Romney & Collins

Mitt Romney flew into Buffalo for as long as wealthy Massachusetts/Californian/Utahn multimillionaires can stand being in Buffalo – a couple of hours. 

His mission during his nose-holding tour of a flyover New York burg was to do something else he habitually does – collect a whole lot of money and pull it out of the WNY economy. Every loathsome corporate welfare recipient and electoral fusion enthusiast was in attendance, gladly plunking down thousands of dollars to ensure future favors, future corporate welfare, and to make sure the President of color is defeated. 

Among them was our own little local Napoleon, Chris I, Duke of Spaulding. Seen here eagerly double-clutching his wine goblet, with a look of absolute lurve in his eyes. What could they have been discussing? Our President’s birth certificate? The commoditization of labor? How well they have the plebes fooled? We’ll never know, but chances are, we’re going to get a lot of mileage from this simply bizarre image. 

Romney & Collins

Mitt Romney flew into Buffalo for as long as wealthy Massachusetts/Californian/Utahn multimillionaires can stand being in Buffalo – a couple of hours. 

His mission during his nose-holding tour of a flyover New York burg was to do something else he habitually does – collect a whole lot of money and pull it out of the WNY economy. Every loathsome corporate welfare recipient and electoral fusion enthusiast was in attendance, gladly plunking down thousands of dollars to ensure future favors, future corporate welfare, and to make sure the President of color is defeated. 

Among them was our own little local Napoleon, Chris I, Duke of Spaulding. Seen here eagerly double-clutching his wine goblet, with a look of absolute lurve in his eyes. What could they have been discussing? Our President’s birth certificate? The commoditization of labor? How well they have the plebes fooled? We’ll never know, but chances are, we’re going to get a lot of mileage from this simply bizarre image. 

Obamacare: The Mandate And the Taxing Power

Oftentimes, the federal government finds itself wanting to promote a certain behavior as part of a national program, but without the direct power to do so. By way of example, in the 1980s, the Reagan Administration decided that it wanted the drinking age to be raised from 18 to 21 nationwide. But the drinking age isn’t a federal, but a state statute. In order to persuade states to raise the drinking age, the federal government passed an incentive plan. If a state failed to raise its drinking age to 21, it would find itself with a diminution in federal highway funding. 

“The power to tax involves the power to destroy”, wrote Chief Justice John Marshall in 1819. With respect to the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”, the power to tax also involves the power to build something. Under the law, beginning in 2014, Congress will require most Americans to obtain health insurance, or – if you don’t, you pay a fine to the government. The mandate was, ironically, a precondition set by the insurance industry, without which they would not be able to economically justify offering insurance to people with pre-existing conditions at no penalty.

The key part of Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion yesterday reviewed the constitutional justification for that mandate to purchase health insurance.  Congress’ powers are specifically limited and enumerated in Article 1 of the Constitution. 

Roberts turned first to the Commerce Clause (Article 1, Section 8), whereby Congress has the power to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”  Roberts rejected the argument that the government could regulate the absence of commerce; you cannot regulate that which does not exist.  His analysis seems somewhat limited, however. After all, there is not a personal alive who isn’t engaged in the health care market now, or inevitably. Even if you’re not seeking medical care, you’re paying for others’. 

Right now, you and I (and everybody) are taxed to help pay for uninsured people’s emergency room visits. ERs can’t turn people away, and oftentimes the poor and uninsured use them for primary care.  Those hospitals seek reimbursement for the cost of providing those services through two Federal Programs, Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) and Upper Payment Limit (UPL)–that require a 50% local share match. So…instead of forcing the cost of health care provision onto the people who don’t have insurance, you (a taxpayer, or a person with insurance) are paying for them to get health care with both your federal and county tax dollars. 

