Sandy Beach: Race Relations Ekspurt

Yesterday, I switched on WBEN to hear the traffic report on my way home. I was greeted by white septuagenarian Don Pesola (a.k.a. “Sandy Beach”) lecturing black people about what they should and should not think, and how they should and should not behave. Because there is no better person, and no better venue to discuss race relations and the state of being a black person in America than an aging Italian radio talk show host. 

This is one of Beach’s favorite topics; how easy it is for black people in this country. 

Beach, doing his best Bill O’Reilly interpretation, was outraged by a Rod Watson column published in yesterday’s Buffalo News. Now, to my knowledge, Mr. Beach has never been black. He has never been a racial minority in American – a minority that is judged and has been systematically oppressed and challenged within a culture that is – and always has – been dominated by white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Chances are Mr. Beach was never passed over for a job, told how to behave, thought of as criminal or subhuman, disenfranchised, or otherwise discriminated against because of the color of his skin. Chances are that when his family moved into their neighborhood, the rest of the neighborhood didn’t flee in terror. But at least the part of his show that I heard yesterday was a litany of old white guy complaints about just how easy black people have it in this country, and how hard it is for an old white guy to get a fair shake. 

In other words, WBEN was the bizarro world yesterday evening. 

The first thing I heard? Romney went to the NAACP and got booed. But Obama didn’t go at all – he takes the NAACP for granted! That’s the real racism!

The part of the show that was particularly offensive was the facile analysis – shared by many dumb commentators on the right – that this new demography whereby white people were outvoted by women, immigrants, and minorities is evidence that “redistributive socialism” won, that America is now dead, and that people voted for “stuff”. 

What an insult that is. What a startling display of sour grapes. Rod Watson suggested that much of the overreaction to Obama’s re-election shows that the Republican Party doesn’t really want black voters. He’s absolutely right. Beach’s response was to complain about how uppity these blacks were to complain about racism. Don’t they know there’s no such thing?! Meanwhile, Don Pesola has been eligible for Medicare and Social Security for several years. Moocher. Taker. Leech. 

One caller, with whom Beach had no quarrel, said that black people vote Democratic because they want freebies, and they refuse to vote Republican because it stands for “hard work”. No one challenged that, but it quite starkly proved Watson’s point. All done radio yakking, you lost the argument without Watson uttering a word. As if I had to explain it, the sentiment assumes that blacks are lazy and shiftless, want nothing but handouts, and that they’re allergic to “hard work,” and the party that stands for “hard work”. I can’t think of anything much more racist than that. As if “Obama cellphone” was the reason why people wanted to implement continue on the decidedly centrist path that President Obama had carved out for himself in the face of an ultra right-wing based on intransigence and childish freak-outs. Also, Benghazi where Obama “murdered 4 people”.

Watson made the point, which was completely backed up by the election results and earlier surveys, that the Republican Party has completely abandoned mainstream black voters. One caller – “Alex” identified himself as a black man and stated that the Republicans always talk about how black people don’t give them a shot, but that they never bother to go into the black community to see the problems, discuss solutions, and ask for votes. Beach sailed right over that observation and instead changed the subject,  complaining about how the community sometimes treats successful blacks like Clarence Thomas as “sell-outs” and “Uncle Toms”. Alex agreed that some black people who reject their own culture are indeed treated that way, but others (Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell) are not. How any of that is Sandy Beach’s problem is anyone’s guess. Beach’s solution was that blacks should just snap out of it, I guess. It certainly was far removed from any topic that Rod Watson raised in his column. 

Watson wasn’t complaining about sell-outs in his column – that never came up. He was complaining about the very real fact that the Republican Party assumed that it could win this national race, even if it completely ignored black voters. And the working class. And the poor. And immigrants. And non-Cuban Latinos. (By the way, Florida Cubans went for Obama). And Muslims. And the rest of what Romney derisively dismissed as the “47%” of “takers” and “victims”. We have a Republican Party that, instead of seeking votes from traditional Democratic supporters, simply instead tries to suppress their vote. The Republican Party keeps just expecting these groups to simply waltz over to the party of Reince Priebus and offer their support because what – trickle-down economics will help lift them up? No, the Republican Party has to go to these groups, and first and foremost listen. If they just instantaneously dismiss complaints that they don’t want to hear, then their failure is their own. 

