Democrats Bring a Pillow to a Gunfight

It’s always preferable to take the high road, and Michelle Obama’s statement, “When they go low, we go high,” is admirable. But in real life, when someone fights dirty and you don’t, you’re in big trouble.

Going for the jugular is not in the Democratic Party’s DNA. Despite that, cynical Republicans accuse them of fomenting “mob rule.” For a party led by a president who, among other things, encouraged an angry crowd at a rally to “knock the crap” out of a protester and still leads furious chants of “Lock her up!,” that’s the definition of chutzpah.

In truth, Democrats have a history of wimping out when aggressive stances were called for. After paid GOP operatives caused a near riot outside a Miami counting room after the 2000 presidential election, disrupting a vote recount and helping George W. Bush eke out a questionable victory over Al Gore, Democrats responded by meekly conceding. When John Kerry ran for president against Bush four years later, Republicans made a calculated decision to smear the war hero and Purple Heart winner.

When Bush challenged Kerry’s war record during a presidential debate, Kerry should have replied: “I was in Vietnam fighting for my country while you were a male cheerleader. How dare you!” Instead, Kerry went into a mealy mouthed defense of his record, and it was curtains.

Donald Trump famously said he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Since then, he has said worse, from siding with Russia’s Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence to expressing his love for murderous North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. If Barack Obama acted this way, furious Republicans would have surrounded the White House, demanding he leave.

But that’s not the way Democrats roll. Despite the specious allegations of “mob rule,” party leaders are still more likely to ring Trump’s doorbell and run.

The majority of Americans agree with Democrats on the real issues, including providing adequate health care, dealing with climate change and passing sane gun laws. But if they let Republicans bait them into sideshows and don’t respond forcefully, Nov. 6 could well be another Democratic disaster.

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PC Fake Outrage Reaches a New Low

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new fake outrage PC champion.

The NY Daily News defamed TBS baseball commentator and former NY Mets great Ron Darling this weekend with the ridiculous headline “Ron Darling Uses Slur in Reference to Masahiro Tanaka.”

Uhm, no he didn’t.

Calling the Yankees-Boston Red Sox game Saturday night, Darling noted the Yankee pitcher was losing his control, observing a “chink in the armor for Tanaka here.”

But the Daily News writer (no byline given, lucky for him or her) said “bonehead” Darling “used a racial slur.” Seriously?

According to The American Heritage Idioms Dictionary, “chink in one’s armor” means a crack or gap in a vulnerable area. The term “chink” has also been used as a racial slur against Chinese people. Which do you think Darling meant?

Hint: Tanaka is Japanese, not Chinese.

Hint #2: The only one with any Chinese ancestry in this story is Ron Darling himself, whose mother is Chinese.

Obviously, the Yale educated Darling was using the expression in the proper way, not as a slur against Tanaka. But perhaps the writer lumps all Asians together?

Darling was ludicrously forced to issue an apology, saying “Earlier tonight I used an expression referencing Masahiro Tanaka’s pitching performance. While unintentional, I apologize for my choice of words.”

Why bother, Ron? To save his job, that’s why. Don’t believe it? Ask former ESPN tennis analyst Doug Adler, who noted Serena Williams using a “guerrilla effect” during the Australian Open in January 2017, which means moving in and charging the net. But some thought Adler was calling Williams a gorilla. And so ESPN fired him.

Adler filed a wrongful termination suit against the network, which claims that “guerrilla tennis” is a known term in the sport and was the name of a Nike TV ad in the 1990s. Adler’s trial begins Monday, October 15th.

Slurs against any group are hurtful and inexcusable, and we currently have more hateful, bigoted remarks expressed in our nation than I have seen in my lifetime. But false, ignorant accusations of racism only makes people cynical when real hate rears its ugly head.

Bigoted slurs are inexcusable. But the only one slurred in this sorry episode is Ron Darling.

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On Columbus Day, What About Leif?

