“Missing the Point”

“Missing the Point” (“MTP,” for short) is the general title for the series of op/eds, listed under “Commentary,” that I’ve been very pleased to have published weekly in the Baltimore Post-Examiner.  Subject matter varies, but they’re mostly about Baltimore and national politics, government and economics.

The writer, Les Cohen.

Here goes, in chronological order with the most recent on top.  Feel free to read as many of these op/eds as are of interest to you and let me know what you think.  Thanks!  I’m looking forward to hearing from you and will do my best to respond to every email I receive.

Note that these are PDF files that you’ll be reading, so the links you’ll see will not be operational the way they are on the Baltimore-Post Examiner originals.

91 MTP – Baltimore, Treading Water Until The Next Election
First and foremost, you need a vision.  You need to see, in your mind and heart, the city you want Baltimore to become.  Think big, really big and then ask yourself what it takes to make it happen.

90 MTP – In Government We Do Not Trust
We clearly don’t trust government, most certainly not the federal government.  Our distrust of government runs deep and seeps throughout every facet of our special brand of capitalism.

89 MTP – Saving Donald Trump with Occam’s Razor
What flaw in the system allowed the likes of Donald Trump to become President?  To be a serious contender for re-election despite his disregarding the Constitution he took an oath to protect?

88 MTP – Brandon Scott, Playing Baltimore Voters for Suckers
Mayor Scott is good at playing Baltimore voters for suckers, reimagining recent history and exaggerating the potential impact of future programs that sound good for the city, but aren’t.

87 MTP – Checks and Balances and the Disqualification of Justice Clarence Thomas
What are the penalties if Justice Thomas’s doesn’t recuse himself?  There are none in the Code of Conduct which imposes no consequences for misbehavior.

86 MTP – Is the Electoral College constitutional?
Some candidate, party or state government needs to challenge the constitutionality of Electoral College voting to elect our President and Vice President.

85 MTP – If not Joe Biden, who? – Apr 3 2024
A Gavin Newsom ticket would be good for America and clearly better than the lunatic Donald Trump or any alternative should he fail to be nominated by his party.

84 MTP – Why all-electric cars aren’t selling as well as they should – Mar 27 2024
Think in terms of radically redesigned EVs selling for under $20,000, that get 300 miles per charge using the “battery swapping” model developed by the Chinese.

83 MTP – Go Big! …or Run for Mayor of Baltimore? – Mar 20 2024
The next Mayor of Baltimore needs to implement massive economic development programs in the heart of the city’s neighborhoods that are struggling to get by.

82 MTP – To Debate or Not to Debate, That is the Question – Mar 13 2024
So, what should Joe do?  My advice would be to pass.  Don’t let Trump goad you into debating him.  There’s no upside to it and plenty to lose in a close race.

81 MTP – The Insidious Influence of Political Money That is Contributing to the Demise of the Great City of Baltimore – Mar 6 2024
So why doesn’t the Mayor do industrial development to save Baltimore?  Because employers who would come to the city don’t make contributions to his campaigns.

80 MTP – Looking forward to a desperate Donald Trump declaring personal bankruptcy soon – Feb 28 2024
There is good chance that Donald declares bankruptcy and then blame it on the Democrats of course.  He’ll play the victim and ask supporters to send him money.

79 MTP – Time to say goodbye to Andy Harris – Feb 21 2024
Replacing Andy Harris will make the difference between ineffectual Republican control and a Democratic majority passing meaningful bipartisan legislation.

78 MTP – It’s not just Biden’s age we should be worried about – Feb 14 2024
At President Biden’s press conference after the release of hurtful language in Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report, I saw a side of Joe Biden I wish I hadn’t.

77 MTP – The Systemic Discontent Behind The Anti-Biden Polls – Jan 31 2024
We need to reduce our use of new age communications in favor of enjoying working, playing and maybe even hugging now and then the real people in our lives.

76 MTP – You don’t need all that much money to beat Brandon Scott – Jan 24 2024
The next Mayor of Baltimore is going to be Brandon Scott or Sheila Dixon. The people deserve so much more, but better candidates just aren’t willing to run.

