• The slow-mo fall
    January 31,2014

    The slow-mo fall

    The first film I saw when a warrior horseman, shot with an arrow, falls off his mount in slow motion, was in Kurosawa’s “The Seven Samurai.” It had a mesmerizing beauty. I flashed on that effect when reading about New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio’s battle with Gov. Cuomo over funding for pre-kindergarten schooling for children of poor- and low-income families. They weren’t shooting arrows, just verbal barbs. This much needed program was the linchpin of de Blasio’s campaign, and was to be paid for by a modest tax on the city’s wealthy.

    Gov. Cuomo, of course, like our own Gov. Shumlin, is a crypto-Reaganite trickle-downer, believing in the delusional notion that we can not compel the wealthy to pay a fair tax because they are the fantasy job creators, and if we make them pay a reasonable tax they will take their marbles and go home. Cuomo won’t hear of such a tax and has disingenuously proposed creating the pre-kindergarten program with funding from who knows where? In the minds of progressives, liberals and other fantasists de Blasio was riding a white horse. He had promised to bring radical change to a city of an obscene discrepancy in wealth, a Third World poverty rate, and the strong scent of racism in its law enforcement.

    The slow-mo fall from grace began with de Blasio bringing back William Bratton as commissioner of police. Bratton, along with autocratic Mayor Rudy Guiliani, imposed the “broken window” concept of law enforcement, which used our law enforcement resources to prevent minor, annoying activities like homeless squeegee men at stop lights, and brown-bag drinkers. Anatole France said it best: “The law in all its majesty makes it illegal for both the rich and poor to steal bread and sleep under bridges!”

    Let’s watch closely to see if de Blasio can fend off the blandishments and threats of the monied class as he champions the needs of the working class and the poor. His effort will reveal whether the charismatic individual, no matter how progressive, can succeed without his supporters taking to the streets by the hundreds of thousands.

    To switch metaphors at the last minute: Bill de Blasio may very well be the political canary in the mine shaft laid low by the toxic gases emanating from the blowhards of Wall Street.

    Al Salzman


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