Carroll County Times

Carter: Thoughts on election signs, presidential novels and seeing both sides

Here are some quick-hitter type thoughts from an editor who has the beach on his brain and is ready to check out for a much-anticipated vacation away from his e-mail inbox.

Election signs

Is it just me, or should there be a statute of limitations on how long election signs are able to stay up once a candidate has lost? The primary wrapped up nearly a month ago now, yet I’m still seeing signs for candidates that didn’t make it through to the general election.


During a visit to New Windsor earlier this week, I came across three signs of losing candidates (two of them who lost handily) within 10 square feet of each other. Not to mention the billboards along the major highways that still have a few losing candidates’ signs on them.

Carroll County Board of Elections Director Katherine Berry told me that any campaign signs that are on private property is up to the discretion of the property owner to keep them up or take them down. Any campaign signs on public roads property are removed by the State Highway Administration.


I guess keeping up the signs of defeated candidates can be a way to silently protest the winner. Either way, I look forward to November when all of them go away.

Bill Clinton’s new novel

After picking up a few new reading materials this week at the book store (yes, they do still exist), I happened past a display featuring a new novel from author James Patterson and former President Bill Clinton entitled “The President is Missing.” I didn’t pick it up, but I admit I was intrigued.

I haven’t read much of Patterson’s stuff, but know he’s widely regarded for largely lending his name to collaborative efforts with other authors, letting them do a bulk of the writing, and acts almost as quality control with big picture ideas and pointing out where it can be better. (Sounds a bit like an editor to me… .) Anyway, considering Clinton gets top billing on this one, that probably means Slick Willy did a majority of the writing.

According to the book’s description: “As the novel opens, a threat looms. Enemies are planning an attack of unprecedented scale on America. Uncertainty and fear grip Washington. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the cabinet. The President himself becomes a suspect, and then goes missing... .”

While presidents and other politicians are no strangers to writing books, most of them are memoirs, autobiographies or extended essays on public policy. As best I can tell, Clinton is the first president to write a novel after his time in the White House.

President Donald Trump, who has written more books than anyone to hold the office of president (14, putting him three ahead of Jimmy Carter) is the only other one to appear as an author of a novel. “Trump Tower” was published in 2011 with Trump as the author, although it has since been credited to Jeffrey Robinson.

The book was initially the idea for a television series, in the mold of “Dallas” or “Dynasty.” When the TV series didn’t work out, it was published as a novel instead. The book received criticism for being sexist; the New York Post compared the story line to “50 Shades of Grey,” and Esquire magazine categorized “Trump Tower” as erotic literature. Trump himself appeared as a character in the book and several other celebrities make cameo appearances including, coincidentally, President Bill Clinton.

Seeing both sides

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Speaking of “shades of gray,” is it possible — nay, allowable — these days to consider that people on both sides of a debate or argument may raise a legitimate point?


As I write this, my family and I have already made the trip to Cape May County, New Jersey, for our summer vacation, staying in the small town of Villas with my mother-in-law for a few days.

While taking a walk through town, I noticed a number of signs posted at homes and businesses stating “We Support Our Police.” I thought that was kind of cool, but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered about the undertones of such a statement during a time when law enforcement is increasingly scrutinized for unjust shootings, particularly of African-American males.

I think very highly of law enforcement officers. They do a job many of us are unwilling to do, and they take a lot of flak from a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons. They encounter horrible things, and see people at their lowest. I do not envy police one bit.

But I’m also not naïve enough to think that police officers — or anyone for that matter — is infallible. There are a few bad apples that, frankly, give the rest a bad name. And those individuals should be taken to task for their actions.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into these signs, but they seem to intimate unequivocal support for law enforcement regardless of circumstances. That kind of thinking troubles me.

We don’t live in a black and white world. It would be nice if we could see the nuance from time to time and consider that, if we open our ears and listen, there might be some salient points coming from the other side.