Thursday, August 18, 2011


Fiddler- in- Chief

In government, there are always two choices . You can respond to a crisis , or shrink from it. You can choose "Don't just stand something!" , or Don't just do something, Stand there!" It has always been thus.
In the Great depression, Herbert Hoover chose to just stand there, and Franlkin Delano Roosevelt chose to do something! To paraphrase Robert Frost, "two roads diverged in the woods, and Roosevelt took the path less travelled by , and It has made all the difference! " The leading Republican contenders would have it Hoover's way. No new taxes, No new programs, no new spending, no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks, don't just play dumb, be dumb. Better yet, be dumb, deaf , and blind!
Now as we approach the Seventh Inning stretch, stepping up to home plate is Barack Obama, and he can choose to play the part of Babe Ruth, or he can choose to bunt. Which will it be?
So far, the choice has been to bunt, or even to refuse to swing the bat of the bully pulpit . The Tea Partiers are shouting from the Granstand for him to fiddle and let Rome burn. They are even lighting fires in the parking lot.
The White House political team seems to be urging Mr. Obama to fiddle a little faster, but accept the fact that Rome is going to burn because the arsonists have been put in charge of half the government .
The Republicans are a noisy crowd. Their "just say no" mantra of Obama's first two years has become "just say No way in hell "!, and the President seems haplessly ukered into his own corner, unable to match his formerly inspiring rhetoric with any kind if bold new deeds. His lack of Harry Truman persona has caused his poll numbers to go into a mudslide.
So, what to do? Is there a way out? Is it time for the proverbial Hail Mary pass?
To borrow a phrase from non Presidential contender Sarah Palin,,,,"You betcha!"
The times call for bold action to accompany bold rhetoric. If the Republicans refuse to play ball, and choose to sit out the rest of the game, so be it, They do so at their own electoral peril. But for them to be electorally imperiled, the bully pulpit must be resurrected, and the megaphone dusted off . This is no time to use the professorial lectern.
The large lady has yet to step up to the microphone to belt out a tune. There is still time to seize the initiative. There is still time to lead, The time for fiddling has passed.
What say you, Mr. President? Are you up to the task? Or should we just wait to call out the firetrucks to douse the remaining ashes of the audacity of hope? The choice is yours, Mr. President.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Vain Mutiny

The Tea party pirates have completed the process that George Bush started. Their mutiny has finally helped to drive this country out of the ditch, and off a cliff!
The average investor has lost $16k since July in their 401k account. That is a direct result of the game of chicken being played by the far right wing of the Republican party with the phony debt crisis they created, then careened the ship of state toward the cliff, all the while,flirting with disaster, and thumbing their noses at the "naysayers" who warned them of potentially disastrous consequences. The irony is that many of those small investors unwittingly cheered for the Congressional mutineers!
. It's like they commandeered the Titanic and deliberately drove it toward a field of icebergs, then tried to pull back after it was too late. The warning signs were everywhere, but they paid them no heed in their zealous righteousness. We may have hit the iceberg ourselves, eventually, but the mutinous congressmen who commandeered the ship of state, and bound and nearly gagged the captain , have no one to blame but themselves.
They will try to blame Obama anyway, as Fox news host Sean Hannity did yesterday on the radio, calling him "President Downgrade", and mocking his decision to take a July vacation on Cape Cod as if he were abandoning the wheel of government in a crisis! How dare he try to blame Caspar Milquetoast by comparing him to Captain Queeg! What would he have him do anyway? Stand and fight the mutineers?
Wait a minute ! Actually that's not a bad idea! Stand and fight for principle, and try to escape the chains that the tea party congressmen have placed around his ankles, and the noose they have fastened around his neck. Maybe there is still time for Mighty Mouse to save the day!
But we need Preident Bold for that job. Not President Bland! Will he seize the opportunity of this new crisis to get back at the wheel before it really is too late? Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter of Obama v. The Obstructionists, the continuing saga of life, love and the fight for liberty in a small village alongside the Potomac called Washington!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hugh L. Carey...continued

Hugh Carey...a Governor for his time, and ours...

