Talking baseball, football and rain

I don’t pay much attention to baseball until the playoffs roll around. That’s when things get interesting.

Our O’s, one of the best if not the best hitting team in the 2013 baseball season, didn’t make the playoffs. The teams that did all had good pitching.

The two playing in this year’s World Series— the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals— might have the most outstanding pitching.

The quintessential baseball adage holds that good pitching will invariably beat good hitting, which might explain the absence of our O’s from this year’s playoffs.

Make no mistake about it: no baseball team could out hit the Orioles in 2013. “Dem O’s” whacked the ball out of the park more than any other major league baseball team.

If the Orioles had won more of the games in which the bullpen didn’t completely fail them, they’d have made the playoffs.

If their starting pitchers had turned in an even adequate performance in those games that the Orioles scored enough runs to win, they’d have won the American League Championship series.

And if their pitching was anywhere as good as their hitting, they’d have won the World Series already. By forfeit, the Cardinals wouldn’t even bother to show up.

If the Orioles keep their hitters and get some decent pitching in 2014, they’ll make a shambles of the American League.

How about them Ravens?

As of this writing their record is 3-4. The only reason they can’t lose on Sunday, October 27, is that they don’t play that day.

On Sunday, November 3, they play a pretty darned good Cleveland Browns team they barely beat in Baltimore in Cleveland. The next Sunday they play an excellent Cincinnati Bengals team that is 5-2 and look much better than the Ravens have looked in 2013.

Does anyone other than me think the Ravens are staring down the possibility of an 8-8, or even a 7-9, season?

I’m as devoted as the next Ravens fan, but I’m also a realist. There is no way the Ravens could have lost the talent they had on the 2012 season and still be as good as in 2013.

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis has retired; perennially excellent free safety Ed Reed is now a Houston Texan; wide receiver Anquan Bolden— the one player, more than any other, for the Ravens winning Super Bowl XLVII— now catches passes for the San Francisco 49ers, who are looking a darned sight better than the Ravens these days.

There are four American Football Conference teams that, at this point, are clearly superior to the Ravens: the Bengals, the Denver Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs (undefeated this season, a clear sign that the Apocalypse is upon us) and the Indianapolis-born-in-Baltimore Colts.

The Ravens have already lost to the Buffalo Bills, at best a middling team, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are having a losing season.

The outlook for the 2013 Ravens season is starting to look bleaker and bleaker.

And finally, a word of advice to our local TV weather forecasters— please shut up! Or, at the very least, shut up about the topic of rain or the perceived lack of it.

Every year these people call down a monsoon on us that lasts anywhere from two days to a week. How do they do this? By constantly moaning, whining and kvetching about a “shortage of precipitation.”

Now most of us, being normal Baltimoreans, don’t fret about the “shortage of precipitation.” We know we don’t live in the Sahara Desert, and that eventually it is going to rain.

Not so with local TV weather forecasters who, like most of their co-workers, simply aren’t from around here. (Most flagrant example: one newscaster actually said that the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and Mount Street was in southwest Baltimore. MAJOR faux pas.)

Maybe if the TV weather forecasters would ratchet down their “shortage of precipitation” talk, we can avoid these annual multi-day monsoons.

That ‘Chitling Test’ controversy

Forty-three years ago Adrian Dove, a black sociologist, created the Chitling Test of Intelligence.

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Gregory Kane

His motives— I’m sure he thought so, anyway— were noble. Dove was trying to prove how culturally biased traditional “intelligence tests” of that era were. And he was trying to refute the argument of those that contended there was a persistent 15-point gap between the average IQ scores of whites and blacks.

It was the black average IQ score that was supposedly 15 points lower, of course, and Dove and others felt it was all because of cultural bias. Develop an “intelligence test” that was culturally biased in favor of blacks, the argument went, and the gap would either disappear or be skewed in favor of blacks.

Thus was the Chitling Test of Intelligence born. The original test had 30 questions, but most Internet sites give only the shorter, 15-question version of the test, which was probably the version that went over like a fart in church down in Anne Arundel County recently.

