Tag Archives: New York City

Film creates a guilty conscience

Have you ever seen a film that leaves you with a guilty conscience?

I just saw such a film. Today. I sat between my wife and son for a couple of hours watching “Wonder.” The parents in the film are portrayed by a couple of well-known actors: Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson.

But then there’s this boy, the “wonder” in the eyes of his mother. Jacob Tremblay portrays a youngster named August Pullman, who was born with a serious facial deformity.

Auggie is home schooled by his mother. Then his parents decide to send him to a prep school in New York City. He gets the expected harsh reaction from fellow fifth-graders when he enters the school. Auggie powers through the ridicule, the taunts, the hideous give-and-take that middle schoolers are so capable of delivering.

I won’t give any more of the plot away. It is, simply put, just about the sweetest film I have seen since, oh, I can’t remember when.

The film is based on a novel, which by definition is a fictional story. Auggie’s story, though, does mirror the real-life story of a young man named Nathaniel Newman, who was born with Treacher Collins syndrome. Nathaniel’s story was detailed on a recent edition of “20/20” on ABC-TV.

In the film and in real life, the boys who are affected by this syndrome are just as normal as any children with whom they interact. Auggie happens to be a science genius who loves the space program and wants to walk someday on the surface of the moon.

My guilt comes from the gripes I level at seemingly trivial matters. I get stopped by traffic? I complain about it. Someone cuts in front of me at the grocery store? I grumble under my breath. My favorite football team loses a close game? I curse the television set.

Then I witness on film the portrayal of a little boy who has to go through life with a struggle that too few of us can understand and appreciate. I read about another little boy with precisely the same condition and wonder: Could I be so noble and gracious in light of such struggle as he faces each day in the real world?

It makes me ask myself: Why in this world should I ever complain about anything ever again?

Why run on partisan labels at City Hall?

A headline in today’s New York Times caught my attention and gave me a moment’s pause.

It reads: “Bill de Blasio — the best Democratic choice for mayor.”

It has occurred to me on more than one occasion during the many years I reported and commented on politics wherever I have lived and worked that it makes no sense for municipal candidates to run on partisan tickets.

Why in the world does it matter if a mayor or city council member is a Democrat or a Republican? Someone has to explain to me the validity of forcing these folks to run under the banner of any political party. Do elected municipal officials tend to the needs of constituents based on their party affiliation? They had better not.

I get that NYC is a heavily Democratic city. But if someone calls City Hall with a complaint about, oh, a barking dog or a troublesome pothole or a street light that needs repair, does the city staffer ask the caller whether he or she is a Democrat or Republican?

I realize these are issues to be settled within each community. Sitting out here in Amarillo, Texas, I shouldn’t really care about the politics of New York City. And, in fact, I don’t … not really.

It just sticks in my craw a little bit that some cities in America actually elect municipal officials on partisan ballots.

I prefer the way we do it in Amarillo, or in Beaumont, where we lived for a time before moving to the Panhandle, or in Portland, Ore., the city of my birth. They all elect their governing officials on non-partisan ballots.

I remember one year in Amarillo when a challenger to the incumbent mayor sought to urge “good Republicans” to vote for her. We slapped her down hard at the Amarillo Globe-News, where I worked as editorial page editor. She lost to the incumbent.

I’ve actually argued that county-wide offices need not be partisan, either. Someone needs to explain to me how a tax assessor-collector, or county clerk, or country treasurer, or district clerk, or a sheriff, or district attorney does his or her job on the basis of what’s “good for the party.”

We seem to elect everyone in Texas. We even elect constables — which in my view is the most useless public office any county can employ. I’ll save that argument for another blog post, though. Even constables, for crying out loud, are elected on partisan ballots.

And don’t even get me started on why we elect judges as Democrats and Republicans. I detest partisan election of judges perhaps most of all, given that so many good men and women are tossed off the bench simply because they belong to the “wrong political party.” It’s happened to stellar Democrats in Texas during the past two or three decades; and it happened to equally stellar Republicans back when Democrats were the party in power.

There. My morning rant against partisan politics is over. Nothing will change. I do feel better, though.

NYC might have answer to Trump decision on Paris accord

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed an executive order that might reverberate all across the greatest nation on Earth.

His order mandates that the city he governs adheres to the Paris climate accord that Donald J. Trump decided isn’t worth the United States’ participation.

Oh, no. The president declared that the United States no longer will take part in a worldwide agreement hammered out and signed by more than 190 nations. The nations have pledged to promote worldwide efforts to curb the impact of climate change around the world. The United States was one of them. Until this week!

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/nyc-mayor-bill-de-blasio-executive-order-paris-climate-change-agreement

Not to fear. NYC will adhere to it. So might other major cities across the nation. Ditto for governors who also have executive authority to exercise.

Now, do I expect Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to buck the president? Umm. No.

