Friday, July 31, 2020

Is it November, Yet?

It is Friday and I cannot believe what transpired yesterday while I was enjoying a day of golf and the beach. 

In yet another display of constitutional ignorance, its appears that the president is unaware of who sets the date for elections. 

Article II, Section 1, Clause 4:

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

Now it is possible that he could recommend to the congress to change the date for this election, but the president, of his own accord, does not have the authority to change the date of the election. I would have though he would have had someone check that small, but important fact before he made such a sweeping statement. I also find it interesting that he pushed this hot button issue in an obvious attempt to reorient the news media away from remembering the accomplishments of Congressman John Lewis. 

With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???
8:46 AM · Jul 30, 2020Twitter for iPhone

If he had stated that he was going to ask the Congress to delay the election, that would have been the proper thing to do.

Whether mail-in voting leads to fraudulent elections is a topic of discussion that has largely been disproven.

But, the BBC has an interesting take on yesterday's developments:

Mr Trump appears to be doing everything in his power to undermine the credibility of November's vote, in which a record number of Americans are predicted to rely on mail-in voting to avoid the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. He's repeatedly made false and misleading claims about the reliability of the mail balloting and suggested broad conspiracy theories. Critics warn that he could be laying the groundwork for contesting the results - although the purpose may be simply to give him a scapegoat if he loses.

The BBC article concludes:

Critics of postal voting argue that people could vote more than once via absentee ballots and in person. Mr Trump has in the past said there was a risk of "thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody's living room, signing ballots all over the place".

However, there is no evidence of widespread fraud, according to numerous nationwide and state-level studies over the years.

I suggest watching a Lincoln Project video called Wake Up

Final thoughts. How can it be OK to send kids to school but too dangerous to hold the election? And I thought coronavirus was a democratic hoax?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, July 30, 2020

To the Beach

Ethan, Chris, Jax on the Beach
Ocean City, MD
July 29, 2020
We made it, finally, to the beach.

It is not Florida, but it is the beach in Ocean City, Maryland.

We went for a quick overnight since we could not make it to Florida, at least right now. 

We practiced good physical distancing and did not venture onto the Boardwalk or any of the usual locations where large crowds gather. But, as a family, we had fun on the beach enjoying the sun, sand, and surf. A lot of the surf. The water was warmer than usual and so we actually did some wave jumping and body surfing. Mind you, it was not the 84 degree water of Florida, but it was very enjoyable.

Be responsible and practice physical distancing and wear a mask when off the beach!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ocean City, MD

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Wildlife on Display

Another hot summer day has passed. And it was hot!

Praying Mantis
Elkridge, MD
July 28, 2020
I managed to enjoy some quality time in the pool during the heat of the day, but I also enjoyed a walk during the morning hours and noticed some interesting wildlife. One industrious bug positioned itself right outside my door--that would be the praying mantis. 

It was a bit shocking to walk out the door and see a fairly large praying mantis hanging out on the wall. I was happy to see the bug because they eat the other bugs which are much more bothersome.

Bee Leaving a Bloom
Columbia, MD
July 28, 2020
While out on the walk, I managed to enjoy watching the bees that were busy collecting pollen from a patch of morning glorys. 

There were quite a few bees and they were very busy buzzing from bloom to bloom. 

It was still relatively pleasant during the morning hours as I walked and it was enjoyable to see the bugs out doing their jobs. 

Just another day as I enjoyed the summer and the last few days of July. I can hardly believe that the month is almost over and thoughts are turning to autumn and school starting and when I will finally be able to make a trip to Florida.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Rats, Why Did it have to be Rats?

I read a The Wall Street Journal article this morning about rats in New York City.

I never thought about the coronavirus impact on animals other than humans, but it seems that the effects of the virus are driving rats to venture further afield to find food since the normal places around restaurants and food operations are producing less garbage. 

But, there are the rat hunters and their dogs that attempt to help reduce the population and maintain a more healthy environment.

One comment in the article caused me pause:

“It’s normally crawling with rats,” he said. “You uncover the top of the trash can and there are like 20 of them in there, looking at you like snakes in a pit.”

