Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Next Up for Demonization

With “Bridgegate” looming over NJ Gov.Chris Christie’s head, donors are abandoning him in large numbers; his favorable poll numbers are dropping faster than the knickers of the Kardashian of the month. There have been calls for him to step down as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. You have to hand it to the Democrats when it comes to character assassination. If they were in the restaurant business,  a  Three Star Michelin rating would be most appropriate. They have managed to sully the reputations of George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and the collective reputation of Tea Party  members while upholding the reputations of inveterate liars like Bill and Hill, Harry Reid, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi.

While Democrats  squeal  ad nauseum  about the need for bi-partisanship, the president has used executive action to foist upon us, his model of America, albeit one that functions sans the checks and balances our founding fathers prescribed. Mr. President, your poll numbers are as low as President Bush’s at his lowest ebb. Why would you think the nation has any more confidence in you than we had with your predecessor when we are still mired in malaise. Six years into your administration! Most of us don’t see the happy face picture painted  by your gallery of sycophants.

Now that Christie is on the ropes , the Democrats will turn their attention to any other viable Republican presidential candidate for 2016. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who will face a tough re-election challenge later this year becomes a new target .

 He has enjoyed a little respite since he withstood a recall vote in 2012.  This was instigated for the most part for his steadfastness limiting the leverage of the municipal unions . He reined in excessive spending so much so that in his recent state of the  state address, he announced a budget surplus in excess of $900 million.

Gov. Walker has come up with a novel idea – return some of it back to the taxpayers! In this day and age of bloated government bureaucracy how refreshing for someone to actually provide some help for the middle class instead  of talking the intention to death without doing a thing.

Had this been a Democratic governor, the surplus would already be earmarked for administration to a bunch of political cronies for another non-productive program; or be  used to prop up an  existing one.

Gov. Walker has done a great service for the taxpayers of his state. But he will certainly draw the wrath of the DNC which needs new fodder for its wood chipping, character assassination machine.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Wheat From the Chaff


Every year around the celebration of Dr. King’s birthday I get a bad case of the might-have-beens. In the span of a few short years, we lost JFK, RFK and MLK. Real leaders with vision.  Today we are left with the cheap paste copies instead of gems.

We hear excuse after excuse of why things in the greatest nation in the world cannot be improved. Democrats blame Republicans and vice versa. We elected one man to lead us – Barak Obama – but his default explanation for our lack of progress is partisan politics exacerbated  by the fact he’s African-American.  Most recently, he has intimated these feelings in an article on the  New Yorker Magazine website. Certainly there is an element of truth to that. Just as, conversely, he mentions, he is given a pass for the same reason.

 We know there are African-Americans who dislike whites because of their skin color. But it is rarely, if ever, mentioned. Would  Dr. King remain silent  if he were seeing  the virulent images of young, black thugs punching old men  and women; even children. Like we have seen in recent months?. And despite the protestations of a media intent on affirming these attacks as race neutral, we know otherwise. And the request for justice from  a myopic and inept attorney general  goes largely unheeded. As do the pleas from the citizenry to ameliorate the  current  American malaise.

No, Mr. President, it’s not because you have a darker complexion than those you believe  dislike you, it’s because your policies have been abject failures and your antics over the last five years have been embarrassing. A recent poll among all voters puts your approval rating at 39%.

Where are the shovel –ready  jobs you promised? where is the unity you promised?  where is health care reform? Reform? This is a disaster that’s slowly unraveling around us. And please, Mr. President, don’t have your staff fish out three letters from your constituents who will attest to the  wonders of the Affordable Care Act when there are so many more who are less better off than they were before you, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi decided to help us. Why is it we never hear about those people.  Don’t they write letters?

And do you think Dr. King would stand idly by while you and your Hollywood friends feast while so many go hungry. While so many are teetering on the brink of disaster. Would he look the other way at the profligate manner you and your family vacation on our dime.  Sending a separate plane  to deliver the family dog to a vacation destination. Really, Mr. President?

Dr. King would be knocking down the White House door to voice his disapproval of many of your policies which have  only prolonged the suffering of all of us especially, African –Americans. No jobs for black youths and violence attenuating their ranks. An education system that pours more and more money into the fire of failure. And most of all, Mr. President  he would object to your using your race to mask the failures of your administration.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

To Protect, Serve And, In Some Cases, Scam

When the fraud case involving over a 100 New York City Police and  Firefighters was made known last week I was  disheartened like everyone else  and more hardened by the hypocrisy we see in every sector of our society.

