Friday, April 15, 2016

A couple of thoughts on local politics

Yesterday I saw that PAC ad for Donna Edwards, the one accusing Chris Van Hollen of cozying up the NRA, like six or seven times in 80 minutes. Twice in one six-commercial break! I also saw the Van Hollen rebuttal, twice. The rebuttal says Obama said the ad should be taken off the air, it's so dishonest, but the Edwards campaign can (semi-)legit claim it's not theirs I guess; at any rate, the thing is clearly not being taken down. They've edited Obama out of it, at the White House's insistence, but what's left is still pretty ... well, let's say strong.

Edwards vs Van Hollen is an interesting race. Van Hollen has been my representative and I like him; Edwards I know little about. But I don't like dishonest attack ads - that particular NRA-lobby-exemption was supported by lots of people and the bill had virtually no Republican support. Intransigence in support of idealism sounds good on the campaign trail, but we've seen how it plays out on the legislative floor. And I also don't like PACs and super PACs throwing lots of money into campaigns without being in any way controlled by of answerable to the candidates.

And another thing - we have a lot of mayoral candidates in Baltimore telling us that we need to get kids through school ("our schools don't work, our government doesn't work, and so our people don't work. Vote for me. I'll get Baltimore working."). The trouble is that a high school diploma won't put a kid into a job in a factory that moved overseas. Baltimore has an incredibly high unemployment rate in many neighborhoods where the shipyards and steel factories and manufacturing plants fled for cheap labor. Thousands and thousands of jobs were lost in the last thirty years - exactly how many seems up for debate, but over 100,000 is pretty universally acknowledged. Yes, more and better schools are needed. So is better policing. So is massive infrastructure investment. But industrial flight is at the heart of Baltimore's woes.

And I have yet to hear one of the candidates address where those jobs are going to come from.




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