Bookies over Pollsters


By Harry M. Covert

The thing about polls, the political kind, is simply they allow political connoisseurs to become “experts” and, quite obviously, legends in their own minds.

Mostly professional predictions are guess work at best but they do make for fun conversations.

       Instead of driving ourselves mad by wishful thinking and hoping, the best predictions come from talking to the bookies. Campaigns spend quite a lot of donor money on pollsters to cover aspirations.

Take a gander at the wizards in the gambling meccas. What do we see? Usually the best pickers and choosers. If you want wise choices on “hoss” racing and the “ponies”, baseball, football or hockey championships, and the collegiate competitions,  local bookies are best.

They are as virtuous as the national lines out of Nevada and probably from Maryland Live, the “educational institution” at Arundel Mills, Hanover.

As of today, the state is bragging that some 11 million dollars have been paid out in winning since the casino opened. They also report there are lots of jobs available, such as senior vice president for marketing, poker supervisor (no card sharks need inquire), dealers of all sorts and especially food purveyors like chefs of all categories and servers.

       It is a wonderful thing that the Free State’s public schools and other coffers are growing with the green, although I haven’t seen the matriculation of money in Frederick. I feel certain a good report of the good gambling will surface soon.

There is no intention to hurt anyone’s feelings but the “one-armed bandits” make for interesting plays. Always have. First time I ever visited Maryland was many years ago en route to the Laurel horse races.  Once inside the state line the first stopover was a hotel with a number of slot machines.


This was not Bobby Baker’s Carousel. Baker, old-timers might recall, was often considered a senatorial bagman. Just gossip of course. He was an aide to the senate majority leader at the time, the Texas senator. Okay, the latter was L. B. Johnson.

Companions that day were a race-horse owner whose entry was scheduled to run at Laurel. The other was a restaurant owner, both horse devotees from Virginia.

       Being a big spender, I put a nickel in the slot machine. Bada bing, $20 dollars in coin came my way. That was all of the winning I had. Later in the day at the raceway, the Virginia horse came in first. How exciting. Moments after the elation, the horse was disqualified. The jockey was seen “cropping” his challenger.

At the window, a tout suggested not to bet on the horse. I ignored him and placed $2.

From that day to this, I listen to the bookies, even if I don’t place any real money on races, sporting or political.

Now the purpose of this conversation? Those in the know, are quietly predicting and giving odds (to their benefit of course) that in November the current lieutenant governor will become Maryland’s governor; that sitting governor has no chance in a Democratic presidential bid; that the current Frederick County sheriff, Board of Commissioners President and his colleagues will receive overwhelming votes.

The above is the latest from odds-makers. So in the public interest, and since education is the most important thing, the recommendation is this: keep your wagers in Maryland and no more visits to Charlestown.

It’s too early, some say, to set odds for Maryland Terrapins’ football chances in the Big Ten. The Ravens probabilities for either jail visits or NFL opportunities are 50-1. The Orioles are 15-1 to win the World Series (Washington Nationals are 10-1).  Leftover Redskins fans, odds are 55-1 to reach the Super Bowl.

Pollsters versus the friendly local oddsmakers? It’s the latter of course.◄


 By Harry M. Covert

From the sublime to the ridiculous.The best way to change leadership on levels is the ballot box.  Watching the crowd in the nation’s capital is further proof they are out of touch with the nation.

In this printed space it’s supposed to be dignified and proper to discuss the foibles of our local government leaders as well as those on the state and federal level without silliness and bogus opinions and suggestions.

As the world seemingly is on the brink of disaster, Frederick’s city and county managers and office holders seem to be in the quality category and holding their own.

If we continue to learn anything it’s that the mess continues and the whole world is watching us in shock and awe, to borrow an old saying.

Let us stop and think, seriously, for a moment. I can well be a partisan, and I am, but how the nation has reached such a stage where congressional leaders obviously are caring only for themselves.

It is a complete and utter waste of time and political energy threatening and planning to sue Mr. O of Pennsylvania Avenue.  Or to even consider an impeachment process when the nation needs action.

Reading and listening to the politicians of both sides “efforting” just to make hay,that is headlines, good poll numbers and hopefully getting re-elected is discouraging. I’ve been following the politics game a long time and this stage is nothing less than frightening.

From this standpoint, imagine how bad shape Frederick county and city would be if leaders just haggled all the time and never had a vote for the betterment of all citizens. At least, the commissioners and aldermen do what they say.

The old joke is that journalists and used car sales rank at the bottom of public favorites. That has changed more than somewhat with the current crop of would-be congressmen and senators.


Sure would be good to see in this day and age the likes of William Donald Schaefer, a man who made things happen, as Baltimore’s mayor and Maryland’s governor. The national constituency misses such doers as North Carolina’s Jesse Helms, Georgia’s Sam Nunn, Virginia’s Harry F. Byrd, Jr. and John Warner, and Frederick’s Roscoe Bartlett. These were outstanding leaders who represented not only their states but the nation.

There are plenty of good candidates out there who won’t be susceptible to the antics of the crowd holding the “keys to the kingdom” as it were.

       It is not a positive feeling to put the knock on the incumbents.  There are ways to handle the immigration problem. There are ways to keep people working and retiring successfully. There are ways to be leaders in the world without acting so weakly.

Nothing is wrong with taking a firm hand in matters, large or small. Something is wrong when political partisans throw out red herrings to stall and to avoid making decisions.

Fortunately there have been some above average decision-makers. Who can forget when a Maryland governor, his office filled with a bunch of protesting college students and had them thrown out.

It’s hard to forget the man from Missouri who fired, without equivocation, a five-star general for disobeying his civilian boss.

It’s hard to forget the old actor who got the American hostages released from Iran on his first day in the oval office.

There may be some who disagree with the taxi driver-commissioners’ president, who tells early what he’s going to do and does it, and harbors no flimflamming.

Everything rises and falls on leadership. Friends, the term limit issue comes up again, less than 90 days until that November day.◄◄