The Gateway (Obituary Hit Parade Edition)

I was having such a good time at Lori Knipel's holiday party, to which virtually every candidate for City wide office had made a pilgrimage (I'd seen three mayoral candidate by the time I left, and there was still more than an hour to go), but, against my better judgment, I left to make the trek to Italian Williamsburg's Society of Our Lady of the Snow to check out Vito Lopez's annual bash, to which I'd been personally invited by my old antagonist, El Jefe himself.

Why was I leaving an opulent bash full of friends and interesting gossip to go to a pasta party held in a social club hosted by a man who had loudly expressed his contempt for me in front of others and treated me as a pariah?

I showed, a third out of curiosity, a third out of respect (for unlike so many pretenders in NYC politics, this was a man who could drive you around his realm [and that is what it is] and proudly point, again and again and say, "Behold what I have built") and one third because showing was contrary to what "respectable opinion" would think proper (which delights both my contemptuous attitude towards "respectable opinion" and my general contrary nature).

Why he wanted me to show is a different matter. In the old days, one could be with Lopez 99.44% of the time and still not be found to be pure; any deviation would put one on the receiving end of his considerable fury.

I've been a pretty harsh Lopez critic, and I think more effective than most, precisely because my philosophy has always been, to paraphrase Bill Clinton's eulogy of Richard Nixon, "may the day of judging Vito Lopez on anything less than his entire life and career come to a close."

Over time, I've always done nothing more and nothing less, as one could see, for instance, in my first posting after Lopez’s fall began, which was extremely harsh, but still fair.

I think that, in his hours of darkness, Lopez has come to appreciate what he once despised. I should note that a similar observation was made to me by a former Lopez friend turned adversary, who had the occasion to point out to someone that Lopez was not all bad and was greeted with more thanks from Vito than he’d ever gotten for all his efforts on Lopez’s behalf.

I arrived at about 9:20, with forty minutes left to go, but El Jefe and his entourage had already left, leaving me in the company of several hundred senior citizens of Latino origin dancing the Macarena.

When I arrived home, this email awaited me:

"Vito asked me to report to you on his Holiday Party.

There were 300-400 people. Almost all were Hispanics from the neighborhoods. Vito named all the big housing developments and folks cheered when their's was named.

 Number of judges & some Leaders from other areas were there. Elected officials attending were...both Dilans & Espinal. Rabbi Niederman & Dennis Quirk were also there. I'm checking to see if Levin attended."

Levin did not attend; his Facebook page indicates he is in Omaha meeting his girlfriend's family.

The other electeds named comprise the rest of Vito's local allies. I deleted the name of one candidate for higher office, even though I'm sure Lopez would prefer it remain, because I admire the guy for having the balls to come and have no desire to inflect punishment upon him.

Second Amendment advocates complain about First Amendment excesses, and not without cause.

No matter how invasive (albeit legal) the privacy violation, this can't help tasting a bit like poetic justice.

Evan Thies manages to contradict himself within the course of four paragraphs:

"The Democratic Party has been taking a dive on gun control for some time now — beginning, perhaps, with current Chicago mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel recruiting anti-gun control Democrats when he served as the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006.

The strategy was to take the issue off the table in those races and nationwide, thus depriving Republicans of a potentially potent political weapon in swing states and districts where constituents opposed pretty much any controls whatsoever.

Emanuel’s ploy worked: Democrats won the House. But it was a Faustian deal that ran counter to a generation of Democratic principle and — make no mistake — left children unprotected on a still December morning in Connecticut.

What should be even more troubling for Democratic voters is that gun control is just one of several issues where the party made a tactical decision in recent years to abandon winnable fights and core beliefs."


If Emanuel's ploy worked, that means that but for the ploy, the GOP would have controlled the House, and a fight on gun control would have been unwinnable. Further, since the ploy worked, and Democrats controlled the House by a margin made up of gun control opponents, the fight was unwinnable even after they won.

Perhaps now, courtesy of intervening events, the fight is winnable, but it wasn't then and Thies' putting the blame on the Dems for Sandy Hook ("But the compromise of Democratic leaders on guns has given us Tucson, Aurora and, most recently, Newtown. It is a stain on the soul of our party") is almost literally a blood libel.

To compound this idiocy, Thies criticizes the Dems for shelving climate change, when, in actuality, the House did pass Cap and Trade when the Dems controlled the House only to have it founder in the Senate (meaning the fight wasn't winnable then, but may now benefit from intervening events).

In his final idiocy, Thies disses Dems for betraying their principles by supporting education reform, when in actuality, such proposals are supported by many principled liberals, including Jon Chait, Cory Booker, The New Republic and Washington Monthly.

Further, Education Reform was an issue where Dems in 2008 were given a clear choice and chose Obama, who articulated exactly the same ideas he is supporting now, over the more old style, Teacher's Union friendly, Hilary Clinton.

Ironically, in his Council race, Thies was supported by New Kings Democrats, a club explicitly made up of 2008 Obama supporters, so if he and his friends don't like the sort of education Democrat the President turned out to be (not that Obama didn't warn them) they have only themselves to blame

Friedman: If ever Israel needed a U.S. defense secretary who was committed to Israel’s survival, as Hagel has repeatedly stated — but who was convinced that ensuring that survival didn’t mean having America go along with Israel’s self-destructive drift into settling the West Bank and obviating a two-state solution — it is now.

I agree that this is the time for just such a Defense Secretary (to go along with our similar Secretary of State); the problem is that being such a Defense Secretary is difficult enough when one hasn't publicly expressed an inability to tell Jews (who aren't all Zionists, and are certainly not all Likudniks) from Zionists (who aren't all Jews). In fact, appointing a Defense Secretary incapable of making such subtle distinctions will almost certainly make the task before him nearly impossible. I have a few other policy qualms about Hagel, but frankly, that alone makes this an incredibly ill-advised appointment.

Buchanan says Hagel is not an Anti-Semite (and he's an expert in the field).

OK, I don't think Hagel's an anti-Semite either, but it's hard to resist such low hanging fruit.

Which is another reason why this nomination would be a mistake.


I know Christmas Eve is a slow news day, but is it really news that Alan Flacks is a schnorrer?



A musical selection from this week's obits:

Jimmy McCracklin:

Fontella Bass:

Charles Durning:

Jack Klugman:

Jean Harris: