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Pink Slip Jan ’14: Christie, Bloomberg, Kim Jong-Un – You’re Fired
Apparently when Megyn Kelly says she’s dreaming of a white Christmas, the Fox News figurehead isn’t fibbing. “Kids, Santa Claus is white… And just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change…” she said, adding that “Jesus was a white man, too.” You could make the case that’s she’s wrong on so many levels but why bother? She’s the darling of Fox prez Roger Aisles, the right-wing political mastermind for Rupert Murdoch’s conservative cablevision channel and she’s no dummy. She knows what she’s doing—and for whom she speaks. When her Caucasian Claus comment hit the airwaves and lit up the Internet, she took enough heat to make the North Pole hotter than a Virgin Island. She then played the victim, saying that “race is still an incredibly volatile issue in this country, and Fox News and yours truly are big targets for many people.” Considering that the average Fox viewer is a 65-year-old white guy, the only thing more shocking would be to see Kelly turn up in a blackface minstrel show. She should make the crossover to movies right away. She’s already shown a knack for dark comedy.
New Jersey’s biggest bully of the Boardwalk won a cakewalk re-election as governor of a blue state, making him a contender in the national Republican Party’s next presidential bid. But it didn’t hurt that he spent $24 million in taxpayer money to hold a special election in October pitting Newark’s Democratic mayor Cory Booker against a Republican no-name for an open Senate seat and ensuring that Democrats would be less drawn to the polls in November when the state’s most popular African-American politician wasn’t on the ballot then. Christie has said he’ll reimburse the counties to cover their costs, but judging from his well-reported penchant for retribution, what county official would dare to do that? Let’s recall that when Christie first came to office, he arbitrarily cut his state’s funding of the much-needed rail tunnel project to Penn Station that would have benefited all railroad commuters, even LIRR riders, by relieving overcrowding and easing the commute. Christie used the bogus excuse that he was worried that what he termed the “tunnel to Macy’s basement” would lead to future cost-overruns, even though his headline-grabbing action as so-called fiscal conservative actually cost the state money, derailed this vita mass-transit project for our region, and curtailed thousands of construction jobs. Christie still has to come up with a plan to pay for a new rail passenger tunnel as well as improvements to highways and bridges. And that brings us, by extended detour, to the most controversial example of this thin-skinned guy’s demeanor, the outrageous closure of the George Washington Bridge. The dirty work was done by his two top henchmen, David Wildstein, his pal since high school whom he parked at the Port Authority for $150,000 a year, and Bill Baroni, another buddy he placed at the Port Authority with a salary of almost $300,000. Lanes at the GWB were closed on Sept. 9, causing a huge traffic gridlock in New Jersey, ostensibly to conduct a “traffic study” that Port Authority Chairman Patrick Foye admitted in December he knew nothing about—all reportedly to harass the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing the governor’s reelection. Fat chance that was ever in doubt. Christie’s greasy fingerprints are all over this political payback. If the Republicans want to nominate this porcine pol for president in 2016, go ahead—but nothing they can say will make his pettiness ever look presidential.
Forever looking across the pond for inspiration, we are disheartened to discover that David Dinsmore, the editor of The Sun, Sir Rupert Murdoch’s Fleet Street tabloid, had to run a recent apology after his not-so-esteemed rag had dubbed Lucy M. Powell, a Member of Parliament, “one of the 10 laziest MPs” based on her voting record. Actually, she was on maternity leave, and thus, as The Sun had to concede, “It was therefore wrong for us to say that she is lazy.” It’s a story that you’d think would be thoroughly fact-checked before it ever got ink. But that’s what a real newspaper is supposed to do. Perhaps, we shouldn’t hold The Sun to the same standard. Before Dinsmore became editor, Rebekah Wade was in charge—and she had to retire for her rancid role in the phone-hacking scandal for which she is on trial at the venerable Old Bailey. We pity the readers who get Sun burned.
One of New York City’s shortest but wealthiest mayors, Michael Bloomberg unquestionably did do a lot of good during his three terms—despite breaking his promise to observe term limits. But the billionaire’s callous disregard for those less fortunate finally reached the breaking point, and we’re glad to bid him good riddance. Under his reign, the rich got richer, the middle class shrank, and the poor grew by leaps and bounds. As Ralph Da Costa Nunez, president and CEO of the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, wrote in a Daily News op-ed, “Manhattan has effectively been transformed into a Hamptons on the Hudson, a Gold Coast of expensive and opulent housing that was snatched up by the ultra-wealthy, often before it is even built… Almost half (46 percent) of all New Yorkers live in or near poverty; the waiting list for public housing has grown by 19 percent to more than 167,000 families; and the overall number of homeless families seeking shelter is up a whopping 75 percent, while the number in shelters on any given night has almost doubled during Bloomberg’s time in office, from 7,000 to more than 12,000.” According to The New York Times, a record 22,000 children are homeless. The sad struggle of one of those kids, Dasani, was chronicled by the paper in a series called “Invisible Child.” Asked to comment on the girl’s plight, which was clearly worsened by city policies Bloomberg had instituted, the mayor was dismissive. “This kid was dealt a bad hand,” he sniffed. “I don’t know quite why. That’s just the way God works.” As well-known public policy advocate Diane Ravitch put it, “Some people have $22 billion; some people live in rat-infested shelters. That’s life.” If Bloomberg ever found himself in that kind of shit hole, would he be so forgiving? We doubt it.
Party on in ole Pyongyang! Hot times a-plenty in North Korea’s capital thanks to the pudgy leader of the people’s republic, Kim Jong-un, who not only got his uncle removed from power, he had him executed for “acts of treachery.” As our loyal readers know, we just give out Pink Slips, not execution orders. C’mon, Kim Jong-un, act civilized—Jang Song-thaek was family! In this country we only put people to death who’ve never held positions of power. What’s he thinking? Sure, state-run media in North Korea had called Uncle Jang “despicable human scum” and you know that’s the worst kind. But frog-marching the old man out of the communist party session and killing his top aides with antiaircraft machine guns (or a pack of starved dogs) does seem rather harsh. And to think that Kim and Jang used to look so cute together in their near matching Mao suits. Fortunately, once Kim Jong-un is fired, he’ll have lots more time to improve his rebounding under the tutelage of Dennis Rodman. But what will they do with all those nuclear weapons?
ETHAN COUCH & JEAN BOYD
Ethan Couch is the 16-year-old Texas teen who stole booze from a Walmart, piled his pals into his pickup and then drove 70 mph in a 40-mph zone, striking and killing four pedestrians, including a pastor. Couch’s blood-alcohol count was .24, and he also had Valium in his bloodstream. Prosecutors hoped the reckless youth would get up to 20 years in prison. Instead, the judge agreed with the rich kid’s defense attorneys that Couch was the poor pitiful victim of “affluenza,” a malady he caught because his parents had only taught him that “wealth and privilege shield consequences.” Couch was sentenced to probation. For his treatment, his parents are sending him to a “swanky” $500,000-a-year counseling facility in California. Tough love.
Jean Boyd is the State District Judge in Fort Worth, Texas, with a soft spot for rich kids apparently. She gave Ethan Couch probation even though the 16-year-old teen had gotten behind the wheel of his pickup drunk as a skunk and plowed into four pedestrians, killing them and leaving a passenger pal riding in his pickup brain dead. The judge listened to Couch’s attorneys argue that his parents were responsible for the teen’s irresponsible behavior, letting him drive since he was 13 and drink when he was even younger. But Judge Boyd had a different reaction to the action of a 14-year-old African American who reportedly punched a person who died. She sentenced this juvenile to 10 years in prison. And they say justice is blind. Not in Texas.
We don’t know how lucky we are to be living in the Age of the Reality Star. Phil Robertson, the Bible-thumping red neck patriarch of the multi-millionaire “Duck Dynasty” clan immortalized by A&E, has a right to denounce whoever he wants in the privacy of his duck blind. But when he’s a public figure, he’s got a different thing coming. He said in an interview in GQ magazine that “homosexual behavior” leads to “bestiality,” and, equally memorable, “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus.” The unedited Robertson in print now has a slew of opportunistic right-wing fans, like Sarah Palin, who are happy that he’s managed to piss off a whole group of people who had probably never heard of him before. His network has the right to suspend him when his idiocy in real life threatens a good thing created by his image in unreal life. His family’s three seasons of tramping through the bayou have spawned best-selling books and drawn in 14 million viewers, 9 million alone for its Christmas special. But it’s hard to reconcile the intolerant views of this homophobic bigot with the Christian spirit of compassion, just as it’s impossible to imagine Jesus Christ ever putting on hip-waders and going duck-hunting with a shot gun. Of course, the whole show is fishy—especially if the photographs on RefinedGuy.com of the three brothers—pre-ZZ Top beards—can be believed, as they’re posing like any clean-cut affluent family with their wives and kids on the beach before they joined the hit show. This “Dynasty” family may wear camouflaged attire but they can’t hide in plain sight forever. As the oldest, Robertson is all quacked up. Let the feathers fall where they must.