During the crisis in 2001 police and fire personnel were in an “all hands on deck” mode. I still have vivid memories of them sifting through the broken bodies and debris holding out hope that maybe one survivor  might be found or one more positive identification might be made so that families would be able to gain some level of closure for their loved ones.

The bravery of the first responders  on that day – walking into the most ominous of circumstances was of Herculean proportions. Who would have ever ventured  the irreverent thought that some of  these individuals would have the temerity to game the system and tarnish the image of New York City’s Finest and Bravest.

 “As a New Yorker, as a U.S. citizen, I can only express disgust at the actions of these individuals involved in this scheme, particularly the 72 former members of the New York City Police Department who have certainly disgraced themselves, embarrassed their families, with their abuse of this system,” Police Commissioner William Bratton said at a recent news conference. “The idea that many of them chose the events of 9/11 to claim as the basis of the disability brings further dishonor to themselves.”

Those charged received as much as $50,000 a year for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)claims allegedly stemming from the trauma of 9/11. Also, indicted were the facilitators who aided and abetted these miscreants.  They were identified as Raymond Lavallee, 83, a lawyer and former FBI agent and Nassau County prosecutor; Thomas Hale, 89, a disability consultant; John Minerva, 61, a union official for the Detectives’ Endowment Association; and Joseph Esposito, 64, a retired police officer. Lavallee was also chief of the rackets bureau in the Nassau County District Attorney’s office where he probably picked up a few pointers.

According to the prosecutors, the defendants were meticulously instructed on how to fail memory tests with plausibility, how to dress and how to behave. Like the last row  grammar school cheaters we remember  from  our youth, their answers to questions  were practically identical : “I nap on and off during the day;” “I have the TV on to keep me company;” “I’m up and down all night long.” Well, it’s obvious they weren’t the brightest bunch.

But perhaps the saddest  revelation in this sordid affair came from Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., : “This fraud not only forced federal taxpayers to finance the lifestyles of New York scammers, it also took away, importantly, the already limited resources we have for people who actually suffered from psychiatric disabilities. That includes, of course, the brave first responders who ran toward the fires on September 11th, and who now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and other serious but very real psychiatric disabilities.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bridge On The River Hudson

In the wake of revelations that a Gov. Christie staff member  had a hand in the George Washington Bridge lane closures, how refreshing was it that the governor  did not waste any time firing those responsible  for the concomitant inconveniencing  of all those residents in that area who use that bridge in their daily commutes. Then, went to the affected area to offer a heart felt apology  in person.

And who doesn’t feel as bit of sympathy for the governor who didn’t have a Susan Rice on his staff to muddy the waters long enough  to provide cover for the culpable with tales of offending videos or other such nonsense.

Christie stood in front  of the media (much too long, in my opinion) to answer questions, questions unlike the softballs tossed at President Obama who has skated by on such questions regarding the Benghazi attack, the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious and the Obamacare fiasco. His stock response is always he didn’t know anything about it.

Christie, too, claimed to have been “blindsided” but  promised to get to the bottom of the problem and he won’t move with the glacial speed of the Obama administration.

This imbroglio over the “Bridgegate” could in the long run be a blessing for the governor. First, he has already shown what a leader does in a crisis – he acts. He has terminated the employment of those who have been implicated in the case and has promised to provide additional information when it becomes available. And other terminations, if necessary. Second, he has provided  a stark contrast between himself and a sitting president who doesn’t seem to know how to lead. And most importantly, Gov. Christie sees how carnivorous the media can be when it sees blood in the water. A lesson  he needed to learn for a possible presidential run.

The media is already  lining up and burning incense for Madame Hillary for 2016. Her term as  secretary of state could only be characterized as disastrous. She actually said that democratic reforms in Syria and Egypt were taking hold before the Arab spring, then, of course, did a 180 in the opposite direction when all hell broke loose. But as she likes to say what does it matter anyway at this point?

