Archive for July 4th, 2009

Scientists tour the Creationism Museum

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

Tony sez, “Recently, a group of paleontologists were in town for the North American Paleontological Convention at the University of Cincinnati, and decided to take a field trip to the Creation Museum just across the river, in Kentucky. My aunt went to cover it for AFP, and I had the doubly good fortune of living just a stone’s throw away, so I tagged along to see what these guys were up to. It was an eyeful, to say the least. Gorgeous facilities with amazingly engaging displays and animatronics, and at least a few hundred cubic cubits of bad science and misinformation. One young lady stood, furious, and grumbled, ‘It’s bullshit. Bullshit pretending to be science.’ Anyone who finds themselves in the Cincinnati area with a few bucks, hours, and brain cells to burn should check it out, and see what the scientific community is up against in terms of informing the public.”

Arnie Miller, a palentologist at the University of Cincinnati who was chairman of the convention, said he hoped the tour would introduce the scientists to “the lay of the land” and show them firsthand what’s being put forth in a place that has elicited vehement criticism from the scientific community…

“And there was a feeling of unhappiness, too, about the extent to which mainstream scientists and evolutionists are demonized — that if you don’t accept the Answers in Genesis vision of the history of Earth and life, you’re contributing to the ills of society and of the church.”

Daryl Domning, professor of anatomy at Howard University, held his chin and shook his head at several points during the tour.

“This bothers me as a scientist and as a Christian, because it’s just as much a distortion and misrepresentation of Christianity as it is of science,” he said.

(Thanks, Tony!)

(Image: (AFP/File/Jeff Haynes)

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Andy Borowitz: Obama: White House Prescription Plan Less Expensive Than Michael Jackson’s

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

In an Independence Day speech to the nation, President Barack Obama acknowledged that the White House’s prescription drug plan would be costly but added, “It still won’t be as expensive as Michael Jackson’s.”

The President added that the government might achieve additional savings by acquiring drugs in bulk from the Jackson estate.

“We’ve done an inventory of the left-over painkillers at Neverland Ranch,” Mr. Obama said. “There’s enough junk there to tranquilize the entire nation until the year 2050.” More Andy Borowitz here.

Andy Borowitz is a comedian and the author of “Who Moved My Soap? The CEO’s Guide to Surviving in Prison: The Bernie Madoff Edition.”

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B. Jeffrey Madoff: Why Read When You Can Watch?

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

From June 12th to July 4th, I decided to experiment in what many believe will be the world of the future, a world without reading newspapers. I got my entire news diet from watching either popular television or online sources.

Three stories had been dominating the television and online media landscape: David Letterman’s joke about Bristol Palin, the meltdown of the Gosselins, of “Jon & Kate Plus 8″ reality show fame and South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford confusing his Argentinean affair with a bible story. The biggest news was yet to come.

Letterman made a joke, which he has been doing with varying degrees of success every week night for over 21 years. Governor Palin was offended with the idea of her family being dragged into the media spotlight, so she dragged them into the media spotlight. She held news conferences and threatened boycotts. Letterman apologized, an unusual gesture for a comedian who does topical humor. Should she forgive him? Would she forgive him? Why does he care?

Palin versus Letterman became a huge story, dominating the news/talk show scene for several days. Pundits on both sides of the political fence voiced serious opinions about Letterman’s joke. Palin did more for Letterman’s ratings than he could have ever done for himself. The night of his extended apology attracted 700,000 more viewers than his new competition, Conan O’Brien. Letterman gave Palin what she craved, more media attention than she’s had since the election.

“Jon & Kate Plus 8″, coming into their biggest season ever, with more media coverage and more magazine covers than ever, drew the biggest cable television audience this year on June 23rd, attracting 10.6 million viewers. Why? Jon and Kate announced they were splitting up. “The Learning Channel”, in a contradiction to the name of their own network, has not yet learned how to deal with the phenomenon that they created and as a result of their success, blew up. The show is on hiatus until they learn what to do.

Another governor who made news was the one from South Carolina, Mark Sanford. First he disappeared for a couple days, then on June 24th, he admitted, because he could no longer deny, that he had been having an affair with a woman in Argentina. Having an affair ought to be private, something for him and his wife to deal with. However, when you have a history of publicly condemning other politicians for their immoral behavior and pushing for their, Clinton’s, impeachment, you become fair game for all to poke at. Citing the biblical story of David, Sanford claims he will not resign, but redeem himself. That’s doubtful. He has since admitted to several other “liaisons”. He’s become an embarrassment to the Republican Party and they’re having enough trouble without spending time defending him.

