Point of View Columns

When You are Living in a Glass House

At the end of last week, after lengthy and sometimes rancorous debate the New York State Legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and that bill was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo immediately thereafter. New York is the largest and most populous state to have legalized same-sex marriage, a point that is useful to keep in mind since a number of states have proposed to outlaw or have already prohibited such unions.

Leading the charge against same-sex marriage has been the Catholic Church. Not content with prohibiting Catholics from entering into same-sex marriages, the leaders, cardinals, bishops and priests have proclaimed that their view of morality and the will of God are so divinely inspired that they have the right to impose that view on non-Catholics as well.

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion certainly empowers these prelates to state their point of view. But if what underlies their speech is the right to deny freedom to others, all freedoms are devalued. After all, there was a time when Roman emperors viewed all Christians as enemies of the state and put them to death for their beliefs. How odd it is that 2000 years later Catholics pronounce political death sentences on politicians that do not support their point of view.

As a practicing Catholic I certainly would feel less queasy about the political activism of the Catholic Church if the now vocal leaders haven’t been oh so silent on the issue of child abuse by Catholic priests. The vehement statements of outrage against same-sex marriage dwarf any statements of dismay, disgust or apology by the Catholic Church when it comes to the abuse of children by priests.

Entire parishes and archdioceses have been bankrupted by the damages awarded to the victims of the Catholic Church. Yet the acknowledgements of guilt and complicity have been tepid when compared to the bellicose roar of the church hierarchy in denying the legitimacy of expressions of love that do not comport with their moral universe.

And the Catholic Church is not the only glass house resident that should be very wary of stones in the neighborhood. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, the new “It” girl of the G.O.Tea Party has proclaimed that as president she would lead the battle to have a constitutional amendment outlawing same sex marriage throughout the entire United States.

To my recollection, this is the same Michelle Bachmann who has ranted against the intrusion of government into the private lives of Americans. This would be the same Michelle Bachmann who is leading the mock battle against the mock demon called “big government”.

Personally, I cannot think of a greater intrusion into the private lives of Americans than for government to dictate who can marry whom and what relationship is valid and valued and what relationship is invalid and devalued. Visions of “big government” and Big Brother come to mind as we watch the borders between church and state being smeared and obliterated by those who would presume to place their moral standards above those of others.

Since Michelle Bachmann went to law school one could reasonably expect that she would shy away from the apparent contradiction of wishing to reduce the intrusion of government in the lives of Americans on one hand while wielding the Thor-like hammer of the Constitution of the United States to smash the rights of privacy and the freedoms of love and association that Americans supposedly enjoy. The constitutional and legal glass house in which she resides cannot possibly stand up the stones of hypocrisy that she is casting with her own hand.

The point is not the obduracy of the Catholic Church or the mindless and pathetic hypocrisy of Michelle Bachmann. The point actually goes beyond the current debate regarding same-sex marriage and civil unions.

I would suggest that we are witnessing the renaissance of a time best left forgotten when imposing moral standards and views on life were accomplished with threats and violence. Ostensibly, the clearly wobbly beliefs of the framers of the Constitution were tested by issues like slavery and suffrage for women. But the sound concepts of freedom and the rights of individuals bound by a union focused on the common good are worth remembering and citing.

Those sound concepts are being remixed and spun in ways that are taking us back into a time of intolerance and injustice. It is time to remember that in such matters it can get late early.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 25, 2011

This week prayers may not have been answered in full, but we were all witness to the beginning of the end of a war without end. Meanwhile nowhere in the print or electronic media is there any mention of the fatal flaw of the Romney and Hunstman presidential candidacies. Finally, the G.O.Tea Party follies continue as the former proponent of the secession of Texas from the United States, Rick Perry, ponders the timing for his entry into the race.

Crying in the Chapel

Last week President Obama announced a schedule for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. If the schedule stays in place over 30,000 military personnel will have left that country by the end of 2012. That will leave approximately 70,000 troops remaining and President Obama said that they will be gone by 2014.
There are many Americans who never saw the need or the logic in having over 100,000 American troops in the Graveyard of Empires.

Most Americans regardless of their initial enthusiasm for vicarious combat have grown weary with a decade of death, outpourings of cash and the indelible feeling that nothing good will come out of this adventure.

