poppy has again become the major export of the country.

At the time of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Bush administration also moved quickly to develop an alliance with President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. This is a country with operational nuclear weapons which is also strategically located in the region.

In neither case was there ever any effort by the Bush administration to stress the importance of human rights to the Leaders of these two countries.

Untold hundreds of millions and most likely billions in U. S. aid have been spent in these two countries with literally no accountability of how the funds were spent while human rights violations continue to occur on a daily basis.

Starving farmers in Afghanistan find "friends" in the drug trade who pay them up front to plant and harvest poppy. A similar action of utilizing U.S. aid and directing it to farmers to plant alternative crops and to also provide protection to them seemingly has never been thought of, let alone attempted to implement in Afghanistan.

At the same time the Bush administration continues to support the Musharraf regime while he makes a mockery of Democracy in Pakistan.

His total disregard of the constitution of Pakistan culminated with the removal of all the supreme court justices prior to their ruling against the constitutionality of his reelection as President. His recent lifting of the marshal law he had imposed on Pakistan, his stepping down from his dual role as General, and allowing the parliamentary election to be held on January 8, 2008 were all just smoke and mirrors by a man who is a Dictator.

These foreign policy actions taken by the Bush administration seemingly became secondary as the rush to invade and go to war with Iraq took the lead. The continued morass in Iraq stymies the ability of the U.S. to conduct meaningful foreign policy as the respect for the U.S. has fallen to perhaps an all time low around the world.

Continued U.S. support of dictatorial regimes based strictly on strategic military reasons without regard to human rights give rise to anti-American sentiments. While perhaps advantageous to the U.S. in the short term, the long term ramifications can and will be disastrous.

The international damage done by the Bush administration is substantial and will require from the American President elected in November of 2008 a clearly understood foreign policy focused on human rights.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistan Prime Minister Candidate Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

To read an update on this breaking story click here:

President Musharraf just recently lifted the "suspension of the constitution" and set the date for the Parliamentary elections in Pakistan for January 8, 2008. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who had previously been placed under house arrest was allowed to register for the election and had begun her campaign.

Reportedly, hours before her assasination as a result of a car bomb, several supporters of another former Primer Minister, Nawaz Sharif were shot and killed. Bhutto's assassination has the potential to unleash even more unrest in Pakistan.

The continued turmoil in Pakistan comes as lawmakers are just now beginning to question how the hundreds of millions in aid from the United States has been spent.

The Fourth Estate Under Attack

Vanessa Rini-Lopez and Steve Lopez

Last Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted three to two to adopt a revision to the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rules. The revised rule will allow newspapers in Nielsen's 20 largest Designated Market Areas to buy radio and television stations in the cities where they are published.

The FCC Commissioners voted for this revision, despite six public hearings held throughout the country in which the public was overwhelmingly opposed to relaxing the ownership restrictions. Also ignored was a letter from 25 U.S. senators, from both sides of the aisle, including Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) and Ted Stevens (R-AK), demanding that they postpone the vote. If anything, the FCC Commissioners should be looking at ways to increase media diversity. Citizens in a Democratic society need a free press to educate themselves on important issues to help them decide how to vote, make informed decisions, and learn about important world wide issues.

The ultimate purpose of corporate media outlets such as Disney, Time Warner, Viacom, NBC, News Corp., Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google is to market issues in such a way as to increase profits for their shareholders. Infomercials and advertising are not substitutes for news. The relaxing of this rule is a way for these media outlets to expand their influence and increase their profits at the cost of our free press.

The Iraq War probably best illustrates the difference between news and media, and why it is important to have diversity in news sources. When we first saw President George W. Bush address the United States about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, my husband's and my first reaction was that of disbelief and skepticism. However, the Bush administration and it's corporate media partners marketed and sold the invasion of Iraq. They convinced the public that Sadam Hussein was a threat to the U.S. and involved in the 9/11 attacks.

Simultaneously they muffled out news outlets that tried to report the facts and discuss whether the U.S. should invade Iraq. They labeled people who questioned their actions as unpatriotic and even went so far as to expose an undercover CIA Agent.

If the public had more access to news outlets instead of "Bush" Broadcasting, we probably would not be in Iraq today. General Electric (GE) owns NBC news and has also been awarded substantial Defense Department contracts that support the war in Iraq. This seems like a conflict of interest. Besides Iraq, what about other stories that seem to have fallen off the radar?

By the way, remember Jonathan Luna? He was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Baltimore who was found dead in a creek in Lancaster County, PA on December 4, 2003. You would think this would be a huge story in Maryland, but the Baltimore Sun's last story on Mr. Luna was August 18, 2004, and you barely hear it mentioned on the local news or in the local newspapers. The lack of media coverage, and the fact that authorities investigating Mr. Luna's death have proposed that Mr. Luna may have committed suicide by stabbing himself 36 times leaves us to wonder who is involved and what are they hiding. Why isn't this story being covered in the news media?

Another story that has not received the coverage it deserves by the press is the 400 unsolved murders that have occurred since 1993 in the cities of Juarez and Chihuahua, Mexico just over the U.S. border. Even though Stacy Peterson, who has been missing for nearly two months, receives constant coverage on CNN and MSNBC, neither network has paid significant attention to the murder of 400 Latin American women just over the southern U.S. border. Amnesty International USA has more details on this in a 2006 report you can read by clicking on the following link:

We do not mean to imply that what Ms. Peterson's family is going through is not horrible, but we just do not understand how major media outlets can ignore the situation in Juarez and Chihuahua. Most of the murdered and missing girls and women are employed by maquiladoras (sweat shops). It just so happens that GE, which owns major media outlets, also operates maquiladoras in Mexico including one in Juarez. We are not implying that General Electric is involved in the murders. What we are asking is why GE's subsidiary MSNBC has basically ignored one of the biggest stories of the century.