The Democrats are playing their usual game demonizing the opposition, even a middle of the road Republican  like Gov. Christie. But unlike others who have been skewered like Sarah Palin, Todd Cruz, and Speaker Boehner, Christie, in my opinion, will not only weather this storm but will come out stronger because of it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Era in New York Begins

When Bill deBlasio was inaugurated last week as the 109th mayor of New York City there were a handful of speakers at the ceremony who took the opportunity to lambast outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg for what they believe his contribution to the widening gap between rich and poor in the city. This, like the ongoing national debate,  was  the recurring theme during the mayoralty primary and general election. And it does have merit to a degree.

Real estate developers in Manhattan have enjoyed a boom in Bloomberg’s 12 years in office and, for the most part, those developments have been high end office buildings, retail outlets, condos and apartments. Hopefully, Mayor deBlasio will be able to make the city more affordable for the poor and the attenuating middle class. But this is not just a New York City problem it’s a national problem, largely stemming from the dearth  of jobs which never materialized from the Obama White House. Certainly more jobs and training for those who want to work would be a great tonic for narrowing the gap. And  for improving a myriad of other  social problems. Laying the blame on Mayor Bloomberg seems unfair.

And  yet  during deBlasio’s inauguration we heard from a few speakers, who instead of looking forward with hope,  denounced Mayor Bloomberg who sat there flummoxed. He looked like he would have  been more comfortable in a dentist’s chair undergoing a root canal sans anesthesia.

When the Rev. Frederick A. Lucas likened New York City to a plantation, it was a travesty. And many people took offense. Rev. Clinton M. Brown, a Baptist pastor from Brooklyn came to Lucas’ defense. “I think a lot of people may not understand the symbolic use of language in the African-American experience.” (See Rev. Jeremiah Wright.) I  don’t think Robert Langdon, the fictitious  symbologist  from The Da Vinco Code, would  have recognized  Lucas’ comment for anything other than the racially charged remark that it was.

Then there was Harry Bellefonte spewing nonsense about how New York  has contributed to our nation having the largest prison population in the world. Jim Dwyer, who writes a column in The New York Times, About New York,  debunked such nonsense. I have observed Mr. Bellefonte’s musings over the years  and have  noticed he never misses an opportunity to lower the limbo bar and the image of our nation when given a forum.

Perhaps to balance out the opprobrium, former President Bill Clinton threw a few crumbs of thanks to Mayor Bloomberg . Of course with the Clintons questions of motive always rise to the fore. Was he sincere or just greasing the skids for a Hillary campaign contribution and endorsement in 2016?

But I do wish Mayor deBlasio  success  and that he keep his promise that “we will succeed as one city.” And does not follow the divisive paradigm of President Obama who also promised to bring our nation together.



Thursday, January 2, 2014

Waiting For Change This New Year?


Nothing Changes on New Year’s Day – U2

I’m always taken in by the ambivalence of this lyric. As the seconds countdown to a new year we are always optimistic, drink  in hand, and  ready to toast,  that the changes we seek in our personal lives and in the world at large will come to fruition.

The poor will share in the wealth of the world. Peace will be a reality. Kindergarten bullies will stop assaulting their fellow classmates. Our politicians will work for the common good and in the public interest. We’ll all lose those extra five pounds we picked over the holidays. Gas prices will return to 2008 levels. Journalism will make a comeback and report news instead of manufacturing it.

Don’t hold your breath. Really, don’t hold your breath. With the changes in our health care system your policy might not cover respiratory ailments. And if it does, your deductible probably quadrupled. Let’s face it it’s getting harder and harder to be optimistic. The difference between an optimist and a pessimist, I like to think, is that the pessimist is better informed.

Generally speaking, knowledge and the thirst for it has become something of an anathema. We glorify the idiot at the expense of the competent. When I was in high school, we searched out those students who were above average, even well beyond above average. There were special classes called “honor classes” which sought to develop these students to their maximum capabilities. These were to be the leaders of the future. But somewhere along the line, probably in the nascent stages of political correctness, the focus shifted to the incompetent and “special needs” classes. “Average” became the new “above average.” Barely literate, you are now considered average. Congratulations to us all, we’ve come a long way, baby.

So here we are embarking on a new year. Can change happen? Of course. Yes, let’s be optimistic. Let’s hope the economy improves, really improves; let’s hope the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate is resolved; let’s hope the middle class can survive this dysfunctional administration and congress. And most importantly, let’s hope political correctness is in our rear view mirror next year at this time.

Do I think any of this will happen. Nah.  But that’s just me.