Do I expect newly Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson to issue an order from City Hall that commits this city to adhere to the climate change mandates? Not holding my breath for that, either.

But there might be an answer to the president’s decision which, all by itself, has managed to enrage world leaders across the globe.

It well might occur at the hands of local government officials who’ll buck the president’s own misguided, ill-considered, ill-informed order to flush the Paris accord down the toilet.

Trump makes friends with dreaded Democratic leader

If we are to believe Donald J. Trump’s statement to the New York Post, then he is making at least one great friend on the other side of the political divide.

The president-elect’s new best friend appears to be incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a liberal New York Democrat.

Schumer reportedly told the Post that he gets along better with Schumer than he does with congressional Republicans.

My first reaction when I heard this was, “Well, duh?”

Two factors come immediately to mind.

One is that Schumer and Trump are home boys, hailing from the same state. Trump grew up in Queens; Schumer was born in Brooklyn and thus also is quite familiar with New York City.

The other is that Republicans in both legislative chambers worked against their party’s presidential nominee in 2016, only to see him defy the odds and be elected president.

Yep, a lot of us were surprised. I heard just this past week that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was certain that Trump would lose the election. Who knew? Certainly not the Kentucky Republican.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/report-trump-likes-schumer-more-than-gop-leaders/ar-BBxN73N?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

I am taking what I have read about Trump’s newfound friendship with Schumer with a massive dose of salt. He is quite capable of changing his mind in the next, oh, hour or so.

But if it’s true — that Trump and Schumer have become political BFFs — the GOP establishment that featured the “Never Trump” wing of the party is largely to blame.

Clinton faces defamatory attacks about her health

BROOKLYN, NY - JUNE 7: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attends a primary night rally in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, June 7, 2016 in Brooklyn, New York. Clinton will become the first woman in U.S. history to secure the presidential nomination of one of the country's two major political parties. (Photo by Brooks Kraft/ Getty Images)

 

Rudy Guiliani used to be known as “America’s mayor,” a title he earned by his stellar performance as mayor of New York City as it coped with the hideous 9/11 terror attacks.

He’s now in danger of being considered “America’s goofball.”

His (former) honor is peddling pure crap as it regards Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. He has said she is ill. He doesn’t have an iota of hard evidence. He just says it.

When asked on Fox News about his contention, Guiliani then offered the most nonsensical rebuttal of all time. “Go online,” he said, referring to the Internet.

That’s it! If it’s on the Internet, he said, then it must be true.

My head nearly exploded when I heard that.

He’s parroting the line, the strategy being employed by Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.

This campaign veered toward the gutter long ago. Trump has been at the wheel of the GOP clown car ever since he declared his candidacy for the presidential nomination. Now that he has been nominated, he keeps gripping the clown car wheel and keep riding it into the same ol’ gutter.

There are those of us out here who are struggling with these campaign choices. Clinton is far from an ideal candidate. She’s got some serious hurdles to clear herself. They deal with trust and whether she would be totally truthful when talking to Americans about serious policy matters.

None of the concerns about Clinton, to my mind, has a thing to do with her physical health.

She is sharp, engaged, well-informed, articulate.

Donald Trump is none of those things.

Rudy Guiliani knows it, too.

Now Trump is insulting his own supporters

Donald-Trump_3372655b

Donald J. Trump’s insult machine has pelted victims far and wide.

Now he has taken aim at the very people who support him.

Trump said the following — at a Christian school in Iowa, no less: It was that he could “shoot someone” while standing the middle of Fifth Avenue (I presume the one in New York City) and not lose the support of his followers.

Take a moment to digest that.

Those who support him, Trump said in effect, are so blindly loyal that their candidate could commit a felony and they’d still vote for him for president of the United States.

Am I missing something?

Some of my social media friends and acquaintances appear to be avid Trumpsters. They chide me for making anti-Trump statements on my blog or on Twitter. I don’t mind being needled for my opposition to his presidential candidacy.

It’s fair to ask, though: Are they really that blindly loyal to someone who would presume such a thing about them?

Where are the demonstrations for the cops?

Normally, I disagree with the New York Post’s editorial policy.

Not this time.

The Post has asked a legitimate question: Why won’t there be demonstrations supporting a young New York City police officer who has been put into a medically induced coma after being shot while on duty?

http://nypost.com/2015/05/03/another-nypd-officer-shot-and-no-one-will-march-to-protest/

An ex-con with a history of violent behavior is in custody for the shooting.

Since we’ve been focusing lately on the incidents involving white officers harming black suspects, it’s fair to note that the suspect in this incident is black and the officer is white.

Officer Brian Moore is the fifth New York City officer to be shot in the line of duty since December. The Post takes appropriate note of the risk that these officers face every single day they report for duty. Moore clings to life now because of someone’s callous disregard for civil order.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed his support for Moore’s family and vows to be there for them as they pray for the young officer. He took some undeserved criticism by the police union in the wake of earlier tragedies involving officers and suspects in their custody; officers turned their backs on the mayor as he spoke at the funerals of two officers ambushed in Brooklyn. That should not have happened.

