Guns Are Welcome In Whose America?
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
I don’t blame Sarah Palin.
It’s Saturday, Jan. 8th – my birthday – and I’ve been on Facebook trying to keep up with many more friends than I really have who are sending me greetings and stuff. The FB trend on my feed all of a sudden changes and the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (Democrat, Arizona’s 8th District), begins to flood my page – with comments and links about the tragic incident.
I quickly find out she is married to Astronaut Mark Kelly; was elected in 2006; she was shot in the head at a supermarket event; a young white man, Jared Loughner is being held as the shooting suspect; first reports were that she was deceased, but soon the news feed talks of surgery; more than a dozen people shot – including a staffer; several are dead including a child and a Federal judge.
I start searching the web and watching TV news to try to distinguish hard news from blog and social media unreliable info – I’ve written about this before.
|The map targeting Rep. Gabby Giffords and 19 other members of Congress with crosshair rifle targets which was taken down from the Palin PAC page.
But the undercurrent of the web static is the Representative Giffords was one of 20 members of Congress on a so-called hit list of Congressmembers whose seats were being targeted by everyone’s favorite former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. And Palin’s PAC (Political Action Committee) had portrayed the targeting on their Facebook page by putting rifle sight cross hairs on a map of the United States, over the seats of the 20 Congress members the wanted taken out – including Giffords.
The graphic map was quickly taken down shortly after the shooting.
While Palin has never advocated violence, the gun-toting right winger used colorful language when speaking of aiming to remove the 20 members who won seats once held by her party.
Nothing should be thought of her use of the words “reload,” “targeted districts,” or “crosshairs” aiming at the selected seats.
No, Sarah Palin is not responsible.
She, like I, love the richness of language.
Palin, a believer in the need of Americans to bear arms, show them, wave them, use them and advocate people to arm, chooses to use metaphors of hunting, shooting and killing. That is her choioce.
Why would anyone imagine words of violence by a national figure might incite acts of violence on the party of a fringe element of society?
Nope; can’t happen.
Well, the story is still to be told. We hope that “Gabby,” the nickname by which Congresswoman Giffords is known, has a speedy and full recovery.
We hope that this tragic event teaches some good to someone.
I just can’t figure out things like this.
But I don’t blame Sarah Palin.
Cuomo: Fiscal Disaster Ahead Without Sharp Reductions
By HENRY STERN
The new Governor Cuomo delivered his first State of the State message. I found the speech credible and constructive. Cuomo seems to be making a conscious effort to get along with the legislature. At the same time, he outlined spending reductions, ethics reforms, independent redistricting and other proposals which have been anathema to the Senate and Assembly in years past.
Politics requires a certain level of optimism, and with a new governor, there is more reason for hope than there has been for many years. The wrenching disappointments of the Spitzer and Paterson administrations are now behind us, the ever-mounting budget deficit is before us.
The substance of the message showed clearly the Governor’s awareness of fiscal reality and his willingness to make hard choices. Of course, he didn’t get around to specifying those choices precisely; that will presumably come in the budget message next month. What seems clear, today, is that Andrew Cuomo is conscious of how his policy decisions will be perceived not just by New Yorkers, but by people across the nation as well, the potential greater constituency.
It was said that in the French Army, every corporal has a field marshal’s baton in his cap. So it is that every governor of New York State dreams of the White House. So far three have made it, Martin van Buren (1837-41) and the two Roosevelts, Theodore (1901-09) and Franklin (1933-45). Among those who tried and failed in the 20th century are Charles Evans Hughes (1916), Alfred E. Smith (1928), Thomas E. Dewey (1944, 48) and Nelson A. Rockefeller (1960, 64 and 68). George Pataki tested the waters in 2008 and found them frigid, as everyone knew.
Perhaps the most dramatic non-candidacy occurred on Dec. 21, 1991, when Governor Mario Cuomo, whose staff had chartered two planes to fly him and the press corps to Concord, New Hampshire - where he would have paid a $1000 filing fee and announced his candidacy in the Democratic Presidential primary in front of the State House - unexpectedly left the aircraft waiting on the tarmac when he decided not to take flight. That afternoon, Cuomo announced his decision in the New York State Capitol. He said that the Republicans, who then controlled the State Senate, had made it impossible for him to run “for their own purposes.”
It was 19 years ago that budget problems obstructed Mario Cuomo’s presidential campaign, and those difficulties have only grown in the years that followed. Although there have been years of unheeded warnings that the days of reckoning were at hand, the national recession of the past two years and the continuing spiral in health and pension benefits have brought a number of state governments to the brink of insolvency.
Some cities and counties have been through bankruptcy, but no state has yet defaulted on its sovereign debt. No government wants to be the first to blow, so fiscal reality has been widely concealed by bookkeeping devices loosely described as Enronian. The budget problems that New York State faced in 1992 are dwarfed by the $10 billion deficit the state must deal with today. However, New York is not the worst. The California state budget deficit is expected to be $19 billion in the next fiscal year.
There is a problem in the governor’s plan to enlist groups of stakeholders to recommend policy changes and service reduction. Many of these stakeholders have directly conflicting interests, and it is hard to foresee what they might agree on to suggest to the governor. Cuomo evoked the Berger Commission, ably chaired by Stephen Berger, which recommended hospital closings in 2006. There is enormous local resistance to closing hospitals, or any other state facilities. Whether they are medically needed or not, they are job providers, like the upstate prisons and juvies (juvenile detention facilities) which Cuomo specifically targeted in his remarks.
We think the Governor jumped the first hurdle nicely, with spirit and good humor, showing his desire to bring people together, which is urgently needed. The next test will be his executive budget, which is due on Feb. 1, twenty-six days from today. The deadline for adopting the budget is April l, but that date is rarely met, and no one seriously expects a $10 billion gap to be closed in two months.
We enjoyed the spirit and verve of Andrew Cuomo’s speech: the young lancer laying out the problem and part of his plan (if there be a plan); the Albany veterans, expressing verbal support and encouragement, the infighting necessarily left for another day and a place outside public view. Nonetheless, Cuomo made real progress, speaking bravely about the fiscal chasm. For a Democratic governor, it was an astounding admission of reality. There were no impractical schemes to tax rich people who, by pressing a button, can move their industries and their income outside the state.
A great deal will depend on who is chosen to staff the new State Department of Financial Regulation, but it will give Governor Cuomo a piece of the action in a field otherwise likely to be dominated by the new Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, a man who is as ambitious and as enterprising as his two immediate predecessors, the Governors Spitzer and Cuomo.
Let the games begin.StarQuest@NYCivic.org