Having won a (temporary) victory in our now-endless budget battle, President Obama is now free to pursue the agenda that he’s laid out for his second term. As gleaned from various statements and media interviews, this includes: securing our withdrawal from Afghanistan, passing immigration reform, doing something about global climate change, doing something about gun Read More
By Kevin Baker 1/01/13 5:33pm
“One day, whole tribe falls off cliff.”
—Chief Wild Eagle, Hekawi Indians
Wow, that was a close one, wasn’t it? We just missed going over that fiscal cliff!
Or did we? Technically, we walked right off it, with no compromise on the budget officially voted on and signed into law before the end of 2012. Read More
By Kevin Baker 12/18/12 8:13pm
“What a wonder is a gun!
What a versatile invention!
First of all, when you’ve a gun—
Everybody pays attention.”
—Stephen Sondheim, Assassins
Last year I had the opportunity to review Candice Millard’s excellent history of the Garfield assassination, Destiny of the Republic. President Garfield’s killer, Charles J. Guiteau, has generally been characterized as “a disgruntled office-seeker,” but as Millard makes clear, he was barking mad. His own family was terrified of him and had been for years, but it proved impossible to find him any effective mental health care.
Finding a cheap handgun in the nation’s capital, on the other hand, proved very easy. One murdered president later, attention was paid.
That was 131 years ago. Little has changed. Getting effective, affordable mental health care is nearly as difficult for many Americans as it was in Garfield’s time, while guns are more ubiquitous and deadly than ever. Read More
By Kevin Baker 12/11/12 6:59pm
The millennium arrived sometime during the day of December 4, when New York State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein led his spanking new Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) over to the Republican side of the aisle.
Talk about the rapidly approaching Mayan apocalypse! Mr. Klein, a Bronx Democrat, assures us that he and four fellow Democrats will Read More
By Kevin Baker 12/04/12 8:05pm
The conventional wisdom insists that President Obama has all the leverage right now over the Republicans in their negotiation for a “grand bargain” to close the budget deficit. Bolstered by his smashing election victory, gains by the Democrats in both houses of Congress and a changing popular mood, this would seem like the ideal moment Read More
By Kevin Baker 11/27/12 7:29pm
This is my version of a standard holiday column, inspired by the hope that we can rise above all the horror and suffering in the world today and live in peace and goodwill.
Its subject is the Middle East because, well, that’s where peace and goodwill go to die. The Middle East is always the Read More
By Kevin Baker 11/19/12 7:16pm
Peer under the tent flap of our splendid new civic order, and you’re guaranteed to see a disturbing sight: all the same failed policies of the past, lovingly preserved in formaldehyde.
That’s what I got from Amy Nicholson’s thoroughly enjoyable, thoroughly enraging new documentary, Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride, which won a special jury prize last week at DOC NYC, New York’s Documentary Film Festival and is currently making the festival rounds. Ms. Nicholson was generous enough to open her film with a quote from me about the destruction of the old Coney, though I have no other association with the production.
What she and I do share is a deep resentment over what has been done to this iconic New York neighborhood under the guise of “improving” it. Read More
By Kevin Baker 11/13/12 7:39pm
So now that the election is done at last, we can get down to the hard work of striking a “grand bargain” on the budget by cutting spending and raising taxes, and thus avoid the looming “fiscal cliff.”
Any bargain will be a bad bargain, of course. Not so long ago, any moderately bright schoolchild Read More
By Kevin Baker 11/06/12 7:28pm
The great thing about living in New York used to be that you didn’t have to give a damn about the natural world.
Sadly, those days seem to be gone. Even in my neighborhood, which was lucky enough to be high and relatively dry, things began to resemble a zombie movie by last Wednesday. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, hordes of Upper West Siders staggered about the sidewalks, searching for brunch instead of brains: “Rrrrrr … smoked fish … rrr … hollandaise!”
Now, it seems, we’re all ready to give ourselves a big pat on the back for how we weathered the storm. Read More
By Kevin Baker 10/31/12 1:50pm
“… you have no sense of responsibility toward anyone or anything. And that is a tragedy in a man and a disaster in a president.” —Gore Vidal, The Best Man
I never much cared for Gore Vidal, and I don’t like quoting him. He was an anti-Semite and a cynic whose sniggering contrarianism extended to Read More