The Schmidbauering

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Joe Schmidbauer cranked up ye olde Altpress machine to excrete this.

A young lawyer comes to town from the Boston area and with great hubris brands himself the Buffalo-pundit all the while living in suburban (white bread) Clarence and thereby gains entrance to the lucrative networking game called local politics.

WOW! That’s the best opening paragraph, ever! I came here to take over your internets, Buffalo!

The truth is that I arrived here fifteen years ago(!) one of those rare “newpats”.  In 2003 I started a blog to get out the word for a local Presidential race I volunteered with. When that guy dropped out, I blogged about national politics. It wasn’t until 2005 that I used “Buffalopundit”  because that’s what bloggers did – they adopted noms de plume. I switched focus to local issues, especially in light of the red/green budget fiasco. That’s how it started. I was writing about Buffalo – not just the city of Buffalo, but the metropolitan area of Buffalo. It was my daily letter to the editor, and to an extent remains that way.

I never blogged in order to “gain entrance to the lucrative networking game” called local politics. At my work, our firm represents Erie County in a very small number of matters, and I was honored to be appointed to the board of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.

It doesn’t matter that I live in Clarence. I spend most of my waking day in Buffalo; I work in Buffalo, I spend my money in Buffalo, my taxes go to pay for things in Buffalo. Buffalo is a place I care deeply about. After all I chose to come here. 

The irony has not been lost on many people. Complaints about his white suburban roots are old but very real. In his political commentaries on local politics, he has taken on the role of being the white knight of “liberal” political reform.

I wouldn’t say that living in Clarence since I was 33 is my “roots”. Fuck you for the insinuation, by the way. My roots are far more complicated and complex than that, and I’m not going to recite them to defend myself against a hateful and false allegation. Just – fuck you, Joe.

The phrase getting Bedenkoed was coined by the answer-lady (a University Heights blogger) during a blogging feud with Belenko over his legitimacy in calling himself the Buffalo-pundit while living in Clarence.

Who’s this “Belenko” character? Anyhow, if “Buffalopundit” is a misnomer because I live in Clarence, “Answer Lady” was a misnomer because she didn’t answer some very basic questions, allowing herself to use her anonymity as a sword rather than a shield as she picked fights with people.

The reason there was a feud with Beth Bradley, the SUNY system librarian and state employee who blogged as the “Answer Lady” is that, in attacking me, she said that the kids waiting to catch buses at Clarence schools were an “Aryan Youth Parade“. Seldom had I ever encountered such vicious hatred directed at schoolkids, and Bradley’s online behavior became as combative as it was cowardly.

She recalled her experience of being bullied and laughingly referred to being Bedenkoed. But it got serious for her. She felt her job was being threatened. At one point when her boss asked her about her blogging and expressed disproval. (At the time she worked at a local college.)

Too bad for her. Don’t call little kids nazis. 

Lots of folks have gotten Bedenkoed over the years: Pigeon, Jack Daves, Chris Collis, Crazy Carl. They usually are the enemies of the present Democratic Party leadership.

No, they’re palpably bad actors. Is socialist paragon Joe Schmidbauer going to defend the likes of these people? Paladino? Collins?

And now poor BMHA rep and Fillmore common council candidate Joe Masica is getting Bedenkoed. Masica is the focal point of a bizarre conversation about race in the local mainstream media to the point where Sandy Beach, Buffalo’s local right-wing anti-union anti-liberal attack dog is wrapping himself in a blanket of racial harmony and equality. He denounced Masica when he called his show.  Masica was taped by a former friend, Mr. Christopher, in an off the wall racist commentary on all things political during a private conservation, calling various black politicians racist names.

It’s Mascia. He called black political leaders with whom he works “ni**er” and “tizzun”. I criticized him for that. Fuck me, right?

Mr. Christopher is rumored to have ties with Joel Gambria and cash may have changed hands.

Rumor! This Paul Christopher is getting the Schmidbauering!

Writing in a series of commentaries on the Public site, Bedenko has out done himself. He listed Joe Masica’s financial and moral failures. The only unanswered question is Joe still beating his wife and kicking the family dog? In the list of Joe’s tale of business and moral failures and tax liens is one amazing fact. The honorable DA Frank Sedita, a man not known for his enthusiasm for the enforcement of New York State election laws especially around campaign financially laws prosecuted Joe for failure to file his campaign expenses. Joe pleaded guilty.

Totally a guy worth defending, not to mention electing.

Who would have thought a guy living in Public Housing would have business failures, bad credit and hard times, a fact that describes half the folks living east of Main Street and just about everyone living in the Fillmore District?

Ah, so “living in public housing” – in this case, Marine Drive, which is the public housing for the well-connected rather than for the genuinely poor – patronage housing, if you will – is an excuse for being a deadbeat! Hey, folks, move to Marine Drive and stiff your creditors – it’s ok! Then RUN FOR OFFICE, TOO BECAUSE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY!

The DA’s failure to enforce New York State Election laws for various political players is note worthy since the Public covered the issue many times. Masica’s prosecution by the DA should be a red flag that the powers that be, wanted Joe Masica gone.  Joe was a pain in the ass at the BMHA, not playing ball with the current administration around issues of police brutality, privatization and generally asking the wrong kind of questions. He is clearly a man with political ambitions whose his hair is presently on fire.

Here’s what one of Mascia’s observers have to say about that:

If Mascia’s mission is so important, perhaps the people interested in these issues might find a better spokesman.

It seems that Zellner and the boys at the Democratic Party HQ as well as Bedenko have judged Masica unfit for political office. (No question he is stupid, and has a street mouth and maybe is a con man) But the real question is who is fit, Dave Franczyk?

Hold the fucking phone just a minute. Mascia calls black politicians the most vicious racist slur available, and “maybe is a con man”, but hey, let’s elect him anyway?! Yes, thank the sweet Lord Jesus that Zellner has deemed Mascia unfit for public office. Anything less would be unacceptable.

The guy doesn’t understand the codified words like his mentor, Carl Paladino, who speaks the same vulgar truths in a more codified style, the mainstream media and the local elites forgive King Carl because he is just being Crazy Carl. Besides he has money and his agenda and theirs are the same.

I don’t think that Paladino’s and Mascia’s vulgarities are “truths”. They’re what Paladino calls “blurts” and they’re, at best, racially insensitive and underscore an unwillingness to work with others. More importantly, they display a mindset that treats some people in our society as something less than human.

But poor Masica, the media feeding frenzy will not let him be forgiven. He apologized and begged for forgiveness. No redemption for Joe. His racist rant foolishly spoke to the vulgar racist truth of the political gangs of Buffalo and Western New York in a private conservation with a “friend” who sold him out.