In the meantime, an old white guy on the radio named Don knows better than anyone what it means to be a black man in America. Do I think Beach is racist? No. But he sure did his best impression of one last night. 

I Guess We are Two Americas, Right. ?

The conservative Heritage Foundation and its PAC have taken President Obama’s re-election really well. 

They’ve declared war on him. Not figuratively, as far as I can tell, but literally. This is propaganda that would make any dictatorship proud. 

You can’t blame them. After all, the Heritage Foundation invented Romneycare/Obamacare so that a REPUBLICAN could take credit for introducing universal health insurance to America. 

Paladino and his BFF Romney

In case you wanted to see how local, poorer version of Donald Trump handled the re-election of President Barack Obama, 

ObamapelosimuslimchinaBenghazicommunism. For fun, I had a friend of mine who is a licensed psychologist analyze Mr. Paladino’s screed. Here’s their conclusion: 

First of all, did it come to you with the half black/half blue font? I tried to figure out if that was on purpose or just a weird formatting thing. He could be trying to emphasize certain points with the font color but I could not find a pattern that made sense. 

The blatant misspelling of Obama to O’Bama in the second paragraph either means he (or whoever wrote it for him) is an idiot or did it purposely to show how much he disrespects and dislikes the president. It’s hard to figure out which one is the case because he is both an idiot and horribly disrespectful.

I also found it interesting that he says right off the bat that most of his 500 employees are voting republican. First of all, I doubt that is the case, but clearly he has tried to bully them into doing do. I can only imagine the other emails and notices hes sent to his employees “encouraging” them whom to vote for. Was this an email sent to his employees? If so, it’s pretty much him telling them, ‘you’d better vote for Romney or you won’t be working for my anymore.’ It’s straight up bullying. He’s telling them he is the boss, is stronger than they, (he using strength and references to it a lot) and they better follow suit.

Overall, the whole email is right in line with how his whole campaign was, full of bullying and misinformation. It’s fearmongering at its best, scaring people with nuclear warhead talk and that Obama is a crazy socialist Muslim whose only goal is to take all our money from us. 

What I also think what he’s trying to do is make people feel disgust and shame when they hear Obama’s name. Humans are genetically engineered to act accordingly based the disgust we experience in certain situations (it keeps us aware from harmful disease and contaminants). By trying to conjureup feelings of disgust and associating it with Obama (and gays, blacks, welfare recipients, Muslims, etc) it causes us to shun and treat people unfairly and think of Obama as ‘dirty’ which can then lead to even more malicious thoughts and views. The same goes for shame…everyone hates the feeling of shame…no one wants to feel shame and if they can defer those feelings and blame someone else, they will. Throwing in his hatred of all other cultures by saying its shameful to ever align ourselves with the Chinese or Muslims, that’s just classic Paladino.

Paladino fits the mold of the extremely conservative right-winged ‘religious’ republicans very well. The more extreme you are the more you are hiding (like his extramarital affair and illegitimate daughter). The more moral you say you are, the more likely you are hiding lot of amoral activities. It’s a common defense mechanism to ignore our past mistakes and look down upon and criticize those who make the same mistakes as we have.

Carl, for his part, is taking it all in stride. 

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship”. – Alexander Tytler 1787 (unverified)

“Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”

Four more years of Obama will make permanent the decline of the America we have known at the hands of the liberal progressive movement and it’s inept control of our government. 

The republican establishment is to blame for letting the movement grow out of control for the past 2 decades.  They gave us the weakest of the candidates to run on the republican ticket by supplying the money for him to destroy Gingrich and the others with a total disregard of the parties rank and file, three quarters of which favored the other candidates, playing right into the hands of Obama’s strategists who knew that Romney would be easiest to beat as the very rich Mormon defending the rights of Billionaires to earn unconscionable money.  His  platform emphasized class struggle by insanely stating that the superrich should not pay more.  How much money do people making a million dollars a year need? 

