Looking to George Washington for Inspiration by Craig Fuller

Our uniquely American July 4th holiday provides an opportunity to reflect on our freedoms and liberties. However, I must confess that this year I feel kind of a bittersweet sensation as families and friends take time to celebrate the freedoms secured by individuals who left their native countries to find a better life here in America. It is appropriate to commemorate those who saw the courage to pursue their dreams that became America, yet how ironic we celebrate while policies of our government separate children from families and detain them for mustering that same kind of courage in pursuit of a dream for a better life.

While no easy answer is likely to present itself, perhaps the words of American children to those being held that “we are a better country” and “you are not alone” will be sufficient to move our elected officials to find a more compassionate and, yes, a more American approach to immigration than what we have in place today.

Thinking about this Fourth of July, I searched for an inspiring topic and found one in an unusual place, The Washington Post.

Now, I don’t mean to be critical of the newspaper, but it’s just not a place where a lot of inspiring ideas come from these days. However, a piece caught my eye about how our first President had lived by 110 Rules of Civility and Decency. It caused me to pause and wonder what better way to reflect on our freedoms and liberties this July 4th than to turn to one of our founding fathers for inspiration.

Rather than just use the Rules selected by the Post’s writer, I decided to look at the entire list and check out the story…kind of a “trust but verify” moment.

It turns out that a young George Washington actually wrote out all 110 Rules as a handwriting lesson. The rules he copied were based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595.

“Fake News,” you say….well, maybe. But, a close reading of the story doesn’t say Washington composed the rules, only that he wrote them down and lived by them. Hard to fact check that one.

Regardless, I think the fact that people thought enough about civility and decency in the late 1500s to write out 110 Rules might be something to pay attention to today.

So, as we celebrate our freedom and liberty this week, let’s reflect on how we might all benefit from a good deal more civility and decency in the world today….and, let’s hope our first President might inspire other leaders just a bit!

You will find the list of 110 Rules in their entirety by clicking on RULES. The list is provided by the Foundations Magazine.

The following is a sampling offered in modern day English:

Treat everyone with respect.

Be considerate of others. Do not embarrass others.

Don’t draw attention to yourself.

When you speak, be concise.

Do not argue with your superior. Submit your ideas with humility.

When a person does their best and fails, do not criticize him.

When you must give advice or criticism, consider the timing, whether it should be given in public or private, the manner and above all be gentle.

If you are corrected, take it without argument. If you were wrongly judged, correct it later.

Do not make fun of anything important to others.

If you criticize someone else of something, make sure you are not guilty of it yourself.

Actions speak louder than words.

Wishing you a very safe and happy July 4th!

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Opinion: Theodore Roosevelt on the 4th of July

Leave it to historian David McCullough, author of “Mornings on Horseback,” to share remarks made by a very young Theodore Roosevelt in 1886, when he was a young rancher in the Dakota Badlands, about the importance of the 4th of July:

“I am peculiarly glad to have an opportunity of addressing you, my fellow citizens of Dakota, on the Fourth of July, because it always seems to me that those who dwell in a new territory, and whose actions, therefore, are peculiarly fruitful, for good and for bad alike, in shaping the future, have in consequence peculiar responsibilities. . . . Much has been given to us, and so, much will be expected of us; and we must take heed to use aright the gifts entrusted to our care.

The Declaration of Independence derived its peculiar importance, not on account of what America was, but because of what she was to become; she shared with other nations the present, and she yielded to them the past, but it was felt in return that to her, and to her especially, belonged the future. It is the same with us here. We, grangers and cowboys alike, have opened a new land; and we are the pioneers, and as we shape the course of the stream near its head, our efforts have infinitely more effect, in bending it in any given direction . . . In other words, the first comers in a land can, by their individual efforts, do far more to channel out the course in which its history is to run than can those who come after them; and their labors, whether exercised on the side of evil or on the side of good, are far more effective than if they had remained in old settled communities.

So it is peculiarly incumbent on us here today so to act throughout our lives as to leave our children a heritage, for which we will receive their blessing and not their curse. . . . If you fail to work in public life, as well as in private, for honesty and uprightness and virtue, if you condone vice because the vicious man is smart, or if you in any other way cast your weight into the scales in favor of evil, you are just so far corrupting and making less valuable the birthright of your children. . . .

