Thingish Things

Shelly Silver Has to Go

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Sep• 04•12

Pay close attention to the deafening silence coming out of Albany legislators right now. It tells you everything you need to know about the reality of politics.

It shows how power trumps the rights of victims. And it demonstrates the appalling lack of courage in electoral politics today.

It’s been over a week since we learned that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) arranged a secretive, $103,000 payoff to female Assembly employees who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by their boss, Assemb. Vito Lopez. He was also the Brooklyn Democratic Party boss — a post he has said he will resign. But not a single Democrat — and just two elected Republicans — have called on Silver to resign as Assembly Speaker.

That cacophony of “War on Women” cries we’ve been hearing all summer? It’s gone utterly quiet.

Silver, who has held an iron grip on power in the Assembly for the past 18 years, initially failed to report the Lopez incidents to law enforcement officials. The $103,000 — in taxpayer money — was supposed to make the matter go away. But the women’s stories got out anyway.

This is not the first time Speaker Silver has been caught ignoring sexual assault allegations. His former legislative counsel, Michael Boxley, was accused of rape in 2001 by a young female Assembly staff member. When the matter was brought to his attention by the victim, the Daily News later reported, Silver sat eating pretzels while she recounted her story. Silver backed the account of his counsel. The matter wasn’t referred to prosecutors as it should have been.

Two years later, Boxley was indicted on rape charges for a separate incident. He pleaded guilty to “sexual misconduct” in 2004 and was sentenced to six years on probation.
It’s a hard thing to call on a speaker to resign. Silver is all-powerful in Albany. He decides who gets lucrative committee chairmanships; he selects what bills can go to the floor for a vote; he signs off on every detail of a $132.6 billion budget — and he can direct millions of dollars in campaign contributions to help or hinder fellow Assembly members at the ballot box.

But that’s no excuse for remaining silent while New York‘s daughters are molested by lecherous political bosses. Where are the courageous ones? Where are the Mr.-Smith-Goes-to-Washington heroes? We need them now. It’s time for them to emerge and be brave, regardless of the personal price they may pay. The rest of this columns is available at Newsday and Newsday Westchester.  Thanks for reading!

The Liberal’s Alarm Bells

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Sep• 03•12

There were a lot of great lines at the Republican National Convention this week. Clint Eastwood‘s “We have to let him [Obama] go” was one of them.

Condoleezza Rice‘s “There is no country — no, not even a rising China — that can do more harm to us than we can do to ourselves,” was up there, too.

But the lines I found most memorable came from a couple of liberal celebrities who weren’t anywhere near Tampa. They and others of their ilk were out in full force online this week, hoping to create a few headlines and sharpen their images as reliable mouthpieces for the left.

No one can cuss like Samuel L. Jackson, and I mean that as a compliment. He is a savant where stringing swear words together is involved — the diner scene in Pulp Fiction was a veritable poetry of profanity. And, true to form, Jackson did not disappoint during the convention.

“Unfair —- : GOP spared by Issac ! NOLA prolly —— Again!,” the talented actor tweeted. (He later apologized.)

Ellen Barkin, whose headlines become more bizarre by the day, made no such apology for her rant: “C’mon #Isaac! Wash every pro-life, anti-education, anti-woman, xenophobic, gay-bashing, racist SOB right into the ocean! #RNC,” she wrote.

After Utah Republican House candidate Mia Love, an African-American, spoke at the convention, her Wikipedia page was widely defaced. I will not repeat some of what was written into her profile, but “Aunt Tom” was one of the milder inserts.

These remarks, however vulgar, are reassuring to me as a Republican. They suggest that things are going well for the Mitt RomneyPaul Ryan ticket.

But more than that — far more than that — they may be a leading indicator of a deeper alarm among liberals about what this election may mean to the survival of their economic ideology in America.

When Ryan entered this race, a ubiquitous response from liberal commentators was “finally, an election where we can debate philosophies.” That sounded high-minded, but the assumption, I think, was that the conservative economic philosophy — the one of smaller government — was dead in the water. “Finally,” these activists were really saying, like a General George Meade at Gettysburg, “we have drawn the enemy into the open field where we can smash him.”

