Rus Thompson is the Author of Inside WNY Politics

In this week’s printed edition of Artvoice, editor Geoff Kelly wrote

Hurrah for schoolyard politics: Paladino’s assault on Maziarz is recapitulated over at insidewnypolitics.com, a political gossip site that most believe to be anonymously authored by Tea Party activist Rus Thompson, who was Pladino’s driver during the developer’s gubernatorial campaign. The newest addition to the assault is a link to this site: maziarzhasfailed.com. The splash page for that site features a grinning picture of Maziarz withthe caption “Do You Know GEORGE?” with his name spelled in rainbow colors. The soundtrack is “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers; there are links to Log Capin Republican sites in the middle of the page; at the bottom of the page is a timer counting down 13 days, at press time, second by second, until “The Maziarz Closet Opens”—this time, “Maziarz” is spelled in rainbow colors. Presumably, the site intends to “out” Maziarz as gay two days before the September 13 primary.

Insidewnypolitics: it’s like Illuzzi without the right-leaning gossip. It’s like Gramigna without the left-leaning gossip. It’s “rumored” to be run by Rus Thompson, but he denies it and there’s no independent way to verify the rumor, right? 

Two reasons why it’s 100% written by Rus Thompson to promote whatever the Paladino/Palinist tea party agenda is on any given day: 

1. A few months ago, a source formerly close to the Paladino camp (and no, it wasn’t Michael Caputo) informed me that the site was written by Carl and Rus. There was a dead giveaway that came up shortly thereafter. There was Rus patting himself on the back for a post at his own blog, and then spelling the President’s name with a zero in place of the “O” in “Obama”, which is a favorite of Rus’.

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2. Just this week, compare this entry at insidewnypolitics:

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To this entry at Thompson’s Facebook page: 

If you’re going to operate an “anonymous” political hit website, you’re going to have to do a better job at being anonymous. In any event, I have all the confirmation I need to confirm that Rus Thompson operates insidewnypolitics as a mouthpiece for the Palinist wing of the tea party as spearheaded by Carl Paladino. 

Romney Promises New Covers for TPS Reports

The Republican nominee for President, W. Mitt Romney, gave his acceptance speech last night. Here it is: 

http://cnettv.cnet.com/av/video/cbsnews/atlantis2/cbsnews_player_embed.swf

These speeches are seldom negative – they’re usually positive and forward-thinking; they’re inspirational and hopeful. Romney’s was starkly negative, criticizing Obama/Biden 2008 for having been inspirational and failing. 37 minutes’ worth of blaming the President for a crisis that he didn’t cause, and that he can’t solve in a vacuum. The Euro crisis affects us. The absurd cost of energy affects us. The worldwide financial meltdown affects us. 

Romney says he wishes Obama had succeeded, because he wants “America to succeed”. He then blames Obama for the division that came about after he took office. In Romneyland, the Republicans share no blame. 

Romney is blaming Obama for the Republicans’ stated platform of obstructing and thwarting every single policy, law, and nominee that Obama ever proposed. Governor Romney, if Obama has failed, that failure is the exact result sought by the political party you addressed last night. 

The first portion of the speech was a disjointed series of blame Obama, American exceptionalism, and jingoism. 

Romney omitted a lot of stuff from his speech. You’d never know, for instance, that he spent time as Governor of Massachusetts, except for a fleeting throwaway line about how he hired some women while in that position.  Medicare, Social Security, the ongoing wars – all absent. His 12 million jobs are what’s targeted to happen regardless of who becomes President, regardless of what policies they implement. 

Romney noted that Americans are less hopeful, less optimistic now. Well, a largely jobless recovery will do that. But instead of reinvigorating that hope and optimism, Romney simply said that we should have it, and that we should stop thinking about big ideas, and just stick to small basics. He’s running to be not President, but Manager. I’m shocked that there was no mention of Lean Six Sigma. 

Oh, and he got in some digs against Obama for supposedly “apologizing for success”, betraying Israel, and not standing up to Putin. The first never happened, the second never happened, and the third isn’t true. There was never an Obama “apology tour”. The rich? They got richer. Americans are largely pleased with the way in which Obama has handled foreign policy – incredibly, in just 30 years, the Republican Party has completely conceded the issue to the Democrats. 

