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Well, thank goodness that’s over.

I’m not exactly sure why it is, but over the years my ability to tolerate American political campaigns has eroded. I remember in college and my early years as a reporter feeling a sort of hostile glee at the missteps and absurdities of both sides.

“Welfare queens?” I remember chortling. “Did he really say that?” and “What made him think he’d look good in that tank?”

Now, though, it just starts irritating me earlier and earlier, beginning this go-round about the second time Sarah Palin was coy about whether or not she’d run in 2012. And that was in 2009 or so. Yes, dear readers, I’ve been irritated for quite some time.

Part of it is the terribly earnest tones of political campaigns. The ads seem all of a piece, a voiceover in the tone of someone discussing an ex-spouse’s new sweetie, with dire and exaggerated accusations poorly sourced in tiny type at the bottom of the screen.

“Candidate so-and-so voted to kill puppies by beating them to death with baby seals. Does America need another politician who eats bugs and hasn’t showered since the Carter administration?”

I can see, from the campaign manager’s point of view, why this kind of thing is necessary. As much as I would find it refreshing, even enlightening, to see an ad that laid out, perhaps in side-by-side charts, a la Ross Perot (remember him? We’re terribly, terribly old), the candidates’ positions on, say, reform of maritime salvage laws, or reducing the federal deficit, such an ad would be as boring as C-SPAN.

Campaign ads about issues are the equivalent of news stories about municipal finance: sometimes vital but almost never gripping. My rule of thumb is that any story with the word “budget” in the headline might as well just go ahead and tell the reader “Boring story here, move along to the feature about the tap-dancing granny.” (Protip: Use the word “tax” instead. Readers want to hear about how much is coming out of their wallets.)

The positive ads are just as bad in their mawkish, sickly sweet attempts to portray their man as combining the traits of every American hero from George Washington to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., only with better hair and a more wholesome family life. Those shots with golden light on the candidate’s smiling face, teeth blinding white, square jaws slightly uplifted as they look into the benevolent future they will create are about as phony as anything Hollywood could dream up, and I say that knowing full well that Disney just bought the Star Wars franchise.

Of course, politics at the local level is quite different. It’s harder to be as overtly nasty in ads or on the stump if there’s a chance you’re going to run into your opponent at the farmers market one morning. Who wants to be confronted with hostile words, and perhaps an angrily brandished butternut squash, when out food shopping? Besides, in small towns, it’s much more effective to spread calumny and innuendo via the rumor mill. And the rumor mill is free.

Wouldn’t it be better if we could all just get along and sit down for a down-home family meal with the good folks from the church mentioned in the item below?

Church ready to cook up a Thanksgiving feast Nov. 22

The Rev. Derrick N. Brown, pastor, and the Commission of Evangelism and Outreach at New Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church of Waldorf will hold a Thanksgiving Day dinner to serve more than 100 guests between noon and 4 p.m. Nov. 22.

The church is inviting local shelter residents, those involved with LifeStyles of Maryland, families enrolled in county public schools and anyone in the community who doesn’t have family in the area or a place to go on Thanksgiving Day to come share a home-cooked meal and fellowship, according to Brown.

“We are reaching out, seeking volunteers and local businesses in the community to assist us with this effort. ... Partners and volunteers can donate their time to help serve, provide transportation or contribute turkeys, hams, mashed potatoes, desserts, rolls, sweet potatoes, potato salad and/or vegetables,” or monetary donations, Brown said in a news release.

Sponsors include Costco, BJ Wholesalers, Red Robin, Walls Bakery and Honey Baked Hams.

The church is at 12310 Washington Square in Waldorf.

Call Kim Graham or John Bradham at 301-870-6460. The dinner is free, but reservations by Nov. 19 are encouraged.

Volunteers sought

The Charles County District Court is seeking experienced litigators to volunteer to conduct settlement conferences for the Day of Trial Alternative Dispute Resolution Program.

Volunteers must be in good standing with the Maryland Bar and have practiced civil litigation in the District Court of Maryland for at least three years.

Applications are available at

Contact Leona Elliott at 410-260-1677 or or contact Nancy Kreitzer at 443-550-6727 or

College hosting drive-in movie night

The College of Southern Maryland will show “Madagascar 3” at a Family Fun Drive-In Movie Night at 8 p.m. Nov. 9 in parking lot 3 at the La Plata campus at 8730 Mitchell Road.

The CSM Student Association is hosting the showing of the children’s animated feature on a 20-foot-by-15-foot screen. To avoid disruptions, guests are asked to arrive 45 minutes before the movie starts. Guests are encouraged to bring their own refreshments.