“It is not what we have that will make us a great nation; it is the way in which we use it.

I do not undervalue for a moment our material prosperity; like all Americans, I like big things; big prairies, big forests and mountains, big wheat fields, railroads—and herds of cattle, too— big factories, steamboats, and everything else. But we must keep steadily in mind that no people were ever yet benefited by riches if their prosperity corrupted their virtue. It is of more importance that we should show ourselves honest, brave, truthful, and intelligent, than that we should own all the railways and grain elevators in the world. We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune. Here we are not ruled over by others, as in the case of Europe; we rule ourselves. All American citizens, whether born here or elsewhere, whether of one creed or another, stand on the same footing; we welcome every honest immigrant no matter from what country he comes, provided only that he leaves off his former nationality, and remains neither Celt nor Saxon, neither Frenchman nor German, but becomes an American, desirous of fulfilling in good faith the duties of American citizenship”

“When we thus rule ourselves, we have the responsibilities of sovereigns, not of subjects. We must never exercise our rights either wickedly or thoughtlessly; we can continue to preserve them in but one possible way, by making the proper use of them. In a new portion of the country, especially here in the Far West, it is peculiarly important to do so; and on this day of all others we ought soberly to realize the weight of the responsibility that rests upon us. I am, myself, at heart as much a Westerner as an Easterner; I am proud, indeed, to be considered one of yourselves, and I address you in this rather solemn strain today, only because of my pride in you, and because your welfare, moral as well as material, is so near my heart.”

Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States from September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909. Excerpt From: Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt by Simon & Schuster.

 

Out and About (Sort of) Fractious Fourth Howard Freedlander

Tomorrow is viewed as our nation’s official birthday, its 232nd. Not very old in a world filled with thousands-old countries.

For some reason, I always think fondly about Ben Franklin at this time. Friends wouldn’t be surprised. After all, this renowned and respected founder and Declaration of Independence signer founded my alma mater. I’m clearly biased about his stature in our short history.

Ben Franklin

 

I just finished reading a book, The Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin’s House, about Ben’s tortuous relationship with his son, William. The latter, the British governor of New Jersey, decided to retain his allegiance to the Crown during the Revolutionary War. This decision ruined his relationship with his father, naturally enough. The elder father could not persuade his son to side with the patriots.

Due to his resolute devotion to King George III, William was removed from the governor’s house and imprisoned in a Connecticut prison. He suffered dearly in solitary confinement. When released, he continued to sabotage the patriots’ cause by directing guerilla raids against the Continental Army.

This horrible rift between a father and a son interested me. While I knew our American Civil War in the mid-19th century irreparably split families and friends, I never thought about equally damaging fissures during the war between the Colonies and its British overlords. The Franklin imbroglio illustrated the divided loyalties as the patriots sought control of their own destiny. Those loyal to the Mother Country felt passionate too about their emotional, political and commercial ties to the United Kingdom.

William Franklin

Ben Franklin was a great man. His achievements in the civic, academic, scientific and political worlds are legendary. His brain was first-class. His writing was shrewd and coy. His diplomatic skills in the last part of his life were critical to our nation before and during the Revolutionary War. He had many friends and admirers in England and France—and his share of enemies in the former.

When William sought reconciliation with his father after the war, the elder rebuffed him. He could not accept what he perceived as his son’s disloyalty to him.

Many families split over money and perceived slights. Gentle Ben could not forgive his son for what he considered misplaced fealty.

When this giant of a statesman died, he left nothing to William, except his wrath. While understanding that political passions run deep, particularly when the Colonies so strongly resented British repression, I thought that Ben Franklin could have opted for compassion for his son.

It was not to be. The familial ties had frayed beyond repair.

As we well know, our national leaders are flawed human beings. Sometimes their families suffer from their overriding ambition and vanity. They bear grudges that they are hard-pressed to toss away.