There are logical reasons for withdrawing all the troops as soon as possible. The politics and logistics of the situation won’t permit such action, however. President Obama seems to be making the best of a very bad situation, and in this case we can only hope that The Force is with him.

Do You Want to Know a Secret?

Last week Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah and more famously, President Obama’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. Having worked for Barack Obama for 18 months, Mr. Huntsman came away convinced that he could do a better job as president than the man who appointed him.

He is entitled to his flights of fancy but what is hardly mentioned is that, for the first time in American history, two Mormons are seemingly credible candidates for the presidential nomination of a major party. Within this generation Mormons refused African Americans admission to the church because of some presumed connection to the devil.

Followers of the Mormon faith were subjected to lynching and genocidal practices in the 19th century leading to their flight to Utah where there only opposition were the inconvenient Ute tribe, which was immediately dispatched. And, it should be noted that Mormons fought something very much like a civil war against the United States before grudgingly agreeing to become a part of the United States.

And now not one, but two Mormons are running for President of the United States and there seems to be assumption that bygones are bygones and that evangelical Christians whose forebears burned Mormons will not vote for a Mormon. The United States is a polyglot nation which still accepts change at a glacial pace.

One could observe that if a black man could be elected president then so can a Mormon. I would just suggest that someone might want to look a little more closely at this historic moment as opposed to dismissing it as irrelevant.

Because it most assuredly is not.

Let’s Get Crazy. Let’s Get Nuts.

The G.O.Tea Party, for all of its proclaimed revulsion at the mere thought of Barack Obama, seems to be secretly committed to his re-election. Candidacies that are doomed at birth, like those of Ron Paul and Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann, are touted as legitimate contenders to wrest the Oval Office from President Obama.

And now, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas and successor to George W. Bush, has indicated his possible interest in running for the Republican nomination for president. And I am sitting wondering how a responsible government official who is on the record as suggesting that Texas consider seceding from the United States (you can look it up) can be a serious candidate for president of this country.

Perhaps Governor Perry can come up with a “spin” to explain his intemperate remarks –but if he is the best that the Republican Party can come up with as a candidate Barack Obama’s biggest challenge will be overconfidence.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Time to Give Peace a Chance

This week President Obama is scheduled to present his timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. He is being consistent with statements made when he committed additional troops to that quagmire last year at which time a withdrawal schedule was promised.

As is the case when the military becomes involved with policy instead of being confined to strategic plans to achieve policy, there are voices within the Pentagon that are counseling against any significant reduction of troops in a country that has been called, for good reason, the Graveyard of Empires. Minimal troop withdrawal has been urged by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, among others, the argument being that a rapid withdrawal of troops would result in the evaporation of military “gains” that have been made during the past year.

Presumably these “gains” don’t include the continued pillaging of the Afghan treasury by the notoriously corrupt Karzai regime. These “gains” can’t possibly refer to the spectacular ineptitude of the Afghan military and security forces after almost a decade of American training and billions of dollars of aid. And these “gains” cannot refer to the continued reluctance of the Afghan government to bring its people into the 19th century, let alone the 21st century.

Of course I am referring to the thankless and endless task of nation building in a nation that clearly is resistant to the concept. The military reasons for invading Afghanistan are long gone. The Taliban, which was never a threat to American security, remains in Afghanistan and will continue to be a force in that country no matter how long American troops remain. Al Qaeda, to the extent it exists at all in Afghanistan is crippled, eviscerated and with the death of Osama bin Laden, decapitated.

If the reason for continuing to keep American troops in Afghanistan relates to nation building and the instilling of democratic values, American troops will remain for decades. If the reason to keep American troops in Afghanistan relates to American national security, then that mission is already accomplished and it is past time to withdraw from the bloody quicksand that has an endless appetite for American blood and treasure.

Of course the political ramifications of President Obama’s Afghanistan policy are never too far from center stage. The G.O.Tea Party clamors for smaller government and less involvement in foreign affairs, yet they also clamor for the continuation of the dance of death in Iraq and Afghanistan which has already gone on for a decade.

Meanwhile, the original supporters of the Obama candidacy were drawn to the incandescent flame of his quest for the presidency by his opposition to the war in Iraq and have been disheartened by his “doubling down” in Afghanistan. If there was ever a time for President Obama to demonstrate his continued kinship with Candidate Obama, it is now.

