Archive for February, 2011

Evening in America

Monday, February 14th, 2011

By Chuck Williams
I am curious why there is so much hoopla surrounding Reagan’s 100th birthday and the coming year-long celebration. I don’t remember him as a particularly good guy. I find that our sharing Feb. 6 as the day of our arrivals sullies what otherwise is a perfectly good day.

What I remember of Reagan is this. He rigged the election of 1980 by manipulating the Iran hostage crisis. He waged an illegal war in Central America. He changed the rules for the savings banks and thus helped create the savings and loan crisis (an ominous sign of things to come). He was in power during the market crash of 1987 and the ensuing recession. But worst of all is his legacy.

I think Reagan’s legacy is not the optimism he showered on the country but his dividing of America through his ingraining of the idea that the wealthy should neither have to pay their fair share of taxes nor be responsible citizens as it pertains to the health of the country. Before Reagan, common ground could be found and the most serious problems of the country could be addressed. (It was Nixon who signed into law the 55 mph speed limit in 1973. Can you imagine a Reagan or Bush doing that?) After Reagan, the country has been divided down ideological lines to such an extent that it seems the split can never be closed – even with the most common sense solutions to the horrendous problems facing us today.

But worse, I think Reagan’s optimism can now be seen as denial. Frank Rich commented in the Times recently on how Obama’s State of the Union address, with its optimism, brought back strains of Reagan and not the doom and gloom of Carter. But maybe Carter had it right. The irony may be that the rosy picture Reagan painted and the seeming growth and expansion we saw in the 80’s and 90’s were nothing more than mirages driven by lax credit and inflated property values.

That is, our growth really stopped in the 80’s; there weren’t any meaningful jobs then and there aren’t any now. Sure, there were construction jobs but those were driven by easy credit and false property values. But real middle-income factory jobs went overseas or were automated; one hundred workers can now do what it took a thousand to do 40 years ago from the auto industry to the printing industry.

So where are those other 900 working? They aren’t.

Everyone, from Obama on down, talks about the need to create good jobs, but nobody talks about what those jobs are. As Paul Krugman has wisely pointed out in the Times, what is good for international corporations, such as GE, GM, Apple, Microsoft, is not necessarily good for the U.S. In fact these companies could have great profits and not create a single well paying job in the U.S. (In the sense of a middle-income factory worker that is.)

Looking back, it’s rather sobering to see that it seems like America’s day in the sun lasted about 40 years at best, from 1946 to 1986. In our drive to provide ourselves with cheap “stuff” we’ve cut our legs out from under ourselves without even knowing it.

I would suggest that Reagan’s real legacy is:

–A crumbling infrastructure; bad roads and bridges, inadequate airports, an archaic power grid, etc.

–An education system in shambles.

–An alternative energy policy that is 30 years behind.

–An industrial base that has abandoned America for cheap labor and markets abroad. (As Bob Herbert said in the Times, American industry doesn’t need America any more.)

–A financial industry whose interest is completely at odds with the good of the country.

–A political climate that has put ideology above practicality and which makes it impossible to learn and build from crises, such as 9/11 and the Tucson shootings.

–A backward looking philosophy that fails to prepare the country for the global economy and its ramifications to the workforce, Reagan created a false sense of stability and prosperity that finally collapsed in 2008.

True to form though (in what I remember to be his demented state), I think Reagan was looking out the wrong window when he said it was morning in America. I don’t think he was looking at a sunrise, rather at a sunset.

Chuck can be reached at

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Chuck Williams is an architect by training and profession. He recently developed specialized computer software for the architecture and construction industry. He is an avid fly fisherman.

“President Palin.” Scared?

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

By Jeffrey Page

The old line about everyone’s having the chance to be president is really beginning to worry me. Does it include Sarah Palin? She’s behaving like it does. She travels around the country, speaks before big audiences, avoids the press, recently hired a political consultant, and has a loyal following of people in the Tea Party movement who think she’s just pretty darned terrific, don’t you know.

But fun time is over and it’s important to draw the line, and pronounce that if you don’t really have a grasp of what’s going on in the world, well, then, no, you can’t be president.