Contact Jennifer Lesesne at or 301-870-3008 ext. 7048. For aLa Plata campus map, go to

Black chamber, community group set town hall

The Southern Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Maryland Consortium of African American Community Organizations, with the Charles County Department of Economic Development and the Charles County Chamber of Commerce, will host a town hall meeting 6:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 15 at the College of Southern Maryland’s La Plata campus, Center for Business and Industry Building, room 113.

Issues such as improved access to services and opportunities for small businesses, higher education resources for young adults and adults, Internet connectivity and information on key legislative issues for the 2013 Session of the Maryland General Assembly all are on the table.

The groups have invited officials from local, state and federal government to speak with small businesses and citizens. Verizon has agreed to participate in the meeting to share information on services. The groups will invite other service providers to future meetings, according to a news release from the groups.

Contact Doris J. Cammack Spencer at 410-257-9599 or

Fracking discussion scheduled in Calvert

Is natural gas hydraulic fracturing fracking the answer to energy independence and job growth or environmental nightmare? Calvert Library Prince Frederick is hosting a conversation about this controversial process of harvesting natural gas at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 at the library 805 Coakley Way. Speakers will share varied viewpoints, then the audience can ask questions.

Those who have agreed to speak include Emily Wurth, a Food & Water Watch representative; Del. Shane Robinson (D-Montgomery), a representative pushing for a formal ban on fracking in Maryland; Douglas Duncan, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey; and Steve Everly, a spokesman from the Energy In Depth campaign launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which is focused on public education “about the promise and potential of responsibly developing American’s onshore energy resource base,” according to a library news release

Call the Calvert Library Prince Frederick at 410-535-0291 or 301-855-1862 or go to

Sustainability and pest management workshop set

Anne Arundel County Extension will host a session for pesticide recertification and nutrient applicator voucher training 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Davidsonville Family Recreation Center at 3789 Queen Anne Bridge Road.

The workshop will explore advanced crop production practices focusing on sustainability, food security and integrated pest management tactics. Topics will include crop selection; integrated crop management; soil fertility; weed control; insect control; and disease control for field crops, fruits and vegetables.

To register, contact the Anne Arundel County Extension Office at 410-222-6759.

November SCOOP is out

The November 2012 Charles County Department of Community Services issue of The SCOOP is online at Printed copies are available at local senior centers.

The SCOOP contains news, special events and trips, and this issue features Thanksgiving events at county senior centers.

The Richard R. Clark Senior Center at 1210 Charles St. in La Plata will host an “Encore Thanksgiving,” a production from the Baltimore Senior Showcase, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 15.

There will be singing, dancing and lots of laughs. Lunch will be a traditional Thanksgiving menu with all the fixings; bingo after lunch. Registration is required beforehand. The fee is $6.

The Indian Head Senior Center at 100 Cornwallis Square will have a Thanksgiving party with a Dean Martin impersonator 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 15. A special performance by Eric Richardson will bring the true spirit of Deano. Fee of $8 includes entertainment, lunch and door prizes. Registration deadline is Nov. 8.

The Nanjemoy Community Center will have a traditional Thanksgiving feast 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 15. Deadline to register is Nov. 13. Fee is $5.50, donation for those 60 and older.

The Waldorf Senior Center at 3092 Crain Highway will celebrate blessings with “Ballet Mobile” 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 15. An interactive ballet program reminds the audience of all the good things in their lives.

Enjoy a Thanksgiving lunch after the program. Fee is $8.

Go to or call 301-934-9305 or 301-870-3388.

Grant funds stuffed ham event at St. Mary’s City

Explore a local culinary tradition during the annual Hearth and Home in Early Maryland event at the visitor center at 18751 Hogaboom Lane in Historic St. Mary’s City 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 23 and 24.

The State Arts Council recently awarded a Maryland Traditions Project Grant to the museum to bring stuffed ham into focus at HSMC’s annual exploration of Colonial foodways. The event features hands-on activities, hearth cooking and food preservation.

Contact the museum visitor center at 240-895-4990 or 800-SMC-1634.

Art, essays sought for contest

The Port Tobacco chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is accepting entries in its annual Junior American Citizens Contest.

The contest promotes good citizenship and appreciation of American heritage and history among school-age children.

This year’s theme is “Invest in America’s Future.”

The JAC Committee offers contests in art, creative expression and community service for all children in grades prekindergarten to 12. This includes public, private and home-schooled children.

The deadline is Jan. 16.

For entry information, email