Tuesday, February 26, 2013

And, Speaking Of Young People ...

... perhaps the best thing about their openness to change and innovative use of technology is that puppet states, and the puppeteer states that manipulate them, are in the process of becoming a thing of the past.

Just ask Zbigniew Brzezinski.  Along with Henry Kissinger, he is one of the principal architects of Metternich-style diplomacy, the belief that our own security depends on the systematic misery of others.

Not surprisingly, Brzezinski is sad about the end of his era.  He and Henry should get together and console each other.  The rest of us can tell them to go to hell.


I'm off for a week or two, helping my mother celebrate her 90th birthday.  Until then, may your March have no madness, and come in like a lamb rather than a lion.

And The Number One Reason The Republican Party Is Dying Is ...

... the fact that Tip O'Neill had it wrong.  Politics isn't local, so much as it is generational.  A whole generation has come of age and begun to assume its place in a world in which social justice is a memory and social Darwinism (the only kind of Darwinism that can now be taught in schools) is a seemingly inescapable reality.

No wonder they're so stressed out

No wonder that, however much this generation is defined by technology, it will take a lot more than technological mimicry to win them over to the GOP cause.

And no wonder that, in spite of anything the GOP might do, this generation is a horse that is already well on its way to leaving the barn.

Top Ten Reasons Why The Republican Party Is Dying

With apologies to David Letterman.

10.  Its unwavering belief that you can make a dog hunt by beating it--or, in this case, by making it pay for welfare, or cutting its jobless benefits;

9.  Its willingness to embrace socialized medicine, provided that someone else pays for it;

8.  A Speaker of the House so weak that he can be beaten up by a grandmother;

7.  Its world-class ability to argue in favor of things they allegedly oppose, like the minimum wage;

6.  Its unshakable belief that limited government so limited that it has the Constitutional obligation to do absolutely nothing;

5.  Its willingness to devour anyone who exposes its lies, especially its budget lies, and its constituents' willingness to devour its most respected leaders for any deviations from orthodoxy (watch John McCain's chickens come home to roost here);

4.  Even Tom Friedman has given up on it (sort of; see the second sentence of the fifth paragraph);

3.  The effectiveness of its race-baiting has become so threadbare that it has abandoned the dog whistle in favor of the foghorn;

2.  (This is a Top Ten List, so a bunch of these have to be bunched up):
     2a.  Democrats are no longer afraid to fight back;
     2b.  It can't pass its own character test;
     2c.  It can't tell the difference between truth and satire;
     2d.  Even its members think it's in the middle of a divorce.

The Republican Sequestration Plan

That's the title of this article in New York magazine by Jonathan Chait.  Briefly, Chait seems confused by the fact that the Republican House, under the crack leadership of Speaker Gerry Mander, is refusing to replace the sequestration process with a mixture of entitlement cuts and closed tax loopholes--in other words, two things they've previously gone on the record as favoring.  Consequently, Chait professes to be perplexed by this strategy, even to the point of wondering whether House Republicans even have a strategy for dealing with the sequester and its meat-axe consequences for public services.

Personally, I think they do have a strategy.  It's kind of a half-cocked one, but that's the only kind of strategy you can have when your party is composed of two factions that have been growing apart for decades:  religious zealots, and practical establishmentarians.

By religious zealots, I'm not necessarily talking about evangelical Christians.  I'm talking about what is truly the core constituency in the contemporary Republican Party--anti-tax zealots.  These are people who view any and all taxes not as Holmes' price for civilization, but as hobnail boots on the souls of free people--even when the taxes pay for services the zealots want.  Like the Terminator, they cannot be reasoned or bargained with, and they absolutely will not rest until all taxes are gone and every conceivable government function is provided by the public sector on a fee-for-service basis.

They are, in other words, the majority of House Republicans.  And they are the bane (the Boehner?) of Speaker Gerry Mander's existence.  Because Speaker Gerry Mander is basically an establishmentarian, one who lives to cut deals with the other side, not so much out of a deep-seated commitment to democracy as out of a burning desire to get through the back nine before cocktail hour.

The curse of the House Republican caucus (for them, as well as the rest of us) is that there are not enough establishmentarians to hold back the hordes of zealots and prevent them from shutting down not just the government, but political reason itself.  This, NOT President Obama, is the reason we have the sequester in the first place--and the reason the sequester threatens to throw our economy and our society in the dumpster.

With all of that as prologue, what's the strategy?

