Huma and Hillary: Soulmates in Humiliation

It takes one to know one. I’m talking about women who have been humiliated by their husbands, and Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin is a poster child for that unhappy club.

After the release of the new (and surprisingly compelling) documentary “Weiner,” it’s not hard to see why Abedin, the wife of former Congressman-exhibitionist Anthony Weiner, is a perfect match for Hillary Clinton.

I assume Weiner envisioned the documentary as a redemptive, comeback kid-type of tale — until he reverted to his sexting, junk flashing “Carlos Danger” persona. A gifted politician, Weiner clearly has a fatal flaw that isn’t going away.

But is his wife?

Why did Abedin stay with Weiner after he betrayed her a second time? A similar question could be asked of Clinton. Why stay with a serial philanderer? Do they both sincerely believe in their “for better or for worse” wedding vows? Perhaps to a fault?

If anyone understands Clinton, it’s Abedin, and she fiercely guards the presidential candidate’s privacy. Anyone who wants to get Hillary’s ear first has to go through Huma, according to Vanity Fair.

As they prepare to face yet another man who not only has unorthodox relationships with women but also belittles them, the H team can draw on their experience dealing with such men. So the first time Donald Trump tries a cheap personal attack on Hillary Clinton at a debate, he should duck, because as they say, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Meanwhile, Hillary and Huma’s bond is palpable. “If I had a second daughter, it would be Huma,” Hillary Clinton has said.

I saw the “Weiner” documentary over the weekend. Before I did, I had a bunch of funny, Thelma and Louise-type laugh lines ready for this column. But seeing Abedin’s face at the end of this film, the shock and sadness in her eyes, I didn’t have the heart.

Before this scandal broke, Huma Abedin’s first allegiance was to her mercurial husband, Weiner. But after being repeatedly humiliated by him and having her faith shattered, it seems the No. 1 adult in her life now is the person she trusts most and has a special bond with: her boss, confidant and mutual protector, Hillary Clinton.

Can you blame her?

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Put Ice Cream Bandits in the Cooler

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. And no one is screaming louder than Manhattan drugstore managers, who are seeing Chubby Hubbies and Chunky Monkeys swiped from their coolers by brazen ice cream thieves.

As we move into prime ice cream season, chain drug retailers are keeping a sharp eye out for the coldhearted crooks who pilfer such premium brands as Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs, then sell them at a sharp discount.

So when you buy these brands at a local bodega, are you eating hot ice cream? If you live uptown, it’s more likely, a police source told the New York Post. “They [the crooks] take the pints of ice cream and resell them uptown at bodegas in Harlem and Washington Heights,” said the source.

The most shoplifted items from drugstores are usually small, dry and easy to hide, such as razors and cosmetics, with widespread ice cream theft a newer phenomenon. But ice cream melts quickly (duh), and the stolen pint purchased at a bodega most likely has been refrozen, which produces freezer burn, marked by ice crystals and a funny taste. Yuck! Perhaps an appropriate punishment would be force-feeding the crooks this icy mess until they get brain freeze.

Drugstores are targets because they have fewer people on staff than larger mass market outlets, so there’s less chance of the criminals getting caught.

Ice cream theft at NYC chain drugstores first hit the headlines in October, when thieves grabbed 242 pints from a TriBeCa Duane Reade, according to Grub Street. A CVS in Chelsea has been robbed of the frozen treats three times. Meanwhile, cops grabbed one alleged group of sticky-fingered bandits after multiple thefts, including a single haul of $1,683 worth of ice cream. That’s cold.

As ice cream theft has progressed from an occasional nuisance to an ongoing drain on profits, drugstore managers are increasingly getting the police involved, according to the Post. So bodega owners in on this scam face a rocky road — because the next person offering them stolen ice cream at a ridiculous discount might be an undercover cop.


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Are You Licensed to Ride the Subway?

What happens when your train stops at 59th Street and you’re propped up against the door?

Do you:

a) Push back hard against those exiting, scrambling to grab a vacated seat?

b) Step out of the train and let passengers off?

c) Stand your ground, block the entrance and scowl at those desperately trying to get by before the doors close?

The husky nitwit on the A train that pulled into the station chose “c,” and glared at me when I banged into his shoulder and squeezed past him. Was he just nasty, or truly ignorant of basic subway rules?

That’s the moment I realized that riders should have to pass a written test to get a license to ride the subway.

That’s right, subway licenses. If you don’t know or care about the basic rules and courtesies that protect us all, we don’t want you on our trains. Door blockers and holders, pole leaners and seat hoggers make the commute hell for all of us, not to mention gropers, screaming subway preachers and showtime acrobats.