We feel that the relaxing of the rule on media ownership will mean less coverage for important stories such as the Iraq War, the Jonathan Luna murder, and the murdered women of Juarez due to conflicting business and political interests.

We understand that one of the goals of owning a newspaper, radio station, or television station is to earn a profit. However, the integrity of the fourth estate is in grave jeopardy when earning a profit takes precedence over serving the public.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Candidates Hope It's Still a Time For Giving

As the New Year approaches, the candidates for President are also facing the end of the fourth quarter financial reporting period which falls on December 31, 2007. Over the next six days voters will be repeatedly asked to donate money to support their candidate.

This request for funds comes in many ways such as direct mail and telephone solicitation but most notably is the internet. During the last week leading up to the end of the third quarter finance report deadline of September 30, 2007 I counted the number of emails I received from several of the Democrats running for office.

The standard practice was repetition with former Senator (NC) and 2004 Vice President candidate John Edwards leading with 10 emails. Following closely was Senators Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (NY) with 7 emails each.

I even saved some of the email headlines for they tell how each candidate tries to be unique in asking for money. Senator Edward's campaign had one entitled "A dime a day keeps the Lobbyists away" and another said "Choose Change". The Obama campaign had one entitled "This is Real" and another called "Start Spreading the News". While the Richardson campaign had one entitled "Wait until 2013? Are they Kidding?" and another that said "This is Your Moment".

At the end of the third quarter finance report period the top four fund raising Democrats running for President were Clinton with 90 million (10 million was transferred from her US Senate account) - 50 million cash on hand, Obama with 80 million - 36 million cash on hand, Edwards with 30 million - 18 million cash on hand, and Richardson with 18 million - 13 million cash on hand.

To read more campaign finance report detail on all the candidates click on the following link: This web site estimates the eventual nominee will spend 500 million to compete.

This is a staggering and mind boggling amount. The Howard Dean for President campaign in 2004 spent a then whopping 50 million leading up to the Iowa caucuses. This time both the Clinton and Obama campaign will eclipse this figure and the Edwards campaign will probably be close to the figure.

The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Law of 2002 although noble in purpose did little to bring about the needed reform in campaign financing.

It is time for serious bi-partisan discussion leading to public financing of the candidates for President.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Our thanks to all of you for visiting our site. We wish you and your families much happiness over this holiday season and sincerely hope for peace and prosperity for all.

A Call to Action in the New Year

Guy Djoken

During the last few weeks, Mr. Samuel Bennett, Chair of the Frederick County Human Relations brought to our attention two interesting articles clearly depicting the current state of Blacks in America.

In the first article titled "The KKK Disbands: Leaves Their Job To Black Folks", in a cynical but coherent way, the author writes the following: "The KKK leader stepped to the podium, his hood lowered around his shoulders and a look of disgust on his face. He said, "Sorry guys but this will be our last meeting; we're going out of business." A member stood up in back. "But why sir?" The leader sighed, "Well, reverend, the Blacks are doing a better job getting rid of themselves than we ever did, so we are no longer needed."

This sad reality vividly translates the urge to action initiated by the drum-beats from Phillip Jackson whose essay published last March under the title "America Has Lost a Generation of Black Boys" made the wise recommendation to the readers "that as you read it ... ask yourself what you can do in your space ... in your home ... in your neighborhood ... to ensure that we turn this situation around in 2008."

I see no other urgency facing those who care about social justice to read the full essay at and join forces with all stake holders to adequately address the situation in 2008. The NAACP is ready and willing to lead in the reversal of that situation. Lending your voice to cause can only improve our chances of success.

I wish you all a Happy Holiday season as I look forward to addressing this pressing issue with you in 2008.

Guy Djoken is President of the NAACP, Frederick County Maryland Chapter.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Will the Economy Become the Main Issue in 2008?

It is beginning to look as if former U. S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan knew it was time to exit when he announced his resignation.

For the last quarter of a century the Republicans have touted their ability to handle the economy in the best manner for Americans. In spite of this repetitive mantra by Republicans, reality has shown us a far different result.

The recession the U. S. experienced in the early 1990's came after eight years of the Republican President Ronald Reagan administration. The trickle down theory of many Republicans of less taxation of the rich for their investments will trickle down and help the less fortunate has never worked.

What resulted in the 1990's was greed took over and adversely affected the banking system as Savings and Loan institutions across the U.S. began to fail. The federal government needed to step in and bail out many of the Savings and Loan institutions while many individuals went bankrupt in the process.

Does this sound at all familiar today? After eight years of voodoo economics II under the Republican President George W. Bush administration, the U.S. is again experiencing a weak economy.

This time, replacing the go-go economy of the 1980's was the go-go real estate market of the early 2000's. The result was once again greed took over as adequate controls were not in place and people looked the other way in the sub-prime mortgage market.

The current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has continued to lower interest rates and now President Bush has offered federal relief to some of the homeowners affected by this mess.

This is all in addition to the present 9 Trillion U.S. debt level, of which 25 per cent is owned by foreign investment.

It is time we elect a Democrat for President to move America back in the direction of lower foreign investment in the national debt, a balanced annual budget, and a commitment to lower the national debt.

Look to see the economy become a major issue in the 2008 election.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Which Clinton do the Voters Support?

As the start of the primary elections for Democrats become ever so much closer, the influence of popular former President William Jefferson Clinton continues to be strong.