Looking forward to the Columbus three-day weekend? Actually, it should be a four-day holiday, since Tuesday is Leif Erikson Day — the first European to actually set foot in North America (sorry, Columbus fans). But no such luck.

The son of fierce Viking warrior and explorer Erik the Red, Leif Erikson (aka Leif the Lucky), set sail in 999 and established a Norse colony in Vinland, on the northern tip of Newfoundland in today’s Canada. But like Rodney Dangerfield, Leif Erikson gets no respect.

Leif’s dad reportedly was supposed to join him on the historic voyage, but fell off his horse on the way to the boat, thought it was a bad omen, and went back home to watch the Vikings battle the Raiders, or something like that.

About 500 years later, Columbus sailed into uncharted waters to seek a new passage to the East Indies. Unlike Columbus, most of the crew supposedly believed the Earth was flat, and freaked out as the journey extended for months, fearful that they were about to sail off the edge of the world.

As some plotted mutiny, a sailor spotted a white stretch of beach and yelled about the land. The natives who greeted the sailors had no weapons and were nearly naked, so Columbus named them “hippies.” Actually, Columbus called them “Indians,” which was equally absurd. He mistakenly believed he had reached the Indies (hence “Indians”), but was actually in the Bahamas.

The name Indians stuck in America until fairly recently, when enlightened people started calling them what they actually are — Native Americans.

Which brings us back to the “who discovered America” beef between Columbus loyalists and Erikson admirers. Of course, neither did — you can’t “discover” a place where millions of people already live!

Nonetheless, Columbus achieved widespread, lasting fame, while Erickson is known to only a few, mostly Norwegian-Americans and “SpongeBob SquarePants” fans (Leif Erickson Day was celebrated in a SpongeBob episode).

But Erikson advocates should be happy. As much as Columbus was praised for being a great explorer, he is now equally reviled for forcing the natives into slavery, and is slowly but surely being turned from hero to villain.

So in the end, maybe low-profile Erikson was indeed “Leif the Lucky.”

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In Hurricane Season, Drowning In a Sea of Ignorance

“You can stand under my umbrella…”

Thanks a lot, Rhianna, but when the next superstorm slams New York, it’s not going to do us a bit of good. And there’s no doubt it will hit__the only question is when.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated New York metropolitan area shorelines, homes and businesses. Coastlines were evacuated, service on the NY transit lines was suspended for days, and downtown Manhattan looked like Venice.

If we make it through October, we’re probably safe for 2018. Phew! But the truth is we’re living on borrowed time. Hey, don’t kill the messenger.

In the Carolinas and Florida, “kill the messenger” might as well be the states’ motto. Recently pounded by Hurricane Florence, North Carolina allowed extensive development along its vulnerable coast, ignoring the threat posed by steadily rising sea levels. Meanwhile Florida Governor Rick Scott banned employees of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection from using the words “global warming” and “climate change.”

The federal government isn’t much better. Climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt, who headed up the Environmental Protection Agency until resigning this summer, refused to discuss global warming and its effects (“Now is not the time!”) after Hurricane Irma blasted into Florida last year. Soon after, by strange coincidence, Pruitt spent $43,000 of government money to build a soundproof booth for his office (“I can’t hear you!”).

A number of tropical systems are currently forming off the Atlantic. Will these systems grow stronger, hit land and cause major damage? Stone age state officials are hoping if they cover their eyes, the storm gods will spare them.

Across the nation, politicians are proposing and enacting brutal cuts to state and national environmental agencies. Solutions are impossible where climate science is politicized, underfunded and ridiculed.

With such ignorant “leadership,” is it any wonder that global warming, which puts more water vapor into the atmosphere to produce heavier downpours and provides more energy for increasingly destructive storms, is scoffed at by so many Americans?

Meanwhile, New York is spending millions fortifying our shorelines and building barriers to prevent the next Sandy from destroying homes and flooding our subway and rail lines. Will it work?

