Archive for Democrats

Here’s Your Kippah, What’s Your Hurry?

Boy, the Democrats are laying it on pretty thick with Netanyahu.

At least someone is making him feel welcome:

As Democrats have grown increasingly vocal in their opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington next month, Senate Republicans are laying out the welcome mat.

As one of the chamber’s final acts before members recess for a week, Sen. John Cornyn on Thursday introduced a resolution welcoming Netanyahu to the United States. The resolution was signed by 51 of the chamber’s Republican members and, initially, not a single Democrat. Cornyn said he would circulate a Dear Colleague letter later Thursday urging all 100 senators to sign onto the resolution.

“During this time of such great instability and danger in the Middle East, the United States should be unequivocal about our commitment to one of our closest and most important allies,” Cornyn said in a statement. “I hope all my colleagues will join me in welcoming Prime Minister Netanyahu to Washington so we can continue to work together to advance our common security interests.”

The Republicans’ gesture comes as Democrats in the House and Senate have grown increasingly critical of Netanyahu’s visit, which comes at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner and without consultation with the administration. Several Democrats, particularly Congressional Black Caucus members, have talked about boycotting the speech, and the White House announced that Vice President Biden will not be able to attend due to a trip to South America. The trip has also become a huge source of controversy in Israel, as Netanyahu’s visit will come just weeks before he is up for reelection.

Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., has been particularly outspoken on the matter, even making jokes at Netanyahu’s expense during the National Press Club Foundation dinner last week that left some Republican members squirming in their seats. “I cannot think of any reason as to why someone who differs with my president should be coming to my country, my Congress in order to—especially, when it’s preceding an election in a foreign country, as friendly as she might be,” Rangel said this week.

They don’t even pretend anymore it’s about a breach of protocol. It’s outright hatred. And why it’s a race issue is way beyond me. The Speaker of the House—an equal branch of government—extended the offer, and the Obama forces went ballistic.

So, what did Rangel say that made Republicans squirm?

Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel on Wednesday joked about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress, in a pretend phone call with the Israeli prime minister.

“Yeah, Bibi, yes, no, I’m speaking at the Press Club. Yes indeed. No, I did meet with the president. We had lunch today. No, I’m afraid your name never came up,” Rangel said in his mock phone call conversation at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s 71st Congressional Dinner, where members of Congress roast the media and each other.

“I don’t know what AIPAC told you but, listen, most of us really love Israel … but the one thing that doesn’t happen is you don’t come to our country, and our house, and criticize our president,” he said. “And so I would advise you check before you come because you don’t want to have this problem.”

He ended the fake call by saying, “Shalom you too.”

It wasn’t “shalom” he was saying, you bigot, it was “eat s**t”.

PS: Maybe some of you don’t find that offensive. But I had to search pretty hard to find it. If it’s cool, where was the reporting?

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Blue State, Red Ink

Not that you need to hear us bitch about winter—though your sympathies would not be misplaced—but is this worthy of a first-class city?

The MBTA is broke and broken. It is structurally insolvent. Breakdowns and late arrivals are, indeed, unacceptable, but the bulk of the T’s troubles are not about Dr. Beverly Scott, who resigned yesterday as general manager. They are, in fact, the fault of multiple administrations and legislatures, as well as advocates who pushed the MBTA to expand faster than is reasonable – and without adequate funding to undertake, operate or maintain the projects. More immediately, they are the fault of the MBTA’s board, which is ultimately responsible to Massachusetts residents for the T. The board’s job is to uphold the public trust and ensure the good operation and management of the transit authority. They did not do that.

You’ll note that none of that mentioned the six feet of snow dumped on us in the past few weeks. All of the above is the corrosion that enfeebled the city’s transit system.. The snow caused it to collapse (along with a few roofs, garages, sheds, etc.). When we covered this yesterday, we called the T a pension system (and travel agency) that ran a public transportation system on the side.

We should have added employment agency:

According to the state’s own transparency website, OpenCheckbook.com, headcount at the T, even in difficult times, has increased by 900 since 2012. Since 2001, total compensation costs nearly doubled.

Nine hundred? Who? What do they do? They sure as hell don’t sell tokens.