If you can’t follow the rules, get off my train.

I know you’re just the passenger, but it’s not like air travel, where all you have to do is fasten your seat belt, down a Jack Daniels and pass out. We all have some responsibility down in the tunnels, and requiring a license will ensure a smoother, calmer ride.

Here’s how it will go: After studying the rules and passing your exam, you will proudly own a subway rider’s license. When you commit a violation, points will be deducted. If you accumulate enough points, your license will be taken away.

But how will these slackers get to work? Bike? Walk? Who cares? They should have thought of that before removing their shoes and clipping their toenails on the subway.

Meanwhile, good citizens who keep a spotless record will be eligible for a reduced fare. Yep, just as car insurance companies do it. Don’t flout the rules, get a discount. Keep acting like a jerk? You’ve reached your last stop!

Subway licenses, an idea whose time has come. I fantasize about making a citizen’s arrest of some slob tossing pistachio nut shells at my feet.

License, please!

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On Cinco de Mayo, Don’t Fence Me Out

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, celebrating Mexican traditions, and I’d like to start the festivities early with a pop quiz. Who suggested erecting “a brass wall around the country?”

Donald Trump, 2015? Nope. Try John Jay, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, in the 1750s. Jay was determined to keep out those dangerous Catholics.

Sadly, fear and hatred of immigrants is as American as apple pie, pizza and tacos. The current target of this bigotry is Mexicans here illegally. Years ago it was Italians, Jews and other “undesirables” here legally or illegally. “No Irish Need Apply!” was a common warning on job and housing notices. The Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 barred Asians from entering the United States.

Unscrupulous politicians past and present love to play on our fears.

As usual, it’s based on lies. Unauthorized Mexican immigration is declining, and Mexican immigrants don’t commit more crimes. According to The Washington Post, data show newer immigrants — including those here illegally — are less likely to commit crime.

But in troubling economic times, politicians too often demonize “the other.” Trump promises to build a huge wall on the Mexican border to keep “them” out, while Sen. Ted Cruz threatened to remove Mexicans by increasing deportation__before removing himself from the race because no one could stand him.

You say you really don’t know any Mexican-Americans? How about Demi Lovato and Eva Longoria? What about Hilda Solis, who served as U.S. secretary of labor under President Barack Obama, or Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico who negotiated the release of American prisoners in Iraq and North Korea?

Still, Mexicans continue to be demonized. I recently visited the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side (don’t miss it), and was reminded the nation was built on the backs of immigrants. Their energy and inspiration continue to make us a great nation.

It’s time to break the cycle. Show political demagogues trying to appeal to our worst instincts that we know they’re the same types who stirred up hatred against many of our own ancestors. Hardworking Mexican immigrants aren’t a threat to the American way. Political demagogues are.

Meanwhile, happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Developers and de Blasio: Not Just Horses’ Tales

The most blessed among us do not crave money, but devote their lives to charity and caring for all living things. Mother Teresa. St. Francis of Assisi. NY real estate developers?

While I take a back seat to no one when it comes to my love of animals (unless I’m in the back seat with a slobbering St. Bernard), I always wondered why Bill de Blasio never seemed to give a hoot about carriage horses before he ran for mayor. But after real estate developer and anti-carriage horse zealot Steve Nislick’s NYCLASS group made sizable donations to his mayoral campaign, de Blasio saw the light, and the welfare of the carriage horses became his No. 1 priority. Hallelujah!

And let’s not forget Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management, who thought it would be fun for all if streetcars ran right by the new condos he is developing on the site of the old Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg. He donated $100,000 to the Campaign for One New York fund, an “independent” group that supported de Blasio priorities.

Soon after, the mayor discovered he loved streetcars as much as he hated the carriage horse trade. At his February State of the City speech, he enthusiastically supported a plan for a streetcar financed through area property taxes, as thousands cheered. Ok, at least one__Jeb Walentas.

The bundling of checks from such individuals has proven a way for the mayor to raise huge sums of cash. Yes, the donations are legal — if the contributors aren’t promised anything in return for their generosity. That’s how I know these developers are doing this out of pure charity, fervently believing in the Bible’s directive that, “One who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 11:24-25).

And boy, are they being watered. National real estate developer Toll Brothers donated $50,000 to de Blasio’s fund, coincidentally right around the time it started developing Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park, a 101-unit waterside condo. Local activists oppose the project, saying it will block views. Good luck with that!

Meanwhile, NYCLASS has been subpoenaed, and the Campaign for One New York, which the mayor swears was on the up and up, has been shuttered.

What a shame.

