Chainsaw Art at the Kent County Fair

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Josh Miller is a Kent County boy.  Born and raised.  He grew up in Chestertown, attended Kent County High School and graduated from there in 1999.  Then he began his wandering. First, he went to Nashville, Tennessee, to an automotive painting school.  He had always had an artistic side. That led to a career in building and custom-painting motorcycles.  Did I mention that he also had a mechanical side?  A very good one, too. Well, one thing led to another and pretty soon he was custom-painting drones for the military.  They loved his work.  In fact, they loved it so much that one of them was chosen to be hung in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum where you can go see it any day.

This weekend, Josh Miller is wandering back to his old stomping grounds.  You can see him in action at the Kent County Fair this weekend, where he will be demonstrating the latest turn in his artistic and mechanical career – chainsaw art – specifically chainsaw wood sculptures.  Josh will be on-site all three days of the fair.  Several of his sculptures will be included in the Saturday evening auction.  Don’t miss your chance to own your own chainsaw sculpture!

For the past two years, Miller has been on the Eastern Sholiving in Felton, Delaware, with his wife and two daughters. Before then the family was in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania.  It was there that Miller was first inspired to turn his chainsaw into an artist’s tool.  He had to cut down a tree and thought why not have some fun, turn this into art.  Thus was born Josh Miller’s chainsaw sculpture career.  He’s been making and selling chainsaw sculptures ever since.

Miller’s subjects range from the sacred to the profane, the ridiculous to the sublime, with an emphasis on nature.  His bears are especially popular.  His birds are beautifully detailed.  His humor is home-spun and pun-full, some visual puns, some verbal.  To see more, be sure to stop by his FaceBook page.  After you’ve been to the fair, of course.

Chainsaw sculpture by Kent County native Josh Miller.

 

Rifle-stand with boots. Every cowboy needs one!

Carving a bear

Three-person “butt bench” – we didn’t ask who the model was.

Horse bench – on display this weekend at the Kent County Fair

 

 

 

Telemedicine, Virtual Health Coaches, and Other Wonders: The Future of Health in Kent County, Part 1

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UM Shore Regional Health Center – Chestertown

Small rural hospitals are an endangered species everywhere in the U.S. In Kent County, an intense, citizen-led campaign to save the Chestertown hospital has made progress, but—contrary to recent press reports—the hospital’s fate is still uncertain. Shore Regional Health, part of the University of Maryland Medical  System that provides healthcare to 5 mid-shore counties and which owns and operates the Chestertown facility, has said it would like to maintain in-patient services in Chestertown after 2022, as part of a broader plan to upgrade healthcare on the Eastern Shore.  But doing so will be contingent on legislative or regulatory changes to establish a new reimbursement model for vulnerable rural populations. Whether such legislation is passed is likely to depend on recommendations in the upcoming report of the Maryland Rural Health Study, due this September.  Watch this space for an in-depth report when the recommendations are released.

But the future of the hospital—as a full in-patient facility or as a standalone medical facility with more limited services—is only one of the factors that are likely to shape healthcare in the county in coming years. Moreover, a just-released nationwide assessment of the quality of health—county by county within each state—finds that Kent County has lots of room for improvement. It ranks only 18th (out of 24 Maryland counties) in health outcomes, far behind Talbot (5th) and Queen Annes (7th), and only barely ahead of Caroline and Dorchester.

Healthcare is changing rapidly, driven by both economic pressures (healthcare expenditures make up nearly 20% of the U.S. economy, far above all other industrial countries) and by new technology.  Shore Health’s strategic plan for the Eastern Shore deals with both aspects, but focuses on improving access to care, while also implementing services that can help keep people out of hospitals. Here we profile some technologies and other innovations likely to impact our healthcare in one form or another in coming years, drawing on both local and national examples.

Transport. A big unmet need in Kent County, as in most rural areas, is transport to get people to care.  That could take the form of local transport—to see a doctor, then pick up medicines at a drugstore—or could mean emergency transport by van or helicopter to a distant hospital. One model for local transport could be a kind of “Uber for healthcare” service that would allow people without cars or who can’t safely drive to arrange pickup and transport when they need it with just a phone call or an app. Potentially, a similar service—private but subsidized, or run by a healthcare system or insurer—could also provide transport services to regional hospitals. Will any of these happen? Such services are being started or are under discussion in a few places already, but whether they happen here may depend on local initiatives and some state financing.