According to an article in The Baltimore Sun from Friday, October 11, 2013, “Arundel High School teachers showed juniors and seniors the 1971 Chitling Test of Intelligence, created by African American sociologist Adrian Dove to demonstrate cultural differences between races.”

Reporter Joe Burris wrote that “the 15-question test, however, contains

inflammatory language that some find offensive.” Burris cited as an example the question that asked “What are the Dixie Hummingbirds?”

The five multiple-choice answers given were these: (9a.) part of the KKK, (b.) a swamp disease, (c.) a modern gospel group, (d.) a Mississippi Negro paramilitary group, (e.) Deacons.

Sorry, but I find nothing either inflammatory or offensive about the question. Not so with some of the others, which indeed might well have been either or both.

Take question six, which immediately preceded the one about the Dixie Hummingbirds.

“Cheap chitlings (not the kind you purchase at a frozen food counter) will taste rubbery unless they are cooked long enough. How soon can you quit cooking them to eat and enjoy them?”

The multiple-choice answers given are these: (a) 45 minutes, (b) two hours, (c) 24 hours, (d) one week (on a low flame), (e) one hour.

It’s not that I don’t have the slightest idea what the correct answer is; it’s that I really don’t care.

And how dare Dove assume— I don’t care that it was way back in 1971— that all black folks just kind of know, implicitly, the proper cooking time for “cheap chitlings”?

I wasn’t all that thrilled by question eight either.

“If you throw the dice and seven is showing on top, what is facing down?”

The multiple-choice answers are these: (a) seven, (b) snake eyes, (c) boxcars, (d) little Joes, (e) 11.

So, in Dove’s view circa 1971, it was a cultural imperative for black folks to participate in crap games on a regular basis?

The most inflammatory and offensive question would have to be number 13, which read like this:

“Hattie Mae Johnson is on the County. She has four children and her husband is now in jail for non-support, as he was unemployed and not able to give her any money. Her welfare check is now $286 per month. Last night she went out with the highest player in town. If she got pregnant, then nine months from now how much more will her welfare check be?”

I won’t even bother to give the five multiple-choice answers. With one question Dove, though black himself, managed to reinforce every white racist stereotype about promiscuous black women, deadbeat black fathers and those freeloading blacks living it up on welfare, at the expense of white folks, of course.

Jacqueline Boone Allsup, the president of the Anne Arundel County branch of the NAACP, is quoted in Burris’ story as saying, “To look at the test and see what it says, we were quite alarmed because of the impact it would have on students, how it could affect their self-esteem and the way they view themselves.”

Ah, there is so much more wrong with this test than that, Ms. Allsup.

What’s an investigative stop?

There is only one reaction that we should have to the revelation that Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts made an “investigative stop.”

That reaction would be one word: Huh?

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Gregory Kane

The euphemism “investigative stop” is another way of saying “stop and frisk,” a law enforcement practice that has fallen into disfavor after being routinely abused by the New York Police Department in recent years.

So Batts and Co. have decided that Baltimore police will not “stop and frisk.” Instead, they will make investigative stops, like the one Batts himself made recently of an alleged member of the gang known as the Black Guerilla Family.

Here are the details, as given in a Baltimore Sun story from Sunday, October 6, 2013:

“Batts told reporters on September 26, 2013, that he and his security team had conducted what the department now calls an ‘investigative stop’ in the Coldstream Homestead Montebello neighborhood. In making the stop, Batts said he was acting on information from a confidential informant.”

Huh? A confidential informant? A Terry stop made based on information from a confidential informant?

Excuse me, but aren’t confidential informants often— in fact almost always— criminals themselves, the dregs of humanity?

Ah, but there’s more. This story gets better and better, or worse and worse, depending on where you come down on things like civil liberties and police following constitutional practices.

Below is a direct quote from Batts: “What we explained to him was we had information that he was a hit man or enforcer. That I wanted him to know that I knew he was a hit man, and I went to talk to him we patted him down for weapons.”

Huh? That is NOT how a Terry stop is supposed to go. For a Terry stop to be legal and constitutional, a police officer has to have a reasonable suspicion that the person he is about to stop and frisk either has committed or is about to commit a crime.