Mascia is a victim! The Schmidbauering!

Is Joe Masica a bigot? Yes he is and that reflects the unspoken third rail of Western New York, and Buffalo politics, and its culture of political ethnic and racist tribalism. Joe by mouthing-off in a racist street rant has pulled up the rug on Buffalo’s racial and tribal political system.

Yes, it has. But not in a good way.

These political associations (grassroots, go south to name a few), are all fighting for the influence and a piece of the cash pie, be it the non-profit industrial complex or patronage. It is an institutional political corruption and it is racist, oligarchic to the core be it a Pigeon, Zellner, Lord Byron, Bill Max, Sedita and the legion of political hacks waiting for a piece of heaven to fall to them.
It is a system that exists to serve the wealthy of the local elites who control the political process and who are happy to let the rabble fight over the table scraps. Who got that Buffalo billions deal? To quote beloved Beverly Gray (Council-person at Large who died of cancer), “Billions and billions dollars of economic development money has been spent by the government, I look and I don’t see it my community”

Yes. It is. I’ve written about that on countless occasions. So what does this have to do with me?

In no way does this justify Joe’s stupidity. Is he a valid candidate that is for the voters to decide if he has the balls to stay in the fight?

Sure! Maybe he can kick a baby, too! After all, he’s saying really important things about the mismanaged BMHA! Who better to right its financial ship than a deadbeat bankrupt?

Here we get to the meat of the matter:

Bedenko and the mainstream media feeding frenzy about Masica has taken the media focus off Fillmore councilmen Dave Franczyk’s leadership in the Fillmore district for the past 29 years. Franczyk’s district funding policies are geared more toward defending the remaining elements of old Polinia, (Matt Urban Life Center, Adam Mickiewicz Library, St. Stan’s, and the Broadway Market) than any real attempt at advocacy for economic development such as numerous projects being developed by PUSH on the westside.
The past three mayoral administrations have let the people of the district sink under the weight of red lining, divestment, poverty and crime. The primary government redevelopment program is knocking down buildings and creating vacant land for future cattle ranching. The census tracks for zip codes in Fillmore are some of the worst in the nation, for unemployment, incoming inequality, and quality of housing.

To clarify: my crime here is to have written four pieces about Joe Mascia (here, here, here, and here). Schmidbauer actually left a comment. He omits that fact, and my responses.

There was also this:

That was in response to a piece about a Family Court candidate who’s hired a bunch of people under state and federal investigation to help her out. Fuck me, right?

The Schmidbauering excuses racist deadbeat Joe Mascia and condemns a writer who lives in the suburbs and writes a blog under a name that Joe thinks is obnoxious.

Poverty and hopelessness are powerful engines of voter suppression, and the Fillmore district has the lowest voter turnout in the city. Gerrymandering for white voters (First Ward, Allentown) has been the Franczyk strategy for maintaining his continued stay in power.  Advocacy and hope are always threats to the political status quo.

So, get rid of the Polish white guy and replace him with the racist white Italian guy!

Dave Franczyk’s greatest success over the years has been selling himself to the white liberal community (like Bendenko) as a “progressive.” He has supported numerous resolutions on national issues through the common council, issues that have little direct bearing on the lives of people living in Fillmore. He supported Dennis Kucinich and other progressive democrats. These issues have put him in high esteem as a “progressive politician” fighting for social justice as he represents the very system that creates the injustice. He is a living example of the hypocrisy of the liberal left in Buffalo and Western New York. They organize bus tours in the eastside to see the poverty, homeless and despair, looking out at that world seated in privilege, like wealthy Christians standing on the shoulders of the poor to get closer to God.  Real causes of institutional racism are of no interest because they challenge the system of power, and privilege. (I have had numerous conservations with “white progressives” over the years regarding poverty and conditions eastside. They all turn a blind eye to the reality of Dave Franczyk’s role in maintaining the political situation.)

Fucking hell, if you can find a single positive thing I’ve ever written or said about Franczyk, knock yourself out. I don’t follow closely what Franczyk does in the common council, and I’m not swayed by his appeals to liberals. If you don’t like him, get rid of him. Just find a viable, responsible candidate first, you know?

I can summarize in Franczyk’s own words. When confronted by members of the common council on his two track race baiting campaign literature, Franczyk, said, the greatest local Orwellian political statement on record, “I will not be a victim of racial McCarthyism,” just wow!

Is this media frenzy really about Joe Masica’s foul racist words or is it about distracting from foul racist policy?

 

tl;dr: Joe Schmidbauer viscerally hates David Franczyk, so he’s willing to forgive quite literally everything in order to replace Franczyk, no matter who it is. And even though I’ve never taken a side in a Fillmore District Race, it’s largely my fault because Clarence.

Let’s Talk about Iran

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Economic sanctions have been known to work in the past. We punished the South African apartheid government with sanctions, and that helped bring about change. Burma had suffered under sanctions for years until it decided to re-join the world community a few years ago. We sold Pepsi-Cola to the Soviet Union, and communism fell in 1991. Sanctions haven’t ousted Cuba’s or North Korea’s regime, nor did they prevent North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons.

We’ve been engaged in a cold war with Iran since the 1979 Islamist coup that overthrew the Shah, and the subsequent hostage crisis. Even Ronald Reagan didn’t go to war against Iran, choosing instead to fund and supply Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war, and ultimately to illegally sell arms to Iran and use the proceeds to fund the Nicaraguan Contra rebels. Yet after all that, Iran is still a theocracy led by mullahs, and Sandinista Daniel Ortega is back in power in Nicaragua.

Sanctions have had a negative effect on Iran, and they have not been one-sided since the US teamed with China, Russia, Germany, the UK, and France to engage Iran in negotiations over its nuclear ambitions. It was the sanctions that brought Iran to the bargaining table. After months of negotiations, there is a treaty that will gradually lift sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to shut down – or at least delay – its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. This is no small thing – our refusal to engage Iran only emboldened it to grow its nuclear program by leaps and bounds over the last decade and a half.

This Fox News “analysis” finds that 70% of Iran’s nuclear enrichment capability came about while Obama has been President. But it isn’t about us – it’s been growing steadily from zero in 2000. Calling Iran part of the “axis of evil” and imposing sanctions barely put a dent in their plans. Confronted with this reality, we have two choices: war or diplomacy. The US and its negotiating partners chose the latter. War, as we’ve seen – not learned – in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, can be as ineffective as it is blood-soaked.

