The Seamy Mr. Torricelli

It’s official: The U.S. Senate has a new poster boy for bad behavior. It’s Senator Robert G. Torricelli of New Jersey, who has succeeded Alfonse D’Amato as the Senate’s most ethically illiterate member.

Reports in The New York Times and the Star-Ledger of Newark note that Mr. Torricelli reaped a windfall of more than $50,000 in 24 hours by investing in a stock offering that was later found to be manipulated. And among those charged with the manipulation is Lawrence Penna, who turns out to have been a major contributor to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee when Mr. Torricelli was its chairman. And Mr. Penna’s company, Investors Associates, contributed $50,000 to Mr. Torricelli’s Senate campaign in 1996.

As was the case with Mr. D’Amato, Mr. Torricelli keeps company with some extremely dubious characters, and it is hard not to conclude that his choice of friends and business associates is no coincidence. His claim to power in Washington is his reputation as a voracious fund-raiser–like Mr. D’Amato. And, like the deposed Senator from Long Island, Mr. Torricelli isn’t too particular about the sources of the money he raises.

Mr. Penna was one of nine people indicted recently on Federal charges that they manipulated the stock of 11 companies, including the company Mr. Torricelli invested in, Compare Generiks. The conspirators made $200 million in illegal profits. Some might argue that nearly every politician could be accused of looking the other way when contributions come rolling in. But Mr. Torricelli’s private dealings suggest that he brings to an already tawdry business a particularly sleazy code of conduct. Why is he engaging in hot-issue stock swindles? If nothing else, Mr. Torricelli’s one-day windfall of $52,446 further explains why he is so overjoyed by the prospect of Hillary Clinton’s Senate candidacy in New York. Perhaps he is looking forward to the day when the two of them can exchange stock tips in the Senate cloakroom. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton will persuade her Garden State champion to blame his troubles on a few dead relatives.

How many other stock swindles has Mr. Torricelli benefited from? How many bucket shop operators, most likely headed for the slammer, knew it would be a great advantage to have a senator in their pocket, a man who could push the judicial process around? Could this be just the tip of the iceberg?

The 800 Youth March

Numbers don’t lie, and the number of people who turned up on Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem on Sept. 4 for Khallid Abdul Muhammad’s Million Youth March proved that Mr. Muhammad’s bigoted, anti-Semitic rantings have failed to gain any footing in New York. Last year, Mr. Muhammad’s march drew only 6,000 people; this year, 800 showed up, a paltry cheering section who did not even fill a city block. If he decides to hold his march again next year, would anyone be surprised if the crowd consisted entirely of Mr. Muhammad’s thuggish bodyguards?

Harlem residents have rejected the bigot’s flaky world view of Jewish people as “bloodsuckers”; they stayed away rather than hear Mr. Muhammad proclaim, “You can’t stop me from calling the white man a devil. That’s my religion.” By now, everyone has caught on to Mr. Muhammad’s scam of trying to cloak his inflammatory bigotry in the history of black pride and achievement. He has far more in common with white racists such as David Duke than he does with leaders of the African-American community. Several of New York’s most powerful black elected officials, such as City Council member Bill Perkins, Representative Charles Rangel and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, deserve praise for telling New Yorkers to stay away from the march. And the Police Department acted wisely, letting the march dwindle of its own accord, offering jugs cold water to participants and leaving the helicopters at home. In short, it was a non-event.

Meanwhile, Al Sharpton, a friend of Mr. Muhammad’s and fellow traveler in anti-Semitism, recently presented himself as a friend of the Orthodox Jewish community in Borough Park, where he went to stir up trouble (and publicity) following the police shooting of Gidone Busch. What little power he has, Mr. Sharpton uses irresponsibly. Yet he still thinks he should be elected to office one day. Taking absurdity a step further, a day after the march, Jesse Jackson took Mr. Muhammad to task for anti-Semitism. This from a man who called Jewish people “hymies” and New York “hymietown,” a man who has never fully repudiated the anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. Mr. Jackson’s hypocritical political ploy was just the final farce of the march that went nowhere.

The Co-op Cohab Problem

It’s no secret that in Manhattan, love and real estate are more deeply entwined than any other place on earth. More than looks, breeding or education, what New Yorkers really want to know on that first date is, Does he or she have a nice place? In a city where people with six-figure incomes still live in five-floor walk-ups, one’s choice of mate often has more to do with square footage rather than ephemeral things like good character. And with real estate prices continuing to rise, more young couples will be cohabiting within the first months of courtship, out of necessity if not emotional synergy. But by doing so, they may very well be destroying their chances for a Happily Ever After.

So says a new report by the National Marriage Project, as reported in The Family Therapy Newsletter , which concludes that the “intrinsic nature of the cohabiting relationship” seems to spell doom for that relationship. Their advice? “It is best not to live together before marriage or to make a habit of cohabiting,” and, if you must, to “limit cohabiting to the shortest period of time possible.” And if a couple with children chose to live together sans marriage, the overall effect on the children was found to be unhealthy.

Exceptions are when the couple is engaged, or when they are senior citizens. Which means that if you really want to live together now, relax, and put it off for about 40 years. The Seamy Mr. Torricelli