Secondly, Roberts turned briefly to the “Necessary and Proper” Clause, also in Article 1, Section 8, it reads, “The Congress shall have Power – To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”  Roberts declined to go along with this, reasoning that…

Each of our prior cases upholding laws under that Clause involved exercises of authority derivative of, and in service to, a granted power. For example, we have upheld provisions permitting continued confinement of those already in federal custody when they could not be safely released…[t]he individual mandate, by contrast, vests Congress with the extraordinary ability to create the necessary predicate to the exercise of an enumerated power.

And so, the last resort – the “in the alternative” argument – was most persuasive to the 5 members of the Court who voted to maintain the ACA mandate. The very first Congressional power enumerated at Article 1, section 8 involves the power to tax and spend. Roberts wrote that Congress’ mandate isn’t the issue – it’s the “penalty” imposed on people who refuse to purchase insurance. While the dissent argued that the government is semantically blocked from calling the “penalty” a “tax”, Roberts argued that the word “penalty” assumes some sort of fine for illegality. Yet the refusal to purchase insurance isn’t illegal – it isn’t a crime. It is merely a choice, and a person’s choice to opt to pay a tax instead of buying insurance is one that government can regulate under its taxing power. 

…the Government asks us to read the mandate not as ordering individuals to buy insurance, but rather as imposing a tax on those who do not buy that product…

…None of this is to say that the payment is not intended to affect individual conduct. Although the payment will raise considerable revenue, it is plainly designed to expand health insurance coverage. But taxes that seek to influence conduct are nothing new. Some of our earliest federal taxes sought to deter the purchase of imported manufactured goods in order to foster the growth of domestic industry

Because Roberts invoked the taxing power, dumber pundits and lazy politicians have pivoted to calling it all – the whole law – a “huge tax”.  Perhaps they should read the law, and then read the Court’s opinion. It’s not a “huge tax”. It’s a mandate that you have health insurance. Chances are, you already have it – it’s not like you’re being forced to buy super-more health insurance on top of what you may already have. And if you don’t have it, you’ll have much easier and cheaper access to health insurance. And if you choose not to have any at all, then you’ll be assessed a fine, a tax, whatever you want to call it. 

The ACA’s “shared responsibility payment”  is a tax only on people who choose not to hold insurance. Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant, mistaken, and/or lying. 

With the mandate in place, no longer will the person without health care get away with not paying hospital bills, and no longer will taxpayers be “mandated” to subsidize those choices. Instead, the person making the choice to avoid insuring himself will be assessed a tax in the eventuality that he becomes ill and can’t afford to pay his bill. Do you want the person without health care to be taxed, or do you want to continue to be taxed because they don’t have health care?

In the olden days, “personal responsibility” was a conservative talking point.  Now, we’re essentially codifying it through Obamacare – you’re responsible to get coverage, or for the consequences if you don’t. Now? 

The remaining portions of the decision dealt with (a) the Court’s analysis of whether the issue was ripe for decision (it is); (b) whether striking the mandate meant invalidating the whole law (they didn’t have to reach it); and (c) a provision dealing with the expansion of Medicaid, holding that States can reject federal funding and therefore not comply with the new rules. 

The misinformation and disinformation being spread over the last 24 hours has been simply mind-blowing. For instance, here’s a fundraising email that Republican congressional candidate Chris Collins (who, incidentally, never, ever has to worry about not being able to afford anything, ever, including health care) sent yesterday: 

Dear friend,

The Supreme Court has confirmed what we already knew – ObamaCare is nothing more than a massive tax increase that will hurt hardworking families and continue to act as a wet blanket on economic growth and job creation.

Today, I’m asking for your donation of $27 dollars to protect the residents of the 27th Congressional District from this massive tax hike and help end ObamaCare.

I need your help to stop Kathy Hochul and Barack Obama from raising taxes on thousands of Western New York and Finger Lakes families. 

$27. 

$27 is how we can protect our families in the 27th Congressional District from massive tax increases.

When I go to Congress, my first order of business will be to lead the fight to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with common sense solutions that protect seniors and don’t crush small businesses and cost us jobs.

$27 can get us there.

