Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Hot Seat

I do not care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.
-- Groucho Marx (1890 - 1977)

The major candidates have been making the rounds downtown and of the offices that are up for grabs, only the District one City Council seat is hot and about to get much hotter.
Alan Gerson is running again since term-limits were extended, allowing Bloomberg to again run for Mayor. More than a few people had difficulty trying to figure out why Mike did not simply hold another referendum considering the fact that he really had the support of many New Yorkers.

The politics of the decision to take the City Council route to approve his third term run may never be fully understood – given the fact that his very well paid campaign staff had to have known that this method of succeeding opened a chasm between the Mayor and the people, perhaps unnecessarily.
The real damage, however, was done to politicians who were supporters of the Bloomberg plan and which also benefited themselves. The Mayor will survive very well, thank you. That’s not necessarily true for those who supported the plan in the City Council against the wishes of many in the community.

This brings us to the City Council seat race, which Gerson currently holds. The main challengers to Gerson are Pete Gleason and Margaret Chin. Chin is an activist whose greatest support comes from the Chinatown community and Gleason’s strength is stronger with unions, firefighters, police as well as growing sections of Greenwich Village and SoHo.
What is significant is that Gerson only narrowly won the support of VRDC, his own Democratic Club on a second ballot. For a challenger, Gleason clearly has turned the tables on Gerson and the upcoming D.I.D. vote may be a significant indicator of which direction this race may go.
Chin needs to break out of the perception of provincialism and Gleason needs to raise a lot more cash. If these things occur, it may become a wide-open 3-way Council race.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.
-- Hunter S. Thompson

The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.
-- James Madison

Imagine that you are a journalist in a country where the ruling party and its government does not tolerate criticism or a difference of opinion. Or, were you to voice opposition to the government, you would be killed or destroyed – using any means possible. That the focus of the government attacks may be couched in some other mainstream, popular vehicle, permitting vast media resources (including PR and phony leaks) to create an adverse frenzy is merely part of a strategy. Think about reporters waiting for you at every turn, walking around your apartment and offices, asking accusatory questions based upon innuendos and lies to sell tabloids and gain viewers. Almost any excuse can be used by a government to make you, yes you, a criminal to be pursued.
What is widely viewed as legitimate business practices, can, with a twist of focus by a government official, become an illegality.

In Russia, several journalists and human rights advocates have been the focus of convenient, high profile murders that were never solved. Court cases pointed accusatory fingers but juries have acquitted them – as arranged. In Iran, North Korea and other countries, similar actions have caused journalists following important issues to be tried and imprisoned simply for investigating and writing.

For a journalist in America, with financial devastation facing many publications, prospects for the continuation of Free Speech and Freedom of the Press is in severe jeopardy. Even the New York Times is in serious trouble and may be sold within a year. Only bloggers, themselves journalists, have a real handle on many issues and continue to carry the torch for truth, even if biased at times.
A journalist or blogger now must often choose between writing the truth, conveying a sense of the real subtext in his or her political environment or community, and being able to live one’s life unmolested. There is a heavy price to pay for speaking out.

Who will uncover truth in our society if these trends continue and more and more media slip into the mist of history? How will we continue as a Democracy if the forces of the State are allowed to destroy people using whatever means at their disposal?

Imagine that you had a point of view that you were afraid to voice in America. Will we now crucify and destroy those who disagree with us? Is this the new journalistic reality? Is this our future?

If we lose our liberties, there is no end to the slide into totalitarianism and terror.