Archive for category: Essays/Opinion

Mr. Bealefeld’s Come-To-Jesus Moment

14 Jul
July 14, 2012

Embedded in a recently published interview of former Baltimore commissioner Fred Bealefeld is an extraordinary utterance — something that would and should be a lot more heralded if America were paying sufficient attention to the growing costs and failings of its drug prohibition:

“Professionally,” declares Mr. Bealefeld in a brief interview with the Baltimore Sun Magazine,  “I think our war on drugs has failed…We invested a lot of this country’s blood and resources and didn’t achieve the results. Developing real educational and job opportunities for somebody would have been much more meaningful in neighborhoods than some of the work we built into putting people in jail. That’s why I think it was so misguided. We wound up alienating a lot of folks in building this gigantic jail system in our country.”

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A Fight To The Last Mexican

10 Jul
July 10, 2012

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it the superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

So wrote Thomas Paine against monarchy, the morally bankrupt ethos of his day.  But then, it was a less fearful time, and the political leaders of Paine’s moment were scarcely risk-adverse.  Indeed, they were willing to address the moral questions before them to the point of treason.

Not so today, when we can hold a national political contest and neither candidate — nor their respective parties — can find the courage to speak a word about the policy disaster and dishonorable fraud that is the American drug war.

So here, for the hell of it – and because it can never happen in American political discourse – let’s take a solitary moment to be honest with ourselves about why we remain addicted to drug prohibition. Read more →

Columbia Journalism Review: Free For All

05 Jun
June 5, 2012

For the last few days, I’ve been heartily engaged in the comments section of a couple CJR items that originated from the New Orleans Times-Picayune‘s travails.  I advocate for the industry-wide adoption of online pay walls to sustain high-end journalism. Others regard this as a disastrous suggestion.

As the comments began to pile up, I saw some insight and a lot of argumentative fallacy.  People do love to call names.

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The Great Chuck Brown Has Passed

16 May
May 16, 2012

Just heard the news that the father of D.C. go-go has died.  He was 75.

Having heard Big G, The Backyard Band and the Soul Searcher horn section bring their funk to New Orleans last Friday, the news lands strangely.  The guys on the stage of Tipitina’s last week are very much the proud children of Mr. Brown and his Soul Searchers.

This man, who invented a musical genre and grooved so hard and for so long, is not yet in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.   The Dave Clark Five, however, are comfortably settled in the shrine.

Argument enough to burn that motherfucker down to the Lake Erie waterline.

Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite

10 May
May 10, 2012

My alma mater, the Baltimore Sun—though something of a fraile grey lady in this internet age—is nonetheless celebrating her 175th birthday this year. Sun alumni and other Baltimoreans were invited to contribute essays to a special edition to be published this weekend.

My offering is an homage of sorts to one of the metro desk veterans who raised me from a pup.

www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/sun-magazine/bs-sm-david-simon-20120513,0,5336130.story

Thanks, Dave.  And no, I will never forget the First Rule of Rewrite:  “Shoot It Down.”  Or as you once sagely argued: “There are always salmonella outbreaks.  I don’t see why we have to write about this one.”