Whether it’s $27, or $5, $10, $50 or $100 – anything you can do to help us stop Barack Obama and Kathy Hochul from raising taxes and cutting Medicare by $500 billion is so important.  Will you consider donating today?

There’s so much at stake, and I need your help.

Sincerely,

CHRIS COLLINS

Congressional Candidate, NY-27

No, it’s not one side or another that won or lost – everybody won. Everybody will benefit from the implementation of Obamacare. It isn’t at all a huge tax increase, and the only reason Medicare funding goes down is because the ACA picks up the slack. Obamacare isn’t a “huge tax increase”, indeed it will help families by reducing the most common type of bankruptcy – ones brought about through medical expenses. Is this law a boon to insurers? Yes. That’s why many progressives didn’t like it much, and that’s why the law is something of a Frankenstein’s monster. But Obamacare, like its progenitor, Romneycare, is a fundamentally conservative idea. Because it’s been adopted by a Democratic President whom the Republicans are determined to ruin, it is now characterized as something it’s not. 

And make no mistake – the Republican drive to ruin Obama is so concentrated and driven, that it doesn’t matter what collateral damage there is to average Americans, or the economy. 

It’s not surprising to see a politician lie, but when mere puffery, (“I’m the best”), turns into brazen lying, (“I poop rainbows and spit unicorns”), you have to wonder what the politician thinks of the people who are going to vote for him. I heard some of our right-wing omniphobe media personalities liken the United States under the ACA to North Korea. There was heavy emphasis on “Hussein” yesterday, because “Hussein” is a foreign, Muslim name, and because somehow that correlates with socialism. Or something. I wish I was a professional psychologist so I could better analyze what was taking place.  Even Mitt Romney noted that the Court didn’t hold that Obamacare was a “good policy”. That’s jaw-droppingly dumb – Palin dumb. 

Requiring Americans to buy private health insurance from private corporations is socialist? Spreading the risk across most Americans so that health insurers can’t refuse to insure people with pre-existing conditions is like living in a Stalinist dictatorship with no market, no freedom, no food, no money, closed borders, and extensive gulags? How dumb. Almost as dumb as the many people who took to Twitter to decry the loss of America’s freedom and announce that they’d move to Canada, which has true single-payer socialized medicine. 

Set aside the crazies and the liars – Americans won today. The ACA – Obamacare – isn’t a perfect solution. No solution is perfect, after all. But it will make our health insurance in this country more affordable, with better coverage, and no longer will you live at the mercy of health insurance companies, fearing arbitrary rate hikes, lifetime payout maximums, or being barred from buying insurance due to a pre-existing condition if you change your job. This is good for people

Long vs. Gillibrand

HT Marquil at EmpireWire.com

ObamaThread: MANDATE UPHELD UPDATE

If you haven’t already read about how Bain Capital’s buy ’em, gut ’em, and outsource ’em M.O. destroyed a healthy, longstanding WNY business, and you haven’t already been informed about how Mitt Romney made his millions by doing that repeatedly, over and over again, then you should go and do that. 

In the meantime, the big news today will be what the politicized, partisan, conservative-activist Supreme Court will do with the Obamacare mandate to buy health insurance. Will it be ruled unconstitutional? If so, will it render the whole law a nullity, or will it be severed from the remainder of the law? If severed, will the law be able to be maintained? 

The fundamental brokenness of our idiotic, inefficient, Balkanized way of paying for health care that isn’t even the best in the world is one of the big failures of the post-WW2 era. As postwar Europe built its social safety nets, the US couldn’t get out of its own way to do the same. The 1964 law creating Medicare and Medicaid was originally supposed to provide all Americans with universal health care. It never happened. Soshulizm. 

So, instead, we operate under a largely for-profit form of privatized socialism. (Yes, insurance is socialism – it’s the redistribution to claimants of wealth earned from premiums). 