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Weed Be Better Off Legalizing Marijuana

Happy 4/20! For those of you who don’t know, that number is code for cannabis, and users are celebrating worldwide.

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in four states and Washington, D.C., but not New York. While pot arrests have declined significantly in NYC because of more lenient policies by the NYPD under Mayor Bill de Blasio, it is still against the law to smoke weed here.

Meanwhile, New York recently legalized the use of medical marijuana, but only under stringent conditions — some say too stringent. Count my brother Bob among them.

Bob has spinal stenosis, the same condition afflicting Mets third baseman David Wright. Muscular dystrophy and rheumatoid arthritis are among the ailments not considered serious enough for medical marijuana relief in this state, while spinal stenosis sufferers must jump through hoops to get help. Bob has tried many medications and acupuncture, to no avail.

“I’m not looking to get high, just for pain relief,” Bob told me. “Why can’t I go to my doctor and get a prescription for it like any other drug?”

Good question. Your doctor can still prescribe highly addictive pain killers, but probably not marijuana for medicinal use. There are just 455 doctors registered for the state’s medical pot program.

Supposedly one of the more progressive states in the nation, New York’s attitude toward the legalization of pot and particularly the use of medical marijuana is anything but. State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) recently introduced four bills to expand the program.

In a 2015 Gallup poll, 58 percent of Americans favored legalizing pot (it was 12 percent in 1969, when Gallup first asked the question). At least 20 states have recreational marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2016. Not New York.

This will change in the near future. Why? Follow the money. Just like state- sponsored gambling, pot brings in huge revenues to states where it’s legal, and New York lawmakers won’t be able to resist this cash cow much longer.

When? Perhaps by the next time 4/20 rolls around. Meanwhile, the state’s draconian medical marijuana program should be rewritten to be more realistic and humane — now.

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There’s No Debating Gentrification? Why Not?

As someone raised in a small, rent controlled apartment in Brooklyn as you were, Bernie Sanders, I have a question: how do you feel about gentrification? How about you, Hillary Clinton?

The Clinton-Sanders debate at the old Brooklyn Navy Yard tonight will go a long way in determining the winner of the NY Democratic primary next week. If there is one question allowed that relates to Brooklyn while also impacting most major American cities, how about one on gentrification and affordable housing?

Both political parties have virtually ignored the subject of affordable housing in urban America during this presidential race. Perhaps they feel it’s not important.

New Yorkers strongly disagree. According to a recent NY1-Baruch College poll, we rate affordable housing the number one issue facing us today. Almost two-thirds of New Yorkers believe they may be priced out of their neighborhood in the next four years.

New York is now bursting at the seams with more than 8.5 million residents, with the greatest population growth in Brooklyn, as home prices in the borough soar.

Plunging crime rates over the past two decades and other positive factors have made the city more inviting, and Mayor de Blasio is trying to make room for us all by expanding the housing supply. This includes changing zoning laws to permit more high-rise dwellings, with some apartments set aside for means-tested tenants.

When hearing about this initiative, many locals howled. For example, some residents of Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill are fighting the development of hi-rise condo towers on the site of the former Long Island City Hospital, saying it will ruin the integrity of their low rise neighborhood.

Director Spike Lee famously bashed gentrification in Brooklyn, saying it prices out and displaces people of color__after he sold his Fort Greene home to a gentrifier for a hefty profit and moved to the Upper East Side. Hmm…

Meanwhile some African-American and other families of modest means who bought their Fort Greene homes for about $50,000 now find they live in a property worth a million dollars or more__a life-altering amount.

Gentrification and the overriding issue of affordable housing is a complex subject that deserves serious discussion.

What better place to start than tonight’s debate in Brooklyn?

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Painful Choices in NY’s Presidential Primary

With the New York Democratic primary less than two weeks away, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are claiming to be genuine New Yorkers. If you dropped both of them in midtown, who do you think could find his or her way to Coney Island, Yankee Stadium or the Rockaways without a cab?

That said, I couldn’t care less who the real New Yorker is. What concerns me is who has the best chance to beat the two repugnant extremists most likely to represent the GOP this year: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Polls in March showed Clinton with a commanding lead over Sanders in New York. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Sanders only 12 points behind and closing fast. Meanwhile, Republicans are in a bind. If Trump is their nominee, he would probably not only lose, but destroy the party in the process. If he isn’t the nominee, the party will lose millions of voters.

But Democrats are also in a bind, even if some won’t recognize it. If they nominate Sanders, the candidate progressives are most passionate about, the GOP will have a field day.

If Sanders had labeled himself an independent instead of a democratic socialist, he would most likely be our next president. His authenticity comes through, he’s trouncing Trump in national polls, and voters are disgusted with politics as usual.

