A VOICE of BALTIMORE POLITICAL COMMENTARY


 

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died earlier this year

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died this year.

A GOOD MAN WITH GOOD INTENTIONS
A
WHO MAY HAVE DONE GREAT HARM

 
An ‘originalist’ & clever writer who larded his work
with misleading contemporary references
that falsely suggested he was in touch
with profound cultural changes

A GRESHAM’S LAW OF POLITICS
 
By Bjarne Rostaing
 
The dust has cleared, we have a damaged Supreme Court, and the canonization of Celebrity Justice Antonin “Nino” Scalia is official. His greatness is accepted by all sectors of the political spectrum and the media, which would probably have amused him.

He might joke about how many friends he acquired by dying. His death put talking heads and politicians of all types under a spell, and they scrupulously avoided even the suggestion of any reservations, fearful of the man even in death and mindful of his powerful living allies.

His host at the time of his death was the brilliant but fatally compromised John Poindexter of Iran-Contra fame, pardoned by his partner in that crime, Bush 41.

But yes, Nino was a decent law-abiding and friendly man who meant no harm. No one seems to have disliked him much.

Good men may do great harm though, and do it with a sense of virtue that distracts criticism and seems to lend righteous substance to their actions.

Scalia did this:  Toppling the voting rights act (2013) opened the way to disenfranchise the poor, a serious attack on something taken for granted for many decades.

Conflating the rights of men with those of corporations (Citizens United) was a profound incursion on common sense, going against a long tradition of keeping unlimited money out of politics, and we’re seeing the results as billionaires like Adelson and the Kochs pour money into politics in hopes of buying the presidency.

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Former FMC Chairman and Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley turns 90 Nov. 28th. At her 90th birthday celebration in November 2013

Former Baltimore Sun reporter and Maritime Editor, FMC Chairman and Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley, shown here at her 90th birthday celebration in Nov. 2013.  (VoB File Photo/Bonnie Schupp)

THE FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN
AND CHIEF CHEERLEADER
OF THE PORT OF BALTIMORE
DIED SATURDAY AT AGE 92

The son of a bitch who caused it!
 
Feisty to the end, and checking out on her own terms, former Baltimore Sun reporter and Maritime Editor Helen Delich Bentley died Saturday at her home in Lutherville, where she had been in hospice care for more than a month.

The five-term congresswoman and staunch advocate of the Port of Baltimore, whose bi-weekly shipping column was once syndicated in more than 200 newspapers, was 92.

At a Baltimore Sun reunion lunch five years ago, retired Night Editor and former rewrite man Dave Ettlin asked Bentley about her infamous streak of four-letter words on a ship-to-shore telephone in 1969 that caused the Federal Communications Commission to abruptly cut her off the air, an incident which made headlines round the world and embarrassed then-President Richard Nixon, who, with much hoopla, had just appointed her Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission but then refused to swear her in at the Oval Office.

Bentley gleefully described the incident to Ettlin (who was not on rewrite the night of its occurrence), but then pointed a finger at the former Sun reporter and rewrite man who was — AL Forman, now the Managing Editor of Voice of Baltimore — with the admonition, “And there’s the son of a bitch who caused it!”

She was only half-kidding, of course: Bentley was never one to mince words. But she had mellowed in her old age, and had actually begun to use such language as “please” and “thank you,” niceties that were unknown to her throughout her professional life, where she attained praise and notoriety for being crusty and tough.

It was central to her success: She fought her way to the top in professions — newspaper reporting, television and the maritime industry — that were virtually closed to women when she started out. She quickly recognized that the only way she could get ahead in that so-called “man’s world” was to be as tough as nails — and to cuss like a longshoreman.

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Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard last week risked her polit- ical career by resigning as a Vice-Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders for President.

Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard risked her political career this year by resigning as a Vice-Chairperson of the Democratic Na- tional Committee to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders for President. Last week she put his name in nomination at the Democratic Convention.

A RARE SIGN THAT THE PARTY
IS NOT QUITE DEAD… YET

If ever new blood & change
were urgently needed,
the time is now

DEMOCRATS INERT & INBRED
 
By Bjarne Rostaing
 
It was startling to see Rep. Tulsi Gabbard nominating The Bern at the Democratic Convention last week. Many gave her up as politically dead after her March DNC kerfuffle with Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Subtle is not DWS’s style, and the stench of blatant favoritism emanating from the Democratic National Committee was not manageable. A blatant Clinton ally, she pulled out all the stops.

That was over the top for Gabbard, her No. 2 at the DNC. Gabbard was a Sanders fan and she didn’t accept seeing him screwed every day and twice on Sunday. She would also have been his perfect running mate and heir apparent.

Few took special note of Gabbard’s defection, and it might have been forgotten in the heat of the convention, but for DWS. Debbie knew she was being fired because of leaked emails revealing her machinations and she refused to go quietly, placing herself stage-center and treating her fellow Dems to a pile of streaming scat that destroyed the all-important Party unity theme on Day 1 and disrupting what should have been a fairly routine process.