I guess the dirty underbelly of the city is something that fortunately usually only comes out at night, although I have read stories of how the rats are becoming more bold. 

I am happy to read that there are people and their dogs trying to control the rodent population, but it seems that the city should be doing more to reduce the rat population. 

Rats have been a problem in cities for centuries. Bubonic plague was spread by rats and was responsible for the Black Death of the Middle Ages which was recorded the deadliest pandemic in human history responsible for the deaths of 75-200 million people. It took 200 hears for the population of Europe to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Rats, why does it have to be rats?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, July 27, 2020

Monday Musings - July 27, 2020

1. Sadly, it is the last Monday of July--my favorite month of the year ends this week. It has been awesome.

2. Check out the Orioles! They are tied for first in their division after one series AND tied for the best record in baseball at 2-1! O's fans need to cheer about every positive thing that happens to the team. I think it is a bit strange that no team went 3-0 or 0-3 during the opening series of this MLB season.

3. July has been a great month in that I have been in my pool nearly every day. The weather has been perfect for pool enjoyment for most of the month.

4. Chris and I watched a squirrel build a nest in a tree. We had not seen a squirrel do that before. The squirrel was very industrious and made multiple trips across a branch from one tree to another. I took a short video of the activity. Sadly, as we were walking the yard yesterday assessing the storm damage we saw a destroyed squirrel nest in a tree and on the ground were two dead new born squirrels. It was a sad sight and we buried the remains. 

Chris and Lily in GORC Park
Odenton, MD
July 26, 2020
5. Yesterday, Chris and I took one of our grand puppies, Lily, for a walk. It was an enjoyable walk in the heat of the morning. Finnegan went with us, but he got tired and had to be carried for the last part of the adventure.

6. The Dog Days are definitely upon us. The high temperature is expected to be 98 degrees in Elkridge, today. In Jupiter, Florida, the high temperature is forecast for 88 degrees.

7. Today in History. On July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommends that America’s 37th president, Richard M. Nixon, be impeached and removed from office. The impeachment proceedings resulted from a series of political scandals involving the Nixon administration that came to be collectively known as Watergate.

Russian Oil Grab in Libya Fuels U.S.-Kremlin Tensions - The Wall Street Journal

Fed Outlook Turns Gloomier as Virus Spreads - The Wall Street Journal

Cities in Bind as Turmoil Spreads Far Beyond Portland - The New York Times

Birx Urges Bar Closures and Limits on Gatherings as Infection Rates Climb - The New York Times

America’s global standing is at a low point. The pandemic made it worse. - The Washington Post

As public schools go all virtual, parents eye private schools that plan to open their campuses - The Washington Post

Gold soars to all-time high as dollar dive adds fuel to record run - Fox News

100 Days Out: Trump looks for game change as Biden makes gains - Fox News

China seizes U.S. consulate in Chengdu as tensions rise - Reuters

Iran moves mock-up U.S. carrier to mouth of Gulf: satellite images - Reuters

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

I spoke of the difference between our two countries. I try to follow the humor of the Russian people. We don't hear much about the Russian people. We hear about the Russian leaders. But you can learn a lot, because they do have a sense of humor, and you can learn from the jokes they're telling. And one of the most recent jokes I found kind of, well, personally interesting. Maybe you might -- tell you something about your country.
The joke they tell is that an American and a Russian were arguing about the differences between our two countries. And the American said, ``Look, in my country I can walk into the Oval Office; I can hit the desk with my fist and say, `President Reagan, I don't like the way you're governing the United States.''' And the Russian said, ``I can do that.'' The American said, ``What?'' He says, ``I can walk into the Kremlin, into Brezhnev's office. I can pound Brezhnev's desk, and I can say, `Mr. President, I don't like the way Ronald Reagan is governing the United States.''' [Laughter]
-- Address at Commencement Exercises at Eureka College, Eureka, Illinois, May 9, 1982

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Losing the War

We are losing the war against COVID-19.

As a society we have failed to rise up to the challenge. 

Our leadership is a shambles. The "generals" leading the war are uncoordinated and divided. The logistic infrastructure is tragically broken and inefficient, and the soldiers in the field (the first responders) are being left to fend for themselves. As a result, civilians are dying in increasingly alarming numbers.

