Posted tagged ‘new york city’

The Big Apple

June 1, 2017

In New York City this week to see Hamilton, I went for a short walk and passed by Trump Tower. It seemed ironic to link Trump Tower and Hamilton in the same breath. I wonder whether fellow New Yorker Alexander is turning in his grave when ever President Trump commits a boorish act. A lot of movement I would guess.

Alexander Hamilton was born from common stock, some say he was illegitimate. Who cares when one thinks about what Hamilton made of his life. Few dispute Alexander Hamilton became an educated man and served his adopted country well.

Our President describes himself as a self made man too. And if one does not consider being born into wealth, attending only the best schools, and inheriting more than enough starter funding to fuel his “rags to riches” success story, I guess self made seems accurate.

Hamilton never became President, Donald Trump, on the other hand, is our President. Hmmm.

The Broadway show “Hamilton”, is based upon Robert Chernow’s biography and leaves the audience with a wonderful entertainment experience coupled with a positive view of the early days of our Country. Hamilton was far from a perfect person but he, as much anyone else, contributed to establishing the Federal Government’s effectiveness. His word, honor, and integrity meant everything to Hamilton.

Fast forward until today. President Trump has along with the GOP controlled Congress sought some terrible cuts in healthcare, reductions in the Federal Budget covering “meals on wheels” and school nutrition programs, while astonishingly seeking tax code changes rewarding the very wealthy who do not need any help.

All these actions, however, are on us, that is, the American electorate. By a narrow margin, but a plurality never the less in the electoral college, Donald Trump was the choice of American voters. His mess is our mess.

President Trump’s boorish behavior, however, he owns entirely. Each time the President commits some amazingly obtuse, ignorant, or impolite act domestically or internationally, he does not speak for America. The President speaks for himself and simply sullies the name “Donald Trump”.

Alexander Hamilton was accused often by political opponents that he was personally profiting from his time in office. Never once while in office, nor with the distance of time, have any of the charges been proved.  Hamilton’s name is linked with honesty, competence, and honor.  Hmmm.

President Trump has not been accused yet of any crime but some his campaign staff and been implicated in suspicious contacts with Russian officials. The FBI and both houses of Congress are investigating.  The President denies these contacts were ever made and if they were, they were not illegal. President Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner is now a person of interest in this investigation. What could this be about?

The media writes about Kushner “seeking to establish back door line of communications” with the Russians. Why?

Speculation range from attempts to cover up campaign collusion with Russia operatives in attempts to sway the American electorate to business deals. Collusion might be possible but pretty amateurish. Or, what about a more fundamental potential involving the line of work that both Kushner and Trump share. Real Estate and specifically the money to finance it.

To be a wealthy real estate mogul, one must be able to borrow large sums of money and from time to time refinance that debt. Russian oligarchs are rumored to have financed a lot of Donald Trump’s recent ventures. Rather than making a clean break with these questionable sources of funding, Kushner (speaking on behalf of himself and his father in law) may have wanted to ensure that those running the Trump and Kushner day to day operations could enjoy the same friendship on going as before the election. This type of behavior gets pretty close to bribery, not to mention creating real conflicts of interest, I would think. And I don’t believe that’s what the American people signed up for on November 8th.

Alexander Hamilton stood at the center of early American power and acquitted himself well.   So far the same cannot be said for President Trump.

A Word About Carlos Danger

August 1, 2013

The late night talk shows are thanking their lucky stars.  The political establishment has tossed them not a crumb but a whole loaf.  This time it is not Governor Rick Perry or Representative Michelle Bachmann.  Instead it’s Carlos Danger, aka Anthony Weiner.  What a hoot.

So what can be said about this self absorbed, digital exhibitionist?

Hmmm.

Lots.

A better question is, what should be said about him?

Hmmm.

Nothing.

The Big Gulp

March 12, 2013

It is difficult to see the New York Appeals Court decision to strike down Mayor Bloomberg’s sugar drink size limit as much more than a victory for the Sugar lobbying group.  As a point of law, maybe the fact that the City’s health department had no authority to regulate 7/11’s played a role.   As a result, the ban applied only to restaurants (beverage  servings greater than 16 ounces).  The Court said the law was “arbitrary and capricious”.

The law’s intent was to make it more difficult for New Yorkers to consume large quantities of sugar containing drinks.  This was an indirect attack on obesity and a direct effort to decrease health care costs.  Hmmm.

Restricting these “big gulp” beverages was a symbolic gesture.  It did nothing to put common sense into the caloric content of many other foods and drinks widely available in New York City.  It did nothing to control what consenting adults (and children) do within their own homes.  And, of course, it did nothing to save New Yorkers from obesity when they traveled outside the city.

So with all those limitations, who cares that the Court said “no”.

Most nutritionists tell us that weight control is a balance of energy expended with food ingested.  If one eats more, then one must exercise more.  Very simple.

In the real world, however, this message seems to be drowned out with other messages.  Just walk down any street in New York City, or in any Walmart, or any public gathering across the country.  Weight control and obesity are not characteristics Americans manage well.

So this is not a New York City problem?

Obesity is an American health problem.  If simply being fat was a fact and not a health problem this entire discussion would be unnecessary.  What people eat or drink is their own business.  Government intrusion is unwanted and a very dangerous precedent.

