THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: So you need a favor?

NEW YORK STATE POLITICS have always been interesting. New York State has New York City and New York City is the center of the world. When I think of the Big Apple, I inevitably return to thinking about big city politics and corruption. I bet that you do, too.

Part of the problem is the connection between politics and money. If you are going to win in the power game, a large part of your success has to do with the accumulation of money. Money is as essential to the game of politics as dice are to the game of Monopoly.

There are lots of ways of using money in the political game. You can wine and dine essential political players. You can inject essential monies for advertising into a campaign, which really can make all the difference between winning and losing. Money is important. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Some stories never grow old

SO WHAT DOES OUR POPULATION DO as it grows older? We all know that the older you get, the more problems you are likely to have. Memory loss and physical problems can plague people as they age. There are some things that might make life easier. You can take up residence in a community that is designed for older people. Many of whom bought homes years ago find that they are expensive to maintain. Even though our homes have increased in value, they still take a lot of effort across the board to keep up. Many of us have resisted formal retirement because we simply don’t have the resources to keep living at the level which we have enjoyed and Social Security benefits don’t begin, in most cases, to cover the bills.

There are some myths about traditional retirement. One of these is that when you hit the magic age of 65, you retire. I have continued to work into my early eighties. I do that because I love my job. I value my productivity in the same way others have hobbies. The problem is that our need to work sometimes loses in a race to reality. First of all, there really isn’t enough work to go around. People will have to make up jobs as we go forward. If enough jobs don’t exist, we will just have to be more creative in creating them. There were several authors who predicted that by the time we reached where we are Old age should be a blessing. All of our cumulative experiences are a road map to our character. We do tend to make the same mistakes over and over again and that is a big problem. It may be as simple as leaving dirty dishes in the sink with the expectation that someone else will clean up our mess. How many times have you felt that you should do the physically challenging act of kicking yourself in your own rear end? As human creatures we do tend to replicate our mistakes. You’ve got to wonder why, when we know that our behavior is counter-productive, do we do it again?

Think of the really stupid things that you did as a child and have continued to do later in life. When as a kid I was confronted by a bully, I could really feel the blood rising to my head. To this day, I have to confront my own temper in similar situations. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Take a break from the frosty punditry

THE WINTER US A’COMIN’ IN. We know what that means. Perhaps the worst of it is ice. One false move on the ice can mean broken bones and general disaster. It can take days, weeks, months and sometimes even years to mend after you have slipped, fallen and wreaked havoc on your body. The last time I fell, I made the classic mistake trying to break my fall with my outstretched arm. Instinct makes you throw your arm out to protect yourself from a fall, but not only did I break my downward descent, I also broke my fingers in several places. There is also the matter of one’s ego. So what preventive measures can we take to preserve our bones and hopefully avoid a trip to the emergency room?

I guess the answer to the question is what we might call consciousness. You’ve got to be mindful and thinking all the time about what you are doing. We humans have to be in a state of constant vigilance. If you walk down icy stairs, you’ve got to remember the last time you slipped and fell. If you don’t, you are doomed to do it again. Obviously, the older you are, the greater danger you are in. Nobody wants to spend hours waiting in an ER, kicking themselves for not taking the proper precautions that would have precluded the pain and suffering that comes with carelessness.

At a very youthful 81 years of age, I have developed some rules for myself. One of these is to use a cane. It’s amazing how a cane can save you from disaster. Of course, if you put the cane in the wrong place, like in a hole or crevice in the sidewalk or street, you can face some pretty dire consequences. We’ve all done it. Another one of my current and pretty simple rules is to always look down on my daily five mile walk. I know it sounds simple but looking down at your feet can save you a lot of pain. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Even dogs know the truth

I WAS TALKING TO MURRAY, the world’s cutest and wisest dog, the other day. The little Westie is actually quite articulate and always seems to think through our societal concerns. He was named after a good friend who has long since passed but who was concerned with our contemporary problems. It may not have occurred to you that dogs can speak to each other and can communicate about what’s on their minds. They can.

Murray told me that he has been very concerned about the risk of nuclear war. He read in a discarded newspaper that the Russians are up to their old tricks, now threatening to use nuclear devices to have their way with the western nations. It is clear to Murray that things will never change. He says that the Russians have always had this belligerent attitude based on their inferiority complex and that sooner or later, they will use the nuclear weapons that they have simply because, in Murray’s words, “They can.”

It is undeniable that they have the weapons and capacity to do exactly that. The good news is that the Russian people don’t want any part of another world war. They know the carnage and chaos that will result. Nevertheless, ultimately it is not the people who make these decisions but their leaders. Our news media reflects what leadership is thinking at any given moment. Of course, the old Soviet era is gone but the reality is old feuds die very slowly. Read more…