Wandering Eye

In University of Maryland Baltimore County political-science professor Thomas Schaller's recent op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, "Race had a role in Hogan's win," he compares the gubernatorial-election results in 2010, when Republican Robert Ehrlich lost to incumbent Gov. Martin O'Malley, to 2014, when Republican Larry Hogan defeated Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, an African-American. He concludes that "somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 presumably white Marylanders" who in 2010 voted for Democrats O'Malley, Attorney General Doug Gansler, Comptroller Peter Franchot, or for Franchot and newly elected Democrat Brian Frosh for attorney general this year, "did not support Mr. Brown's bid to become Maryland's first black governor." Another gauge is to run the numbers in the 13 Maryland counties whose populations are at least 80 percent white, where nearly 22 percent of the state's residents live. In these counties, Brown's average support came to 24.5 percent, ranging from 16 percent in Carroll County to 34.5 percent in Frederick County. The two white state-wide Democratic candidates did much, much better in these counties: Franchot averaged 46 percent and Frosh 34 percent. Brown may have run a poor campaign, and Hogan a good one, but it seems clear that race was indeed a factor in Maryland's many very-white counties. (Van Smith)

Hey hey hey so Bill Cosby . . . rape meme . . . you heard? This was a thing the other day after Cosby's PR team cooked up a social media stunt that backfired somewhat. The back story, which is not as well-known as some reporters think it ought to be: In 2004 a young woman said Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in Pennsylvania. Police did not charge Cosby, but the woman went to civil court. Several other women pledged to tell similar stories. Then nine more women came forward. The case was settled and the terms not disclosed. Cosby remains mostly beloved, and his new biographer omitted any mention of sexual assault from his big new book. Former CP Editor Tom Scocca put it out there a few months ago on Gawker. But nowhere had Cosby said anything for the record about the charges, it seems. Well, the other day a reporter for the Philly Magazine had the stones to ask Cosby about it, face to face. And Cosby actually responded. Well. Sort of. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

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Here's a proposition: What if state and local governments had to account, honestly and openly, for all the tax breaks and special deals they give to favored industries and developers? A socialist pipe dream, you say? Well, meet the Government Accounting Standards Board. As Governing Magazine reported Oct. 31, that private, Connecticut-based 30-year-old organization sets the rules under which government accountants operate. And last week it posted for public comment new rules that would require public disclosure of the real and total costs of tax abatements and other aid and incentives that governments give businesses. "Tax abatements can significantly reduce the amount of revenue a government receives," said GASB Chair David A. Vaudt. "But in many cases, little is known publicly about their total size or their terms and conditions. What the Board has proposed would make the financial impact of these transactions much more transparent." Holy crap! As Governing notes, the GASB has not always pleased its constituents in county and state finance offices: "And in 2007, the Government Finance Officers Association went so far as to try and abolish GASB and transfer the board's responsibilities to the organization that sets accounting standards for the private sector." Since the line of nonsense regularly pushed by the Economic Development Authorities is that all tax breaks for businesses more than pay back the initial outlay, the scariest thing in the world to them is a set of hard and fast rules determining how these calculations must be made. The rules are long overdue. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

By virtue of the fact that you are reading these words on a screen, you have undoubtedly seen Kim Kardashian's butt on the cover of Paper magazine. If the internet was breakable, the shot would certainly have broken it, as the cover copy demanded. But as websites like the Grio and Styleite have pointed out, the photos recreated for the cover and the photographer who took them have troubled, potentially racist backstories. As Stylite notes, photographer Jean-Paul Goude, who recreated his own photo "Champagne Incident" with Kardashian for the cover, is not only "French" and "legendary" as Paper mag's blog post about the cover describes him. "Both those things are also true, but there's this too: his artistic history is fraught with justified accusations of objectifying and exoticizing black women's bodies." Goude's 1983 autobiography is called "Jungle Fever," and in a 1979 interview, he said he had always been fascinated with "ethnic minorities—black girls, PRs. I had jungle fever," and added, "Blacks are the premise of my work." The Grio points to Goude's picture of Grace Jones, who he dated, on all fours in a cage, and recalls, "many were dazzled by his pictures of Grace Jones and, since she and Goude were lovers, assumed that when he took shots of her in a cage, on all fours bearing her teeth like a caged animal—it was ok. Because lovers don't ever disrespect each other right? Right." (Evan Serpick)

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