We’ll spare you the litany of failures on the T (very expensive failures), and cut to the chase:

Pioneer Institute believes it is time for emergency legislation to fix the MBTA, and that the legislation should take two concrete steps:

First, place the MBTA in receivership, removing the power of the MBTA Board and establishing a receivership board.

Second, combine receivership status with debt relief and strict controls on hiring.

That’s right, it’s time to repo the Red Line; garnish the Green Line; own the Orange Line. Stop the bleeding. No more expansion, no more hiring—end the absurdly generous pension benefits (end the pension itself!) that allow people to retire before their first gray hair.

You may think this is a Boston thing, but Detroit was just a Detroit thing, Stockton was just a Stockton thing, and Illinois is just an Illinois thing. Wherever Democrats rule without check, this could happen. I wager it will.

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Detroit-on-Charles

We’re pretty hard on the ghost town that was once Detoit—which is to say we report the facts. They speak for themselves, and the story they tell is pretty gruesome.

Time to look in the mirror. The recent onslaught of snow—historic, unprecedented—has stripped us bare and shown us as the fraud of a city that we are. London has the Underground, Paris has the Metro, New York has the MTA.

We have a pension system masquerading as a transit system:

A third of MBTA’s retirees in 2013 were under the age of 55, according to records obtained by the Boston Business Journal.

Those recent young retirees (54 people in all) joined the 2,246 people on the MBTA’s pension payroll who retired at 54 years old or younger. Twenty-seven of the new retirees aren’t yet able to join the AARP, as they are under the age of 50.

The MBTA has been criticized for the age of its pensioners before. In 2009, the transit authority ended a program allowing employees to retire after 23 years of work.

That’s right: people could start drawing a pension by their mid-40s. And take another job—also almost certainly off the public teat!

But the T (not-so-affectionate local nickname for the MBTA) multitasks as a travel agency:

MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott jetted off at taxpayer expense nearly every month during her two-plus-year tenure — sometimes several times a month — to conferences and meetings around the country, even as the troubled transit system was collapsing around her, a Herald review shows.

A review of Scott’s monthly expense reports provided by the MBTA as part of public records request shows she spent 106 days traveling out of state while at the helm of the T, taking 30 trips in 24 months.

During that time, Scott, who announced yesterday she’s stepping down in April, racked up $56,753 in expenses on lodging, airplane tickets and dining tabs, including at least $1,132 on hotel laundry and dry-cleaning bills.

Scott often charged taxpayers for excess baggage fees, accruing $411 on three flights between Boston and Chicago and to Washington, D.C., in 2013 and $520 on an October flight to an American Public Transportation Association (APTA) conference in Houston.

She traveled out of state nearly every month of 2014 — sometimes multiple times a month, records show. In September, for example, she spent nearly two weeks outside the state attending conferences in Washington, Detroit and Minneapolis. The next month, she headed to Houston and Washington.

The GM has traveled to, among other cities, San Diego, Montreal, New York, Denver, Portland, Oregon, and to Washington a total of eight times, including flying first class in January 2013 to a Rail-Volution conference.

Dr. Scott didn’t make it snow. I don’t expect her to grab a shovel and dig out my car. But her example led to organizational failure:

Those are people waiting to board a bus—which travels above ground—because the subway trains—which travel below ground—aren’t working. Even people in Washington, San Diego, Montreal, New York, Denver, and Portland, Oregon know that’s effed-up.

Detroit was based on a single industry; Boston has a more diverse—and 21st century—economy. But single-party Democrat rule will be the death of us all. The legislature is overwhelmingly Democrat, and the local media, the Globe, is dishonest. We just elected a seemingly smart and capable Republican governor (after eight years of mini-Barack, Deval Patrick), but it may be too late.

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Importing Churchill

Great as he was for the British in WWII, we were pretty well fixed ourselves with FDR.

But now is different. Israel has their Churchill in Netanyahu (if the parallel seems labored, remember Churchill was ejected from office shortly after the war); all we can answer with is Neville Hussain Chamberlain:

Five of the six world powers negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program have stepped back, leaving Washington to hammer out a deal with Tehran, a key US lawmaker said Tuesday.

“It’s evident that these negotiations are really not P5+1 negotiations any more,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said as he emerged from a closed-door briefing by Obama administration officials on the status of nuclear talks with Iran.

“It’s really more of a bilateral negotiation between the United States and Iran.”