The Iranian government is no friend of the United States. Neither, for that matter, are China or Russia. But Germany, France, and the UK are, and two of those allies are run by conservative governments. The proposed Iran deal doesn’t contain everything the United States wanted, but Iran walks away having made concessions, too. That’s the nature of diplomacy and negotiation – everyone gives up something, everyone walks away somewhat disappointed.

But now we have the spectacle of the American right taking up common cause with Iranian extremists, united in the notion that this deal is a colossal disaster. The new, ultra-right Israeli government is opposed because it says the deal doesn’t go far enough, yet the only alternatives are status quo or war. Israel is under constant threat from Iran, and is surrounded by enemies, some of whom are funded by Iran. Others have complained that the Iran deal doesn’t free American prisoners or other tangential concessions. This is true, but what recent history has shown us is that bringing a malefactor in from the cold can have a moderating effect on its behavior.

For as long as the US has maintained an economic embargo against Cuba, that island’s Communists have been able to use that as an excuse for its own failures, and as a rallying cry to perpetuate that aging revolution. Now that relations with Cuba are slowly being normalized, Cuba becomes less isolated, less able to cast blame on discontinued scapegoats. Change might be hastened through engagement. The Iranian people showed the world a few years ago that they are eager for freedom and democracy. The simple fact is that Iran has the potential to be a stabilizing force in the Middle East. Obviously, we have a very long way to go before that might happen, but we’re already informally aligned with Tehran in the fight against ISIS, especially in Iraq, which has effectively become an Iranian client state. The enemy, after all, of my enemy is my friend.

The neoconservatives’ thesis was that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would help to stabilize the Middle East and improve Israeli security. We got the exact opposite result. The Arab Spring’s other short-term successes have also generally turned into catastrophic failures, with few exceptions. The problem is that these countries – these peoples – have never known what it is to be a free democracy. All of them have been colonized and oppressed, manipulated and beaten into submission. What military might and the secret police couldn’t accomplish, religious extremism filled the gaps. During the cold war, we’d align ourselves with whomever opposed the communists, including religious fanatics. Engagement with Iran and verification of compliance with this treaty can lead to serious, perhaps productive discussions about not only American prisoners in Iran, but also Iran’s behavior as a regional power. Iran, after all, isn’t Iraq. It’s far more advanced, much more diverse, has an exceedingly different history.

I harbor no illusions that this deal with Iran is going to further moderate that country’s regime, nor that its hostility towards Israel will diminish, or that it will become some overnight good international actor. Not that these things are impossible – just unlikely. I also don’t trust the Iranian regime any more than I trust Putin’s Russia or the PR China. However, we have diplomatic relations and engage in negotiations with myriad governments and states whom we don’t especially like or trust. We have an opportunity here to at least partially set aside two generations’ worth of existential hostility and take a small step towards building a more stable Middle East – one less threatened by a putative nuclear Iran tomorrow than yesterday. It bears mentioning that, even with this deal, the US will maintain its own trade embargo and sanctions until Iran stops exporting and funding terrorism.

An economically crippled Iran is a threatened Iran, and what better way for it to perpetuate its own aging revolution than to export war and misery in the name of Allah? The notion that tightening sanctions would force the Iranians to give more ground is ludicrous; the suggestion that we back it up with a threat of force – no matter how vague or specific – is even worse. After all of these negotiations with the permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany, in what way does it advance American interests to jettison this deal? It would effectively mean that the United States does not negotiate in good faith and cannot be trusted – exactly the thing we accuse the Iranians of doing and being. If the UK’s Conservative PM David Cameron is on board with this deal, what possible reason would there be for an American conservative to be opposed? Seriously, if Angela Merkel – who just brought Greece to its financial knees – if on board, how is this some sort of appeasement? The Economist explains,

… the problem faced by those who would like to see the deal collapse is that they have yet to offer any attractive alternatives. Ordinary Iranians are desperate to get back to having a normal economy, while American voters have little appetite for going to war with Iran to prevent it getting a nuclear weapon. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted just before the agreement on April 2nd was announced, Americans support the notion of striking a deal with Iran that restricts the nation’s nuclear program in exchange for loosening sanctions, by a nearly two to one margin.

And this, from the Atlantic,

In 1943, Walter Lippmann wrote that “foreign policy consists in bringing into balance, with a comfortable surplus of power in reserve, the nation’s commitments and the nation’s power.” If your commitments exceed your power, he wrote, your foreign policy is “insolvent.” That aptly describes the situation Obama inherited from Bush.

Obama has certainly made mistakes in the Middle East. But behind his drive for an Iranian nuclear deal is the effort to make American foreign policy “solvent” again by bringing America’s ends into alignment with its means. That means recognizing that the United States cannot bludgeon Iran into total submission, either economically or militarily. The U.S. tried that in Iraq.

The risk of an Iran re-introduced into the world economy is that it will use that to wreak more havoc throughout the region. On the other hand, there is a possibility that it will moderate its rhetoric and actions, finding that it’s easier to govern when your people and their economy isn’t weighted down by sanctions. No one says Iran will become a responsible international actor overnight, or for that matter, ever. But without a deal, Iran will have a nuclear weapon practically on-demand. With a deal, that will not be the case. An Iran without nuclear weapons is preferable to the alternative.

Let’s Talk about Donald Trump

Yesterday, Donald Trump, who is of German ancestry (Drumpf), Tweeted this:

It was quickly deleted after people like John Schindler pointed out that the troops shown in the red stripe are, in fact, wearing the uniform of the dreaded Nazi Waffen-SS, the war criminals who ran the death camps.

The ad would also work this way,

Don’t let’s forget that Trump was feted by the local Republican committee, which urged him to run for Governor against Cuomo.

Let’s Talk about “Mistakes Were Made” in Campaign Finance

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Everyone makes mistakes. The more charitable among us ask people to learn from them, lest they be repeated.

When it comes to issues relating to New York’s already comically lax and porous campaign finance regulations, mistakes can certainly be tolerated, but only up to a point.

After a while, “mistakes were made” becomes a convenient excuse uttered to avoid criminal liability.

One of the first things a student of criminal law learns is to define “mens rea” and “actus reus”. The latter is the commission of an illegal act – anything from stealing a piece of candy to murder. The former involves the trickier question of intent. The penalty for the illegal act of homicide is different for intentional murder as opposed to accidental manslaughter. It can even be excused altogether in the case of, say, self-defense. Therefore, it behooves someone caught doing something wrong to simply say it was an accident – a mistake or clerical error.

That might make a prosecutor’s job more difficult, but intent is usually proven through circumstantial evidence.