July Fourth still thrills me. Due in no part to the fireworks, I cherish our time to celebrate the birth of a young, vibrant and resilient nation whose current leadership is abysmal but changeable, hopefully, in two years. Though I’m not sure we’ve endured a more amoral White House occupant, our founders created a country that can withstand seriously defective leaders.

Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington set a standard for excellence and selfless service.

The contrast is never greater than today.

I love this country. We will celebrate a glorious occasion tomorrow. We are a better, more humane country than represented so poorly by Mr. Trump.

I continue to be an optimist. Our fractious country, led by a divider, not a unifier, is better and more decent than what emanates from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We respect human dignity.

As a sad postscript to this column, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of the five journalists killed last Thursday at the office of the Annapolis Capital newspaper. My youngest daughter knew one of the five. The crazed gunman continues to live. He caused irreparable personal damage and community hurt.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Delmarva Review: Picking Children by Jane Miller

Picking Children by Jane Miller

Wouldn’t it be great if children bloomed
like flowers? Not ours to labor
or bear, but just to choose

at a garden center nearby
or have delivered by UPS to our door.

With so many colors and breeds,
it would come down to price:
for the budget-minded, a simple
perennial, like a Shasta Daisy, easy
on the eye and hard to kill, a good
choice for the inexperienced
or negligent parent.

For value, Purissima Tulips,
sturdy but not too showy,
easily mix in a family
of other flowers: think middle child.

Leave the risk of exotic offspring
to the rich who can afford flame-tipped
Gloriosa Rothschildiana Lilies
and experts to tend each toxic trellis.

Still, pathogens lurk everywhere.
If children bloomed
without blight, we could enjoy
them more, their faces open to drink
the sun, their mouths so soft and furred

closing up at night without a peep,

their needs so simple: a place to call home,
enough water for love. They would never
outgrow us, never run away. They would enliven
a house. They could be replaced.

Jane Miller received a 2014 Individual Artist Fellowship in poetry from the Delaware Division of the Arts. In addition to Delmarva Review, her poetry has appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, Summerset Review, cahoodaloodaling, Watershed Review, Mojave River Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and Broadkill Review.

Delmarva Review publishes compelling new writing from authors within the region and beyond. In it’s eleventh year, the nonprofit literary journal is supported by individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. For information and book copies, visit: www.delmarvareview.com.

Handwriting On The Wall by George Merrill

I liked taking photographs of old, dilapidated buildings and rusting farm machinery lying in fallow fields; or drift wood that’s stripped bare by the sea and bleached in the sun.

Graveyards also fascinated me, especially colonial sites on the island where I grew up and here on the Shore. On their weathered and crumbling headstones, I’d read tributes to, or lamentations for, the deceased. Whatever else, the headstone epitaphs affirm one’s existence –wanting passersbys to know they had once been – along with a synopsis of how the deceased or someone who knew him or her felt about their life and their death.

When I look around in old cemeteries, I wonder what these brief headstone testimonies mean and what the deceased persons once thought. There are few places on earth, other than a cemetery, where our mortality is declared so definitively. The markers identify not who’s there now, but who isn’t any more. The silence and emptiness of a cemetery’s terrain has a paradoxical effect on me, and, as I’ve learned since, on many others. Even while being in the midst of so many absences, I have a strong feeling of a presence while standing above those who’ve long gone. Among the old stones I stand waiting, as if for a revelation. It’s a haunting feeling, not as though I expected ghosts, but in the stillness of the space, some primal feeling in me is being called forth for which I had no name.

This feeling I’ve come to understand as yearning or longing, not for death, but from a desire to have a more complete story to which the brief epitaphs on the headstones allude. I wanted to reach my hand across the divide of time and experience the world as these people had once known it. I longed to hear their stories, see the landscape through their eyes. It was perhaps as I understand it now, my yearning to feel more deeply connected to the others through whose history, I too, had been shaped.

I long for connection.

Years ago, I read an essay by Bruce Mills titled. “An Archeology of Yearning.”

Mill’s story was about exploring the delicate terrain of the mind; the space deep within and surrounding us, and the symbols each of us use to travel in and out of one another’s terrain. Mills had written a moving account of the years he struggled to find ways to communicate with his autistic son, Jacob.