Are you better off than you were four years ago? Maybe not you, specifically, but the country? Absolutely. Four years ago: 

The Dow closed at just above 13,000 yesterday.

Bank bailouts, lost jobs, decreased trade, auto bailouts, the bursting of the housing bubble, the European sovereign debt crisis – the recession began in December 2007 under Obama’s predecessor, became a terror in late 2008, and ended in mid-2009. Obama dragged us out of recession. You are objectively better off in August 2012 than you were in August 2008

I wasn’t going to vote for this guy,  but I watched his speech. It ended stronger than it began, but he didn’t say a thing to persuade me to change my mind. How about you? 

 

Call Out the Goon Squad

Do you like or agree with George Maziarz? Maybe on some things, not on others. Do you think he should leave office? Possibly. 

Do you think it’s appropriate to insinuate that Maziarz is gay, referring to him as “Boy George“, or “Georgy Girl”, and threatening to “open the closet”, complete with a countdown clock? 

If you’re Carl Paladino or his trusted sidekick/beholden lapdog Rus Thompson, you think it’s hilariously appropriate

Don’t they have some anal horse porn to forward around or something? Goons.

Hollywood Actors Should Stay Out of Politics

Confused man addresses inanimate object

The ECWA and Patronage

County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s brother, Robb, got a job with the Erie County Water Authority. Robb is a trained chef – I actually ate his food once when he worked at Epcot a few years ago. At the Norwegian restaurant, where my girls got to meet various and sundry Disney Princesses. 

Is Robb qualified to help run the ECWA? Well, compared to whom? He hasn’t yet passed a civil service exam for the position. It’s pretty obvious that Robb’s hiring has a great deal to do with his last name, and that’s not how a meritocracy works. 

But the ECWA is no meritocracy. 

If we’re going to have civic outrage over a countywide department hiring the County Executive’s brother – and the ECWA has a long, well-documented history of being a pit of patronage; a place where elected officials can find cush jobs as a “thank you” for loyal supporters, then isn’t it time to demand legislation to change it? 

It’s run by Lackawanna Democratic Chair, property  manager, and jeweler Fran Warthling. Pigeon loyalist Jack O’Donnell is Treasurer. The Vice Chair was Marilla supervisor. The executive director, at least, has an engineering background, and has had a series of patronage jobs, including the Lackawanna housing authority. The deputy director has a background in finance and was the Administrator of the Village of Bergen. 

If you don’t want these positions to be filed through political favoritism, then demand that changes be implemented. But ask yourself this: does the ECWA’s existence as a patronage destination harm your water cost or delivery in any palpable way? If so, how? Or is this just being angry that people are getting jobs because of whom they know? Because lots of people – private and public sector alike – get jobs that way. 

Paul Ryan and the Obama-Hating Drum Circle in Tampa

This RNC is difficult enough for me to tolerate as it is, but last night Mitt Romney’s mini-me, Paul Ryan, (R-WI) gave a speech that was a reasonably dull pack of lies. When your campaign strategy is about deliberate, brazen lying on the one hand, and whining about the press calling you out on it, on the other hand, you’ve got a huge problem. 

The lying part – sure, it happens in most campaigns everywhere. Oftentimes, it’s not outright lying but mere puffery or exaggeration. But Romney and Ryan – they simply lie. They lie about stuff – important stuff – directly in your face. They do it without a hint of embarrassment, scruples, or irony. They will quite literally say one thing to one audience one day, and another thing the next. When even your official party organ – the Republican Komosomolskaya PravdaFox News calls you out on lying, you’re going to have a credibility problem as the campaign-without-end drags on

  • Ryan said that Obama promised “in 2008” that the stimulus would save a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, but “that plant didn’t last another year.” In reality, Obama made those remarks in February 2008 while running for president, the plant’s closing was announced in October 2008, and it closed in December 2008 — before Obama even took office, and months before the stimulus went into effect.
  • Ryan thundered that Obama “created a bipartisan debt commission” which “came back with an urgent report,” but Obama simply “thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” Ryan did not mention that he was on the debt commission, also known as Simpson-Bowles, and he voted against the plan it came up with.
  • Ryan accused President Obama of plundering hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare. The only part of Obamacare that Ryan kept in his budget plan? Those Medicare cuts.

