Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Derek Hunter Said What?!?!?!

So I pride myself on being a pretty laissez faire kind of guy. And I understand that talk radio is a vehicle for controversial, sometimes incendiary opinions.

And, while I agree with much of what he says from a philosophical basis, I found myself getting a bit annoyed by WBAL’s Derek Hunter and his playful critique of the Baltimore Orioles’s longtime theme song, Orioles Magic.

Hunter began his segment by asking if listeners had “heard of” the song, a staple of the Orioles 1979 and 1983 periods of glory. 

Yes, Derek, we know it well. 

He portrayed the song as a gaudy mix of 1970s polyester kitsch and a Ken Burns PBS documentary soundtrack, and then argued that it needed to be updated significantly.

Now, I get that Hunter was being deliberately provocative, and I respect that. I also know that he’s from Detroit and that – not having grown up in Baltimore – he wasn’t exposed to the song and its attendant fond memories the way home grown Orioles fans like me were.

And yes, I agree that the song is a little hokey. But Hunter is missing a valuable point: Most sports team theme songs are. 

Have you heard “Hail to the Redskins” lately? The old Colts fight song is a strictly retro production, too.  How about all those the times when Harry Carey used to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame?” 

Their kitsch is their charm.

The anachronistic nature of Orioles Magic helps some of us connect with past team traditions, glories, and memories. It serves the same cultural purpose as the statues which now dot the sports complex.

Perhaps a more modern song will emerge as the anthem of the moment, like “Who Let the Dogs Out” did for the Ravens in 2000. I hope that happens. 

But there will always been room for Orioles Magic and, for that matter, Thank God I’m a Country Boy in the Orioles’ musical universe. 

Could the song lyrics be updated to reflect the team’s 2014 roster and players? Sure. But let’s not change it too much.  Let’s celebrate the present, but we can do that and leave our past alone.

Go Os!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ehrlich and New Hampshire: Part II

The Washington Post’s Robert Costa wrote this blog piece about the Ehrlich campaign trip to New Hampshire.

You know, a bunch of us have for years been joking about a phase of the never ending Ehrlich comeback saga which featured a quixotic bid for the presidency. We even joked about poor ol’ Greg Massoni loping alongside Ehrlich across the Granite State’s landscape, playing the dutiful Sancho Panza to Ehrlich’s Don Quixote.

So, I was especially amused by this portion of Costa’s piece:

"Greg Massoni, a longtime Ehrlich confidant and political adviser who once served as Ehrlich’s gubernatorial spokesman, accompanied him from stop to stop."

So what’s happening here?

I think Ehrlich misses the political game.

I think it’s been difficult for him to watching the party nominate another gubernatorial standard bearer – one who, depending on which poll you believe, seems to be waging a competitive campaign. Since 2010, Ehrlich has asserted that, if he could not win back the governor’s mansion, no one can.

And, I think that Ehrlich and some of the people close to him dreamed up this New Hampshire jaunt as something of a consolation prize for him - kind of like giving a restless retiree something to do.

I respect Ehrlich wanting to have a national voice – every ambitious, competitive politician does. I just don’t think you need to go to New Hampshire to do it. The mere act of going there overshadows whatever message you hope to convey.

In 2010, I stated that candidate Ehrlich reminded me of Joe Louis during the final phase of his career, when he was past his prime and knocked out by Rocky Marciano. This New Hampshire trip evokes memories of Joe Louis when he was a greeter at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, now a curiosity rather than a contender.

Anyway, I’ll take a little credit for my prescience, even if it was borne out of an attempt to be funny. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bob Ehrlich's High Hopes