Said reasonable suspicion has to be based on what the police officer observes a suspect doing, not the word of some miscreant that might also be masquerading as a confidential informant.

The term “Terry stop” comes from a 1968 Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Terry v. Ohio. A Cleveland police officer noticed three losers casing a downtown store and suspected they were about to rob the joint.

The officer stopped and frisked all three, recovering guns from two of them.

The justices ruled that both the stop and frisk were constitutional; they held that the officer didn’t need probable cause in that situation, only the “reasonable suspicion” that the three losers were up to no good.

Batts’ reasonable suspicion was based on what the confidential informant said, not what he observed. Result: our police commissioner made what, it seems like, was an illegal Terry stop.

But you know the folks at our BPD: to hear them tell it, their policies are NEVER wrong.

So it should come as no surprise that when Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, who handles the cop beat, asked for details about Batts’ “investigative stop,” he got what amounted to a brush-off.

“In a follow-up request for clarification, the agency said that Batts had been given ‘credible, reliable information’ that the man was ‘known to carry a gun……’ After several requests for comment or clarification about the basis for the stop, police officials said that Batts did have reasonable suspicion that the man was armed in that moment, but

declined to elaborate.”

Huh? By law, Terry stops require documentation. That means neither Batts nor anyone else has the luxury of “declining to elaborate.” The law says the man has to elaborate.

However, there is one comment coming from Baltimore’s cop shop that requires no “Huh?” answer. It’s this little gem that was part of Fenton’s story.

“The department also denied a request for documentation related to the stop, saying its release would ‘constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; prejudice an investigation and endanger the life and physical safety of an individual.”

No “huh?” necessary here. We all know what this is, don’t we?

It’s classical cop-ese that means, “We don’t want to answer that question, and don’t feel we have to.”

Should guys give up the strip club?

Really, Jacoby Jones? Really?

Here’s how the news stories went before Wednesday, September 25, 2013 when Baltimore Ravens wide receiver and kick returner Jacoby Jones decided to open his mouth.

Jones and some other Ravens went to Opera Ultra Lounge (wink, wink) in Washington, D.C. to celebrate teammate Bryant McKinnie’s birthday.

We all know why I’m winking, don’t we? It’s at that word “lounge,” which is little more than a euphemism for a strip club.

Jones and his teammates departed the lounge (wink, wink) and boarded a party bus. (Double wink winks here.) Some kind of altercation ensued that ended with a stripper cracking Jones over the head with a champagne bottle.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh expressed embarrassment and regrets about the incident that occurred the Monday after the Ravens beat the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium.

(Before I forget it, just who was that team that played the Texans, and what did they do with the Baltimore Ravens?)

Two days later, Jones took to the airwaves on radio station 105.7 to give his side of the story.

“I’m going to take the responsibility that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Jones said. “There was no altercation. There’s nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong but I take responsibility for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Enough said. I apologize to my teammates and everybody.”

Really Jacoby? Really?

If there was no altercation, if Jones “did nothing wrong,” then what in the wide, wide world of sports is he apologizing for?

What is he taking responsibility for, and what was wrong about the place and the time since, in Jones’ words, nothing was wrong?

Is Jones telling us, as I’ve suspected since the incident was first reported, that he DIDN’T, as the saying goes, “cop a feel” on one of the strippers and ended up getting his skull cracked open for his impertinence?

Jones’ comments sound like bat guano to me. It sounds like Ravens honchos pressured him into saying something, and what he ended up giving us was the drivel he spouted on 105.7.

A truly regretful man would have said this: “I was wrong to be in a strip club, and I won’t be going there again.”

I’m not going to suggest to readers that I’ve never been to a strip club. But I remember the last time I was in one, and it was work-related.

Go ahead, scoff and sneer. But it’s the truth.

Before I became a metro columnist for the Baltimore Sun in September of 1995, I worked the cop beat in the paper’s Anne Arundel County bureau for two years.

There was a story involving a county cop and some impropriety at a strip club. My editor asked if I wanted to patronize the club and get a feel for the place, the better to do a story.

