Martin O’Malley: Rebuilding the American Dream, Like He Rebuilt Baltimore

I feel like I’ve been seeing way too much of Martin O’Malley lately. From being a guest on The Daily Show to playing the guitar on The View, O’Malley seems to not be deterred by his approval ratings. To the average person who only watches the debates and listens to the current soundbites, O’Malley sounds like a good candidate for Clinton’s cabinet (or whatever he’s aiming for at this point). I’ve seen many liberal leaning friends and news sources (especially those who consider police reform a primary issue) express their interest in O’Malley. His criminal justice reform plan even lists “build[ing] trust in law enforcement” as a top priority.

But the thing is, in Maryland we all know the truth about O’Malley.

How can the mayor that ordered mass arrests of innocent people and manipulated crime statistics possibly be the President we trust to understand and implement community policing?

How can the mayor who ruined community and police relations possibly be the President (or whatever position he’s going for) we trust to rebuild faith in the police force?

Back in April, I watched Martin O’Malley stop by West Baltimore for a photo op. Starting at the burned down CVS, he slowly made his way down Penn, shaking hands and smiling with the crowd that had gathered to protest the death of Freddie Gray. I’m sure he thought it was a great idea for him to do before announcing that he was running for President — until an angry protestor on a motorcycle started following him. “YOU DID THIS! YOU KILLED FREDDIE GRAY!” the man yelled. O’Malley quickly picked up his pace and escaped into the black SUV waiting for him at the end of the block.

He wasn’t wrong.

Nothing O’Malley has ever done shows he is capable of facilitating a community oriented policing program, or that he even knows what community policing is.

O’Malley now claims that he wants to make community policing a priority — though Baltimore didn’t get its Community Partnership Division until after O’Malley was long gone from Baltimore. O’Malley’s Baltimore focused on manufactured statistics and graphs, not human compassion or an understanding of how to treat the root causes of crime. Numbers get you noticed by White House, after all.

During the first Democratic debate, O’Malley assured us that in his Baltimore, arrests and crime fell.  He was half right — crime did fall in Baltimore, just like it did nationwide. But I don’t really know why he claimed arrests fell; in 2005 there were over 100,00 arrests in a city of roughly 600,000 people. How could crime possibly be falling if the police saw fit to arrest almost 1/6 of the city’s population? Under O’Malley the blanket policy of the BPD appeared to be “arrest everyone — or else.” People were not arrested for committing crimes, they were arrested and held for up to 54 hours with no charges ever filed. When people were assigned bail, they usually couldn’t pay it and would spend a month or two in jail until their cases would be dismissed. In 2006 the ACLU and NAACP filed a lawsuit against O’Malley for this practice. Spoiler alert: the city settled.

While O’Malley’s BPD were making mass arrests, they certainly didn’t prioritize arresting rapists. In 2010 the Baltimore Sun reported that police would aggressive question rape victims, causing 30% of victims to change their accusation to “unfounded” — which was five times the national average. On paper, the amount of rapes in Baltimore declined 80% versus the national average of 8%; the city didn’t even go for a believable, gradual decrease. 

Not to mention, O’Malley did his best to expedite the school to prison pipeline until political opposition was just too much to handle.

When you see Martin O’Malley talking on TV, please don’t let him blind you with charming jokes about the NRA or the honest good he did here with immigration and gay marriage.

Instead, please remember his first legacy — the city of Baltimore.

Remember Freddie Gray. Tyrone West. George V. King. Officer William Torbit Jr.

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VOTE OR DIE

Yesterday I assumed that most people would be able to comprehend my point that people should be educated on issues before they vote. Apparently I was wrong; guess it’s time to clear things up.

I rarely make blanket statements, but encouraging people to vote and not encouraging them to try to understand what they’re voting on makes you an asshole.

If you’re a radio DJ or a musical artist or an actress and you tell listeners or fans to vote just for the sake of voting, and you throw in a few comments about your political agenda, you are evil.

If you fight me on encouraging the masses to educate themselves before they vote (or to abstain if they aren’t comfortable with the amount of knowledge they do or do not have), it seems like you are encouraging blind, uneducated voting for your own agenda.

Voting isn’t a bicep. It doesn’t get stronger as a practice because you exercise it. Your political influence gets stronger when you educate yourself on the issues you’re voting on. When you can explain your points. Why are so many in our society focused on encouraging voting itself, and so quick to discourage anyone who talks about education?

Imagine you only went to class in college or high school, and never did the reading or studied or wrote a single paper. Would you deserve an A? Would you get better at school or learning if you simply showed up and didn’t do any of the things you were supposed to do? No. It’s ridiculous to suggest otherwise.

If people want to point fingers at the GOP, let’s not forget to point our fingers at the other party. The party that leads campaigns about rocking the votes and oh yeah — here’s our agenda. Vote for it. 

We wonder why we’re so uninformed, but that answer is obvious. We are taught to push the agendas of those who are in any position of power, and we are not taught to be critical thinkers. We are taught to be sheep. Next time you hear about a political issue that interests you, think about the consequences of actions. Think about the possible agendas people might have before you take into account their opinions. Educate yourself. Then, when you know what is going on, head on over to the voting booth.

Why I Don’t Give a Damn About Bob Bergdahl’s Beard

The second I saw Bob and Jani Bergdahl in the Rose Garden, I knew nothing good was going to come from Bob’s appearance. However, I absolutely did not expect the reaction the nation has had — especially since when CNN began commenting on the news right after the announcement, everything was so positive. So what changed? 

Well, there’s the so-called “pro-Taliban” tweets, including this one:

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Oh, total terrorist sympathizer. Or, you know, just someone who doesn’t support the war we’re having, or the human rights violations by foreign agencies occurring in Afghanistan. Someone who doesn’t support Guantanamo Bay and all of its (not so) grey areas of legality (something I’m sure Mos Def would say is rational). Someone who, as a parent of a captured child, can relate to and feel empathy for the thousands of dead Afghan civilians — and yes, that number includes dead children.

Are these the people you want to agree with? People who act like a POW is a terrorist because after 5 years he can’t remember English? People who think that Afghan children aren’t important? People who criticize the BEARD of the father of a prisoner of war who has spent YEARS worried about and trying to save him? People who think speaking Arabic makes you a terrorist?

Maybe the Bergdahls do hate America. I don’t know, and I don’t pretend to know. But I do know that I have traveled the Middle East, studied Arabic, and I even own a hijab. I am ashamed and embarrassed by the way our nation has handled our policies and wars; and I am even more embarrassed by the American public’s  lack of understanding in the cultures we choose to dominate. I support the closure of Guantanamo Bay, and the release of those that we cannot prove are an actual threat through legal means. Why? Because I believe in the freedoms and ideals that America should represent  — and I don’t think people’s rights to life and liberty are less valid because of the language they speak or the color of their skin.

I’ll be damned if you think I’m anti-American just because I don’t have blind support and patriotism. But just in case you think that, let me leave you with some images that might change your mind when it comes to judging Bob Bergdahl’s tweets and sympathies.

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Yeah. What an asshole, feeling bad for those kids. For feeling a connection to those across the world (for people who are actually interested in following his Twitter, he doesn’t only sympathize with victims in Afghanistan) whose children have been lost to war.