His first three years as Governor were tumultuous. He whipped a recalcitrant State Legislature into submission, and saved NY City from financial collapse. His popularity upstate, though, waned, with all the attention given to NY City's issues. By 1978, his re-election chances were dim, as he faced popular Lomg Island Lobsterman Perry Duryea, the Assembly Minority Leader. In the 1974 campaign, his choice for Lt. Governor , Mario Cuomo, lost the primary to upstate NYS Senator Mary Ann Krupsak. Carey appointed Cuomo Secretary of State, which gave him a platform to travel about the state and hone his stump speech skills, Mary Ann Krupsak, with whom Carey had a tense relationship, did the same. He gave her little else to do.
Their forced marriage came to an abrupt conclusion in 1978, when his Lt. Governor decided to bolt the ticket and challenge her boss for the nomination. At the time, I was the youngest County Democratic chair in the state ( Oswego County), and I will never forget the call I got on the Sunday before the Albany convention in early June. I was in the yard trimming my rosebushes when my wife summoned me to the phone..."The Lt. Governor is on the line!" indeed it was Mary Ann Krupsak, with whom I had developed a close and cordial relationship. She was calling to tell me that she had had enough of Carey, and was bolting the ticket! I tried to talk her out of it, to no avail. I asked her if she had told the Governor yet, and she said no, just a few County chairs she felt close to. Ok. So there I was, all of 27 years, and the LG of NY was telling me she was leaving the ticket, but the Governor did not yet know. Her reasons for not yet telling him were colorfully expressed!
I got off the phone, numb for a few minutes, wondering what to do, I called Judge Conway for advice, and he agreed to meet me at my law office in 10 minutes. He would help me get through to his old friend Hugh Carey on the phone.
We reached the Governor's security detail, and he was in a helicopter on the way back from Shelter Island to Albany. the Governor called back, and Judge Conway handed me the phone ,
"Governor, I have some disturbing news for you, I said. I just got off the phone with Lt. Governor Krupsak, and she is bolting the ticket!" "She's what! Governor Carey roared back" Why that ungrateful @&$!&& ! "And she's only a heartbeat away from being Governor of this state! " he fumed.
"Who else has she told this to ?," he asked. "A few other County Chairs", I responded. "If she's telling County Chairs she might as well be telling the press" he thundered." What would you do if you were me?", he asked. Pause...the Governor of NYS is asking me, a 27 year old virtual nobody Small County Chair what to do. This is heavy stuff!
"I'd get into my car, and drive over to Menands, and have a cup of tea with her, and try to sweet talk her back onto the ticket", I finally said, sheepishly. " I'm not going to give that woman the satisfaction ", he fumed back at me. The conversation ended by his telling me to keep his counsel, and that John Burns, ( the State Chair) would get back to me.
Burns called a couple of hours later to confirm the bad news. There was no turning back, Krupsak was off the ticket.

To be continued...