The Buffalo News published a story on Sunday written by Bob McCarthy, but the information therein was clearly supplied by Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr. McCarthy and Mohr explain that the Buffalo Republican Committee is out of money, and that its prior chairman stands accused of draining its treasury by making donations to political committees controlled by rogue nominal Democrat G. Stephen Pigeon.

Pigeon is believed to be a target of the state and federal investigations into campaign finance illegalities we’ve come to know as “Preetsmas“. At least since his ouster as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee, Pigeon has made a career of of attracting and funnelling big money to thwart the Democratic Party and help transactional malefactors like Pedro Espada, or the Republican Party, as happened in Erie County in 2009 and 2013. He stands accused of doing this through careful manipulation and exploitation of the outer edges of campaign finance legality. When he or his lieutenants push through the regulatory envelope, they can just say it was a clerical error; a mistake; inadvertent.

But they’ve been doing this for years. They’re professionals. This is what they do. Nothing is a mistake – all of it is calculated, based on the presumption of regulatory and prosecutorial distraction and inaction.

The Buffalo Republican Committee contributed a jaw-dropping $9,200 in October 2014 alone, and none of the recipients of that money accounted for it in mandatory reporting to the state Board of Elections. $4,700 of that was donated to yet another, hitherto unpaid-attention-to Steve Pigeon ratfcking PAC called “WNY Freedom”.

Pigeon set up “WNY Freedom” in late 2013, around the same time that the Preetsmas target WNY Progressive Caucus (a/k/a “AwfulPAC“) was winding its activities down. Its first donations, as the News reported, came from Carl Paladino.

Buffalo developer Carl P. Paladino, who also is not suspected of any wrongdoing, said Pigeon asked him to donate $1,000 in October 2013 – immediately after the WNY Progressive Caucus raised $267,000 for opponents of candidates backed by Pigeon adversaries in Democratic headquarters.

For some reason, Carl didn’t just send a check for $1,000, but instead broke it down into five separate $200 donations made by five separate Carl-controlled LLCs, making good use of New York’s execrable LLC loophole.

“WNY Freedom” filed “no activity” statements in every 2014 financial disclosure report to the State BOE, which leads me to believe that Pigeon was planning to use it for whatever Pigeoning sabotage he was planning to undertake against Democrats during the 2015 election cycle – a sabotage that has been thwarted thanks to a distraction courtesy of state and federal investigators. And that’s the problem, because the city Republicans gave WNY Freedom $4,700.

Paladino told the News that he gave the money to Pigeon’s PAC because

He said he viewed the city GOP and Pfaff as helpful toward building a new majority on the School Board, but never knew how his donation would be used.

We still don’t, as WNY Freedom has never disclosed any expenditures whatsoever. It is true, however, that Pfaff helped Paladino by assisting in gathering petitions for Patty Pierce, Paladino’s majority ally on the school board. It should be noted that Pfaff lives in Kenmore.

Pigeon earlier this year blamed “clerical errors” for discrepancies in figures reported to the Board of Elections for purchases of television advertising by the WNY Progressive Caucus and the actual amounts spent at local stations.

Pfaff, meanwhile, acknowledged mistakes in keeping WNY Progressive Caucus records, especially in reporting that Pigeon received $25,000 from the committee for consulting services. Though Pfaff acknowledged listing the $25,000 as an expenditure, he called it a mistake. He and Pigeon said the money was never received, with Pigeon blaming “sloppy” record-eeping for the entry in the campaign reports.

Pfaff now claims more mistakes and problems communicating with the state board for the failure to record any donations to WNY Freedom.

Pfaff went on to claim that the state board didn’t recognize that he had replaced someone else as treasurer of WNY Freedom. It’s true that the state BOE lists a Franklin Street address for WNY Freedom, not Pfaff’s Kenmore address. But it would have been incumbent on Pfaff to take affirmative steps to make the necessary changes and disclosures – not wait until July 2015 when Bob McCarthy starts calling. The Buffalo Republicans went from $20,000 to $450 in one reporting cycle.

“Two guys came in and gave me their card. We had a pleasant chat,” he said. “I did not knowingly or willingly break election law. I just don’t do that.

“There was poor record-keeping and poor filing,” he added. “I don’t do this for a living, I do it to help out people. And people make mistakes.”

They sure do, but how long have David Pfaff and Steve Pigeon been doing stuff? Over a decade? How do you not know to accomplish one of the most basic things – disclosing contributions made to the political committee for which you’re supposedly treasurer. And if Pfaff wasn’t the treasurer, then it was the treasurer’s duty to do it correctly. This is neither rocket science nor some obscure trap for the unwary.

Former Buffalo Republican Treasurer Joseph J. Surdyk Jr. last September initially made out his committee’s check to People for Accountable Government, another Pigeon-connected independent committee that was active in the 2008 campaign. According to a copy of the check obtained by The News, Surdyk then crossed out People for Accountable Government as payee and substituted WNY Freedom.

Although things are somewhat quiet on the Preetsmas front, don’t for a second think that Kristy Mazurek and Steve Casey have been taking the summer off. They both carried petitions for Michele Brown, a Family Court candidate, and for Mike Drmacich, who is running for Tonawanda City Court. I’m still trying to figure out why Drmacich has a picture with Conservative fusion Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo on his website.

As for Pfaff, who is now on staff with Senator Marc Panepinto, his name has come up repeatedly throughout this Preetsmas holiday season; (here, here, here, here, here, and here). He has been politically involved for years, most of that time as one of Pigeon’s worker bee.

There’s no way “mistakes were made” here, just like no mistakes were made in any of this. Everything that is happening was undertaken deliberately, with the expectation that nothing would come of it; that even if the authorities got wise to it, there’d be a slap on the wrist.

The only “mistake” that was made was overplaying their hand in 2013 and catching the attention of the county and state Boards of Election, and the office of the Attorney General and U.S. Attorney.

Let’s Talk About the Eastern Hills Mall

Rendering of the "Amherst Town Centre"

Rendering of the “Amherst Town Centre”

I’ve lived in western New York for almost fifteen years – all of them in the Northtowns. I have visited the Eastern Hills Mall countless times – mostly to pick up something quick that wasn’t worth a trip to another municipality. As land values surrounding that mall have gone up and people have moved into East Amherst, Williamsville, and Clarence, I’ve waited for someone to invest some money into that place and make it at least nice.

New owners a decade or so ago put a new sign up on Transit and brought in a Dave & Busters, an Orvis, and even a Brooks Brothers 346 store. There’s a Gap, a Spencer’s, and a handful of other stuff, but it’s like an appendix – it’s there, but if you lost it you’d never know the difference. Dave & Busters is leaving, Brooks Brothers is gone, and Orvis is your go-to place for overpriced fishing supplies and $100 casual shirts.