On June 25th, the news to end all news, blew everything else off the front pages and onto television: the death of Michael Jackson. Governor Sanford was probably kicking himself for admitting his affair a day too early. The news became all Michael all the time. His death was met with the kind of media frenzy usually reserved for terrorist attacks, natural disasters or Anna Nicole Smith. Jackson was omnipresent on television and the radio.

In non-Peabody Award investigative style, Anderson Cooper on CNN did a segment on what Michael’s chimp, Bubbles, is doing now. The chimp, to its credit, was one of the only associates of Michael who didn’t have anything to say.

By the end of last week, Fox News posed the question, “Is there too much media coverage about Michael Jackson?” by further covering themselves covering Michael Jackson. Nothing invigorates a career like an untimely death – just ask Elvis or Marilyn Monroe or James Dean or Van Gogh.

Jackson, unfortunately wasn’t alive to enjoy the huge resurgence of his popularity, music, videos and memorabilia, which topped the lists on I-Tunes, Amazon and Ebay.

There are already ongoing discussions about how Jackson’s retreat, “Neverland”, would be a bigger tourist attraction than Elvis’ “Graceland” and how much that would be worth in annual ticket sales. The competition for attention celebrities experience in life doesn’t end with death. Jackson’s memorial this week is posing huge financial and safety concerns for financially strapped Los Angeles. Over 300,000 ticket requests happened online within the first few hours.

The theory of “celebrities always die in groups of three”, once again held true: Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Karl Malden and Bill Mays – that’s five, but who wants to destroy a good myth?

I returned to newspapers today. The news has traveled full circle back to Sarah Palin. She is resigning as Governor of Alaska. The attention she will now get will no doubt fill the media with several days of pundit speculation. My guess is Palin will be offered a talk show on the Fox Network. Ms. Palin, in a statement defying all logic said that she was not going to be seeking re-election at the end of next year, so she didn’t feel it was fair to her constituents to continue in office. I wonder if she will bring this same commitment to her presidential aspirations.

There were other stories on the front page: The war is still going on in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is ramping up, Iran is still in turmoil, unemployment rates continued to climb and it looks like national healthcare reform is the next big political debate.

What did I learn from my 3 week media experiment? It’s easier to zone out in front of a glowing rectangle than engage in reading. Reading requires more of us than watching. In going on a diet of more television and internet coverage, I got a lot less nutrition and a lot more fat.

More on Michael Jackson

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Bill Donius: Palin Pass, or Dropped Ball?

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

Sarah Palin used the sports metaphor that she was passing the ball as her rationale for stepping down. Although, a passed ball makes sense on the playing field, she is leaving the playing field and more accurately dropping the ball. It seems hard to believe that Alaska’s problems were solved in half a term? It is certainly her decision to quit. The decision is not a good one if she expects to win the confidence of the electorate down the road for a higher office.

Alaska will likely be better off with a Governor who is not as distracted and willing to devote 100% energies to the state.

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William Fisher: Give Us Your Huddled Masses – But Battered Women Need Not Apply!

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

Here’s a note for the “to do” list of the Obama Administration’s newly appointed Domestic Violence Czar – or Czarina in this case: Battered wives and significant others pose a serious law enforcement and public health problem affecting as many as one in four women in this country. But they are not just an American problem. Women are being whacked all over the world. And some of them are trying to find safety in America – and are being turned away.

Why? Because of the inept and bureaucratic foot-dragging of our Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. Thanks to their sorry non-performance over more than a decade, domestic violence is still not a legal basis for seeking asylum in the U.S.

Consider the plight of Rodi Alvarado from Guatemala. At 16, she married a man who, for the next decade, terrorized her. He raped and sodomized her almost daily, beating her before and during the violations. Because he was unfaithful, he infected her with sexually transmitted diseases. He dislocated her jaw when he learned that her period was late, and violently kicked her when she refused to abort her baby, causing her to bleed for eight days.

She tried to run away, even to the other side of the country, but her husband – a former soldier – always found her. One night, he woke her to whip her with an electrical cord, pulled out a machete and threatened to cut off her arms and legs if she ever tried to leave him again. He broke windows and mirrors with her head. He pistol-whipped and threw a machete at her, punched her and dragged her by her hair.