He seemed to be speaking about something I knew about intimately, but how, since I knew little about autism?

Living with Jacob’s autism, Mills tries to interpret his son’s inner space. Since there is little common language that parents, teachers, or playmates can share with Jacob, he lives in a lonely world. So, do his parents. They are woven tightly together by family bonds, but don’t have a common language. It’s painful being close and yet so far away, like standing next to a headstone that has a story, but no one to tell it.

Jacob drew pictures with the skill of a professional’s hand. He sketched perfect replicas of TV characters from the scenes in the children’s shows he watched on TV – like Sesame Street and various Disney movies. He constructed his inner vocabulary from these images. He mastered drawing perspective and depth perceptions of a much older child.

Jacob thought in pictures, not words, while imputing emotional significances to particular characters and certain colors. Through his art, he developed a visual language to give meaning to his inner space, to reach out to others. It was, however, a pictorial language and his father could not be sure that the pictures meant the same to him as they did his son. Often, they didn’t.

In general, when children pose the question to parents, “Where did I came from?”, I believe inherent in the question is a lot more than curiosity about the mechanics of sexuality. I suspect that in the question lies an eternal yearning to know the continuum of life beyond our own. How is who we are today connected to others who had been there long before? Who were they and what’s our connection to them?

While working with his son, Mills begins to describe his situation with a beautiful metaphor. In the relationship to his son, Mills sees the same mystery that archeologists experienced when first entering the ancient Chauvet Cave at Vallon-Pont d’e Arc in southern France. The images of animals on the cave’s wall witness to a story some tribesmen wished to tell. For the discoverers, in the silence of the cave which they found inscrutable and dazzling, they also felt a deep yearning to know more. What did these images mean?

Like Jacob’s, the images that the Paleolithic inhabitants drew on the cave’s wall were exquisitely crafted. There was the wondering about why this particular cave, and what the paintings themselves signified about the mind-set of the artists who painted them, the culture in which the artists lived and the significance of the particular subjects they elected to paint.

Art is a way of knowing. Art expresses what we feel about the world in which we live. Art is not confined to any one medium. It’s born of the primal human urge to create, to weave the strands of experience into the whole cloth of a vision. For years photography had been my artistic expression. How I ultimately became skilled in photography may not have been that different than the way Jacob became proficient in drawing: he wasn’t able to express his interior space in conventional ways, and so he naturally gravitated to another. It was important for him to create.

When I was a boy, my uncle took me to the countryside to paint. He was was a natural. As I watched him paint the rolling hills and farm houses, I felt lost, helpless. I could not sketch a landscape so that anyone might recognize it. I had no feel for rendering perspective. I wanted to be a part of my uncle’s world, to be creative in the way the way he was, but I had no aptitude for it. I had only a vague sense of color. After a while I’d find reasons not to go with him. I gave up.

That is, until I discovered photography.

It was apparent early on that I had “an eye.” I took quickly to the tools of photography that equipped me to render pleasing and imaginative photographs. As the saying goes, I found my voice, or more to the point, my eye.

In today’s world, the teaching of various forms of art is regarded as “soft” next to serious courses like business or science. Art education, in budget squeezes, is the first to be cut. I think this reflects a spiritual vacuum that exists in our consumerist culture. We have marvelous tools by which to serve our outer needs, while the tools to nurture our inner lives, to feed our souls, languishes.

It does not bode well for society when its young have no visions of possibility nor can its elders dream dreams.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

On a Rare Occasion You Know When You Have Changed the Life of a Child by Liz Freedlander

In the universe of adults whose work careers (or volunteer time) is focused on improving the lives of children – teachers, social workers, non-profit staffs – it is rare to know if you’ve really made a difference.

But occasionally, a young adult comes back and identifies you as the mentor whose dedication, professional skills and ideas changed his or her life.

Rashaan Rhoden was a Dorchester County student who was referred to Channel Marker’s youth program. His disruptive behavior indicated a need for redirecting his impulses, learning coping skills and receiving positive reinforcement for his good qualities.

Rashaan, now 20, wrote a letter to Arville Johns, his Channel Marker case worker, and read it aloud to him at a recent staff meeting. Tears flowed. It was quite a moment!

