In celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King—
50th Anniversary, Aug. 28, 1963
An elderly woman nodded off to sleep
resting her head on my shoulder.
We were two strangers
seated next to each other on the subway.
She was black and I white.
Not that that makes a difference.
I was recently speaking with one of my staff via cell phone as he walked his dog late in the evening. Unfortunately, we had to stop our conversation about a half dozen times as he waited for the noise from overhead aircraft to pass. So to those who ask me about airplane noise, yes, I do understand how aggravating it is. To be sure, I live with it every day, like most of you.
When my mail failed to materialize on Saturday, July 27, I thought August 10, the day Saturday delivery was supposed to stop, had arrived two weeks early. I still have not received it and my neighbors never received theirs either. I thought of the almost scriptural sentiment engraved on the magnificent James Farley post office building on 8th Avenue in New York City:
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these carriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Recently, Congressman Peter King fired a warning shot across the bow of Republican politics stating that isolationists like Rand Paul won’t defeat Hillary Clinton, the prospective Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. It’s a warning Republicans would be wise to heed.
Yet, in the second decade of the 21st century, Republicans are not merely divided over the budget but also America’s role in the world. Last week I lunched with an elderly gentleman whose views about economic and social policy are in harmony with my own. I mentioned my concern about the Republican Party embracing isolationism and becoming timorous about exerting any muscular influence in world affairs and how vexing it is that so many young Republicans support non-interventionists like Ron and Rand
Paul. My lunch companion, however, was unmoved by my animus and to my astonishment expressed support for the non-intervention wing of the Republican Party, stating that America no longer has the resources to police the world.
The selfishness we’re witnessing in Albany right now has to stop.
You know I’ve written in this column many times that New York State has made real progress these last three years. Things are far better than they used to be simply because Republicans and Democrats alike are finally working together. Despite the accompanying noise, there’s really no magic formula. Legislators with common sense have finally realized that you can’t always get everything you want and that most times, the reasonable middle ground also happens to advance the people’s agenda very nicely.
But I’m not “feeling the love” lately.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the City of Detroit filing for bankruptcy. It’s frightening to think that what was once one of the nation’s primary economic engines cannot pay its day-to-day bills. Despite sensationalist commentary from both sides of the political spectrum, I can assure you there’s really no single reason this happened. There are many causes and even more opinions, but one thing is for sure: Detroit borrowed and spent extravagantly for many years and dug itself right into a hole. Sadly, no one on the state level in Michigan intervened to get them back on track.
fallen from your home
I hold you gently in my hand
humbled to the core.
What is it about this administration and its economic policy? It’s not working and yet the president persists as if it is. We’ve lost 9 million jobs over the last 4 plus years and it hasn’t in the slightest altered the president’s mindset that the answer to America’s economic woes is more redistribution, regulation and unionization. This is what he outlined in his speech in Galesburg, Illinois and rarely has a president been so ideologically straitjacketed that he fails to see how otiose his vision for economic prosperity has been.
Weeding Our Political Garden
Admittedly, I do not have a green thumb. If our home is verdant it’s entirely by my wife’s efforts but I do recall once reading some gardening advice that seemed useful: you can’t get rid of weeds by simply pulling them out. You must plant something in their place to prevent their return.
I think of that advice when I hear people complain about some politicians. I believe “disgusted” is their term of choice, and certainly the media has uncovered plenty of unsavory behavior for us to be disgusted about. Still, I’m bothered by that cynicism because I know firsthand that most elected officials are honest and good people who take their public service as a point of pride. Nonetheless, I certainly understand where that cynicism stems from, especially when you read the sordid affairs smeared on the pages of New York’s newspapers these days.
Rising from the very depths of America’s soul, the words have a power all their own. There is something mighty and great in their sentiments; an unconquerable truth that cannot be defeated or subdued. Words so wedded to the soul of America, that the merest reflection invests them with grandeur and magnanimity:
Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless, tempest –tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
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