Archive for the ‘Blank Slate Media’ category

Books for political junkies this Christmas – By George J. Marlin

December 15, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, December 13, 2021 on The Island Now’s website:

For people who give books as Christmas presents to political junkie friends, here are my 2021 gift book picks:

James Madison: America’s First Politician by Jay Cost. This is a very readable biography of the father of the U.S. Constitution and the nation’s fourth president, by Dr. Cost, the Gerald R. Ford Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. Cost skillfully describes Madison’s lifetime mission “to forge a stronger union of the states around the principles of limited government, individual rights, and, above all justice.”

The Dying Citizen by Victor Davis Hanson. Dr. Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, has written an important book that explains how progressives are undermining citizenship, sovereign borders and destroying the middle class. Without a middle class, Hanson persuasively argues, “society becomes bifurcated. It splinters into one of modern masters and peasants.” And he concludes that in this situation, “the function of government is not to ensure liberty but to subsidize the poor to avoid resolution and to exempt the wealthy, who reciprocate by enriching and empowering the governing classes.”

The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry by Brad Miner. With wit and charm, Miner, a former literary editor at the National Review, invites readers to discover the oldest and best model of manhood—the gentleman. He “lays out the thousand-year history of this forgotten ideal and makes a compelling case for its modern revival.”

American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent 2008-2020 by George F. Will. This is the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist’s ninth collection of his commentaries on U.S. culture, institutions, political arenas, and social venues. Will, who turned 80 this year, has been a leading conservative columnist for almost half a century. His reflections on current controversies and the recently departed confirm The Wall Street Journal’s observation that Will is “perhaps the most powerful journalist in America.”

The Last Days of New York: A Reporter’s True Tale by Seth Barron. In this work, Barron proves he has a keen detective’s eye for uncovering what Mayor Bill de Blasio’s progressive formulas have wrought: debt, decay and government bloat. Barron “brings to life the inner workings of how a corrupted political system hollowed out New York City, leaving it especially vulnerable, all in the name of equity and fairness.”

The Prince: Andrew Cuomo, Coronavirus and the Fall of New York by Ross Barkan. Published several months before Cuomo’s resignation, journalist Ross Barkan explains why Cuomo’s “heroism” during the pandemic was built on lies. Cuomo, he writes, “was too slow to shut down the state. He compared coronavirus to the flu and downplayed the threat. He failed to adequately coordinate hospitals to handle the surge of patients…. The Cuomo myth grew in proportion to the bodies piling up in hospital morgues. It lingered beyond any point of rationality.”

San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities by Michael Shellenberger. The author, himself a man of the left, argues that the Bay Area’s underlying program “is an ideology that decimates some people by identity or experience as victims entitled to destructive behaviors.” As a result, while homelessness has been in decline in many major cities in the past five years, it grew by 32 percent in San Francisco. Seventy-three percent of the homeless live on the streets. A vast majority are drug addicts or mentally ill. California progressives are, in Shellenberger’s judgment, ruining California’s local cities because “they defend the right of people they characterize as victims to camp on sidewalks, in parks and along highways as well as to break other laws, including against public drug use and defecation.” To get a preview of what New York City could turn into, read this book.

Mario Cuomo: The Myth and the Man by George J. Marlin. Pardon me for promoting my latest book. But if you want to understand what makes Andrew Cuomo tick, you must understand his father. My book explains why Mario Cuomo was the most complicated, self-righteous, pugilistic and exasperating governor in New York state’s history.

Happy Reading in 2022!

Will Gov. Hochul survive a Democratic primary in 2022? – By George J. Marlin

November 3, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, November 1, 2021 on The Island Now’s website:

During the past 50 years, four New York lieutenant governors have ascended to the office of governor, three of them via resignations and one through election.

The first was Malcolm Wilson. He was sworn in after Gov. Nelson Rockefeller resigned in 1973. Eminently qualified, the 35-year Albany veteran was highly regarded for his administrative and legislative skills. But as a candidate, he lacked charisma and lost to Hugh Carey in 1974.

Next was Mario Cuomo. As secretary of state in the first Carey administration and as lieutenant governor in the second, the extraordinarily talented Cuomo took on numerous governmental tasks. He was also free to travel the state and built a statewide political organization.

As Cuomo’s public persona grew, he even considered challenging Carey in a primary in 1982. And when Carey chose not to run for a third term, Cuomo went on to beat Mayor Ed Koch in the primary and Lew Lehrman in the general election.