My distress was brought on by a Palin quote that’s making its way through the Internet. In case you missed it, Palin was sitting for an interview by David Brody, the Washington bureau chief of the Christian Broadcasting Network. The subject was Egypt. Here’s what Palin had to say at one point in her talk with Brody:

“It’s a difficult situation. This is that 3 a.m. White House phone call and it seems for many of us trying to get that information from our leader in the White House, it seems that that call went right to the answering machine. And nobody yet has explained to the American public what they know, and surely they know more than the rest of us know, who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak. And no, not, not real enthused about what it is that is being done on a national level from D.C. in regards to understanding all the situation there in Egypt and in in these areas that are so volatile right now, because obviously it’s not just Egypt, but the other countries, too, where we are seeing uprisings. We know that, now more than ever, we need strength and sound mind there in the White House. We need to know what it is that America stands for, so we know who it is that America will stand with. And we do not have all that information yet.”

I must note right here that I have seen other versions of this response in which the punctuation has been skewed to make look like a moron. But the quote above is taken directly from her CBN interview as shown on YouTube.

It’s time to end the Palin fun and games. I’m waiting for some honest, intelligent, America-loving Republicans to take their party back and inform Palin: No, Sarah, you can’t be president.

Jeffrey can be reached at

Jam on Information Super Highway

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

By Michael Kaufman

When it comes to the information super highway, I drive like a little old lady. And I am going to have to keep it that way if I ever expect to finish any work. Even without Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry, phone texting, or “apps” of any sort, I always seem to get stuck in traffic.

It begins as soon as the Yahoo home page welcomes me to my computer screen with the latest news headlines. Gino Cimoli died? Damn! Wait, what do they mean, “….first Dodger batter?” I click the link to the full story. Now I see….They meant he was the first-ever batter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I remember when he played for Brooklyn. He wasn’t great but he made the National League All-Star team one year. I was 10 and away at Camp Greylock, a summer camp in Massachusetts. We watched the game on TV there. I went to Greylock because my friend Frank Brown went there and he loved it. Frank lived in Spring Valley but we knew each other because our parents were friends. When Gino Cimoli came up to bat in the All-Star game all the Brooklyn Dodgers fans cheered.

Greylock. The head counselor was named Murray Zung. Some of the kids thought he was mean. They would jokingly say, “We want Zung hung.” A couple of decades later when I was covering a dermatology meeting for a medical newspaper I noticed one of the doctors had the name “Murray Zung” on his badge. I asked him if he’d ever worked at Camp Greylock. He looked at the name on my press badge and shouted, “Mikey Kaufman!”

I think I’ll take a quick look at my email first before I get down to work.  Maybe there will be something important regarding school or a work assignment…. What’s this….something from my brother?  Did he find cousin Lakshimi?…. No, but he found a review of a dance performance she gave in Boston in 1949. He sent a link to the review in the Harvard Crimson.  (Click) The reviewer enjoyed Lakshimi’s interpretations of traditional dances of India. He was less kind to Uncle Wana (“Maestro Singh” as he called him). Apparently Uncle Wana provided a confusing narration as he introduced the various dances.

Wana was married to our Aunt Gertie, my mother’s older sister. He was a musician and musicologist who taught Indian music and dance in New York City for many years. Among his pupils was John Coltrane, the great jazz saxophonist. My brother studied with Wana for a while and did quite well. I took a few lessons too but I wasn’t very good. Gertie and Wana have been dead for a long time and my brother and I lost touch with Lakshimi. I wonder if we’ll ever find her…..or her two daughters.

Okay, time to get to work. Wait. I better check my Zest of Orange email. I haven’t looked at it in a couple of days….There is only one but the subject line is a bombshell:  “Ever been to Ecuador?” Yes! The sender’s address includes the name Larry and I know immediately who it is from. The message says only, “1963? Just wondering.” It is unsigned. He knew I would know, even though we haven’t seen each other for 40 years.

Larry was my roommate during a summer trip arranged for U.S. high-school students by a company called Scholastic Trips Abroad. A couple of weeks before our scheduled departure there was a military coup in that country. President Carlos Arosemena was ousted after serving only 20 months in office, during which he promoted reformist causes such as low-cost housing, progressive income taxes, and yearly bonuses for workers. Perhaps most importantly he was friendly towards Cuba, which caused an ongoing conflict with the Ecuadorean military….and unease in Washington. The organizers of our trip assured our parents that everything was under control and all would be well. They were wrong.

 I reply to Larry, explaining that I’d looked for him “a gazillion times” over the last 40 years but had never been able to track him down. And he replies immediately, saying he’d looked for me a gazillion times too and now, thanks to the internet, he’d found me. “I’m living in California near San Francisco, two kids, divorced, semi -retired if I can’t find work….

