THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Opening schools is a close call

I KNOW THAT I WOULDN’T WANT to be governor of New York or frankly, any other politician. I once told Andrew Cuomo’s father, Mario, that I thought many people must be indebted to him, using judicial appointments to make my point. He sarcastically responded that you end up with 12 people who hate your guts because you didn’t appoint them and one ingrate. I bitch when I get hate mail so I can only imagine what Andrew Cuomo has to put up with. You can only make a decision based on the best information that you have at the time and it may well be imperfect. You have to look no further than Andrew’s earlier pronouncements about nursing homes to see what I mean.

Now we are dealing with the issue of letting our kids to go back to school. About a week ago, Cuomo made some news with me on the radio when he said that if the positivity rate for Covid-19 stays as low as it currently is, schools can reopen. Cuomo must know, as we all do, that sooner or later a child will come down with the virus and the cheap-shot artists, some of whom are in the press, will be all over him, characterizing him as a near murderer. But just put yourself in his place. What would you have done?

There really are no good answers. Many families have two parents working to put food on the table. Many have one. If no one is at home to take care of the kids, there can be real trouble, up to and including violation of the child abandonment laws and tragedies like a kid burning down the house because he or she was playing with matches. But what about that food on the table? Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Old film echoes today’s threat

TALK ABOUT PRESCIENCE. On my recent birthday, I got lucky. For the hundredth time, I got to see Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, one of the greatest movies of all time. Frank Capra, the phenomenal director, gets the credit for most of it. In this era of Trump, when the norms of this Republican Democracy are being corrupted again and again, this great film, produced in 1939, shows the potential for the downfall of our principles and reminds us how close this country is coming to a major meltdown and a change to a fascistic/totalitarian form of government.

The basic plot revolves around a corrupt boss in an unnamed state who wants to build an unnecessary dam. He is juxtaposed with a young man, an interim appointment to the Senate, who wants to build a boys’ camp in that same natural spot. We see all the Washington sights, with a particular emphasis on the statue of Abraham Lincoln and the truths embodied and printed on his memorial that, incidentally, was created very close to where I live in the Berkshires.

The movie really gets going when Mr. Smith, who has been framed and pilloried by the hometown boss, gets up on the floor to filibuster. He reads everything from the U.S. Constitution to all the other documents he can find. It is fascinating that in watching this film from so long ago, we can see the playbook of Donald Trump so many years later. Trump, of course, is morally corrupt. We are now hearing accusations that the president instructed the U.S. Ambassador to Britain to make sure an important match is played on a golf course that he owns. Trump denied that he did it, but he has lied so many times that many of us do not believe him. Read more…