I’ve seen some pretty nice re-dos of old malls – the Yorkdale in Toronto comes to mind. But the Eastern Hills Mall is tired and unpleasant. It’s a sad mall surrounded by crumbling surface parking that’s used more often for Transitown’s overflow inventory and teaching motorcycle operation rather than accommodating thousands of putative disappointed shoppers.

The Eastern Hills Mall needs to be demolished, at least in part. In its place, the owners should build the region’s first lifestyle center. That’s what the owners of the Nanuet Mall did in Rockland County a few years ago, and the difference is night & day.

Both the Eastern Hills and Nanuet Malls were built around the same time – ca. 1970. Here’s what Nanuet used to look like:

And here’s what the Eastern Hills Mall looks like today:

And here’s what the Nanuet Mall looks like now, reconstituted as the “Shops at Nanuet”:

In Nanuet, they turned the old anchor stores – Macy’s and Sears, for example, into free-standing department stores, but tore down the mall and transformed it into a little walkable neighborhood. It’s got sidewalks, angle parking, the buildings are built to the curb, and you can walk around just like in the olden days.

I realize it’s not the Elmwood Village or even East Aurora or Main Street in Williamsville. It’s manufactured, it’s fake, and it’s a managed shopping center property. It’s still a mall, albeit one designed like an old-fashioned downtown. As malls have become less popular, many have been reconstituted into “lifestyle centers” – something popular throughout the country, but non-existent in WNY. Benderson, now based in Florida, owns and manages many lifestyle centers down South. It proposed one for Maple in Amherst where the gun range used to be near UB, but the neighborhood killed that, so now it’s just overgrown weeds.

Here are renderings that Benderson commissioned for what was going to be called the “Amherst Town Centre“. It would have boasted not only retail, but a hotel, second-floor office space, and a residential component- a true mixed-use development, and it would have been a first for WNY and introduced our strip-mall obsessed region to something new. One was also proposed for Clarence on Transit at Miles, but both projects died sometime before 2010. Clarence has a strict master plan, and re-zoning can be a difficult maze to navigate.

Aside from being more aesthetically pleasing than an early 70s mall with 80s upgrades, lifestyle centers tend to cater to upscale consumers, and the Eastern Hills Mall is surrounded by some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in WNY. They require less real estate, and generate more revenue per square foot.

So, Glenmont MDC Eastern Hills LLC, if you’re reading this, tear it down and build something that isn’t horribly ugly. Build it closer to Transit, replace some of that disused parking with something – anything (trees? park? ice rink facility?) and drag Transit Road into the 21st century.

Republi-Greens

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Chances are pretty good that Preetsmas has at least temporarily put the kibosh on any potential Pigeoning of Democratic races for the county legislature. So, the Republicans have to come up with a different way to futz with Erie County’s Democrats. But it’s not just the Republicans – Democrats in myriad races have also decided to try and add a party line because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The way to run without a party’s imprimatur is through an “opportunity to ballot”.

So it is that Lynette Batt, an 87 year-old Green Party member filed nominating petitions Thursday with the Erie County Board of Elections for the 5th legislative district, the seat currently occupied by Democrat Tom Loughran. The Green Party is unique among New York’s minor parties in that it never issues Wilson Pakulas; that is to say, it won’t play the electoral fusion cross-endorsement game that enriches and empowers the Independence, Conservative, and Working Families Parties. The only way for a non-Green Party member to get on the “G” ballot is via OTB. For their part, the Republicans are running Guy Marlette, so running Batt would be a handy way for the GOP to hurt Loughran and split the left-of-center vote.

Green Party State Committee Co-Chair Gloria Mattera doesn’t know who Batt is, and says the party had nothing whatsoever to do with it. She explained that, “I heard that several people in Erie County were circulating ‘opportunity to ballot’ petitions, and the state committee sent out an email blast asking members to not sign any blank nominating petitions.” Erie County Green Party Committee Chairman Eric Jones, who filed petitions to run for County Executive against Mark Poloncarz, confirms that his committee knew nothing about Ms. Batt or her candidacy, and that he first heard about her “candidacy” on Monday.

Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy personally delivered the 5 pages of petitions to the Erie County BOE on Batt’s behalf.

According to Jones, the only legitimate Green Party candidates are Jones himself, Charles Tarr, who is running for the Niagara District Council seat in Buffalo, and Anthony Baney, running in LD-3 for the Peter Savage seat. Anyone else – DiTullio, Bargnesi, Freedman, Brinkworth, Batt, JaHarr Pridgen, and other judicial candidates (for whom the rules are different), filed an opportunity to ballot, a particularly arcane piece of New York Election Law that the Green Party would actually like to see abolished, according to Mattera. The Greens don’t just not like all this – they think it’s unconstitutional.

The Green Party pointed out that Cuomo’s proposal is similar to the existing opportunity to ballot law, which the Greens and other ballot law experts contend is unconstitutional. The existing law allows non-party members to force a primary with the opportunity for party members to write in any candidate they want by collecting signatures.

Under the opportunity to ballot, the board of elections says, “Party members may also circulate petitions to create the opportunity to write in the name of an unspecified person for an office in which there is no contest for the party endorsement.” Batt is a Green Party member, and the process is described as follows,

We have had experience with local Republican judge candidates tricking local Green Party enrollees into signing their Opportunity to Ballot petitions (method 2) to get onto the Green Party ballot line. The Republican candidate never explained what their party registration was or what the petition was for. The Green Party members just assumed that anyone bringing them petitions must be Green Party members also. When the Green Party members found out they had been deceived they worked, successfully, to keep the Republican from getting the Green Party line.

To be clear – both Democrats and Republicans have circulated Green petitions in judicial races this cycle. The party has such a small enrollment – 1,551 in Erie County – that the number of petition signatures needed to get on a ballot (especially in a place like Clarence or Alden) is microscopic. It’s an easy way for a candidate to get his name on an extra line with little effort.

What all of this amounts to is a further illustration of just how ridiculous New York’s electoral system has become. It’s a free-for-all where Republicans circulate Green Party petitions. It’s one thing for a candidate to circulate them to get an additional line – stupid as it is, that’s how the state system works. But in LD-5, the Republicans didn’t circulate OTB petitions for Marlette to get the G line – they are running an actual G candidate to divert a small handful of votes away from the Democratic incumbent.

Godly Hate and Christlike Crimes

IMG_0548_JPGOn Twitter, someone posted a piece of this story, so I reached out to the actual victim to find out what happened. Dan and Alexandra Palmer of North Buffalo sometimes flew a flag that looked like this, alternating it with a Buffalo flag.