Telemedicine and Telehealth. Under the best of circumstances, however, it’s a hassle to drive across the bridge to consult a surgeon or a specialist not found on the Eastern Shore. Suppose instead you could talk to them over a video link from a local facility or, eventually, even from home? As it happens, Shore Regional Health is already gearing up for telemedicine services on the Eastern Shore, in part under a grant from the Maryland Health Care Commission. In April the first patient, a 22-month old boy brought to the emergency room at the Easton Hospital, was linked in minutes to a specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center in downtown Baltimore—resulting in a diagnosis, immediate treatment, and referrals for followup. “Bridging the gap between the eastern and western shores is a wonderful opportunity that this technology has given us,” says Marc T. Zubrow, MD, vice president of telemedicine for the University of Maryland Medical System. “We will continue to enhance and expand the telemedicine capabilities [to] allow patients to receive the expert care they need without having to leave their local communities and support systems.”

Telehealth refers to broader, non-emergency services at a distance, linking patients at home to doctors or nurses via voice or video or data links. A patient with high blood pressure at risk for stroke, for example, might periodically measure his or her blood pressure at home with a device that transmits the data to be screened automatically by an algorithm and checked periodically by a nurse. Many wearable or in-home sensors capable of monitoring chronic health conditions are now available. Telehealth calls or data streams can also record physical exercise, help patients to improve their nutrition, help a mother decide whether her baby’s fever is high enough to need a doctor’s care, or address other health concerns. The savings in costs and peace of mind could be substantial, and sometimes life-saving.

In-home Care. Some health conditions call for personal contact by a nurse, physical therapist, or health coach. Increasingly, taking care to the patient at home is not only less expensive than institution-based care, but sometimes far more effective—as well as overcoming the necessity to travel and the tendency to put off seeking care.  Surgical aftercare through home visits is now common, in-home infusions or dialysis or massage therapy constitute a growing trend.  Regular visits by a nurse or a health coach, especially for seniors with chronic conditions or for those struggling with opioid and other addictions, are being tested or considered in many places, and there is some evidence that such visits are more effective in helping people adopt healthy behaviors than care in an institutional setting—as well as less expensive. Assistance with non-medical tasks of daily living that are important to maintaining health are now often provided by volunteers, but increasingly such wellness services are being viewed as a part of basic healthcare. In one instance in California, simply inspecting homes of seniors and installing grab bars or stair railings or replacing loose rugs cut the number of falls (and the resulting hospital stays) in half.

The Amazon Dot, a smaller version of the Amazon Echo, can help with daily tasks, make phone calls, answer questions, even remind a person to take medication at a certain time.

A Virtual Health Coach. Millions of people now have an Amazon Echo and its voice-driven intelligent assistant, Alexa, that they use to order new supplies, turn on lights, or play music—just by talking to it.  Now Alexa (and similar voice-based systems from Google and Apple) are starting to be used in healthcare. Alexa can answer questions about your conditions or symptoms or an upcoming doctor’s appointment, remind you to take medicines or order refills, or provide updates on vital signs or pain levels to a remote nurse—all without touching a computer. If you fall, Alexa can call the ambulance. For patients with limited eye sight or who are bed-ridden, Alexa can become a constant companion and a vital link to assistance.

Expert Assistance. Increasingly, large organizations are using artificial intelligence tools to mine large datasets and “learn” how to do things more effectively. So as voice-driven systems interact with millions of patients, asking them about their symptoms—and that data is coupled to the clinical signals provided by in-home sensors for blood pressure, blood sugar, fever, etc.—it’s not very far fetched to imagine that IBM’s Watson or other AI systems may be able to diagnose many health conditions as well as even the most expert doctors—and enable earlier diagnosis and treatment—all without leaving home.

If such things seem hard to imagine, remember that Kent County will soon have the essential infrastructure—near universal access to fast internet connectivity.  Keeping in-patient services at the hospital would be important (and might take some lobbying with lawmakers in Annapolis).  But in the long run, improved access to care through the new tools and services described above, especially for vulnerable populations, may be even more important for the future of health than what kind of local health facility we have.

The Amazon Echo with “Alexa,” your new personal – and maybe even healthcare – assistant.

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Our Very Own Russian Connection by Jamie Kirkpatrick

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In light of recent events and in keeping with the transparent revelations of the mainstream media, I feel compelled—no, COMPELLED!—to disclose a recent meeting with five Russian tourists to Chestertown. The meeting took place four days ago at an undisclosed location somewhere in the 200 block of Cannon Street, deep in the heart of the town’s Historic District. Present at the closed-door session were a family of five Russian visitors to Chestertown including father Igor (of course); mother Jenny (as close as we could come to pronouncing her name), and three charming adolescent daughters aged 11, 9, and 5, whose first names are being withheld under the terms of the ACA (Anonymous Childrens Act) which is not to be confused with that other ACA (Affordable Care Act), also known as Obamacare. The family’s surname is also being withheld because it has too many vowels and syllables. Also present at the meeting were my wife and I and an unidentified former political operative from Kent County known only by the code name, “Smokey.”