“I talked to Frank Brown lately. He is in Rockland County.” I had forgotten:  Larry was from Spring Valley and we had both known Frank before we ever met. 

Larry wants to know if I have Facebook so we can share pictures or a webcam so we can talk on Skype. I have to tell him I am not that high tech. If I had stuff like that I’d never get any work done. 

Damn! Gino Cimoli was 81.

Well, I see it is about lunch time now. I’m hungry. I’ll get started on that work right after I eat some lunch.

Michael can be reached at

DIY Local Foods

Friday, February 11th, 2011

By Shawn Dell Joyce

Next Sunday, the Wallkill Valley will be treated to a local foods/homesteader’s delight. The Hudson Valley Food Network is sponsoring a “Seed and Skill Share” from 11 am to 3 pm at Hodgson Farm and Garden Center on Albany Post Road in Walden. If you ever wanted to grow your own foods, be a homesteader, or just look like one, it will be the best five bucks you ever spend!

A skill share, according to organizer Meghan Murphy, “is one whole amazing day of workshops and demonstrations by professional and amateur local food and farm experts.” You can learn about everything from raising chickens to getting rid of garden pests in organic gardens in this one-day intensive.

Barbara Taylor-Laino has been giving workshops for six years at Midsummer Farm, an organic CSA  in Warwick called Midsummer Farm. She will be sharing her expertise in a workshop called; “Backyard Organic Chicken Rearing.” She will review the simple steps to easily and safely keep chickens on a small scale in your backyard or small farm and with a focus on keeping them organically.

Dina Falconi of Wild Earth Programs, will demonstrate how to use local dried plants for herbal infusions and kefir soda in a workshop called; “Creating Water Kefir Sodas.” Dina is a clinical herbalist focused on food activism and nutritional healing. She has been teaching classes on the use of herbs for food, medicine and pleasure, including wild food foraging and cooking, for more than twenty years.  She is a founding member of the Northeast Herbal Association and author of “Earthy Bodies & Heavenly Hair.” If you bring a jar, she’ll share her special grains with you.

 Marc Eisenson of the Mid Hudson Mycological Association will tell you all you ever wanted to know about wild shiitake, stropharia and oysters mushrooms and the  ways you can grow them at home or in your yard. Marc Eisenson will discuss how mushrooms grow, demonstrate how to propagate your own spawn, as well as describe the equipment required.

Jay Levine of the Hudson Valley Backyard Farm Company will lead a workshop in Integrated Pest Management. This is a way to control pests or diseases that is especially useful when growing plants organically. Jay has been gardening since he was six years old. He the owner of the Hudson Valley Backyard Farm Company, which installs and maintains organic vegetable gardens and teaches organic gardening and cooking classes.

 Entrepreneur Mimi Fix asks; “Do you have an idea for starting a food business using local ingredients?” Her workshop focuses on refining and developing ideas. Get feedback on what works and learn more about what’s involved with business start-ups. Mimi Fix is the owner of Baking Fix, a culinary consulting business, and wrote “Start and Run a Home-Based Food Business.”

You can also learn the art of “Artisan Sausage Making” from Mark Elia, of Eli’s Catering and Meats. He teaches how to create your own blend of sausage from selecting meat to dreaming up new spice combinations.

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning newspaper columnist and director of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery.

The Story of Joe

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

By Russ Layne

Our weekly peace vigil at the intersection of Routes 9 and 9D in Wappingers Falls began in typical fashion recently. As some of us had been doing for the last seven years – I for the last two – we gathered at noon, posted our peace signs, recounted our frustrations regarding United States foreign policy, and reveled in Senator Bernie Sanders’ eight-hour filibuster to end tax cuts for the super rich.

We are a small group, nine regulars. Sometimes we’re joined by students from the nearby Culinary Institute of America and Vassar College, and by many other committed people drawn to Wappingers Falls by the chance to commune with Pete Seeger, who participates in our two-hour vigil when his schedule allows.

On this particular Saturday, we had just one visitor, a tall distinguished-looking stranger. He said his name was Joe. He appeared to be in his 60s. He said he was married and a dad. He told us he had often driven past our peace-watch and honked his horn in support. Today, however, he felt compelled to drop by in person for a while. He wanted to thank us for our efforts.

Joe said he had a story to tell, and listening to it brought me to the brink of tears. But it wasn’t just me. Some other members were similarly touched.

He said he was dying.