Knowing how he effectively used the office of Lieutenant Governor, Cuomo slashed the staff of Lt. Governor Al DelBello and politically eviscerated him. DelBello resigned out of disgust in December 1984.

Cuomo’s next lieutenant governor, Stan Lundine, spent eight years in obscurity.

After Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace in 2008, David Patterson, known for his social charms but not his governing skills, became the state’s chief executive.

The hapless Patterson muddled through the remainder of the term, as Attorney General Andrew Cuomo plotted to replace him.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was like his father—a control freak. And like his father, he treated his lieutenant governors like dirt.

His first lieutenant governor, Robert Duffy, was a former Rochester mayor and top cop. After four years of being under Cuomo’s thumb, Duffy declined to run for a second term.

Cuomo chose Kathleen Hochul as his next lieutenant governor for two reasons: she was an upstater and her resume was pretty thin. Hochul’s claim to fame was winning a special congressional election in a traditionally Republican district and for being booted out a year later.

While in public life in the Buffalo region, Hochul was a center-right Democrat. She ran on the Conservative Party line in her race for Erie County clerk, and opposed Gov. Spitzer’s plan to grant undocumented immigrants’ driver licenses.

In Congress, she was for reducing the federal deficit and Medicaid spending, and was proud to be endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

Since becoming governor, however, Hochul has shifted to the far left in policies and appointments.

Also, she has been the anti-Cuomo, showing the door to the former governor’s toadies.

Oddly, one exception was Cuomo’s top Long Island political loyalist, Kevin Law, who Hochul nominated to become chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation.

Law was appointed by Cuomo to serve as co-chairman of the L.I. Regional Development Council, chairman of LIPA, and chairman of the Stony Brook University Council.

To be named to so many posts meant Law did Cuomo’s bidding.

We will soon learn if Law will now do Hochul’s bidding at ESDC, particularly when it comes to doling out hundreds of millions of dollars in ESDC political swag to state legislators.

Placating the radical leftists in her party will probably cost Hochul the governor’s chair next year.

Why?

Because no matter how much she gives in to progressive demands, it will never be enough.

In the end, the AOC crowd and the Working Families Party radicals will support one of their own–be it Attorney General Letitia James or Jumaane Williams, who came close to beating Hochul in the 2018 Democratic Primary for lieutenant governor.

By embracing the left, she also risks alienating those who should be her natural constituency, working-class folks in upstate New York and suburbia.

And if Congressman Tom Suozzi enters the gubernatorial primary in 2022, he will peel away from Hochul moderate Democrats on Long Island, Staten Island and upstate.

If Hochul continues down the leftist primrose path, I predict she will be moving out of the governor’s mansion on Dec. 31, 2022, and like Wilson and Patterson, will fade into political oblivion.

Will Laura Curran’s luck hold out? – George J. Marlin

October 19, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, October 18, 2021 on The Island Now’s website:

Before appointing a senior officer to command troops, Napoleon Bonaparte would ask his confreres, “I know he’s a good general, but is he lucky?” The lucky officers, he believed, seized unexpected opportunities in battles that would lead to victory.

 

In a similar vein, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has been pretty lucky on the political battlefield these past four years.

 

When Curran sought the county executive post in 2017, she was lucky that Republican incumbent Ed Mangano, was under federal indictment for 13 counts of fraud and bribery. Mangano’s top deputy, Rob Walker, was also under investigation. (Later, both were convicted of various crimes.)

 

In the September 2017 Democratic primary, Curran had the good fortune to run against the hapless County Comptroller, George Maragos. The wealthy Maragos had switched from the Republican Party believing he could buy the Democratic nomination. Maragos proved the adage that one cannot “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

 

In a hotly contested fall election, voters, weary of GOP corruption, narrowly elected Curran with 51 percent of the vote.

 

Curran inherited a government that was under the thumb of the state control board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, due to Mangano’s fiscal incompetence.

 

NIFA declared a control period in 2011 because Mangano’s fiscal policies—that included borrowing to balance operating budgets—were leading the county to financial insolvency.

 

Unlike Mangano, Curran seized the opportunity to work with NIFA to solve the county’s fiscal woes.

 

Curran’s luck held. Thanks to Republican federal tax cuts and the subsequent roaring economy, Nassau’s operating deficits, based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, began to decline.

 

In fact, Curran’s 2019 budget incurred for the first time in years a GAAP operating surplus of $76.8 million.