Brian Moore devotes his life to protecting others.

He and the other officers, as the Post states, “need the full, unqualified support of every New Yorker. Heaven knows they’ve earned it.”

 

Rudy talks himself out of relevance

Two of the smarter pundits — one a liberal, the other a conservative — have found common ground on the remarks delivered recently by former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani.

Mark Shields and David Brooks agree that Guiliani’s assertion that President Obama doesn’t “love America” are unacceptable and the Republican Party to which Guiliani belongs needs to call him out.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/02/21/david_brooks_giulianis_comments_unacceptable_incumbent_upon_republicans_to_police_the_party.html

What “America’s Mayor” seems to be doing — if the GOP follows through on the advice — is talking himself out of becoming a relevant voice in the nation’s political discourse.

Brooks, who writes a right-leaning column for the New York Times, told the PBS NewsHour that Guiliani’s remarks are “self-destructive” and are just plain wrong.

Guiliani spouted off during a political event honoring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. It took place in New York City. He prefaced his remarks by acknowledging it was difficult to say, but then he said the president doesn’t love the country he governs.

This is a shameful act of demagoguery.

Shields, whose column tilts to the left, brought up a fascinating element to Guiliani’s doubts about Obama’s patriotism. It was that Guiliani received six draft deferments to get out of serving in the Vietnam War and persuaded a judge to get him reclassified to 2A specifically to keep him from going to war. Are those the actions of a patriot? Shields asked.

Shields also noted: “I go back to John McCain, who in 2008, when this was a hot issue, had the courage to confront a Republican audience in Lakeville, Minnesota, when they made this charge and said, no, that is untrue. President Obama is an American. He cares about this country. He loves this family, and I like him, but I disagree with him on the issues.”

If the mayor is setting the tone for the upcoming GOP presidential primary campaign, then the developing field of candidates talking about entering the race need to switch to a new song sheet.

NewsHour moderator Judy Woodruff did note that several Republican officials denounced Guiliani’s remarks. They were correct to do so.

Brooks responded: “It’s incumbent on Republicans to do that, just to police the party.”

 

Rudy wraps himself in 9/11 tragedy

Rudy Guiliani is becoming more shameless by the hour.

After saying that President Barack Obama doesn’t love America, the former New York City mayor has essentially doubled down on that criticism by telling right-wing talk show host Sean Hannity that Obama “didn’t live through 9/11; I did.”

http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/19/rudy-giuliani-invokes-911-to-reinforce-his-clai/202583

So, what is the former mayor suggesting? It might be that he’s glorifying his involvement in a crisis that was thrust upon him by those terrorists who flew the planes into the World Trade Center.

No one with any memory of that terrible day would begrudge the mayor for the role he played in rallying his city and, thus, the country in the wake of horrifying tragedy. I certainly get it. His Honor stood tall, along with President Bush.

But why bring that up now as he criticizes President Obama — wrongly, in my view?

He’s suggesting the president doesn’t take international terrorism seriously enough. He posited the ridiculous notion that Obama doesn’t love the country.

Now he says he’s justified in criticizing the president because he was mayor of New York on the morning that the terrorists stunned the world with their brazen attack on the United States of America.

No, Mr. Mayor. You were in the wrong place at the right time. That’s all. Yes, you responded heroically — but your actions — by themselves — don’t give you the right to question the president’s love of country.

 

Now it's Rangel on the hot seat

The U.S. political world has been chattering and clamoring over the tea party’s rise within the Republican Party, and the notable victim it claimed a week ago, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.

But this Tuesday, it appears quite possible a leading Democrat will fall to one of two challengers.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-charles-rangel-20140621-story.html

New York U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel has represented the Harlem district of New York City since The Flood. He’s a decorated Korean War veteran and a one-time chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Then he got into some serious ethical troubles. The House censured him and stripped him of his chairmanship.

He stayed on.

Now Rangel is facing a stout challenge from Adriano Espaillat and Michael Walrond in New York’s upcoming Democratic primary on Tuesday. A fourth candidate also is on the ballot, but she’s been invisible.

The odds are looking as though Rangel will go down to defeat. Espaillat appears to be the favorite.

New York doesn’t have a runoff rule that requires the winner to get 50 percent of the vote to declare outright victory. In New York, all the winner needs is more votes than whoever finishes second.

Rangel represents that old-time back-slapping pol who everyone knows in the district. The problem for him appears that everyone now seems to know him too well.

He’s worn out, tired, used up — or so it seems to many observers.

Rangel also has that recent history of ethical misconduct involving whether he took money from special interests.

If Rangel does go down Tuesday, then there might be far more at play here than just one party eating its own. There indeed might be a tidal wave about the sweep through Congress.

Let’s all hold on for a turbulent election year.