Now I could tell you I accepted the assignment with a great deal of reluctance, but you all now I’d be lying my tush off.

Truth is, I needed no persuading, cajoling or convincing from the editor to take the assignment, which I couldn’t believe was being given to me.

I was being asked to attend a strip club where gorgeous women would shake their purty thangs in front of me. AND I’D GET PAID FOR IT. I bolted from the bureau office and headed to the club, convinced that journalism was the greatest profession ever.

But, as Jones found out the hard, painful way— his claim that he did “nothing wrong” notwithstanding— there’s a down side to attending strip clubs.

Need we recall where young Malcolm Shabazz— Malcolm X’s grandson— was when he met his early, untimely demise?

At a strip club in Mexico City. And where was Sean Bell just before some trigger happy New York City cops fired nearly 50 shots at him back in 2006?

Leaving a strip club, one that cops were investigating for evidence of drug violations and prostitution. Young Mr. Bell died after that encounter with police.

Jones got off lucky. At least he lived to tell his tale and profess his innocence, though I doubt anybody will believe him.

What’s the lesson to be learned? Guys, give up the strip club and stay home with the wife or girlfriend. Believe me, it’s a lot safer.

Return to stalag O’Malley?

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley couldn’t resist putting in his two cents worth about Baltimore’s recent crime surge. And our former mayor knows exactly what to do about it.

A “new strategy” to fighting crime in Baltimore is needed, the governor says. That’s what he said; here’s what he means.

By “new strategy,” O’Malley means Baltimore should return to the bad old days of his zero tolerance policy, when city cops ran buck wild over the populace.

Things got so bad I took to calling the city “Stalag O’Malley,” the better to describe how our then-mayor had reduced Baltimore to little more than a police state.

Remember the thrust of O’Malley’s zero tolerance policy: cops would arrest people for even the pettiest of crimes. Some of those arrested ended up spending an entire weekend at the Central Booking and Intake Center. (At one point inmates spent 48 to 72 hours in Central Booking.)

Let’s recall the lowlights of that time, shall we?

The jive humble arrest of Evan Howard: Howard graduated from the esteemed Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 2004. In April of 2005, he was a freshman, engineering student at Morgan State University. Courtesy of O’Malley’s zero tolerance policy, by the end of April Howard had a criminal record.

Howard came out of a store one day and greeted a friend. A couple of Baltimore cops arrested them. The charge? Loitering!

I kid you not. A young man— a college student with a promising career ahead of him who had no criminal record— spent a weekend (56 hours) in Central Booking on a loitering charge.

The arrest of the meter maid: Remember when two Baltimore cops busted a meter maid for writing a ticket after one of them refused to move a police vehicle? This had to be the low point in police-community relations in Baltimore.

The arrest of Douglas L Johnson: This Vietnam veteran was arrested for sitting on the steps of a vacant building. James Jordan spent 17 hours in Central Booking. His offense? Littering. He dropped a cup on the ground.

Things got so bad in the city that cops themselves rebelled. They went to their union, the Fraternal Order of Police, in an attempt to get O’Malley to cease and desist with his zero tolerance policy.

The officers told the FOP president that they were being pressured into getting the “stop and frisk” numbers up.

Those “stop and frisks” are also called Terry stops. They’re legal— when done properly— but they have to be documented. A District Court judge found that, in many cases, the Terry stops weren’t properly documented. That means those stops violated the law.

O’Malley justified his zero tolerance policy because it led to a reduction in the number of Baltimore homicides. But what lesson was learned?

That if we turn a city into a police state, then we can reduce crime? Well, yeah.

However, you would expect crime to be reduced— and reduced drastically— in a police state. The trick in a constitutional republic is to reduce crime WITHOUT turning society into a police state.

The upside of O’Malley’s zero tolerance policy was, indeed, a reduction in the number of homicides. The downside was that O’Malley’s policy left many Baltimoreans with a distrust of police that continues to this day.

During the days of Stalag O’Malley, two Circuit Court judges threw out gun cases because they said they couldn’t trust the word of police. A third Circuit Court judge urged that a grand jury investigate why so many Baltimoreans don’t trust the police.

