Can’t we all get along?
Rep. Lee Zeldin has been generally supportive of President Donald Trump’s attack on “the squad.” Trump has accused Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota of hating the United States and said they should “go back where they came from.” Only Omar was born elsewhere, and she has been a citizen for nearly two decades.
Zeldin wrote to The Point Monday decrying their “blame America first mentality,” but he conceded that Trump should have stuck to policy disagreements.
But it turns out Zeldin didn’t mean all four women in his criticism.
In a later email, Zeldin said he had specifically meant Tlaib and Omar. And in an interview on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday morning Zeldin said, “The thing is with these members, especially Omar and Tlaib, honestly, I feel like their hearts are filled with darkness. AOC's heart might be filled more with cotton candy and unicorns.”
But Pressley? That’s a whole other story. Zeldin says the two are good friends, and have been since they attended the Aspen Institute together in 2012.
“It’s a great program with 3 long weekends together over 18 months (with contact kept up afterwards) discussing many important topics," Zeldin wrote in an email. "The conversations were mostly philosophical and much deeper than any conversations that are had in our day to day lives in the positions we were elected to.
"She is highly intelligent, quick on her feet, passionate in her advocacy, and pure in her heart. She is very different from me ideologically, but easy to talk to and work with. Our friendship extends through our immediate families as well.”
Final score of this Trump/Squad donnybrook:
- Instances of rage, sorrow and epithet hurling: 1 gazillion
- Hopeful anecdotes: 1
Lane Filler @lanefiller
The times they are a changin’
Question No. 7 on the annual financial-disclosure forms filled out by New York politicians tends to elicit variants on a theme.
The question asks respondents to list “any position the reporting individual held as an officer of any political party or political organization, as a member of any political party committee, or as a political party district leader.”
Dutifully, state officials note that they are a Town of Islip Republican committee zone leader (Sen. Phil Boyle), on the executive committee of the Chemung County Republican committee (Sen. Thomas O’Mara) or even just a regular, old member of the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club (Sen. Leroy Comrie Jr.).
Then there is freshman Brooklyn Sen. Julia Salazar’s entry for No. 7: “Member of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)” and “Former Treasurer and Organizing Committee officer for Socialist Feminist working group of NYC chapter of DSA.”
The departure from the typical one-of-two-parties answer showed up in Salazar’s 2018 disclosure form posted along with those of statewide elected officials and members of the Assembly and State Senate hours before everyone left town for the July 4 holiday.
Salazar’s DSA history is no surprise. While she ran and won on the Democratic line last year, she was open about her DSA affiliation.
But it’s a stark public-record sign of how much politics has changed in New York in recent years, a leftward shift that defined a state legislative session marked by things like rent regulations and driver’s licenses for immigrants in the country illegally.
New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics disclosure records aren’t easily searchable -- many officials handwrite their entries, for starters -- but a socialist party position on these forms does not appear to be particularly common.
Maybe that will change as the DSA comes off a still-undecided Queens district attorney race and looks to future races and left-leaning causes in New York.
- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
A la carte
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A place to settle down
Drain the swamp?
Today is the day we chose the swamp.
On July 16, 1790, the Congress of the newly formed United States of America chose a mosquito-infested swamp on the Potomac River as the nation’s permanent capital and named it after the hero of the revolution and the first president, George Washington.
The modern coiner of the phrase “drain the swamp” also made history on July 16. It was on that day last year that President Donald Trump appeared at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and questioned the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.
Putin was the latest in a line of Communist rulers who essentially got their start exactly 100 years earlier on July 16, 1918 when Czar Nicholas II and his family were executed, ending 300 years of Romanov family rule in Russia.
July 16 has been a fascinating day in history. Most people nowadays probably remember it as the day in 1969 that Apollo 11 blasted off on its way to the moon (12 years to the day after future astronaut John Glenn set a speed record by flying from Los Angeles to New York in 3 hours, 23 minutes).
Speaking of blasts, the United States exploded the world’s first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945, in a New Mexico desert.
Another epochal event took place a half-century later on July 16, 1995. Amazon officially opened for business. It was an online bookseller and props to anyone who knows the first volume it sold.
If you find the rise of Amazon a bit disillusioning, the behemoth has a book for you: The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, published on July 16, 1951. The book never was made into a movie, but if it had you might have enjoyed some popcorn while watching it (Orville Redenbacher was born on July 16, 1907).
Today also was the day that gave rise to the phrase “feed the meter.” Yes, the world’s first parking meter debuted on July 16 in 1935 when Park-O-Meter No.1 was installed in Oklahoma City, and you got an hour of parking for your nickel.
Two prominent New Yorkers also met tragic deaths on July 16.
In 1999, New York City fixture John F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the president who launched the space race that led to the Apollo 11 moonshot, died when the plane he was piloting crashed off the coast of Massachusetts. John-John was flying with his wife, Carolyn, and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette to a family wedding in Hyannis Port.
And in 1981, 38-year-old singer-songwriter Harry Chapin — a longtime Long Island resident — was killed on the Long Island Expressway when his 1975 VW Rabbit was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer near Exit 40 in Jericho. Chapin, who was on his way to sing a benefit concert at Eisenhower Park, was a prolific fundraiser for the arts on Long Island and worked to end hunger.
Will July 16, 2019 produce anything as influential and memorable as all that?
- Michael Dobie @mwdobie