THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: He’s looked into the Cuomos’ souls

SO NOW COMES NEWS of a possible primary challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from none other than Andrew Cuomo. Both are terrific and accomplished politicians.

How would you vote in such a contest? As a woman at a time when our politics probably need more women, Gillibrand has a probable advantage but—and this is a big but—the Cuomo name still brings a surge to the hearts of many New Yorkers. Look, I have had my ups and downs with the Cuomos. Papa (Mario) Cuomo and I spoke for years on the radio. He was a funny, combustible type of guy. If you were in a verbal contest with him, he was uber-worthy. He didn’t let you get away with a thing. That’s because he was incredibly smart. He just knew a lot. Maybe it was his formal education. Maybe it was his constant reading and profound understanding of human nature. Whatever it was, Mario Cuomo was a contender. There are many of us who believed that he should and could have been President of the United States. When you stack him up against the present crop of top politicians, he shines like a very bright light.

The Cuomos are New York royalty—they speak like New Yorkers and act like New Yorkers. When you see a Cuomo, you better believe that you are seeing a New Yorker. So, they’re very much in the New York voter consciousness. But not everybody in the country likes that New York consciousness. One of the reasons why a Cuomo never got to be president is that many people in this country have an aversion to New Yorkers, including the way that they speak and the way that they act. Too many people see the Cuomos as bullies. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Who commits murder?

IF YOU TURN ON THE TELEVISION or radio or pick up a newspaper, you will hear about someone who has committed a murder. Murder?! I mean, what kind of person deprives another of their life?

You can ask yourself that question but it is very hard to imagine killing another person, right? Nevertheless, it happens all the time. The news is filled with such stories. Let me ask you, what would it take for you to commit murder? I admit that I have been very angry at times. Nevertheless, I cannot think of a circumstance that would lead me to take the life of another person. Yet people murder one another all the time, sometimes for the most bizarre reasons. Many of us spent days glued to our screens, watching the trial of a man who allegedly murdered his wife and his son. Who does that? All of us have, at one time or another, been furious with relatives who have really annoyed us but we don’t kill them. We may yell or scream or protest, but we don’t murder them. During the aforementioned trial a prominent attorney named Alex Murdaugh was convicted of two counts of murder. Like I said, we can get angry but not angry enough to murder another human being.

This guy Murdaugh seemingly had it all, or at least a lot of what we consider to be “all.” Here we saw a hero college football player making so much money that you could hardly count that high. He was respected by many. You can read his words in the newspaper. “As I tell you again, I respect this court but I am innocent. I would never, under any circumstances hurt my wife, Maggie, and I would never, under any circumstances hurt my son, Paul.” No matter how unlikely it is that we might believe ourselves capable of committing murder, almost none of us would actually deprive someone of their life. Yet, with some regularity we see it happen. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: What goes between your toes


When it snows after a long winter, we are naturally let down. We may have had enough of the cold weather but there is little we can do about it. So we accept that which we can’t control and move on. There is only so much we can control in our environment and that doesn’t include the weather. The key word here is “control.” When I walk and my toes feel frozen, it’s a question of mind over matter.

Of course, there are some things that you can do about cold feet. It almost always comes down to shoes and socks. Good shoes can make all the difference, but they can be very expensive. Warm socks can make a huge difference in how our feet feel. When I was a kid, we had a shoe store on the upper West Side called Tom McCan, my father would take his twins there and the salesman would take out this formidable instrument to measure our feet and determine what we needed. The fact that the shoe guy measured your feet was very important. He would kneel and you would put your foot in the measuring device. Then he would get the shoe boxes out from the back and help you try on the shoes. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Money means many things

SO WHAT ARE WE WORTH? Many of us inherit money from relatives who have accumulated a fortune from their businesses and their own relatives. There is always a question of what wealthy people do with their money. How do they spend it? Who do they give it to?

My family never had that much money. I do remember my parents struggling with their checkbooks. My mother was a teacher and later a school-community coordinator, working for the New York City Board of Education. Her boss, the assistant superintendent, was Morris Finkle.

My family lived in fear that the phone would ring and that the man we called “Stinky Finky” would be on the other end, looking for my mother. My father always had jobs that paid him just adequately. At one point, he was the general manager of something called the Harmon Watch Company. I remember going to his workplace with him and watching him winding individual watches which he carefully put back in the safe where they were kept. Read more…


ABOUT A WEEK AGO, I wrote that I might not be writing every week. The key word there is “might.” I like writing. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it. I remember as a kid we had this routine. Someone would say something and we might respond, “Well, that’s life.” Of course, we all know that the response would be, “What’s life?” The classic answer would be,”A magazine.” That’s when “Life Magazine” was big stuff. So the point here is that we seem to keep on doing what we have always done. Sometimes that’s because we get into a rut but most of the time, it’s because we discover that, at least in our own minds, we think we are doing something well.

So I wrote that I might no longer be writing on a regular basis and some of you were kind enough to write me some fairly nice notes suggesting that I reconsider my decision. Well, okay, I have thought about it and what I wrote sounded fairly definitive. Since then, though,  I reconsider something my own mother used to say so many years ago: “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” That, in hindsight, seems like what I was doing. I really do like writing and I especially enjoy your occasional responses. One of the reasons why we columnists write every week is that regularity is a big part of getting it done. You all know that. When you have to return to something week after week, it becomes part of who you are. If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is to fill in the blanks as far as your own life is concerned. Read more…