Unfortunately, we’ll find out soon enough.

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More in Common with Trump Than Moore Wants to Admit

Trump haters good, Trump lovers bad? If only life were that simple. But I know some basically decent people who still support Donald Trump (no, I don’t get it either), and some awful people who hate him. And sometimes those on either side have more in common than they care to admit.

Which brings us to Michael Moore.

The filmmaker’s Traverse City Film Festival was recently sued by Boston Light & Sound Inc., which claims Moore’s company not only owes the supplier $159,055, but has been smearing BL&S instead of paying its debt.

Moore apparently called BL&S trying to collect the debt “a personal vendetta.” Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin told The Daily Beast, “I don’t call it a personal vendetta when I get stiffed for money that I’m owed and that I’ve done the work required to do . . . And Michael Moore is a man who’s always stood up for the little guy, right?”

Apparently until the little guy wants to get paid for services rendered. Hmm, who does this sound like?

USA Today Network reported during the 2016 campaign that Trump was involved in hundreds of lawsuits with American small-business owners and individuals claiming Trump’s companies refused to pay them for their work. Trump replied that these plumbers, waiters, painters, real estate agents and dishwashers did “inferior” jobs — yet he often offered to rehire them if they’d drop their claims.

It’s no secret that Trump and Moore can’t stand each other. “I think we have someone in the White House who has no respect for the rule of law,” Moore recently told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, “and who dislikes democracy to an incredible degree.”

They both, however, think the president is a genius. While Trump refers to himself as a “very stable genius,” Moore calls him an “evil genius.”

Besides allegedly stiffing suppliers, do Trump and Moore have anything else in common? Both achieved fame through the entertainment industry, have huge egos, and despite their supposed love for the little guy, both have been called out as abusive bosses.

Is there a life lesson here? How about beware of overstuffed, wealthy, self-styled “working-class heroes” in baseball caps?

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An Open Letter from Donald Trump to Google

Dear Google:
I am getting so sick of Googling myself and seeing negative, nasty news and remarks. You are RIGGED! You love the left, hate me and all conservatives, and report FAKE NEWS! I want to launch an investigation of you guys, and if it besmirches the reputation of another thriving American company in the process (I’m also talking to you, Amazon and Harley-Davidson), so be it!

Google “Trump News”, and what pop up? “Another former Trump official found guilty!” Almost every day now. Negative! I recently Googled “Trump, McCain”, and you know what came up first on your search engine? “Trump lowers White House flag to half staff, then raises it, then lowers it again before McCain is even buried.” How dare you make me look so small, petty and incoherent!

But my fellow Americans, if you don’t believe your stable genius president, try it yourself. Google “Trump, Putin”, or “Trump, Entertainment Tonight,” or “Trump, Trump University.” Negative, negative, negative!

Some of you Googlites had the nerve to ask if I even understand how your search engine works. You don’t have to be a stable genius like me to understand that every time you Google my name on almost any subject, some nasty, petty or ignorant remark I supposedly said or tweeted magically appears.

Go on, try it. Google “Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions.” What comes up first? Trump calls Jeff Sessions a retarded southerner! I rest my case.

I find your statement responding to my claim laughable: “Search is not used to set a political agenda, and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology?” LOL! You want me to believe that you use objective “algorithms” to establish a “PageRank” formula? Please! First of all, these aren’t “pages”—Google isn’t a newspaper or magazine. So sad that you don’t know that! Now you claim “PageRank” was named after your CEO and co-founder Larry Page? How stupid do you think I am?

And your sacred “algorithms?” Nice try, Google. Let’s examine that word carefully. What are its first letters? Right, Al Gore! (okay, Al Gor)__the liberal Democrat who invented the internet! I’m supposed to trust him?

Sorry Google, it’s not me that’s biased and dishonorable. It’s you!

Your very stable genius president,
Donald J. Trump

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I Scream, You Scream, Save Us From This Subway Hell

The tourist had no idea what was coming.

