The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, July 28, 2019


Think of the Baltimore controversy as a triangle.

On one vertex, we have the beleaguered citizens of Baltimore, many of whom are African American, and many, but not all, who suffer because the city itself, its institutions, its education system, its infrastructure, and its economy have all failed.

On the second vertex, we have "the infestation of rats"—by any rational assessment, a symbol of the myriad failures of a city that has been under Democratic leadership for 52 years!

On the third vertex, we have the political leadership of Baltimore, nine Democratic Mayors going back over five decades, legislators in an historically blue state, and federal representatives, including 11-term Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who is often praised as a leader in civil rights.

And at the geometric center of the triangle, we have the President of United States, Donald Trump, who looked at the current state of Baltimore, MD and decided in his blunt and sometimes classless way, that one vertex of the triangle needed to be called out—aggressively.

Trump certainly didn't come out in favor of the Rats, because he used them as a metaphor for what's wrong with the city. He didn't come out against the people of Baltimore, because despite the deranged claims that his criticism was "racist," his comments were clearly anti-Rat, not anti-People. Trump attacked the third vertex—the Democratic leadership of the city at all levels, who have done relatively little to improve Baltimore's plight.

But criticism never goes over well with Democrats, and criticism by Trump, particularly when it hits far too close to home, deserves an appropriately outraged response. Hence, the Dems' old standby—"racism!" After all, when you've been in charge for five decades, and not very much has changed for the better, you're sorta in an indefensible position. So ... racism!!!

After all, it's dangerous to allow people to consider the ramifications of five decades of blue governance and as a consequence, ask a few fundamental questions:
  • Has Democrat leadership been effective in Baltimore?
  • Have Democrat promises been kept over the past five decades?
  • Are the problems that are endemic in Baltimore and many, many other blue cities really due to systemic racism or are there other issues that need to be addressed?
  • Have tax dollars (city, state and federal) been spent to help Baltimore's citizens appreciably or have they been spent on programs and projects that have benefitted only a few, including the politicians who administered them?
  • What could the citizens of Baltimore lose by electing a GOP mayor, just to see if he or she might do a better job?
With a single tweet, Donald Trump brought those questions front and center, but the Dems really, really don't want African Americans inside Baltimore and across the United States to get honest answers, particularly when the answers will not reflect well on the party. So ... racism!!!

It's the perfect response. The questions don't have to be answered. In fact, they don't even have to be asked. Because ... racism!


In my view, one of the five best multi-year series in the history of television was The Wire. Wikipedia provides a quick abstract for the series:
Set and produced in Baltimore, Maryland, The Wire introduces a different institution of the city and its relationship to law enforcement in each season, while retaining characters and advancing storylines from previous seasons. The five subjects are, in chronological order: the illegal drug trade, the seaport system, the city government and bureaucracy, education and schools, and the print news medium. The large cast consists mainly of actors who are little known for their other roles, as well as numerous real-life Baltimore and Maryland figures in guest and recurring roles. Simon has said that despite its framing as a crime drama, the show is "really about the American city, and about how we live together. It's about how institutions have an effect on individuals. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, all are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution to which they are committed."
Every character in The Wire was beautifully constructed, but in my view, the most compelling was Omar Little, played by Michael K. Williams. Omar was an ominous character—dangerous and violent with a long vertical scar across his face—who made his living stealing from drug dealers (and lived until season five to tell the story). But in his own way, he made the story real and was a philosopher of sorts. Here's an interchange between Omar and defense attorney, Maurice Levy:
Levy: You are amoral, are you not? You are feeding off the violence and the despair of the drug trade. You're stealing from those who themselves are stealing the lifeblood from our city. You are a parasite who leeches off—

Omar: Just like you, man.

Levy: —the culture of drugs...excuse me, what?

Omar: I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It's all in the game, though, right?
For the politicians who make empty promises, who enrich themselves and their supporters, who say all the right words, but accomplish little, "It's all in the game, though, right?"