Day: February 21, 2009

The NY Post and the “Chimpanzee” Political Cartoon

The NY Post, published by Rupert Murdoch, not known for quality journalism, has created controversy by its publication of a political cartoon depicting two police officers killing a chimpanzee ( an actual happening when a chimpanzee assaulted a woman a couple of days earlier), but with the commentary that now someone else must be found to come up with an economic stimulus package.

Most observers have taken this symbolism to be referring to President Obama, although others think it refers to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the prime creator of much of the economic stimulus package.  Any symbolic reference to either Obama or Pelosi is, of course, unacceptable and shows poor taste.

But then again, remember we are talking about Rupert Murdoch who also owns Fox News Channel, not famous for its "balanced" coverage of the news.  The astounding fact, however, that nowadays, the NY Post actually sells more copies than the NY Times or the NY Daily News, comes as a shock, as I can remember when the Post was the poorest circulation newspaper and was in danger of folding.

Apparently, all one must do to make a failing newspaper successful is to promote distortion, sensationalism, exaggeration, poor taste and low quality of journalism.  What does that say about the people who choose to read it and somehow, believe, it is "reliable" as a source of news and opinion?   We are in deep trouble with the lack of insight into the news being rewarded financially.  "Yellow" journalism has arisen again as in the late 19th century Gilded Age!

Attorney General Eric Holder and the Issue of Race

Attorney General Eric Holder has created a firestorm by his recent statements about race in America, calling the people of the country “cowards” because the issue of race still permeates American society, nearly 60 years after the beginning of the civil rights movement after World War II.

Holder points out that while racial integration and contact has increased at work and in school during the week, that on the weekend, it is rare for people of different races to pray together or socialize together.  His use of the word “cowards”, however, does not make sense to me, while what he said about segregation on the weekends does ring true in a broad sense.

No one ever could have thought that we would make as much progress as we have achieved in the last 60 years to the point that we have an African American President and Attorney General  At the same time, prejudice, racism and discrimination still exist, although I would contend in lesser amounts than when I was in college and since then.  The battle goes on, but I am encouraged by the fact that the younger generation does not separate themselves by race or ethnicity as compared to older people.  Social acceptance of racial integration has increased dramatically, particularly among people under the age of 40.  As time goes on, the acceptance of race in social situations, including houses of worship  and social situations, will improve.  Patience is required, and the ability to see the broad picture of widespread improvement.

Holder brings up an important issue, but I think his language does  not help promote racial understanding, and he needs to be more careful, therefore, in his use of terminology in the future.  His position as Attorney General demands a more considerate, thoughtful usage of language.

NY Governor David Paterson and the Caroline Kennedy Fiasco

As one looks back on and reflects on the handling of the NY Senate seat replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it is clear that Governor David Paterson treated Caroline Kennedy with disrespect and disdain.

First, Paterson indicated that Caroline Kennedy was the front runner and did everything to encourage her pursuit of the Senate appointment.  Later, he publicly trashed her and his staff spread rumors about why she was not qualified to take the seat.  Meanwhile, he showed absolutely no respect either for any of the other leading candidates, and then settled on little known upstate Congresswoman Kirsten Gillebrand, only in her second two year term, and an advocate of the National Rifle Association in a state which has long been against open access to guns. 

While I did not think Caroline Kennedy was the ideal candidate and supported the selection of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for that seat, the Governor’s conduct and poor judgment in what he said publicly, and what his staff did in his name, makes him a prime candidate for challenge for a full term as Governor of New York in 2010.  It is hoped that he will be opposed in the primary by Attorney General Cuomo who has made a name for himself going after Wall Street.  Cuomo would restore the dignity and prestige of the Governor’s office, now sullied first by the behavior of former Governor Eliot Spitzer, and then poorly administered by his successor, David Paterson, who would never under normal circumstances have had a chance to be Governor. 

New York State deserves better than David Paterson for Governor and also Kirsten Gillebrand for Senator.  2010 should be a challenging and interesting year in New York politics!

Six Republican Governors and the Stimulus Bill

Now that the Economic Stimulus bill has become law, offering financial aid to the states, we are confronted with six GOP governors who have threatened NOT to accept the aid, despite the dire needs that their states face.  This includes the governors of Alaska, Idaho, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

Sarah Palin is apparently willing to do this despite her pledge to work with President Obama.  Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, considered the hope for the future, seems willing to reject aid in the face of the lack of rebuilding of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, and the reality that his state is one of the poorest in America.  The same goes for Mississippi and its governor, Haley Barbour.  South Carolina and its Governor Mark Sanford are just giving further evidence that they wish to remain backward and uncooperative in the spirit of the Civil War legacy.  Texas has Governor Rick Perry, the gift of George W. Bush when he left the governorship to become President.  Idaho is well, Idaho! 🙂

These governors should be ashamed of their lack of cooperation and playing of politics in the midst of financial crisis, and it is hoped that their legislatures will override their resistance and agree to the financial aid.  It seems to me that these governors, most of whom have at least theoretical ambition to run for President in 2012, had better rethink their intransigence.  Again, it seems to me this is the road of political suicide!

California Budget Crisis Resolved

After constant wrangling and legislative paralysis, the California legislature and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have finally come to an agreement on a financial package to close the record $42 Billion deficit, an all time gap in any state in American history.

California is a microcosm of the nation, as 46 states face similar crises.  Only North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and West Virginia do not, as of now, have a financial crisis in their state budgeting.  This is why the states are looking to the federal government to rescue them with financial support to cut down the pain and suffering that budget cuts are creating.

The only reason that the California legislature was able to succeed finally was the backing of several moderate Republicans, but again, as on the national level, most of the Republicans refused to negotiate and bargain to come to an agreement, even in the midst of unbelievable crisis in the Golden State, including cutting of public works projects and furloughing of state workers for two days a month.

The Republican party is again proving to be obstructionist and uncaring about the effects of the economic downturn on the nation and the states, something to a great extent caused by their failure historically to recognize the need for effective regulation of the economy, specifically the practices of banks and corporations.

The Foreclosure Crisis in Housing

The Obama Administration has this week devised a $75 Billion program to deal with the housing crisis, which has magnified in recent months and can be seen as one of the major causes of the economic downtown over the past year.

The plan is designed to assist homeowners in danger of losing their homes, which does not just affect them, but also their neighbors who have seen the effect of the foreclosure crisis in the rapid decline in property values of their own homes, as much as 40-50 percent in some parts of the nation, particularly Arizona, Nevada, California and Florida. 

But again, despite the reality of the crisis, the GOP is on the attack without offering any better alternative, and this reality sadly includes Senator John McCain, who despite his state’s suffering, is unwilling to cross the aisle and support the President in his plans.  Earlier, he had mouthed the idea of bipartisanship, but when the actual opportunity has arisen, McCain instead has been an obstructionist.  This is a sad situation, but it also makes one happy that McCain did not win the Presidency, as one has to doubt that he would have been aggressively attacking the economic crisis had he been in the White House.

So one has to conclude that fate has played a role in putting Obama in office, ready to take action and deflect criticism, confident in his ability to accomplish his goals!