And Washington is silent while Americans are dying.

The headlines record the state of the conflict.

Eighteen states set daily case records in the past week, and 40 have had 14-day increases in cases per capita. - The New York Times 

In Illinois, the ‘Million Unmasked March’ proceeds with about 150 people. - The New York Times

This country prepares for potential second wave as coronavirus cases creep back up - Fox News Note: You might think this is about the U.S.--but it is about France

As tide turns, retailers that resisted masks relent - Fox News

U.S. records 1,000 coronavirus deaths for fourth day, some progress seen - Reuters

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Lead from the Front

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, right,
stands at a fence guarding a federal courthouse
 as tear gas drifts by
 early July 23, in Portland, Ore. (Karina Brown/AP)
What happened the other night in Portland was a case study in competing leadership styles.

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, was on the front lines of the conflict happening there. 

A Washington Post article describes the incident, 

Wheeler had come to the protest, he said, to stand with protesters in the face of what he has described as an “occupying force” — federal agents who were deployed by President Trump to a city that the president has described as “worse than Afghanistan.” (Amid a tense meeting with protesters, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler tear-gassed by federal agents - The Washington Post)

From the article:

As Wheeler stood at the fence, he was heckled and insulted. Some demonstrators called for his resignation. Others, who had been tear-gassed by the Portland Police Bureau over the past eight weeks, shouted questions at the mayor.

Later in the article:

Wheeler tried to address Trump’s recent pronouncement that he would be sending a surge of federal forces to other Democratic-led American cities to help combat crime, starting with Chicago and Albuquerque, but the crowd shouted him down.

They wanted, instead, to talk about what, exactly, he was doing to get rid of the federal agents and asked about his dual role as mayor and police commissioner. Some shared personal stories of run-ins with the police. Others demanded he consider making sweeping systemic change to policing in Portland.

We can argue about his motives, but the article makes clear that the mayor got an earful from the protestors about the situation. 

In contrast, the president made the following statement about the incident, 

“He made a fool out of himself,” Trump said during an appearance on Fox News. “He wanted to be among the people. So he went into the crowd. And they knocked the hell out of him. That was the end of him. So it was pretty, pretty pathetic.” (Trump derides Portland mayor for joining protesters and getting tear-gassed - The Washington Post)

It is sad that the presumed leader of the free world reveled in the failure of a leader that was attempting to lead from the front rather than hiding in the basement bunker.

We can disagree about motives and results, but a leader should be out walking with and talking to the people about their complaints. It remains to be seen whether the situation in Portland improves. I hope that it does.

Lead from the front!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, July 24, 2020

Covid Timeout: Baseball

It is back!

Baseball--America's pastime, has returned. There were two games last evening and the Orioles take the field tonight in Boston to begin their 60 game Covid-19 shortened season. 

The Lightening Bolt that Effectively Ended the Game
Yankees vs Nationals
July 23, 2020
Last evening I watched the Yankees defeat the Nationals 4-1. I did not realize it when I went to bed during the 6th inning rain delay, but I watched the entire game. It was weird watching the game with the stands empty. 

In the other Opening Day game the Dodgers defeated the Giants 8-1. 

I am excited that the Orioles have returned, but a few of the rising stars are sidelined for tonight's game, one of them, Trey Mancini, will likely be out for the season although the Orioles placed him on the 60 day Injured Reserve. 

Here is my prediction for the young 2020 Orioles

I believe they will surprise people, but they are playing the toughest schedule in baseball against their own American League East Division with the Yankees and the Rays and against the National League East which has the defending World Series Champions and the Braves (who won the division last year) as marquee teams. I was impressed with the Baby Birds during Spring Training--but that was February, they went 3-0-1 during my trip to Florida. I believe the Orioles will finish 21-39, .350. That would be an improvement over the 54-108, .333 finish they posted last season. 

Let's Go O's!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Everyone's Rights Deserve Protection

What is the most important amendment to The Constitution? 

With the exception of the 18th Amendment, which was repealed by the 21st--they are all important to ensuring the rights of the populace and the smooth operating of the government of the United States. 