He said he was a Vietnam War veteran who, over the course of several decades, has been battling lymphatic cancer he contracted from his exposure to Agent Orange during the war. For years he had been in and out of the most challenging treatments, but this debilitating condition was finally catching up to him. His condition is severe. He said he’s lucky to have a supportive family at home.

As we stood in the chill, we were subjected to the angry epithets and belligerent gestures we occasionally receive from passersby. Still, our time there with Joe had a profound impact on us. He said there are innumerable ex-servicemen who share his medical condition. Many, he said, share his frustration and anger over the occasionally shoddy medical attention they get from the government, and over their general dismay with many of our nation’s foreign and domestic policies.

Joe said he had been cautioned by his oncologist to reduce the stress in his life but thought it was important to stand with us in Wappingers Falls. So he did, and his brief visit brought home the terrible pain and suffering shared by all parties in war.

Joe was with us just that one Saturday.

I think about him a lot. I hope he’s all right.

Russ can be reached at

Carrie’s Painting of the Week

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011


It’s been quite a while since I’ve made a painting for the Art for Shelter Animals Project, and so it felt really good to make this one. Plus, it gave me a much-needed break from interviewing, covering and writing about people and events in Montville. (Anyone want to check out the Montville Patch, the site that I run? Click here).

Lulu is a dog I met through work. She was dropped at the shelter, pregnant, with what must have been her 20th litter (or more), judging by the sag and droop of her breasts. She had a litter of nine puppies in the shelter, and they are all spoken for. Lulu is up for adoption, herself, and really needs to go to a home where she will be loved and treated well and treasured. Maybe this home will make up for how hard the rest of her life has been.

She has had to have an operation, a mastectomy, I believe, after one of her much-used teats became infected. But she is up and around, and can be adopted soon. I am going to give the animal control officer the painting tomorrow.

That’s the way the Art for Shelter Animals Project works. Artists from around the world have joined in, all making portraits of animals in their local shelters, or with local rescue groups, and then donating the portraits to the shelter or rescue group. The shelter can do whatever it wants with the paintings. It’s a fun, fascinating project – anyone who wants to join in, just let me know!

Making art to give away is an incredibly liberating experience. It was through the ASAP that I began to experiment with colors and textures – I felt free and unafraid (at first I typed “unarfraid,” which actually seems like the right word…) – free and unafraid, and why not? The group receiving the portrait was going to love it, no matter what, so the specter of “bad” or “wrong” simply vanished.

Egyptian Uprisings & the Internet

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

By Jason Poggioli

Much of the recent coverage of Egypt’s uprising has been spent discussing the impact of the Internet on the people living under repressive governments. Clearly, talking head pundits haven’t been the only ones recognizing the influence of social media as the Egyptian government took the significant step of effectively disconnecting its entire country from the Internet in an attempt to stall the power of Facebook and Twitter.

“Pulling the plug” on the Internet during populist uprisings has been a tactic used before in places such as Myanmar in 2007 and Nepal in 2005, while Iran and China have chosen instead to take the less drastic approach of selectively blocking websites they determine to be a threat. Imagine yourself as a tyrannical dictator for a moment. The impact of the Internet and its social media creations like Facebook and Twitter certainly appear to require careful consideration regarding your future ability to maintain power, but how much would you really need to be concerned?

At first glance, social media, with its ability to bring millions of people together without centralized leadership or complex organizing seems perfectly designed for inciting populist revolts. The Internet breathes to life fads that effortlessly sweep around the world infecting millions of minds only to see them dissipate just as quickly as they were born. Videos, jokes, images all get passed around by email as people ask their friends and families, “Hey, have you seen this yet?”  Flash mobs, although benign and relatively harmless, are perfect examples of how a few people can quickly organize large groups to gather and act as one. The parallels to political protests are clear — if ordinary folks can pull together hundreds of people to dance at Grand Central Terminal then what could hard-charging politically motivated activists accomplish?

There is another side to this story, though, that isn’t discussed quite as often as how the Internet can contribute to democratic revolutions. In what ways can the Internet slow or limit the sweep of democracy around the world?

George Orwell’s classic “1984” has been referred to so often by those discussing the evils of a pervasively spied-upon citizenry that the term “Big Brother” is cliche. As overused as the term is, the cold fact is that it can be applied to the Internet for a pretty frightening comparison in countries like China. Worse still, the same Internet that enables productivity and economic gains can simultaneously be used for carefully targeted suppression of only a few (e.g. the trouble makers) within the same country.

