Rodricks: Nobody asked me, but mark my words

Nobody asked me, but Catherine Pugh’s criticism of corner stores in West Baltimore, calling one a “hell hole” and suggesting that others are gathering places for criminals, recalls another blunt-spoken, confrontational mayor: William Donald Schaefer. And that’s good — for about a minute. For the long term, Pugh should get the Baltimore Development Corp. and the Hopkins Center for a Livable Future to work with the stores to improve their appearances, what they sell and how they operate. Otherwise, it’s just a sideshow to what’s happening in the city again — another homicidal surge caused by the retaliation contagion and easy access to guns.

Gov. Larry Hogan enjoys a strong position to become the first Republican governor since Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin (1951-1959) to win re-election in Maryland. The latest Goucher Poll found high approval ratings for Hogan, and he had double-digit advantages in matchups against any of the Democrats who hope to challenge him in November. But as Mileah Kromer, the poll’s director, points out: Approving of Hogan is one thing, voting for him another. Sixty-five percent of Democrats said they liked how the governor has done his job, but only 26 percent said they’d vote for him over a Democratic candidate. And Maryland Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. So, hold all tickets please.

Mark my words: The Orioles will recover and finish with at least 60 wins, about 10 more than their current pace suggests. So everyone relax.

Nobody asked me, but, instead of going to auction, perhaps the 24-acre Ripken estate could be turned into a memorial to the overwrought, self-indulgent edifice-building that marked the era of the nouveau-riche American millionaire. It could be our Hearst Castle. The Ripkens could donate the place to Baltimore County, and the county could charge admission, give tours and open the place for weddings, bull roasts, Middle-Earth battle re-enactments, stuff like that.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts had no business attending a state dinner at the White House the night before the court heard arguments over President Donald Trump’s controversial ban on travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. Is American tribalism in the Trump era so intoxicating that even the Chief Justice worries not about the appearance of partisanship? Apparently, and sadly, so.

Mark my words: Baltimore’s treasury will continue to enjoy a bonanza from all those speed cameras that have been deployed across the city. Two reasons: There were no cameras in operation for about four years, and the understaffed police department has been focused on other issues (shootings, homicides, carjackings). During the camera hiatus, drivers got used to breaking speed limits. Now, with at least 100 cameras in place, drivers have been scorched with fines ($40 each for speeding; $75 for running red lights), and, even the once-burned will take months to adjust. My suggestion: Try taking the bus.

Nobody asked me, but Dr. Ben Carson, the former Hopkins neurosurgeon, confirmed last week what many people said when Trump named him secretary of Housing and Urban Development: He’s in way over his head. Carson also seems to be playing a role that others in the Trump cabinet adopted — that is, saboteur of the government agency he was selected to lead. In Carson’s case, he seems oblivious to HUD’s mission and, specifically, to the serious problem of housing affordability. He wants to raise the amount that federally subsidized poor families pay for rent. In thousands of cases, his proposal would triple the cost. The last thing the federal government should do — and the last thing a man who says he’s inspired by Jesus Christ should do — is make life tougher for the poor.

You should try the blarney spring rolls at An Poitin Stil in Cockeysville; the sangria at Flavor in Baltimore; the coq au vin from Marie-Louise Bistro in Mount Vernon, or the gyro at Never on Sunday across the street; the meatloaf from Moon Shadow next time you get to Deep Creek Lake; the views from Bygone, on the 29th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, or the LB Skybar, on the 19th floor of the Lord Baltimore, and a night of comedy at the Baltimore Improv Group.

Mark my words: The reason television viewership of NFL games fell nearly 10 percent last season had little to do with the Colin Kaepernick protest and far more to do with the league’s overexposure. There are too many games — Sunday afternoons, Sunday nights, Monday nights, Thursday nights. (This coming season, the Ravens have five preseason games.) Fans are saturated with football and fatigued from it.

Ozzie Newsome, Ravens general manager, and John Harbaugh, head coach, did an outstanding job picking players at the NFL draft Thursday night, and they did not mind saying so themselves. “It was masterful. ... It was unbelievable,” said Newsome. “It was a masterpiece,” said Harbaugh. Wow. That must feel good. Maybe we should all self-review. “Magnificent,” Rodricks said of his most recent column. “Truly, a tour de force.”

I feel better already.

drodricks@baltsun.com

twitter.com/DanRodricks

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