The only one possible in these circumstances.  It's to keep kicking the can down the road a few months.  Then a few months more of posturing.  Then a few months more of posturing.  Pretty soon, you get to the next election, and hope that the voters sort everything out in your favor.  It's a little like a basketball team with a late-game lead, dribbling and passing, hoping to run out the clock to victory.

There's just one problem with this strategy.  In the public's mind, it's Obama who has the lead.  And, if I were him, I'd push back and demand a budget framework for the remainder of his presidency.  Stop letting the idiots take the country hostage, and force them to swallow their idiocy.  If it finishes them off politically, who cares?  Certainly not me.  I'm sick to death of watching this wretched melodrama.

And I think everyone else is, too.

The State Of The Union, As Well As The GOP

I allow for the fact that President Obama and I are on the same side of the political fence in saying this.  But I still say, without hesitation, that his State of the Union address is the best one I've ever heard.  Not just from him.  The best one I've ever heard.  Period.

I obviously attribute part of that opinion to the fact that he's stopped apologizing to the opposition party and the nation for being a Democrat.  That was, as Richard Nixon might have said, perfectly clear in his second Inaugural Address, and it was no less true in the SOTU address.  But what particularly impressed me was the skillful way he reduced the political profile of the Republicans down to a single word:  obstruction.  I honestly believe that his demand for "a simple vote" on behalf of the victims of gun violence will be remembered by historians as well as voters.

But no less gratifying to me was this, spoken by Obama subsequently in the context of stopping the sequester (and more about that later).  I've been saying for years that Republicans are defined not by limited government, militarism, social values and/or free markets (in other words, all the things to which they pay nothing more than lip service).  They are, and always will be, defined by one thing and one thing only:  economic royalism.  This explains the philosophical comeback of Ayn Rand, the patron saint of economic royalists.  And yet, for the first time in I don't know how long, a leader of the Democratic Party puts it out there and stands behind it.  It's enough to make me look for the proverbial flock of pigs circling Hell and filling up ice buckets.

And yet, for me, it's still not quite enough.

Because, operationally, the GOP is defined by one more thing:  taking credit, even when it isn't due.  That, of course, was most laughably apparent as the Cold War ended, and conservative pundits went through no fewer than three stages of denial:  (a) The Cold War is not ending; (b) The Cold War is not ending, but whatever is happening is bound to be bad for the U.S.; (c) The Cold War is over, and Reagan deserves all of the credit for it.

This propensity is reflected in the recent behavior of Senator Marco Rubio, anointed by what's left of print media as the Next Big Thing in GOP politics.  (Or, at the very least, its Next Big Gulp.)  Actually, I'm not talking about the swig seen 'round the world.  I'm talking about this.

Why would you argue that the President's immigration proposals are different than yours, even when they're not?   Because you're a prospective Presidential candidate, looking to be an ethnic pioneer in the field, and you're desperately trying to position yourself as the author of whatever compromise emerges from the current immigration debate in Washington.  Perhaps you can even get it called the Marco Rubio Immigration Act of 2013, if you're lucky.

I don't think Rubio is going to be successful in this regard.  I don't even think it's a mortal lock that he will be the GOP nominee in 2016.  But he does help to illustrate what his party is all about.  As well as why, after 30-plus years, we need to break its death grip on our politics.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Thirty-Year Decline And Fall Of America

As narrated by Ed Asner, in cartoon form.  Take a look.  And share it with a friend.  Or, better yet, send it to the opposition and force it to wrestle with the truth.

So, You Think That There's Nothing We Can Do About The Environment?

Well, as I just said, think again.

Yes, it's an enormous problem. one that is as literally as big as the planet itself.  All of us are part of the environment, and all of us--for better and for worse--contribute to its present state.  So it's going to take ALL of us to fix and save it.  Not one or more governments.  Not one or more nations.  Every person on the planet has to do his or her share.  The sublimation of self-interest required to make that happen will be difficult in a narcissistic age like ours.  But, if each one of us wants to survive, to say nothing of thrive, we have absolutely no choice.  At the moment, we only have the one planet.  And the net result of our current conduct is its destruction.  Even in the short run, doing nothing can lead to financial ruin for us all.

So, what can each person do?  Lots of things, great and small.  One great thing would be to band together and support government and business leaders willing to turn trash into renewable energy.

Or to build high-speed rail lines.