Mrs. Alvarado repeatedly sought help from the police in Guatemala, but to no avail. She pled her case to a judge, but the judge said the same thing: They don’t involve themselves in domestic matters.

Finally, in 1995, she did the most difficult and desperate thing she could do to save her life. After 10 years of cruelty, at age 28, she fled Guatemala and sought asylum in the United States.

There was only one problem. The U.S. has no asylum provisions that cover victims of domestic violence. Mrs. Alvarado was ordered deported. Under U.S. law, asylum applicants have to show they can’t go home because they face persecution because of religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. But not domestic abuse.

Enter a sympathetic immigration judge, who granted Mrs. Alvarado a temporary stay of deportation. That was in 1996 – thirteen years ago. And for thirteen years, Mrs. Alvarado has remained in this legal limbo. She hasn’t been deported – she works as a housekeeper in a California convent. But she can’t achieve any legal status and can’t be reunited with her son and daughter, who remain in Guatemala. She hasn’t seen them in thirteen years.

The reason: For more than a decade, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice have been playing musical chairs with a new asylum regulation that would cover victims of domestic violence. Without such a regulation, Mrs. Alvarado’s case cannot come before a Board of Immigration Appeals, which is supposed to re-decide her fate.

The musical chairs have bounced Mrs. Alvarado’s case from the Clinton to the Bush administrations, and now to the Obama Administration.

Opponents said new asylum rules would lead to a surge in claims, an assertion disputed by a large and bipartisan group of immigration, legal and religious advocates.

Those proposed regulations saved — and stalled — Alvarado’s case. In 1996, an immigration judge granted Alvarado temporary asylum, finding that the abuse she suffered and the government’s inability to protect her constituted persecution. But newly-installed Bush immigration service opposed the decision, and Alvarado’s case went before the Board of Immigration Appeals, a Justice Department panel that reviews immigration cases.

The board ruled that Alvarado was not eligible for asylum and ordered that she be deported. But on her last day in office, Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno voided that ruling and instructed the board to reconsider the Alvarado case after the immigration service finalized the proposed regulations. A month later, George W. Bush took office.

The next stop in this cruel bureaucratic game was the desk of John Ashcroft, then Bush’s Attorney General. Ashcroft certified the case to himself, making him effectively the judge. He said he would decide Mrs. Alvarado’s fate. But he didn’t. Instead, he kicked the can down the road, deciding neither to grant nor deny asylum to Alvarado. A decision, he said, should await new regulations from the Department of Homeland Security.

Wonder of wonders, the DHS actually drafted a regulation to make domestic abuse a valid legal basis for asylum-seekers. But the Department of Justice disagreed with the draft. In the years since then, the DOJ and the DHS have failed to agree on the domestic abuse asylum regulations. Ashcroft’s inaction simply complicated the problem. Just before he stepped down, he passed the responsibility for the Alvarado case to his successor, Alberto Gonzales, who faithfully followed in the quicksand footsteps of his predecessors: He did nothing. And his successor, Michael Mukasey, did exactly the same thing: Nothing.

The DHS says it will not press for Mrs. Alvarado’s deportation regardless of how much longer it may take the agency to finalize the new regulations. But that’s cold comfort to Mrs. Alvarado. At the current pace, she could be a very old lady by the time the DHS and the DOJ decide to actually do something.

That’s where Obama’s new Domestic Violence Czar could be a huge help. Lynn Rosenthal is an experienced advocate for abused women. She was executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence and executive director of the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She has focused on domestic violence issues like housing, state and local coordinated community response, federal policy, and survivor-centered advocacy.

Reporting to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, she will have the ears of the two guys at the top of the tree. And it may be helpful that Biden has had a long-standing interest in the domestic violence issue, dating from his days in the Senate and his key role in enacting the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.

Immigration experts say they are more encouraged than ever that cases like Mrs. Alvarado’s will be resolved by the Obama Administration. No doubt Ms. Rosenthal’s cup will runneth over with issues of purely homegrown domestic violence – which the stresses of the recession have apparently caused to spiral out of control. Perhaps the relatively tiny number of battered women seeking asylum in America will be assigned a low priority.

But further delay would simply exacerbate a gross denial of justice. So even at a time when immigration in general remains one of the third rails of American politics, Lynn Rosenthal needs to find the time to flex a little White House muscle with the DOJ and the DHS. She needs to ensure that the process of writing one new regulation doesn’t again fall victim to another decade of bureaucratic bungling and inter-agency turf wars.