The sporting life isn’t fair. Fans can never fire the owners. We can think of at least two rich guys around these parts who shouldn’t even be allowed to carry their teams’ towels. But that’s not why we’re also giving the boot to Mike Shanahan, the head coach and executive vice president of the offensively named but offensively challenged (3-13 season) Washington Redskins. Let him take the fall for all the misguided masters of their universe whose large ego and short vision are too much to take when the results don’t live up to their delusions of glory. Shanahan doomed his team when he let his franchise player, quarterback Robert Griffin III, wreck his right knee last January. This season the team suffered while RG3 recovered from reconstructive surgery. At least, they managed to make the dreadful Giants look good. But Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder dropped the ball. We don’t envy Shanahan’s son Kyle, who was the play caller. Who’d want to be on the receiving end of what New York Times sports columnist Harvey Araton referred to as Shanahan’s “piercing horror-film eyes”? Nobody, especially a manic coach, should have that much power to put a talented athlete’s promising career at risk. Let his firing be a warning shot. If ESPN dares to make Shanahan an NFL analyst, we’ve got more Pink Slips where this one came from.
VLATKO MARIC & FRANCOIS MOLINS
The timing was off, to say the least. Days before France awarded Bob Dylan with the Legion of Honor, its most distinguished prize, a Parisian prosecutor named Francois Molins had filed preliminary charges against Dylan for “public injury” and “incitement to hatred.” Apparently, Vlatko Maric, the head of the Representative Council of the Croatian Community and Institutions in France, with some 30,000 members, had finally gotten around to objecting to Dylan’s remarks in an interview that he’d given Rolling Stone in September 2012, when he was denouncing racism. “It’s a distraction,” Dylan said in the interview. “People at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color. It’s the height of insanity, and it will hold any nation back—or any neighborhood back. Or anything back. Blacks know that some whites didn’t want to give up slavery—that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can’t pretend they don’t know that. If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood. It’s doubtful that America’s ever going to get rid of that stigmatization. It’s a country founded on the backs of slaves.” Apparently those were fighting words. As Maric told the Guardian, “You cannot equate Croatian [war] criminals with all Croats.” If Maric took offense, why didn’t he write a letter to Rolling Stone? Dylan was just making a rather discursive observation that in no way should prompt an investigation by Molins, the Paris prosecutor, or as they say in France: “procureur de Paris.” Le Monde says he’s “competent’ and “contested.” We won’t dispute that. We’ll just give Molins and Maric each a pink slip. But we have to admit it does sound better in French: “Vous êtes renvoyés!”
Their thinking is stinking. But the pain they’re causing is profoundly real. Sen. Rand Paul, the Tea Party-backed radical rabble-rouser from Kentucky, recently shed light on the Congressional Republicans’ mindset when they cruelly let federal unemployment benefits expire Dec. 28, casting a dark shadow over the holidays for 1.3 million Americans who’ve been out of work longer than 26 weeks—and more suffering looms on the horizon. Rand said on Fox News (where else?) that spending $25 billion to extend the benefits nationwide would actually be a “disservice” to them. “When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you’re causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy,” Rand said. It’s not like the Great Recession is behind us and happy days are here again. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are about 2.9 unemployed workers for every job opening. Studies have shown that companies will barely consider the résumés of anybody who’s been out of work for 27 weeks or more because the employers tend to assume there must be something wrong with these job applicants or somebody else would have hired them. So, the conservative reasoning goes, screw the unemployed because it builds character, and do nothing for them but cut taxes for the rich. It’s a shame that Rand Paul and his ilk can’t end up in a soup kitchen.
According to news reports, Thansanqa Jantjie was not mentally fit to stand trial for murder but was fit enough to stand next to President Obama at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in South Africa and be one of the weirdest sign language interpreters the world has ever seen. Jantjie later claimed he had a schizophrenic fit while on stage because of the stress. Experts said his bizarre gestures were meaningless and declared him a “complete fraud,” as one described him. Since the mid-1990s he’d been arrested at least five times, and in 2003 he reportedly faced murder, attempted murder and kidnapping charges. The African National Congress-led government should have given this nut job the cold shoulder once and for all. Wave goodbye, Jantjie.