Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
Remember when LIers paid to hear Flynn speak?
On Nov. 16, as rumors swirled that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn would be Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Flynn came to Old Bethpage to address a Museum of American Armor gala at the behest of museum board member and PR pro Gary Lewi.
When Lewi asked Flynn to speak at the museum months before the event, he couldn’t have known Trump would win the election or that Flynn, an early and ardent supporter of Trump, would get such a plum job. To have the speech fall on the eve of Flynn’s nomination seemed almost too lucky to credit.
Nor could anybody that night have imagined how swift Flynn’s fall would be. But in retrospect, the roots of that fall were evident both in his speech in Old Bethpage and his forced retirement in 2014 from the role of Defense Intelligence Agency director under President Barack Obama.
Flynn believed the Islamic State to be an enormous threat that Obama, who in 2014 called the group the “JV,” was not taking seriously enough. Pressing this point cost him his job, even as Obama did step up efforts to combat the growing ISIS threat.
Flynn resigned Monday night after discussing sanctions with Russian representatives before Trump assumed office. Their coziness with Russia seems to stem largely from a strategy to do anything to keep Vladimir Putin strong in the fight against ISIS in Syria.
In his Old Bethpage speech, Flynn predicted that our nation’s enemies — including Russia, China, North Korea and the Islamic State — would test the Trump administration, probing for weakness. All now have, with mixed results.
Flynn also said the United States has, of late, “been the best” enemy in the world because we telegraph our intentions to adversaries. Who would have guessed he was talking about himself?
The state of the city
Maybe you turned off Mayor Bill de Blasio’s election-year State of the City address Monday night after the choir or the warm-up speakers. Maybe you believed de Blasio when he said it would be a short speech, and tuned out as he stretched past an hour. If you did, you might have missed that he stayed away from the tough stuff and returned to his winning economic message from 2013.
The focus was on the city’s “affordability crisis,” which the mayor promised to tackle with a push for 100,000 “good-paying” jobs by 2026. The mayor identified such jobs as paying $50,000 a year, and pointed to some old and some new economic development projects.
De Blasio apparently did not use entirely prepared remarks. This showed in his sometimes-effective folksiness, but also in his rambling dad jokes. That included one about whether he should use the phrase “dope.” He did.
Given less time Monday: pervasively difficult issues such as homelessness or the opioid crisis, solutions for which de Blasio promised we’d soon “hear more about.” Also missing, despite protesters outside the event: the issues of police reform beyond body cameras, and the push to close Rikers Island.
The view from Facebook
Besides airing on NY1, the mayor took to Facebook Live, where as many as 500 people seemed to be watching his speech at any given moment. But even as de Blasio spoke about affordable housing and job creation, the social media platform was overtaken by those with a different agenda.
“Pass 1447,” a commenter posted, before the speech even started. And the number kept popping up.
City Council bill No. 1447 would require construction workers to go through apprenticeship programs, a move unions say would make workers safer. It’s an issue the building trades are putting a lot of muscle behind.
But construction safety never came up during the speech. And with a relatively small Facebook Live audience, it seemed the bill’s supporters were mostly talking to each other.
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Happy Valentine’s Day!
We had some fun decorating our office today and wanted to share. Have a sweet day!