His wife, Senator Hillary Clinton (NY) although leading the Polls nationwide by large double digits margins is now facing a tough battle with Senator Barack Obama (Illinois) and former Vice-President candidate John Edwards in the Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. The primaries in these three states precede the Super Tuesday primary date of February 5, 2008 when close to half of the states will hold their primary election.

The candidates all realize they must do well in the primaries of the first several states or their campaigns will lose momentum when voters tune into politics as the primary election day becomes closer in their state.

The twisted logic of the Political Parties to push all the primaries to an earlier date in order to have a nominee determined sooner has created an incredible long campaign calendar with insane levels of funds being spent by each candidate. It is entirely possible several Democratic Presidential candidates will spend over 50 million prior to the Iowa caucuses to be held on January 3, 2008. All of this shows why serious discussion leading to public funded elections must occur prior to the 2012 election.

The closeness of the first three primaries has prompted Senator Clinton to ask her husband to stump for her in these states. His popularity is envied by every politician so at first glance, this seems like a good idea for him to campaign for his wife. Hillary continues to be burdened with poll results showing fifty per cent of the voters do not like or trust her.

Senator Clinton is banking on her husband's popularity and political skills to help her get elected. However as voters go to the caucuses or enter the polling booth, they will know the constitution prohibits Bill Clinton from running for President again. As much as many Democrats would like to have Bill Clinton in the White House again, they will realize Hillary is not him.

Friday, December 21, 2007

MD Board of Elections Reverses Ruling on 17 yr. old Right to Vote

Yesterday, the Maryland state Board of Elections ruled a seventeen year old may vote in Maryland's primary election on February 12, 2008 if they will be turning eighteen by the date of the general election held on November 4, 2008.

This was a reversal of an earlier ruling and occurred after they received an opinion from Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler.

The Baltimore Sun has a story on this today and you can read by clicking the following link:,0,6283412,print.story

This seems like a very reasonable decision and let's hope this results in an upswing in the number of young people who vote!

My Holiday Wish

Connie Castanera

As we approach that "special day" that most of us look forward to during the holiday season; let's take a few moments to remember that there are still many people who don't approach that special day in the same way. Holidays are a time of year that can be very difficult for many people, particularly if you have lost a loved one, if you don't have anyone to share celebrations with, or if your financial struggles prevent you from participating in family traditions and gatherings.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, or Eid'ul-Adha, this is a time when people gather to share in traditions that bring them closer to their creator and their families. Gatherings generally include traditional culinary specialties that elicit a range of emotions for many of us. For some, the mere thought of a particular dish has the power to mentally transport us back to childhood memories, when we can recall the flavors we savored, along with associated emotions.

If those memories include lost loved ones, it can result in sadness, or depression at a time when everyone else appears to be joyous. Loneliness and isolation can also prevent people from getting into the holiday spirit. Not having anyone to share festive foods and traditions with can exacerbate the feelings of loneliness and isolation. We generally associate traditional and festive dishes with people we've shared those festive dishes with in the past. When we lose someone special, it can leave us feeling as if a huge piece of our life is missing, and that prevents us from "getting into the holiday spirit."

Financial difficulties can also play a part in putting a damper on the "holiday spirit." How does anyone explain to a child why all their friends are receiving expensive gifts, but financial struggles prevent them from receiving the same or similar gifts? We all know that the holidays are "really" not about getting lots of expensive gifts, but how does one explain that to a child? A limited budget can even prevent some from enjoying those festive foods that they've shared in the past, because obtaining the ingredients can be cost prohibitive.

This holiday season, I ask you to think about the people you know who may not be able to enjoy the season due to the pain of a lost loved one, loneliness, isolation, sadness, or poverty, and reach out to them. Please do your best to include them in your celebrations; or encourage them to share in your holiday traditions. If that is not possible, simply maintain contact throughout the holiday season. Let them know you care.

My wish for this holiday season is for ALL to feel valued, loved, appreciated, and respected. To all of you, I wish you and your loved ones a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season, filled with love and shared family traditions. In my home, we will be celebrating Christmas. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Clout of the Iowa Caucuses

After an increasingly long Presidential campaign calendar, the Iowa caucuses are now only two weeks away. For many voters the attention now is on the holiday season and their families. However, for the staff of the candidates, they realize this is the make it or break it time for their campaigns.

For Democrats, former Governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter came from obscurity and after winning in Iowa was elected President. Former Governor Howard Dean of Vermont had his campaign implode after the Iowa vote and he would soon drop out of the race for President.

Interestingly, it has been reported that only about 10% of the registered voters in Iowa actually participate in the caucuses. So campaigns try to focus on identifying and targeting the most likely caucus goer and work to make sure their supporters attend the caucuses.

The caucus vote in Iowa is unique and it has been explained to me that the caucus occurs in a living room of one of the voters. The vote is very open and has some very interesting nuances to it. House Captains are assigned to each house and this is one area campaigns work on early as they try to get their supporters assigned as House Captains by the state. A House Captain records the vote and can also be influential as discussion takes place concerning which candidate people are voting for.

People actually go to one corner of the room to indicate their vote for a candidate. Discussion and lobbying follows as people can try to influence others to change their vote. Supposedly, people are then actually able to change their vote prior to recordation of the vote by the House Captain.

Due to this unique manner of voting it takes a dedicated voter to participate for it can take some time before a vote is actually cast and recorded. Campaigns staff realize they must concentrate on voters who are most likely to attend the caucuses.

This also opens up the possibility of campaign staff or supporters of a candidate developing strategy to share with their supporters who attend the caucuses. The House captains and certainly the more experienced voter will know what percentage of the vote a candidate must receive to qualify in their state for the all important delegate.

Voters who are supporting lower tier candidates who are not receiving enough votes to be competitive and be eligible for delegates could determine that by looking to see as to where people are standing in the room. They could then encourage their supporters to change and cast their vote for another candidate who is receiving enough votes to qualify for delegates.