Billions of dollars are being spent in Afghanistan and Iraq every week. Every month American troops are killed, maimed and crippled by combat fatigue. While the advocates of war sit comfortably in their homes and Feng Shui designed offices, too many American troops as well as Afghan and Iraqi citizens are dying.

We watch the vitriol-laced charade of budget debates that are meant to disguise a drive to dismantle the entire federal apparatus that created modern society and all the while millions of dollars are lost daily like water poured onto the desert sand. And we have to wonder when common sense and logic will catch up to the madness and insanity that values war over peace and destruction over development.

When President Obama stands before the country this week he will have a unique opportunity to validate the change that his candidacy promised three impossibly long years ago. I am speaking not only about a change in the current American military policy in Afghanistan, and by extension Iraq. I believe that he has the opportunity to fundamentally change the nature of American policy when it comes to resolving international issues and concerns.

With the death of Osama bin Laden and the generally acknowledged demolition of the Al Qaeda apparatus in Afghanistan, there are no more military reasons for the United States to be there. There were never any military reasons for American troops to be in Iraq. And now would be the time to acknowledge the limits of military answers to international challenges by announcing the accelerated withdrawal of troops from these two theaters of death.

In the process of bringing peace and relief to hundreds of thousands of American families President Obama could establish the framework for introducing the war “savings” into the budget debate. This would, of course, require the G.O.Tea Party budget hawks to explain that the debate is not simply about dollars and cents but about fundamentally withdrawing the American government from protecting and developing the environment, educational resources, health care and the financial services industry.

There is a lot that President Obama can accomplish with this one speech. It is clearly time for him to seize the opportunity.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 17, 2011

Columnists and comedians have been gnashing their teeth as the resignation of Anthony Weiner has left too many of them bereft of material, as grey and recycled as it might have been. But one need look no further than the debut of “Snow White and the Six Dwarfs” in New Hampshire on Monday to know that there is always something more bizarre on the horizon. We conclude the review of this week by noting the Republicans’ bait and switch routine on the Libyan conflict as well taking a moment to contemplate the reenactment of “The Harder They Fall”, this time by LeBron James and company.

Snow White and the Six Dwarfs

Last Monday, the Republican presidential candidate debate kicked off the true start of the campaign season that won’t end until November 6, 2012. That’s a long time for anyone to repeatedly state that Barack Obama is the devil incarnate, but the seven candidates who appeared on stage appear to up to that task, if nothing else.

Mitt Romney, playing the part of Snow White, tried to manage to be above the fray of the six dwarfs who clamored for the attention of the electorate by reaching for the extreme and then attempting to throttle the life out of it. Newt Gingrich, who once said that President Obama was a greater danger to this country than Adolph Hitler was not to be outdone by Michelle Bachmann who termed the president a “destructive force”.

Herman Cain managed to outrage every American Muslim with his foolish attacks on the presumed disloyalty of American citizens of a different faith than his, while they all rallied around the notion of dismantling the federal government.

Seeming to be auditioning for the role of Dopey, the six dwarfs all agreed that the reforms in government over the past 40 years should be rolled back, particularly in areas such as labor, education, environmental reform and financial oversight. The fact that these reforms were implemented in order to correct or prevent serial tragedies in American society seemed to escape all of them.

The Republican presidential debate was an Obama Piñata Party. Without some serious rewrites it will get worse reviews than “Spiderman, Turn off the Dark”.

The Libya Bait and Switch

When the uprising against the Libyan government began a few months ago, Republicans were vehement; indeed they were apoplectic, in their calls for President Obama to “do something”. Senator John McCain went to Libya and proclaimed the insurgents as his “heroes”, although, as usual, McCain knew nothing about the subject on which he was proclaiming an opinion (it’s the same kind of non-thought process that resulted in Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential candidate).

And so President Obama ordered the launch of Cruise and Tomahawk missiles against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi. Several months later, even with the cloak of NATO collaboration, this country stands on the precipice of yet another military quagmire.

And now the same Republicans who demanded that President Obama “do something” are claiming that “something” is a violation of the War Powers Act. Investigations and demands for impeachment can’t be far away.

In truth Team Obama should have seen this bait and switch move coming. Hopefully they won’t go for that head fake again.