Romney was out of touch with rank and file republicans and independent voters. They condemned the tea party as extremists who live somewhere in the woods when in fact they are two thirds of the rank and file of the republican and conservative parties and independent voters.   He had no appeal to the young or the working man.  He chose to side with the 1% rather than the 99%.  He is an elitist.  No, billionaires do not create jobs.  They don’t share.  They are not nice people.  They are self-centered, greed driven and arrogant opportunists who found ways to game the system.  Like liberal elitists the feel guilt about the rest of us so they want the government to take care of the masses but to do so with money they collect only from the middle class.

Instead of pummeling Obama when he had him on the ropes over Benghazi,  Romney let him off unblemished while trying to look presidential.  Looking presidential was somehow more important than beating your opponent into oblivion.  Terrible advice from faceless and nameless advisors (some say they were disgruntled former Obama campaign staff) who could not have run a worse campaign.

The old guard of the republican party is washed up and finished both on a national and state level. They live in the past and have shown that they can’t lead.

Benghazi has legs.  Insofar as they don’t want to be complicit in the cover-up,  I predict that Hillary, Pretraeus and Panetta will resign shortly.  They are respected leaders with backbones and I can’t believe they will carry Obama’s water on Benghazi.

Without any real jobs plan or economic plan, with no effort to put trade restrictions on China and force them to raise the value of their currency, with our small businesses and the middle class refusing to invest in the economy because they don’t trust their government, with the tax increases to take effect in 2013 and 2014, with government intrusion and regulation and with the pending loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the defense industry, I predict that our nation will suffer a second dip into recession if not an outright depression dragging the rest of the Western world with it. Obama’s scheme is to create economic chaos from which he thinks a socialistic society will evolve. 

By weakening America’s military and advocating that America will be an equal partner to the rest of the world, Obama will allow the warring tribes of the world to advance upheavals, wars and terrorism the likes of which we can’t imagine.

I firmly believe that Obama is diabolical and evil.

If I was a paranoiac who had just been rendered essentially part of an electoral minority in this country with waning influence over national elections, I might lash out, as well. I’d probably keep it to myself, however. 

A Local CEO Implores His People to Vote Romney

A tipster wrote, saying that the following screed was emailed by a local business owner to all employees on the morning of election day.  The man sending it is David Buonerba, CEO of Trans American, a local customs brokerage. I don’t quite understand why businessowners can’t be satisfied with having a loyal set of hard-working employees, and has to give them a set of lies and try to force them to vote a particular way, especially when it’s palpably against their own interests.  

A message from the C.E.O. on Election Day Nov. 6, 2012

Today is a very important day. I am voting for Republicans and urge all of you to do the same.

Gov. Romney has not only solid business experience but has the necessary leadership skills to lead our country in the right direction.

Not really. Governor Romney is a vulture capitalist. To the extent that “Bain Capital” is a business, it exists to swallow and regurgitate struggling businesses, using other people’s money as leverage. It’s a fantastic way for the rich to get richer, but hardly indicative of “leadership skills”. 

Some facts about Gov. Romney:

He is of impeccable moral character
He is a good father and husband
He is a very successful self-made businessman
He is well educated with an M.B.A. and law degree
He donated ALL of his (family) inheritance to charity
He donates at least 20% of his annual income to charity
His “15% tax rate” is our Capital Gains tax rate… he has already paid either corporat tax at 35% or personal income tax at 30%+ on the money that he has invested (that he pays the 15% on!)

Self-made? While he may have donated his inheritance proceeds, by the time George Romney died, Mitt was already quite wealthy. For him to be “self-made”, we’d be assuming that his father didn’t support Mitt throughout his youth. After all, Ann Romney explained that she and Mitt struggled through college, selling off parts of his stock portfolio just to buy Chateaubriand. As for Romney’s track record of taxpaying, we learned in the waning days of the campaign that Harry Reid was right – Romney likedly avoided paying any tax whatsoever for years through a carefully crafted loophole available only to the superwealthy. 