It has been said that typically it is the older and more experienced voter who participates in the Iowa caucuses so Democratic Senator Barack Obama's strategy of appealing to students and younger voters may not work. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean who had the support of many younger voters was leading the national and Iowa Polls leading up to the caucuses four years ago and finished third. Dean had gambled all of his campaign funds, estimated to be 50 million at the time, on Iowa (which may have led to his now famous scream) and was unable to recover.

The outcome of 10 % of the registered voters in Iowa and the unique manner in which the vote occurs in Iowa does not necessarily demonstrate true national support. However, due to media and campaign press releases and the condensed primary schedule, Iowa has tremendous clout in the outcome of many campaigns for President.

All of this shows why the Polls in Iowa are good indications of trends but they do not necessarily indicate the outcome of the vote. Campaign organization and the ground game is the all important area for the candidates at this point leading up to the caucuses.

It is not at all unlikely that former Democratic Senator and Vice-President candidate John Edwards could do well.

Stay tuned for the Presidential primary schedule will be on the fast track after Iowa. Either the nominee of the Democratic Party will be determined by super Tuesday in February 2008 or they will be heading toward a brokered convention.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Republican Senator Trent Lott Resigns

Last night Senator Trent Lott (Miss.) resigned and now the a battle will begin as to who will replace him. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is who will name the immediate successor to the Senate. Meanwhile, an argument is taking place between Democrats and Republicans as to when the election for the Senate position should take place.

Republicans are saying the state constitution calls for the election to occur in November 2008, the same date as the national election. While Democrats are saying the state constitution calls for a special election to be held within ninety days of the vacancy.

CQPolitics has a story on his resignation you can read by clicking here:

I also seem to recall reading about the timing of his resignation possibly being tied to changes that were to go into effect in regard to length of time (a longer period of time) a politician must wait before he is able to register as a Lobbyist. Perhaps this sped up the date of his resignation.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

FISA Up to Date

V. S. Lynch

The original Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was passed in 1978, to provide a mechanism for monitoring suspected foreign agents in the United States, while protecting the 4th Amendment rights of American citizens.

The Protect America Act (PAA) was passed by the Senate on August 3, and by the House of Representatives on August 4, after having been introduced on August 1, 2007. The Act was designed to modernize the 1978 FISA Act, by providing "additional procedures for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence information and for other purposes". Maryland 6th District Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R) and U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski(D) voted in favor of the Protect America Act; Maryland U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D) voted against it.

Among other provisions, the Protect America Act included the protection of third parties (primarily telecommunications companies) from any liability arising as a result of their participation in intelligence gathering activities. This is generally referred to as "immunity for telecoms" or "telecom immunity". The Act also contained a six month"sunset" provision.

President George W. Bush wanted the "final" FISA bill submitted to him before Congress left for the December holidays. He made it clear that he would veto any FISA bill that did not contain full amnesty for telecoms. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and a candidate for President, made it clear that he would filibuster any bill that did contain full amnesty for telecoms.

Passions ran high! Those who supported telecom amnesty felt that no company should be penalized for acting in good faith at the behest of the government. Those who opposed telecom amnesty believed that no amnesty should be granted for possible violations of the law without some information as to the extent of such violations.

Debate was scheduled for Monday, December 17. Senator Dodd set up a website to facilitate messages to Senators in support of the filibuster. According to Senator Dodd's website, over half a million messages were sent by various media to the Senate, in support of Dodd's filibuster against telecom immunity.

The will of George Bush was no match for the will of the American people.

At approximately 7:45 p.m. last night the FISA billed was pulled from consideration for this session.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Papua New Guinea Pressure Leads U.S. to Sign "Bali-Roadmap"

Guy Djoken

Papua New Guinea pressed the U.S. to a 180 degree turn at the recent U.N. climate change summit. At the end of the two week United Nations climate change summit last Saturday, the Bush administration flip-flopped under the pressure lead by the representative of Papua New Guinea and decided to sign on to the "Bali Roadmap" towards a new comprehensive agreement to stop human activity from causing irreversible damage to the earth's atmosphere and ecosystems.

Nobel Peace Laureate & Former Vice President Al Gore who was present at the conference protested the obstruction of a compromise by the US delegation and advised participants last Thursday not to get angry, but to wait for the 2008 U.S. Presidential election according to a report by AP.

The U.S. delegation resistance resulted in a "We cannot accept" from the U.S. speaker at the conference. Afterward, Mr. Kevin Conrad, a brave member of the Papua New Guinea representation stated the following words that are now claimed to have prompted the 180 degree turn by the U.S. delegation at the conference "We ask and seek your (U.S.) leadership but if you are not ready to lead, please get out of the way".

Following these remarks, the U.S. delegation relented its opposition to a request from developing nations for more technological help in fighting climate change and signed on the compromise. For those following the Bush administration, this humiliating flip-flop is a total reversal of the doctrine with which the Bush-Chaney led administration hoped to remake the world. Their rhetoric has been filled with Wild West slogans of getting enemies "dead or alive" or "you are either with us or against us" along with a failure to follow International treaties during the past 7 years.

One of the most outrageous illustration of the administration arrogance was the Bush-Chaney new concept of "Unsigning" Treaty well documented by Human Rights watch in an article titled United States "Unsigning" Treaty on War Crimes Court. The article may be found at

This misguided stubbornness and reversal witnessed this weekend may be more clearly understood after reading "The End of Cowboy Diplomacy" published by Time in June 2006 by Mike Allen and Romesh Ratnesar -,9171,1211578,00.html

They wrote the following: "The biggest illusion of the Bush Doctrine was the idea that the U.S. could carry out a strategy as ambitious as reshaping the Middle East and changing unfriendly regimes without a degree of international legitimacy and cooperation to back it up."

