Author Archive: Steven Hart

A Ringing Defense of Cartoonist Thomas Nast! And Not a Moment Too Soon!

Nast cartoon 1

It appears some New Jersey lawmakers are upset at the idea that Thomas Nast (1840-1902), the godfather of political cartoonists, has been nominated for a spot in the N.J. Hall of Fame. Assemblymen Wayne DeAngelo and David Rible have asked that Nast’s name be removed from consideration because many of his cartoons depict Irish-Catholics in a demeaning light. Though Nast is celebrated for his crusade to expose Boss Tweed and his ring of thieving Tammany Hall cronies in the early 1870s, the legislators are more concerned with his penchant for ethnic stereotypes, particularly one infamous cartoon depicting a brutish Irish drunkard touching off a powder keg.

Adios Friedman, Hello Krugman

I doubt this was the Nobel Prize academy’s intent, but the awarding of the laurel in economics to Paul Krugman really brings down the curtain on the age of Milton Friedman. Just as Friedman’s dogmas about free markets and deregulation were the foundation for the shaky edifice of conservative “max out the credit cards and let magic marketplace fairies pay the bills” economic thinking, Krugman’s sobersided views on how government intervention helped set the stage for sustained and widespread prosperity in mid-20th-century America can guide us as we dig ourselves out of the pit into which Milton’s Minions have thrown us. With books like The Great Unraveling and The Return of Depression Economics, Krugman gave us the number of the truck that was about to hit America’s (and the world’s) financial markets. Friedman, let it be noted, was a Rutgers boy before he became one of the Chicago Boys. Krugman teaches at Princeton. So how’s that for your Jersey connection? And here’s how one Nobel laureate gave another his due, while also explaining where he went wrong.

Cross posted at The Opinion Mill.

Scarlet Knights and Red Faces

If the Rutgers University alumni in your neighborhood seem to be standing a little taller and walking with a bit more swagger than usual this weekend, it’s probably because the university’s big-time football team has scored a big-time honor: coach Greg Schiano and quarterback Mike Teel are sharing the “Goofball of the Week” laurels, bestowed by Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News. Let him paint you a word picture:


Schiano is at least half a goofball for spurning Michigan to stay in New Jersey, where the Scarlet Knights are 0-3 and falling apart. Teel gets a well-earned share because he threw a late interception, then threw a punch at a teammate after Rutgers’ 23-21 loss to Navy. Schiano declined to suspend Teel for the incident. Rutgers’ opponents probably appreciate that.

As an alumnus reading this news, I felt the impulse to celebrate by peeling off a few Benjamins and flushing them down the toilet, just to keep in the spirit of the whole big-time football thing at my alma mater. Then good sense kicked in. When I’m in the presence of experts, my instinct is to step back and let them show everybody how it’s done, and when it comes to squandering cash, these guys have attained a state of Zen-like perfection. And to think that they do it while wearing uniforms with misspelled names? Sheer artistry! The great ones always make it look easy! All I can say is: Keep chopping!  (Bird-dogged by Rutgers 1000.)

Cross posted at The Opinion Mill.

The Dilbertization of The Record Continues

If you are a New Jerseyan of A Certain Age, chances are you never got over the habit of referring to The Record as “The Bergen Record.” As long as the paper was still based in Hackensack, the mistake didn’t matter. But in the very near future, the Record is going to leave Bergen altogether for smaller lodgings in Passaic County:

The Record of Hackensack, N.J. is planning to vacate its main headquarters and move staff to the site of its sister daily, The Herald News of West Paterson, according to a staff memo from Publisher Stephen A. Borg. The memo declared: “We must re-invent ourselves.”

The memo stated that the move could save about $2.4 million per year. Borg confirmed the memo and said that most of the news staff would actually become mobile journalists, working from the field, while others would also relocate to one of the paper’s eight weekly newspaper sites.

“The number one objective is more mobile journalism,” Borg, who said the paper has about 30 such “mojos,” who report from laptops and cell phones, told E&P. “And to take advantage of our other offices.”

Borg said the move has not been scheduled, but added, “I wouldn’t want it to occur any later than January ’09. Advertising has already moved. In the last six weeks.”

The memo refers to Record relocating to Garret Mountain Plaza, an office building in West Paterson that houses several operations for parent company North Jersey Media Group, including the Herald News. Borg said The Record would occupy some of that leased space. “We are working on the logistics,” he said. “But reporters I want out in the field, the vast majority of them.”

