Here’s A Happy Update

Today’s been literally full of shit - bad, depressing stories involving cancer and Kirby Delauter. We needed a change of pace and here it is.

Remember the story about the U11 basketball team that got disqualified because - oh dear - there was a GIRL on the team? Well, Kymora Johnson and the Charlottesville Cavaliers got a chance to play somewhere way, way cooler than that stupid NTBA tournament - Madison Square Garden.

Two weeks after the Charlottesville Cavaliers were disqualified from the Boys Under-11 NTBA tournament for having a girl on their team, 10 year-old Kymora Johnson and her teammates stepped onto a bigger stage.

The New York Liberty flew the Cavaliers to Madison Square Garden to play an exhibition game Saturday night to shine a spotlight on Kymora, her team and the idea that girls can (and should) be able to play with the boys.

The team received a standing ovation from the crowd as they were introduced on the court. Members of the Liberty stuck around to watch and cheer on Kymora and her teammates during the 20-minute exhibition.

Kymora and her teammates wore gray t-shirts that read, “Girls Don’t Sit On The Bench” and the Liberty tagged the event #girlpower on its Twitter feed.

Good for the Liberty and the WNBA. That’s a memory that will last a lifetime for those kids. Boys AND girls.


Kirby Delauter Is Back And Shittier Than Ever

Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter (yeah, the guy who doesn’t want the media to use his name without permission) is in the news again.

Background to the latest kerfuffle. Delauter owns a construction company that bids on contracts with the County and its subdivisions. The propriety of this practice after Delauter’s election, first to the County Commission in 2010, and then to the County Council in 2014 after the County’s adoption of a charter form of government, has resulted in a series of conflicting rulings from the Frederick County Ethics Commission. Most recently, the Ethics Commission has allowed the bids to continue.

In 2014, this arrangement resulted in several conflicts between Delauter and municipal officials in northern Frederick County, losing him the support of two mayors and a town commissioner, all Republicans, in the general election. He won anyway, 2014 being what 2014 was in Maryland.

In May, the County Ethics Commission issued an opinion affirming its conclusion that the practice was not unethical under the new Charter. The public outcry was so strong that three of the five commission members resigned shortly thereafter, and County Executive Jan Gardner, a Democrat, issued an executive order banning such bids. She also asked the County Council to consider a law banning elected officials from bidding on County contracts.

Tuesday, August 18, by a 4-3 vote, the Council passed a law barring companies affiliated with elected officials from bidding on county contracts. Gardner, of course, will sign the bill. 

Now we get to the fun part. Today comes a blog post from Frederick blogger Frederick Local Yokel (yay, bloggers! And great name.) that reveals Delauter still has serious anger management issues. And he’s a bully. He even wrote his thoughts down in a handwritten note and then posted it on Facebook, with more nasty comments. We have to go with the photo because ain’t no way in hell I’m friends with the likes of this cretin. 

The handwritten note, in case you can’t read it, says: “Doug: you’ll have to ask council members Otis, Fitzwater, Keegan-Ayer and Donald for donations since they don’t see value in WF Delauter doing work in Frederick County. Kirby”

The names he cites are the four council members who voted for the bill to bar Delauter from bidding on county contracts.

What a classy guy you got there, Frederick. A real piece of work. And he’s not at all bashful about sharing with the public just how shitty of an elected official he is. So a point for candor, but he still is an embarrassment of a council member.

SS Transit Center Turnover

Four years late and $50 million over budget, Montgomery County this week will turn over control of the Silver Spring Transit Center to Metro.

Metro plans to accept the Silver Spring Transit Center from Montgomery County as early as this week, and has set a Sept. 20 opening date for the problem-plagued facility.

Montgomery County on Thursday sent Metro a letter of transfer, detailing the completion of the three-level commuter hub that was plagued by cracks and other construction and design flaws. Metro said that it has 10 days to formally accept the facility, but it doesn’t expect any outstanding issues.

Let’s not forget, of course, the recent transparent bluff by Metro in an effort to extort money and other concessions from the County. That will be a comedy-packed moment in the screenplay of this agonizing saga that is sure to be a huge hit with absolutely nobody.


Carter Has Brain Tumors

Nothing good in former President Jimmy Carter’s announcement this morning that he has “four spots” on his brain of what has now been revealed to be melanoma. Carter, 90, is beginning a course of radiation this afternoon.

Speaking with a calm, measured tone for the better part of an hour Thursday, former President Jimmy Carter revealed the extent of his cancer, telling reporters gathered in Atlanta for a news conference that doctors have found “four spots of melanoma” on his brain and that he will undergo radiation treatment starting later in the afternoon.

“I was surprisingly at ease, more so than my wife was,” Carter said of his reaction to the diagnosis. “But now I feel this is in the hands of God, and I’ll be prepared for anything that comes.”

He added: “I’m ready for anything, and looking forward to a new adventure.”