The Buffalo flag came down and the US rainbow flag went up when the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same sex marriage came down a few weeks ago. Dan Palmer says,  “I made it a point to fly the rainbow. My wife and I are not gay, bi, or trans but we support equal rights for all people.”

On Monday morning, the couple awoke to find the flag burned on their front lawn with a note placed on top of it. Police and neighbors were milling about. Here is what they saw:

Here is the note that the perpetrator placed on top of his handiwork,

“You have dishonored the flag, Christ ______ the symbol of America, the nation that I love. Just enough _________ You have twisted the flag so many men and women have _______ protect all that it stands for, and in doing so offended not only myself, but the very religion this country was founded upon. The rainbow was the L-RD’s way, the L-RD’s message to all mankind that never again would the earth be destroyed by flood. Homosexuals have taken his message and used it for the symbol of something he does not approve of, and furthermore disgraced my nation’s flag. From now on, whenever and wherever another abomination of a ‘flag’, I will burn it so long _______ gasoline. You can raise your flag, and I will raise ________.

Uncle Sam”

Palmer explains that, “we weren’t able to touch anything, smooth the creases or move the rocks because the police wanted them as evidence. And I was a bit surprised at how seriously they took the situation. There were 3 patrol cars and a detective in an unmarked vehicle. They interviewed as many neighbors as they could rouse, took what evidence they could, searched the block for matching rocks (found in a garden a few doors down.)”

One of the things that flag stands for – whether it has red and white stripes or a rainbow – is freedom and liberty. Your neighborhood homophobe arsonist might, for instance, fly a confederate flag. You don’t have to like it or what it stands for, but you have no right to come onto his property, remove the flag, and burn it with gasoline. That’s a crime.

Likewise, a homophobic firebug who happens upon a rainbow American flag doesn’t have to like it, and can be as “offended” as he wants, but that doesn’t give him a license to commit theft, vandalism, and arson. Palmer adds, “I am also a strong supporter of free speech, even for folks with whom I strongly disagree. If the individual responsible for this wanted to sit on his (or her) own lawn and burn his property, he’d only be wasting his own time and money, as well as doing his neighbors the service of letting them know what a dumbass he is (knowledge that could come in handy,) but this clearly crosses a line”

The Palmers promise to replace the burned flag, and many neighbors express that they will do the same. Palmer, however, has some concerns, “I do not want to cave to bullying or let hate win. But I am concerned about the safety of myself and my family. It’s chilling to think that this was far from an impulsive act. Someone took the time to write out that letter. They obviously stood by and waited for the flag to burn before leaving it.”

I’m heartened by the fact that the police are taking this matter seriously, and sincerely hope that the content and style of the note helps the authorities catch whoever committed this act of hatred. Indeed, it’s quite possible that the perpetrator, when caught, will be charged with a hate crime, which would render something like criminal trespass to be a “violent felony offense”.

Trespass, theft, and arson don’t constitute the free exercise of religion or free speech. Stop using God to justify hate, crime, and hate crimes.

Get To Know WNY’s Presidential Candidates: Buttocks 2016

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Western New York boasts three Presidential candidates.

If you think Marco Rubio is too green, Donald Trump is too brash, and Jeb Bush is too formulaic, then Republicans ought to take a serious look at Niagara Falls’ own Silvia Stagg. At her website, she rolls through her resume, and adds,

Help me to save our endangered world and our precious and endangered  White Christian European Descent Race now facing Race Extinction within One Hundred Years by making me your US President!  I  require Campaign Funds (US$2,500.00-US $5,000.00) Per Person Each Primary-General Election Campaign Season to Assist my Ballot Access – Televised Debate Access.  Kindly Contact All Fifty US State Republican and/or Democratic Party Chairmans-Vice Chairmans and have me placed on all Primary – Caucus Ballots and Designated Republican/Democratic Presumptive Presidential Candidate.  The Presidential Filing Process for Fifty State Primaries-Caucus is Honorable but Expensive and Arduous and I am your only Life Extension Candidate!

So, that seems pretty reasonable. She also claims to be a “Good Gnome Individual”, which she explains,

The United States Congress authorized Silvia Stagg personally and as Owner-Permanent Senior Administrator of All Most Trusted Programsusa on/off planet to mine-clone-mint-print Currency and Coin including for the United States of America and the World for All Debts Public and Private and to Ensure the Socioeconomic Success/Stability of the Most Trusted Programs (including the privately owned/controlled Spacehubusa (and its ASAPs/Aerospace -Air Ports worldwide/on-off planet Earth)-SpaceCityusa-Moonbasesusa-Spacestionusa). Thus assuring the survival of Silvia Stagg, allowing future Good Gnome Individuals to survive and become empowered to lead society-government, and the survival of the White Christian European Descent Race, nearly driven into race extinction systematically via a history of race emasculation and disenfranchisement nationwide/worldwide by the non good gnome society/government historically in power. (Silvia Stagg is reportedly last good gnome who has been instructed since February 2002 by the United States Government to disseminate the Good Gnome into the White Christian European Descent Race (and upon brain tap-time clock inclusion study possibly some/all Minority Persons).

If Ms. Stagg doesn’t interest you, there’s Kenmore independent candidate, SEO specialist Eric Nagel. There’s no campaign presence online, but I reached out via Twitter, where he explained that he filed his paperwork “because I wanted to teach my kids (and Scouts) that anyone really can run. Democracy in action.”

Down in Jamestown, high school teacher Mark Sleggs has also entered the race as a Republican. I originally assumed it’s part of some school project for social studies or Government. The only problem is that Sleggs is a math teacher. I have emailed Mr. Sleggs and his campaign treasurer for more information.

Finally, perhaps the most significant entry into the Presidential race this year – and someone who has as much of a shot as Donald Trump – Buffalo’s own “Sydney’s Voluptuous Buttocks“.

We don’t know much about Mr. Buttocks’ platform from his website, but he posted a video of gruesome images of war with a Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack. The campaign slogan is catchy, however: “Please vote for Sydney’s Butt to be the president. After all, every politician is an asshole so what’s the difference?”

Mr. Buttocks also posted this video, which is all about “love”.

George Boria of Buffalo is the treasurer for the Buttocks campaign committee, and the Buttocks persona is his alter ego.

Boria says that, “it started as a joke. All politicians are assholes, so why not elect the entire ass?” Boria, a WNY native, has a job working maintenance at a housing development and will be attending SUNY Brockport in the Fall. He identifies himself as “left wing”, and when asked to sum up his platform, he sums it up as, “higher minimum wage, redeveloping a national science department, and cutting ties with the chinese industry to bring jobs back to the United States middle class.”