While letters like this are few and far between, there are surely many young adults who share Rashaan’s sentiments about the people who changed their lives only they never told you.

June 2018                                                                                   

Dear Mr. Arville,

I’m writing this letter to you to express how much I appreciate you and how thankful I am for you being a part of my life, especially during my teenage years. The bottom line is that you mean the world to me and I love you to death. Channel Marker was a great “safe zone” for me in high school and I’m glad I stuck through it, even though I felt as though I did not need it. My mother knew I did. I can’t speak for all of the Channel Marker county locations, but the one in Dorchester County is the best one and you Mr. Arville are a big reason for that.

Looking back at it, I miss our times together. From the rides to Ocean City to the basketball games at Sandy Hill, there was never a dull moment when I was around you. Whenever my mother and I got into it, I always wished you could just come get me because you knew how to calm me down. It seems as though you just have that effect on kids. Our times together weren’t always dandelions and roses. We didn’t have the perfect relationship, but I can 100% say that we had and still have a quality relationship.

You taught me life lessons and skills that will make me succeed, not only as a person but as a professional such as yourself. Just watching the way you talk to other adults and professionals impressed me. Even watching you handle other disruptive kids impressed me. I admit that patience is an important skill to adapt and I feel as though I improved tremendously with that skill because of you. Other skills I learned from being in Channel Marker are: opening up more in a group setting, being an active leader, and ways to take and give constructive criticism. All of these skills/attributes (and much more) are why I am so successful today.

This upcoming Fall, I will be moving to Orlando, Florida to attend the University of Central Florida’s Graduate Program for Hospitality & Tourism Management. This is HUGE for me. Not only did I get accepted into graduate school, but I got accepted to my #1 college choice! It’s easy for me to thank my advisors and teachers at Frostburg, but I would never have even thought about college if it wasn’t for you. You were my role model in high school. You went to college and you always talked about it to me. So, I decided to focus on college instead of working or joining the military.

  I want to end this letter by again saying thank you for caring for me. Obviously, you’ve done more than what I mentioned in this letter, but I just want you to know that I am successful because of you and Channel Marker. This may sound corny but YOU ARE Channel Marker. God did not put you in my life for the money you earned to do a job.  You proved that to me numerous times. I love you Mr. Arville (like my own father) and keep up the good work.

Love,

Your Son, Rashaan

 

The Spy Columnists: David Montgomery

There have been more than a few lucky moments in the Spy’s nine years of existence but none more so than the serendipitous formation of a unique team of volunteer public affairs columnists who grace its pages every week. These highly respected leaders in their lifetime careers, gifted with intellect, imagination and passion, spanning from the political left to right, has been one of the most significant assets of our hyper-local and education-based news portals.

The commentaries of Howard Freedlander, Craig Fuller, George Merrill, David Montgomery, and Al Sikes have considerably enhanced our community’s civil debates on the most pressing issues of our times. And while the written word is their chosen medium, the Spy, a great believer in multimedia with now over 2,000 video productions, has been grateful that they have agreed to be interviewed as our country enters into one of its most important elections in recent memory.

We begin this series with economist David Montgomery. During his career, which ranged from being a lead economist at the Office of Management and Budget to the Resources for the Future, David has framed his conservative, faith-based and free-market philosophy into some of the country’s most successful policy initiatives.

A case in point is Montgomery’s leading role in the creation of the highly innovative “cap and trade,” otherwise known as emissions trading, of the late 1970s and 1980s which became California’s most successful tool in controlling air pollution.

While David covered a multitude of issues in our interview with him at Bullitt House last week, his opinions on the timely topic of immigration and border control were so intriguing that we made it the central focus of this edited version.

This video is approximately ten minutes in length.

 

 

Democracy Failing by Al Sikes

Mara Liasson, the National Political Correspondent for National Public Radio and often a co-panelist with Charles Krauthammer on Fox News, called him a “gift to the world” and characterized his death as “a huge loss for conservatives.” Liasson and Krauthammer didn’t always agree, yet were friends who respected each other’s opinion. Friends, how quaint that seems in the pit bull politics of today.