Return to the days of Stalag O’Malley, governor? Let’s not and just say we did.

Was what Don Lemon said so wrong?

There are STILL black folks mad at CNN on-air personality Don Lemon. The “hateration” started a while back, when Lemon offered this advice to young black men in America:

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Gregory Kane

  1. Stop wearing sagging pants.

  2. Stop saying the n-word.

  3. Stop littering.

  4. Finish high school.

  5. Have fewer children out of wedlock.

Black liberals and progressives in their never-ending quest to have black folks think of themselves as victims first, victims last and victims in perpetuity, went off on Lemon. But let’s take his bullet points one by one, shall we?

Number one: will it KILL young black men to stop wearing their pants down over their butts? Will it do them any real harm to pull their darned pants up?

No, it wouldn’t, and it just might make them more employable in the process.

When we’re discussing the plight of young black men in America, we do inevitably have to discuss the issue of unemployment, right?

Some studies put the unemployment rate for young black men at 18 percent. I’m betting the rate is at least quadruple that for those young black men rocking the sagging pants look.

Very few employers are going to hire any young man— no matter the race or ethnicity— that shows up for an interview wearing pants that sag down over his butt. And those lucky enough to wear their pants that way that do get jobs won’t have them for long.

Music mogul Russell Simmons, one of those leading the clarion call that the head of Don Lemon, be brought to them, tweeted that sagging pants are a cultural statement.

Were he younger, Simmons said, he might wear his pants that way. He might even hire guys who wear their pants that way. However, if he does, he can rest assured he’d be hiring bona fide fools.

Number two: again— who does it harm if young black men were to stop using the

n-word?

No one. And an upgrade in vocabulary might help those young black men looking to make their way in the job market.

Number three: I’ll have to admit that Lemon threw me for a loop with this one. Exactly when did littering become exclusively a young, black male thing?

It isn’t. I’ll have to concede that Lemon gave brothers a bum rap on this one.

Number four: hasn’t this advice been given to young black men since black folks were called colored and Negroes? Didn’t James Brown, back in the early 1960s, cut a record urging young black men to finish high school?

And there was another song— I can’t remember the artist or artists— that had the refrain “I’m going back to school.”

Again, it comes down to a matter of young black men making themselves more employable. Young black men with high school diplomas are, almost by definition, more employable than young black men who don’t.

Before I began my journalism career, I supervised a department at Sinai Hospital. I had a list of principles that I would not violate. At the top was this one: I would NOT hire a high school dropout.

My reasoning was this: I ran a department of transporters— workers responsible for moving patients around the hospital— and the coverage had to be 24-7.

That means I needed people on all three daily eight-hour shifts, seven days a week. I needed workers who didn’t mind working overtime or on holidays and weekends. Those who dropped out of high school couldn’t handle this situation.

At school, they got every weekend off. They got every holiday off. They got a two and a half month break during the summer. If a person couldn’t handle that, then said person couldn’t handle working in my department either.

Point number five: really, should I even have to argue this?

Is SRB the worst mayor in America?

There are those who feel our esteemed Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (SRB), our beloved Mayor Vroom Vroom, is the worst city chief executive in the land.

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Gregory Kane

A while back someone posed the question “Who’s the worst mayor in America?” A blogger on a website called www.bostonstreets.org gave this answer:

“For our money, Baltimore’s Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is the score to beat. Since assuming office in the wake of Sheila Dixon’s indictment in 2009, Rawlings-Blake’s reign has been characterized by a lack of vision, bungled projects, and ineptitude.

“She has presided over sweeping cuts to parks and after-school activities, tax breaks for a big-box super block development, and straight-up cronyism.

“Still, nothing typifies SRB’s failure as Baltimore’s mayor better than the ongoing Grand Prix debacle. The city recruited IndyCar to hold an annual race on the streets of downtown Baltimore. Rich with wide thoroughfares and generous curves, downtown streets are ideal for open-wheeled race cars driving 180 miles per hour.”

All that would make a pretty compelling case for SRB indeed being America’s worst mayor, if it weren’t for one key competitor.