Unfortunately, we know very little about Barack Obama’s background because he REFUSES to release his academic and personal records. Obama has never run a business and has no idea how to create value to grow the economy.

Mitt Romney didn’t release more than one solitary complete tax return, for one year. He released no academic or other personal records. Romney supporters have unclean hands on this particular whine. You don’t have to run a business to know how to run a government. See Collins, Chris

Every single member of the TA family of companies knows far more about economics than Obama… we all (actually) balance our budgets. Obama promised to cut the national debt in half… he increased it by $6+ trillion. What’s a trillion $?…If you spent a dollar a second it would take you 2,700 (two thousand seven hundred) years to spend a trillion $.

Of course, this ignores the depression spiral in which the country was falling in the latter half of 2008. Also, the trillion-dollar war in Iraq paid on credit, which was waged by choice, not out of necessity. 

President Obama has no business experience and is a poor leader surrounded by a bunch of nuckleheads. He recently admitted, “I can’t change Washington from within!” What a profound admission.

Frankly, I agree with him and he should leave Washington ASAP, because it sure is a mess! Barack Obama won election 4 years ago on “Hope and Change”. The definition of hope is “to have a wish to get or do something”… we need more than more wishes after 4 years!

You can’t change Washington from within. You need people – the grassroots – to help change Washington from without. To attack that notion is to attack the very principles of representative democracy. As for Hope and Change, we got both. President Obama pulled us out of that depressionary spiral through the stimulus, which didn’t kill jobs, but grew them; which contained more tax cuts than any previous law ever passed. 

On another very serious note, the Benghazi attack that killed our Ambassador and 3 CIA operatives on Sep. 11th continues to seep out each day and you’re going to learn in the very near future that Barack Obama has outright lied to us about what really happened… an left American’s behind.

This is a right-wing trope that has been repeatedly debunked, and also ignores the Iraq war, which killed thousands based on lies. 

Gov. Romney has a plan to grow the economy that includes reducing taxes (for everyone), getting rid of obamacare and making the U.S. energy independent which will take our country in the right direction. The U.S. has more oil and gas reserves than any other nation in the world. Every time you fill your gas tank, just think of what you could do if you were able to keep at least half of those dollars in your pocket! I most strongly believe that if we have 4 more years of Obama, as Americans we will be much worse off than we are now.

Gas prices went from an average of under $1.50 before the Iraq War, and shot up past $3 and 4/gallon around the time of Katrina, and haven’t significantly dropped since then, except in the midst of the Bush global recession of 2008. The Republican answer to energy problems is to drill – a “solution” that takes 10 years to take effect. 

I invite everyone to take time off during the day or leave early today to vote. Please coordinate with your Supervisor to ensure that we have no lapse in client service.

I hope they all voted for Obama to teach this asshole a lesson. 

Quick Take

Quick take because President Obama didn’t start giving his acceptance speech until almost 2am. If you see me today, steer clear. I’m tired and filled with mixed emotion. 

POTUS: Barack Obama won re-election rather handily, and a great deal of people – mostly made up the disingenuous and the dumb – owe Nate Silver from 538 a massive apology for doubting his predictive models and for complaining about “skewed” polls. Silver was right on the money, and people like the always-wrong Dick Morris, and a whole set of mostly Republican “pundits” were beyond wrong. Science and math win over “gut” and “feelings”. Maybe it has to do with boomer conservatives all being former hippies. You know, “me, myself, and I”. I’ll write more about this later, but a win is a win, and watching Fox News during part of last night, I found the most amazing Vaudeville show ever produced

NY-27: This is devastating. Make no mistake, the electorate of the 27th Congressional District has left me – themselves – effectively without Congressional representation. For all intents and purposes, I’m an inadvertent, unvoluntary liberal tea partier.  Only for real. Late last night, Kathy Hochul, who has served in Congress with excellence and bipartisanship sent this: 

“Early this morning I called Chris Collins and congratulated him on being elected to Congress.  I encouraged him to work across the aisle and offered to assist him in any way I can.  I also volunteered to help him make a smooth transition in January to ensure our constituents are well served.  Congress can do better, and the people of this country deserve better than what Washington has given them.”