There’s No “I” in Team

It was a little more than a year ago that LeBron James enraged the city of Cleveland forever by announcing on ESPN that he was “taking his talents to Miami”. Many sports fans were turned off by his flight in search of a title, harking back to the days of Magic and Larry and Kareem who would rather donate flesh than “take their talents” to another team in hope of finally getting a championship ring.

Nevertheless, there is no denying that the Miami Heat put on a really good show in the playoffs. That is, until the pressure of the pressure of playing in the NBA Finals seemed to constrict LeBron’s windpipe and turn his knees into jelly.

And just like that, the “talents” and the will of LeBron James and his teammates went missing and the Dallas Mavericks became champions.

Pride goes before the fall.


Point of View Columns

Child’s Play

I will confess to checking my hall closet for a handy pitchfork so that I could join the crowds howling for disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner to resign. And then I did something that I try to do at least three times a day – I thought.

And I realized that Weinergate and all of its monstrously irrelevant iterations is the latest stale bread being served in the media circus. Holier than thou pundits and politicians have railed against his seemingly bizarre behavior which, it seems has disqualified him from ever walking the hallowed halls of Congress ever again.

These would be the same halls of Congress that has seen a former chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee cavorting in a Washington, D.C. fountain with a stripper. These would be the same halls of Congress that have been witness to obscene and salacious texts from a congressman to teenage pages and interns. We know of at least one senator with a “wide stance” while he solicited sex in a men’s bathroom and of another congressman who fathered a daughter out of wedlock while being married.

The sordid laundry list is seemingly endless. And now, Anthony Weiner has had his name added to the Wall of Shame that occupies a very prominent place in the halls of Congress. And now every politician and pundit with an urge for airtime has something to say about what Anthony Weiner and his betrayal of his marriage, of his constituents and the American Republic.

Of course what happens between Congressman Weiner and his wife is not the business of the public or the media. We don’t know the status of their relationship, nor should we. For now it appears that his constituents, the people who actually have voted for him, still support him and want him to stay in office. And if the American Republic can survive strippers in fountains and senators with wide stances, I am sure that it can survive salacious texts by Anthony Weiner.

Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have called on him to resign as his presence is a “distraction” from the important issues facing the American people. Republicans, including Majority Whip Eric Cantor, have called on Congressman Weiner to resign because he is a “distraction” from the important issues facing the American people.

I hope that someone notices that the only people doing the distracting are Democratic and Republican leaders along with their media handmaidens. Certainly there are some Americans who will indulge in the titillation that comes with peeking through the keyhole into someone’s private life.

But there are at least 14 million Americans without jobs who probably are not spending a lot of time worrying about Anthony Weiner. There are millions of Americans who depend upon Medicare to keep them healthy and alive who are scared to death by the Republican plans to eviscerate this lifesaving program while Democrats offer limp and ineffective defense.

There are $10 billion U.S. tax dollars being spent in Afghanistan during this month of June and that worries most Americans more than the most ridiculous Weinergate “breaking story”.

It appears that Congressman Weiner has not broken any laws. He has not been accused of sexual harassment. He may have done some of his sexting from his congressional office but I don’t think any sane human being, even members of the G.O.Tea Party can argue that this is a reason for him to resign.

The intimate aspects of his private life became public. His private life should return to the four walls and closed door where they belong. No one reading this column, no one calling for Anthony Weiner to resign, would wish to endure the kind of scrutiny to which he has been subjected. The fact that some of this scrutiny was the result of his self-inflicted inadvertence is not really the point. We are all residents of glass homes and stoning Anthony Weiner is not only childish, it is hypocritical.

The fact that too many members of the media are now engaged in a third week of Weinergate while the world goes to hell in a hand basket is shameful and unspeakable. Prurient interest can sustain a story but so far – there have been no crimes, there has been no corruption, there has been no fraud and there has been no betrayal of the oath of office that Congressman Weiner has taken.

There is nothing worse than adults playing like children when they are charged with more serious affairs. Perhaps it is time for all of us to grow up.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 10, 2011

This week has just been stupidhot in New York City and just about everywhere else in the United States. For those of us who complain about cold weather, Mother Nature has provided a steamy retort. And all the while the question of the day is – who will quit first, The Newt or The Weiner? And not to be outdone, Sarah Palin continues to insist that her madcap version of the ride of Paul Revere is historically correct. We are going to miss her when she is gone.