The average overall survival of a patient with melanoma that spreads to the brain is less than five months. Here’s hoping that Carter, who’s blazed a unique and worthy trail as an ex-president, beats the odds and stays with us a while longer. 

The Deez Nuts Juggernaut

In several recent presidential polls, an independent candidate named Deez Nuts has been pulling some pretty big numbers.

A recent study by Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed the candidate polling at 9 percent in North Carolina, 8 percent in Minnesota and 7 percent in Iowa.

Alas, today the Deez Nuts rocket sled hit a pretty big snag. Based on some crack reporting by the Daily Beast, Mr. Nuts has been unmasked and identified as Brady Olson, a 15 year old rising sophomore at the Graettinger Terril Ruthven Ayrshire Community School in Wallingford, Iowa, population 197.

How did the Nuts campaign get PPP, a major survey outfit, to poll on his popularity? Funny story there.

“It started because somebody emailed us under the name Deez Nuts,” says Jim Williams, an issue polling specialist a Public Policy Polling. “He said, ‘I’m Deez Nuts. I’m running. Here’s my filing statement. Would you poll me?’”

Williams thought “this is something Public Policy Polling would do,” so he squared Nuts off against Trump and Clinton in Minnesota a few weeks ago. He polled at 7 percent.
“I thought, ‘Let’s put this out. This’ll be funny,’” he says, and it was met with “mild interest.”
But when his numbers rose after two more polls—8 percent in Iowa, then 9 percent in North Carolina—Nuts took off. On Wednesday, Deez Nuts was trending worldwide on Twitter.
“Today, we’ve clearly reached the tipping point,” says Williams.

Ya think? Wow. In a three way matchup between Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and a quarter century old Dr. Dre lyric, Nuts got serious play in three pretty significant states.

Civilization is doomed. Hahaha.

The Post Has A Clinton Problem

And his name is Chris Cillizza. Writing for a Post feature called The Fix, Cillizza has demonstrated an addiction to writing negative stories about Hillary Clinton. Most recently, it has of course morphed into a fixation - I know, too easy, right? - with anything to do with “email.” In the past 23 days, Cillizza has written specific posts about Hillary Clinton 17 times - almost once per day, including weekends.

Even if you don’t want to read each and every tiresome, tendentious post, you can just read the Post’s own online titles for Cillizza’s effluvium. Not a cheerful word to be found anywhere. The capper comes today when Cillizza gets indignant about James Carville making fun of his “Democratic freakout” comments of a few days ago.

Carville’s argument is simple: I am dumb and wrong. In particular, he takes issue with the piece I wrote Tuesday raising the possibility that Hillary Clinton might just not be that good a candidate. In it, I use the phrase “full-scale Democratic freakout” to describe the worries among many Democrats about how her campaign has gone thus far.

Of course, in the end, Cillizza vindicates himself, because . . . well, just because. “I do not have a problem with writing negative articles about Hillary Clinton. I could stop any time I want. I just like writing negative articles about Hillary Clinton. Like this next one.” Etc.

You decide, gentle reader. Here’s the bare, naked hyperlinks for all 17 recent pieces, untainted by any fast talk, clever puns or slightly off color remarks by l’il old me. You decide if Mr. Cillizza has a problem. Then give the folks down at 15th & L a call and have them send the burly guys with the butterfly nets over to pick poor Chris up. I think he needs a little vacay right now.

Is That A Banner Being Raised?

One of the first Facebook posts to mention that Elijah Cummings had hired a fundraiser was by Calvin Ball. Calvin Ball is a Howard County councilman now in his third term, and is not yet 40 years old.

Back in the spring, when it seemed that Elijah Cummings’ entry into the Senate race was imminent, I compiled a list of potential CD7 candidates who might run for Cummings’ House seat. Ball was high on that list.

Ball has a picture of himself with Congressman Cummings. And four out of the five comments on Ball’s Facebook post urge him to run should Cummings jump into the Senate melee.

None of this strikes me as even remotely coincidental. How about you?
Hmmmmmmm. This is turning into a very interesting week.

BREAKING: The Rescrambling Begins?

Is Elijah Cummings once again seriously considering a Senate run? Signs point to yes.

A veteran Senate campaign fundraiser is now working for Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), a possible sign that he will run for higher office.

Ashley Martens, who worked for Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) in past campaigns, is now doing fundraising for Cummings. She is organizing a fundraiser next month at a Nationals-Orioles game in Washington, D.C., asking for $1,000 to $5,000 contributions to Cummings’s political action committee.
Cummings is not known as a particularly large fundraiser. However, he has significantly more money in his campaign account than Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.), one of two Democratic candidates currently running to replace retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.
A poll released by Edwards’s campaign Tuesday showed Cummings is far more popular than either Edwards or her primary rival, Rep. Chris Van Hollen. About 65 percent of survey respondents had a favorable view of the congressman — 20 points higher than Edwards or Van Hollen.

