"House of Cards" fight with city of Baltimore pretty much an episode of "House of Cards" now

No one’s been offed. Yet.

You’ll remember “House of Cards,” the popular Netflix series of dramatized dirty politics threatened in February to leave the state of Maryland, where it films, if the government didn’t cough up the tax credits to which the show had become accustomed. Now, Baltimore says if the production leaves the state, the state will just confiscate its property. Because this is what eminent domain is for:

Responding to a threat that the “House of Cards” television series may leave Maryland if it doesn’t get more tax credits, the House of Delegates adopted budget language Thursday requiring the state to seize the production company’s property if it stops filming in the state.

Media Rights Capital, the Beverly Hills, Calif., company producing the popular Netflix show, wrote Gov. Martin O’Malley that it was putting off work on its third season until it could be assured that sufficient tax credits would be approved. If those weren’t forthcoming, it said it would break down its film stage and move it to another state.

Del. William Frick, a Montgomery County Democrat, proposed the provision, which orders the state to use the right of eminent domain to buy or condemn the property of any company that has claimed $10 million or more credits against the state income tax. The provision would appear to apply only to the Netflix series, which has gotten the bulk of the state credits.

Why do these guys even bother writing such provisions as if they’ll apply to anyone else? They do the same with regulations meant to keep Wal-Mart out of cities. We all know what you’re doing, and you know what you’re doing, and I’m pretty sure you’re not ashamed of it. If you believe this a proper function of government, and you wish to punish specific entities, go for it and be honest about it.

“House of Cards” gets the evil of Washington right, but always makes it seem far too competent in the apparently all-seeing and all-encompassing machinations of Frank Underwood. The production’s tantrum and Del. William Frick’s ham-handed ploy, with its plausible-deniability drafting, are more like what real political power grabs look like in Washington. Frick’s very name is indicative of the inelegant and unsexy real-life wielding of dangerous power. We are in the very dumbest of hands. I’m with Mark Hemingway: “House of Cards” Season 3 should just dramatize this mess, and Frick should have a threesome with Zombie Kate Mara and Donny Hot Fries from the DMV. Charm City, baby.

Jazz Shaw Dec 01, 2021 11:01 AM ET