The United States, as we all know, is the last remaining western pluralist democratic capitalist country that does not guarantee free health care to all of its citizens. Obamacare taught us a lot. It taught us that a mixed-race Democratic President can propose a fundamentally conservative health care reform bill, manipulate changes to it to try and obtain buy-in from people who had very recently proposed it, and still the Republicans would vote against it uniformly because it would do political harm to said President.

It highlighted that politics trumps policy; that obstruction trumps governing.

Maybe – just maybe – the failure of the Frankencompromise of Obamacare will lead to a massive push to abolish Medicaid and expand Medicare to all Americans. 

Medicare for all Americans. A program that is uniquely popular, has very low overhead, and would be voluntary. People like Mitt Romney and Chris Collins could continue to buy health insurance from private companies and be Lear-Jetted to gold-encrusted, faraway clinics, if they wish. But taking away the average American’s expenses for health care would do wonders for the economy. Taking away businesses’ responsibility to provide elaborately complicated and ridiculously expensive private health care options would also be able to increase efficiency, productivity, and profitability. 

It would be a single-payer system for those who want it. For those who don’t, buy something different – not dissimilar from the English model, rather than the far less flexible Canadian model. You know, Canada, which has a really good economy, little corruption, no bank collapse, and more or less the same freedoms we enjoy. 

This is a SCOTUS Obamacare ruling open thread. Enjoy your Thursday. 

UPDATE: The individual mandate, and Obamacare, is upheld as a constitutional use of congressional taxing power with respect to the penalty for not buying health insurance. 

Hochul

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling provides much needed clarity in an important national debate on the appropriate role of the federal government in the delivery of healthcare. While I was not in Congress to vote on the Affordable Care Act, I have always believed, and continue to believe, that the law is far from perfect, and I remain concerned about the high cost of implementing the law.  That is why I have worked to roll back many of its most troubling provisions, including the financially unsustainable CLASS Act, the Medical Device tax, and the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which could result in the rationing of Medicare.

 “I am hopeful that today’s ruling will help to focus our country on the need for more effective policies that drive down the cost of care and ensure that all Americans—especially children, seniors and veterans—have access to quality and affordable health care.  I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue to improve the law and find appropriate solutions to the rising cost of health care in this country.”

Higgins

“Today the Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, held that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Under the law, this year over 3 million New Yorkers have begun receiving free preventative care, over 3,000 New Yorkers with pre-existing conditions are no longer denied health insurance coverage, 160,000 young adults in New York State are now receive health coverage through their parents’ plan, and 254,083 New York State seniors on Medicare are saving an average of $655 on their prescription medications.

“The old way of doing business was unaffordable, unacceptable and unsustainable for taxpayers and patients alike. Despite exorbitant expense, according to the World Health Organization, the United States is 37th of 192 countries in terms of overall healthcare quality.

“The Western New York health community is already leading the way on health reform. They have embraced electronic medical records and the formation of comprehensive care organizations. This law gives Western New York the tools we need to go farther and it gives the rest of the country the opportunity to follow our lead.

“Much of the Affordable Care Act was modeled on the Cleveland Clinic standard, care Western New Yorkers frequently travel to receive.  Cleveland Clinic quality care is the health care I want for my family, my community and my nation.”

Slaughter:

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28) today applauded the Supreme Court’s decision which upheld the life-saving provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Slaughter, one of the leading supporters of the ACA, has been in the forefront of the effort to improve access and quality of health care for American families.

 “I am very pleased that the Supreme Court has upheld the landmark Affordable Care Act,” said Slaughter. “I was proud to bring this bill to the floor of the House of Representatives as Chairwoman of the Rules Committee in 2009, and I continue to be proud of the ways in which the law has improved health care access for millions of Americans. We worked long and hard to protect Medicare’s guarantee of quality health care for our seniors and to make health care more affordable for American families. The ACA also ensures that being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition and a justification for higher premiums.

 “This groundbreaking legislation was never about politics – it was about saving lives and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of American families. I know that much work remains to be done but I am gratified to know that we are a step closer to ensuring that no American will live in fear of losing their home and everything they own because they or a member of their family is stricken by illness.”