Corker and the Democrat he replaced as committee chairman, Senator Robert Menendez, left the latest briefing expressing concern about the administration basing negotiations on the need to maintain Iran’s potential nuclear weapons “breakout” time to at least one year.

“One of my major concerns all along that is becoming more crystal clear to me, is that we are, instead of preventing proliferation, we are managing proliferation,” Menendez said.

Doesn’t that last line echo in your brain? It does in mine. That’s why I think Netanyahu has to go through with his speech to Congress. Let the Democrats stage their boycott. When Iran tests their first bomb—more realistically, when Israel bunker-busts their reactor sites—let’s all remember who didn’t show up to hear the truth, however unwelcome it may have been.

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Oregonian Calls For Resignation Of Governor Two Weeks Into Term Over Green Issues

Despite the obvious ethical problems, the Oregonian endorsed him for election

Rarely do we get to enjoy a story that covers ethical violations, democrats, green energy and the stupidity of the MSM all in one place. Oregon will do that for you, and that’s why we love it so much here.

“I’m not going to consider resigning,” said Gov. John Kitzhaber at a disastrous press conference held Friday following revelations about the apparently borderless world of public policy and private gain in which he and fiancée Cylvia Hayes exist. “I was elected by the people of this state to do a job, and I intend to do it.”

No doubt, the governor does intend to do the job Oregonians gave him, which, simply put, is to pursue the interests of his constituents. That intention, however, is no match for an ugly reality of his own making, whose sordid elements keep surfacing with dispiriting regularity, most recently this week thanks to the work of Nick Budnick and Laura Gunderson of The Oregonian/OregonLive. Two people involved in Kitzhaber’s 2010 campaign helped Hayes find paid work with groups interested in Oregon policy, Budnick and Gunderson reported. Both have landed in Kitzhaber’s administration.

More ugliness may surface, but it should be clear by now to Kitzhaber that his credibility has evaporated to such a degree that he can no longer serve effectively as governor. If he wants to serve his constituents he should resign.

To recite every reported instance in which Hayes, ostensibly under Kitzhaber’s watchful eye, has used public resources, including public employee time and her “first lady” title, in pursuit of professional gain would require far more space than we have here and, besides, repeat what most readers already know. Suffice it to say there’s a pattern, and the person who bears the responsibility for allowing it to form and persist is Kitzhaber, who should know better. After all, as he pointed out during Friday’s press conference, he’s been serving in public office on and off since the 1970s.

Consider, instead, what Oregonians have learned during only the last couple of weeks. First, Hayes received a combined $118,000 in 2011 and 2012 through the Washington, D.C.-based Clean Economy Development Center even as she served as an unpaid energy adviser to Kitzhaber. This income is not fully accounted for on tax forms Hayes provided to The Oregonian/OregonLive. Neither has the governor fully accounted for the money in ethics filings.

A big chunk of Hayes’ fellowship money, $75,000, came from the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation, a nonprofit that funds clean-energy initiatives such as the low carbon fuel standard. Implementing a low carbon fuel standard is a priority for both Kitzhaber and Democratic leaders in the Legislature. The session’s first public hearing on a bill to that end happened on Monday.

How did Hayes end up with a fellowship funded by an organization with an interest in clean-energy policy in Oregon? A Kitzhaber campaign adviser, Dan Carol, helped arrange the funding following Kitzhaber’s election in 2010, Budnick and Gunderson reported. Carol subsequently landed a position within the Kitzhaber administration. That position, Willamette Week has reported, pays more than $165,000, making Carol Kitzhaber’s highest-paid aide.

Who knew following the trail of “clean energy” money could make you feel so dirty?

Another campaign adviser, Greg Wolf, helped land Hayes a position with the Rural Development Initiatives. The nonprofit, Budnick and Gunderson reported, wanted Hayes to help raise money for a clean economy project – including tens of thousands for which Kitzhaber’s support was needed. Wolf, like Carol, later secured a position in Kitzhaber’s administration.

Is it any wonder Kitzhaber now finds himself stranded in an ethical swamp? To understand the full extent of his predicament, consider his inability to answer one simple question during his press conference Friday: Is Hayes a member of your household? He answered this question in the affirmative on multiple occasions in ethics filings. But on Friday, following the discovery of apparently unreported fellowship income, he said, “I have no idea whether she is ‘legally’ a member of my household.”