Or to adapt coastal areas to allow planned flooding and capture water rather than surrender to it.  This is especially important, because we've already lost enough time that some degree of flooding is inevitable.  Strategies to capture this water, combined with desalinization, could result in a "lemonade from lemons" approach that turns potential disasters into an expanded supply of fresh water.

Or to make the most of our urban centers, which will always be far more energy-efficient than the suburbs.  Strategies for doing so, like triple-paning windows, are already well within reach.

Or who will admit that we can learn from the experiences of other countries in order to more generally survive peak oil.  Cuba has done this, for example.  One benefit of normalizing our relations with Cuba, which are little more than a monument to the politics of the previous century, would be to accelerate the learning curve in this regard.  Australia is another country from which we can learn; there, wind and solar power are more affordable than fossil fuels.

These are macro-strategies.  There are any number of micro-strategies as well.

For example, all of us can cut down on the number of bottles used for carbonated beverages, thanks to companies like SodaStream.  (Full disclosure:  I got a SodaStream system as a Christmas gift, and it has helped me to cut down substantially on the number of soda bottles and cans I buy.)

Or take small steps to reduce the carbon footprint of our living and working spaces.

In any case, when it comes to pursuing big and small strategies, we need to be braced for opposition from the oil companies and the right-wing media echo chamber.  They will lie, they will suppress information, they will practice divide-and-conquer politics, they will in fact do anything to facilitate the long-term death of our world for the sake of short-term profits.

But we can't be afraid of that.  Not only is this an essential battle, but it is also a winnable one.  Our success in dealing with the ozone layer is proof of that.

And, if we can enlist the aid of a few more Republicans like Chris Christie, winning will seem less like a fantasy, and more like an inevitability.

So, You Think That Cutting Spending Helps The Economy?

Think again.

And again.

And, for good measure, one more time.

Has it sunk in yet?

I hope so.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

All Evangelicals Are Not Conservative

And there's no better place to find evidence of that than Sojourners magazine, which for decades has done a first-rate job of showing that faith is very compatible with progressive values.  It still does so, especially in the context of our current gun debate.

Sojourners is correct:  we worship guns, not God.  And, even worse, many of us can no longer tell the difference.

Can We Grow ALL Of Our Resources?

Maybe.  If we can find a way to grow gold, who knows what the limits are?

We Don't Need Nuclear Power

We need to learn a lesson or two from Japan, with its own troubled history with nuclear power (including the part we played in it).  Here's one example.

Renewables like wind and solar power are the future of energy.  How many more near-disasters with nuclear power do we need before we learn that lesson?

And Bipartisanship Doesn't Work

Not when the other side consistently acts in bad faith, especially when it comes to filibusters.


And here's the proof.

I Don't Like Telling People To Arm Themselves ...

...but it looks like even the progressives among us have no choice.

Especially in the South.

God have mercy on us all.

Are Faith And Knowledge Incompatable?

No, they are not.  God gave each of us a heart to believe, and a mind to think.  Our personal and spiritual obligation is to use both--together.  When we do, both faith and knowledge flourish.  When we attempt to tear them apart, or otherwise put them asunder, both of them wither to the point at which they become senseless antagonists.

The history of Islam illustrates this point.  The high point of the spread of Islam coincides with the expansion of learning and scientific knowledge in the Islamic word.  The end of that expansion likewise coincides with the political and economic weakening of Islamic nations, and the retreat of the faith into a fundamentalism that rejects any form of progress and, concomitantly, any but the most restrictive forms of learning.

Thankfully, there are signs that this may be changing.  In the case of the Islamic world, that change can't come fast enough.  But it is no less necessary in societies in which Christianity predominates, including ours.  As fundamentalists in this country are fond of saying, many of our greatest universities were founded on faith-based principles.  Beyond that, they get the story wrong; those institutions chose not to abandon faith, but to adapt it to the expansion of secular knowledge.  The only people "driven out" in the process were the ones who confused faith with narrow-mindedness, which breeds not a closer walk with God, but a close walk with self.

And the narcissism generated in the process leads to egotists like this one, who has lost any sense of servanthood.  To say nothing of any knowledge of math; I'm sure that 10% of her income is far greater than 18% of her Applebee's bill.

No, faith and knowledge are not incompatible.  It is, in fact, essential to join them at the hip.  Perhaps now more than ever.

You Cannot Strengthen The Strong By Weakening The Weak

This article effectively makes a simple point:  profits come from wage-earners spending wages and, if they have less and less to spend, then profits will shrink as well.  And unions are the means by which those trends can--and must--be reversed.