They thought the election was over. Talk of reforming the entitlement programs was certain political death for the Republicans. Here again, was Picket bravely but foolishly charging the hill.

But a strange thing happened. The charge did not fail. Indeed, it is succeeding. There has been a shocking receptiveness among voters to the call for structural belt-tightening, one that has surprised as many Republicans as Democrats.

The reason? The staggering national debt.

The Democratic Party has stood for increased public spending and an expansion of the welfare state since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Indeed, higher government spending is the nuclear core of that political party. If the American public decides it is willing to begin unravelling the welfare state for the long-term good of the nation, what will be left of 80 years of Democratic messaging?

This dynamic is especially dangerous for a Democratic Party that has become so reliant on public service unions for money and foot soldiers. If the American people, in this now philosophy-based election, make a clear judgment that the cost of public pensions and federal entitlements have become an existential threat, the likelihood that they will revert back to favoring more spending and borrowing any time soon is highly unlikely.

That shift in American thinking could have profound consequences in American politics for decades to come.

This is what hangs in the balance in this election.

This is why this election is truly the most important in a lifetime.

And why Samuel L. Jackson is so antagonizingly eloquent again.

This column first appeared in Newsday.  Thanks for reading. 

Mitt Romney and the “Something” to the Obama “Nothing”

Written By: Bill Lalor - Aug• 28•12

For all the similarities between President Obama in 2012 and President Carter in 1980 – and there are many – a nagging truth for Republicans is that Jimmy Carter tends to be defined by reference to President Reagan as much as by reference to Carter himself.

In 1980, Carter didn’t have much to brag about, but Reagan was something to Carter’s nothing: Reagan was optimistic, direct, forceful and principled, all of which seemed to contrast with Carter. In 2012, President Obama’s surely “got nothing,” but is that enough?  There’s optimism, but can Mitt Romney be the something?  Can he fill the void? Paul Ryan helps the ticket answer that question, but Romney needs to make a case for himself, and this week is his chance to do so.

(My unscientific belief is that moderates will flock to Romney once they see enough to contrast him with the President. Likewise unscientific is my belief that Romney, barring disaster, will win in November in a landslide. The RNC’s “Switchers” ad brilliantly sets the groundwork for Romney to introduce himself this week – officially, more or less – to the nationwide electorate, and to remind former Obama supporters they’re not alone.)

Reagan’s 1980 acceptance speech is remarkable in many respects.  It’s worth reading in full – much of what Reagan said 32 years ago could be said again verbaitm in 2012 (especially the part about “the difference between what is essential and what is merely desirable”).

Romney doesn’t’ need to be Reagan, but my (again unscientific) belief is that if Mitt Romney delivers a forceful, empathetic, and credible speech on Thursday, he’ll be the something, and the White House will be his to lose.

What’s that In the Air in Tampa? It’s Optimism.

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Aug• 27•12

There’s something in the air in Tampa, and it’s not rain.

You can feel it in the hotel elevators and while on line for coffee at Starbuck’s.

At first I confused it with good manners — I’m not staying with theNew York delegation but with effusively nice Midwesterners instead. But that’s not it either.

What I’m feeling in Tampa is unmistakable optimism. It is as palpable here as I’m told the doom was in St. Paul in September 2008.

I’m at the Republican National Convention — if it ever gets going — and I’m beginning to think, with increasing confidence, that MittRomney may very well be our next president. If we Republicansdon’t screw it up.

There’s no cockiness among the party stalwarts. Just hushed excitement that things are trending Romney’s way. Even the cynics — and they exist — are holding their breath. The bluish color in their lips at breakfast gives them away.

One three-word phrase I keep hearing over and over, and this is spoken with genuine incredulity, is “He’s got nothing” — with the “he” being President Barack Obama. Therein lies the stinging summation of where the Obama campaign is right now. Obama seems to have nothing — zippo — to run on, only anger at those pernicious 1 percenters, half of whom probably voted for the president in the first place.

It’s an extraordinary thing when one considers the promise with which Obama barreled into the White House four years ago. Back then, his messaging crackled with hope and clarity. Today we are seeing a man who appears scornful and washed outIndeed, there is no message and zero vision from Obama in 2012.

