What time is it? If it’s anything-o’clock, Donald Trump is feuding with another Democratic member of Congress. I don’t mean to imply the president is wrong and the Dems are right, but these wars of insults are becoming a tad tedious.
The latest squabble is with Rep. Elijah Cummings, who had harsh words last week for members of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), who frankly have an unenviable job. Democratic lawmakers have been calling for their heads and those of agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for some time now. Last week, a mob of brazen migrants storming the border engaged in a violent clash with CBP, taunting them to fire their weapons.
On Saturday, Trump called Cummings a “brutal bully” for his unkind remarks and described the congressman’s Baltimore district as “far worse and more dangerous” than the southern border. A firestorm fraught with name-calling ensued.
While Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi who was born in Baltimore, leaped to Cummings’s defense and attacked the president for characterizing “Charm City” (as it’s known to locals) as a “sh*thole.” As far as I know, Trump’s remarks were confined to Cummings’s district, not the entire city, and he never used the term sh*thole. But the attention focused on Baltimore has led to the unearthing of some pretty unflattering depictions of the city in recent years.
Conservative author and comedian Tim Young surprised this gem:
Here’s Mike Miller, the current President of the Maryland Senate calling Baltimore a “GD ghetto,” “shit,” and a “warzone” in 1989.
He’s been in power for over 30 years… Baltimore has gotten even worse.
Guess what political party he is… pic.twitter.com/f0WG9gZHza
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) July 29, 2019
Other commentators homed in on the “rat movie.” What, you ask, is the rat movie? The Baltimore Sun has the answer:
Across walls, fences, and alleys, rats not only expose our boundaries of separation but make homes in them. “Rat Film” is a feature-length documentary that uses the rat — as well as the humans that love them, live with them, and kill them — to explore the history of Baltimore. “There’s never been a rat problem in Baltimore, it’s always been a people problem.”
It started with a rat trapped inside Theo Anthony’s outdoor trash can.
“Absolutely, what you see is really how it came about,” the Baltimore-based filmmaker says of his first documentary feature, “Rat Film,” which opens Friday in Baltimore, New York and Chicago. “I had come home one night, and I heard this sound in my trash can. So I whipped out my cellphone and just started filming.”
That brief footage, of the trapped rat desperately trying to jump a few inches higher than conventional wisdom says a rat should be able to jump, kicks off an 80-minute rumination on Baltimore’s decades-long battle against its unwelcome rodent population, and some disturbing parallels Anthony discovered with the ways city leaders have tried to deal with various urban situations. [Emphasis added]
Need living proof that inner-city Baltimore is plagued with problems? How about another Baltimore Sun article, this one from 2015 and encapsulating the reaction of a U.S. senator who toured the city and found that it looks like a ‘Third World country.” That senator was presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.
As for Cummings’s congressional district, Maryland’s 7th, Democratic prognosticator Nate Silver attempted to play devil’s advocate, pointing up the the positives of the district in a tweet:
Not that it really matters but Cummings' district has above-average college education rates and home prices, along with a pretty good mix of urban and suburban areas (even some rural), and well-off, working-class and middle-class areas. https://t.co/33mH7JreHw https://t.co/8VWBWVkRRD
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) July 27, 2019
It’s a noble effort on Silver’s part, but no cigar. In response I give you, once more, The Baltimore Sun, this time from 2018:
Baltimore has the worst homicide rate among the nation’s big cities, according to crime data released Monday by the FBI.
Baltimore had the worst homicide rate among the nation’s 50 largest cities last year and the second-highest violent crime rate overall, according to new data from the FBI.
The grim news was the latest reminder of the sustained cycle of violence that has gripped the city since 2015, when the annual number of homicides soared above 300 for three consecutive years after the unrest that followed Freddie Gray’s death from injuries suffered in police custody.
There were 342 homicides in Baltimore last year, 56 per 100,000 people who live in the city. That’s the highest per capita in the city’s history and, according to the FBI report Monday, the highest rate of any American city with more than 500,000 people. It’s also significantly higher than the rate in other big cities.
“Sometimes it does seem, I won’t say hopeless, but there are neighborhoods that are crying out,” said Councilman John Bullock, whose West and Southwest Baltimore district has seen some of the worst violence. [Emphasis added]
West Baltimore is in the 7th congressional district.