Comments: Week of April 23, 2012

1. “Has Ray Kelly lost his cops?” asked Chris Smith in a cover story investigating the morale problem of the Police Department—under fire for “stop and frisk,” clashes with Occupy Wall Street, invasive surveillance measures, and high-profile cases of rape and gun-running by off-duty officers (What’s ­Eating the NYPD?,” April 16). “Kinda dark!” wrote Choire Sicha at the Awl of the story’s portrayal of life in the department. “I still feel for the cops, who are trapped between a public who’s largely grown to hate them (again) and a numbers-obsessed bureaucracy that can’t let crime numbers go up.” Many other readers were also sympathetic to the plight of the rank and file. “Policing and protecting New York City from terrorists is an incredibly tough assignment for everyone involved. But ruining officers who attempt to improve the system is also a crime,” wrote one. Plenty of less kind responses poured in, too: “What am I supposed to do, feel bad for them? Perhaps when they stop raping women, planting evidence, and beating up ­defenseless people, I’ll shed a tear.” And several commenters offered personal testimony to confirm the NYPD’s problem. “As a lifelong Manhattan resident and a son of a cop, I can observe that the force today is very, very unfriendly,” wrote one. “These skinheads today with tattoos look and act like cheap bouncers.” Wrote another: “As someone who has dated a cop for about a year, I think this article is spot on. Joke if you want, but not all cops are thugs, and those cops who care the most and are the most resourceful will continue to leave the force.”

2. Joe Hagan spent a couple of ­marijuana-laced days with HBO enfant terrible Bill Maher and came back impressed by how the libertarian-leftist has kept his comic edge (It Won’t Hurt You. It’s Vapor,” April 16). “What a breath of fresh truthful air Bill ­Maher is, or is that vapor?” wrote one fan, while another called the talk-show cynic the “American anti-hero we need in light of the wannabe, Christian, two-faced, ­monster-machine circus we call politics. Bill Maher not only pokes the dirtiest fun but also has a way of engaging the country in conversation that elevates it from two-party talking points.” Some admirers were a little more nuanced. “He is a thousand times more interesting than Seth Meyers or any of the ­Letterman/Leno variety, but Stewart/­Colbert are still the kings of political satire,” wrote one viewer. “They don’t need to call Palin a tw*t or employ metaphors about Snooki’s vagina to illustrate their points.” And, of course, a few haters wrote in, too. “Bill is a narcissistic assclown. He’s relevant to people who want him to be relevant, just as Dennis Miller is.”

3. In the debut of a new business column, “The Money,” Jessica Pressler sat down with John Mack, the former CEO of struggling Morgan Stanley who “has emerged with his reputation not only unscathed but burnished” (Look Who’s Back,” April 16). At Business Insider, Linette Lopez called the column “a hefty piece. It covers a lot of ground—Mack’s reputation, the financial crisis, his plans for the future.” Mack “may not be the chairman or CEO of a major Wall Street bank anymore, but he’s still very much in the game,” wrote blogger the Reformed Broker. “By his own admission Mack screwed up big time when he was the CEO of MS,” wrote one commenter at ­, echoing familiar frustration with Wall Street. “As a result thousands of employees lost their jobs and MS stockholders lost countless billions in wealth. Instead of disappearing in disgrace Mack is eating at fancy restaurants, counting his millions and laughing.” But another reader, claiming to be a former Morgan Stanley employee, couldn’t help but admire Mack. “I like the guy. In the face of him I forget that he killed the MS I loved and brought in a whole lot of bloat and mediocrity and turned us into Merrill Lynch.”

4. Could our genes code our politics? Just maybe, wrote Sasha Issenberg, in a survey of the emerging evolutionary biology of political identity (Born This Way,” April 16). Readers were a little less sure. “These reductive scientific findings are fine for a Facebook post or parlor talk, but I think that the full picture is a lot more complicated than this,” wrote one. But others saw plenty of evidence, however anecdotal, to support the idea. “Look at the professions,” advised one reader at “The nurturing professions: nursing, education, and the social professions are predominantly ‘liberal.’ Journalism is a very social profession (like chatting). The thinkers go into business, engineering, and the military.” At least one reader detected a latent irony. “It seems that while liberals tend to be more empirical about the external world (evolution, climate science, other species), they often have a patently naïve view of actual human behavior—namely, the odd idea that people are inherently good … I believe that liberals fool themselves about human nature; conservatives fool themselves about themselves.”

Send correspondence to:

Comments: Week of April 23, 2012