Bush’s $20 Billion Promise

New York has rarely felt as appreciated as it did on Sept. 14, when

President George Bush toured ground zero, threw his arm around a firefighter

and delivered a rousing speech. Then came a promise of $20 billion in federal

assistance and assurances that Washington would help us rebuild.

As we

near the three-month anniversary of the world’s most horrific terrorist attack,

the Bush administration is less sympathetic to New York’s plight. Not only are

administration officials determined to give us only half the money right away,

but they’ve resolved to block any other assistance beyond the $20 billion-if

and when we get even that.

One

would like to think that the rebuilding effort in New York would be free of back-room politics. New Yorkers aren’t asking for

a handout. Yet Mr. Bush is acting like this is some highway bill loaded

up with pork-barrel projects. As it stands, New York will probably get between

$9 billion and $11 billion as soon as Congress can act on the spending plan.

The rest of the money might be sent to New York next year, but who knows? As

for any additional aid, the city is on its own.

New

York came under attack because it is this nation’s financial and cultural center.

The terrorists were attacking not just New York, but a symbol of American

power. President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are sending a profoundly

distressing message-to us and to our enemies-by trying to pinch billions.

It seems the Republican President has concluded

the city is Democratic territory that will never throw many votes his

way. Our junior Senator, Hillary Clinton, was curiously invisible until very

recently, and now she’s playing catch-up with Senator Charles Schumer as they

appeal for aid. It’s clear the President dismisses incoming Mayor Michael

Bloomberg as a Democrat masquerading as a Republican. Our two Republican

leaders, Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, have not been as

outspoken as they should be. The Governor originally asked for $54 billion in

aid, and loaded his request with silly spending plans for upstate. When critics

attacked his plan, the Governor lost his tongue, and he has yet to find it. The

Mayor has ludicrously said that we don’t need $20 billion now, anyway. Sure, it

takes a while to spend that kind of money, but clearly it’s better to have the

cash in hand than to have a federal I.O.U., particularly as the administration

tries to pay for a war while offering laughable tax breaks. If Mr. Giuliani had

used his newfound clout to publicly demand the $20 billion, you can bet the check might have been on his desk as quickly

as the next day.

The

President and his advisers have done a good job in managing the war overseas.

Too bad they’ve turned cheap when it comes to rebuilding the nation’s greatest

city.

What’s Wrong

With An Elite East Side

Public School?

Be careful what you wish for. A group of Upper East Side parents has

been working with the Board of Education for two years to establish a public

high school that would offer an academically rigorous curriculum to match those

of the area’s costly private schools. The

parents are trying to strike a much-needed

blow against the city’s normal way of handling education issues: do nothing,

and watch as middle-class families move to the suburbs. The emergence of

quality neighborhood high schools would be a cause for celebration throughout

the city. The former Sotheby’s warehouse on East 76th Street has been

identified as a likely location for the school.

But

Schools Chancellor Harold Levy and the Board of Education have been cagey about

following through on the school’s main selling points: that its 500 students

will be drawn from the neighborhood and that the curriculum will be geared

toward high achievers. Several board officials feel that such a school would be

elitist-which reveals the school board’s prejudice against any educational

endeavor that dares to reward academic excellence. And so the board may end up

approving the school, but also enforce zoning and admissions rules that would, by one estimate, limit enrollment of Upper

East Side students to well under 20 percent of the student body. As a

result, the parents are asking the board to reject the school in its current

form, even if it means losing the lease on the building. “We got used,” one

parent told The New York Times.

The

board says it will take up the issues of zoning and curriculum at a later date-but

unless the board changes its current tune, the school will likely be open to students from several neighborhoods. And

the board’s current academic guidelines

severely limit the ability of the school to admit top students. By not allowing local parents to have a high

school for their kids, the city would be furthering the climate in which only

children whose parents can afford private-school tuition, or who can meet the

entrance requirements of selective public schools such as Hunter College High

School, Stuyvesant and the Bronx High School of Science, have a chance at a

decent education.

Chancellor

Levy and board president Ninfa Segarra should get behind the vision of the new

school before this rare opportunity is swallowed up by the business-as-usual

bureaucrats.

Are Men Sex Addicts?

Women have always known that men often behave as if driven by some

bizarre force beyond rational explanation, most particularly when it comes to

matters of love and sex. And men have been

taken to task for their seeming inability to resemble normal human

beings when in the vicinity of a beautiful woman. New research suggests that,

well, the guys can’t help it. It turns out that the male brain responds to

beauty the way an addict’s brain reacts to an infusion of heroin, or a starving

person’s brain reacts to a plate of food. The researchers speculate that men

may be hard-wired to be sex addicts.

In the

study, published in the journal Neuron,

heterosexual men in their mid-20′s were shown pictures of men and women and had

their brain response measured. The

images of beautiful women stimulated the same “reward circuits” that light up

when presented with food or narcotics. The results suggest that rather than

female beauty simply being the product of a particular culture’s values, it

touches a more primal chord in men.

This

goes a long way toward explaining the odd mating behavior of males, as well as

perhaps their nagging need for new “conquests.” And once again, science

confirms what women’s intuition has been telling them for centuries.