75 MTP – Believing Donald Trump – Jan 17 2024
Forget about the validity of his various crimes.  His opponents need to focus on the noise and chaos on which Trump thrives – and without which he evaporates.

74 MTP – Your National Debt – Jan 10 2024
Congress is not willing to substantially reduce the national debt to avoid what will otherwise be a catastrophic outcome for our county and the world economy.

73 MTP – Donald Trump and The Fourteenth Amendment – Jan 3 2024
Does Trump’s instigation of the attack on the Capitol to keep himself in office regardless of the results of the 2020 election prohibit a second term?

72 MTP – Immigration: Who do the Republicans think they’re kidding? – Dec 27 2023
None of us should need Emma Lazarus to appreciate the basic decency and common sense that we welcome people who have already proven their right to be here.

71 MTP – De-Stressing the New Year – Dec 20 2023
Don’t let all the negative news distract you.  Sit back, like you were watching a well-crafted thriller in which the hero is in serious trouble, enjoy the show.

70 MTP – ‘The Developers’ Mayor’ Strikes Again – Dec 13 2023
Mayor Scott needs to talk less to his contributors and more to expert, independent planners and economists to devise a real plan to save the city of Baltimore.

69 MTP – Military versus police action in the war between Israel and Hamas. – Dec 6 2023
The Israeli government needs to exercise patience.  Ending Hamas is a valid goal that is best accomplished over time through a more humane, wiser initiative.

68 MTP – Why is Donald Trump leading in the polls? – Nov 29 2023
Joe Biden needs to change his campaign messaging to use Donald Trump’s own voice to appeal to the commonsense decency and judgement of most American voters.

67 MTP – Baltimore, the city nobody competent wants to run – Nov 15 2023
Qualified prospective candidates for Mayor of Baltimore consider the city to be a lost cause and don’t want to spend the next eight years wasting their time.

66 MTP – Brandon Scott, the Developers’ Mayor – Nov 8 2023
Mayor Scott should tell the redevelopers of the Inner Harbor that the city will help them if they build essential retail centers in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

65 MTP – The God Excuse – Nov 1 2023
Mike Johnson’s election as Speaker is neither a matter of destiny nor is it more that an incidental result of the hot mess that is the Republican Conference.

64 MTP – The Republicans’ Problem With Majority Rule – Oct 25 2023
Without adherence to majority rule, it will be impossible to get anything done because universal agreement on any major question is never going to happen.

63 MTP – War Crimes – Oct 18 2023: Form vs. Substance
We can’t afford to be emotionally distracted by what Hamas has done.  The cost of over-reacting will be measured by the lost lives of too many innocent people.

62 MTP – Selling Joe Biden – Oct 11 2023
Joe Biden needs to campaign using the same messaging that got him elected in the first place when Trump was in far less trouble and House still had a Speaker.

61 MTP – What ye sow – Oct 4 2023
The chaos Republicans in the House are so appalled by may be just the slap in the face the party needs to break away from Donald Trump and get back on track.

60 MTP – Beginning of the End of the USPS – Sep 27 2023
We’re talking about a dramatic shift in the way mail service is perceived, from an outdated, over-priced government service to a multi-provider retail product.

59 MTP -Screen Time – Sep 20 2023
We need to discontinue advocacy for the use of screens in our public schools and at home until we fully understand the implications for child development.

58 MTP – Be The Mayor of Baltimore- Sep 13 2023
What you do is skip the primary.  Register as “Unaffiliated,” that is, as an independent voter.  Run for Mayor of Baltimore as a “petition candidate.”

57 MTP – Still Pressing the USPS – Sep 6 2023
And so, in the interest of doing the right thing, whatever the implications, let me encourage the Post Office to offer hard evidence that it does NOT own Columbia’s Cluster Mailbox Units.  And let the truth speak for itself.

56 MTP – Sign of the times? – Aug 23 2024
You don’t have to be hyper-observant to notice the substantially increased frequency with which people are backing into shopping center parking lot spaces.

55 MTP – Are we taking the climate crisis seriously? – Aug 16 2023
What we need is a moon shot effort that has everyone driving electric cars, an initiative that is consistent with the existential climate crisis we are facing.