People wondered what she has on Clinton to be getting up in her grille like that and getting away with it.

Gabbard was in political limbo after leaving the DNC behind, going from anonymous to endangered. The courage to confront DWS (and by implication, Clinton, her close ally) was striking.

It made Gabbard visible and interesting, especially in light of serious non-political credentials that gave her a real-world perspective. For a machine politician like DWS, the Near East would be a political problem, but Gabbard had been there on the ground as a military officer. She emerged not as another hawk, but someone who saw that messing around in Syria and the Near East generally was a bad idea.

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CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE — Thoreau, Snowden, and the Booz

Tuesday, July 12th 2016 @ 9:30 PM

 
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Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau is best known for his book Walden, which advocates simple living in natural surroundings, and his 1849 essay Resistance to Civil Government (a/k/a Civil Disobedience) which states that the individual has an obligation to disobey the laws of an unjust state.

Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau is best known for his seminal book Walden (first published in 1854 in Boston), which advocates simple living in natural surroundings; and his 1849 essay Resistance to Civil Government (a/k/a Civil Disobedience) which avers that the individual has an obligation to disobey the laws of an unjust state.

WHAT THE PHILOSOPHER/POET
AND THE WHISTLEBLOWER
HAVE IN COMMON

 
Posting as ‘TheTrueHOOHA’
 
By Bjarne Rostaing

Edward Snowden and Henry David Thoreau have little in common other than WASPdom.

Snowden is from a respectable middle class family, many of whose members worked for the government, and he happens to have a gift for computers and electronic information. Nothing to raise suspicion, and it was natural for him to work for the CIA, which he did for a time.

Thoreau was a different animal, a Boston Brahmin of the New England aristocracy, a dominant elite full of independent thinkers of impeccable roots going back to colonial times. The Adamses, Emerson, Hawthorne, William and Henry James, Melville, and the physician and writer Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (who coined the term) were members.

Snowden held tech jobs, Thoreau went off to live in the woods and think. He was a theorist, opinionated, lacking finesse. Not a hands-on guy or a leader in his set, but strong in his views. He wrote Walden, and then he came up with the notion of “civil disobedience,” a wild and crazy idea that when government creates a stench that your conscience can’t abide, it’s appropriate to be “disobedient,” and if possible, “stop the machine,” by which he meant the government.

The idea had legs, and so Thoreau became the patron saint of whistleblowers.

Snowden is a loner, too, like many techs, and very expert on information systems. He bypassed college degrees but was eminently employable, and smart enough to be trained by the government as a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), an ambiguous and controversial government qualification.

He was always civil, and became extremely disobedient. In his world he will be remembered as a heroic practitioner of what Thoreau wrote about in his Boston cocoon — though also a traitor by traditional definition.

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“Woodstein”:  Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein, left, and Bob Woodward heeded the advice of investigative source “Deep Throat” to “follow the money” and brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon.

“Woodstein”:  When young Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward, right, and Carl Bernstein (shown here in 1973) heeded the sage advice of inside Watergate source “Deep Throat” to “Follow the Money,” they help- ed bring down the corrupt presidency of Richard Nixon.

WHAT THE TRUMP & SANDERS FOLKS
HAVE IN COMMON:  RAW ENERGY

The Donald knows a good deal from a screwing

FOLLOWING THE MONEY;
HILLARY ABOVE THE LAW

 
By Bjarne Rostaing
 
Where did Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump come from? Their populist armies exploded from nowhere and made them national figures overnight, and except for raw energy they looked totally different.

Trump’s base was mainly angry disenfranchised white males from the right, and Sanders’ youthful gang of progressives looked as optimistic and innocent as Occupy Wall Street.

Neither man was politically connected or ever governed, but they were the story of the primaries, two underdogs tapping into a hard, grim dissatisfaction with 21st Century America, a place where you can’t afford an education that used to be almost free, or get a decent job once you have your sheepskin.

As far back as 1792, Alexander Hamilton described the American people as “a great beast.” In 2016, the “beast” is finally awake — and angry.

The raw energy of that angry beast is what the Trump and Sanders people have in common, and change is what they want, right and left, a need so urgent that both groups accept that it was worth the risk to break out.

Rearranging the deck chairs on our Titanic debt-ridden economy wasn’t working, and both groups were in revolt against globalism. Specifically they wanted out of those massive trade deals, which they saw as working for special interests and against the common good.

Say what you will about Trump, he knows a good deal from a screwing. Sanders gets that too: he’s an idealist, but he’s also a tough, smart Brooklyn Jew.

The heat was on and the most basic issues were finally being confronted: Do we continue to prioritize expensive foreign adventures like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and the “Asia Pivot,” or do we deal with domestic emergencies, starting with our reduced-income service economy, immigration, and our collapsing Third World infrastructure?

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