 Because of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, Americans are already seeing lower costs and better coverage: 

  •          54 million Americans in private plans have received one or more free preventive services.
  •          In addition, in 2011, 32.5 million seniors received one or more free preventive services.  So far in 2012, 14 million seniors have already received these services.
  •         105 million Americans no longer have a lifetime limit on their coverage.
  •         Up to 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers.
  •         6.6 million young adults up to age 26 have taken advantage of the law to obtain health insurance through their parents’ plan, of whom 3.1 million would be uninsured without this coverage.

     

  •         5.1 million seniors in the ‘donut hole’ have saved $3.2 billion on their prescription drugs, an average of $635 per senior.

     

  •         In 2011, 2.3 million seniors had a free Annual Wellness Visit under Medicare.  So far in 2012, 1.1 million seniors have already had this free visit.
  •          In 2011, 360,000 small employers used the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit to help them afford health insurance for 2 million workers.

 Slaughter is a champion of the life-saving changes that have been implemented as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Thanks to these lifesaving provisions, children can stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26, insurance companies can no longer deny a person health insurance, and millions of seniors now have free access to life saving health care- all while reducing the federal deficit by billions of dollars.

 Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, in New York’s 28th district:

·         5,500 young adults in the district now have health insurance. 

·         10,400 seniors in the district received prescription drug discounts worth $6.7 million, an average discount of $640 per senior. 

·         70,000 seniors in the district received Medicare preventive services without paying any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles. 

·         22,000 children and 100,000 adults now have health insurance that covers preventive services without paying any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles. 

·         430 small businesses in the district received tax credits to help maintain or expand health care coverage for their employees. 

·         $10.9 million in public health grants have been given to community health centers, hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers in the district to improve the community’s health. 

·         7,000 to 32,000 children with preexisting health conditions can no longer be denied coverage by health insurers.

CNN, the Buffalo News, Channel 2 all reported incorrectly that the mandate had been stricken.

 

 

WBEN texted people that the mandate had been stricken and didn’t fix the error for over an hour.

Collins vs. Hochul in NY-27? Bring It.

Kathy Hochul vs. Chris Collins? The 2011 County Executive race that wasn’t, resurrected? The popular Hochul gets to not only campaign in her former homebase of Hamburg, but throughout a district that she’s served eagerly and well? 

Bring. It. 

Bellavia did quite well in the GLOW counties, as was expected, but Collins obliterated him in Erie and Niagara Counties. 

And when I say “obliterated”, I mean that fewer than 8,000 people voted in Erie County, and 2,759 people voted in Niagara County.  The total vote count was about 19,000 throughout the district. 

If you subtract out Erie and Niagara Counties, Collins received about 2,960 votes, and Bellavia received about 4,500; Bellavia beat Collins in GLOW 61 – 39%.  It reveals a few ugly truths about the Buffalo media market. Firstly, the only thing that matters to the Republican Party in Erie and Niagara Counties is money. It’s why they’ve aggressively courted the Independence and Conservative Parties to act as their corrupt surrogates. It’s why they’ve turned over the reins of the party to people like Chris Collins and Carl Paladino – brash people who by all rights don’t belong anywhere near political office, yet get their way repeatedly.  Why? Because the party sees them, and their eyes turn into dollar signs like Scrooge McDuck, and they immediately fantasize about a future where they get middling electoral results, but get to dive into a basement-full of gold coins and overflowing treasure chests. 

Chris Collins is planning on regurgitating his “brighter future” catchphrase – a promise he sure as hell didn’t fulfill while acting as County Executive. In fact, he went out of his way during that time to give comfort to his conservative, suburban, well-off base, and to do harm to the urban poor on whom he didn’t rely, and about whom he gives no thought. The only thing missing now is his messianic Six Sigma nonsense. Perhaps he can learn lessons, after all. 