In any case, the reversal was welcomed by those who had been looking forward for a fruitful United Nations climate change summit.

The "Bali roadmap" deal does not address any level of emissions reductions or any international commitment by any country but rather, underlines the commitment from major players such as the European Union, Developing Countries and the U.S. to work closely together with sound proposals by 2009.

By then we hope to have a new President in the White House who believes in science and real diplomacy.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Frantic Hillary Push to show a Friendly Side

Starting at 7:00 AM tomorrow Senator Hillary Clinton will appear on ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today, CBS' Early Show, Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends, MSNBC's Morning Joe and CNN's American Morning -

All an attempt to cast a herself in a more friendly manner to the voters in Iowa. In spite of the efforts of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in his interview with Charlie Rose and the Des Moines Register's endorsement, Hillary knows she is in trouble.

Voters do not vote for people they do not like or trust and the Polls have shown that she does not do well in these areas.

Look for her to try portraying a warm and friendly persona - sadly, it just will not work for her.

Will Joe-mentum help McCain?

Politico reports Senator Joseph Lieberman (Ind-Conn.) will endorse Republican Senator John McCain (Ariz.) tomorrow in his campaign for President. Read the entire story here:

As many will recall, Lieberman was the Democratic Vice-President candidate in the 2000 election. When he ran for reelection to the Senate in 2006 he was defeated in the Democratic Primary as voters expressed thier dismay with his support of the U.S. war with Iraq. Lieberman then ran as an Independent and was elected to another term in the General Election.

It is doubtful Senator Lieberman or the Des Moines Register's endorsement will help McCain. His campaign has been in trouble almost from the start as he has been unable to duplicate the success he enjoyed with his "straight talk express" campaign for President in 2004. He has no money or campaign staff to speak of, so it is doubtful Joe-mentum will be of any help to his campaign effort this time around.

It is more likely to give the Democratic Presidential candidates a break from the Press as the Press will feed on this story for a day.

The Charade in Pakistan Continues

The leader of Pakistan by their constitution should be referred to as President but that is hardly a title that can be afforded to Pervez Musharraf.

After fearing the Supreme Court of Pakistan would rule his recent reelection as "President" would be ruled illegal and in violation of the constitution of Pakistan, Musharraf arrested every Supreme Court Justice and suspended the constitution of Pakistan; effectively installing marshal law.

After initially blocking travel by former Pakistan Prime Ministers and opposition leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf placed Benazir Bhutto under house arrest immediately following the removal of the supreme court justices.

Musharraf then hand picked new Supreme Court Justices and asked them to rule on the legality of his recent reelection. In what was a surprise to no one, they ruled his election was constitutional.

After receiving a gentle nudge by the United States, Musharraf in an emotional speech, stepped down from his dual role of "General" of Pakistan. He has now promised Parliamentary elections in January and has invited neutral observes to be present during the election.

An article in the Baltimore Sun today entitled "Musharraf ends state of emergency",0,5080882.story
details the most recent action by Musharraf.

The question remains, "Who is he fooling"? The original Supreme Court Justices who are still under house arrest should be re-instated and allowed to issue their ruling on Musharraf's election as President. In the very least, Musharraf should be made to run for reelection at the same time as the Parliamentary elections with these elections supervised by UN or respected neutral observers.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

MD 6th District Candidate talks about Wind Power

Rick Lank is a Democrat who is running for the 6th District Congressional seat in western Maryland. He issued a press release to weigh in on a proposed wind farm to be located on publicly owned land in Garrett County.

While he is supportive of the concept, he points out that it is not clear that the electricity generated from this proposed wind farm would be made available to Maryland residents.

"I firmly believe that if public land is going to leased for wind power generation, and that land belongs to the people of Maryland, then there should be a warranty made that the power from that wind farm would go into the local grid (in this case controlled by Allegheny Power) and that the power be distributed to Oakland and other communities in proximity of the farm".

He points out that the proposal from U.S. Wind Force to lease 400 acres owned by the state of Maryland could generate power for as many as 55,000 Homes and that Maryland is currently importing 30% of their electricity. Mr. Lank also felt comfortable that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources would work hard to lessen the impact to the environment.

With rising electric rates for Maryland residents and continued talk about the need to re-regulate the electric industry, exploring alternative energy sources seems like a good idea.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Obama leads Iowa and New Hampshire Polls

Obama surges as Clinton campaign continues negative attacks. Quad City Times Poll conducted 12-10 to 12-13-07 had these results - click here for details:

33% - Obama

24% - Edwards
24% - Clinton
9% - Richardson

The firewall the Clinton campaign had buit in New Hampshire has now given way. Concord Monitor Poll conducted 12-10 to 12-12-07 had these results:

32% - Obama
31% - Clinton
18% - Edwards
8% - Richardson

As I mentioned in an earlier post these Polls show trends but the caucus vote in Iowa is unique with the ground campaign being critical.

Bad Service Too Common Today

Connie Castanera

My tractor has been broken needing a part that allows one to switch from forward to reverse. Late in the summer (about 5 months ago), I called a local dealer that sells tractors and supplies for my brand of tractor. Eventually (several weeks after the original call), the dealer sent someone to look at the tractor and determine exactly what part was needed. The initial visit took place around early September. I was advised that the part would be ordered immediately, and that they would return to install it shortly after it arrived.