And believe me, this competitor IS the worst mayor in the country. He’s so awful that he doesn’t even have a close second.

America’s worst mayor is none other than Michael Bloomberg of New York City.

During his tenure as the Big Apple’s chief executive, Bloomberg has gone above and beyond the call of duty in establishing himself as the nation’s number one enemy of liberty.

This is the guy that had his health board try to ban stores from selling sodas over a certain size— 32 ounces, if memory serves me correctly.

An appeals court ruled that ban was unconstitutional. But “unconstitutional” is what Bloomberg does. It’s where the guy lives.

Bloomberg approves of his police department’s surveillance of Muslims, even when said Muslims are engaged in constitutionally protected activity.

Like, say, praying in a mosque. How outrageous was the NYPD surveillance of Muslims? Read this quote from the website news.yahoo.com: “The surveillance by the NYPD’s intelligence division HAS EXTENDED BEYOND NEW YORK’S FIVE BOROUGHS INTO NEIGHBORING NEW JERSEY AND OTHER NEARBY STATES.”

The emphasis on the uppercased passage is mine, not Yahoo’s. The NYPD going beyond its jurisdictional boundaries to conduct surveillance on law-abiding citizens engaged in constitutionally protected conduct shows how the city’s mayor, Bloomberg, feels about things like liberty and the law.

Just last week— on the very day the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was commemorated, ironically enough— an Associated Press story with the following headline appeared online: “NYPD Designates Mosques as Terrorism Organizations.”

The person that should take the weight for that outrage is the man who is chief executive of the city where the NYPD is running buck wild. Again, that would be Bloomberg.

No matter what Rawlings-Blake has or hasn’t done in Baltimore, her record can’t compare to Bloomberg’s. I’m betting the same applies to what Rawlings-Blake even will do in the future.

Recently federal court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” practice is neither constitutional nor race-neutral— at least the way NYPD cops do it.

“Stop and frisk” is perfectly legal when it is in accord with the ruling handed down by the Supreme Court in its 1968 Terry v. Ohio decision.

Back then, the Court held that if a cop had a “reasonable suspicion” to believe that someone either had committed or was about to commit a crime, then said cop didn’t need probable cause to stop, frisk and question that person.

After hearing testimony— especially from one cop that said his precinct commander specifically told him to stop black males ages 14 to 21— Scheindlin found that New York cops were stopping way too many black and Latino men for no reason at all.

That’s why Bloomberg is America’s worst mayor. That’s why SRB isn’t even his close second.

More summer reading fun

Got books? If you do, then you must have spent this summer reading as many books as I have. As I did in a previous column, I’ll recommend some more books from my summer reading list.

  1. The Black Count by Tom Reiss: the subtitle of this book is “Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo.”

Reiss’ work is a biography of General Alexandre Dumas, the mulatto son of a French nobleman and a slave Haitian mother who rose to the highest ranks of the French army during the French Revolution.

Dumas, was the father of another Alexandre Dumas, the one that wrote The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. The latter work was based, in part, Reiss says, on the younger Dumas’ account of his father being briefly imprisoned on his return home from Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt.

The elder Alexandre Dumas was one of France’s boldest, most fearless and successful generals. Reiss’ book is so excellent that it won a Pulitzer Prize.

Now that the book has won a Pulitzer, it remains to be seen who will play Alexandre Dumas when The Black Count is made into a movie.

Will Smith? Terence Howard? Jamie Foxx? Cuba Gooding Jr.?

Dumas, was in his mid-40s when he died in 1806. All the actors mentioned above are in their mid-40s. (Sorry, Denzel fans; he’s pushing 60 and way too old to play The Black Count.)

  1. Guest of Honor by Deborah Davis: the subtitle of this one is “Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation.”

Over a century before a distinctly black President Barack Obama began hosting his own White House dinners, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dine in the executive mansion.

That was in 1901. The reaction from whites, especially those in the South, was what we would expect from white Americans in 1901. Davis makes it a point to let her readers know how deep the racism ran.