But I tend to doubt it. What his primary against Bellavia showed is that he’s going to run exactly the same race against Hochul that he ran against Poloncarz, and that Corwin ran against Hochul. It’s going to be an expensive race where the candidate avoids voters, doesn’t listen, parks in handicapped spots, runs to the front of parades, insults random people, and will do everything in his power to not debate his opponent

The astonishing thing is that the Collins/Corwin method of campaigning seems to work with WNY Republican voters. They seem  perfectly willing to vote the way Nick or Carl or Chris tell them to, and they sure as hell don’t need any “information” or “platform” – just an (R) after the name.

I look forward to hearing more about fiscal restraint from a guy who proudly describes how he started his business by maxing out his credit cards. You think Collins can score points against Hochul for being a tax ‘n spend liberal? What does that make Collins? He likes to say he’s looking out for the taxpayers, he’s raised taxes on us, and gone to court to prevent the legislature from keeping those hikes lower. Although he says he’s careful with our money, he’s spent millions on his friends and cronies, without regard to results or merit. Although Collins likes to seem as if he’s a good government type, he repeatedly and brazenly violated the county charter in terms of providing monthly budget monitoring reports. A brighter future? Why in four years did he maintain the tired, failed status-quo when it comes to attracting and keeping businesses in western New York; eschewing the notion of IDA consolidation, and hasn’t set up a one-stop-shop for businesses to use when considering a move to our region.

 Chris Collins found under 6,000 Republicans in Erie County to vote for him. 

Later today, Chris Smith and Brad Riter will post a podcast through Trending Buffalo (entire interview via the preceding link) which will contain the interview I did yesterday with David Bellavia. He was confident that he would win, but he got out-spent and he underperformed farther west. But as a moderate yet partisan Democrat, when I spoke with him about issues I found someone who is nothing like how he’s portrayed by Collins or his detractors on either side of the political spectrum. The tea party guy isn’t some frothing right-wing lunatic. He’s a thoughtful guy who isn’t about public-office-as-American-nobility, but instead about service. I disagree with him about social issues, but he doesn’t simply dismiss – or worse, denigrate – those who hold different views. I disagree with him about how Citizens United should be repaired, but he recognizes the problem and proposes a different solution, with perhaps fewer Constitutional problems.  He thinks the federal government wildly overspends, but opposes the Ryan budget while recognizing the need to maintain entitlement programs, and quickly pivots to a discussion of the myriad, expensive entitlement programs we grant to big business with nary a peep out of anyone. 

[audio:http://www.trendingbuffalo.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Bellavia.mp3]

Within literally moments of the AP calling the race for Collins last night, Hochul released this: 

“Chris Collins has made it a hallmark of his campaign to avoid taking positions on key issues.  But one thing is clear, Mr. Collins supports Paul Ryan’s budget; a plan that turns Medicare into a voucher program and makes seniors pay $6,400 more for their Medicare benefits to fund tax cuts for multi-millionaires.  He has even has said that it does not go far enough.

“It is time that Chris Collins comes clean with voters about his plans to take the Ryan’s budget further.  What more could he do on top of decimating Medicare and protecting the super rich?  We hope that now that he is the nominee he willing to answer questions on the issues that matter most to the people of the 27th district.”

Yes, it’s exactly a re-litigation of an issue that heated up during the May 2011 special election Hochul won. It’s one that Hochul wins handily, because Medicare is ridiculously popular and efficient, and there’s no reason to destroy it and yank it away from anyone alive today – whether it be seniors already enjoying Medicare, or every American now living, and expecting them when they become seniors. 

Let’s talk about Obamacare, which the hyperpartisan conservative-activist Roberts court may repeal or effectively cripple. People like Collins will cheer that result, but offer absolutely no reasonable alternative. To people like Collins, our health care insurance system is just fantastic. The poor should lose their Medicaid, though. And the old should have to pay more for Medicare. That way, we can afford more tax cuts for multimillionaires in Spaulding Lake.  That way, we can maybe fight another war. Maybe in Iran. They’re bad. 