But if Sanders gets the nomination and the GOP trains its guns on him, things will get ugly quick. Expect attack ads showing Sanders voicing support for the Sandinistas and dictatorship in Nicaragua, for starters. It’s not an accident every Republican I speak to is praying for Sanders to be the Democratic nominee.

The “Bernie or Bust” crowd is of the same ilk that supported Ralph Nader in 2000 and helped usher in President George W. Bush. Sanders supporter Susan Sarandon said recently she wasn’t sure she could back a Clinton nomination, and that “some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately.” Yes Susan, the fascist revolution.

I don’t know who will win on April 19. But if Democratic infighting and self-righteousness once again lands a Republican in the White House, this time it will be Trump. Not the real New Yorker they had in mind.

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Trump A Huge Role Model for Kids. Really.

If you want to teach your kids how to behave, tell them to carefully listen to Donald Trump.

No, I’m not kidding. I know many parents are freaking out that Donald the Nasty is saturating the media, and (egads!) that their kids are watching. Ominous articles such as “The Parent-Child Discussion That So Many Dread: Donald Trump” in the NY Times address these panicked moms and dads.

Not to worry. As a former teacher, I can tell you that Trump provides a perfect teaching tool, and I do mean tool. From cursing to bragging to denigrating minorities to instigating fights, Trump is a walking, talking Mister Bad Example.

But what a gift to parents. Whatever Trump does, just teach your child to do the opposite. For example, who better to provide a lesson on bullying than him? When a protester showed up at one of his campaign events, Trump said he’d like to “punch him in the face.”

A perfect chance to ask your children to choose the right response to someone who disagrees with them: violence, or respecting free speech and their right to have a different opinion? Great parenting!

Just remember, you’re the adult, so stay objective and make sure to say things in a way a child can understand. So when Trump mocks a disabled reporter, calmly explain to your impressionable tot why anyone who mimics someone’s disability is lower than the slimiest worm that crawls the earth.

Not only does Trump provide a treasure trove of impermissible behavior for the kids, but a chance to teach them some history.

For example, nasty accusations hurled at Fox News’ Megyn Kelly (and other women who dare says anything less than adoring about Mr. Yooge) is an excellent opportunity to discuss the Salem Witch Trials, where innocent women were persecuted for being possessed by the devil. Trump even offers similar terminology used by the righteous witch hunters of the 1600’s (“She was bleeding from her whatever!”)

Those with teenage sons get bonus lessons from Trump, about objectifying women and how not to talk about them (“She’s ugly! A bimbo! A fat pig!”)

Ok, there remains one tiny problem. What’s the lesson going to be if he wins?

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GOP’s Stubbornness Could Backfire Big Time

Both of President Barack Obama’s confirmed appointees to the Supreme Court are NYC-born, progressive women. If Republicans aren’t careful, the next SCOTUS appointee might be a third NYC-born woman whose politics they abhor.

No, I’m not talking about whom Hillary Clinton might appoint if she wins in November. I’m referring to federal Judge Maryanne Trump Barry.

That’s right, Donald Trump’s sister.

By saying they will not vote or even hold hearings on the nomination of centrist Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, the GOP has painted itself into a corner. If Clinton wins, she will probably pick a more liberal, younger nominee than Garland. But what if Clinton loses to Trump? A strong conservative would then be the choice, right?

Not so fast.

Last summer, Trump was asked by Bloomberg Politics whether his sister would make a good Supreme Court justice. “I think she would be phenomenal,” he said. “I think she would be one of the best. But we’ll have to rule that out now. At least temporarily.”

Trump later said he was “kidding” about nominating his sister, whom Sen. Ted Cruz has called “a radical pro-abortion extremist.” While that is an absurd claim against the moderate Barry, she wrote an opinion on a ruling that struck down a New Jersey partial-birth abortion ban, saying it “places an undue burden on a women’s constitutional right to obtain an abortion.”

This made a number of conservatives queasy about Trump’s true intentions. On Sunday he said he would list “five to 10” potential judges, but if you think he wouldn’t have the chutzpah to nominate his sister, you haven’t been paying attention.

There’s a reason the Supreme Court has an odd number of judges: to avoid deadlocks. In 2016, the court will review cases vital to millions of us on such subjects as health care, union dues and immigration reform. We are entitled to informed, thoughtful decisions.

With their party poised to be taken over by a demagogue, many Republicans fear it might be on the brink of destruction. If they want to save it, here’s the first step: Do what’s right for your nation, not your party.
Do your jobs. Give Obama’s nominee a fair hearing.

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