“Great shoes!” bellowed the smiling, chunky woman from her seat on the crowded downtown 6 train. “Thank you,” replied the flattered tourist. “For a whore!” cackled the woman.

Wide-eyed, the tourist and her companion tried to retreat down the car, but the foul-smelling woman’s booming voice followed her. “Slut! What’s with that dress? Everyone can see your cooch! And what the hell are you other mother-(expletive) looking at?? (Expletive) you all!”

All too familiar with this, locals on the train stared benignly at their cellphones as the woman screamed profanities with obvious delight. But the tourists seemed in shock. Perhaps they were waiting for a plainclothes cop to emerge and throw this abusive woman off the train. Yeah, good luck with that.

This incident happened only days after Governor Andrew Cuomo tried to fend off challenger Cynthia Nixon’s relentless attacks on him in last week’s gubernatorial debate. When Nixon said Cuomo “uses the MTA like an ATM,” it wasn’t only a clever line, it rang true.

Cuomo seems to have a safe lead in the polls, and Nixon is probably too far left to win many votes upstate. But her words on our rapidly deteriorating transit system stung Cuomo, who falsely claimed that “the subway is owned by New York City.” Meanwhile, Nixon is correct__Cuomo has indeed looted the MTA for pet projects, including five million to boost state-run ski resorts, according to the NY Times.

I’m sure that Nixon, who regularly rides the subway (I’ve seen her on the west side lines more than once), has experienced her share of maddening delays and belligerent subway bullies. Cuomo? He’s up in Albany, removed from the hell millions of us endure each week. The next time you see Cuomo (or Mayor Bill de Blasio or members of the MTA board) on the subway, you can safely bet it’s for a photo op, not to actually get to an appointment.

When dead silent riders piled off the 6 train at Grand Central, the chunky woman screamed “Have a nice day, you (expletive) suckers!” Perhaps Cuomo can steal that line for his campaign slogan.

Yes, that foul-mouthed woman needs help. So do we.

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The White House Is Going Flipping Crazy

Why do I feel like I’m watching The Godfather, Part IV?

As President Donald Trump’s associates scramble to save their skins by cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Godfather of Golf is flipping his lid.

The Don assured Fox News that “I know all about flipping” (admitting guilt and giving information on co-conspirators), damning those who cooperate with federal law enforcement as “rats.” Can he make them an offer they can’t refuse__such as a pardon? His lawyers say doing so would be a fast pass to impeachment.

Be that as it may, all the president’s men seem to be scrambling to jump off the sinking POTUS 45 ship. Whoever said there is no honor among thieves spoke the truth, as flipping is suddenly the rage among former White House officials and associates. Trump consigliere Michael Cohen recently pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, saying Trump directed him to make hush money payments to two women with whom our current president was allegedly having affairs.

Meanwhile, Trump pal David Pecker, publisher of The Enquirer, was recently granted immunity from prosecution to testify. Trump organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who oversaw Trump’s corporate ledgers for decades, has also been granted such immunity.

In addition, Mueller has been issuing subpoenas to a number of associates of Trump political advisor Roger Stone. Among them is Randy Credico, whom I remember as a fellow standup comic back in the day. Credico says Stone is trying to make him the “fall guy”, to which Stone responded with a series of gangster-style e-mails, calling Credico a “rat” and a “stoolie.”

Who will be the next associate to flip? Jeff (“Little Jeffy”) Sessions? Chris (“Bag O’Donuts”) Christie? Jared (“Fredo”) Kushner?

Turning on a leader can be traced back to ancient Rome, when Julius Caesar got too big for his golden britches and was done in by a number of senators and others close to him, including his supposedly dear friend Brutus. It is less than surprising that Trump is reported to be increasingly stressed about these White House flippers, uncertain which of his associates will be the next to spill the beans on him.

Et tu, Ivanka?