This is a quote from a paper called “The Memphis Scimitar” about Washington’s dining at the White House:

“The most damnable outrage which has ever been perpetuated by any citizen of the United States was committed yesterday by the President when he invited a nigger to dine with him at the White House. He has not inflamed the anger of the Southern people; he has excited their disgust.”

From the “Memphis Commercial Appeal”: “This is a white man’s country. President Roosevelt has committed a blunder that is worse than a crime.”

Ponder those quotes as you consider the first line of Earl Ofari Hutchison’s recent column in the Huffington Post: “A recent Rasmussen poll found that more Americans by a wide margin think blacks are more racist than whites.”

Those Americans haven’t read Davis’ book. My suspicion is they haven’t read much of anything else either.

  1. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill: you won’t find this work by that title in any American bookstore. Here Hill’s historical novel is known by the title Somebody Knows My Name.

Because of political correctness— and because of the propensity of American blacks to be so easily offended by just about anything— Hill’s work is called The Book of Negroes only in Canada.

When I ordered the book from www.amazon.com, I made it a point to order the one with the politically incorrect title.

What? You thought I was going to order the one with the politically correct title? Now what, in my history, would lead you to believe I would do THAT?

The Book of Negroes tells of the travails and travels of a Fula girl named Aminata Diallo. Slavers capture her, along with her mother. Aminata ends up in the Carolinas, separated forever from her mother. (Her father was killed trying to rescue her.)

From the Carolinas Aminata finds her way to New York, then Nova Scotia and finally London. Information in something called “The Book of Negroes” figures prominently in her journeys.

Hill’s book is quite a compelling read. And that’s true no matter what title it has.

The kurious kase of Karla Porter

This redefining self-defense business is getting WAY out of hand.

First we had George “Ringo” Zimmerman fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a Sanford, Florida, gated community in February of 2012.

That incident received plenty of media coverage, and well it should have. A Florida jury recently acquitted Zimmerman of all charges for killing Martin. He claimed self-defense, and the jurors bought his claim hook, line and sinker.

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Gregory Kane

Was Martin, like Ringo Zimmerman, totin’ a firearm? Did he have a knife, a two-by-four, brass knuckles or anything that could be even remotely described as a weapon?

Nope. According to Zimmerman’s own testimony, Martin’s only weapon was his fists. Martin punched Zimmerman, knocked him to the ground and then pounced on him, continuing the pummeling.

Hmm. Fists versus a handgun. Now why doesn’t that strike me as a fair matchup?

Zimmerman’s defense amounted to this: it’s OK to shoot anyone if you and that someone are engaged in a fistfight, and you come out on the short end of that fistfight.

If I shot every guy that left me on the short end of a fistfight every time I had one, I’d have shot quite a few guys by now. But, over the years, I’ve come up with what I think is the perfect alternative to shooting people. Don’t get into fistfights.

Zimmerman could have done that the night of Feb. 26, 2012, the day he capped Martin. The youth committed no crime. Had Zimmerman simply conceded that, minded his own business and taken his simple, anal self home, there would have been no confrontation with Martin.

Mark O’Mara, one of Zimmerman’s lawyers, doesn’t see it that way. He thinks Zimmerman was right to peg Martin as a suspect in the crime that was never committed.

In a now famous exchange with Whoopi Goldberg on the television show “The View,” O’Mara asked his question about Martin:

“If, because he’s black, can he never look suspicious?” Wrong question, O’Mara!

The better question is, “If, because he’s black, must he always be viewed with suspicion?” Has O’Mara forgotten that black men were suspects in crimes whites committed?

In 2009, Bonnie Sweeten, a white woman who lived in Pennsylvania, stole money from her family and the law firm where she worked and then accused two black men of kidnapping her.

Susan Smith killed her own children, and then blamed a brother. Charles Stuart killed his pregnant wife in Boston, blamed a black guy, and then Beantown cops went on one of those “Negro” hunts for which American cops are so renowned.

And right here, in Baltimore County, Karla Porter had her husband shot the night of March 1, 2010. Blamed a black guy for it.

Now, if Porter had told police in Sanford, Florida, her “a black guy did it tale” she might have gotten away with it. Unfortunately for her, Baltimore County cops are a bit more sophisticated.