The Madness of King Newt

Newt Gingrich had the indisputably worst start to a presidential campaign by any serious candidate. He stumbled out of the gate by making a pretty credible criticism of the Congressman Paul “Genghis Khan” Ryan’s Medicare proposal, thereby earning himself boos and brickbats from the right wing of the right wing.

As Gingrich gave tortured apologias it came to light that he and his wife had a half million dollar credit line at Tiffany’s. He correctly cited his right as a private citizen to shop wherever he wanted, although he did seem a tad bit defensive. But his claim of being an “ordinary citizen” melted in the dazzling brilliance of imagined diamonds and rubies.

And now his entire senior campaign staff has resigned en masse. The reason for the lemming like departure from the S.S. Gingrich was the feeling that he was not sufficiently serious about campaigning for President of the United States.

One staff member cited the Gingriches going on a two week cruise of the Greek Isles (presumably with Tiffany jewels in tow) as Exhibit A. The Newt responded with saying something about needing to get away so that his great mind could summon great ideas.

The Newt has stated that his campaign will continue. Presumably he will press on even if the campaign consists only of The Newt, his wife, her jewels and his great mind with its great ideas.

The Saga of Little Anthony

The legendary sixties group, Little Anthony and the Imperials, recorded the hit song “I Think I’m Going out of My Head”. And now, almost a half century later, another Little Anthony, this time Congressman Anthony Weiner, has clearly demonstrated that he is going out of his head.

He internet and Twitter behavior has been well documented. It will take an entire phalanx of psychiatrists and psychologists to begin to help us understand how a United States Congressman would take time to post X-rated photographs of himself on the Internet.

What is a lot more fascinating than the pitifully tawdry details of Weinergate is the fact that these revelations about members of Congress arise with stunning frequency. We have learned about Senators with “wide stances” and Congressmen who grope and tickle their staff members. Married members of Congress end up in the address books of madams while others father children out of wedlock while married.

Clearly when some members of the Congress tell their constituents that they are busy with the “affairs of state” they aren’t kidding.

Make the World Go Away

Sarah Palin has discovered a seemingly infinite number of ways to make a fool of herself. Her recent demolition of historical fact when referring to the legendary ride of Paul Revere was topped only by her insistence that she was correct.

And I am proposing that we find the school where little Sarah Palin learned that Paul Revere rode to warn the British so that he can be closed – immediately. I am assuming that this would also be the school where she learned that Lexington and Concord (the site of the so-called “Shot Heard around the World” at the inception of the American Revolution) are located in New Hampshire – another example of a Palin-like stagger through history.

We also learned this week that the original Mama Grizzly has sought a meeting with Margaret Thatcher to further cement her claim as the natural heiress to the Reagan legacy. Ms. Thatcher is reported to have said “Who?” or words to that effect.

We can be assured that this will not deter Sarah Palin in the least.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Send in the Clowns

In the past, news that the circus was coming to town was a cause for great anticipation and celebration. Who wouldn’t want to see the Strong Man, the Contortionist, the Clowns, the High Wire Act and the Fat Man? It all sounds like very exciting stuff….and a lot of fun.

And the G.O.Tea Party circus would be a lot of fun except we are living in very serious times. It would be a lot of fun except the excesses and errors and lies of the Bush Administration have come home to roost big time. And so it is not a lot of fun and it is kind of sad that the best that the Republicans can do is put together a circus instead of credible candidates for the office of President of the United States.

Instead we are witness to the antics of Newt Gingrich as the Strong Man. He is supposed to be possessed of tremendous intellectual capacity, strong enough to lift this nation out of its economic doldrums. But it turns out that the weights that he is hoisting are made of cardboard and his so-called policy statements are nothing but a dusty rehash of the Republican mantra of lowering taxes and cutting the budget – all the while reducing services to the American people and limiting investment in the American future.

Mitt Romney is starring in this circus as the Contortionist. He continues to amaze and thrill audiences as he twists this way and turns that way explaining how the universal healthcare legislation that he signed in Massachusetts was a good thing while the universal healthcare legislation that President Obama signed is a bad thing.

Mr. Romney might be a champion at Twister but he is never going to convince the right wing of the right wing of his bona fides.

And then there are the Clowns. Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin have locked up these starring roles with their mangling of the English language, their massacre of historical facts and their reckless disregard for logic and common sense. Their pie in the face approach to the challenges and problems of the day might be entertaining but they are more than dangerous in the real world.