Charles Krauthammer’s evolution from liberal (he was a speechwriter for Walter Mondale) to conservative was expressed in terms first defined by Irving Kristol: “a liberal mugged by reality”.

In the last few months I have been sent links to a purported column written by Krauthammer expressing support for Donald Trump. In the parlance of today: “fake news”; Krauthammer’s intellect and reputation were not on offer. We live in a swirl of pretenders and their pretensions. We just lost an important voice for clarity, objectivity and respect.

Instead we have a President, now a lame duck one, who continues to choose outrage over leadership. Attacking ones adversaries is not the first stage of a successful negotiation. And we have a Congress incapable of performing its constitutional duties.

President Trump’s remaining strength over domestic issues goes with the Office. But, as Barack Obama learned, governing by executive orders means the next person in line can undo the orders.

In a few months we elect a new Congress. But, regardless of which Party prevails, it is highly unlikely that either Party will have a large enough caucus of Members to govern without some level of bi-partisanship. The power of partisanship is often hollow.

Power is often misunderstood. Trump is certainly in charge of depthless power. His image and words are omnipresent. Since media coverage tends to confer importance, Trump is very important. And in Washington importance, as conferred by rank or media attention, is often thought to be power and held onto tightly.

Real power is set out in the United States Constitution and most especially in Article 1, Section 8. Simply stated, this section gives Congress the power to make laws, tax and spend. In just over three months real power will be conferred again. Will the winners be just another contingent who elevate self or Party over nation?

In many ways the most important question to be asked of each candidate is what they will do to make the most important branch of government work. It only works when there is some level of bi-partisanship. The existing power vacuum has elevated executive orders and attack politics. Present day realities have nullified the Congress.

But lest I understate the magnetism of President Trump to his followers, let me return to his power.

The one thing most can agree on is that Trump rather brilliantly used “Make America Great Again” to brand his candidacy and presidency. Many, of course, would quickly reject “Again” believing that America’s health is just fine. I am not in that number. On the other hand, retreating to the past to find greatness inevitably leads to this question: if America was so great, in say the 1950s, why was racial discrimination so ubiquitous? Certainly our views and laws about equality have improved dramatically.

At news conferences, interviews, town hall meetings and the like I would like to see each candidate be given the opportunity to compare and contrast. What, the question might be, would you propose we do to Make America Great? In short, require candidates to think beyond slogans.

Candidates should be asked what they think about our country’s financial health. If they believe it weakens the country, extract a pledge of action. One of the more successful political pledges was the “no tax” pledge. Fiscal hawks should craft a pledge to fix our nation’s balance sheet. And younger voters should insist that candidates tell them how the entitlement programs, which are actuarially bankrupt, will fulfill the promises made.

What about roads, bridges, airports, mass transit, waste treatment facilities, public water supplies? If the central government should play a role, what should it be? The recent Supreme Court decision requiring on-line sellers to collect State sales tax is likely to raise State tax revenues significantly. This might be a particularly fertile moment for the central government, with a modest contribution (it cannot afford more), to stimulate needed infrastructure work.

One final question: ask each candidate whether they pledge to return home after they no longer serve. Retirement from Congress often results in lucrative lobbying jobs aimed at protecting government conferred advantage.

When the Congress is failing, democracy is failing. And when the Congress allows a power vacuum to exist the occupant of the White House is empowered, well beyond constitutional intentions.

I want to leave the last thought for Charles Krauthammer who in a C-Span interview said he grew up attuned to the “tragic element in history”. “It tempers your optimism and your idealism. And it gives you a vision of the world which I think is more restrained, conservative, if you like. You don’t expect that much out of human nature. And you are prepared for the worst.” We are not going to change human nature, but voters have the power to change Congress.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

Out and About (Sort of): The Patient is Recovering by Howard Freedlander

News continues to be encouraging about the Chesapeake Bay, with one minor blip recently. Yes, the patient is recovering, its arteries are less clogged, and its breathing has improved through increased submerged aquatic vegetation.

