The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention. President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd. Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.
Cutting taxes on those whose dreams have already come true does not create good jobs. Growing a healthy economy creates good jobs, and you cannot have a healthy economy in which a vast majority are losing ground or are barely holding on, or are just worrying about next month.
Biologists and naturalists conduct experiments in resource scarcity and competition using yeast, paramecium, flour beetles and other little animals. Behaviors change, relationships change, levels of ferocity change. A series of recently published surveys show that one third or less of Americans trust their fellow citizens in everyday interactions. As social trust deteriorates, so does a willingness to work for a common good. I am hopeful that Americans will handle things better than the flour beetle, but we need to hold it together and keep our perspective.
Federal, state and city lawmakers have the power to reduce the region’s traffic congestion while also promoting mass transit. If the past is prologue, they will decline to use it.
Congress, for instance, has until the end of this month to extend a law allowing mass transit users (e.g., bus, subway, commuter rail) to use up to $245 in pre-tax dollars toward their monthly commute. The federal government already allows $245 in pre-tax dollars to be used by drivers each month for their parking expenses, a figure which will increase to $250 on Jan. 1, 2014. The monthly pre-tax limit for transit users will fall to $130 on New Year’s Day should Congress fail to act on this matter by year-end 2013, something which happened in late 2011. D.C.’s inaction left transit users at a competitive disadvantage to drivers in 2012.
Written by Mike Barry Friday, 28 September 2012 00:00
J.R. Moehringer’s stock as an author has risen so high that his publisher is sending him this week on a national book tour which concludes in November. It will include a stop on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m., at the North Hempstead Country Club in Port Washington, where he’ll be the featured speaker at a $50 per person ticketed fundraiser for Friends of the Manhasset Public Library.
Moehringer, who won a Pulitzer Prize while at the Los Angeles Times, spent part of his youth in Manhasset. He is promoting these days the just-published Sutton (Hyperion), his first novel. The book is based in part on the life of Willie Sutton (1901-1980), an infamous New York City bank robber.
There’s little doubt Moehringer has found a compelling literary niche—getting inside, and trying to explain, the mind of a complicated protagonist. In 2005’s The Tender Bar, that role was played by Moehringer himself. His memoir about coming of age with few male role models besides the regular patrons of Publicans, a Plandome Road, Manhasset tavern which sat where Edison’s is today, quickly and understandably climbed The New York Times bestseller list. Indeed, it was so widely praised that retired tennis star Andre Agassi reportedly read The Tender Bar and recruited Moehringer to help Agassi write Open, Agassi’s 2010 autobiography. Open also drew critical raves and generated impressive book sales.
The promotional materials for Sutton posed this question: Are Bank Robbers Worse than Bankers? If Sutton accurately depicts what most bank robbers are like, I’m going to say bank robbers have fewer good stories to tell, and are less interesting, than bankers.
Moehringer’s jumping-off-point to tell Sutton’s story, in the form of historical fiction, is Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s real-life commutation of Sutton’s jail sentence on Christmas Day 1969. Before the governor made the decision to release him, legendary newspaper columnist Pete Hamill wrote that, “If Willie Sutton had been a GE board member, or a former water commissioner, instead of the son of an Irish blacksmith, he would be on the street right now.” That was true, and Sutton at the time had spent the previous 17 years in prison and was said to be in failing health, so Hamill added: “Willie Sutton should be able to sit and watch the ducks in Prospect Park one more time, or go to Nathan’s for a hot dog, or call up some old girl for a drink.”
Having read Hamill’s observations early in Sutton, I eagerly awaited the appearance of a softer, kinder bank robber. Well, Moehringer clearly did a deep dive into all things Willie Sutton, combing through his writings, as well as FBI and newspaper accounts of his exploits. But it is difficult to discern why he was so interested in reimagining this guy’s life. The available record indicates Sutton befriended other criminals, robbed banks, and spent years in jail. The unarmed CEO of Washington Mutual, whose bank wiped out its shareholders, might provide better source material for a novelist.