The governor has not yet quibbled about the meaning of “is,” but Friday’s evasions were almost Clintonian.

More at the link, of course. Aside from the clean energy thievery, prior to the election is came out that Kitzhaber’s live-in partner, Hayes, had previously married a man for money. He wanted citizenship; she wanted money. They never lived together and got a formal divorce after he received US citizenship. The Oregonian forgave that and endorsed Kitzhaber anyway.

Aside from the relentless rain, Oregon is a fun place.

– Aggie

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The Courage of Our Convictions

A couple of days ago, I told you that Elizabeth Warren would not only run for the Democrat nomination, she would beat Hillary Clinton like the proverbial red-headed stepchild.

Others don’t have the BTL’s ‘nads:

Indeed, even as Elizabeth Warren denies she’s running for president, Team Clinton continues to be anxious about whether she jumps into the race, forcing Clinton to take positions to the left of the political sweet spot. She’s focused on the wrong Democrat. For all the hype, Warren is unlikely to run and won’t be the Democrat pushing Clinton to the left. It will be Obama himself.

This writer’s point is that Obama is driving the party to the left in order to herd Hillary that way.

I had a different take.

Also, Obama’s antics lately are all about positioning the party to Crockagawea’s liking. Goodness knows, there’s no love lost with the Clintons, and the 0/32nds Cherokee has always been his squaw.

Did I really write that adolescent twaddle? Good for me.

Let me elaborate. Warren won’t be running? Why on earth not? Seriously, unless she just doesn’t want to run, every factor points toward her running (deer). This is her time: as Obama made clear, even the most shallow, improbable, lie-based biography is a winning platform on which to run. She’s been senator for barely two years, but she’s already our senior senator—she’s supposed to languish in the Senate for another four or eight years? It’s just as far beneath her as it was beneath Barack Obama. Her supporters will feel betrayed? Hardly. They are urging her most ardently to run. We can and will replace her with another robotic liberal (as we replaced Kerry with Markey). She can’t beat Hillary? You wait and see. She will beat her like Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson. Like Ali beat Liston. Like Krystal beat Alexis.

Remind me if I prove to be wrong. You can be sure I’ll remind you if I prove to be right.

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Another Milhous in the White House

Seriously, it’s like 40 years ago, all over again:

In her memoir Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington, Attkisson looks back on the final years of her network career. One concludes from her book that Attkisson encountered more difficulty practicing her profession at CBS News during Obama’s tenure than at any other time. She reached an agreement for her departure from CBS News in March 2014, well before her contract was to expire.

The book’s subtitle refers to the difficulties Attkisson encountered in “Obama’s Washington.” The term is in part a euphemism for the Obama administration, but it also reflects the support for the administration within CBS News. The head of CBS News is David Rhodes, brother of Obama national-security adviser Ben Rhodes.

Let’s digest that for a moment. I write a lot about the Democrat-Media Complex, but this is as bad as it gets—tied, I suppose, with Al Sharpton on MSNBC, George Stephanopoulos on ABC, David Axelrod wherever he is, Mr. and Mrs. Jay Carney wherever they are, crony capitalist Jeffrey Immelt, head of GE (parent corporation of the the NBC networks), etc. ad nauseam.

Each of the scandals falls into a larger pattern of scandal management practiced by the Obama White House. (The reader can infer how the IRS scandal fits the pattern precisely to a T.) Her book is invaluable for how it analyzes and exposes this pattern, combining her reportage and her behind-the-scenes work at CBS News.

The pattern begins with blatant denials — bald lies — and stonewalling. Attkisson deftly articulates one of the bona fide occupational qualifications for service as a spokesperson in the Obama administration. Referring specifically to HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters, whom Attkisson had caught lying to her, she writes: “It takes a certain kind of person to be untruthful and then display utter lack of contrition when caught.”

You say Joanne Peters, I hear Haldeman and Erlichman.

Also, rather than responding to straightforward inquiries, administration spokesmen pump reporters for the information they have so they can undermine it. Attkisson calls this technique “pump and mine.” The administration then plants slanted leaks to friendly bloggers and reporters; next, it characterizes any advances in the story as “old news.”

Attkisson also shows how the administration, using a technique she calls “controversialization,” disparages any sources and reporters who move the story forward. As she recounts in the book, Attkisson has extensive personal experience being at the receiving end of this technique.