I hope we can all learn this simple lesson soon, before failing to learn it destroys us.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Our Economy?

Austerity?  Doesn't seem to be helping us.

Could it possibly be time to try something else?  An approach that trusts the private sector less, and the public sector more?

Maybe.  It's working in Iceland, where they went after the banks and the economy has bounced back.  And in Japan, where the Prime Minister decided that inflation and stimulus are not as frightening as doing nothing.

But, most of all, we need to stop thinking about economics in black-and-white terms.  There is no such thing as an all-private economy, except perhaps on a desert island.  And even in the most governmentally oppressive countries, no government is big enough to control all economic activity.  That's why they have "black markets."  Individual needs--for comforts or profit--are like water; they will always find a way.

Instead, we need to talk about the proper mix of public and private activity in this country.  And we're going to have to be very comfortable doing so, because that's a constantly moving target.  We have to be prepared to move in either direction, and sometimes fairly quickly.  The kind of balanced approach to capitalism is well described in this book, among others.  In fact, it's reflected in policies from the past.  So, once again, it's not just me saying this.

How do we get there?  As always, and as our President has told us more than once, it's up to us.  Perhaps a good start would involve bringing back Glass-Steagall, so that banks are once again divided between those that take risks and those that hedge against them.  It worked when it was law; it could be a big step forward to try it again.

Profiles In Courage ... And Cowardice

In the former category, you have Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly.  As well as a nun demanding a consistently "pro-life" perspective.

In the latter category, you have the persecutors of this hero.

It doesn't take courage to own a gun.  In fact, it takes a great deal more courage to not own one, and to nevertheless stand up for your beliefs.  I am NOT against private gun ownership, and I don't know of a single gun-control advocate who is opposed to private gun ownership.  Gun ownership for sporting or self-defensive purposes, as well as being part of "a well-regulated militia," is fully constitutional and legitimate, and I don't hesitate to support it.

But owing or possessing a gun does not make you brave, or tough, or heroic.  Unless you have the proper training and commitment for the use of an inherently dangerous device, you are every bit as much a danger as the device itself.  See here

The greatest danger from guns, sadly, does not come from criminals.  It comes from "responsible" gun owners who are NOT as responsible as they should be.  The Sandy Hook shootings came from a gun that was owned by an NRA member who could not find a way to keep it away from her mentally-unstable son.

 People like her are the people who make gun restrictions necessary.  Please keep that in mind the next time you here the NRA try to slime liberals..

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What Can Workers Do?

Unions are under attack as never before.  Even in union bastions like Michigan, where there's no pretense about what's being done.  Or why.

And, sadly, it's working.

In the absence of any help from Washington with turning things around, what can workers do?  This article offers some good thoughts.  I particularly like the second idea, because it's one I have believed in for decades.  Workers and capitalists can serve each others interests best if they see each other and act like partners, rather than antagonists.

But, in today's environment, workers are going to have to fight like hell in order to get to the point where the investing class can even begin to think of them as partners.  Fighting doesn't mean striking, however.  At the very least, it does mean organizing and believing that people are stronger together than when they stand alone.  Our country and our working class was once built on that ideal.  Let's hope that both can be re-built on it.

When Is A Tax Hike REALLY OK For The 1%?

When it can be used to drive poor people off their land.

This is the great irony:  in a world of small government, the private sector gives you all the minuses of Big Government without the pluses.

And one of those pluses is this:  You can throw Big Government in and out of office every few years.

A kleptocracy, on the other hand, is forever.  Unless you do something about it.

The Pipeline That Refuses To Die, And Just May Kill Us All

Keystone.  Just when most of us had considered it all but dead, a majority of Senators help to bring this Frankenstein's monster back to life.  See why bipartisanship is greatly overrated?  It mainly serves as a propellant for mediocrity at best, and disaster at worst.

And Keystone is without a disaster, an ecological disaster in the making that could destroy America's breadbasket, pollute the atmosphere beyond redemption, and give America NOTHING in the way of extra energy.  It will, of course, profit American oil companies, who so desperately need help with that (sarcasm).  That the Governor of Nebraska is willing to put the economy of his state in mortal jeopardy for this nightmare is beyond belief.

Want proof of the potential for Keystone to ignite the planet?  Take a look at what runaway oil drilling is doing to North Dakota.

Why can we not simply acknowledge what has been painfully obvious for a long time?  Our energy future--in fact, our economic future--depends on working with our planet, not ripping it to pieces.  We need to face the fact that renewable energy, like solar power, is not only better than fossil fuels but will be there long after the last well has given up its riches.