Fox News
But, I would propose that the 4th Amendment is the lynchpin of rights and life in the United States.  Mind you, this is a personal opinion and I am open for discussion about this hypothesis--but without the protections from unreasonable search and seizure the ability for some of the other Amendments to secure our freedoms would be suspect.

Perhaps I am biased because have received repetitive training throughout my adult life about protecting the personal rights contained within the 4th Amendment. The 1st Amendment is nearly equally as important and protects many of the unique freedoms which form the basis for life within the U.S.; but the 4th Amendment is unique throughout most of the world and something that must be protected and jealously guarded. 

In the discussion of yesterday's blog on Facebook, I wrote something that my mind turned on overnight--I wrote about the un-Constitutional invasion of Portland by unidentified "police-like" forces of the Federal Government: If they violate anyone's rights, they violate everyone's rights. 

We must be aware of what is happening. An Op-Ed piece in The Washington Post put it into perspective for me this morning. The article begins:

In Portland, Ore., federal police use batons, tear gas and rubber bullets on moms in bicycle helmets. Unidentified federal officers, defying duly elected state and city leaders, throw civil rights demonstrators into unmarked vans without charges. President Trump’s acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, says his agents “go out and proactively arrest individuals.”

That’s so much easier than waiting for people to do something illegal before you lock them up!
The administration justifies the extraordinary disregard of constitutional protections by calling the demonstrators “violent anarchists” who have made “efforts to start fires at the Hatfield Federal Courthouse.” Trump says that the demonstrators “hate our country” and that “we must protect Federal property.”

In Portland, despite what some would say, the majority are exercising their 1st Amendment rights and those arrested without cause are having their 4th Amendment rights abridged. Yes, admittedly, there are looters and rioters but the entire crows is not composed of them. It is the job of legal law enforcement to recognize the difference. 

The Washington Post Op-Ed contains an interesting paragraph which references the 2nd Amendment:

In Trump’s America, it seems, the First Amendment applies only to those exercising the Second Amendment. 

Previous societies have failed and fallen to authoritarian regimes when the majority of society believes it is acceptable to abridge someone's rights because they are not affecting my rights. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Black (Brown) Shirts are Coming!

Mussolini with Black Shirts
History provides a unique lens through which to view current events. It appears that the reborn Black Shirts or Brown Shirts may be coming to a major city near me! Baltimore is on the list.

Brown Shirts
The reference to the Black Shirts and the Brown Shirts refers to two early 20th Century dictators who had special forces to do their dirty work. Mussolini had the Black Shirts and Hitler had the Brown Shirts. Click on the links for additional information.

Portland is, and other cities are, threatened by the deployment of national "policing" forces that are apparently very scary and reminiscent as reincarnated versions of these World War 2 "law and order" enforcement organizations. 

Trump Threatens to Send Federal Law Enforcement Forces to More Cities

The historic parallels are frightening. According to the article cited above, and there are many more articles that could be referenced, these forces are being deployed to a specific subset of cities that are not affiliated with the political party of the President. This action is creating yet another Constitutional crisis for the current administration. And the president is marketing his peculiar brand of law and order as an election issue. 

Another article has a more ominous headline:

Rep. Clyburn: Trump, Barr Imposing 'Gestapo Activities' With Fed Officers

Clyburn states, "For all of a sudden for these people to go in there, nothing from the governor, from local law enforcement, show up with their faces covered in unmarked cars ... this is the beginning of the ending of this democracy," said Clyburn. "That kind of activity is the activity of a police state."

He added that he has been warning about such actions for a long time, and he believes the November election is "all about the preservation of the greatest democracy that this country has ever known." 

The videos of these forces beating a U.S. Navy veteran who did not resist but stood and accepted their abuse and in another case shooting at a naked woman suggest that establishing law and order is not what these police-like forces are about. 

“The videos of masked, anonymous government officers attacking American citizens who pose no threat is shocking to watch. Federal agents with no badge are kidnapping civilians into unmarked vans. How is this America?” said Lincoln Project co-founder Reed Galen. He continued, “All Americans must be vigilant.”

My concern is that too many Americans believe it is acceptable as long as it is happening in a city not near them.