 

Curran weathered the COVID pandemic in 2020 by effectively controlling expenses, particularly the payroll. And she was lucky; federal COVID relief money—albeit one-shot revenues of $102.9 million—helped the county incur a GAAP surplus for the second year in a row.

 

So far this year, the county’s finances are in pretty good shape. Sales tax revenue is way ahead of projections and the County, NIFA reported, has received “$397.7 million in new federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act, which will be split equally between fiscal year 2021 and fiscal year 2022.”

 

NIFA is projecting a budget surplus for the third year in a row. And it is possible NIFA will be able to lift the control period.

 

Curran is also lucky because the Republicans have put up against her an awful candidate, Bruce Blakeman—the Harold Stassen of the Nassau GOP.

 

Who was Stassen you ask?

 

Stassen (1907-2001), a Republican, was elected to one term as Minnesota’s governor and went on to lose a record-breaking number of elections.

 

He unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for president eight times, lost elections for governor three times, U.S. Senate two times, and Congress once.

 

Like Stassen, Blakeman has lost a slew of elections. In 1999, voters booted Blakeman out of the county Legislature after voting to raise taxes 16 percent and for supporting budgets that were funded with hundreds of millions of borrowed dollars.

 

Blakeman also lost a race for state comptroller in 1998, receiving only 32 percent of the vote.

 

In 2010, he never got to the starting gate to run against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. He was soundly rejected by both the Republican and Conservative parties.

 

And in the 2014 election, Kathleen Rice easily beat Blakeman in the 4th Congressional district.

 

The lucky Curran should easily beat the ill-fated Blakeman.

 

But will Laura Curran’s luck hold out?

 

During a second Curran term, the economy will eventually slow down, consumer spending will decline and inflated residential real estate values will spiral downward.

 

To prepare for the economic turndown, Curran should have abandoned the election year $375 homeowner rebate gimmick. She should have dedicated those one-shot dollars to pay off tax certiorari claims and to flood rainy-day funds.

 

By failing to seize the opportunity to effectively utilize the county’s financial windfall, my guess is Curran’s luck will run out during the next four years.

Proud to be parochial – By George J. Marlin

October 7, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, October 4, 2021 on The Island Now’s website:

Last month a reader’s letter to the editor characterized me as “parochial” because I oppose legislation that would empower federal or state bureaucrats to override local zoning laws.

The reader is correct, I am “parochial.” But I do not consider it a pejorative label.

I am parochial because I agree with the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s observation that the theory “you can run the Nation from Washington … at least … with respect to the kind of social change liberals generally seek to bring about” which pertains to “social attitudes” is “false.”

I subscribe, as Moynihan did, to the social concept known as “subsidiarity” which champions parochialism.

The principle of subsidiarity affirms that decisions are most appropriately made by municipal and social entities closest to the relevant issue and by the next highest entity when decisions and actions are beyond the scope of those at a lower level.

Hence, the national government is the proper agency to wage war; the family is the proper agency to raise children.

People depend on one another: first upon their parents and then upon friends, neighbors, teachers, employees, etc. Individuals and families naturally broaden their associations to meet their needs in “subsidiarity.”

According to the noted sociologist Andrew Greeley, subsidiarity means “no bigger than necessary” and by structuring life according to this principle, “one can protect, promote and defend the freedom, the dignity, the authenticity of the individual human person.”

Incidentally, subsidiarity is the foundation of Catholic social thought.

In his 1930 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno (The Social Order), Pope Pius XI defined subsidiarity as “the fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry.”

Pope John XXIII re-enforced his concept in Mater et Magistra (1961):

The state should leave to these smaller groups the settlement of business of minor importance. It will carry out with greater freedom, power, and success the tasks belonging to it, because it alone can effectively accomplish these, directing, watching, stimulating and restraining, as circumstances suggest or necessity demands. Let those in power, therefore be convinced that the more faithfully this principle be followed, and a graded hierarchical order exists between the various subsidiary organizations, the more excellent will be both the authority and the efficiency of the social organization as a whole and the happier and more prosperous the condition of the state.

Moynihan agreed with this papal teaching, as I do, because he realized that subsidiarity “occupied a middle ground between the radical individualism that grew from classical liberalism and the statism that evolved from both continental socialism and conservative absolutists.”

In fact, in a speech Moynihan delivered at a conference in 1975, he chastised progressives for rejecting papal teachings on subsidiarity:

Now a century earlier—just to keep matters complicated—such papal doctrine would have been seen as the embodiment of liberal principle! But by 1963 this was no longer so. To the contrary, American liberalism was at the very moment about to enter a period of unprecedented attachment to whatever it is that is the opposite of the principle of subsidiarity. The state was encouraged to take over more and more individual functions, and the highest levels of the state were encouraged to take over more and more of the functions of the “lesser and subordinate levels.”