And it isn't just energy.  Across the board, we need to make the transition from a consumption-based economy to an economy based on the reuse and renewal of resources.  It makes sense.  And dollars and cents.  Even in New York real estate, this reality is finally being recognizedAnd in Israel.  And even, in its own way, by a conservative Supreme Court.

It's not nice to burn Mother Nature.  In fact, it's downright dangerous.  For God's sake, everyone, WAKE UP!  Stop Keystone, and everything it represents!

Time To Kick Them In Both Their Faces--HARD

Ah, conservatives.  To paraphrase Larry Gelbart one more time, sincerity is written on both of their faces.  And it doesn't matter whether the subject is.  It could be anything from debt to dogs.  The end result is always the same:  principles matter, until they don't.

And people are waking up to that fact.  Even Rasmussen can't hide the fact that this is happening.

Which is why it is high time, in fact past high time, for Democrats to use the power given to them by the Constitution and the people.

And nothing should be beyond their ambition.

Not Mitch McConnell.

Not even Texas.  It's time to mess with Texas, McConnell, and the whole damn lot of them.

And maybe, just maybe, Democrats recognize that too.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

When Does The Catholic Church Think A Fetus Is NOT A Person?

When doing so can get them out of a lawsuit.

This, and child abuse.  Damn its institutional hypocrisy.

The Next Time Someone Tells You That War Is Good For The Economy ...

... tell them to read this.  It debunks a major conservative myth about the New Deal and World War II.

A Dozen Signs Of A Political Spring?

  1. A Republican-dominated Supreme Court stands up against voter intimidation.
     2.  A historic railroad landmark in New York is restored (and no, it's not Grand Central).

     3.  Virginia is moving forward on behalf of undocumented students.

     4.  In the heart of red Kentucky, a small town bans gay bias.

     5.  And in even redder Wyoming, a small step toward gay marriage is taken.

     6.  Liberal documentarians are pushing the boundaries of liberalism past Obama.

     7.  The Boy Scouts realize they can no longer afford to ban gay members.

     8.  Polls expose the hypocrisy of conservative Christians on religious liberty.

     9.  Leon Panetta brings true gender equality to American troops.

   10.  Colorado stops creationism dead in its tracks.

   11.  And a new Senate Budget Committee chair gives hope for progress priorities.

Putting it simply, as long as the progressive journey is taking forward steps, it is not our job to worry about how long it will take us to reach our destination.  It is our job to keep taking forward steps.  Which brings me to my twelfth sign--the message to be found in the tragic death of Aaron Swartz.

Never lose heart because of the length or difficulty of the journey.  Someone's life may depend on it.  Including, perhaps, your own.

Gerrymandering Update

Now they want to use it to "gerrymander" the Electoral College.  Much has been written about this, and some of it by me, at least with regard to their control of the House of Representatives.  But even I've found the extent to which they've been willing to pursue this very bad idea.  Apparently, it includes sneak attacks, like the recent one in Virginia.

On the other hand, they're not all on the same page when it comes to gerrymandered presidential elections.  Just ask Virginia's Attorney General.  Of course, he may be duking it out with his Governor for the GOP nomination in 2016, so both of them may want to avoid the obvious conflict-of-interest problem.

And then, Virginia and almost everyone else thinking about this suddenly changed their mind.  Amazing what a little bad publicity through the Internet can do.

But don't rest easy.  This will come back, when people aren't looking.  Because the GOP has no choice.

Let The 2016 Race Begin!

Yes, I know, you're still financially and emotionally exhausted from 2012.  Lord knows I am.

But trust me, that hasn't stopped the other side from starting to play the game.

They're already tearing down Obama with specious arguments like this one.  How the hell could Obama have accomplished all that he's accomplished if he was a poor manager?  This sounds like yet another attempt to Carterize Obama.  It can't be done.  Period.

Or how about this?  You want to measure Obama by the distance between his promises and his execution?  Fine.  I don't know of any politician who could pass that test.  For handling the reality of being the Jackie Robinson of Presidents better than anyone expected or hoped AND accomplishing as much as he has, he ought to have two airports named after him.

But then, you really see what's going on when you see something totally absurd like this, in which Bill Clinton is being blamed for George Bush's housing collapse.  Who knows?  Maybe Clinton is also to blame for 9/11.  Oh that's right; they've spread that lie before.  And will again.

