Bloomberg and Kelly Keep the Peace

The
very words “Howard Beach” conjure painful images for New Yorkers who remember the racist attack which took place in that Queens neighborhood in 1986. A black man died when he was struck by a car while fleeing a mob of young white men.

Nearly
20 years later, Howard Beach is back in the news because of another racially charged incident: A young black man was assaulted by a group of young white Howard Beach residents, one of whom used a baseball bat to attack the victim.

The
1986 incident led to an ugly, divisive period in the city’s history. The
2005
incident has been handled with extraordinary sensitivity and intelligence.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg moved quickly to diffuse tensions, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly acted just as swiftly to see that the alleged assailants were apprehended. Most important, New Yorkers reacted with admirable restraint and sanity. There have been no provocations and counter-provocations, no reckless rhetoric and no made-for-television confrontations.

Once
again, we are reminded that New York is a much better place than it was 20 years ago. Crime is down, reading scores are up, and now we learn that race relations are better. True, this latest incident in Howard Beach suggests that hatred still lurks in some dark corners of the city. But that really cannot come as a surprise. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that no group of lawmakers can legislate what is in a person’s heart.

The
subdued, intelligent reaction to the recent Howard Beach attack tells us that while hatred remains unsubdued, it has been isolated. Black New Yorkers have expressed a newfound trust in their Mayor and their Police Department. White New Yorkers have reacted with appropriate contempt for the alleged perpetrators. New Yorkers, far from divided, are united in their determination that no small group of racists will once again tear apart the city. That unity is born of good governance and the city’s commitment to justice.

Millions
of New Yorkers have seen their neighborhoods and their schools change for the better. There is less despair in New York today, less contempt for politicians and police officers. New Yorkers of all races and ethnic groups have been the beneficiaries of an economic, political and spiritual renaissance since the mid 1990’s, and they clearly do not wish to return to the bad old days of racial polarization.

That
is the story of Howard Beach 2005.

Tom
Cruise: Arrogant Dope

“I
think psychiatry should be outlawed. I think it’s an utter waste of time.
There’s nothing scientific about it.”

Meet
America’s newest expert on depression and mood disorders: Tom Cruise. He also happens to be the country’s highest-paid actor. Is there nothing this man cannot do?

Lately,
Mr. Cruise has been providing the tabloid press with enough weird behavior to fill the vacuum left by the acquittal of Michael Jackson. His very public courtship of actress Katie Holmes has given many people the creeps: A poll by People magazine found that 63 percent believe the relationship is a publicity stunt. Meanwhile, Mr. Cruise has used his high-profile status to proclaim another passion: his antipathy for the methods of psychiatry and psychology.

Mr.
Cruise, a high-school dropout, has been telling anyone who will listen that psychotherapy and psychiatry are a sham. He dismisses the fact that combinations of therapy and medication have brought relief to millions who previously suffered from depression, anxiety and other conditions. That’s because, as the world knows by now, Mr. Cruise is an outspoken advocate of Scientology, a kooky self-described “religion” founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. And he’s determined to tell others—such as actress Brooke Shields, who suffered a suicidal bout of postpartum depression before being treated with medication—what’s good for them.

In
a recent interview with the Today show’s Matt Lauer, Mr. Cruise unleashed a stream of arrogant gibberish more befitting a dim-witted college sophomore than a 43-year-old man. In the interview, he asserted that psychiatry is a “pseudo-science” and that “There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance.”
A
brief sample:

Mr.
Lauer: “Tom, if [Brooke Shields] said that this particular thing helped her feel better—whether it was the antidepressant or going to a counselor or psychiatrist—isn’t that enough?”

Mr.
Cruise: “Matt, you have to understand this. Here we are today, where I talk out against drugs and psychiatric abuses of electro-shocking people, O.K., against their will, of drugging children with them not knowing the effects of these drugs. Do you know what Aderol is? Do you know Ritalin? Do you know now that Ritalin is a street drug? Do you understand that?

When
Mr. Lauer tried to ask his question again, Mr. Cruise said, “Here’s the
problem: You don’t know the history of psychiatry. I do.” Then, referring to Ms. Shields, he said, “She doesn’t understand the history of psychiatry. She doesn’t understand in the same way that you don’t understand it, Matt.”

Shockingly
enough, Ms. Shields didn’t appreciate this priceless advice from the wise Mr.
Cruise. A few days later, in an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, Ms.
Shields wrote about “Mr. Cruise’s ridiculous rant,” and noted, “I’m going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression.” She made the point that by trying to demonize medication, Mr.
Cruise was potentially making even more mothers ashamed to seek treatment.

Mr.
Cruise doesn’t have the good sense to keep his nutty notions to himself.
Surrounded by Hollywood sycophants and fellow Scientologists, Mr. Cruise has never had the benefit of an honest friend to tell him to keep his trap shut.
And so he ends up making a fool of himself, as in a recent interview with the German magazine Spiegel:

Mr.
Cruise: “In Scientology, we have the only successful drug-rehabilitation program in the world. It’s called Narconon.”

Interviewer:
“That’s not correct. Yours is never mentioned among the recognized detox programs. Independent experts warn against it because it is rooted in pseudo-science.”

Mr.
Cruise: “You don’t understand what I am saying. It’s a statistically proven fact that there is only one successful drug-rehabilitation program in the world. Period.”

Interviewer:
“With all due respect, we doubt that.”

Our
advice to Tom Cruise: When he’s about to babble to anyone, especially the media, he should ask himself, “What would Clint Eastwood do?”

Bad
Marriage and Babies

It
goes without saying that a bad marriage disrupts the whole family. But new research reveals that a tense relationship between parents can have a profound impact on infants as young as 3 months old. Babies exposed to an unhealthy marriage are more likely to be unable to calm themselves, and the development of their emotional self-control may be derailed.

The
study, conducted by John Gottman, a noted marital researcher and professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington, measured heart rate, facial expressions and neurological responses in babies. Those infants whose parents’ marriages were reported as troubled showed more signs of crying and distress, and less engagement with the parents. An unhealthy marriage directly affected the parents’ ability to spontaneously interact with their children.
Fathers in bad marriages either withdrew from playing with their offspring, or over-stimulated the child, making the baby cry. Likewise, mothers in an unhappy marriage erred on the side of over-stimulation, not allowing the baby any time to experience his or her independence. Before long, the problems of the marriage are mirrored in the baby.

Dr.
Gottman cautions that after a baby arrives, tensions can flare up even in a good marriage. Indeed, 67 percent of couples report a drop in marital happiness after their first baby is born. But if a couple is aware of this, they can take steps to make sure their temporary interpersonal struggles don’t do long-term harm to their child’s emotional well-being.