While it is not clear exactly how this meeting was arranged, reports indicate that initial contact was made during last Thursday’s meeting of the Martini Society at The Kitchen Restaurant in the Imperial Hotel on High Street when Igor—who was dining with his wife and the three suspiciously well-behaved girls—volunteered to take the official weekly group photograph so that all members of the group, including our local golf professional, could be included. It was also reported that it was at that moment one of the children said that Igor was a lousy photographer and that “mom should take the picture because she knows how to use her iPhone.” An examination of the phone in question indeed reveals two sets of Russian fingerprints on the photo button of the camera. (A copy of the photograph taken by the reputed “Mom” is included with this report.)

It is not exactly clear what happened next, but a source close to the investigation who spoke on condition that he would not be identified saw my wife go over to the Russian table and begin to engage the family in seemingly innocent chat that included questions such as “Where are you from?”, “Where did you go to high school?”, and “Why on earth are you in Chestertown?” The conversation quickly became complicated when it was determined that the Russian family, originally from Moscow, currently reside in Dubai where Igor was employed (among other things) as a liquor distributor for the government. Although specific details of the encounter remain vague, it was at this time that a formal invitation was issued to the Russians to visit a private home on Cannon Street the following evening for further talks.

That meeting was scheduled to take place at 5pm on Friday but a sudden thunderstorm threatened to engulf the town and caused the Blue Heron Restaurant to lose power for a few minutes. (Fortunately, the Chester River Wine & Cheese Shop across Cannon Street did NOT lose power!) The storm delayed the arrival of the Russian entourage and caused the meeting to be moved to an off-porch location—the indoor living room. When the Russians finally arrived under cover of umbrellas, they presented us with a large bottle of Russian vodka which as everyone knows is specifically excluded from the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

There are no known recordings of the conversations that ensued but anonymous reports indicate that various topics were addressed including the state of micro-distilleries in Maryland and Igor’s new translation of The Nutcracker opera into English. However, surveillance did confirm that at one point in the evening, all three girls went upstairs and bounced on the guest bed, but reports of an ensuing pillow fight could not be confirmed by the time this article went to print.

The Russian family claimed to have been in Chestertown for three weeks while their eldest daughter attended a Math Camp at Washington College. (It was during this exchange that the terms “sine” and “cosine” were first used, although no one present at the meeting knew exactly what either term meant.) The eldest daughter did confirm that she “loved” Math Camp while the other two girls passed their time in Chestertown playing, swimming, fishing, crabbing, reading, visiting Annapolis, and taking a ride on The River Packet. They vowed to return next summer.

“Smokey” has not been seen since last Friday’s meeting although a grainy photograph taken of him drinking Bad Alfred’s bourbon in Dubai appeared on FoxNews yesterday.

I’ll be right back…

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015.  A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was released in May and is already in its second printing. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com.

Climate Policy Lessons from California by David Montgomery

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California was the first state to enact comprehensive legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and a key part of that plan – the emission trading system – will sunset in 2020. Paradoxically, environmentalists are leading the opposition to California Governor Brown’s effort to extend and improve the cap and trade system, and businesses are supporting it. This conflict serves as an illuminating case study of the difficulties that states face in making climate change policies work.

The cap and trade system has been hailed as the great achievement of California’s climate strategy but it has been hamstrung by the proliferation of regulatory measures. Although Governor Schwarzenegger highlighted emissions trading in his Executive Order that introduced the strategy, he made the colossal error of turning design of the strategy over to California’s existing bureaucrats. As a result, the “Scoping Plan” that emerged was 80% regulation and at best 20% cap and trade. The bulk of the emission reductions would come from fuel economy standards, mandates for alternative fuels and renewable electricity generation, efficiency standards, regulations on shipping and trucking, industrial process standards, etc. listed in a 198 page appendix to the Scoping Plan. The cap and trade system would clean up around the edges to achieve the remaining reductions.

As a result, the ability of the cap and trade system to achieve certainty in emission reductions while minimizing cost was destroyed. The proliferation of command and control regulations (known in California as “complementary measures”) made the cost per ton of emissions avoided in the transportations sector several times higher than the cost per ton of emissions avoided in the electricity sector, and doubled the overall cost of achieving California’s goals.

There were several reasons for this failure to rely more heavily on cap and trade, and they are still in play. One is clearly bureaucratic incentives and inertia. The Air Resources Board was given the lead, and its approach to air quality regulation has always been heavily command and control. Every other state agency was invited to submit its ideas on how to reduce emissions, and naturally every one suggested more regulations that it could issue and administer.

There is also simple arrogance. The California Air Resources Board has a long history of asserting that it has a better understanding of technology and economics than the industries it regulates, and has not hesitated to tell them what technologies to develop and adopt. Cap and trade means leaving these decisions up to individual businesses, and the ARB has never been willing to relinquish that power.

