My friend and sometime adversary Gatemouth (who I last saw gracing the table of an honoree of the proudly PROGRESSIVE organization CBID) has this strange obsession. He LOVES to attack progressives. He twists many of his diaries into gratuitous attacks on progressives. The yogic moves he makes to turn as many of his diaries into a tirade against progressives would make Richard Hittleman look stiff. Well, even before Richard Hittleman was a stiff.
Oddly, on many issues Gatemouth might well be considered more progressive than I am, though he labels me among his progressive targets. Though solidly liberal, I am a bit to the right of both my wife and Gatemouth, who probably would agree almost completely with each other, though she is an officer of CBID and he loves to denigrate CBID.
I am not sure why he slants so much of what he writes in this way. Often it seems a non sequitur in otherwise very accurate, detailed, and targeted diaries. But I guess everyone has to have their strange obsessions. For Gatemouth it seems to be turning much of what he writes into a gratuitous attack on progressives. Sure, one can find foolishness among progressives. But you can find foolishness among pretty much any group. So why obsess to such a degree on progressives?
Right now, Gatemouth is on a jihad against current State Senator and Brookyn BP candidate Eric Adams. And he is making points that I think are well worth making. Senator Adams needs this kind of scrutiny. And many of my progressive friends would agree that Adams needs this kind of scrutiny, even if they don't necessarily agree that all of Gatemouth's points about Adams are that important to them. But I think they all agree with Gatemouth's main point: Adams is an opportunist. Honestly, Gatey, how many people would disagree with that? He is, after all, a politician. How many politicians have you known who weren't at least to some degree opportunist? I can name some. But most didn't get far.
But does does being an opportunist rule Adams out as being worthy of endorsements by progressives given the opposition he has had to date? If a progressive challenged him in a primary these days wouldn't you start singing "To Dream the Impossible Dream" at them?
Interestingly, before any progressive organization I know of has endorsed or spoken out about Eric Adams in the BP race, Gatemouth is saying progressives are supporting him blindly. Well, from what I can tell progressives ask one question Gatey is also asking: why does Eric Adams get a seemingly smooth path to BP? That very question came up among progressives I recently shared some good dim sum with. Now if Gatey actually hung out with the progressives he is so obsessed with (other than tagging along when said progressives honor his former boss, Senator Marty Connor) he might know progressives are a more skeptical lot than he realizes. Well, at least in this particular case.
He also claims that progressives have seen Eric Adams as a reformer. This is, as far as I know, a misunderstanding on Gatemouth's part. The progressives I know have ALWAYS felt Adams was too close to the Brooklyn machine, and I have personally commented that he was one of the few candidates who could get support from both the machine and progressives at a time of very bitter conflict between the two. I respected Adams' ability to pull support from both sides...but I never said he was himself a reformer per se and I don't think anyone else has.
But Gatemouth does have a point that many progressives (my wife and I included) DID endorse Eric Adams enthusiastically when he ran for State Senate, and given the points Gatemouth loves to dwell on it is worth asking why. So far, as far as I know, the same progressives haven't said one word about his run for BP because they have other things on their mind than his so far pretty much uncontested run for a ceremonial position.
But what about the progressive support Adams got as a State Senator? Gatemouth suggests that this support is based on thin air and with no real consideration of his past.
I disagree. For my part my first encounter with Eric Adams was prefaced with my wife's tirade against him based on a letter exchange she and Adams had in, I believe, the NY Times. My wife had taken some considerable exception to Adams on an issue and considered him a grandstander. So both of us started biased against him...but in the end endorsed him. Did we do so blindly? Hell, ANYONE who knows my wife knows she never does anything blindly but is one of the more analytical people you will ever meet. I would like to think I come close to her on this. I think my wife and I approach any candidate based on what they have done, who supports them, what they say (and how they say it), and who they are running against. It is not one thing we focus on but a kind of sum total of these things. My wife has her own very analytical approach. I have a different one that involves looking at voting records, endorsements, and how interest groups rate candidates. Sometimes, when there is more than one candidate i am considering who has a chance, I even assign numerical values to particular votes, endorsements and interest group ratings and mathematically figure out who comes closest to my ideal for a candidate. But always there is also a consideration of who is the best candidate of those who actually have a shot of winning. In which case I may sit it out or endorse someone who has no shot.