Take, for instance, Paul Ryan’s speech to the assembled faithful last night. It contained a lot of red meat for the party that has become nothing more than an Obama-hatred drum circle.  The lies as Fox News sees them

Fact: While Ryan tried to pin the downgrade of the United States’ credit rating on spending under President Obama, the credit rating was actually downgraded because Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling.

Fact: While Ryan blamed President Obama for the shut down of a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, the plant was actually closed under President George W. Bush. Ryan actually asked for federal spending to save the plant, while Romney has criticized the auto industry bailout that President Obama ultimately enacted to prevent other plants from closing.

Fact: Though Ryan insisted that President Obama wants to give all the credit for private sector success to government, that isn’t what the president said. Period. 

Fact: Though Paul Ryan accused President Obama of taking $716 billion out of Medicare, the fact is that that amount was savings in Medicare reimbursement rates (which, incidentally, save Medicare recipients out-of-pocket costs, too) and Ryan himself embraced these savings in his budget plan.

Elections should be about competing based on your record in the past and your vision for the future, not competing to see who can get away with the most lies and distortions without voters noticing or bother to care. Both parties should hold themselves to that standard. Republicans should be ashamed that there was even one misrepresentation in Ryan’s speech but sadly, there were many.

The right wing will whine about “Obamanomics”, which they thwarted or watered down at every opportunity, thus crippling its impact. But as Paul Ryan blames Obama for something that he didn’t do, recall that if the auto bailout hadn’t happened, there wouldn’t just be no SUV plant in Janesville, WI – there wouldn’t be a GM, or a GM plant, anywhere, doing anything. And all the ancillary suppliers and vendors would be out of work, too. Without the stimulus – watered down as it was – and without the auto bailout, the great recession of 2008 would have been a second depression. And it would have been thus because our country and its leaders over the last 20 – 30 years practically made it a policy to forget all the lessons learned during the Great Depression of the 20s and 30s. 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This Romney campaign, however, has already declared that it will not be reality-based, or factually accurate. This is why they still have surrogates like Donald Trump going around calling Obama a Kenyan Muslim. 

When are we, as Americans, going to demand truth from our candidates? Why do we tolerate 24 month-long campaigns that boil down to crazy talk, who can raise the most money, and superficial horserace nonsense? 

This campaign has become the worst season of Big Brother, ever. 

UPDATE: 

Pegulaville

Yesterday, the city selected Terry Pegula and the Buffalo Sabres to develop the Webster Block. The proposed structure will include skating rinks, restaurants, shops, parking, and a hotel. 

Brad Riter and I discussed Pegulaville in this Trending Buffalo podcast. What happens when Paladino is snubbed? Will Terry Pegula and Byron Brown be next up on Carl’s insult billboardatorium? 

TBOneThing08-29-12.mp3

Making Romney Relatable

I can’t subject myself to Republican talking points for very long, and just 9 years ago, I was a registered Republican. In 2000, I volunteered for John McCain. I saw him as the last gasp of rational Republicanism against the Christianist conservative movement embodied by George W. Bush. The reasons why I can’t bring myself to watch or pay attention to gavel-to-gavel Republican convention coverage now are not dissimilar from the reasons why I don’t watch cable news anymore; we have a Democratic Party and a Batsh*t Crazy Party. 

But I watched Ann Romney’s and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s speeches yesterday. 

1. Both speakers worked from a TelePrompTer. When Obama uses one, Republicans mock it and imply that it is bad or inauthentic. What gives? 

2. Ann Romney seems like a nice lady. I have no doubt that she loves her husband very much, and that she’s very supportive of him. How odd it is, however, that in lieu of humanizing Mitt Romney, they sent Ann out to explain how human and relatable he is. She also rushed through her speech so quickly that it was as if she was allergic to words. 

3. Sarah Palin is completely absent from this shindig, and Romney’s choice to wear red – a color Palin also prefers – served almost as a subliminal message that the party will pander to the tea party – but only so much. Gone are the days when Palin would be a marquee speaker. 

4. Make no mistake: Mitt and Ann Romney never wanted for anything. They never had no money, and they never had to worry about how they would make ends meet. While Romney started her speech by talking about “love”, she quickly segued into a soliloquy about  the travails of the American bourgeoisie – a class to which she hasn’t belonged since meeting the candidate, her husband. She told us how she could relate to problems lots of mothers throughout American have – but for one. Money (or “resources”, if you prefer). These people have no idea. 