Although one environmental organization, the Environmental Defense Fund, was from the start a strong supporter of cap and trade, many environmental organizations preferred strict command and control regulations for the ostensible reason that they gave greater certainty that reductions would be achieved. Underneath this rationale, which is entirely specious with a cap and trade system that puts a strict limit on the total number of emission permits that may be traded, is their desire to use regulation to achieve purposes beyond its ostensible objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In particular, these environmental organizations and allied trade associations prefer the regulatory approach because it promotes specific fuels and industries that would not survive if a cap and trade program were used exclusively. Thus California’s low carbon fuel standard mandates use of ethanol and other biofuels, creating a market and increasing profits for their producers. California’s renewable portfolio standard requires utilities to buy solar, wind and other “renewable” energy sources no matter how their cost compares to natural gas. California’s electric vehicle program creates a market for battery manufacturers and car-makers like Tesla. And so on to creation of smaller and smaller market niches for favored “Green” industries that could not exist otherwise. Relying solely on cap and trade would be at least equally likely to achieve California’s climate goals, but cap and trade would direct investment to the most cost-effective approaches and in the process leave behind more costly but politically favored fuels and technologies.

The so-called Environmental Justice movement took this opposition to cap and trade even further, though the fact that greenhouse gases are no more concentrated near their sources than half the world away should have kept climate policy off their radar. Nevertheless, EJ activists raised specious concerns about cap and trade allowing factories and powerplants to continue polluting poor neighborhoods. They then demanded increased funding for unrelated policies or programs benefiting their constituents as the price for moderating their opposition.

Willful ignorance has been encouraged by the California press which panders to the Environmental Justice movement with misrepresentations of how cap and trade works combined with horror stories about how it would allow industries to continue to pollute poor neighborhoods. Some news articles characterize cap and trade as allowing businesses to pay to pollute, without mentioning that the overall cap guarantees that emission targets will be met. Others moan about how the greenhouse gas cap and trade program failed to solve pollution problems unrelated to climate change.

Some real problems with the California climate strategy were raised by businesses concerned about how the system could damage to their ability to compete with out-of-state suppliers. For some products and regulations, this is not an issue and for others it is critical.

For example, all suppliers of fuels into California, no matter where they are located, must comply with the low carbon fuels standard, and likewise suppliers of electricity. But oil refiners outside California are subject to neither California’s regulations of emissions from the refining process nor its cap and trade program.

These costs are borne only by California refiners, and since gasoline is a fungible commodity easily shipped to California from other states, tighter regulations or high prices for emissions allowances could cause California refiners to shut down. If this were to happen, there would be no reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, just a shift in those emissions from California to other states. And since those emissions do no local harm, the result would be costs to California with no benefit for global warming.

To deal with this problem, it is necessary to identify industries that are vulnerable in this way and to modify how they are treated under both regulations and cap and trade. This is an unavoidable problem when states attempt to go it alone in dealing with the global phenomenon of climate change. But it also invites rent-seeking by industries and accusations of caving in to big business or big oil.

All of these obstacles to adoption of a sensible and cost-effective policy can be seen in the controversy over renewal of authority for a cap and trade program. The specific bill supported by Governor Brown deals with some of industry’s concerns, by restricting the authority of state agencies to issue new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions covered by cap and trade and by limiting both how high and how low the price of emission allowances can go.

All of this makes perfectly good sense. The legislation would prohibit the Air Resources Board from issuing new regulations requiring additional reductions in emissions from refiner processes. This provision has been attacked as caving into big oil, when in fact it does nothing but reduce the chances that California refineries will shut down and be replaced by refineries from outside the state with even higher greenhouse gas emissions. It has no effect on California’s total emissions, as the overall cap under cap and trade takes care of that. And if additional emission controls at refineries are cost-effective at the price of carbon established by cap and trade, they will be undertaken anyway.

Likewise setting upper and lower limits on carbon prices is a balanced and useful step. Many environmentalists complained about how low carbon prices were in recent auctions by the state of some permits. By setting a lower limit on carbon prices, the cap and trade system gives a more consistent incentive to reduce emissions, and by setting an upper limit it gives businesses more certainty about future regulation. In this the cap and trade system comes to resemble a carbon tax. In typically inconsistent fashion, the same Environmental Justice organizations that oppose Governor Brown’s approach have come out in favor of the carbon tax that it emulates (https://www.bna.com/carbon-tax-next-n57982086840/ ).

Nevertheless, Governor Brown’s proposal has aroused the ire of all those opposed to cap and trade in the first place, and the Environmental Justice movement has already been offered its pound of flesh. In companion legislation, existing industrial facilities are required to install the best available controls to reduce their other, non-greenhouse gas emissions.

No wonder other states are slow to emulate California’s lead in establishing a cap and trade system. What governor wants to take on the headaches now plaguing Governor Brown as he faces interest groups that want to distort the cap and trade system, weaken its ability to achieve cost-effective emission reductions, keep provisions that weaken in-state businesses, or just demand payoffs in the form of additional unrelated programs to benefit their constituencies? California has provided more enlightenment about how difficult it is to construct an efficient, market-based program than about how to do it well. It will be instructive to see who wins in the current battle to reauthorize cap and trade.