Wow. Wasn’t expecting this, but between the hiring of a first-rate fundraiser and the results of Edwards’ poll - which in hindsight seems almost engineered to invite Cummings into what would be a barn burner of a three way heavyweight bout - it seems clear that Cummings is again looking to get in. Stay tuned.

The Perils Of Being Scott Walker

In this, the Summer of Trump, many of the once mighty GOP candidates are having to hit the reset button on their campaigns. Jeb Bush? Floundering. Rand Paul? Flailing. Marco Rubio? One word: football. Chris Christie? Fuhgeddaboutit. Bobby Jindal? Seriously? Rick Perry? Flat broke. Mike Huckabee? Flatline. John Kasich? Meh.

The only candidates with up arrows lately are Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina. One actual politician between them, and given Ted Cruz’s popularity in the Senate, one could argue even about that. 

Today comes the news that one time Koch Brothers poster boy and heartthrob Scott Walker, who set many a plutocrat’s heart to racing with his economic conservatism, is acknowledging his shortcomings and determined to be more like that Donald Trump guy - and angry, too. Don’t forget angry.

Scott Walker has sought to reassure jittery donors and other supporters this week that he can turn around a swift decline in the polls in Iowa and elsewhere by going on the attack and emphasizing his conservatism on key issues.

In a conference call, one-on-one conversations and at a Tuesday lunch, the Wisconsin governor and favorite of anti-union conservatives told backers that his campaign is shifting to a more aggressive posture and will seek to tap into the anti-establishment fervor fueling the rise of Donald Trump and other outsider candidates.

During a conference call with top fundraisers Monday afternoon, Walker and his campaign manager were relatively candid in their assessment of the campaign’s shortcomings, according to notes of the conversation taken by a participant. Walker said the campaign will strive to do better in three areas: protest, passion and policy.

Walker has seen his fortunes fall in recent polling more than any other candidate. And most worrisome, he has tied the success of his campaign to victory in the Iowa caucuses - and his plunge in the polls there has been even steeper.

What’s remarkable about Walker’s apparent reset is how much at odds it is with his initial presentation. 

The steps mark a clear shift for a candidate who has long positioned himself as a potential bridge between the party’s conservative and establishment wings. Walker now intends to focus his energy primarily on challengers from the right — a constituency that is particularly important in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, which aides consider a must-win contest for him.

Despite Walker’s strong and consistent start earlier this year, he has quickly lost ground in recent weeks and put in an underwhelming performance at the first GOP debate, on Aug 6. He went from double-digit standings in most national polls in July to single digits in several recent surveys. In the most recent poll of Iowa — where he has led for most of the summer — he was third behind Trump and tea party underdog Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon.

This is highly unlikely to end well for Walker. I was one that saw him as a dangerous foe in a general election, a presentable and low key guy who was in fact far more of a right wing ideologue than he seemed. 

But one thing this summer has shown us is that it’s not enough to be a right wing nut - a successful candidate has to appear to be just as insane as his or her politics. And be angry. And not be burdened with any actual experience or accomplishments in politics. Thus Trump and Carson and Fiorina and Cruz.

The losers in this contest to see who can out crazy the field are Bush and Walker and Rubio - the three potentially most formidable general election candidates. Thanks, Donald Trump! Keep on keepin’ on, buddy!

Josh Kurtz On Redistricting

With all the Senate race and John Delaney hullabaloo this week, and me being out of town, I missed Josh Kurtz’s return from vacation Monday.

I’ve always said that Josh Kurtz guy was brilliant. Brilliant, I tell you. Read every word. He speaks the truth with a capital T. Here’s some of the religion he’s peddling.

So it’s easy for the Democrats to question Hogan’s motives as he tees up redistricting reform. It’s also fair to say that they’ll have a lot of sway over the fate of any proposal Hogan advances, given their advantages in the state House and Senate.

But you know what? Democrats ought to go along this time – because it’s the right thing to do. What a concept. And they’ll have a better chance of shaping whatever redistricting proposal emerges – or killing it, if it’s not credible – if they participate in Hogan’s commission.

Even the most partisan Maryland Democrat can’t help but look at the state’s congressional map and feel a little embarrassed – about the dreadful 3rd district, designed to allow Rep. John Sarbanes (D) to touch lots of fertile Democratic territory; about the way districts radiate out of Baltimore even though the city is losing population relative to the rest of the state; about the way Anne Arundel County has been carved up and has no Republican representation (ironically, the 6th district, which the Democrats redrew to pick up one more seat in 2012, is not the state’s most egregious – and has historical antecedents).

Democrats are so used to getting their way in Maryland that they’re reflexively opposed to anything that diminishes their power even in a little, even if it’s in the name of justice and democracy. But here is an opportunity for them to embrace reform – and share in the glow of any results that make our elections fairer and more competitive.

Preach, brother Kurtz. And let us all say “amen.”