Yesterday, the Ray Rice story, and the seismic impact the so-called elevator video has had on the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens, and the national conversation regarding domestic violence, dominated the news.
Among the overshadowed stories: This tidbit from the Washington Post about former Governor Bob Ehrlich.
According to the Post piece:
“Ehrlich is booked as the keynote speaker at a Steak Out in Nashua (New Hampshire) on Sept. 12 being hosted by the Nashua Area Republican City Committee. He is also expected to attend the New Hampshire Young Republicans Lobster Bake and Straw Poll in Laconia the following day.
“Ehrlich’s travel plans were first reported last month by WMUR-TV, the ABC affiliate in Manchester. Ehrlich could not be reached for comment Friday.”
New Hampshire, eh?
As in the state which traditionally hosts the first presidential primary election, and where Governor Martin O’Malley has been spending a lot of time in the service of his own presidential ambitions?
I heard rumblings of “big news” coming from the ex-governor’s camp – or what’s left of it -
from a former Ehrlich world colleague of mine. So far, however, no one on Team Ehrlich has publicly commented as to the purpose of the trip to the Granite State.
So before we jump to conclusions, let’s tick down all the possible reasons Ehrlich may be headed north.
1) He’s going to campaign for GOP senate nominee Scott Brown:  Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is now challenging incumbent Democratic New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen. Polls now have the race statistically tied. Could Ehrlich be lending support to his fellow GOP moderate? This is plausible, but one wonders why such an announcement didn’t come directly from the Brown campaign.
2) He’s performing “truth squad” activities against O’Malley:  Governor O’Malley has been aggressively stumping in New Hampshire, Iowa, and other key primary states. Did the RNC or some other partisan entity dispatch Ehrlich to the "Live Free or Die" state so he can poke holes in O’Malley’s campaign trail bombast? Again, this is plausible, but Ehrlich is perhaps not the best choice for this assignment. Democrats would likely attribute Ehrlich’s motives to sour grapes coming from a sore loser. There are at least half a dozen other GOP officials and legislators in Maryland – including Nicolee Ambrose, Kelly Schulz, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, and Joe Cluster, just to name a few – who could ably perform this same assignment minus Ehrlich’s baggage.
3) Ehrlich is there to sell books: The former governor has been peddling his latest book – America: Hope for Change – at political fundraisers for GOP candidates across Maryland. Could he now be taking his book tour to other states? The book in question was released in November 2013, and, according to Amazon.com, it’s currently ranked #1,236,783. What kind of readership can he possibly expect to find outside of Maryland?

4) Ehrlich is sticking it to O’Malley:  The disdain that Bob and Kendel Ehrlich have for the man who ended Bob's political career is well documented. With O’Malley spending so much time up in New Hampshire in furtherance of his own longshot presidential hopes, could this be a stunt by the Ehrlichs to gain payback by infringing upon O'Malley's limelight? Given the level of enmity that has historically existed between these two pols, anything is possible. Nonetheless, I think O’Malley is more focused on Hillary Clinton’s plans rather than the vengeful exploits of a long-vanquished foe.  But if the Ehrlichs are doing it to have a little fun, more power to them.
6) Ehrlich is testing the waters for a possible presidential bid: This is the most fun, if also the silliest, of the options listed. As a former Republican governor of a deep blue state, Ehrlich would get some measure of attention from the media and GOP activists in New Hampshire, due largely to the as-yet undefined nature of the 2016 GOP presidential primary field. But it defies reason to assume that a pro-choice Republican who was the only governor in the country defeated for reelection in 2006, whose comeback bid in 2010 yielded an even bigger margin of defeat as well as a black voter suppression scandal, would gain any traction whatsoever.
That said, the notion of those signature blue and white Ehrlich signs dotting places like Nashua, Derry, and Dixville Notch makes me chuckle.
This New Hampshire push is part of Ehrlich’s continuing quest to stay relevant. It’s another phase of the comeback story that never ends but never seems to go anywhere, either. It’s the latest attempt to resurrect a once promising political career that some feel ended too early.
Anyway, if an Ehrlich for president bid does launch, here is one possible campaign song:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Re-Schurick-tion, Part II

So, my most recent Paul Schurick blog drew the attention of a reader who alerted me to something very interesting.

If you go onto the Maryland Judiciary Case Search site (you can plug in Schurick’s name for yourself if you want to verify what I mention here) and click on the file stemming from the robocall-related charges, you’ll see this:

In other words, it looks like the robocall-related convictions were stricken from Schurick’s record last April. Next to the notation in the file is “PBJ,” which I take to mean “probation before judgment.”

I’ve not seen this reported anywhere, so I figured it deserved a mention here.

So it looks like Schurick is free to assume his new career as the mollusk whisperer unencumbered by his past transgressions.

There’s something very Cameron Poe-like to the ending of this story (that's a Con Air reference, folks).

Of course, when a conviction is stricken from the court record, that doesn’t expunge it from the public record. Google “Paul Schurick” and the first items to pop up are some of the many news articles about his conviction and sentencing.

Unfortunately, a verdict rendered by the court of public opinion is more exacting, damaging, and enduring than one rendered by the courts.