Clown #1, Congresswoman Bachmann has stated that the Founding Fathers tried their best to abolish slavery. This would have come as a great surprise to the owners of slaves like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

Not to be outdone, Clown #2, Sarah Palin went on the record contending that Paul Revere rode to warn the British not to take away the weapons of the colonists. We will soon learn from her that the National Rifle Association was a part of the Continental Army.

The High Wire Act stars Congressman Ron Paul as he repeatedly defies gravity and common sense with his contention that the draconian reduction of government would actually make life better for all Americans. The tragic impact of his policies and philosophies are there for all to see, yet he wobbles on his rhetorical high wire, daring us to believe that he will not fall.

The Fat Man would be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He has become a champion of the G.O.Tea Party by taking on “special interests” like teachers and government workers while advocating tax breaks to the wealthiest of the wealthy in the Garden States.

The Fat Man amazes crowds with his attempts to leap across the chasm of credibility while burdened with the weight of hypocrisy, such as his use of a New Jersey State Police helicopter to see his son play baseball even while police and teachers are being laid off in because of his policies.

Simple logic would dictate that the G.O.Tea Party will have no chance of unseating President Obama with the circus troupe that is contending for the Republican nomination. But simple logic will not apply in 2012.

The reality is that unemployment continues to ravage the lives, dreams and future of Americans across the country. The reality is that the devastation visited upon the American economy and financial system by the transgressions of the finance elite and the lies of the Bush warmongers has left a national landscape where fear no longer lurks in the shadows.

When people are afraid, deception presented as an answer is gobbled up like cotton candy at the circus. The peanuts and popcorn of fake solutions and deceptive salvation at least offer a temporary respite from the fear of today and the terror of tomorrows that don’t seem to offer a future.

It would, therefore, be a good idea for President Obama and his campaign team and supporters to refrain from thinking that simple logic is part of a useful campaign strategy. These are times that are full of fear and illogic and the message of intelligence and purposeful strategies and policies can get drowned out by the calliope of the circus parade.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 3, 2011

This week saw yet another international banker accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York City – it must be something in the foie gras. Meanwhile Sarah Palin and Doubting Donald Trump made a joint appearance in New York City, further highlighting the disarray in the Republican presidential corral. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any dumber, Rudy (9/11) Giuliani has started visiting New Hampshire. And the real news of the week – Doubting Donald Trump actually said something that made sense!

Double Trouble

New York City is populated by men and women who embrace, endure and accept challenges daily. So the joint appearance of Doubting Donald Trump and Sarah Palin was endured and accepted, if not exactly embraced.

Ms. Palin, who ran herself out of office when she was an undistinguished governor of Alaska, is on a self-styled “We the People” tour of the United States. Why she chose New York City is as much a mystery as is why she thought that appearing publicly with Doubting Donald Trump would boost her presidential aspirations.

One would think that the fact that Doubting Donald was virtually hooted and booed off the public stage for his shameful dive into the birther cesspool would have given Sarah Palin second thoughts. But then again, that would assume that she had first thoughts.

If Sarah Palin and Doubting Donald Trump are any indication of the quality of the opposition that President Obama will face in 2012 there may soon be rumors that his campaign team has placed double agents in the Republican National Committee.

“Delusional” Comes to Mind

The economy has yet to recover from the Republican triple witching of two ruinous wars and a brace of tax cuts for the wealthy. Americans search for jobs that are still not there. Parents fear for the future that their children will inherit. And the New York Mets are not a very good team according to their owner.

In the midst of all of this turmoil Rudy Giuliani is making noises that sound scarily similar to those made by a soon to be presidential candidate. This would be the same Rudy Giuliani who arguably ran the worst presidential campaign in the 21st century and is clearly seeking to retire the title with another jaunt around the electoral track.

And, this would be the same Rudy Giuliani who was unarguably the most racially divisive mayor in the history of the City of New York, seizing the title that was previously held by Ed Koch.

This is the same main who parlayed a mediocre record as a headline hogging prosecutor into a political career and then cashed in on a fake reputation of heroism after the 9/11 tragedy, a turn of events that chagrins New York City first responders and 9/11 survivors to this very day.

Perhaps on the Planet Giuliani all of these items are qualifications for the presidency. Insanity is sometimes defined as doing the same thing with the same result over and over, all the while expecting a different result. By that standard Rudy Giuliani needs some help – now.