The rest of this column is available at Newsday and Newsday Westchester.  Thanks for reading!

Neil Armstrong, RIP

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Aug• 26•12

Abortion, The Verboten Topic

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Aug• 24•12

No Republican I know wants to be talking about abortion right now. But Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin has made that impossible.

So let’s talk about it for a moment. But can we do it in a calm and rational way?

Probably not. Because any frank discussion of the staggering quantity of abortions in the United States, or of its new forms, causes a firestorm of scorn and suspicion from organized pro-choice activists. Touch on the subject in any critical way, and one becomes anti-choice, anti-women and anti-progressive in a heartbeat. The New York Times‘ Maureen Dowd upped the ante this week by calling Republican pro-lifers antediluvian.

With all due respect to Dowd, there is a flood of bottled-up sentiment on abortion out there that has to be addressed. New selective abortion procedures beg for public discussion.

Abortion became law here in New York in 1970 — under a Republican Senate, Assembly and governor — three years before Roe v. Wade. Only four of the state’s 270 legislators were women at the time. One of the state senators promoting the legislation, a Manhattan Republican for whom I later worked, placed hangers on the chairs of every legislator before the vote. It was a symbol, which many in the chamber found abhorrent, of the back-alley abortions that had maimed and killed women who had tried to terminate pregnancies on their own over the years.

A swing vote in favor of the law came from a Republican state senator who said on the floor — I am paraphrasing — “I don’t like the idea of abortion, but if my daughter got pregnant, I’d like to know she could get one.” With that, the law, which few saw coming, was passed.

I don’t think anyone in that chamber could have expected what occurred in the ensuing years. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that since the Roe decision, about 50 million abortions have been performed in the United States.

The rest of this column is available at  Thanks for reading!


Video: Instant Celebrity

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Aug• 24•12

A friend of mine and I almost did this in the early 1980’s — we even printed business cards for the endeavor — but thought better of it upon reflection and canned the idea.  All I can say from this hilarious video is “Wow! It actually works.” Very funny stuff. 

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

The Nanny State Diaries: What the Fauquier?

Written By: Bill Lalor - Aug• 23•12

Via Ed Morrissey at HotAir:

What does every 10-year-old girl want for her birthday?  A big party and lots of room to have fun.  My own 10-year-old granddaughter had her campout/sleepover birthday party at our house three months ago.  Fortunately, we’re not farmers in Fauquier County, Virginia — where we would have had to apply for a “special events” permit to host the party for the Little Admiral or her friends.  Martha Boneta isn’t so fortunate, because when she invited her friend to stage a birthday party for her 10-year-old daughter at the farm, a few extra clowns showed up and issued her a citation for it — which could cost thousands of dollars in fines.

I’m a New Yorker and thus accustomed resigned to living in a Nanny State; NYC reminds us every day what Washington would happily meddle with (everthing) if not for the U.S. Constitution.  Still, every story like this is exasperating. It’s not just the mean-spirited and arbitrary enforcement, or the context – a little girl’s 10th birthday party, for the love of God – it’s the fines.

For the Bonetas, non-compliance is likely to cost “just” a few hundred dollars, or maybe a few thousand, to say nothing of the time (the Bonetas won’t just take a ½ PTO Day; they run a farm) and attorneys fees. 

For doing what?  And for whose benefit are these fines?

Unfortunately, given the dire financial straits of many local governments, it strikes me we’re about to witness an expansion of creative, non-“tax” means of raising revenue.  Such as taking “just” a few hundred bucks here from law-abiding citizens, and there, and there and there for “violations” in matters in which government and bureaucrats have no legitimate place – such as a little girl’s 10th birthday party.

What Notre Dame’s New Uniforms Say

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Aug• 21•12

Notre Dame stirs passion in college football fans — you either love ’em or hate ’em. But the team’s new helmet and uniform should, for once, bring us all together in revulsion and alarm.

It’s tough to describe the new team duds, which will be worn just once this season. But suffice it to say they are un-Notre Dame like — in the extreme. They beg for attention, and Notre Dame football has never done that.

