3 bad raps, 2 black eyes and beauty in a billboard

WILEY A. HALL

December 22, 1992|By WILEY A. HALL

Pieces of opinion, too sharp to contain . . .

Gov. William Donald Schaefer, as petulant as ever, has demanded that opponents of Keno, the new lottery game, either show him a better way to raise money or shut up.

Well, gosh. Why not ask small children to donate their lunch money? Why not have little old ladies contribute part of their Social Security checks? In fact, there must be a zillion ways to balance the budget if we accept that the end justifies the means.

The point, though, is that a growing number of people in Maryland are beginning to feel that the governor's passionate embrace of Keno falls on the far side of too much. They question whether the state ought to be in the business of preying on the weaknesses of its citizens. Alas, our governor just doesn't seem to get it.

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Mr. Schaefer also doesn't seem to understand that the leave-business-alone-even-if-it-ruins-us days of his buddy George Bush may be ending with the Bush presidency.

Last week, Mr. Schaefer laid a wicked tongue-lashing on John A. Donaho, the state insurance commissioner, who had testified before Congress in July about the management problems besetting Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Maryland. During a meeting of the state Board of Public Works, the governor complained that the public would have been better off not knowing such things.

"This shakes the confidence of all of us in Blue Cross-Blue Shield," he said, "and that is of great concern to me. I don't like it at all. What you have done in my opinion is caused a problem, a worry."

Mr. Donaho noted that he had testified before Congress last July under subpoena, adding that the state's largest insurer might well have continued its downward spiral had its problems not been made public.

"Instead of hurting the Blues, I have helped them," Mr. Donaho said, with some justification. He might also have added that the Blues' management problems were largely self-inflicted and not the result of bad publicity.

These two issues have given Mr. Schaefer a couple more political black eyes. He has made so many gaffes in this, the twilight of his political career, that if he really did get a black eye for every dumb thing he has said or done, he would look like a raccoon.

On a lighter note, this is the holiday season, I no longer wish that the Washington, D.C., parking-control agent who gave me a $50-ticket for parking at an expired meter last week -- yes, FIFTY DOLLARS! -- trip and fall down the stairs on Christmas morning. At least, I no longer hope he suffers permanent injury. Merry Christmas, my friend.

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It is hard to single out the dumbest, the saddest, or the sickest rap songs ever made, but I heard three prime contenders this weekend.

For the dumbest: "Ain't it Great to be a Gangster," by Bell, Biv, Devoe, in which the rap lives up to the title with no apparent irony.

For the saddest: "Sell-Out," in which the Ghetto Boyz blast poor Rodney King for advocating peace during the Los Angeles riots that broke out after a suburban jury failed to convict five police officers charged with assaulting him.

And for the sickest (albeit kind of funny): "Boogerman," a rap in which some guy boasts about how he goes around wiping his nasal discharge on people. Oddly enough, given a choice, I would prefer that young people learned their values from the Boogerman than from the Ghetto Boyz or Bell, Biv, Devoe. Predictably, the "Boogerman" was hardest to track down. My thanks to V-103's M.C. Jammer for helping me out with the titles, by the way.

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But the holiday season is upon us, and it would be a shame to end on such a sour note. And so, travel with me now to the corner of Orleans and Gay streets -- a troubled community a few blocks north of City Hall that never really recovered from the 1968 riot.

There, a rainbow-colored billboard beams forth the following message: "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty."

Amen.

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