A Thousand Monkeys and a Thousand Typewriters

It has been said that if a thousand monkeys were put in a room with a thousand typewriters for a thousand years, a play by Shakespeare would result. The idea being that if an act is repeated enough times, random chance will produce a positive result.

In that vein, it seems that if Doubting Donald Trump talks long enough he will finally say something that makes sense.

Last week Doubting Donald correctly pointed out that if the Republican Party continues to support the draconian Medicare reform measures advanced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan they will be acting pursuant to a “death wish”.

Amazingly —- stop the presses —– Doubting Donald is right!

Have a great weekend!

Be My Guest

Guest Column by Dr. William Pollard

Where is the Justice?

In a decision that I can only describe as shocking and shameful,
Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that an $18.5
million dollar award given to a man who spent 22 years in prison for a
rape he did not commit doesn’t deserve a nickel of that money.

“It is not enough,” she said, “to have shown that the city’s post trial evidence management system is disorganized.”

The man in question is Alan Newton, a recent Medgar Evers College alumnus. He was arrested and convicted for rape, robbery and assault in 1984 and sentenced to 13 to 40 years in prison. His attorneys repeatedly requested evidence in the possession of the New York City Police Department that could prove his innocence, but according to Newton’s attorneys, they stonewalled any efforts to clear
his name. Newton was also denied parole three times.

Later the Innocence Project took on his case and DNA evidence was found at a Queens warehouse in 2005. (When Newton was arrested such technology did not exist.) He was exonerated in 2006. In October, he was awarded $18.5 million dollars by a jury to make up for the decades he lost in the New York City and New York State penal systems.

But despite spending 22 years in prison, the award was tossed out
because according to Judge Scheindlin, the city meant no harm. It was
“mere negligence.”

Where is the justice?

I wish to congratulate all those who worked so hard for so long to get
Alan Newton released from prison – the Innocence Project, as well as a
raft of attorneys, civic and community leaders, educators. But when an
individual is thrown into prison at 22 and released at 44 years of age
for a crime they did not commit – where is the justice?

No amount of money can replace the years of freedom taken away. The
missed time with family and friends, the missed opportunities. But a sum of money could go a long way to making the rest of his life much
smoother than those 22 years spent behind prison walls. A jury confirmed that last October.

To his credit, he is not bitter. Newton has gone on to live a productive life. I am proud to say that, funded by the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business
Administration from Medgar Evers College. While here, he worked at our
College’s Male Development and Empowerment Center, which addresses
minority male recruitment, retention and graduation issues. He is now
employed at City College of New York as a research associate.

According to a published article, when asked what he would do with the money from the award, he replied: “A decent place to live” and “I love paying bills, a sense of purpose again.”

I sat next to Alan Newton at a dinner on the night when the City had
tossed out his award. He was shocked by the turn of events, but still
not bitter. Mostly I listened to what he was saying, thinking about the decision. But I also wanted him to know that those who supported him in the past – as well as many of those who only recently became aware of his plight – would stand with him now.

And we must all stand up to this travesty of justice. The perversion and arrogance of this decision basically puts the City of New York in a position of saying, “my bad,” to a man who has lost much of his life.
Where is the justice?

And what message does this send to others who might one day find
themselves in a similar position – even if it is “mere negligence?” What does the future hold for them? Will they be eligible for any
compensation at all?

And when are we as a society going to realize that when someone is
released from prison (whether they were justified in being there or not) that those who are willing and able to participate as productive
citizens should be allowed to do so?

Medgar Evers College has been very active in helping enable those
formerly incarcerated to gain the means to do so – through education,
through job training and counseling resources. Later this month we will be hosting a panel discussion, “Life After Incarceration,” at our main
campus on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn.

This is part of our participation in the COMAlert program. The program was started in 1999 by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes as a bridge between prison and the community for parolees returning to Brooklyn. Participants from his office will be included on the panel.

For Alan Newton it is already too late for total justice. He was denied any efforts to prove his innocence for over two decades. But some measure of justice must be forthcoming. Newton now stands as one of the best among us, with his character and his strength, and his enduring ability to better himself and become a contributing member of society.

He is an individual we should all be proud to say is a neighbor, or
friend or fellow New Yorker.

So the question remains: Where is the justice?