Editor’s Postnote: The voters of California approved the continuation of the state’s Cap and Trade program for ten years. Read a full accounting of the election results here

David Montgomery was formerly Senior Vice President of NERA Economic Consulting. He also served as assistant director of the US Congressional Budget Office and deputy assistant secretary for policy in the US Department of Energy. He taught economics at the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University and was a senior fellow at Resources for the Future.

Op-Ed: Is there Hope for the Dysfunctional Republican Congress by Rob Ketcham

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Our Republican Congress is essentially dysfunctional, is there any hope for improvement?

With its new President and a Republican Congress the United States itself in an unsettled place. I am hoping that with my background working as senior committee staff in the US Congress, I may be able to shed some light on what is or is not going on with our leaders and our government. Despite the fact that there has been a considerable gap between now and when I was immersed in the legislative branch, the principles of how to legislate well and produce a quality product (law) haven’t changed.

It is my belief that Congress and its modus operandi are not well understood by our citizens or by the media, and worse, by the legislators themselves, in part because the legislative process itself requires very hard work to do well. Generally, it comes across as the blind men viewing the elephant; it depends on what you are touching, not what you are seeing.

The Republican party has a majority in both the House and the Senate, and historically, since the President was also elected as a Republican, the development and passage of a Republican agenda should be quite feasible. But we live in interesting times, and it is my view that the Republicans in the House and Senate, by and large, are demonstrating that they either do not understand the legislative process or they have deliberately chosen to stay on their narrow, partisan path, no matter the consequences. Until Donald Trump’s election they were able to operate in a mode of opposition, seldom in the mode of cooperation. In addition, many of them have managed to tie themselves in knots by signing single-minded pledges demanded by this or that constituency which serve to reduce their policy options by placing blinders on their thinking about the topic under consideration.

In 2012 a book was published by two political scientists I had rubbed shoulders with some years ago. Their book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, by Thomas E. Mann and Norman Ornstein examines the polarization that has shaped the Republican party. The book portrays

the party “….. as an outlier, using unusual and unprecedented parliamentary tactics and tools to delegitimize outcomes and acts from the other party and promote mass obstruction and nullification.” I was also interested to read their observations from an earlier book written in 2006, The Broken Branch, which documented the demise of regular order, describing the bending of rules to marginalize committees and hamstring the minority party, and probably even more important, discussing the decline of deliberation in the lawmaking process, and the loss of what they identified as “institutional patriotism” among members.

The legislative process requires considerable effort, a consensus ahead of time about the objective, an identification of the persons and policies affected, a careful plan to hold open hearings about the policy being legislated, and, at some stage, drafting the policy in legislative form which can be introduced and sent to the appropriate committee or committees. All of these legislative activities are designed to build support for the proposition being legislated and to hear and learn about the reactions to the propositions by those who favor them and those who oppose them. All these legislative steps provide checks and balances for the system.

The NYT of July 11, 2017, contains an article, “Which Party Was More Secretive in Working on Its Health Care Plan? “ It notes that eight years ago, Senator Mitch McConnell complained that the Affordable Care Act was “being written behind closed doors, without input from anyone.” The authors compare what happened eight years ago during the first six months of public activity on health legislation in Obama’s first term with what has happened on health legislation this year in Trump’s first term. So far the number of days of public activity this year on the GOP bill in the House and Senate is nine days, compared with 43 days for what became known as Obamacare, during the same six-month period. During its Obama care deliberations in 2009, the House Committees held four days of hearings, and the Senate committees held one on related health care changes, all before the bill was drafted. That same year the Senate health committee spent a total of 13 days marking up the bill, seven of them during the first six months.

The Republican 2017 legislative health care activities are de minimis. Republican lawmakers spent two days debating policies related to their bill on the House floor. The Senate, thus far, has not debated at all. Two other items of comparison jump out: 1) 200 witnesses were heard during consideration of the Affordable Care Act in 2009, while so far this year, 18 witnesses have been heard by the Republican Congress, and 2) There were five Senate bipartisan meetings in 2009, while none have been held so far in this legislative cycle.

The Republican party and its machinations related to Health care this year are a great ongoing case study. For years, the Republican party line was that Obamacare should be repealed, and anything calling for a legislative fix should be opposed. No positive alternative was supported, considered or proposed. We are now learning that since the Republican leaders did not think Trump would win the election, they were not positioning themselves to have to come up with anything new or substantive, just a continuing opposition. With their election success in November, the spotlight shifted the legislative onus to the new Republican Congress and to the new Republican President. It is increasingly clear that no one was ready with a well thought out proposal that had been developed and tested. The shift from being against Obamacare and Obama policies, to being in favor of something positive has not yet been demonstrated. Ignoring the legislative process, and essentially remaining in the negative role, the House proceeded to darken the windows, offer homilies and generally inaccurate or misleading assessments about how awful Obamacare is, and without hearings or an Congressional Budget Office report (which is a requirement in the legislative process) rammed a bill through the House. This poorly thought out strategy put the Republican House members on record as voting for something that will most surely come back to haunt them.