There are very real reasons why Eric Adams gets progressive support, and I am sure Gatemouth is well aware of this. It just gets in the way of his prejudice.
Gatemouth's main objections seem to be the contradictory observations that Eric Adams spent some time as a Republican and that Eric Adams has had some good things to say about the Black Muslim movement. Usually not accusations thrown at the same candidate...and especially not usually TRUE accusations thrown at the same candidate! Gatemouth's objections have validity. And, as I said above, I applaud his airing them. But he is wrong in thinking progressives lack their own at least semi-logical political algebra when deciding who to support.
So why did I initially become a, somewhat reluctant and somewhat skeptical, Eric Adams supporter? What first caught my attention (and my wife's attention) was the fact that he was an ex-cop who also had close ties to the New York Civil Liberties Union and civil rights attorney Norm Siegel. A very unusual combination. Now to me, cops, who are represented by a public sector union (a good thing in my book...and in the book of most progressives), are a sometimes problematic but hard working and underpaid public servants who hold a dangerous job we all depend on. They all too often, in their problematic aspects, come into conflict with our civil liberties, represented heroically by the NYCLU and people like Norm Siegel. When someone can unite these two worthy but all too often disparate interests I take notice.
Even very recently, Norm Siegel and Eric Adams teamed up to support increased gun control, an issue where Gatemouth is likely to be more progressive than I sometimes am. They also appeared together on Yetta Kurland's radio show talking about the same issue: http://www.yettakurlandlive.com/12-19-2012/
Now let's look at who donates to Eric Adams. Public sector unions are his largest source of donations. Again, generally considered good things by progressives, liberals, Democrats and everyone other than Republicans. His next two largest categories of financial support are more worrisome to me: insurance interests and developers. But being supported primarily by labor is a good thing in my book. And I think Gatemouth would to some degree agree.
What about endorsements? Among those groups who have endorsed Adams (not current but for his State Senate runs)
Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn
NARAL Pro-Choice New York
New York AFL-CIO
Professional Staff Congress City University of New York (PSC-CUNY)
Public Employees Federation
United Federation of Teachers
Hmmm...LGBT, abortion rights, AFL-CIO, teachers and public employees...now I may have some occasional beefs with some of these organizations at times, but overall I don't see why I should go out of my way to oppose a strong candidate who is supported by these groups.
How about ratings from interest groups. Well the NRA HATES Eric Adams. Again something that would endear him even more to Gatemouth than to me. Adams gets low marks from the Conservative Party. Sounds good to me. Now he does get middling marks from the RIght to Life Committee...worrisome he didn't do worse in their eyes, but he is endorsed by NARAL so on balance that's good. EPL-Environmental Advocates (an environmental group) gave him high marks except for 2012 where he gets mediocre marks.
Okay, by no means perfect, but if we looked over the whole record of the NY State Senate Eric Adams does quite well...even if that may be damning with faint praise.
Then there is what Eric Adams says. A speech that exemplifies what I personally have heard him say frequently and I wish MANY more Democrats would say:
Now Gatemouth could argue that because that was at a CBID dinner, Senator Adams was just telling us what we wanted to hear. Fine. So what does he say on the floor of the Senate. Well, he was a strong advocate for Marriage Equality when it was looking like a tough sell:
Maybe not articulate, but a damned good advocacy for marriage equality. Even doing what many blacks have refused to do: compare the fight for marriage equality to the fight for civil rights for blacks. And his statement "when I pass these doors my bible stays out" warms my heart as a progressive, a liberal, a Jew and a Democrat. Seems damned progressive AND liberal to me!
So let's see, Eric Adams has ties with Republicans (but gets low ratings from the Conservative Party and the NRA) and with Democrats (including the machine, reformers, progressives and conservatives), has ties with Black Muslims and Hasids (neither of whom I have a lot in common with), and has ties with cops and the NYCLU. You can get two messages from this, probably BOTH true. Eric Adams is an opportunist. Well, duh! I mean he's a politician. There are few politicians who win who aren't. You can also say he is a coalition builder. They are not mutually exclusive.
His voting record is a good one. He has particularly taken liberal/progressive stands on gun control, stop and frisk and marriage equality that I think Gatemouth would be at least as pleased with as I am, if not more so.