Like Moynihan, I do not believe federal or state governments should micromanage local issues by overriding or stripping supervisory powers of local magistrates.

Hence, consistent with the principle of subsidiarity, I oppose state regulation of local zoning laws.

But, on the other hand, I oppose Garden City magistrates holding up LIRR Third Track project work permits for the replacement of the Denton Avenue Bridge.

The project is beyond the purview and competence of Garden City officials. Because the project benefits commuters throughout Long Island, decision making rightfully belongs in the hands of a higher government entity, the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

If my positions on these issues are “parochial,” so be it. I wear the label with pride.

Political silly season in full bloom – By George J. Marlin

September 21, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, September 21, 2021 on The Island Now’s website:

The most misused and overused word uttered by New York politicians is “transparency.”

For example, Governors Spitzer, Cuomo and Paterson all pledged that their administrations would be the most “transparent” in the state’s history.

Well, we all know what happened to them: two disgraced their office and resigned. As for the third, David Paterson, a Commission on Public Integrity “found that [he] had lied about accepting five free World Series tickets and fined him $62,125.”

When Kathy Hochul was sworn in as New York’s 57th governor on Aug. 24, she too pledged that her administration would be “transparent.”

The New York Post pointed out on Sept. 3, however, “Gov. Hochul just broke her vow that transparency would be her administration’s ‘hallmark’—in the first bill of her tenure.”

Hochul approved eviction moratorium extension legislation that was voted on without any debate or discussion. Also, the extension includes language that “effectively” suspends the state’s Open Meetings Law.

“Until January,” the Post reported, “any governmental body that broadcasts its meetings online via conference call can ban protesters, lobbyists, the press and members of the public from physically attending meetings.”

So much for openness and transparency in government.

On another front, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) has called for the elimination of academic honors for its top students.

“Recognizing student excellence via honor rolls and class rank,” the DOE has determined, “can be detrimental to learners who find it more difficult to reach academic success, often for reasons beyond their control.”

Instead of grading students on reading, writing, and mathematic skills, the DOE wants to judge students on their “contribution to the school or wider community and demonstrations of social justice and integrity.”

The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in a 1993 essay published in The American Scholar, called such policies “Defining Deviancy Down.” By this he meant there has been a “manifest decline” in America’s public educational systems by “redefining problem[s] as essentially normal and doing little to reduce it.”

Because teachers are failing to educate large segments of New York City’s student population, (only 14 percent of Black eighth-graders are proficient in English and 10 percent in math), the DOE wants to redefine standards downward to cover up poor student performance.

During the de Blasio years, his DOE has waged a brutal war on excellence. In addition to ditching grading standards, they have been attempting to eliminate testing for admission to elite public high schools and gifted and talented classes.

They will not be satisfied until they define standards low enough to ensure that every student, regardless of ability, gets a lousy education.

Next, Long Islanders returning to work this fall in the Big Apple have every reason to be concerned about the rapid increase in crime—particularly in the city’s mass transportation system.

Nicole Gelinas, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, fears that the subway crime problem will scare people away unless the police “step up again.”

Her analysis concluded that “during 2020, despite severely reduced ridership, violent crimes rose to 928 incidents from 917 the year before.”

Non-violent felonies also increased during the same period. “In 2020, there were 2.71 felonies committed per million rides, up from 1.45 in 2019.”

This increase in criminal activity can be laid at the feet of the governing class who believe criminals are victims of society, that punishment and imprisonment does not deter crimes, and that violent crime should be treated as a public health issue.

This attitude helps explain why the city’s five district attorneys are declining to prosecute more and more accused felons and judges are dismissing more cases.

The state Division of Criminal Justice released data that indicated DA’s in 2020 dropped charges in 17 percent “of the 38,635 felony cases that were closed in N.Y.C. during 2020.” In 2019, the rate was 8.7 percent.

The Bronx DA took top honors. He declined to prosecute 28.5 percent of cases. And judges in the county dismissed 28 percent of the cases that appeared before them. Hence, the conviction rate dropped to 27.4 percent vs. 44.2 percent in 2019.

There seems to be no end to the follies of New York progressives who live in ideological fantasy lands.

And that explains why New York’s political silly season is in full bloom.