Some random observations on recent events:
- Republicans on path to take us over the cliff: In their Obamacare obsession, Congressional Republicans are threatening to shut down the government and/or default on the national debt. One of their main talking points - apart from increasing health care coverage is tyranny - is that the majority of Americans oppose Obamacare. The polls I have seen, however, do not demonstrate that. Rather, while a minority say they are in favor of Obamacare, if you add to that percentage the numbers who oppose it because it did not go far enough, the Republicans are out-of-step with the majority as they are on so many issues. Senator Ted Cruz thinks his opposition is his ticket to the White House. He may want to consider the reality that Americans do not put smug know-it-alls in the White House. Ask Al Gore or John Kerry. Also, the Republican Congressman who compared the government shut down with the “Let’s Roll” quote from 9/11 may want to work harder on his analogies. Those were the words of passengers on one of the hijacked planes that led to them taking on the terrorists to prevent a plane from flying into a government building. Everyone on the plane, however, died after it crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside.
- How weak does the President look now that Syria and Iran are willing to talk about lessening their threats in the Mideast? The Conventional Wisdom among Washington pundits is that the President is a feckless leader who appears weak to the rest of the world. It was never clear to me how bombing Syria would reduce the threat of Assad using chemical weapons other than to flex our macho muscles, but we are at least on a path that will reduce the threat significantly. The Iran developments are potentially momentous unless, of course, you are on the neocon right that doesn’t think you can ever have too many wars. One of the scariest quotes I heard in the run-up to the Iraq war was a Bush Administration official who said, “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”
- Speaking of irresponsibility, what was The Saratogian thinking with this headline? For those not familiar with this issue, Darryl Mount Jr. was injured seriously following a chase by Saratoga police officers. He was pursued following an incident in which he purportedly slammed a woman’s head into a wall. He ran down an alley off Broadway, came out on scaffolding and then ended up on the ground after falling about 20 feet from the scaffolding. According to the police, the officers lost sight of him and came upon his body on the ground. The victim’s relatives and friends have challenged the police account, although I had not read of any witness actually alleging specific police misconduct until the headline story in the Tuesday Saratogian: ”Witness reports: Victim pushed.” This dramatically changed the narrative from one of an accident in the course of a police chase to an allegation of significant criminal behavior by the police. There was only one defect in the ensuing article - there was no account of any witness, let alone multiple witnesses, saying they observed a police officer push the victim off the scaffold. Instead, an attorney for the family said he has two witnesses who “witnessed the final stages of the pursuit.” According to the attorney, “there was an officer in close proximity to him when he went off that could have contributed to his going off the scaffolding.” The newspaper also quotes the attorney as saying “there is a question as to whether a struggle ensued before Mount left the scaffolding and also whether a TASER was deployed while Mount was on the scaffolding.” So while the attorney is claiming that the police were closer to the fall than acknowledged by the police department, he does not even come close to alleging that an officer pushed the victim off a ledge. What is particularly disturbing about this headline - apart from its obvious inaccuracy - is that many people do not go beyond the headlines in drawing conclusions from the news. Moreover, since the victim is African-American and there has already been a heated protest over the incident, one would expect a measure of caution before putting something on your front page that could only inflame matters.
- Why does The Big Apple need to go to Boston for its mayors? First we had the Boston-born Michael Bloomberg. Now there is the Democratic nominee, Bill de Blasio, who not only grew up in Boston but is an actual Red Sox fan. Of course, Boston might have been better served if it went to The City for its last mayor instead of 20 years of the Tom Menino experience.
- It doesn’t get any better than the Yankees’ tribute to Mariano Rivera. I have been a life-long - well, at least since the age of six - Red Sox fan and have often been a professed Yankee-hater. But I was crying openly when I watched the video of Rivera’s last appearance on the Stadium mound. Watch it here. No matter how much one may dislike the Bombers, you are not a baseball fan if you do not appreciate the likes of Rivera, Derek Jeter and Andy Petite. Indeed, with the exception of Alex Rodriguez, the most obnoxious Yankees in recent years - Roger Clemens and, to a lesser extent, Wade Boggs - have come from the Sox. Incidentally, I do not agree with the narrative accompanying the video to which I linked. I think an argument can be made that Rivera is the greatest player to have only worn the pinstripes. And, by all accounts, is one of the nicest and classiest individuals in professional sports.
- “Hand this to your car wash professional.” No comment on the final episode of Breaking Bad since I will not be able to watch it live for scheduling reasons. Instead, my spouse and I will be waiting until next weekend when we will watch it with an appropriate meal of fried chicken and guacamole. The fried chicken, by the way, will be from Mouzon House, Saratoga’s must underrated restaurant. (The most overrated, in my opinion, is Hattie’s which prides itself on its fried chicken.)