Then the Senate, whose vaulted leader who is often billed as a legislative genius and strategist is in July, 2017, attempting to build support for a Senate Republican version of Health Care produced outside the legislative process by some 13 hand-picked Senators. This attempt gives new meaning to the book title previously cited; It’s Even Worse Than It Looks.

So where do we go from here? The Trump Administration appears at this juncture to have very little understanding or appreciation of the legislative process, and seems to think of the Congress as just a rubber stamp for whatever it wants. It is not clear after more than six months in office that the President understands that his political role vis-a-vis legislation requires far more than simply making demands or threats (which can often be counterproductive, and not at all helpful).

As a result, Congress is pretty much on its own and is camped out in the open field all by itself. Right now the Senate is in the headlights and beginning to face considerable pressure because of its unfinished legislative business with October 1 coming up fast. The media is beginning to hone in on these coming deadlines, in part because some of the same topics have wreaked havoc in the past, including agreeing on a new budget before the fiscal year begins on October 1. Another factor is the debt limit: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has asked Congress to increase the debt limit by the end of July! Good luck with that!

Over the past few days, it has been reported that Mitch McConnell, has twice mentioned the possibility of now working with Democrats. It is also being reported that efforts are underway by opponents to the Senate’s health proposal to involve Republican Governors whose states and citizens are affected. Now that the Republicans are in charge there is no place for them to hide, the American people are watching, and so far it is not a pretty sight. The amazing confluence of national issues, health, taxes, and budget deadlines and legislation to reauthorize important program areas like the Children’s Health Insurance Program all are demanding legislative attention. Every day there is another story about what some of the Republican proposals will do to many many of our most vulnerable citizens, and almost none of it is good.

Therefore, my deepest hope for our country in 2017 is that Congress finally decides to get down to work, to take the time to meet and discuss what can be agreed on, and what can be put off. Bipartisan discussions should begin. The Chinese symbol for “conflict” depicts both danger and opportunity. For whatever its worth, all the members are in this together. Although most legislators, almost by definition, are conflict adverse, not dealing with these issues before them is much worse. The heat under the legislative pot is being turned up and up, and the issues are now out in the open, no longer behind closed doors where they can be “controlled.” As a result, by not following some type of regular legislative order those issues not raised and discussed publicly in the orderly process of legislating are now being raised by each affected interest group.

So stay tuned. It is my hope, which the Senate will decide to slow down health care legislation with some bipartisan agreement, and then find some agreement on how to proceed on the other critical issues that must be addressed, hopefully again, with bipartisan cooperation. I am also hopeful that Democrats will become a positive force, rather than starting to act like obstructionist Republicans.

Robert Ketcham served as the chief of staff of the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology and staff director of the Fossil and Nuclear Energy Subcommittee during the 1980s and 1990s. Prior to those positions, he was Special Counsel to the House Select Committee on Committees chaired by Richard Bolling (D-MO).  He holds a BA and JD from Washington and Lee University as well as a SG from Harvard University’s Senior Managers in Government Program. He has lived in Easton since 1999 with his wife, Caroline.

Pigs, Pies, Poultry & More at the Kent County Fair

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Celebrating 35 years at the Kent Agriculture Center, the Kent County Fair offers a fun-filled three days of entertainment and education. With great food! And lots of fun! The fairgrounds will open to the public each day, Thursday through Saturday, at 9:00 am, with exhibits and activities until the official closing at 11:00 pm.  Admission is $2.00 per person which covers all exhibits and shows, except midway rides.  There is plenty of parking – no extra charge – on the grounds.  The fairgrounds are located near Tolchester at 21349 Tolchester Beach Road in the old US Army Nike Base

County Fairs are the summer highlight for 4-H Clubs all across America.  And the culminatiion of a year’s effort. Club members work twelve months raising animals, growing and preserving food, learning new skills, honing old skills.  They do projects in photography, entomology, forestry, as well as numerous arts and crafts – all while having fun.  For a slice of America, nothing beats a real county fair.  And the Kent County Fair is as real as it gets.

