A couple of times this summer I mentioned that progressive voters in New York State had a unique opportunity to send a message to the DINO (Democrat-in-name-only) Wall-Street-boot-licking, ethically challenged elites of the Democratic Party. The establishment candidate -- incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who raised mega-millions from the 1 Percent and broke his campaign promise to fight New York's deeply entrenched corruption -- was challenged by lightly funded bona fide liberals, Zephyr Teachout and Tim Woo.
Given Cuomo's advantages -- money, name ID, incumbency...did I mention money? -- no one expected Teachout to win (Wu, the lieutenant governor candidate, seemingly had a better chance). But even more than 30 percent for Teachout, it was argued, would cripple Cuomo's national ambitions and send a message to Democratic higher-ups to be a little less, you know, corporate. In fact, Teachout did better than that; she got nearly 35 percent of the vote, and she actually carried about 20 counties -- mostly north of New York and in the central part of the state, including the capital of Albany.
Some hailed the loss as really "a huge win" for Teachout.
The week gets off to a sad start with news that Tony Auth, the Pulitzer Prize-winning former Inquirer editorial cartoonist who more recently worked at WHYY's Newsworks, has died of cancer at age 72. If ever there was a journalist who fought for truth, justice and the American way, it was Tony. But what really made him an inspiration to me and to so many others was that he consistently expressed what he thought was right -- not the viewpoint that would be the easiest or the most popular, and he spoke uncomfortable truths to people in power. His passing would have been a huge loss at any time...but the American conversation really could have used his wisdom in these muddled times. Rest in peace.
Like a lot of 50-something guys, I totally forgot about my anniversary the other day...and it was a round-numbered one, the 10th anniversary of becoming a blogger!
It's unimportant trivia but in the summer of 2004 there was a perfect storm of events -- I was looking for a new way to express myself, while the much-higher-ups at our then-owner (heh) Knight-Ridder were urging their newspapers to do more with this Internet thingee. Frankly, I don't think the then-regime at the Daily News had any motivation other than shutting up their Knight-Ridder bosses but in August 2004 they approved an "experiment" -- a "Web log" that would only cover the fall 2004 presidential race and be called "Campaign Extra!" because this is the Daily News and we put exclamation points after things!
Like most experiments, it blew up most of the time (although it existed online for years, it's now mostly vanished). The one thing I can remember -- and can proudly restate -- is that I promised in my introductory post that I would be "fair and seriously unbalanced." I think I've lived up to that in every sense of the word.
I wonder when we're going to get around to destroying -- or at least degrading -- these people:
The country is notorious for its draconian laws, which are derived from a strict Wahhabist interpretation of Islamic doctrine. In the space of two weeks last month, according to the rights group Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia executed as many as 22 people. At least eight of those executed were beheaded, U.N. observers say.
It appears that the majority of those executed in August were guilty of nonlethal crimes, including drug trafficking, adultery, apostasy and "sorcery." Four members of one family, Amnesty reports, were beheaded for "receiving drugs."
There’s something different about this year’s 13th anniversary of the terrorist attack on America, September 11, 2001. It’s the first one since the May opening of the museum attached to the National September 11 Memorial at the former World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan – an inevitable rite of transition, as the horrific and vivid images from that morning fade into the somewhat foggier haze of history.
Visitors to the museum can see the significant and the trivial reminders of that day – from the wallets of the dead and the dust-encrusted boots of rescue workers to the farewell letter written in Arabic by some of the al-Qaeda terrorists – but for some the museum’s lasting impression is its assertive and perhaps suffocating security. The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnick, in an essay on the museum this summer, wrote of his alarm at watching security guards yelling “Don’t advance” at visitors who seemed to stray from the admission line, and “You there, down!” at children who stood on the concrete benches outside…as children are wont to do.
Wrote Gopnick: “The idea that we celebrate the renewal of our freedom by deploying uniformed guards to prevent children from playing in an outdoor park is not just bizarre in itself but participates in a culture of fear that the rest of the city, having tested, long ago discarded.”
To paraphrase the cook on the Edmund Fitzgerald, "Fella, it's been good to know ya." (Actually not really.)
Homework assignment: Read this absolutely essential article in the Guardian by Trevor Timm -- I'll have some more to add later tonight. Here's an excerpt:
How many people wake up and ask themselves, “I wonder what Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger think about Isis?” Outside of a few TV bookers, absolutely no one does – but with war on the horizon, the nation’s most awful surviving warmongers get to go back on the television circuit and address members of Congress, explaining that, if we just drop a few more bombs, it’ll actually work this time! (Unlike all the other times.)
Thanks to this wall-to-wall fear mongering, a once war-weary public is now terrified. More than 60% of the public in a recent CNN poll now supports airstrikes against Isis. Two more polls came out on Tuesday, one from the Washington Post and the other from NBC New and the Wall Street Journal, essentially concluding the same thing. Most shocking, 71% think that Isis has terrorist sleeper cells in the United States, against all evidence to the contrary.
Let's be clear: There's only one person to blame for Ray Rice's firing from the Baltimore Ravens and his suspension from the NFL -- and that's Rice and his violent, reprehensible violence toward his future wife. But you have to wonder if the abysmal state of Atlantic City -- and New Jersey's bass-ackwards "economic development" policies -- played a tiny role in triggering the chain of events that caused Rice to bump ISIS terrorists off America's tabloid front pages.
Well, one angle that's failed to get a lot of focus on this whole sordid matter is how did TMZ Sports (Really? That's a thing?) even get the video? And why now, and not during the initial media frenzy earlier this year over how Janay Rice came to be knocked unconscious in an AC elevator? We don't know -- there's always a possibility that someone in local law-enforcement who was disgusted with Rice's legal wrist-slap punishment leaked it, or maybe a whistle-blower within the NFL, although the NFL has denied six ways to Any Given Sunday that it saw the footage before it was on TMZ.