While economic reforms roll through places like China, and their businesses take advantage of all the benefits the Internet brings, the Chinese government can use it to effectively quell social disorder before it begins and be more efficient maintaining power. China, and other similarly non-democratic governments, can use the Internet to target a minority of its citizens, like troublesome students, while allowing its faithful unfettered access to all the communication wonders the Internet holds. With centralized control of the Internet the government can allow state-owned corporations unfettered access while heavily restricting access in educational institutions and public cafes.

The fewer people a repressive government is forced to confront, the lower the chances of a popular uprising resulting in growth and change economically, but repression and stagnation politically — all on the back of the most sophisticated and widespread communication tool the world has ever seen.

So, if you were a dictator, how threatening would you find the Internet?

Jason can be reached at

“Just Leave”

Monday, February 7th, 2011

By Gretchen Gibbs

“Why don’t the women just leave?” I meet a man at a party, and this is how he responds when I tell him I do some work at a domestic violence agency.
He goes on, “I know it’s not politically correct to say so, but I don’t get it. Nobody has to stay and be abused. Just get out of there.”

“It’s not easy,” I say, and start citing all the difficulties. Financially, especially if there are children, the woman may not be able to manage on her own. Sometimes it’s dangerous to leave – the man may threaten to pursue and kill her if she goes. Abusive men are usually controlling, and the woman may not have access to any money, or keys to the car. She may not have been allowed to talk to friends, so there’s nobody to run to. And there’s something called learned helplessness. When you’ve been made powerless over and over, you stop feeling that you have any control over your life, you stop trying.

He looks skeptical.

I think of one of the cases I saw, some years ago, a woman I’ll call Rosa and about whom I’ll give only the vaguest real-life details, to protect her identity.

Rosa lived in a remote area of a Latin American country, in the mountains, married to a man who abused her verbally, physically and sexually. He liked to call her all kinds of names till she cried, then rape her.

The worst thing he did, in her mind, was to leave for days at a time, with no food in the house for her and their two small boys. There weren’t any neighbors to beg from. They were literally starving. She was desperate to escape, but she had no place to go. The only possible haven was with her mother, with whom she’d never had a close relationship, and who lived miles away in another remote village. There was no way to get there.

Then Rosa had a third child, Julio.  One evening, soon after Julio was born, her husband was beating her while she held the baby. The child fell from her arms, hitting his head. Julio never recovered consciousness.
Abused women often recount their tales numbly, from some inner place they’ve tried to make an unreal dream world. As Rosa told me about the dead infant, she began to howl, to rock back and forth in her chair, to bite her fingers. Usually I try to stay with the woman’s pain, but Rosa’s was more than I could stand; I asked her if she was able to move on with the story.
Her husband left again, after burying the baby in the yard. Rosa took the two children and whatever food she had and headed out for her mother’s. She could not take the road, as she feared her husband would come looking for her. She struck out over the mountain, carrying the two year old and urging the four year old on. Soon, she had to carry both children. She would haul one thirty feet up the mountain, tell him to stay there, then go back for the other and carry him up. Night came, and they huddled together for warmth. The food was gone quickly, and the streams for water were infrequent. It took two days and two nights to get to her mother’s. Rosa and the boys were covered with filth and scratches and insect bites, so exhausted they could barely stand.

In my office, Rosa began to sob and rock again.  She could not get the words out to tell me. Finally she said, “My mother contacted my husband to come get me. She said it was women’s lot to suffer and endure.”

Eventually Rosa ran away again and this time she did make it, with the children. I contemplate telling the man at the party about her ordeal, but I see it’s pointless to try to sway him. “However it may seem from the outside, leaving is not easy,” I repeat.

Gretchen can be reached at

Arts are a Local Industry

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

 By Shawn Dell Joyce

The Town of Montgomery is quickly becoming an arts-centered town, much like the villages of Sugar Loaf and Warwick. Walden boasts several dance companies, the New Rose Theatre, New York School of Music and several other cultural jewels. The village of Montgomery has a well-established concert series in the Senior Center hosted by Howard Garrett, and now has four galleries including my own nonprofit gallery and art school; the Wallkill River School. We also have James Douglas Gallery and frame shop, next door to Mikey Teutel’s latest venture; “Wolfgang Gallery.”

Unfortunately, we will be losing DiBello Gallery and Frame Shop this month, and I would like to acknowledge the loss it will be to our cultural landscape. Joe DiBello has been an advocate for small businesses in the town, and has worked extensively with the Montgomery Business Association to create a cohesive local business community. DiBello will be closing his doors at the end of this month.