A platform not at all as silly as one might infer from the candidate’s name. When asked about that, Boria said, “No, it started out silly but developed into a real cause. I also want to see tax cuts on the upper class and bringing an end to the fast food industry by making higher education more available, free community college combined with the high school curriculum.”

Good luck, candidates!

Trump the Lumpenrich

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Donald Trump is one of the best cartoon characters of recent times – even Scrooge McDuck seems like a reasonable guy by comparison. McDuck might dive into a pool of gold coins, but he’s known for his frugality. Donald Trump is the flashy caricature of the nouveau riche asshole who gold-plates everything and preens around like an Arab Sheikh.

As Trump does palpable harm to what’s left of his brand and the Republican Party’s Latino outreach efforts, let’s not forget that in 2013 it was our own Republicans here in western New York who pushed Trump to run for Governor against Cuomo.  That’s a terrifying threat to replace the wild, unchecked egotism of Andrew Cuomo with a wealthy walking id.

Trump’s especial brand of anti-Obama birtherism plays well for like-minded fellas like David DiPietro and his tea party “Mass Murder Dylann Roof had a point” cohorts.

Donald Trump will never be President. He is a construct of the media and he’s polling well with Republican primary voters, but wildly disliked overall. Trump’s rise in the poll is him being patted on the back by the same people who are angry about the Confederate Flag, same sex marriage, and the people still clamoring for Obama to be removed from office for being an Indonesian Kenyan Manchurian candidate usurper. He is the candidate of anti-intellectual America, and the defeatist white male upstate voter with a “repeal NY SAFE Act” lawnsign; Cuomo is the devil, and Obama isn’t even human. They aspire to be just like Donald Trump, and they love that he thinks like they do – and he has the money and name recognition to not care what anyone thinks. 

Donald Trump would accomplish nothing. He would do nothing for education, for the poor, for upstate’s economic malaise, for Buffalo, or for anyone except the tea party and the ultrarich. The headlines related to the upstate effort to recruit Trump for governor should have read, “Lawmakers to Massage Trump Ego, Trump Reacts Favorably”.

However, Trump has done irreperable damage to his brand (and that of his children). His outrageous and false defamation of Mexican immigrants have prompted numerous people and companies to completely abandon the tarnished “Trump” name. For once, Trump is learning that the 1st Amendment and $4 billion in the bank can’t protect you from the very real, public consequences of the false and outrageous things you say. Macy’s and other companies have a business to run, and they simply can’t afford to be associated with a bigot.

The Trump name used to stand for opulent, rococo luxury. For most people with some taste, it was always over the top; kitsch, but quality kitsch. He’s always been a colorful public figure, brash and opinionated. But with his political behavior, he has taken the Trump name and essentially thrown it in the toilet.

He has now supplanted Orly Taitz as American birther-in-chief. His anti-Obama public political pronouncements have been false, offensive and loaded with thinly veiled racial animus – claiming that the President is foreign, socialist, evil, doesn’t have America’s best interests at heart. Even many Obama detractors who think his policies are wrong would concede that he hasn’t led the country over the last four years like the Bolshevik some make him out to be.

Trump throws shade at Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, but Romney used Trump as a surrogate; Trump is disloyal and has a constituency of one.

Over the past few years, Trump has polarized customers and voters, and ruined a formerly strong brand. Adopting crazy, fringe political viewpoints and broadcasting them in a way that is equal parts arrogance and ignorance won’t win him the Presidency, and will only deepen the already-extant boycott of his products. He’s also a hypocrite, bemoaning the very free trade deals that made it economically smart for him to exploit cheap labor and manufacture suits in Mexico and ties in China.

As for economic stewardship, Trump companies have gone bankrupt four times, avoiding legally binding debts.

Trump is one of about 15 Republican Presidential hopefuls, and he not only threatens the viability of his own brand, but the Republican brand in general. The more nonsense that comes out of his unfiltered mouth, and the more he beats up on the most vulnerable and powerless in our society, and the more he demeans his fellow candidates, you’d not be crazy to think that he might actually be a liberal plant setting up the GOP for self-immolation.

Enjoy the ride, Republicans, but remember that whatever Trump’s doing, he’s only in it for Trump.

The Buffalo Tea Party on “Race”

Not that angry, not that mobby - Flickr - Photo Sharing! 2015-07-01 07-11-40

In the wake of the vicious, racially motivated mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, we have seen quite a spectacle—even longtime conservative supporters of the treasonous Confederate Flag have denounced it. Only the far fringes of the racialist right-wing movement have made excuses for what the shooter did, and why he did it.

Have you heard people accuse the shooter of being a “leftist“? White supremacy is an ultra-right-wing mindset because it takes something healthy, like patriotism or nationalism, and contorts it into hatredoften genocidal or nihilist. Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin were communists, but they weren’t nationalists. On the contrary, their ultra-left-wing ideology called for an international revolution of the proletariat in order to bring about what they perceived to be a just economic order.

By contrast, fascists such as Francisco Franco, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler took some of the bits of Marxism—that the rights of the individual must be subsumed by the needs of the collective (in Marx’s view, that collective had to do with class—in fascism, it was the “nation” or the “fatherland” or the “volk”). Fascism was a corporatist system that also incorporated some form of ultra-nationalist xenophobia and hatred—national supremacy. Hitler’s Naziism was the purest and most evil distillation of that.

On the political spectrum, Naziism and fascism are ultra-right-wing, while communism is ultra-left-wing. After all, the fascists did to capitalism what they did to nationalism, and contorted it into something evil. Their only common threads were violence, dictatorship, and totalitarianism.

Therefore, when we are discussing ultra-nationalist white supremacists here in the US, not only do the true believers like this kid who shot up the Charleston church self-identify as hard right, but that’s just where it sits on the spectrum. Ultimately, ultra-nationalist, white supremacist, nativist thought is a perversion of conservatism itself. They take the notion of maintaining the status quo and distort it into spreading hatred of some “other”—usually a historically oppressed or powerless minority that can easily be demonized. In Germany, they perverted their nationalism into a virulent and genocidal hatred of Jews, Roma, Slavs, etc. In Serbia a hatred of Croats, and vice-versa. In Russia, a hatred of the West.

I’m not suggesting that the shooter was a Republican—just that he was a neo-Confederate ultra-right-wing genocidal monster.

No reasonable person on the left wants the Confederate flag banned because you can’t ban it—it’s political speech. It would be stupid to try, as the 1st Amendment protects the rights of people to be neo-Confederate racists and fly that flag.