Hugh L. Carey

Hugh Carey…A Governor for his time, and ours

I first met Hugh Carey when the then Brooklyn congressman was running for Governor, and he brought his entire clan (12) children with him in a Winnebago to Oswego. We met in 1974 , at West park, where he gave one of his classic stump speeches at the time…”Nelson Rockefeller spent our money like it was his money..”. An Irish politician, a recent widower, with a big family, and a penchant for oratory? I was hooked!
Up to that point, I had been backing Howard Samuels (Howie the Horse) from Canandaigua. That all changed when I met Hugh Carey and his clan. A relatively short man, when he stepped up onto a soapbox, he grew taller, exhibiting a compelling persona, and a mesmerizing Irish gift of gab that would serve him well in the coming years as steward of NY’s post Rocky, rocky recovery. period. Never the mind that off the stump, he could be curt, even crude, and cool, not always brimming with camaraderie. My mentor John O’Connor Conway (later to be named Supreme Court Justice Conway by Hugh Carey, himself), explained it to me this way.. He’s “black Irish” translated, meaning he has some of the genes left over from the Spanish Armada invasion of Ireland, which tend to cause periods of deep brooding and melancholy, and he had only recently lost his wife Helen. That was good enough for me, a third year law student at the time at Syracuse University, and a budding politician in the waiting, having already gotten elected to my first term as an Oswego County Legislator.
My interaction with Hugh L. Carey would continue for another 37 years. We went to Niagara Falls, to cheer him on at the convention (where I first met Mario Cuomo from Queens), and then through the primary, which he handily won over Howie Samuels, and then onto the Governor’s mansion, where he moved all of his kids in on ‘ Day one‘, with hardly a room to spare! He would come back to Oswego several times, and each time I was accorded an opportunity to chat with him, as well as cheer for him. One trip to the Hotel Pontiac for a fundraiser in 1975 is seared in my memory. He came to the Hotel Pontiac, a grand old small town hotel, whose better days had already come and gone…we reserved the “Presidential suite “ for him…he later commented, privately, “It’s great to be back in Oswego, but As far as your hotel is concerned, on the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia! (intoned in a deprecating imitation of the late WC Fields) We all laughed heartily! (
I served that next Spring as an Assembly research assistant, after a failed bid to become Oswego’s second democratic Assemblyman (I came close..but no cigar…). I attended many functions at the mansion, sat through many of his speeches, and marveled in his political acumen, and Irish wit and uncanny political skills.

To be continued……..

Monday, August 1, 2011


Double double toil and trouble has become diddle fiddle stay in the middle for our beleaguered leader!
His unending willingness to upend principle on the altar of Republican sacrificial
 demands is now legendary. He in part created his own debt crisis problem by failing to exact any concessions on the debt ceiling limit when he caved in January to the republican demands for continuation of the Bush tax cuts, and thus set his own hostage taking stage 6 months before the unthinkable became thinkable! 

He apparently has not yet learned that You just can't bargain with mindless economic sloganeering terrorists, unless you want to keep giving in till there is nothing left to lose...unless of course your name is Barack Obama. He is behaving a little like the young characters in the TNT summer series "Falling skies!" who have lobster like harnesses attached to their spine by Aliens, who then control their every movement and mood. Someone please call Harry Potter and Hermione out of retirement so 
they can uncast the spell he seems to be under!
     If he is destined to be a one term President by the vagaries of fate and the undealable deck he was dealt by his predecessor, then he would be best to fight with dignity for the remaining two years of his term by doing and demanding the Republicans to do what's right! He can still demonstrate real leadership , instead of Mamby pamby
Equivocation, if he will boldly lead us where we need to go, even as he sets the stage for his successor!
     He has proven he is more cut in the mold of Adlai Stevenson then Harry Truman. Regrettable as that may be, he still can leave an important legacy. He could clearly and unequivocally communicate with the American people that we arr headeddown the wrong road , whi h will lead us to an aristocracy with a peasant population, unless we reverse the trend of the haves not just having more, but leaving nothing left for the middle class. He could hold the bankers h
and cheaters and wall street money mongers responsible for helping to slide the nation into the ditch we now find ourselves in. Perhaps if even 10% of the bailed out big bankers were to be heldcriminally accountable for their criminal and fraudulent conduct, we could restore a 
modicum  of trust in the American banking and Mortgage industry! 
    He could stand up for marriage equality and end to discrimination against those whose sexual orientation, through no fault of their own, has cast them in the role of second class citizen .
     And if he achieves but a third of the goals he could adopt in these next two years, who knows, he may become the world's first  double Nobel Laureate, if not earn a spot on Mt. Rushmore yet!