So don't tell me I haven't thought out my stand regarding Eric Adams. And I triple dog dare you to face my wife and say she hasn't thought it out. I encourage Gatemouth's current crusade because it is info that is well worth publicizing. But my past (I have said nothing about his BP run to date) support of Eric Adams always had some reservations, always recognized his machine ties, and always was based on the fact that despite my reservations he took the right stands on key civil liberties issues that matter to me.
Got a problem with that Gatey?
Now playing at my friend's independent movie house:
Brooklyn Heights Cinema
70 henry street [@ orange] Brooklyn, NY 11201
718 596 5095
Live standup comedy the 3rd Wednesday of each month @ 9 pm
Quartet | 1 hr 34 min. (R)
Wed 5:00 pm | 7:00 pm
Thurs: 5:00 pm | 8:00 pm
Beecham House is abuzz. The rumor circling the halls is that the home for retired musicians is soon to play host to a new resident. Word is, it's a star. For Reginald Paget (Tom Courtenay), Wilfred Bond (Billy Connolly) and Cecily Robson (Pauline Collins) this sort of talk is par for the course at the gossipy home. But they're in for a special shock when the new arrival turns out to be none other than their former singing partner, Jean Horton (Maggie Smith).
Emperor | 1 hr 38 min. (PG-13)
Wed - Thurs: 5:50 pm | 8:10 pm
Following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II General Douglas MacArthur (Jones), the de facto ruler of Japan as Supreme Commander of the occupying forces, enlists a leading Japanese expert, General Bonner Fellers (Fox) to reach a decision of historical importance: should Emperor Hirohito be tried and hanged as a war criminal?
Admission | 2 hrs (PG-13)
Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd & Lily Tomlin
Fri - Sun: 2:00 pm | 4:30 pm | 7:00 pm | 9:30 pm
Mon - Tues: 5:30 pm | 8:00 pm
A Princeton admissions officer who is up for a major promotion takes a professional risk after she meets a college-bound alternative school kid who just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption
Ginger & Rosa | 1 hr 29 min. (PG-13)
Starring: Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Annette Bening & Oliver Platt
Fri - Sun: 2:15 pm | 4:15 pm | 7:15 pm | 9:10 pm
Mon - Tues: 5:00 pm | 8:10 pm
A look at the lives of two teenage girls - inseparable friends Ginger and Rosa -- growing up in 1960s London as the Cuban Missile Crisis looms, and the pivotal event the comes to redefine their relationship.
Ten years ago George W. Bush led America into one of the biggest blunders in our history: the invasion of Iraq. We were already at war with al-Qaeda, a group that attacked America. Bush actually took troops away from THAT war, a legitimate war against an aggressor who has deliberately carried out many attacks against America and its allies, so he could illegally invade a nation that had had nothing to do with any attacks on America.
The invasion of Iraq was based completely on lies, and even though the Republicans KNEW that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, they still used it as an excuse to invade Iraq. And these were the SAME Republicans who refused to back Bill Clinton when he wanted to go after al-Qaeda well BEFORE 9/11, and the same Republicans who said Bill Clinton was "obsessed with al-Qaeda" when he warned them that al-Qaeda would be the biggest threat Bush would have to deal with. Well, instead of listening to Bill Clinton, Bush ignored the threat and so we got hit on 9/11 while Bush did nothing and Cheney hid like a mouse. Then, when they finally had bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora, he started pulling troops OUT of Afghanistan to illegally invade Iraq.
...Leaving it to Barack Obama to FINALLY get bin Laden.
Bush's Big Blunder ruined America's reputation, the cost ruined our economy, and it ruined the lives of thousands of our soldiers who served in a war based exclusively on lies. I will never forgive the Republicans for misleading us down this stupid and destructive path.
But sometimes the best way to face such an overwhelmingly disgusting period of Republican misrule is through parody. So on the 10th anniversary of Bush's Biggest Blunder, I give you Eric Idle summarizing the Bush years to perfection:
My family was invited to attend John Liu's announcement for his mayoral bid yesterday on City Hall steps. So we headed out despite the cold only to find that the NYPD decided to keep people out. Only about a half of the people who showed up were actually let in. The rest were left to stand in line (blocking the sidewalk because there were so many people) in the cold. This included staff members of John Liu's campaign.