When did this become acceptable in America? 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Oppressive Heat

It is hot! Summer is definitely here.

Yesterday afternoon I got into my truck and the thermometer displayed 109 degrees! It really wasn't that hot the actual temperature was closer to 98 degrees, but sitting in the sun the truck had absorbed a great deal of heat. 

My pool water is up to about 89 degrees--almost too warm to enjoy a swim. 

From Weather Underground
July 21, 2020

There is no relief in sight as the high temperatures will hover in the 90s for the next 10 days! I note that the highs in Jupiter, Florida, for the next 10 days are in the 80's with only the last two days of the 10-day forecast in the 90's. This is the time of year when we are often in Florida because it is cooler there than here. And the beach always has a stiff breeze.

It is definitely time to enjoy the summer and a cool drink.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, July 20, 2020

Monday Musings - July 20, 2020

1. It is the third Monday of July. My favorite month of the year is slipping by too quickly. I am trying to enjoy every day.

Enjoying a Day at Big Cork Vineyards
Rohrersville, MD
July 19, 2020
2. What could be better than a day at Big Cork Vineyards with friends? Nothing really. We spent a marvelous afternoon with friends and listened to live music while enjoying some great wine in the Maryland mountains. 

3. The afternoons have been really hot--and this week will be likely the hottest of the year. Be cool, stay safe, and enjoy the summer.

4. Every time I hear the words "Fake News," I immediately discard the comment or statement being made at the time. The words "Fake News" in a report are a red flag to me that what is being reported or recounted about is likely untruth or contextually challenged. 

5. Circles of trust are everywhere during these coronavirus days. Don't break your circle.

6. When the dogs get up early in the morning, they have business that needs to be done. Then, unlike me, they lay on the floor and go back to sleep.

7. In the quiet of the middle of the night sometimes the thoughts in my head are too loud to allow me to go back to sleep. 

8. Are the overwhelming majority of Americans who refuse to wear a face mask in public really as selfish and uncaring of others as they seem?

9. I slipped out and played golf Saturday afternoon in the 98 degree heat. I decided to ride in a cart and not walk. It was a good choice.

10. Today in History. July 20, 1969, at 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.

Coronavirus Deaths Surpass 140,000 in U.S., as Trump Sees Flare-Ups as ‘Burning Embers’ - The Wall Street Journal

 Canada Bars Blue Jays From Playing Home Games in Toronto - The Wall Street Journal

As Trump Ignores Virus Crisis, Republicans Start to Break Ranks - The New York Times

TimesVideoTear Gas, Fireworks and Police Clashes at Portland Protests - The New York Times

Trump defends bungled handling of coronavirus with falsehoods and dubious claims - The Washington Post

Comet Neowise, two meteor showers and the ISS: Skywatching opportunities abound in next few weeks - The Washington Post

When the U.S. sneezes, the world catches a cold. What happens when it's COVID-19? - Reuters

United Arab Emirates launches mission to Mars - Reuters

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

An evangelical minister and a politician arrived at Heaven's gate one day together. And St. Peter, after doing all the necessary formalities, took them in hand to show them where their quarters would be. And he took them to a small, single room with a bed, a chair, and a table and said this was for the clergyman. And the politician was a little worried about what might be in store for him. And he couldn't believe it then when St. Peter stopped in front of a beautiful mansion with lovely grounds, many servants, and told him that these would be his quarters.
And he couldn't help but ask, he said, ``But wait, how -- there's something wrong -- how do I get this mansion while that good and holy man only gets a single room?'' And St. Peter said, ``You have to understand how things are up here. We've got thousands and thousands of clergy. You're the first politician who ever made it.'' [Laughter]
But I don't want to contribute to a stereotype. [Laughter] So, I tell you there are a great many God-fearing, dedicated, noble men and women in public life, present company included. And, yes, we need your help to keep us ever mindful of the ideas and the principles that brought us into the public arena in the first place. The basis of those ideals and principles is a commitment to freedom and personal liberty that, itself, is grounded in the much deeper realization that freedom prospers only where the blessings of God are avidly sought and humbly accepted.
  -- Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida, March 8, 1983

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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