- Thanks for all the comments on the last post, especially since you mostly agreed with me. I believe it to be an LATG record. In a little less than two days, I accumulated as many comments as Atrios gets in about two minutes. But I guess it's progress nonetheless.
Governor Paterson is in the hospital today; he checked himself in with a severe migraine this morning. He later received a diagnosis of acute glaucoma in his left eye. As you may know, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno is next in line of succession, and I'm not being macabre in bringing that up. Bruno technically becomes the governor if Paterson became temporarily incapacitated, or even if he merely leaves the state. An article in the NY Sun last week reported that that's not merely a technicality.
"Essentially he would have the powers of the governor," the deputy director of the Rockefeller Institute, Robert Ward, said of Mr. Bruno's status should Mr. Paterson leave town. His powers would include issuing executive orders, hiring and firing staff, approving expenditures that have been appropriated but not yet spent, issuing pardons, and calling in the National Guard, among others. Mr. Bruno could even sign legislation the governor had planned to veto, were it to reach his desk.I wonder if awarding the Aqueduct racino would be reversible; or if reversing NYRA's franchise would be! Bruno wished Paterson the best, and added: “The smart thing to do is to get checked out." I'll say!! I can only imagine what Bruno would have wished upon Spitzer if the ex-Gov had checked in for a bruised penis or something like that.
"He could try to appoint judges and have them confirmed by the Senate," a former parks commissioner and director of New York Civic, Henry Stern, said of Mr. Bruno. "Paterson should definitely not visit Australia or New Zealand, let's put it that way."
While most of these moves would be reversible, some — such as a judicial appointment or the spending of state funds — would not.
As you probably know, Paterson is legally blind, and, if a court ruling issued today holds up, he won't have a problem distinguishing between various denominations of paper money for too much longer. The Treasury Department has fought the case, claiming that blind people have adapted, pointing out, for example, that some relied on store clerks to help them. I wonder how that would work out if he asked a ticket seller at Belmont to help him out....
- I read this article in the Times today about John McCain's effort to put his money where his mouth is, and clear his staff of lobbyists.
Mr. McCain’s political identity has long been defined by his calls for reducing the influence of special interests in Washington. But as he heads toward the general election as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, he has increasingly confronted criticism that his campaign staff is stocked with people who have made their living as lobbyists or in similar jobs, leaving his credentials as a reformer open to attack.And I can assure you with a fair amount of confidence that Senator McCain would not be undergoing this effort if not for the fuss raised by the liberal blogosphere, given the free pass that he regularly gets from the mainstream press.
Unfortunately, despite the proliferation of thoroughbred racing blogs, I can't say that us bloggers have nearly the same influence even in our relatively microscopic world. It still seems to me that the racing establishment, with exceptions of course, still just does not take bloggers seriously; and, in fact, still doesn't understand exactly what a blog is, as John so hilariously pointed out last week.
When I say "bloggers," I'm really talking about the independent ones that you'll find, say, in the TBA. Mainstream writers such as Moran have been whining for years and nobody has listened, so why should they now just because they're writing editorial columns disguised as blogs?
But they, the rest of us here, and you readers and commenters, have been ranting, raving, and bellyaching (sorry) for the last couple of weeks post-Eight Belles about what's wrong and what we think should be done. But do you really get a sense that there are serious steps being contemplated, and that all of our voices are being heard? A couple of roundtables on TV, a single blog post by Alex Waldrop, and some new task force doesn't quite do the job. I feel that we're still at least one more highly visible tragedy away from the industry going - 'Whoa' - calling a timeout, canceling all racing around the country for a couple of days to convene a serious meeting of the minds - seriously!! - and taking immediate steps, even if they're largely cosmetic like imposing strict rules on whipping, to show the public and its fans that it's really intent on change. Until then, there's far too much money involved for too many people to change their entrenched ways.
- One more note about the McCain article; it reports that one of McCain's lobbyist staff members helped set up a meeting in Switzerland in 2006 between the distinguished Senator from Arizona and a Russian businessman, who has been barred from entering this country, apparently because of accusations about past ties to organized crime in Russia. That businessman is none other than Oleg Deripaska, the 9th richest man in the world, and Frank Stronach's new dance partner in Magna International (the car company, the Magna that actually makes money.) What the hell was McCain doing meeting with this guy, I might ask? Maybe I should write Atrios about that; then the question could be posed by someone to whom people actually pay attention.