On the first day,  Thursday, July 20,  the fair will feature poultry, rabbit, goat and dog shows, along with the fair opening ceremonies, the 4-H tractor driving contest and the selection of 4-H ambassadors.   The Dog Show, part 1, starts at noon with demonstrations of fitting & showing followed by rally & obedience routines. The Dog Show, part 2, continues with agility & obstacle course components from 6:30 – 8:30 pm.  You can get your face painted by Amber Wachowiz any time from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.  If you miss Amber on Thursday, she’ll be painting faces again on Friday and Saturday from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.  At 7:00 pm Thursday, you have your choice between a magician’s show and the lawn mower tractor pull contest.  Or perhaps, if you’re swift, you can catch both.  The fairgrounds on Thursday will be filled with the music of local songwriter John Bunts.  Thursday’s menu features a fish fry and pit beef.

Also on Thursday evening at 7:00 pm, local talent will be showcased in “Kent County’s Got Talent.”  This is the first-ever talent show for the Kent County Fair and is co-sponsored by Music Life of Chestertown. All local talent acts – individuals or groups – are invited to participate.  Pre-registration is required.  Send an email to Beverly Clarke indigo618@verizon.net with your name and contact info and the type of act – singing, dancing, reciting, musical instrument, ventriloquism, gymnastics, animal tricks, etc.  Then come see your fellow Kent Countians take to the stage.

Friday, July 21, starts off with livestock shows including the always entertaining swine show.  The Hay Bale Toss for youth and adults begins at 5:00 pm. Then youth will strut their stuff in the 4-H Fashion Revue contest at 6:00 pm. A huge attraction at the fair is the greased pig contest Friday evening at 7:00 pm followed promptly by the pie-eating contest at 7:45 pm.  Pony rides will be available from 3:00-6:00 pm. Entertaining fairgoers is the Caribbean steel drum sounds of Spark In Da Pan, all the way from Easton, Maryland, as well as the local rock and roll sounds of East Roc. The entree on Friday’s menu is pork bbq.

2013 Kent County Fair

Saturday, July 22, highlights include the dairy and horse shows as well as jousting from the Eastern Shore Jousting Association. You’ll need to get there early – 9:00 am – to see the Horse show, English and Western divisions. And there are two tractor pulls – the Antique Tractors square off at 10:00 am while the Pedal Power Tractors begin pulling at 12:30 pm. Delmarva Feed will sponsor the Corn Hole Tournament which begins at noon.  Then get ready to gobble at 4:00 pm when the Youth Turkey Calling Contest begins.  Cover band Vice Squad, featuring local DJ Keith Thompson, will supply the music leading up to the 4-H Livestock and Cake Auctions starting at 7:30 pm Saturday. Chicken bbq is the specialty for Saturday.

 

Chainsaw sculpture by Kent County native Josh Miller.

Kent County native Josh Miller will be on site all three days doing chainsaw carving demos throughout the day and some of his pieces will be auctioned off Saturday evening at the Livestock auction. Miller is a 1999 KCHS graduate currently living in Felton, DE.

On Sunday morning, the fair is not open to the public, but 4-H’ers along with their parents, leaders, and other exhibitors and participants will gather for clean-up followed by a tug-of-war, a Final Challenge, and the 4-H Awards presentation.  All 4-H’ers are required to attend.

Throughout the fair, M & M Amusements will provide the rides. Demonstrations, contests, vendors and of course great food will be featured each day. Plan a visit to beautiful Kent County and spend a great day or two or three at the Kent County Fair. The minimal $2 per person admission includes all entertainment and exhibits except rides. It’s the best deal on the shore!

The full schedule for the Kent County Fair is available online.

 

 

Map of Kent County Fair Grounds

 

Delmarva Review: Poems on Gilbert Byron and Maple Leaves by Kelley K. Malone

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PICTURES: REMEMBERING GILBERT, CHESAPEAKE’S THOREAU

Toward the end, you wanted to take my picture.

Your eyes, blue under a milky veil, turned in my direction.
I took your hand, light and dry, and we made our way
out the groaning door you had built generations before,
out into the woods shrouding your cabin, out with Old House Cove

cupping the creek of San Domingo, shimmering in the sun behind.

Was it I who clung to the sleeve of your sweater, stumbling over roots elbowing up from the earth?

I gave you the camera and backed away.

Dear, where are you?

Light streaked down the tall oaks and stout pine, Light filtered through the crouching dogwoods offering delicate plates of white petals.

Gilbert, over here!

Standing firm amidst the splashing light,
you aimed at the center of the sound of your name and shot.

Later I told you the pictures were lovely—
one, a partial sky eclipsed by thumb,
one, a floor of dry leaves restless as bones,
one, I wore an explosion of light in the midst of something black.

On all, I signed my name on the back. I did not know what else to do.

MAPLE LEAVES

I admire the dignity of the maple leaves,
lifting their green palms to the sky in summer sun
and turning silver backs to the north wind
and bowing down to the earth in rain without moaning or pouting or expecting reward for being
what they were born to be.

