No. 11: Thou shalt not make Holocaust analogies

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February 24, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

It's an age-old political truism, like the one about strange bedfellows, or the cover-up being worse than the crime: Holocaust analogies are a bad idea.

Didn't Lt. Gov. Michael Steele just remind everybody of that? But former Frederick Alderman Blaine Young went ahead anyway and used a related H-word Saturday on his radio show on WFMD. He was talking about the anti-development policies of a political foe, Lennie Thompson, president of the Frederick County board of commissioners.

"It's no different than what Hitler did with the Jews or Huey Long did with the oil companies in Louisiana," Young said. "The scapegoat in this county is the developers."

Thompson proudly describes himself as "the most anti-growth county elected official in the state of Maryland." But he wants you to know he's not a Nazi.

"The assertion made by Blaine Young is defamatory, false, untrue and is not in accord with the facts," Thompson said in an e-mail message to The Sun. "My policies concerning developers are not comparable to the atrocities committed against the Jewish people and others by Nazi Germany."

Young soon found himself offering that awkward some-of-my-best-friends-are-Jewish defense.

"First of all I have many Jewish friends and my father's girlfriend and future wife is Jewish and I know better," Young said in an e-mail to the media.

Young's message notes that he never accused Thompson of committing Nazi-style atrocities against developers. He said Thompson was scapegoating developers like Hitler scapegoated the Jews. Not sure if that distinction helps much, since he still runs afoul of the no-Holocaust rule.

This isn't the first time Young has broken a political commandment. A few years back, he ignored the one about keeping your name out of the local madam's business records.

O'Malley's Time bomb

Mayor Martin O'Malley has gotten his share of favorable national media, and he usually lets voters back home know about it. Just last week, his gubernatorial campaign sent out an e-mail that noted positive coverage on Nightline and in Time, The Wall Street Journal and Business Week.

But he probably won't stick this week's Time under voters' noses.

"Few cities have it quite as bad as Baltimore," says a story on witness intimidation. The article also refers to the city's "scandal-racked police force," though the author is paraphrasing a public defender in that instance.

Of course, there's no need for O'Malley to spread the word about the Time piece. State's Attorney Pat Jessamy - who was quoted in the article - passed out copies to state lawmakers in Annapolis this week as she pressed for the expansion of anti-intimidation laws.

Should a good hand win cuffs?

Baltimore City Councilman Bobby Curran wants the "friendly" poker game to go a little more legit. Not all the way legit, mind you. He's not looking to legalize for-money poker games, just decriminalize some of them.

What's the difference?

Right now, playing poker for money in Maryland can get you jail time. Curran thinks some players should face only civil fines.

(The council has no power to change state gambling statutes, so Curran's proposed resolution would only ask the General Assembly to change the law.)

"Every day, friends get together and play cards, where there is no house earning money and no business being run," says a draft of Curran's council resolution. "In these situations, where money is being exchanged between friends ... there should be a civil remedy for the breakage of the law rather than a criminal one."

Curran's reasoning: Police have bigger fish to fry than busting up the games, which, thanks to TV poker shows, have become "one of America's favorite pastimes."

Keep your shirt, bib on

If you've got $75, two hours for a weekday lunch and more Weight Watchers points than you know what to do with, head to Tersiguel's in Ellicott City for a special meal Tuesday. It'll put the "gras" in Mardi Gras and put money in the coffers of a group trying to save historic structures in the Gulf Coast.

The fundraiser is being put on by the French restaurant, Howard County Tourism and the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation, which was created to help that historic district come back from a flood of its own.

The menu, which is subject to change: crawfish boulettes, gumbo, jambalaya, catfish pecan meuniere, eggs Sardou, muffuletta, bananas Foster, bread pudding, milk and brandy punch, cafe brule and - just so ya don't go away hungry - "much, much more."

The cost is completely tax deductible, organizers want you to know, because all proceeds will go to the National Trust for Historic Preservation 2005 Hurricane Recovery Fund.

And since it's a good cause, maybe Weight Watchers will give you a pass on the points.

Info: 410-313-1900.

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