Pointing out that someone made up Clinton/Gore badges with the battle flag on it back in 1992? We don’t know that it was sanctioned by the campaign, but if people are pointing out that the Clinton’s tolerance of that flag is different now than it was 30 years ago. That’s great! We should encourage people to assess the facts and alter their opinions accordingly. I’ll note that Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham supported that flag flying on State grounds two weeks ago, and have recently changed their minds. Good for them.

I’ll note that, as far as I’m concerned, anyone who voices support for that flag or its continued flight over any state property anywhere—and that includes several state flags of Southern states—is voicing support for slavery, sedition, treason, and white supremacy. You can shout “heritage” all you want, but the heritage that flag represents is one of genocidal racism.

So it should come as a shock that a local leader of the tea party—a supporter and lackey of Carl Paladino and a vicious, unprincipled liaraffirms some of the hatred that the Charleston mass-murderer Dylann Roof espoused.

In a speech that she delivered—as a Grand Island resident, taxpayer, and voter—to the Buffalo Board of Education (on which Paladino sits), she said this:

Quoting a rather insightful comment from Dylann Storm Roof, the extremely disturbed young man who killed church members in Charleston last week, he said “Black people are racially aware almost from birth, but White people on average don’t think about race in their daily lives.”  He apparently tragically felt that needed to change, presumably in response to the violent race riots of late and the astonishing calls for violence against all Whites.

Holy. Shit.

Now, you can allege that I took this out of context. Here’s what preceded it:

I am personally very disturbed by the demand for a black superintendent.  Imagine the outrage if some were to insist upon only a white superintendent. Apparently, the reasoning being “No one can understand the needs of our children like a black person can.”  What, black children are different than white children?  How so?  Are they less capable?  Not as intelligent?  Does poverty affect their ability to learn?  I can tell you from experience, with proper structure and support, it doesn’t.  We believe the answer is NO, children do not have special needs based on the color of their skin, and children in Buffalo Public Schools do not belong to the black community alone.  We ALL care deeply about raising the level of achievement and providing a better future for ALL children stuck in failing schools.  To think otherwise is not logical.

So, within the context of some members of the Buffalo schools community preferring an African-American Buffalo schools superintendent, a Grand Island interloper wants the school board to know that racist mass murderer Dylann Roof made an “insightful” observation in his own semi-literate “Mein Kampf”.

The difference, in case it needs to be repeated, is that white people used to own black people, and that history of institutional, legal white supremacy and racism remains baked into our body politic. Yes, poverty does affect kids’ ability to learn, and countless scientific studies confirm that fact. From this article,

  • Children living in poverty have a higher number of absenteeism or leave school all together because they are more likely to have to work or care for family members.
  • Dropout rates of 16 to 24-years-old students who come from low income families are seven times more likely to drop out than those from families with higher incomes.
  • A higher percentage of young adults (31%) without a high school diploma live in poverty, compared to the 24% of young people who finished high school.
  • 40% of children living in poverty aren’t prepared for primary schooling.
  • Children that live below the poverty line are 1.3 times more likely to have developmental delays or learning disabilities than those who don’t live in poverty.
  • By the end of the 4th grade, African-American, Hispanic and low-income students are already 2 years behind grade level. By the time they reach the 12th grade they are 4 years behind.
  • In 2013, the dropout rate for students in the nation was at 8% for African American youth, 7% for Hispanic youth, and 4% for Asian youth, which are all higher than the dropout rate for Caucasian youth (4%).
  • Less than 30% of students in the bottom quarter of incomes enroll in a 4 year school. Among that group – less than 50% graduate.

So it’s not a question of lack of capability, but it’s untrue to suggest that poor inner-city minority kids are coming from the same environment as white kids from well-to-do homes. The schools aren’t necessarily failing because of the teachers or the curriculum or the superintendent—you have to attack systemic racism and the plague of poverty.

But this isn’t a course in sociology or neuropsychology, so let’s re-examine this amazing statement:

Quoting a rather insightful comment from Dylann Storm Roof, the extremely disturbed young man who killed church members in Charleston last week, he said “Black people are racially aware almost from birth, but White people on average don’t think about race in their daily lives.”  He apparently tragically felt that needed to change, presumably in response to the violent race riots of late and the astonishing calls for violence against all Whites.

No. Nothing about “Dylann Storm Roof” (and I question why the author used his full name here) is “insightful”. He was a homicidal maniac, and a neo-Confederate white supremacist, at that. In his mind, he was fighting for that racial collective of supposedly oppressed white folks, and used his words about racial awareness in an effort to spark a race war. To the extent that “black people are racially aware almost from birth”, that’s because being black in America is different from being white in America. The buzzword nowadays is “white privilege”, and it’s simply outrageous for some middle-class white woman from a tony suburb to come to Buffalo to lecture black people on their behavior and mentality.

What the author is doing is not only excusing Roof’s actions, but endorsing his thoughts and words. She agrees with his motive—to her, it makes sense what Roof does because of “race riots”, presumably the anti-police-brutality demonstrations in Ferguson and Baltimore, and she even manufactures some sort of “calls for violence against all Whites”.  I’m not saying some irresponsible protesters didn’t say such things, but that sort of inciteful language is no more outrageous than, for instance, a positive endorsement of the race hate manifesto of a mass murderer.

This is like your old German uncle reminding you that Hitler fixed the economy and saved Germany.

She concludes,

PLEASE stop telling our children from the time they are young that they are going to be treated differently simply because of their skin color.  PLEASE stop focusing on skin color and start focusing on the need to achieve.  Continuing this multi-generational failure is simply not an option anymore.

A black child in Buffalo’s inner city doesn’t need to be told that he’ll be treated differently because of his race. As a black person in America, she’ll live it almost every day. She’ll be faced with signs of white supremacy and racism every day—whether it’s overt or closeted; shouted with a Hitlergruß, or spat in whispers. Whether it’s being racially profiled as a shoplifter in a store, pulled over while driving prudently through Kenmore, or listening to the misguided and tone-deaf condescending speeches from white suburban tea party loons, a black person’s racial identity and self-awareness isn’t something that he has some responsibility to tone down; it’s not a disease, but a symptom of a wider, more pervasive disease.

The disease is white supremacy and racism, and no approving recitation of a mass murderer’s Buffalo News comment posing as a “manifesto” is “insightful” enough to quote, or to change that.

Quoting approvingly from a murderer’s regurgitation of a white nationalist hate group’s ideology isn’t the way forward for poor black kids in failing schools.

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