DiBello, and the other cultural fixtures in our community not only add culture, we create economic impact. These small businesses are what give our town local color and local flavor. They are what differentiate us from every other exit on the highway which has the same six chain stores. We bring in tourism for our gallery receptions, and classes, but also, we are a local industry. That means we create (manufacture) products locally generating a multiplier effect.

The Wallkill River School traces our multiplier effect. We measure how much of the money that comes into our hands, gets passed through other local hands before disappearing to some corporate bank vault outside of Orange County. In our case, we partner with a local art supply store (Newburgh Art Supply), we advertise in this newspaper, and work with several local restaurants for catering and events including Wildfire Grill, Ward’s Bridge Inn, Holbert’s Catering, and others. We use a local insurance company, pay rent to local landlords (Devitt Management) and work with local framers like James Douglas Gallery and others.

 Economist and author Michael Shuman notes that “about 42 percent of our economy is “place based,” or created through small, locally-owned businesses.” This means that almost half our economy depends upon small independent businesses that make up the backbone of our hometowns. The key to economic recovery is localization, and reversing globalization. Shuman estimates that we could expand our national economy to be 70 percent local.

Small businesses are our best hope for a stable local economy, and ones that use local products in manufacturing (like art), network with other local businesses (like restaurants), and generate economic impact (like farms) will put our economy back on track. Thanks to Joe DiBello for his service and contribution to our community. Please continue his good work by helping us build the new industry of culture in the Wallkill Valley.

Shawn Dell Joyce is the director of the Wallkill River School and Art Gallery in Montgomery and an award-winning newspaper columnist.

Allen is Back

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

By Jeffrey Page
By rights, George Allen and Chuck Schumer should have disappeared from the national political stage, but the rules are different for politicians like these two characters with loose mouths. Allen is the Republican from Virginia who was defeated for another term in 2006, Schumer is the Democrat from New York who should have been defeated for a third term in 2010 but who was reelected.

Allen used a racial slur against a young man during the 2006 campaign. Schumer used a slur against a woman last year. Had you called an Indian-American man a “macaca” or if you called a woman a “bitch” while on the job, chances are you’d be canned. A good example of this are the three firefighters in Secaucus, N.J. who resigned two years ago rather than face charges that they harassed a gay couple living near the fire house. This week, the town voted not to rehire them. They’re gone, as well they should be.

Allen has announced he will seek to get his old seat back, and this week, the man who defeated him in ’06, Jim Webb, announced he would not seek another term. So, Allen, who should have been banished to an island someplace in Arctic waters, is back as a contender, not even having to campaign against an incumbent in next year’s race.

Allen, popular in Virginia, was on the stump in 2006 when he noticed a young man videotaping his speech. The man looked familiar. He was working for the Virginia Democratic Committee and following Allen wherever he went. I imagine this could prove very annoying to a senator. I imagine too that senators with any sense would just button it up and understand that this is part of modern political campaigning.

Not George Allen. He addressed the young man directly. Twice he referred to him as “macaca,” a term reserved by certain moronic white people such as Allen, to describe certain dark skinned people such as S.K. Sidarth, the man with the camcorder.

“Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia,” Allen continued. This was a stupid thing to say because it contained an unmistakable hint that young Mr. Sidarth was somehow suspect, maybe not even an American. But the truth of course was that S.K. Sidarth was born in California and raised in Virginia. He was as American as the distinguished gentleman from Virginia, George Allen.

Will America have the opportunity of listening to the outrageous George Allen again, maybe even in the Senate chamber? Only if we run out of luck.

Schumer, meanwhile, was rolling along last year toward an easy reelection against a candidate no one ever heard of, when he uttered an Allenism of his own, though in fairness maybe it was Allen who uttered a Schumerism.

Schumer was aboard an airliner for the flight to New York. With the plane still on the ground, Schumer was talking on his cell phone. A flight attendant asked him to hang up because he was delaying the takeoff. He ignored her. She asked again. This time he complied and, as she walked away, he turned to his traveling companion, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and uttered his one-word assessment of the flight attendant: “Bitch.” He was overheard by a Republican operative on the plane and soon his defamation was on the national wires.

One might be tempted to say that had Schumer dismissed a black person or a Hispanic person with slurs comparable to “bitch,” he would be a senator no longer. But this is America, land of the free ride. Schumer was reelected, and now George Allen gets a second bite of the apple.

Jeffrey can be reached at