54 MTP – Flaw in the System – Aug 9 2023
We can’t hire someone who requires access to our most important secrets without a security clearance, but that same person wouldn’t need one if he were elected.

53 MTP – Mayor Scott’s Financial Disclosure Filing – Aug 1 2023
All evidence suggests that Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott lacks the expertise, experience and quite possibly the common sense to save the city of Baltimore.

52 MTP – Driven – Jul 26 2023
We a driven people obsessed with time, hardworking to a fault, but are we happy?  Are we approaching happiness with the same energy as the work we do?

51 MTP – Loyalty Pledge – Jul 19 2023
The Republican loyalty pledge demands loyalty to the Party over the Constitution and country.  It’s illogical and even idiotic.  Much worse, it’s un-American.

50 MTP – Trump is Toast – Jul 12 2023
Presidential political polls showing Trump with a big lead for the Republican Party nomination may be accurate, but they’re meaningless and misleading.

49 MTP – The Arrogant Nonsense of the Supreme Court – Jul 5 2023
What’s striking about recent Supreme Court rulings is that they were made by Justices appointed to accomplish very specific political objectives.

48 MTP – Elementary School FIeld Trips to Topgolf – Jun 28, 2023
Field trips to Topgolf don’t make any sense given the lack of quality public school education in the city and the desperate urgency of doing something about it.

47 MTP – Affirmative Action – Jun 21 2023
When it comes to education, “affirmative action” continues to waste the potential of segments of our greater society that have already suffered than enough.

46 MTP – Sensory Overload – Jun 14 2023
Unfortunately, our lives are becoming increasingly information and stimulation intensive at a pace that far exceeds the ability of our brains to adapt.

45 MTP – The Last Laugh Hypothesis – Jun 7 2023
Our perspective shouldn’t be to punish our international, authoritarian opponents, but to infect their countries with American/Western democratic capitalism.

44 MTP – Privatizing the Post Office, Part 2 – May 31 2023
The problem is with USPS management and the lack of government supervision of an independent agency that is gaming a dysfunctional Congress at our expense.

43 MTP – Yikes! – May 22 2023
Let Trump and DeSantis split the groupie vote and hope that a more reasonable Republican wins the nomination with the support of traditional Republican voters.

42 MTP – No Way! – May 17, 2023
According to the Supreme Court, while the Second Amendment guarantees people their right to own a gun, it does not permit people to own whatever gun they want.

41 MTP – It’s all the shootings, stupid – May 10 2023
A frightened electorate will replace the incumbent whether or not whatever is frightening them was the incumbent’s fault.

40 MTP – Flaw in the System – May 3 2023
Lately, it seems that our national and local governments are not as representative as they were intended to be. And that the majority no longer rules.

39 MTP – A Government Addicted to Debt – Apr 26 2023
Our national debt and the interest we pay on it are huge and out of control.  Nobody likes paying more taxes, but it’s the right and the smart thing to do.

38 MTP – Now I am become Death – Apr 19 2023
Notwithstanding the calm, studied tone of the Google executives, breakthrough development of artificial intelligence at this level is NOT an academic exercise.

37 MTP – Property Taxes – Apr 12 2023
People aren’t leaving the city the save money on the cost of housing. They’re leaving for the advantages of living in the suburbs, including better schools and safer neighborhoods.

36 MTP – Social Media – April 5 2023
Sharing can be a good thing.  But social media is generally only one-sided, only the pretense of interaction.  It’s exposure without communication.

35 MTP – Strict Constructionists – Mar 29 2023
Are strict constructionists missing the point?  The question is, “Do we have the Constitutional right to restrict the sale of assault weapons for personal use?

34 MTP – More Questions About Brandon Scott Campaign Contributions – Mar 22 2023
Mayor Scott’s campaign committee may have facilitated the legal laundering of contributions that otherwise would have exceed the statutory $6000 limit.

33 MTP – An Op:Ed Mini for Fed Chairman Jerome Powell – Mar 15 2023
ATTN: Fed Chairman Powell…  It’s better to struggle to afford some things because they’re too pricy than to be unemployed and unable to afford anything!

32 MTP – Campaign Contributions to the Brandon Scott Committee – Mar 15 2023
Are contributions nothing more than people and companies supporting good government or are they payments by special interests in return for favorable treatment?