There is, however, wide evidence that high sugar and high calorie drinks and foods are correlated with increased body weight and obesity.  High body weight and obesity are associated with health issues.  US health care costs are the highest in the world and getting higher each year.  In part, all Americans are paying more for their health care insurance coverage because so many fellow Americans have weight related diseases.

Hmmm.

The Big Gulp may in the end be nothing more than a shot across the bow.  It is, however, powerful statement about what citizens ought to do themselves, without any government requirement.  Mayor Bloomberg has demonstrated the guts and intelligence rarely found in public officials.  Three cheers for the Mayor.

The Oceans Are Coming

October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy in addition to billions of dollars of destruction, sent both campaign tough questions.  Would  both campaigns need to curtail the appearances of their standard bearers?  Were Romney’s views on FEMA as well as the whole role of the Federal Government versus the private sector wise?  What did the flooding of New York City’s subways and tunnels mean?

FEMA and the overall role Government are both ideological and pragmatic subjects.  The right sees little need for government services since they require taxes to fund them.  The left sees government provided services as necessary since so many Americans could not afford to fund those services themselves.

Pragmatically, there is always room for examining any government service and deciding it might be accomplished more efficiently in some other way.  FEMA during Hurricane Katrina is certainly not a model to be praised.  We shall see whether FEMA during Hurricane Sandy is better.  It is simply hard to comprehend how Pennsylvania FEMA, New Jersey FEMA, New York FEMA, and Connecticut FEMA could afford to have each the reserves necessary for an emergency such as a hurricane.

The sleeping dog is New York’s flooding situation.  Ocean water overflowed the banks and entered subways and a number of tunnels.  The City is busy now trying to empty this water and then assess the extent of damage.  It could be huge in terms of cost to repair.  That is only part of the issue.

The Atlantic Ocean still lies at the edge of New York City.  The Hudson River still empties into the Atlantic Ocean at the edge of New York City.  Manhattan still is an island surrounded by water.  So what happens if the oceans continue to rise?

The Netherlands have thrived for years with much of its land below sea level.  A system of  sea walls, dykes, and locks protect the Netherlands from the North Sea.  What will protect New York City?

Global warming, of course, is the elephant in the room.  The GOP (and Mitt Romney) have taken strong positions and oppose both the theory that man is causing global warming, and even the proposition that global warming is occurring.  Progressives have said the opposite and proposed “cap and trade” legislation as a method to control carbon emissions.  The right has opposed “cap and trade” and has fought against such legislation.  In the heat of this battle, no one has considered whether ocean levels were rising, or what might happen if they did.

The subject highlights the futility of the current divided ideologic political debate.  Whether rising sea levels are caused by  US carbon emissions or not, is a secondary matter.  Carbon emissions in India and China will result in rising sea levels in New York too.

Higher sea levels are going to flood cities like New York unless some counter measures are taken.  Would dykes and locks will be enough?  How much will these measures cost?

What is clear is that arguing about whether global warming is connected to fossil fuels misses important points.

Pragmatically, fossil fuels will be necessary for years.  How can the developed world continue to use them and ask China and India (2 1/2 billion people) to restrict their use of fossil fuels in order to reduce global warming?

With $16 trillion is debt already, where is the money going to come from to build up New York City’s shore line?

Both parties have inadequate answers.  Romney and the GOP deny global warming.  President Obama and Democrats say global warming is real and “cap and trade” is a path forward.  Neither position appears to deals sufficiently with global warming consequences.

Will Hurricane Sandy be the wake up call?

 

Food Fight

August 24, 2010

It could just as easily be the extreme disagreements over health care reform. One side vociferously in favor and the other equally opposed. Both sides augmented (if not outrightly pushed aside) with money and voices from outside the area.   In short the food fight is not about food but about some greater issue in the minds of the protagonists.

The food fight which is the subject of this posit is about whether an Islamic group can build a Mosque and associated buildings on land two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. While there is nothing unusual about local zoning issues and for sure interested local parties have every right to weigh in with yea or nae. The issue currently being vented is what standing does a group from California or Arizona or Missouri (etc) have to express their opinion and back it up with rhetoric and money?

The first thing a wise person should consider is that this type of opposition is not genuine. Rather it is a placeholder for some other objective. But what could that objective be?

I would submit that these opposition groups are fighting for the hearts and minds of Americans with carefully selected divisive rhetoric.  Their objective aims to steer voters in future elections towards the hard right. With these votes, the hard right reasons they can once again get the keys to the treasury and other political spoils. It is pretty simple when you look at it this way.  It is all about getting a cut of the Federal $3 trillion plus budget.

The Constitution could not be clearer (there is no way to block building permits). Historic precedent also supports the construction of the Mosque. And local officials possess all sorts of means to encourage the Mosque leaders to find an alternative site if they choose to.

Advocates cry out about religious freedom and how great the country is because of its plural religious tradition. I fully agree with that but only to the extent that the US has wasted much less blood fighting about religion than many other countries.  religion itself has done little or nothing for America.  The proposed Mosque is a business just like all other religious enterprises. Existing rules that permit building should apply. In the future, should the operation of the Mosque raise concerns about its political nature, the Mosque should be subject to “nuisance” regulations and shut down if appropriate. There is no need for out of State-ers to put in their two cents.