Further, I had been told that it might "take a little time" to locate the part. Months went by and I never heard anything from the dealer. I tried to be patient, but, how long could it take to locate a simple part? Eventually, I called the dealer again and located the person I had talked to previously. He had only a vague recollection of our previous conversation. He admitted that the part had never been ordered, and promised that they would take care of it promptly. I informed him that I had been referred to another dealer who might be more responsive. He asked me to please give him another chance to "make things right." Realizing that we all make mistakes, I decided to do so.

Five weeks later, I still had not heard anything. Again, I called the dealer and asked to speak to the head honcho. I told "Mr. Head Honcho" the whole story. He advised me that the part had arrived, but that the person I had been dealing with was away attending a conference. He said that I could expect the part to be installed within a week. If I didn't hear from them after a week, I should again call back.

As you can probably guess, I didn't hear from them after more than a week. So, once again, I called back. I have now been promised that the part will be installed today (12/14/07). I hope they show up as promised, since this is truly their last chance with me! You would think they would treat me better since I had made a large purchase with them earlier in the year.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I bought a new snow blower from one of the large department store chains in Frederick. We had planned to take it home that night, but after finding that it didn't fit in our SUV, we asked if they could deliver it within a couple of days. We were assured that a 2-day delivery would pose no problem for them. The delivery was scheduled for that Friday. I had several errands on my schedule for that day, but altered my plans to accommodate their arrival time of between 12 noon and 5 PM.

Shortly after 5:00 PM, I decided to call the store to see if they would be arriving soon. No one seemed to know the whereabouts of the truck, but they assured me that they would soon arrive with my purchase. When they had not arrived by 6:00 PM, I called again for an "update." At that time, I was advised that the truck had been vandalized that afternoon, and that they were running behind schedule. If that was true, why hadn't someone called to tell me what had happened? That would have been the responsible way to treat a customer that had just made a large purchase with them.

I was again assured that the truck was on its way, and that I could count on getting my snow blower that evening. Again, I had to adjust my plans for late evening to accommodate their delivery schedule. At that point, I was quite annoyed by their lack of consideration. But, I was willing to give them a chance to "make it right." Therefore, I set a "final" deadline of 8:00 PM.

At 8:30 PM, I finally called and canceled the order. While cancelling the order I found out that they had no intention of delivering the snow blower that night anyway, but had never called to let me know that. The very next day, my husband and I went out and bought a comparable snow blower from one of the large hardware store chains. It was priced right, assembled, and fit into our SUV.

My husband and I are often amazed at the amount of bad service that is delivered to good, loyal, customers. Whether it's a high ticket item or a simple meal in a restaurant, people would like to feel that their business is appreciated. It just makes good sense to do that if you want good customers to return. Why is that so hard to figure out?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Hillary Cackle

Today's Democratic Presidential Debate was most memorable for the nervous cackle exhibited by Senator Hillary Clinton to a question asked to Senator Barack Obama and the quick well-received response Obama gave to the question.

Moderator Carolyn Washburn asked Obama to explain his theme of there is a need for a change while he is relying on foreign policy advise from several advisers to former President Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton grabbed her mike and started cackling about how she wanted to hear the answer to that question.

Senator Obama stayed poised and while answering the question with discussing utilizing talent, looked over to Clinton and offered that he would be looking forward to asking her for advise when he was President.

As the self-destruction continues for the Clinton campaign many were looking to see how she would perform in this last debate before the Iowa caucuses to be held three weeks from today.

The Debate coming the same day her campaign manager in New Hampshire resigned after talking to the Press about how Republicans would attack Obama's admitted drug use and how this would make him a weaker candidate should he receive the Democratic Party nomination.

In fact political pundits are already saying that Clinton because of her obsessive hands-on approach had to know her New Hampshire campaign manger was going to say what he said and after it was already out there for the press to feed on, he would offer up his resignation. Speculation is she will even offer him another job in the campaign later on should she go on to receive the nomination.

Obama looked the most Presidential even coming to the defense of Senator Biden when he was asked a question pertaining to his position on race related issues.

While Senator Biden along with former Senator Edwards, Governor Richardson and Senator Dodd all did well with questions concerning energy, education, farm subsidies and NAFTA, the attention is clearly on Senators Obama and Clinton.

With no more Debates prior to the Iowa caucuses and the Holidays approaching, the efforts by the candidates will now be focused on the ground and finalizing their marketing efforts over the last three weeks. Besides mobilizing their volunteers to work the precincts and get their supporters to the caucuses they will be making final decisions on ads to use in the media markets such as direct mail, TV, and radio; all of which they have already purchased.

The caucus system in Iowa is unique so don't give a lot of credence to the Polls. Now it is up to the candidates and their organizations. Stayed tuned for the nomination process will speed up with New Hampshire and South Carolina following Iowa. Then Super Tuesday on February 5, 2008 when close to half of the states will hold primaries.

Democratic Presidential Debate Today at 1 PM

Des Moines Register editor Carolyn Washburn will moderate the Debate. She received mostly positive reviews for keeping the Republican Presidential Debate held yesterday on topic and focused on the Issues. However, this was made easier when she announced she would not be asking questions pertaining to Iraq or Immigration. Both of which are major issues of concern to the voters. Will she follow these same guidelines with the Democrats today?

It will be broadcast live on public television starting at 1:00 PM and streamed live on Also check CNN and Fox for coverage. This is the last Debate before the Iowa caucuses which are only three weeks away.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Crazy Towns

Steve and Vanessa Rini-Lopez

Since 2003 the U.S. Congress has obligated nearly $400 billion for U.S. efforts in Iraq; the National debt is $9,168,352,339, 338.57, as of December 9, 2007; and the Internal Revenue Service estimates that it loses $70 billion in tax revenues due to the $5 trillion held
offshore in tax havens. Yet our elected officials are telling us that "illegal immigration" is the most important issue affecting our lives.