Two Racial Visions at Rutgers

The current issue of Columbia Magazine spotlights William Neal Brown, who while a professor of social work at Rutgers University found himself called upon to debate Malcolm X in the fall of 1961 on the issue of racial integration versus separation. The whole article is worth your time, for its local and national interest, its dual portraits of two extraordinary men, and its picture of a time and an argument that aren’t all that far from the present.

The debate took place in November 1961 on the Newark campus of Rutgers University, in the heart of a rigidly segregated city that was only a few years away from exploding. Malcolm X was at the peak of his stature within the separatist Nation of Islam movement: over the next four years he would have a very public and acrimonious parting of the ways with the Nation and its leader Elijah Muhammad, convert to traditional Islam and begin reaching out to the civil rights leaders he had previously scorned as “Uncle Toms ” and “professional Negroes.” When Malcolm X was shot down in 1965, one man convicted in the crime and two others who were implicated but never arrested had links to Temple Number 25 in Newark, the very NOI mosque that the Newark debate helped establish.

Purse Strings and Puppet Strings at Montclair U.

One of the problems faced by college newspapers – particularly good college newspapers that aren’t afraid to step on some toes – is the tendency of student governments to treat their control of the purse strings for student activities as puppet strings. The latest example of this syndrome is on view at Montclair State University in northern New Jersey.

Apparently the student newspaper, The Montclarion, has been annoying the student government by criticizing its penchant for holding closed meetings. When the staff returned from their holiday recess last week, they found the Student Governing Association had frozen their funding and ordered the publisher not to print the paper edition. (The online edition went up anyway.) The Raw Story has some details:

Nava Say Nava Again: Princeton University Winger Lied About Assault

Has it really been only about a month since David Horowitz blew through the Princeton University campus for Islamo-Fiasco Awareness Week? That cross-country pity party, which drew horselaughs from left- and right-wing alike, served chiefly as a stage for Horowitz’s fantasy of himself as a charismatic firebrand who needs a phalanx of bodyguards to keep from being assaulted every time he sets foot on a college campus. As it turned out, the only people who needed protection were the unwary souls who wandered into one of his speeches and instantly suffered attacks of narcolepsy.

But it appears Horowitz made a big impression on one Princetonian: Francisco Nava, a winger student who last week concocted a story about being beaten unconscious by two assailants after receiving e-mails threatening him with all kinds of mayhem because of his conservative views. 

Winger Radio vs. Bruce Springsteen

It appears that Clear Channel, everybody’s favorite vapid winger-dominated radio network, is trying to do to Bruce Springsteen’s new disc, Magic, what it did to the Dixie Chicks back in those halcyon days when the Iraqis were going to greet us with candy and flowers and oil sales were going to pay for Dick’n’Georgie’s excellent adventure.

Radio stations are hemorrhaging listeners on a monthly basis and satellite radio and music downloads are gaining in popularity, so obviously it makes some kind of sense to  deny airplay to a top-selling album because the artist doesn’t think too highly of a president who’s about as popular as herpes. Some kind of sense, though not on this planet.

Here’s a link to the search page for Clear Channel stations, so our friends here in New Jersey and across the country can find out which radio stations to boycott. Or you can e-mail them and thank them for providing yet another illustration of why media concentration is a pernicious influence in America.

Cross posted in The Opinion Mill.

UH OH: Check out what Clear Channel says here. Figures, doesn’t it, that the trouble started with Fox?

From Pyongyang to Hackensack

Meet Robert Egan – roughneck son of Fairfield, N.J.; owner of Cubby’s, a barbecue place in Hackensack; and, for something like 15 years, America’s unofficial liaison with North Korea.

This New Yorker profile will catch you up on how North Korea (and, before that, Vietnam) came to appreciate Egan’s diplomatic skills. Meanwhile, some choice excerpts on Egan and his worldview are in order.

So, Mr. Egan, how does Kim Jong Il compare with, say, George W. Bush as a world leader?

Put it this way, O.K.? I’d rather have George Bush mad at me than Kim Jong Il,” Egan said one day at Cubby’s, leaning confidentially over the table. “I have no problem with George Bush coming in the restaurant and yelling and screaming at me. I would sleep real good that night. I wouldn’t want to get His Excellency Kim Jong Il angry. I wouldn’t sleep well that night.