As a sign of better health, dolphins are returning in notable numbers. Sightings are running in the 400-500s. According to a Baltimore Sun article written by Scott Dance in mid-May, “Now researchers are exploring whether more dolphins are swimming up the bay, possibly invited by clearer water, abundant submerged greases and rebounding fisheries.”

This same article stated that bottlenose dolphins, “popular for their perceived humanlike intelligence and personalities, are common throughout the world’s oceans and in many estuaries.” Apparently, about 11,000 of these personable dolphins travel along the Atlantic coast from the Carolinas to Long Island.

As I wrote the previous few sentences, I was smiling. I never would have thought that evidence of more dolphins in the Chesapeake Bay would indicate a healthier Bay. They follow the food, which is now more abundant in our favorite estuary. I trust they are not eating blue crabs.

Another good sign that I wrote about in recent months is that human users and observers of the Bay, such as watermen and scientists, have established a consensus-driven process to get along and improve the oyster population by agreeing on the management of the iconic oysters. These bivalves represent the health and soul of the Chesapeake Bay and seem to rule the public perception of the health of the country’s largest estuary.

One might say that the health of human dialogue about oysters and its economic value has improved markedly. We have to be pleased that the future of oysters is not a subject of discussion in the halls of Congress.

The prognosis for this still ailing patient is favorable. Continued improvement and scrutiny of the resilient but fragile patient remain a chronic priority.

I am not ignoring the news of the increased growth of dead zones. Not good news—how encouraging could it be with the word “dead?” However, it appears as if Mother Nature, ever so unpredictable, is responsible for washing increased nitrogen into the Bay from the Susquehanna River. Blame it on Pennsylvania?

Not to put a damper on the good news emanating from the increased health of the Bay, I remain angry that the uncertain visa program has doomed the crab-picking business of three Hoppers Island crab processing plants. I wrote about this issue in May, disappointed that Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Andy Harris have failed to follow in Sen. Mikukski’s feisty footsteps in ensuring that sufficient visas were available to draw a number of Mexican crab-pickers necessary to keep all the crab-picking operations in business.

Rep.Harris got involved, so I’ve read, but the result was piecemeal. A visa lottery aimed to help landscapers and other businesses throughout the country, assisted one of four struggling plants in Dorchester County. This is shameful.

If this is a workforce development dilemma, I wonder about the dearth of creative solutions. For example, crab processing owners have said repeatedly that Americans do not want to pick crabmeat, a tedious undertaking. While I don’t question this assertion, I wonder why bright minds have not developed incentives to draw local workers.

The summer is upon us. Our bay continues to get better; there seems to be no retrogression, except for the weather-caused “dead zones.” The emergency seems to be less urgent. Life support is no longer necessary. But laser-like attention is still necessary.

Complacency would be injurious to the health of the Bay and the happiness of the region’s residents.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Senior Nation: Technology and America’s Elders with Leslie Walker

Typically, when modern technology is discussed concerning those over 65 years old, the general narrative is that many senior Americans are suffering from a significant disadvantage or gap, if you will, in their inability to access the internet.

Retired before the frequent use of email, web research, or enterprise-related software had entered the lives of the professional classes, these elders, the story goes, have been marginalized due to their lack of computer skills in a world that continues to find new uses for the world wide web.

In some ways, that impression is correct. Over one-third of Americans over 65 years old do not use the internet at all in their daily lives while 90% of all Americans find themselves online almost every day. But when you look more in-depth in the numbers, as the University of Maryland’s Leslie Walker has done over the last few years, those statistics can be misleading.

Walker, who recently spoke at the 3rd annual Senior Summit at the Talbot County Community Center, counters that this age gap is dramatically narrowing. Indeed, the rate of adoption to the internet is increasing every year with seniors.

That is just one of the many subjects that Professor Walker shares after a remarkable career in the development of online news at the Washington Post (she was the first editor of washingtonpost.com) and now teaches at the Merrill School of Journalism at College Park.

The Spy sat down with Leslie for a quick interview after her formal presentation to talk about the revolutionary use of technology for those in their senior years, ranging from telemedicine to voice recognition, which has the potential to radically improve the quality of life for millions as they grow older.

This video is approximately five minutes in length.