The Frederick County, Maryland Sheriff's Department is seeking delegated 287(g) immigration enforcement and corrections authority from Immigration Customs and Enforcement. Immigration law is extremely complicated, and there are over 100 violations of immigration law which can serve as the basis for removal from the U.S. However, Sheriff Jenkins doesn't seem to know the difference between the words "Hispanic" and "illegal", yet he is confident that he will be able to oversee this complex program without profiling minorities. Where are the statistics and facts to back up the Sheriff's perception?

Speaking of perceptions, all five Frederick County Commissioners voted to include a request to the state of Maryland to support convening a U.S. Constitutional Convention to address these citizenship/immigration issues because of a perception that Frederick County has a substantial population of illegals. The presence of these "illegals" causes a burden on many programs the County must provide. How can the Commissioners know if undocumented workers from Latin America or elsewhere are a "burden" without analyzing the facts?

Just because a majority of their constituents perceive undocumented workers from Latin America as being a problem, doesn't make it one. Also, h ow is the word "substantial" quantified in the Legislative package? We get the feeling that for a lot of people having one of us (Latino/Hispanic) move in constitutes a burden. We'd also like to understand the commissioners' use of the word "illegals" in the legislative package since that word is not defined under U.S. immigration law. Should we assume "illegal" includes individuals who commit criminal and/or civil illegal acts under the law such as speeding, tax evasion, or discriminating against others?

Then there is Taneytown in Carroll County, Maryland that is seeking to classify itself as a "Non-Sanctuary" city. It has declared war with the Nation's most overblown issue; "Illegal" Immigrants living in "My" country and in "My" hometown. Give me a break! There are only 70 foreign born residents in the entire town. Trust us Councilperson Paul Chamberlain, you don't have to worry about Taneytown residents starting a petition to change your hometown's name to Teotihuacán (Aztec capital in Mexico) anytime soon.

How do these efforts help or benefit society in anyway? We know who will end up losing, but who truly wins? Who is the real villain? Are the immigrants the criminals that should be prosecuted and deported, or should the U.S. government deal with the business practices of multi-national corporations? What about our own government's policies, that have and continue to significantly contribute to economic, political, and social instability throughout Mexicó and Central America? No one wants to leave their homeland, but the fact is that NAFTA and CAFTA have been a sham.

During NAFTA's first year, Mexicó lost one million jobs. Massive agricultural imports from the US have displaced an estimated two million Mexican farmers, as subsidized grains from the United States take over their local and regional markets. Guess where all these unempl oy ed people are going to find work? Why should the victims of NAFTA and CAFTA be the ones prosecuted and condemned, for trade agreement our government forced on these poor countries?

The next time you are tempted to ask, "What part of illegal don't they understand?" go get a copy of
Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations and see for yourself how extensive, complex and overwhelming U.S. immigration law is.

And, no more lectures about how your ancestors immigrated legally. After all, before the Immigration Act of 1965, U.S. immigration policy discriminated against everyone who wasn't a white northern European. This included the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was the first law to ba n a nationality. You call it following the law, we call it white privilege and blatant discrimination.

From our perspective the problem isn't being caused by "illegal" immigrants, the problem is intolerance and bigotry. It is easy to bully people who don't have the right to vote, and who aren't going to show up at a public hearing to express their opinion for fear of being taken into custody.

What is the goal? Does an Angel gets it's wings each time a family is broken apart and children are separated from their deported parents?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

All Quiet in the MD 6th District

With only nine weeks to go before the Maryland Primary on February 12, 2008 it is eerily quiet in regard to the sixth District congressional race.

After eight consecutive victories at the Ballot Box, incumbent Republican Roscoe Bartlett is the odds on favorite to win again in 2008. Although he is facing a handful of challengers within his Party in the primary, none are considered a serious threat.

The redistricting that occurred in 2002 did not help Democrats as the sixth District became even more overwhelmingly registered Republican voters.

Outside of the 1996 race when Democrat Stephen Crawford raised approximately $400,000 and received 43% of the vote, no Democratic candidate has been able to do better since Bartlett's 1992 election in what is the largest geographically sized District in the state of Maryland.

Democrat Don DeArmon who is very knowledgeable on the issues, also did well in 2000. Although he tailed off somewhat when he was the Democratic nominee again in 2002. His campaign raised more money in 2000 than in 2002 and spent it very wisely, relying a lot on direct mail close to the date of the primary and general election.

An earmark of sorts for political junkies was the year Democratic candidate Timothy McCown received 38% of the vote in 1998. His campaign raised less than $10,000 so the political pundits realized the solid baseline vote for Democratic candidates in the sixth district was 38%. The key now to winning the district was figuring out how to win the other 13% of the vote.

In 2004 a slew of Democrats entered the Primary. All relatively new to politics, they split the vote across the district with Kenneth Bosley winning the primary with less than 30% of the vote.

For a Democrat to win the sixth district there must be appeal to Independents and moderate Republicans.

Meanwhile Congressman Bartlett has been ineffective for the voters in the sixth District now for sixteen years. He has been unable to successfully address basic transportation, housing and employment needs of the sixth district for all these years. His blind support of the Bush administration, including the President's veto of (S-CHIP), the State Children's Health Insurance Program, clearly indicates it is definitely time for a change in the sixth district.

This election cycle has five Democrats vying for the Party's nomination on February 12, 2008. They are Andrew Duck of Woodsboro who was the nominee in 2006 and received 41% of the vote, Jennifer Dougherty of Frederick, a former one-term Mayor of the City of Frederick. Robin Diebert of Fairplay, Rick Lank of Middletown, and Larry Smith of Cumberland.