She singles out Media Matters as the main outlet that moves administration spin into the mainstream media. As Attkisson demonstrates, however, the power of Media Matters derives from the complicity and cooperation of its many allies in the media, i.e., the many Obama allies in the media.

See above.

She writes:

Perhaps the greatest PR coup of all is that the administration’s expert spinners successfully lead the media by the nose down the path of concluding there’s no true controversy unless there’s a paper trail that lays blame directly on the president’s desk. Time and again, with each scandal and each damaging fact, Democrats and the White House read from the script that says, “there’s no evidence President Obama knew” or “there’s no evidence of direct White House involvement.” Anything short of a signed confession from the president is deemed a phony Republican scandal, and those who dare to ask questions are crazies, partisans, or conspiracy theorists. . . .

Under President Obama, the press dutifully regurgitates the line “no evidence of White House involvement,” ignoring the fact that if any proof exists, it would be difficult to come by under an administration that fails to properly respond to Freedom of Information Act requests, routinely withholds documents from Congress, and claims executive privilege to keep documents secret.

You say Barack Obama, I hear Richard Nixon.

Attkisson bookends her accounts of the Obama-administration scandals she covered with the story of what she describes as coordinated intrusions into her telephones and computers. She was working on the Benghazi story when a friendly source “connected to a three-letter agency” offered a surprising observation. “The administration is likely monitoring you — based on your reporting,” the source advised her. She had, in fact, been having troubles with her phones and computers, which were behaving oddly.

Three sets of experts — including experts hired by CBS — examined her computers. All reached the same conclusion: She was the victim of computer intrusion and monitoring. One expert found classified government documents secreted in her hard drive, though she had not placed them there and had nothing to do with them. She believes that they were placed there by the intruders for use against her at an appropriate time.

The Department of Justice has issued two statements on Attkisson’s case. In response to Attkisson’s first public mention of her experience, in the course of a radio interview, the Department of Justice said:

To our knowledge, the Justice Department has never “compromised” Ms. Attkisson’s computers, or otherwise sought any information from or concerning any telephone, computer, or other media device she may own or use.

You say Justice Department, I hear Justice Department.

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A Mole at the SOTU

Did you hear about the Republican operative who crashed the SOTU?

It’s true:

Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds. (Laughter.) She waited tables. He worked construction. Their first child, Jack, was on the way. They were young and in love in America. And it doesn’t get much better than that. “If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote to me last spring, “what was about to happen to the housing and construction market.”

As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. Rebekah took out student loans and enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. They bought their first home. They had a second son, Henry. Rebekah got a better job and then a raise. Ben is back in construction — and home for dinner every night.

“It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.” We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.

A mom (female) and a dad (male), both working and successful, without benefit of government handouts. Who wrote that, Dan Quayle? It sure as hell wasn’t Obama’s composite perfect woman, Julia. I don’t know if Rebekah Erler is rock-ribbed or not, but she’s a Republican.

Except she’s not:

The woman whose story of economic recovery was showcased by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address is a former Democratic campaign staffer and has been used by Obama for political events in the past.

Unmentioned in the White House bio of Erler is that she is a former Democratic campaign operative, working as a field organizer for Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.).

This also wasn’t the first time the White House used the former Democratic campaign staffer as a political prop. Obama spent a “day in the life” of Erler in June so that he could have “an opportunity to communicate directly with the people he’s working for every day.”

Reuters revealed Erler’s Democratic affiliations following that June event, and the Minnesota Republican Party attacked Obama for being “so out of touch with reality that he thinks a former Democrat campaign staffer speaks for every Minnesotan.”

Shame on Patty Murray paying slave wages to her female employees. I hope little Jack and Henry never went to bed hungry because Murray (D., WA) chintzed out on paying Rebekah a decent wage. If that experience wasn’t enough to turn her into a Republican, nothing will.

Even Michelle seemed pretty annoyed at the whole charade:

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Democrat Politics

I’m sick of tired of the lying and the cheating. Enough. It has to stop.

No, not the New England Patriots and “deflate-gate” (Google it if you haven’t heard of it).

Ex-Governor Deval Patrick:

Before Deval Patrick departed office earlier this month, he gave Charlie Baker, his gubernatorial successor, traditional gifts, including a pewter key, a gavel, and a 19th-century Bible.