But a take-down of Obamacare opens us up to having a discussion about alternative ways for the United States to heal the sick. We should pivot off a SCOTUS loss and the Ryan budget’s idiocy and talk about expanding Medicare to all Americans. Make it voluntary, and let health insurers offer policies to supplement things Medicare doesn’t cover fully. Boom. All done problem, and we have universal care and can eliminate Medicaid as redundant, to boot. 

Let the fun begin. 

NY-27 Republican Primary: TODAY

It’s astonishing to me that David Bellavia challenged Chris Collins to a series of 8 debates over 90 days ago, and not a single one took place. The best Collins could do was to get some supporters of his to stage a set-up in Clarence, so he wouldn’t have to go far and he’d have an exceedingly friendly audience and sponsoring organization. 

Collins’ chickenshit refusal to debate his opponent is simply unbelievable to me. Debating issues is, frankly,  the bright, shining light in the otherwise tough slog of campaigning. Going door-to-door and attending chicken dinners is important and all, but the payoff is the ability to use your rhetorical skills, power of persuasion, and debate with your opponent the matters that are important to voters. 

Chris Collins was reluctant to debate Mark Poloncarz in 2011, agreeing only to a single televised debate, and a daytime debate at a high school where his campaign brazenly broke a “no videotaping” rule. He was even less willing to debate Bellavia, to whom the nomination was promised when he stepped aside to give the seat to Chris Lee in 2008. 

The history of the Erie County Republican Committee and David Bellavia has been replete with broken promises and backstabbing. If Bellavia wins today, it would vindicate him and send a message to the ECGOP that sometimes, honor trumps money. 

And that’s sort of shorthand for Bellavia’s appeal. Sometimes, honor trumps money. You don’t have to agree with everything – or anything – for which Bellavia stands. What I do know is that a Bellavia vs. Hochul race will be a better, more honest brawl than Hochul vs. Collins. The latter, however, would be a bigger boon to anyone who makes money off of campaign advertisements. 

I’ve watched this NY-27 race from its inception and I’ve seen Bellavia has done the hard work. He’s talked to voters – but more importantly, he’s listened, too. He is a guy who thinks Washington is broken and wants to change things and make a difference. I have to respect that, and if I was a Republican living in this district, I’d choose that over the chickenshit bully millionaire political hobbyist. 

So, if you live in the district shown below, and you’re a registered Republican or Conservative, please vote for David Bellavia and put Chris Collins out of the politics business. 

Happy Anniversary

Perhaps you saw this image floating around on the Facebooks this week.  Not only is same-sex marriage the right thing to do from a civil rights perspective, but it’s good for business. Treating fellow citizens like equals is really something of a no-brainer, and it’s important to note that the biggest homophobic, anti-SSM group, the “National Organization for Marriage” has decided that the best strategy is to pit African American voters against the LGBT community, and to go back to the “Obama radical” well, which has been dry for some time. 

I’ve come to the personal conclusion that one’s support of same-sex marriage is tantamount to a test of intelligence. A gay couple getting married has no bearing whatsoever on anyone else. It’s simple but true to say that if you don’t like same-sex marriage, don’t get one. Religious freedom and your own conscience do not, however, deserve to be codified as a prohibition on others’ behavior. 

Just because certain Jewish people keep Kosher, doesn’t mean every grocery store and restaurant has to follow those laws. 

And so it is, a year later, there’s a lawsuit pending brought by same-sex marriage opponents, and the execrable patronage mill called the “Conservative Party” has made repeal of the act a mission. 

As we celebrate the anniversary of this victory for civil rights and common sense, don’t forget the local electeds who would have denied this basic right to LGBT couples. 

Assembly

Robin Schimminger, Jane Corwin, Dennis Gabryszak

Senate

Michael Ranzenhofer, Pat Gallivan, George Maziarz

Shorter Donn Esmonde

Tim Tielman has transformed obstructionism into a successful protection racket, and this is good for Buffalo. 

 

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