Now I have been to these kinds of announcement events before and NEVER before have I seen the NYPD stop people from coming in to the City Hall steps to show their support. The crowd that came for John Liu WAS a particularly large one, I will grant that, but there was still plenty of room on and around the City Hall steps. Bottom line WAS there was indeed room at the inn but the cops for whatever reason did not want to let people in. Many of the people I talked to who were blocked from entering blamed it on Bloomberg. Since Bloomberg wants to anoint Christine "Slushgate" Quinn as his successor to the throne, the city is being hostile to other mayoral campaigns. Whatever the truth to that, I have never seen this kind of behavior by the cops towards a permitted campaign event on the steps of City Hall so it either means John Liu drew an EXCEPTIONAL number of supporters, creating a unique event, or it means somehow John Liu is being treated differently by the city than other campaigns I have seen make announcements, perhaps because of Bloomberg's pressure to help out Quinn.
So, even though we stayed through the whole event and even talked to people afterwards, I can't tell you who spoke or what they said because I was outside observing and talking to the crowd the NYPD turned away.
So, before I get to my own observations and comments, here is the speech I didn't get to hear:
As I said, since we were kept waiting outside the security check, we basically were blocking the sidewalk. Needless to say this was not appreciated by anyone. Eventually someone from Liu's campaign suggested that since they were refusing to let people in, we should just move to the park where we a.) would no longer block the side walk, b.) could actually see the event from a distance, and c.) could get a better sense of the crowd that was not let in. I can say that my estimate of how many showed up in the park alone was about 300, very roughly, and that doesn't count anyone who got in (AT LEAST as many, probably a fair number more), those who stayed by the security gates, and those who left after being turned away.
Once we were in the park I got to talk to a lot of people. Many were angry at the city for keeping us out and it was here I was hearing considerable speculation about Bloomberg's motives as well as people remembering when City Hall really was a public area, before Giuliani and Bloomberg started restricting our rights.
I was once again, as I am at every large John Liu event, struck by the diversity. There were brawny guys wearing union sweatshirts who looked like they may have been to a pub for a St. Patrick's Day pint before coming to the event. There was a group of Nepalese supporters who were particularly enthusiastic supporters. Many blacks and Chinese, often large components of Liu's support. There was a groups of very enthusiastic kids carrying "Kids for John Liu" signs and somewhat older kids carrying "Students for John Liiu" signs. There was a group of at least 25 Sikhs as well as several Muslims, including a couple with henna-dyed beards. Inside the event I also saw a man I have seen at Liu events before who looked from his outfit that he was a Pashtun. The diversity at Liu events cuts right across the city.
When people asked why they supported Liu, in general the response was simply that he was the best of the main candidates with particular emphasis on how bad the other main candidates are. Quinn the Bloomberg clone, de Blasio the sleaze, and Thompson the irritating one. One person put it, "New Yorkers finally want a mayor who can actually do math," citing Liu's superb record as Comptroller. One black woman I was near agreed with the "mayor who can actually do math" statement and later was saying her reasons for not liking Thompson was that he was too much like Dinkins and would not be able to get anything done. I found this interesting since Thompson is my second choice next to Liu, mainly because he just plain seems better than Quinn or de Blasio. But my fellow Liu supporters didn't really agree with me. My feeling was for a lot of them, Albanese or de Blasio would be their second choices next to Liu.
When the issue of Liu's campaign finances came up, most supporters (biased of course) feel he is being singled out by a Bloomberg (and hence Quinn) biased media and wondered why Quinn's slushfund scandals are being forgotten and why Bill de Blasio's own campaign finance scandals are being ignored. Quinn and de Blasio get livid when their scandals are brought up and have done everything they could to cover them up. Liu has consistently welcomed the investigation and feels that a.) he and most of his campaign are innocent of wrongdoing, and b.) if the investigation finds any wrongdoing Liu himself would want to know so he can clean house. Personally I find Liu's approach the most mature and honest and from what I can tell, any financial problems were not associated with Liu himself. Certainly Quinn was at the very center of the slushgate scandal. Yet the press ignores this. Personally, I would like to see the finances of ALL of the campaigns get the same level of scrutiny that Liu's campaign is getting.
Afterwards I did hang with some Liu staffers and supporters, eventually some of us winding up at Shanghai Asian Manor for some good food. I got to see the inside of Liu's Chinatown office (for a bathroom break) and can vouch for the enthusiasm (usual after any candidate's big announcement) of the group. One thing that stood out was the pile of forms filled out by new volunteers was huge, suggesting a big boost of enthusiastic supporters hitting the streets. I didn't overhear any campaign secrets, but the talk I heard of most was about John Liu's efforts too end stop and frisk. From what I can tell he is the only mayoral candidate making this a priority.