He left a Massachusetts economy that is, by many measures, humming along.

But Patrick also left Baker something more pernicious: a mid-year budget gap the new governor now pegs at $765 million.

Baker said tax money coming into state coffers so far this fiscal year, which runs from July 2014 through June, has essentially met expectations. Tax revenue is on track to grow about 4.5 percent from last fiscal year to this fiscal year, Baker said.

But spending is set to grow by more than 7 percent, “and therein lies the $765 million problem,” Baker said at a press conference, in which he did not outline any specifics about potential cuts.

Medicaid costs, including fallout from Massachusetts’ bungled health insurance website, are a significant part of the spending side of the deficit, the administration found.

ObamaCare rears its plug-ugly head once again.

Baker has pledged not to raise taxes or fees, cut aid to cities and towns, or take money out of the state’s “rainy day” fund to deal with the deficit. At the press conference, he did not outline a solution to problem.

That’s why we elected a Republican: no new taxes. And a 4% revenue increase with a 7% spending increase is why it’s too late.

PS: And what’s the line about the economy “humming along” doing in the story? What’s the relevance, and where’s the justification? What a crap newspaper the Glob is.

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Mario Cuomo, RIP

Not a news flash to any of you, I’m sure. I let a few days pass out of respect, a respect he most certainly earned. But it was not always thus. Mario Cuomo once defined “loser”. Literally, if in no other way.

I moved to New York in the last days of the horrendous Abe Beame administration. New York was bankrupt; President Ford had told it to “drop dead” (in the unforgettable Daily News headline). The city was nearly out on its feet.

For the 1977 mayoral election, it needed young new leadership (God knows it wouldn’t be a Republican, John Lindsay notwithstanding), and Cuomo and Ed Koch were the frontrunners. Cuomo had previously lost a statewide bid to be Lt. Governor on the ticket with Howard Samuels, but both lost to Hugh Carey’s juggernaut.

Cuomo was an Italian from Queens; Koch, a Jew from Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. No Irish applied, but a black man (Percy Sutton), Hispanic (Herman Badillo), and a woman (Bella Abzug) also ran. As did Beame for reelection. Koch beat Cuomo three times: in the primary; in the runoff; and in the general election (when Cuomo ran on the Liberal ticket).

Which was fine, especially as Cuomo turned the table on Koch four years later to beat him for governor (a position for which Koch would have been horribly unsuited). He redefined the governorship in is image, as Koch redefined the mayoralty in his. Cuomo’s legacy turned in 1981, and it is that legacy we remember.

With one small qualification.

I guess no one sees fit to mention it now, but it was one big [bleeping] deal 37 years ago.

The New York City of those days was rawer, dirtier, nastier than the polished stone that 20 years of Republican leadership bequeathed to its citizens. I loved it and feared it simultaneously. But even I was shocked by that. And I wasn’t alone:

“They put up signs on Queens Boulevard, the whole boulevard, it was shocking… I called Mario a weekend or two before the election and I said, ‘Mario this is happening… Mario, you gotta do something about that. It’s not right.’ ” While Cuomo told him he would try to do something, Koch said, “I don’t believe he did anything.” Koch reflected, “That matter has affected our relationship from ’77 through this year. We get along, we got along as mayor and governor but I always held it against him. I also held it against this son Andy Cuomo. Even though social relationships when we meet in public are good, underneath he knows I know what I’m really thinking, ‘You [swear].'”

Koch eventually forgave Cuomo, and the world eventually forgot. Cuomo always denied being behind it. But there are bizarre chapters in every life’s story.

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Detroit’s $178,000,000 Bankruptcy

A bargain!

Legions of lawyers, consultants and other advisers have been paid nearly $178 million for their work on Detroit’s historic bankruptcy, a number that comes in under budget but still makes it the most expensive municipal restructuring in U.S. history.

The law firm Jones Day led the way in the fees disclosed Tuesday with a $57.9 million bill. Detroit hired the firm in the months leading up to its July 2013 bankruptcy filing and chose one of its former partners, Kevyn Orr, to be emergency manager. Mr. Orr resigned in mid-December after almost 21 months in office.