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For Local Book Stores, It’s Back to the Future

If you wait long enough, everything comes back in style. Bell-bottom jeans. Fanny packs. Independent book stores.

Neighborhood pharmacies and card shops have been swallowed up by the mass chains of the world, and independent bookstores followed the same death spiral. Then an amazing thing happened. As national book chains struggled, indie book stores began rising from the dead.

What accounts for this resurrection? I visited some local book outlets for clues.

The Barnes & Noble on Broadway and 82nd Street offers a little bit of everything: coffee, cake, greeting cards, gifts, toys, and yes, even some books. But something was amiss, and I may have discovered the core problem while searching for a copy of Sports Illustrated.

Entering the magazine aisle, the first thing that caught my eye was an abundance
of publications devoted to guns, including Ballistic, AR-15, Guns & Ammo and Handloader. I opened one at random, to an article titled “Elk Stopper!”

“The thousands of titles we sell are based on local customer interest”, B&N’s senior vice president Mary Ellen Keating told me. Has the uber-liberal Upper West Side suddenly turned into a nest of gun-crazed hunters?

Meanwhile, at Book Culture a few blocks away on Columbus Avenue, there are no weapons magazines__but you can register to vote, in both English and Spanish.

“With the Amazon shopping online explosion, people are starting to miss the community experience,” says Maeve Nolan, manager of this Book Culture store (there are four). “Everything in this store is staff selected, not by a corporate structure, and reflects what the neighborhood actually wants.”

Shakespeare and Company, a neighborhood fixture until it went out of business in 1996, has reemerged, opening two new stores this year in Manhattan. Meanwhile indie bookstores are springing up all over the city, including The Lit Bar in the Bronx and Books Are Magic in Brooklyn.

I asked Book Culture customer Gary Ardan, a registrar at Columbia University, why he shops there instead of a larger chain with more selection. “It doesn’t feel like I’m in a mall,” says Ardan. “Service is more personal__they know me.”

In a growingly impersonal online world, there remains a longing for the human touch. Maybe you could find a book on it.

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Governor Grumpy Vs. Miranda Hobbes: Anyone?

Less than a month to go until the Democratic primary in this year’s election for New York governor! Can you feel the excitement?

Neither can I. Our president has sucked the air out of the room, grabbing all the headlines. This leaves Gov. Andrew Cuomo and challenger Cynthia Nixon, best known for her role of Miranda Hobbes in “Sex and the City,” to fight hard for the scraps before Sept. 13.

At least Nixon will. Up about 30 points in the polls, Cuomo has no desire to draw more attention to the Nixon challenge. Perhaps she can spur momentum with a catchy campaign slogan. How about “Nixon’s the one”?

New Yorkers face serious issues, and it would be nice to know whether the contenders have any real solutions. So far, no good.

The NYC subway system has the worst on-time performance of any major rapid transit system in the world, according to The New York Times, and New Yorkers have reached their boiling point. With a mismanaged, bloated MTA budget, too much money goes to gaudy vanity projects, and too little to fixing core problems, such as antiquated signals that slow down the system.
The LIRR isn’t doing much better, reporting constant, maddening delays.

Cuomo recently made news with his insistence on spending millions of MTA dollars on installing gaudy blue-and-gold tiles inside the Queens Midtown and Brooklyn Battery tunnels instead of plain white. Will that turn our frown upside down as we whiz through?

At the same time, Nixon embarrassed herself by questioning New York’s Taylor Law, which gives public sector unions the right to collective bargaining but sets severe penalties for job walkouts. Strikes by transit workers and teachers have disrupted the lives of commuters, parents and children in the past. Does Nixon want to bring back those dismal days?

Meanwhile, homelessness has increased, and affordable housing remains scarce. But such issues rarely get the attention they deserve.

Perhaps the campaign will yet shine a spotlight on these problems, and the candidates will provide workable solutions. Let’s hope. But if they do, will we read about them in the media — or will it still be all Trump, all the time?

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