Monday, August 17, 2015

Last Call For Debasing De Blasio

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has done some pretty good things for the Big Apple, but he's made a lot of political enemies on the way.  Less than two years since he took office, the long knives are definitely out for him.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was already having a bad week. Then Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called. 
Mr. Cuomo had cast the city as slow-footed in responding to a recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx. Fed up, Mr. de Blasio’s press secretary, Karen Hinton, issued a sharp retort. “What about the state’s performance?” she said to a reporter. “What has the state been doing to prevent this disease?” 
Taken aback, the governor quickly called Mr. de Blasio. Aides at City Hall, themselves startled by the remark, issued an unusual clarification: The mayor’s chief spokeswoman, the public face of the administration, had not been speaking for the mayor. 
The episode, recounted by several people familiar with the discussion, was an extraordinary public moment of discord, laying bare a host of challenges confronting the de Blasio administration in a messy second year: tension among aides; a perilous, often powerless relationship with Mr. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat; and the struggles of Mr. de Blasio, a political operative by training, to control the perception of his stewardship. 
When the mayor’s top political aide raised concerns about battling the car-service app Uber, saying it could be a tough fight, Mr. de Blasio pushed forward, prompting a public relations fiasco that ended with City Hall’s abruptly dropping a proposal to limit the company’s growth. 
Warned that rising complaints about homelessness could hurt him politically, Mr. de Blasio announced action on the issue this month, appearing reactive to negative headlines. 
And while federal authorities praised the mayor’s handling of the Legionnaires’ outbreak as “swift” and “robust,” the response was still questioned by some city Democrats. Frustrated, the mayor led a marathon weekend meeting with agency leaders, demanding details on their progress. 
In interviews, allies of the mayor said they deeply supported Mr. de Blasio and his efforts to combat inequality. But they expressed worry that his administration had not done enough to ensure New Yorkers recognize his accomplishments. 
“There are a lot of positive programs going in the right direction, and yet, it’s not being perceived because of so many other floundering situations,” Gale A. Brewer, the Manhattan borough president and a Democrat, said. “It’s not being presented in a way that people can see it.”

Now, de Blasio has taken his shots at Gov. Cuomo...oh yeah, and President Obama, too.  He definitely has issues making friends higher up, and yes, he's made some bad calls.  But the complaints leveled against him here by the NY Times tells me that he's making the right kind of enemies, too (namely Uber and, well, not to put too fine a point on it, Cuomo.)

We'll see how he can hold up.  I think he can turn this to his advantage if he can show that what he's doing is working.  The problem is there's a lot of New Yorkers invested in making sure that doesn't happen.

Iran, Syria And Obama

Nancy LeTourneau, who has been writing for Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog on the weekends, gives us this important look at the second- and third-order positive effects of President Obama's diplomatic engagement with Iran.

As I wrote yesterday, I was particularly struck by President Obama’s description of his approach to the negotiations with Iran as a way to “find openings” that could lead to transformative change. I realized that I had missed how he talked about the same thing in an interview with David Remnick back in January 2014. 
Obama, who has pressed Netanyahu to muster the political will to take risks on his own, thinks he can help “create a space”—that is the term around the White House—for forward movement on the Palestinian issue, whether he is around to see the result or not.

Right now it looks like the possibility of a space for movement on the Palestinian issue is not likely during President Obama’s term. But in what I think is the major news story from last week, we are already beginning to see the possibility of an opening when it comes to the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Creating space in Iran is starting to lead to possibilities in Syria.  That's extremely important given the conflict there entering its sixth year.  If there is a solution to Syria, it's going to involve Iran, at least in part.

It is hard for a lot of Americans to grasp what a huge realignment is happening here. The main Sunni/Shia battle lines in the Middle East have traditionally been drawn between Saudi Arabia (a leading member of GCC) and Iran. As such, Iran has typically supported the Alawite (a branch of Shia Islam) government of Assad, while Saudi Arabia has a history of funding Sunni terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Furthermore, as we saw in the response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons a couple of years ago, Putin has not only supported the Syrian dictator, he has tremendous power and influence over him. If all of these countries begin to see it in their interests to negotiate a consensus on how to end this civil war, that would be groundbreaking - not just for Syria - but for the Middle East as a whole. It is exactly what President Obama laid out as his vision for that region of the world when he talked to Remnick.

And even better, President Obama understand that consensus diplomacy not only creates leverage for dealing with America's enemies, but with America's allies as well.

To the extent that these realignments are successful, what they accomplish is to further alienate the extremists - be they the hardliners in Iran or terrorists like ISIS. As that happens, the pressure mounts on Prime Minister Netanyahu to decide whether he will join in the realignment or further alienate himself as an extremist.

 People talk about how terrible Obama's foreign policy is, but that's because they're still measuring everything by the Bush yardstick.  This is a whole new ballgame here.

Berned Again And Again

I'm starting to think that Bernie Sanders is a bit resentful that black voters haven't fallen in love with him yet when the alternative is Hillary Clinton, and that he doesn't understand why that hasn't happened yet.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said on NBC’s Meet the Press that he doesn’t believe that he owes the #BlackLivesMatter protest movement an apology, even though his own staff already apologized to them.

Host Chuck Todd began by asking about a Buzzfeed piece revealing that his campaign had reached out to #BlackLivesMatter protesters after they stormed the stage of a Sanders rally and took his mic. “I apologize it took our campaign so long,” the campaign’s African-American outreach director Marcus Ferrell told them in an email.

Well, that was sent out by a staffer, not by me,” Sanders said. “Look, we are reaching out to all kinds of groups. Absolutely I met with folks at Black Lives Matter.”

“I understand that you said a staffer put it out, but you felt an apology was necessary?” Todd asked.

No, I don’t. I think we’re going to be working with all groups. This was sent out without my knowledge,” Sanders said.

I'm sorry Senator Sanders that black voters asking questions about you or wanting to hold you accountable for your 25 year record in Congress are starting to annoy you.  I'm sorry that we're too stupid to figure out that you're the obvious candidate for saving black America from itself.  I'm sorry that we made you look bad on television and stuff.

On second thought, I'm not sorry at all, asshole.

You don't owe BLM an apology, great.

I don't owe you my primary vote, either.  You've got to earn that and you're still doing a terrible job of it.


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