Of course, billable hours are a pittance compared to the true costs:

The city recently exited bankruptcy protection after cutting about $7 billion of $18 billion in long-term obligations and promising to reinvest more than $1.4 billion in essential city services.

Maybe I should get past the blame stage, but I do have to wonder: shouldn’t someone or something—perhaps the Democratic National Committee—shoulder the responsibility for this economic crime against humanity? For are not the consequences of bankruptcy (and the decades of irresponsible government that led to it) indeed an abuse of the powerless citizens who are left behind—80% of whom are black? Heck, they even called in the UN to declaim a “human right” to water—a bit rich for a city on a river of its own name, also on a lake, and whose name translates as “the straits”.

All that’s behind Detroit now. It’s a city that wants to get clean:

Expect to learn in more detail this year about the Ilitch entertainment group’s plans for a 45-block district that will include residential, retail, bars, restaurants and a new hockey arena. Those plans will determine the fate of several historic buildings, including two large structures that stand near the new arena.

Downtown development impresario Dan Gilbert, meanwhile, is expected to put more meat on the bones of his vision for the area south of Ilitch’s entertainment empire. Gilbert has acquired many buildings along and just off Woodward, some of which already have been rehabbed and are rented, others whose renaissance is underway or planned as businesses are lured to an area that is steadily drawing new breath.

Work on the $140 million M-1 light rail streetcar line, which broke ground in mid-2013, will continue through 2015 — a minor annoyance for Woodward drivers. With its 12 stops, M-1 is integral to the Gilbert and Ilitch development areas, and north. Businesses already have opened along the route, once largely bereft of shops and offices, and more are likely to follow.

The future of Detroit’s riverfront and the Joe Louis Arena, whose main tenant, the Red Wings, will move to the new arena in 2017, continues to be murky. But since some coveted riverfront land went to city creditors during Detroit bankruptcy, development is expected there.

The historic Corktown neighborhood west of downtown should continue to grow and thrive in 2015, spurred by some brave entrepreneurs who opened shops, restaurants and wine and liquor specialty places in recent years. Their success, along with the promised redevelopment of the old Tiger Stadium property, is expected to keep that area’s mojo working in the coming year and beyond.

One day at a time, Detroit. Easy does it.

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Fairy Tale

Once upon a time:

The Land of Lincoln [Illinois] has accrued a $111 billion unfunded liability for government workers’ pensions—up 75% from five years ago. There is an additional $56 billion of unfunded debt to cover health benefits for the state’s retirees. Illinois today is already spending more of its general fund on pensions than on K-12 education. One in four tax dollars pays for its retired workers’ benefits. Last year the state had to defer paying $7 billion owed to contractors. All this after Democrats in 2011 raised income taxes and corporate taxes by 67% and 30%, respectively.

The level of debt is staggering. According to a recent report by Statista Inc., Illinois residents owe $24,959 each as their share of the outstanding bonds, unfunded pension commitments and budget gaps the state has accumulated. Thank goodness this obligation doesn’t go on my credit report, or my credit rating would be in the tank along with the state’s A-minus bond rating, the worst of any state in the nation.

It is no wonder that 850,000 people have left Illinois for other states in the past 15 years, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. Or that Illinois has become one of the most business unfriendly states in the country (40th in a recent Forbes survey).

Crushing debt isn’t just Illinois’s problem. According to State Budget Solutions, America’s 50 state governments collectively owe $5.1 trillion, including outstanding bonds, unfunded pension commitments and budget gaps. California has by far the largest debt—$778 billion—more than twice that of No. 2, New York, with $387 billion in red ink.

It may be a coincidence, but the eight lowest debt-per-resident states have Republican governors.

The message of the midterm elections last month was that Americans want to put the era of fiscal irresponsibility and economic stagnation in the rearview mirror. I’m hoping that Bruce Rauner, the Republican elected governor of deep-blue Illinois, will show them how it can be done.

Talk about a non sequitur! Where did that happily ever after come from? I’m as hopeful as anyone that this country has changed course, but that’s not very hopeful. How do you fund the unfunded when the size of the unfunded dwarfs any source of funding? Scoot over, Detroit. There’ll be a lot more municipal defaults and reworked pension deals—all of them in Democrat strongholds—before this undigested mess passes.

PS: How does Illinois’ pension liability increase 75% in five years? I can’t even begin to comprehend.

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