Let's hope over the next nine weeks, a Democrat nominee emerges with the ability to unite Democrats along with Independent and Republican voters.

Sixteen years of ineffective sixth district representation in Washington is too long.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Oprah Wows Voters For Obama

Estimates were 70,000 attended free Rallies in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina where Oprah appeared with Senator Barack Obama over the weekend. Here is a video I received from the Obama campaign.

Will Oprah's support make a difference in the Iowa caucuses which are now only 31/2 weeks away? Polls are showing these states are a three-way dead heat between Obama, Edwards and Clinton.

Video: Barack and Oprah

Frederick NAACP Continues Call for Independent Investigation on Use of Tasers

Guy Djoken
NAACP Frederick County, Maryland Branch

After reading the letter to the editor written by Mr. Alan Caho, past president of Frederick County Lodge 102 of the Fraternal Order of Police published in the Frederick News-Post on Sunday, December 9, 2007, I realized that it was imperative for me address his charge of misinformation about Tasers and rebuff his assertions.

According Mr. Caho, "The Taser is not a weapon of last resort, but a very modern instrument that uses an electrical charge to temporarily incapacitate an individual and basically take the will to fight out of him or her.

After reading this statement, I was thankful that Mr. Caho is not an active member of the law enforcement. In all the cases we have looked at closely recently, none of the Taser victims were under arrest, nor were they fighting the officers. I am not sure if the training given to the deputies carrying Tasers provide them with the psychic ability of looking at someone and determining that they have the will to fight.

Please note that Mr. Caho did not say that the weapon is used to temporarily incapacitate an individual fighting or resisting arrest as I was told until the moment I read his letter. For him, it is clear that the weapon should be used "to take the fight out of him or her".

If the situation was not as tragic as it is today as a result of us losing a bright and intelligent young man who had previously been harassed over and over again by the same deputy who used the Taser twice on him, I would have send Mr. Caho a thank you letter for making our case. Suggesting from his vantage point that the weapon is to be used not as a last resort but routinely to take the will to fight out of those in the process of being arrested".

This reasoning seems to fits perfectly with those expressed by Mr. Patrick J. McAndrew, attorney of the Fraternal Order of Police who characterized the tasering of a student on school grounds last November 8th by Cpl. Maybush as "heroic." After those comments, the NAACP called for clarifications in the hope that Mr. Patrick J. McAndrew, or the Fraternal Order of Police would clarify these comments we find very troubling.

To Mr. Caho and others claiming that "Tasers have been proven safe", I will like to point them to the TASER International website.

On their website it clearly states the following:
for a subject in a state known as "excited delirium", repeated or prolonged stuns with the Taser can contribute to "significant and potentially fatal health risks". In such a state, physical restraint by the police coupled with the exertion by the subject are considered likely to result in death or more injuries.

Furthermore, TASER International has admitted in a training bulletin that repeated blasts of a taser can "impair breathing and respiration". Contrary to Mr. Caho's assertions, Tasers were introduced as a less-lethal weapon with the intention to be used by police to subdue fleeing, belligerent, or potentially dangerous suspects, often when a lethal weapon would have otherwise been used; that is, to many of us, a situation of last resort.

During a press conference on the death of Jarrel Cortez Gray last week, Frederick County Sheriff "Chuck" Jenkins announced that his office has ordered an independent study on the use of Tasers by a firm he will not reveal.

If the Frederick County Sheriff is serious about an independent investigation on the use of Tasers, he will suspend their use pending the results of the studies; unless he is pretty certain that the results of such a study will vindicate his statement about the "proven safety" of the Tasers. Many have questioned the argument for keeping the investigative firm secret. We deserve and request transparency by the Sheriff on this matter.

To join your voice on our request for an independent investigation, please visit and sign our petition.

Our Poll This Week

is "Should an Incinerator be built in Frederick County, Md."? Remember to cast your vote and encourage your friends to visit our site and vote. The Poll closes at midnight on Sunday.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Waste Disposal in Frederick County, MD

How to dispose of trash within their jurisdiction has to rank among the top of the many difficult decisions a county commissioner is faced with during their term in office. No one wants a landfill located near them, have the truck traffic associated with landfills, or have a Incinerator built that can spew toxins into the atmosphere.

The subject of waste disposal in Frederick County, Maryland came up in the late 1980s when there was serious community discussion surrounding the acquisition of property to be used for a landfill. Many objections were brought up at the time including the location, the suitability of the land for a landfill and how long would the landfill be viable as a method of handling trash disposal for Frederick County.

Twenty plus years later with Frederick County being one of the fastest growing communities in the state of Maryland, this issue is back on the table again for discussion.

As knowledge and concern has grown in the area of the environment, the methods of trash disposal have also received more scrutiny. People are more aware than ever of the need to preserve our natural resources for future generations.

Presently the Frederick County Commissioners are seriously considering building an Incinerator and are pushing one of the advantages being the ability to harness energy from the process. This is know as WTE or Waste to Energy. The Commissioners are also considering importing trash from nearby Carroll County to help pay for the cost of the construction of the Incinerator.

Commissioner David Gray and county staff have even traveled abroad to study innovative Incinerators in use and claim modern advancements have reduced polluting emissions that result from the use of Incinerators.

Locally, Sally Sorbello: and Janice Wiles: have researched this extensively. They provide information for you to read about why an Incinerator should not be built and why more recycling efforts are needed. I encourage you to visit these sites and read.

On Tuesday December 11th there will be a Public Hearing for Incineration in Frederick County. It begins at 7 pm and will be held at Winchester Hall on East Church Street in Frederick, Maryland.

Plan to attend and let the County Commissioners know your concerns.