Because all of this is all about the next presidential cycle, and the seeming inevitability of Hillary, whose stepping aside now as Secretary of State to catch her breath for a few years and get tanned, rested and ready.  They're scared to death of this.  And they should be; their presidential bench is pathetic. It's just as well that their most recent standard bearer skipped the inaugural festivities; his presence would only have served to underscore the pathetic nature of their 2016 choices.  Want more proof?  Their 2008 standard bearer is reduced to blaming the media for the pathetic failure of the GOP efforts to slime Hillary over the Benghazi attacks.

Run, Hillary, run!  They're already running--away from you, and the reality of their decline and fall.

On The Other Hand, There Was Obama's Second Inaugural Address

Wow.  When was the last time a Democrat used an inaugural address to lay out a course for liberalism as boldly and as proudly as Obama did last month?  Maybe never.  I mean, gay rights?  Right there with the feminist and civil rights movements?  Amazing.  What took him so long?

Above all, for me at least, was the renewed commitment to climate change.  I'm glad to see he hasn't given up on doing something about this.  We've reached a point of no return in this area, and it's time to stop pretending that this is something we need to debate.  Mother Nature has won the debate, hands down.  In fact, Obama went so far as to invoke God on behalf of the Earth; he may find a willing partner among young evangelical Christians.

Oh and, speaking of God, there was Nino Scalia pretending to be Sir Thomas More.  I have to admit, the idea of Scalia having his head chopped off is a somewhat attractive one.  But it's easier to imagine Scalia dressing like a martyr than it is to actually imagine him being one.  A man who doesn't even know when to recuse himself from a case is hardly a man for all seasons.

Filibuster Follies

Oh, politics, the land of pretentious promises and futile follow-through.

This time, we were promised, it would be different.  Senate Democrats would no longer allow their GOP colleagues to use the filibuster as a tool for rump, do-nothing government.  It was, at long last, time to stop letting the majority get pushed around.

Or not.

All I can say is that if the "reforms" being put into place aren't good enough for Tom Harkin, they' re not good enough for me.  Perhaps that's why he decided to do this; if so, it's a double blow.

Politics is like life in one sense:  you can't accomplish anything if you're going to live by your fears and not your principals.  Maybe Harry Reid and his colleagues should consider reading The New York Times more often.

Edward Irving Koch, 1924-2013: Hard To Love, Harder To Hate

He was my Mayor for the nearly four years that I lived in New York and, before that, he was running for his first term when I was in the City on a student internship.  I got an up-close look at Ed Koch in a way that you only could if you lived in the town he loved so deeply and served for so long.

And perhaps the only thing his admirers and detractors can agree on is this:  if you really want to try to understand him, you had to be there when he was Mayor.  Yet somehow, even I'm not sure that's enough.

He was, to put it mildly, a study in contradictions.  A liberal Democrat for much of his life, he was nevertheless able to make and implement tough fiscal decisions that helped New York to recover financially after the worst of the mid-'70s fiscal crisis.  A pioneer civil-rights crusader, he was unable to manage the increasing racial tensions in the City during the '80s.  A deeply private man, who may have been a deeply closeted man sexually, he nevertheless alternated between reveling at being the center of attention and running away from the biggest health crisis in modern New York history.  And his post-mayoral career was much of the same:  being everywhere in the media, and alternating between alienating Democrats and Republicans.  Much of what has been written about him in the past few days focuses on the contradictions:  two of the best pieces are here and here.

It's difficult, if not impossible, to avoid the conclusion that Koch was not truly comfortable in his own skin, no matter how much he tried in public to be the life of the party.  I think that he is fundamentally unknowable--and I think he was probably as happy as he could be that way.  I take issue with those critics who thought that he could have done more with the AIDS crisis:  AIDS in the '80s was a ball that everyone dropped, to varying extents.  And even if Koch had come out of whatever closet he was in, I doubt that it would have made a difference; if anything, it may have made getting anything done harder, and Koch no doubt was aware of that.  I do think that his conservative allies pushed him into a stance on race relations that served everyone involved very poorly.

Dislike him for those things if you must.  But don't forget that he brought New York back from the financial graveyard.  Every good thing that has happened in the Big Apple financially since then owes some debt (no pun intended) to that.  As a resident of Queens during this period, I have no regrets about the vote I cast for his re-election.  He helped to make my experience as a New Yorker one that I will always cherish.

R.I.P., Mr. 105th Mayor of the City of New York.  I hope you liked the answer when you asked God "How'm I doin'?"