As hard as it is to admit as a Mets fan, Notre Dame is to college football what that Yankees are to Major League Baseball, an exemplar of class in a sport that doesn’t uniformly exhibit it.

The Fighting Irish do not showboat. They do not compromise academic standards to get the best high school prospects. And they don’t wear uniforms that look like they were designed by Picasso instead of Adidas — or a marketing group rolling out a new clothing line, which is really what this amounts to.

Sure, the team is a marketing behemoth. But it became that by being quintessentially itself — and by winning. Notre Dame, as the saying goes, has always practiced the principles of attraction rather than of promotion. It became America’s college football team precisely because it resisted cheap urges like this one, just as it resisted the wince-evoking player endzone dances that befell so many teams in the ’90s, and the flashy stadium gimmicks that have turned professional sports arenas into grating discotheques of light and noise.

Notre Dame has one of the greatest fan bases in America because people want to feel part of its deep traditions, not because a new shiny object has lured them into a stadium.
Go to a Fighting Irish football game in South Bend — or a home University of Michigan or U.S. Naval Academy game for that matter — and what you will see is genuine team spirit from a bygone era: big, bold marching bands, cheerleaders who cry when their team loses, sportsmanship on the field and student-athletes who play their hearts out every autumn Saturday.

What you will not see — or very little of — is the crassness you find in other college and all professional stadiums.

I grew up a Notre Dame fanatic. My great-grandfather taught there; my father is Class of ’47. My grandmother was raised in a house on the campus called The Lilacs, which stands as a National Historic Landmark today. My brother Peter, class of ’94, was a manager on the team. He walked Notre Dame Stadium’s sidelines during some heady seasons. I didn’t apply to Notre Dame because I knew I couldn’t get in, or live up to the school’s standards as a wildish 18-year-old.

Those standards are firm.

I remember as a child feeling stinging injustice in learning that a star player would be ineligible to play in a big game because he broke curfew, snuck a girl into his dorm room or didn’t make good enough grades. That punishment wouldn’t have happened to a player on the opposing team. But those were Notre Dame’s standards. It may have looked inflexible at times to an outside world falling in love with moral relativism, but as the behavior among players at other schools unraveled, Notre Dame’s standards made its fans feel special.

It made its players special, too. In 2011, 100 percent of the team’s African-American players, and 99 percent of players overall, received a four-year degree. No other college in America had a 100 percent graduation rate among black players. Florida State — a fine football program no doubt — graduated 44 percent of its African-American players in 2011 by comparison, and just 64 percent of its players overall.

Notre Dame’s jarring new uniform, which will be unveiled in October at Soldier Field in Chicago when the Irish play the University of Miami in the newly invented “Shamrock Series”, probably won’t lower that graduation rate. Nor will it keep players from attending mass as a team before every game, or raising their helmets to the student section while singing the school’s alma mater at the close of each game.

But it will make its fans feel just a little bit less special. Because rather than saying “We are ND,” this jumbled mess of fabric will be saying “We capitulate.”

That’s not acceptable. Not for Notre Dame, or other institutions of its calibre.

This piece is available at Newsday.  Thanks for reading.


Boston Market Unsalted

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Aug• 21•12

Boston Market announced today that is pulling salt shakers from the tables of its 476 locations. Instead, it will have a solitary shaker near where napkins and cutlery are kept. 

I’ve been super critical of New York City’s nanny-state policies, but in this case, good for Boston Market — if that’s what it wants to do. 

I’ll be the first one fighting for that shaker at the condiment table, but it’s my choice whether to go to the restaurant chain or not. If I found their desalinization project overly odious, I’d skip dining there.  But I don’t. So I’ll have to live by Boston Market’s rules.  It is, after all, a private business that should be able to create its own rules and menu items.

Boston Market clearly decided to make a big deal about salt because it believes, by associating with modern health trends, it will attract more customers.  No one had to force Boston Market to take action. The bottom line takes care of that in a free market. 

But still, in  city after city, over-reaching governments are trying to force the hands of private businesses to change what food they offer customers. How about giving customers what they want? 

And in this case, Boston Market, has determined they want less sodium.