And in the fall when the coolness comes and the life blood of the leaves retreats down the trunk
through roots burrowed
deep into the bosom
of the earth
and the leaves
blush and curl
and crumble

they do not
as I might
break down
into despair rather,
in breaking down
they feed the hungry ground

breaking down
they feed the hungry ground.

Kelley K. Malone has devoted her career to working for people with disabilities on Maryland’s mid-shore in the not-for-profit sector and has served as an elected official on the Easton Town Council. She has one son, Michael, a bachelor’s degree from Salisbury University in Secondary Education and an executive MBA from Loyola University. She writes in rare moments of free time.

The Delmarva Review is a nonprofit literary journal publishing compelling new poetry, fiction and nonfiction from writers within the region and beyond. About sixty percent are from the Delmarva and Chesapeake Bay area. The journal is supported by the Eastern Shore Writers Association, private contributions, and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. For more information, please visit: www.delmarvareview.com.

Tipping Points by Jamie Kirkpatrick

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In his debut book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” Gladwell is attempting to explain (successfully in my opinion!) sociological change whereas I’m thinking about log canoes, those beautiful, two-masted sailing vessels that are unique to the Chesapeake Bay. At one time, log canoes were the primary oystering and fishing boats of the Bay, but when the Bugeye and the Skipjack came along, they were relegated to sailing history or to racing. Now they are the stuff of dreams, a perfect spectacle on a bluebird Sunday afternoon.

Down on Hell’s Delight in Langford Bay, it was poetry in motion, a water ballet, performed by a dozen nimble acrobats. (It’s hard to be nimble when you’re 30 feet long (give or take a few feet) and weigh a ton or two, but a good breeze has that effect on a log canoe.) Hewn from loblolly pine and constructed from several logs joined together lengthwise, the biggest log canoes require a crew of twelve or more including one lucky (lightweight) sailor who sits aft, suspended in an outrigger over the water, whose job it is to trim the mainsail. The other members of the crew are a human balancing act. Because log canoes have a bountiful sail area and almost no ballast, they need added weight to counterbalance the force of the sails. Cue the hiking boards—long, flat planks, hooked at one end under the cockpit and stuck sideways over the opposite gunwale—and the crew members who scramble out on them to keep the canoe from keeling over.

Which brings us back to the tipping point. Most of the time, the hiking boards and their human ballast keep the boats upright, but occasionally, a sudden gust of wind or an unexpected swell will cause a boat to keel over. Gravity takes over and things get out of balance. All of a sudden, you’re in the water, not flying along on it.

This is not the Gladwellian tipping point: that moment when we cross one threshold and enter new, unchartered, and potentially exciting territory. On the contrary; it seems to me that when one of those big log canoes keels over (as one did on Sunday), the crew is precisely where it doesn’t want to be: wet, cold, and out of the race. Moreover, it takes a lot of effort to right a log canoe—all that wet canvass is heavy!—as much effort, say, as it takes to heal a wound, or to right a wrong, or to eventually make your way to the finish line.

So what’s the answer? Stay in port where it’s always safe? No. Get out on the water. Boats tip over; it’s part of sailing. Do everything you can to stay upright and moving forward, but if you do tip over, learn to right the ship quickly and get back in the race. Lean as far out as you can on that hiking board; accept responsibility; tell the truth. You’ll dry off soon enough.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015.  A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was released in May and is already in its second printing. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com.

Horizons Celebrates “LT Day” in Memory of LT Goodall

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LT Goodall

Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s—a summer academic and enrichment program for promising students with limited economic means—celebrated “LT Day” yesterday in honor and memory of LT Goodall, a true Horizons Hero who led the program’s turnaround and success for many years. The annual celebration was held at Horizons’ campuses at Gunston and Radcliffe Creek, and centered on learning activities that fostered LT’s spirit of “giving back.”

As one of the activities, students learned about Lifetime Wells International, an organization that brings life-saving, clean water to the people of Ghana and other poor African nations by drilling fresh water wells in local villages. Without these wells, villagers are forced to walk many miles each day to drink unclean and unsafe water—resulting in dangerous health problems. Students also celebrated with an ice cream social hosted by Horizons Board members.

As their LT Day project, each class was given a $500 “donation budget,” and asked to research and select a worthy water-related charity. Classes then developed end-of-day presentations about their selected charity and why they believed it was worthy of their class donation. Next, each class will send their $500 donation to their selected charity and await a response.

Since 1995, the Horizons summer learning program has served hundreds of Kent and Queen Anne’s County children at or below the poverty level, as part of a national initiative to reduce the summer slide. The six-week program, headquartered at The Gunston School in Centreville and at Radcliffe Creek School and Washington College in Chestertown, serves 175 promising local students from Pre-K through eighth grade.
Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s is one of 51 affiliates of the Horizons National summer learning program that focuses on reading, writing, and math. Students improve academically, learn to swim, and participate in activities that foster creativity, confidence, and good health.