31 MTP – Engaging the FCC – Mar 8 2023
All we’re talking about is expanding the scope of what the FCC already does, with Congressional approval, to cover new media from which people get their news.

30 MTP – Breaking Up the Base of the Republican Party – Mar 1 2023
No less a propagandist than Murdoch and his leading on-air personalities have gone on record as lying for money, as playing their audiences for fools.

29 MTP – The Problem With the BUILD Vacant Housing Solution – Feb 22 2023
The trick to saving Baltimore is getting the state involved to design and manage a comprehensive plan that leverages the heck out of the private sector. 

28 MTP – Taking Over Baltimore – Feb 15 2023
Just think of the additional state revenues and the direct and indirect economic benefits we would enjoy were Baltimore City able to realize its full potential.

27 MTP – Liar Liar – Feb 8 2023
We do not want and we cannot survive in a world without out being able to depend upon the honesty, the integrity of people who lead and represent us.

26 MTP – The 4-Day Workweek – Feb 1 2023
Moving the economy to a four-day workweek is an extremely complicated process that’s best left up to a free-market economy to work out for itself.

25 MTP – National Case of the Yips – Jan 25 2023′
Technically, I may have fully recovered from the COVID I contracted, but I’m not 100% yet. I’m somehow “off” with what may be a lingering case of the “yips.”

24 MTP – The Mayors Anti-Crime Program – Jan 18 2023
The “Baltimore City Comprehensive Violence Prevention Plan,” reads like a campaign position-paper – short on facts, oblivious to the reality of the situation.

23 MTP – The Perfect Storm for a Recession – Jan 11 2023
The Fed is raising rates. The Republicans are cutting federal expenditures. Add a major international or domestic crisis. It’s the perfect recipe for recession.

22 MTP – THe Problem With Major Party Caucuses – Jan 4 2023
Major party caucuses are an integral, even essential part of our legislative process and democracy.  The problem is there’s very little democratic about them.

21 MTP – The Conceit of the Elder Joe Biden – Dec 21 2022
Time now for Joe Biden to get over himself, get out the way and help the next great hope of the Democratic Party win her or his first term in the White House.

20 MTP – The FED Committee We Need To Do Something About – Dec 14 2022
Economic policy is too important be made by an unelected society operating in secrecy, answering to no one for the consequences of their actions.

19 MTP – It’s time to privatize the mail – Nov 30 2022
A private sector system for delivering the mail will be much more efficient and less expensive for the postal services our country’s people and companies need.

18 MTP – The City Government That Isnt – Nov 23 2022
The Baltimore City Council has just approved a bill making the Council and other elected officials eligible for their pensions after only eight years in office.

17 MTP – Baltimore Mayor Brandon Squeegee Scott – Nov 16 2022
Mayor Scott has created the “Baltimore Squeegee Collaborative Working Action Plan.”  There’s no question about it, it rewards criminal behavior.

16 MTP – Craving Attention – Nov 3 2022
The more attention they need, the more radical, the more outrageous the rhetoric and behavior to get and keep their attention of their following.

15 MTP – I have Party Dissaciative Disorder – Oct 26 2022
Vote for whoever you think is the best candidate, regardless of his or her party affiliation.  It’s bad enough out there without you making it worse.

14 MTP – The Integrity of a Major Campaign Theme – Oct 18 2022
If gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore was serious helping the people of Baltimore, he could run for Mayor and probably win in 2024, just two years from now.

13 MTP – The Truth About Campaign Contributions – Oct 8 2022
If you think all this campaign fundraising is about love of candidate, you’re missing the point.  There’s some of that, of course, but a great deal of campaign funding is about access.  About influencing our elected officials in ways that can be counter to the public interest – and certainly has nothing to do with majority rule.

12 MTP – Challenging Our Core Assumptions – Oct 2 2022
Recent events in our national politics and rhetoric coming from Russia are challenging our most fundamental assumptions about our country and futures.

11 MTP – Still Missing the Point the Fed Fights Inflation – Sep 24 2022
Aggressively raising the federal funds rates – particularly doing it ahead of waiting to learn the impact of the previous increase on the economy – invariably hurts middle class and lower income families even harder.  It’s risky and reckless business that needs to stop. 