So Rodi Alvarado can see her kids again.

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Sheryl McCarthy: Riverside Church Clash

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

The Rev. Brad Braxton’s resignation as pastor of The Riverside Church was a sad episode in a battle that has been raging for years over the soul of the historic West Side church.

A concerned group of Riverside members had gone to court seeking to block the installation of the new minister, out of concern over both his pay and his vision for the church’s future. They did not succeed, at least not in court. Braxton’s alleged $600,000 compensation package made headlines, since the church has struggled financially in recent years, has seen its membership decline and its financial campaign fail to reach its goal, has been forced to cut funding for church programs, and has dug into its endowment to pay operational expenses. While church officials claimed Braxton’s actual compensation was much less than had been reported, it still seemed extravagant for a church that’s experiencing hard times.

The more serious conflict represented by the Braxton controversy, however, is a longstanding one over whether Riverside will continue to be a liberal, socially activist church that is welcoming to Christians of all races, genders and sexual persuasions, or whether it will take on more of the trappings of a black, evangelical church. Founded as a Baptist church by John D. Rockefeller, Riverside evolved over the years into a non-denominational church famous for its liberal social agenda and its intellectual ministers.

When it hired its first black senior minister almost 20 years ago, it was hailed as another step forward for the open-minded congregation. But internal battles broke out between those who wanted the church to assume a more evangelical and black flavor—with longer services, less European and more gospel music, and a bigger national platform for its minister.

Supporters of this new direction accused members who opposed it of being racist, and in the ensuing battle many longstanding white members left the church. Membership went from 60 percent white and 40 percent black to roughly the opposite. And while there’s nothing wrong with the new racial breakdown, some felt the church had adopted a tone that was more hostile to anything smacking of the European heritage.

One longtime church member who questioned Braxton’s suitability for the job said that when he was asked at a church meeting what he meant when he talked about wanting to have diversity at Riverside, he described it as a warm, charismatic, African American service. That’s nice, but it’s not exactly inclusive. Braxton also reportedly said he had no interest in the European-type music that is often performed by the church’s professional-quality choir, that he prefers foot-stomping gospel music instead. As a former Riverside choir member, I believe that while a variety of music styles have long been performed at Riverside, a steady diet of gospel is inappropriate in a Gothic cathedral-like church.
It’s been sad to watch the efforts of some Riversiders to turn it into a black church, but the Rev. Braxton was apparently determined to push ahead with that transformation. He was not the right leader for Riverside, and it’s good that he has decided to move on. As one member told me, Riverside needs a pastor who is forward-thinking, and that means not trying to turn a white church or a racially integrated church into a black church, but about moving beyond the boxes of race and evangelism.

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Mark Goulston, M.D.: Mark Sanford: When Bullsh**ters See Red…

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

When bullsh**ters see red,
their common sense is dead.

What is it that Mark Sanford, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Elliott Spitzer AND Bernie Madoff have in common?

It’s not that they all cheated on someone; it’s that they’re all “Adrenaline Junkies.” Adrenaline is like “power” junk food. When you’re in the middle of an adrenaline rush, you feel invincible, powerful, above the rules and above all, special. But one thing all these power junkies don’t reckon on until it’s too late is that “the thrill of an adrenaline rush is only exceeded by the utter angst of an adrenaline crash.”

In essence these people are hooked on natural cocaine and like most cocaine addicts, they can become desperate to do and take anything to prevent the adrenaline crash. It’s in that moment of desperation that concern for consequences is thrown to the wind.

What is truly frightening about powerful people — and usually men — who are adrenaline junkies is wondering if and how it affects their judgment outside of the adrenaline pumping activity. Ironically and thankfully, a man’s area of competence is usually the last to go when they’re hooked on adrenaline. They’ll still be able to function competently long after they have destroyed their marriage or their finances, but there are occasions when it crosses over into behavior that can affect thousands, i.e. Bernie Madoff, or possibly an entire country, if in fact it played a role in the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney taking us to war with Iraq.

What’s the take home from this? When you’re on an adrenaline high, smoke gets in your mind and
your judgment becomes cloudy. And when you begin to crash off that high judgment and common sense goes out the window and you will do anything to keep it going, and I mean anything.

.If the saying, “All that glitters isn’t gold,” is true, maybe all that glows can turn out to be fool’s gold.

