Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Slumlords and Bigots

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The Voice has been doing two articles on the city’s worst landlords (something it writes on fairly regularly, and for the most part the culprits tend to fall into one of three narratives:

  • Real estate sharks who over-leveraged during the housing boom.
  • Real estate sharks whose business model involves converting rent-stabilized apartments into market apartments.
  • Orthodox Jews who discriminate against non-Orthodox Jews.

Perhaps Lieberman is more right than he thinks: Perhaps East Jerusalem isn’t so much like Queens as Washington Heights (and Williamsburg) are like East Jerusalem. Two of the three listed are basically aggressive efforts at mass eviction*. All you need’s a bulletproof bulldozer and the similarities become apparent.

On a more positive news front, Obama and Pelosi** have won the first battle for health care in this country in over 50 years, despite the McCarthyite Red Scare and the John Birch Society-esque race baiting (and misogyny and gaybashing and…), making yet another historical step forward under Obama’s belt – making the grand total three now: Being elected and not shot, saving us from a second Great Depression, and now doing more for Health Care than Clinton and indeed anybody since LBJ.

I’m not so optimistic that this battle won will finally nail the coffin of the Republican Party, and I’d like very much to believe that their extremism and fear-mongering and incitement to violence (up to and including a call to arms against the government as illegitimate, itself a treasonous accusation) is mere desperation that they have finally lost touch with the people – and I yet do indeed believe that the Tea Party Movement, filled with bigots as it is, is mere Astroturf under the hands of moguls with power to lose – but what I see shocks me, and I just wish it over and done with.

*And the last – the over-leveraging – is proof positive that rich people have no concept over how much they’re truly and directly screwing the poor, because I’d much more easily accept that they’re ignorant rather than they don’t care. If it is indeed the latter, then I don’t need to advocate violence – violence will come anyway.

**And might I say how much it sickens and angers me how much casual vitriol and cavalier hatred has been directed towards Nancy Pelosi’s gender – as had been previously laid on Hillary Clinton – not unlike how Barack Obama, since entering office, has dealt with every single piece of cynical badgering that Clinton had to put up with, plus an unending torrent of race-baiting that has flowed down to just about every Black member of Congress, to say nothing of liberals in general. Are we really so backwards as a people?


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Meathead* has it right.

Consequently, you know partisanship is alive and well when, in investigating the egregious wrongdoings of the former Republican administration on the matter of torture, a Democrat is getting the brunt of the judicial probe… for being in the same room as them.

Garrison Keillor (of NPR fame) did a recent piece that he came under flak for apparently offering appeasement for the torturers. So, in defense of Keillor and to find a viable solution because I, too, would like to see Dubya & Co. drawn and quartered over this, I ask this:

How can we hold a criminal investigation that may encompass a sizable chunk of Republican leadership without it appearing politically charged?

Consider how the Monica Lewinsky debacle completely eclipsed the second half of Bill Clinton’s second term, to the point that the entire Bosnian war was a mere footnote under the far more important tribulations of Slick Willy.

I worry that the assumed level of fealty politicians and pundits have to this country as compared to the party in power has waned precipitously. We don’t have the “Yes, Mr. President” bipartisanship of FDR’s first term. We don’t have the “nobody is above the law” eulogy of Nixon’s fall. The Republican establishment killed that: They didn’t just break the government’s ability to govern, they broke democracy.

What we have instead is a media franchise that smells blood and is all too willing to play the part of over-funded tabloids than actually report the news. As Obama said fairly recently, it’s the media that makes democracy possible, and I believe his reticence towards prosecution is a direct result of the media hampering his ability to assume the responsibility of office when it comes to enforcing the rule of law.

This isn’t to say that the media is necessarily politically biased (except where it is, Fox News) but that network “news” and the 24-hours news cycle, coupled with dire needs for advertising and readership for traditional outlets to remain solvent, means that the media is in the business of entertainment, not news, and as such will forego news for, well, tabloid tomfoolery.

*Archie Bunker reference a happy coincidence

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