5. What I mean by the “no idea” quip above is this: Romney spoke about how humbly she and Mitt lived while together in college. I mean, they had a makeshift desk made out of sawhorses and a piece of wood! The difference, of course, is that the Romneys chose to live humbly, all the while cashing in Mitt’s stocks when money was needed. Choosing to live humbly is wildly different from having no choice but to be poor or worrying about money and jobs. 

6. A big applause line: Ann and Mitt have a “real marriage”. What’s the implication there? That the Obamas don’t? Was it a swipe at marriage equality/same-sex marriage? I have no idea, but it was a surprisingly passive-aggressive, accusatory thing to say in response to no suggestion that they didn’t. This was, as far as I can tell, nothing more than hatred.  Perhaps we should start questioning this, and demanding to see the long-form marriage certificate. 

7. Ann Romney said that Mitt didn’t have success handed to him. No, but I’d suggest that a guy whose father was governor, and the influential millionaire CEO of an auto manufacturer – a guy who attended the exclusive Cranbrook School (where he hilariously bullied the gay kids), and attended Stanford, Harvard, and BYU and went on to partner with consultant colleagues who raised millions to start Bain Capital had extraordinary opportunity – he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. Was that handed to him? Perhaps not directly, but he was born into money and privilege, and his path to wealth and prominence was hardly steep. 

8. I happen to respect Chris Christie. I like his brash attitude, and I like the fact that he’s a bit of an asshole. I think most politicians are assholes anyway – it’s nice that he doesn’t try to hide that fact. You know where you stand with him, and you know where he stands. 

9. While Ann Romney had talked about love, Christie said we need to “choose respect over love”. That was awkward. 

10. Christie talked about how his mom had to the take the bus to various jobs – municipal bus. His dad worked at the Breyers plant – was it a union shop? Perhaps the Milk Drivers & Dairy Employees Union? Shame that people like Christie apparently came up from a working-class household that benefited from union wages, benefits, and collective bargaining, and would deny that for future generations. Unions for me, but not for thee. I think Democrats do a lousy job pushing back against union busting. If we’ve learned anything during the employment crisis of the current economic shocks, it’s that a job is certainly important, but there’s more to it than that – we’ve seemingly jettisoned any notion that the employee should have certain rights and privileges in addition to just getting a paycheck. What about a wage you can live off of? Why shouldn’t unions be allowed to represent workers to guarantee fair working conditions and labor practices? I don’t get why politicians are so proud of jobs, jobs, jobs without regard to how people are treated at those jobs.

11. Christie talked about wild spending. Ok, most federal spending overwhelmingly goes to the military. Let’s cut that in half. No administration in the last 30 years has been more spendthrift, more fiscally irresponsible, growing more government than those led by Republican chief executives.

12. Christie criticized Democrats for dividing Americans. No, this Republican Party can’t do that with a straight face and get away with it. Their entire platform is founded on class warfare, fear, and hatred. 

13. The speech Christie gave made no mention of Mitt Romney until the end. It was Christie’s opening to his 2016 run for President. 

14. Christie said America has/d the best health care system in the world. It doesn’t. Not even remotely, under any metric, and we spend wildly more than any other system on Earth. 

15. Obama leads by polls, Christie said. That sort of negates the talking point about how Obamacare is wildly unpopular, no? Cognitive dissonance and disingenuousness were everywhere last night. 

16. Shorter GOP: oh, my God, this European Kenyan usurper N0bama has destroyed America. Let’s quickly go back to the policies that led to the 2008 worldwide economic catastrophe from which the world is still hungover. 

Tonight, Mitt Romney will give his speech. Horserace-obsessed journos will breathlessly report on how big of a “bounce” Romney gets in the polls in the coming days. I will be listening to his tone, and the content of his speech. This is 1996 all over again – the Democratic President is quite vulnerable against an energized Republican base, and the GOP just picked Bob Dole 2.0 – the begrudgingly selected guy whom no one likes, but will say the right things to the right people and whose time it simply is to run. 

I’ll leave you with this scene from the season finale of Aaron Sorkin’s fantastic new series, “The Newsroom”. This illustrates the problem within the Republican Party. While the Democrats have fringe whackjobs, too, the party establishment hasn’t let them take over the show: 

Chuck Swanick: Progressive?