* Basil and Spice: Why common sense takes a holiday
* Et tu, Governor Sanford?
* Taking infidelity to a new level
* 10 Reasons NOT to Date a Married man

More on John Edwards

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Wyatt Closs: Workonomics 101: No Mickey Mousing Around

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

Lets look at something really Goofy about work and summer vacations.

They say the average household income is $48,000 so, IF as a paid vacation, its worth about $131/day. Stay at home, make that amount. But want to go somewhere? Or don’t have paid vacation by your employer?

The average cost for hotel/car package and tickets to Disney World in the summer is $200 plus $328 = $528/day for a family of four. And thats with discount packages.

Therefore, they lose $400/day on vacation or it takes 4 paid vacation days to pay for 1 day at Disney World.

And this was before somebody coined the phrase “staycation”. For regular working folks, thats been the case for a while. Best to get a Disney DVD, a Mulan doll and some Mickey Mouse ears from the mall Disney Store and call it a day. Or trick the kids into becoming Disney “Imagineers” (thats what they call them) by asking them to close their eyes and imagine being there.

And by the way, Disney cast members can’t really afford it either. The average salary for a Disney cast member is $15,000. You do the math on that one.

Got more Workonomics stats about vacations or Disney or summer? Hit me.

sources:; expedia; us census bureau;

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July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

UNITED NATIONS – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Myanmar (Burma) for the July 3-4 weekend in what turned out to be a major political gamble — with no discerable results so far.

Ban is probably the only world figure of stature who can meet the country’s reclusive 76-year old leader, Senior General Than Shwe, and did so for two days in the remote administrative capital Naypyidaw. But the ruling junta turned down his request to meet opposition leader and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, in prison on trumped up charges of violating her house arrest.

The U.N. secretary-general had ambitious goals: the release of the more than 2,000 political prisoners, a dialogue between the military and Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy and “the need to create conditions conducive to credible elections next year.” None of these were fulfilled — at least not during his visit.

Still Ban told reporters traveling with him he was optimistic political prisoners would eventually be released. “I believe they are very seriously considering releasing political prisoners, if not soon, at the latest before the beginning of this election,” he said, according to Reuters reporter Louis Charbonneau.


But Ban said the general did not want to interfere with the judicial process involving Suu Kyi’s trial.

“I’m deeply disappointed,” Ban said. “I think they have missed a very important opportunity of demonstrating their willingness to commit to continuing reconciliation with political leaders..I pressed as hard as I could as a way of committing themselves to this (democratization) process.”

He said he urged the junta to drop charges against Suu Kyi and other political leaders but received no guarantees. “It is a setback to the international community’s efforts to provide a helping hand to Myanmar at this time,” Ban was quoted as saying.

Suu Kyi, 64, and in fragile health, was jailed after John Yettaw, an American Mormon, swam to her home, saying he had a vision that she would be assassinated by terrorists. She had never met him but is still accused of violating terms of her arrest.

She was transferred to prison after spending more than 13 of the past 19 years secluded in house arrest after her National League for Democracy party won a huge victory in 1990 elections but the military refused to budge.

For Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, Myanmar is a challenge. He points with pride at convincing Than Shwe to allow U.N. agencies to deliver relief after Cyclone Nargis devastated coastal areas last May and after everyone else had failed. He says the international workers helped save half a million people from ruin. Sadly, they arrived only after some 140,000 people had died, countless others lost their homes and at least 21 Burmese aid workers who sought to help survivors were jailed.

Now What?

The U.N. chief could call on the U.N. Security Council, including China, to take more robust steps against the junta if it does not change its policies by a certain date. But this is unlikely as Ban prides himself on a low-keyed approach, despite criticism that he makes too little use of the bully pulpit available to him.

Complimenting Ban’s efforts, Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, writes in The Huffington Post that if the Burmese regime refuses to engage, the international community must be prepared to respond robustly. “We should not rest until Aung San Suu Kyi — and all those who share her commitment to a better and brighter future for Burma — are able to play their rightful role in it,” he said. (The junta renamed the country Myanmar, which the U.N. but not the United States and other nations recognize)

Although sanctions have been imposed by the United States and many European nations, Burma’s neighbors, including India and China, trade liberally in timber and other natural resources. And the giant French-based oil company Total does a thriving business, arguing that if it left, another oil company would take its place and pay less attention to the plight of its employees. Various U.N. bodies have adopted some 38 resolutions against Myanmar without results.