So overall the event can be called nothing but a success for John Liu. The crowd was huge and enthusiastic and not being let in didn't deter people from staying and shouting their support. Liu came over to re-give his speech to the crowd in the park (over what seemed to be initial objections by the cops), but without a sound system only the front rows got to hear it. But people, particularly the kids, were pushing to hear and see. So it seemed Liu got two campaign events for the price of one, as it were, and signed up a whole slew of new volunteers as well.
As one campaign volunteer said as the event (the announcement to the park after the official one) was breaking up, commenting on the cops trying to interfere with the event, "This guy [Liu] isn't going away."
I grew up in Los Angeles. Cops in Los Angeles get some respect, scandals related to racism and brutality aside. NYC has the same kind of scandals related to racism and brutality. But cops here don't get no respect.
First time my wife went to Los Angeles to meet my family, she was astonished by how fit LA and Santa Monica cops were and how aggressively they enforced the law. By contrast, when I recently was a victim of identity theft and was EXPLICITLY told by my banks, the FBI. and the FTC that I should file a local police report with my local police precinct, my local police precinct blew me off, refusing to accept a police report of a clear and documented identity theft crime.
There is a problem here!
I am pro-cop. I see it as one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in the world. But I also strongly object to the racism that becomes part of too many police forces, usually due to a small minority of cops but protected by the majority. Same with police brutality, sadly perpetrated by a small number of bad cops who are protected by a majority of cops. And then there is just plain laziness. When my bank, the FBI and the FTC all agree that a local police report is necessary but the local precinct refuses to listen, there is a problem,
But this also came up recently when I was discussing local politicians on the liberal website Daily Kos. I was confronted with someone who asked me why traffic offenses were almost completely ignored by the NYPD even in cases where injury or death occurs due to the negligence of a driver. Now I was not able to confirm the specific charges this person was suggesting, but I DO know of a few instances of kids in my own neighborhood being killed because of bad driving (seemingly illegal turns by the drivers) and no charges even contemplated by the police even though illegal actions by a driver led to the death of a child.
There is a problem here.
In this context, I was struck by a video of Bill Thompson, former Comptroller and candidate for mayor (NOTE: I endorse John Liu with Thompson as my second choice, so no real bias here!) tearing up at the Shiva of a Jewish family killed by a hit and run driver:
Now the cops did respond to this particular traffic offense. But when I see, pretty much daily, cars actually run red lights and cut off cops, ambulances and fire trucks while cops watch and do nothing, I wonder what these cops are thinking. They are destroying their own credibility. Having lived in cities from Los Angeles to Kyoto, Japan, I can say I have never seen cops that have a harder job than the NYPD, but also let so many crimes go in front of their own faces, and get so little respect from the people they serve. From what I see, the NYPD is way overworked and underpaid, but also has created the worst kind of laziness I have seen in public servants and this DIRECTLY leads to the NYPD being (undeservedly I believe) one of the LEAST respected and obeyed police forces in America.
Look, ANYWHERE in California, if you see a police car or are near a KNOWN police station you slow down and start obeying every law you can think of. Not so in NYC where running red lights and breaking other traffic laws RIGHT IN FRONT OF AN NYPD COP gets ignore by cops. So no one wants to listen to cops.
When the NYPD blatantly sits back when drivers ignore traffic laws, people die and respect for cops goes down. When the NYPD seems more interested in beating up protesters than catching someone who is sexually harassing women (a situation not so long ago experienced in Brooklyn) then people get hurt and respect for cops goes down.
I am criticizing the NYPD here. but I am doing so in the context of what I see as a pattern of poor law enforcement that actually lowers the reputation of our cops and perpetuates a "lazy" image of cops in NYC certainly compared to the image I know from Los Angeles. Again, I think the NYPD are among the hardest working and worst paid (thank you Bloomberg and Quinn!) people in America. But when people I know call in about a traffic offense and are blown off or when I call in AT THE ADVUCE OF TWO BANKS, THE FBI AND THE FTC, and I am blown off by my local precinct, I can't help but feel that our cops aren't doing a good job. read more »