10 MTP – To Zoom or Do It in Person – Sep 17 2022
At best, I’m guessing that we’re missing the point.  That the problems that make working at home so attractive to so many are best solved by envisioning and implementing other long overdue changes to how we work.

09 MTP – Crime City USA – Sep 10 2022
The solution to crime involves long-term, very substantial improvements to public education – relative to which Baltimore City is ranked at the bottom of the state’s counties – and citywide economic recovery, a/k/a “jobs.” 

08 MTP – Baltimore Sings the Vacant City Blues – Sep 4 2022
And if the city government still doesn’t get it?  Well, people of Baltimore, you have the power to fire them, to replace them with better qualified, more creative, more motivated elected officials who have the management skills to make it happen.

07 MTP – Using Tax Credits to Encourage the Purchase of Electric Cars – Aug 22 2022
The way it works now, tax credit incentives actually discourage the purchase of less expensive electric cars which misses the point of the entire program. Assuming the climate crisis is as serious as scientists say it is, this is no time to be nickel and diming the solution.

06 MTP – Window of Opportunity – Aug 16 2022
Compare the benefits of helping people obtain work-friendly personal transportation to the total societal costs of dealing with ongoing, systemic un- and under-employment.  This should be a no-brainer for a city government paying attention.

05 MTP – Careful What You Wish For – Jul 30 2022
Hello, Democratic Governors Association.  You wanted Republican Dan Cox to run against Democrat Wes Moore and now you’ve got him.  Be careful what you wish for.

04 MTP – Being a Squeegee Worker as a Career Choice – Jul 19 2022
The problem, Mayor Scott, isn’t constitutionality.  The problem is that the City of Baltimore doesn’t offer its residents the education and training and legitimate job opportunities they deserve and so desperately need to maximize and realize their potential.

03 MTP – The Problem is Minority Rule – Jun 30 2022
Until we fix gerrymandering, increase voter turnout and change the rules of our elections so that winners have majority support – and get big money out of politics – small, well-funded minorities will have greatly disproportionate influence on our government and the lives of our people.

02 MTP – Time to Repurpose Baltimore Citys Greatest Assets – May 16 2022
Bring the jobs people need to where those people live and the other problems city government is forever chasing will take care of themselves.

01 MTP – Using Monetary Policy to Fight Inflation – May 4 2022
Now, just between us chickens, does anybody really think that the Fed’s raising interest rates is the way to get inflation in the price of eggs under control?

Ethically-challenged. The political culture of Sheila Dixon.

Maybe “Sheila Dixon 2016” is different than “Sheila Dixon 2006-2009.” Or maybe she isn’t. Are you willing to bet your family’s, your city’s future on it?

Every organization, whatever its type, has a culture that defines its character and behavior. Sheila Dixon’s administrations, when she was President of the City Council and then Mayor, were no exception.

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Sheila Dixon’s Campaign Finance Reports: Chapter 1

Preface.

This piece is, of necessity, longer than most of what we publish. Admittedly, it’s not for everybody, but should be of interest if you’re into technical issues that are germane to candidate competence and maybe integrity too, particularly as they relate to campaign financing.  Just because something is technical and takes some time to figure out, doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

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Running For Baltimore City Council

Friday, February 5, 2016 edition…

As you can see if you click on the link below, we’ve prepared a table, a 2 page PDF that you can blow up and read online and print if you’d like a hard copy. It’s stocked full of information, but one thing’s immediately clear. Everybody in Baltimore is running for City Council. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it sure seems that way. The February 3 filing deadline having just passed, there are now 79 people running for the Democratic nomination for 14 seats on the Baltimore City Council.

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The 2012 Congressional Elections: What were we thinking?

Republican and Democrat in Car Going Off CliffSaturday, December 1, 2012

With the Fiscal Cliff looming larger and larger on the horizon, people are complaining that it seems to be “business as usual” in Washington, that the election seems to have accomplished nothing. The Democrats and Republicans are still a good distance apart, no closer to a compromise, not really. Meanwhile, our lame (duck) President, rather than demonstrating constructive leadership, has said, “What the heck,” and is going for broke, both figuratively and literally.

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