Yesterday on Facebook, someone I know explained his support for Chuck Swanick for state Senate based on his opinion that Swanick is more progressive on environmental issues than his opponents, and also that he has a better grasp of state issues and their effects on the local community.  

Oh, really? 

I will grant you, he’s more progressive in terms of, e.g., becoming a Republican, cozying up with Giambra, earning personal perks, privileges, patronage, and pay.  I will grant you that he’s more progressive in terms of looking out for #1 above all else, that he is without peer in the business of “protecting Chuck Swanick” and “looking out for Chuck Swanick“.

I will also concede that he is unique in that his bad-government bona fides are unparalleled, and that he and his supporters are undeterred by them. If ever there was an advertisement made to highlight “how government and politics in WNY are horrible things populated by horrible people”, Chuck Swanick‘s name and image would be plastered all over it.  

He should be perpetually and serially unelectable – not just unelectable, but the mere suggestion of his election should send average citizens screaming. 

Last week, proper Democrat Mike Amodeo released his campaign platform. It’s solid, smart, and full of things Democrats should be supporting. So, I’m at a loss to explain why it is that we need a “Democrat” like Chuck Swanick to run against him with the express support of homophobic, fundamentally transactional bad actor, Conservative Party boss Ralph Lorigo

But yeah. “Progressive.” 

Away

It’s nice to not think about politics for a week. It’s nice to not pay attention to any news, except maybe for the weather, for a week. It’s nice to get away from western New York for a time.

(All that was excepted only by a flurry of text messages I received and sent in the wake of Jim Heaney’s report about Dino Fudoli’s deliberate, knowing, unjustified refusal to pay property taxes on various properties, of course. What a joke this guy is. Hey, Lancaster, next time why don’t you just elect Bauerle caller “Rambo Jim” as supervisor?)

If I have a non-food related passion, it’s travel. We spent a little less than a week in Williamsburg, VA and about a day in Washington, DC.

In DC, we continued our slow, interrupted process of seeing all there is to see. This particular instance involved a walk to the Tidal Basin, where we took out some pedal boats, and around to see the Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. We hadn’t seen the last two yet, and they’re magnificent additions. The FDR memorial is a series of dark stone reliefs, waterfalls, statuary, and quotes from the President’s speeches. He presided over a particularly tumultuous period in American history, and the memorial reflects that. The King memorial also features quotes and a magnificent statue of the man carved out of solid rock – the “stone of hope”, hewn out of the “mountain of despair”.  It accurately reflects the fact that the civil rights struggle of the 50s and 60s involved, to a degree, a cult of personality regarding Dr. King. 

We enjoy eating at chef Jose Andres’ restaurants in DC, and this time we tried Zaytinya, which features eastern Mediterranean (Ottoman?) dishes, and a newly reconstituted Jaleo, which offers Spanish tapas. It was our first visit to Zaytinya, and the food there was fantastically done – it’s a new favorite. 

From there we drove down to Colonial Williamsburg, the preserved and reconstructed colonial capital of Virginia. For a reasonable fee that goes to fund the foundation that operates the village and interpretations thereof, you get a great 200 year-old experience. On one end of the town, you see the houses and facilities that supported the gentry and the King’s governors. A walk through the town lets you visit the various trades that supported colonial life, including brickmaking, textiles, wheelmaking, the jail, government buildings, shoemaking, etc. There, artisans use period technology to create today what was used 200 years ago – oftentimes contracted for by other, similar facilities. The town of Williamsburg itself also hosts William and Mary College – only Harvard is older – so, it’s not just a tourist town, but a college town, as well. 

One added attraction that was great for kids and adults is called “RevQuest“. Participants get a packet of clues and props, and wander the town following these clues and send text messages when they solve puzzles. In the end, you get a prize and you’ve seen a lot of the town, but you also learn something – in this case, the quest is to be a colonial spy for George Washington. A spy whom the British never suspected because he was a slave. I can’t stress enough how much fun this is for kids and adults – the day we participated, it was raining, so we were tagging along with a couple who worked at the stables and got the day off because of the weather. This is the second RevQuest they’ve hosted, and they’re so popular that they will be writing more and cycling through them year after year. 

Now, I return home where people are actually pushing Chuck Swanick for elected office. Where can I go next? Get me out of here. 

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