Homicide detectives kept grilling Porter until she ‘fessed up. Then, and only then, did she decide to go with her own self-defense claim.

Her husband had abused her, physically and mentally, or years, Porter alleged. That’s why she hired a hit man to do him in.

Now I’m a real fanatic about women being allowed to defend themselves against abusive men. I’ve told women that claim they have restraining orders against abusive men to buy a handgun and let IT be their restraining order.

If a man puts his hands on a woman and she defends herself with a gun, knife or some other weapon, then THAT’s a legitimate case of self-defense.

But when a woman hires a hit man to pop her unsuspecting hubby that strikes oh-so-silly-me as premeditated murder, not self-defense.

A not oh-so-silly Baltimore County jury didn’t buy Porter’s self-defense claim. Last week, they found her guilty of first-degree murder.

Where did Porter think she was? Florida?

Fear the bridge?

This had to be the most hilarious news story of the year. It ran on WJZ-TV a while back. Did you see it?

photo

Gregory Kane

It was a story about drivers that have a morbid fear of crossing bridges, in general, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, in particular.

Now I don’t want to make light of those people that have bona fide phobias, about bridges or anything else.

If you have a fear of heights, I can see where you might be leery of crossing either the Bay Bridge or the Key Bridge in South Baltimore.

However, I’ve seen how Maryland drivers drive. And if that doesn’t scare you senseless, I really don’t know what can.

That’s why I’ve never been afraid of driving across either the Bay Bridge or the Key Bridge. I barely even see the bridges. I scarcely notice how high above the water I am, or if the bridges might be swaying in the wind.

(Fear of the bridge swaying in the wind was one of the chief fear factors cited in the WJZ-TV report. Here’s how I handle that: if the winds are blowing strongly enough to sway a bridge, I don’t cross the bridge. Can I be the ONLY person that believes inclement weather is simply God’s way of telling you to stay in the house?)

Here’s what I do notice when I drive across a bridge:

  1. Who’s doing the speeding?
  2. Who’s doing the tailgating?
  3. Who’s making the reckless lane changes without so much as even a hint of signaling?

Believe me, there are enough Maryland drivers zooming across bridges recklessly and carelessly that I don’t have time to even notice I’m on a bridge. I figure I have to survive Maryland drivers— probably the worst in the country, except for New Jerseyites, who are in a class by themselves— not survive the bridge.

It took me a while to realize that, for way too many Maryland drivers, every day is “Drive Like An Idiot Day.” On the especially bad days, I figure those drivers have upped the ante.

They’re celebrating “Go Above And Beyond The Call Of Duty In Driving Like An Idiot Day.”

When the drivers aren’t behaving too badly— which means the really awful ones must have taken the day off for some reason— there are other annoyances.

What’s the definition of the word “sidewalk”?

I consulted several online dictionaries, and the consensus seems to be, “a usually paved walk for pedestrians at the side of the street.”

This meaning is totally lost on the average Balti-moron. On any given day, people can be found loping in the middle of the streets, apparently oblivious to cars that have to get by.

One night on my way to the emergency room at Hopkins Hospital I tried to make a turn from one side street to another.

Couldn’t do it. There was a woman in the street, PUSHING A STROLLER. I couldn’t make the turn without running into her.

So I had to wait until she decided to do what she should have done in the first place: move the stroller on to the SIDEWALK and go about her business.

Later, after driving down Park Heights and hanging a left on Cold Spring Lane, I ran into a bunch of eight to 10 cretins, all strolling along Cold Spring Lane.

Now it’s bad enough if pedestrians want to walk in streets that are side streets, where traffic is often light.

But isn’t Cold Spring Lane a main thoroughfare with usually heavy traffic?

When it comes to traffic, Baltimore has the worst of everything:

  1. Dangerous dirt-bike riders.
  2. Stupid riders of regular bikes.
  3. Stupid, dangerous motorists.
  4. Idiotic pedestrians.

My son-in-law, before he moved to Berkeley, California, gave up driving when he still lived in Maryland.

I don’t blame him. Nothing will cure you of the itch for driving than one day spent on Maryland’s roads