A Poll Is a Poll Is a Poll

I was very amused by one commenter to the story, who dismisses me as a “tea party” Republican because this piece includes some gentle criticisms of President Obama (even as I question the usefulness and validity of a poll which found him to be the worst president in the post-World War II era).  

I’m not going to go line by line though this rant, but I did want to make a few points.

First, I am now “Unaffiliated,” having changed my registration back in April 2013.

Second, in the past I have been called a “RINO” by people of the tea party persuasion, which tells me that I must be doing something right if both liberal and conservative extremists find offense in what I write.

Third, the commenter does what a lot of people on the left do: Cast aspersions on the intellectual depth or substance of someone with whom they disagree. This is a common tactic employed by people who are so blinded by partisan loyalty that they have lost the ability to hear the other side’s arguments. In other words, if they can’t hear it, the person making it must be intellectual deficient or incoherent.

Five hundred words isn’t a lot of space with which to make an argument, so – as far as the ranking of presidents is concerned – here is my top ten. My assessments have not changed since I made this list.

Paul Schurick: A Pearl Among the Oysters?

So, for me, a familiar name recently popped up on LinkedIn: Paul Schurick.  

It seems the erstwhile political honcho and former Schaefer/Ehrlich aide is now ensconced at the Oyster Recovery Partnership in Annapolis, where he has worked as its “Director of Partnerships” since last January.

"Paul works with businesses, organizations and individuals to build partnerships to increase the environmental, economic and cultural importance of oysters. He has more than 30 years experience in policy, communications and partnerships. He has master’s and bachelor’s degrees in economics from the West Virginia University. He served as chief of staff for Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer and director of communications for Gov. Robert Ehrlich. In his free time, Paul enjoys kayaking and cooking. He lives in Annapolis."

Stephan Abel, the Partnership’s Executive Director and Schurick’s boss, was previously Communications Director at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where he once reported to…Paul Schurick.

Hey, they call it “Smalltimore” for a reason.

Missing from his biography is the fact that Schurick was found guilty of four charges – including election fraud – related to the infamous robocall scandal which occurred during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. The alleged purpose of the robocall was to trick black voters into not voting. At the time, my old boss, former Governor Bob Ehrlich, denounced what he called “the decision from a Baltimore City jury” (in other words, a jury made up of black people). Schurick’s co-conspirator Julius Henson was separately tried and convicted of a charge stemming from the same incident, and later served time in jail.

Before devoting his career to the betterment of bivalves, Schurick was CEO at Visitors TV Network, an Easton-based start up company that made those travel videos you see when you’re watching TV in your hotel room. Before that, Schurick made serious coin as a crisis communications consultant at the law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice (where some members of Team Ehrlich temporarily landed after the governor’s 2006 loss) and at the doomed Ehrlich political comeback effort in 2010 (there he made $15,000 a month at one point, an unheard of amount for a campaign aide).

Hey, I think the idea of Schurick re-purposing as an environmental crusader and steward of the mollusks is certainly amusing, but I guess everyone deserves a second chance – including the one-time Henry Gondorff of Maryland politics (that's a reference to The Sting, folks).

Congratulations, Paul, upon your successful rehabilitation. Perhaps a crab or - better yet - sushi advocacy role is in your future. In the meantime, it's my pleasure to play you a song.

Monday, July 21, 2014

RJC's Top Ten Favorite Movie Scenes

When I started this blog I promised it would have a pop culture as well as a political component. And, while pop culture references are frequently interwoven into my political observations, it’s been years since I did an entry centered on pop culture.

Well, today, that changes….

Here is the definitive list of my all-time favorite movie scenes. For the longest time, not all of them were available on YouTube. But now I managed to find them all, which I post here for your review and perusal.


10) "Go home and get your shine box" – Goodfellas (1991)

9) Roy Hobbs destroys the clock - The Natural (1984)

8) Batman returns after an 8 year absence - The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

7) The Nazis open the Ark of the Covenant - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

6) Ferris Bueller “sings” Twist and Shout  - Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986).

5) Hit Girl kills drug dealers - Kick Ass (2010)

4) The Bride versus O-Ren Ishii - Kill Bill Vol. One (2003)

3) The Barrow Gang robs a bank - Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

2) Michael Corleone confronts his treacherous brother in law - The Godfather (1972)

1)    Hannibal Lecter escapes - The Silence of the Lambs (1991)