The 15-nation U.N. Security Council, whose resolutions are binding, was thwarted by a double veto from China and Russia (supported by South Africa) in January 2007. But the new trumped up charges against Suu Kyi elicited a unanimous statement from the Council in May calling for her release and that of all political prisoners.

The fear remains among U.N. diplomats and human rights groups that the military would not relinquish any power (unless some troops themselves rebel) and that Ban’s visit could be used to solidify the junta’s power in the 2010 elections.

“There is a real danger that Burma’s general will try to use Ban’s visit to legitimize the 2010 elections,” Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement before the visit.

And much of it depends on the fate of Suu Kyi – the symbol of resistance to the junta, whose abuses are legion, including forced labor, executions and trafficking. If she stays in jail or returns to house arrest, few will have hope for change in Burma.

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Tony Guida: Giants Of New York Politics

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

Jimmy Breslin once described Rudolph Giuliani as “a small man looking for a balcony.”

Breslin’s caustic dismissal of “America’s mayor” rebounds to memory at the sight of the current unpleasantness in Albany. New Yorkers are reluctant witnesses to an opera buff orchestrated by several democratic state senators on the grift. They ask not what they can do for the Empire State. They ask only how much they can scarf from the state trough. Unlike the solipsistic Rudy they don’t look for a spotlight. They angle for a paycheck. They’d auction the spotlight on ebay. Lilliputians indeed.

It makes a former political reporter nostalgic for a time when New York politics swaggered with large men. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Mario Cuomo. Ed Koch. Alfonse D’Amato.

In those salad days, I was Chief Political Correspondent for a local TV station. Never mind that I was the only political correspondent, my daily attendance at the words and deeds of the senator from Mensa, the governor from Hamlet, the Emperor mayor or senator Pothole was never less than stimulating.

I was lucky. Most local TV newsrooms in most towns in most of the country don’t care a farthing about politics except in presidential election years. But in this town at that time politics was a spectator sport and my station aspired to be its play-by-play voice. It didn’t hurt that the players on the field strutted and fretted mightily.

Speaking of great actors, I confess I did envy my colleagues in Louisiana during that time. They had Edwin Edwards. In a state renowned for flamboyant, unorthodox politicians, Edwards was a true heir to the dynasty of the Longs. He remained beloved by the voters even after two scandal-scarred terms. When he made a third run for governor, reporters asked him to assess his chances. Edwards replied, “The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.” That, my friends, is a colossus. But I digress.

New York’s city hall in the time of the reign of Edward I. (for Imperial?) Koch was hardly summer stock. Koch trod the boards across the five boros proving indefatigable of leg and mouth. He went everywhere and spoke about everything. He was a cornucopia of quips, a symphony of soundbites.

It never seemed to faze Koch whether he charmed or infuriated the citizenry with his often snarky opinions. TV News couldn’t get its fill. No matter if a reporter was assigned to a fatal car crash on the FDR or the latest fad for losing ten pounds by Thursday, his story was not considered complete without a comment from Hizzoner. No problem. Koch never met a TV camera he didn’t serenade. For some of us, spending part of every day with the “Mayatullah” as he once described himself eventually lost its lustre. Would he never shut up?

There came the time when Koch decided he needed a new car. The mayoral ride in those days was a black limo. It was ripe with age. But which car to choose? Naturally, Koch turned his decision into the greatest quest since Jason and the Golden Shmatta. Daily, he mused about the relative attributes of Chrysler or Cadillac. Daily, he insisted rear-seat legroom was paramount; the car would have to be a stretch version. “I have very long legs,” Koch reminded us around the clock. And daily we recorded it all and put it up high on the six o’clock news.

One afternoon the News Director assigned me to get “the latest” on the limo. My protest that there was no “latest” fell like a tree in deep woods. Koch was giving a speech at the Hilton hotel in midtown. I waited for him outside near the vehicle that was soon to be replaced. I told my cameraman to maintain a 2-shot for this interview, keep me on screen with Koch. I figured there might be fireworks.

“What’s the latest on the car search Mr. Mayor?”

It was like throwing pork chops to a pit bull.

Koch spieled like a tummler. Worn out… springs shot… transmission going… brakes failing… terribly uncomfortable. No legroom in the back. “I have very long…”

“Did you ever think about hiring a shorter driver?”

Silence. Maybe two seconds of glorious silence from the mouth that roared. Gradually, a thin smile creased his lips, he pointed a long index finger at me and crooned, “That’s very good, Tony. Unlike you, but very good.”

The piece played to rave notices on the evening news.

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