Collins is all over the air saying Hochul lost because of her Buffalo China ads. I’ll agree that they went too hard on that tack, and didn’t push the real issue – that she’s bipartisan and he’s completely partisan. Mr. Obamapelosi has no business claiming not to have been more negative than Hochul in the race. Thank God Obama won, otherwise you’d see the rapid dismantling of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and a whole variety of so-called “entitlements” that you depend on and pay for

Comptroller: Voters chose name recognition over qualifications, such as they were. No surprise there. Now what, Stefan? 

Other than that – marriage equality won referenda in Maine and Maryland – a first. Horrible red-baiting Congressman Allen West is gone. Michele Bachmann almost lost. Elizabeth Warren defeated Scott Brown in Massachusetts; democrats took back “Teddy Kennedy’s seat”. 

A mixed night, but a relief that we will continue to move forward with President Obama. Hopefully Washington will start to get things done, now that the Republican’s chief policy aim of preventing Obama’s re-election is extinguished, they can get back to governing



Is It Illegal To Instagram Your Completed Ballot?

@MarkPoloncarz on Twitter

This seems to be the burning question this afternoon on Twitter, as people post images of their ballots with Obama or Romney ovals completed as instructed. Gizmodo and others are on it, and our local journalists are smelling a story. After all, the County Executive Tweeted a picture of part of his ballot. 

The law everyone is citing is Election Law section 17-130(10). It reads: 

Any person who…[s]hows his ballot after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents, or solicits a voter to show the same…is guilty of a misdemeanor. 

First of all, no one is prosecuted under this section. In my review of the times in which this statute has been cited by New York State Courts, the only such case dates from 1979 where a person’s provisional ballot was invalidated because he put his name on it; (that violates subsection 11 of the statute). That’s it. 

The reason why the law exists? To prevent people from selling their votes; offering to vote a particular way, and having to show the completed ballot to the payor as proof before payment is made. It also exists to prevent intimidation of voters or otherwise violating the secrecy of the vote. However, the statute has not been updated to make it a misdemeanor to photograph one’s ballot for any purpose, or to show the photograph – only to show the ballot itself. 

So, Instagram the shit out of your ballot, and don’t worry about it being invalidated or about you being arrested. After all, political speech is offered the highest protection of all speech, and what’s more political than Tweeting a picture of your ballot. I’d wish the authorities good luck in overcoming the 1st Amendment challenge to that misdemeanor charge. 

Also, the New York State Board of Elections issued a statement today indicating that it’s perfectly legal. So, there’s that. 

Election Day 2012

Please go out and vote today. While it’s true that New York’s electoral vote outcome is firmly in Obama’s corner, there are many very important downballot races that really need your vote – your support, your minimal effort as a citizen to spend a bit of your day at your polling place to help select how you will be governed over the next term of office. I have seen election days in countries where the choices were non-existent and pre-determined as part of an institutional dictatorship. I have seen election days in countries where the choices were for political parties more than they were for people. We as Americans don’t have a perfect electoral process, but it’s the only one we have right now. 

It’s a common refrain from political junkies like I to lecture you on your civic duty of voting. It’s more than that. You really don’t have very many duties as a citizen of this nation, except to pay taxes and obey the law. Voting is one of those unique and fundamental rights that you hold to help choose the direction of your town, city, state, and country. It’s a right that millions around the world do not have. It’s a right that has been kept away from American women, different races, and ethnicities throughout our history. You probably attend July 4th parades, firehall picnics, fireworks displays, and the like to join in our occasional totemic displays of patriotism. All of that is window-dressing. Going out to vote; taking that minimal time to make your most solemn voice – your political voice – to be heard is the real thing.

If you truly think the President is a disaster, you need to go vote for one of his opponents. If you think that your Assemblyperson, your State Senator, or your United States Senator is doing a good or bad job, you need to fill in an oval on a piece of paper, scan it, and tell them. 

My endorsements, again are here. They are:

Barack Obama (D-POTUS)(incumbent)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-US Senate)(incumbent)
Brian Higgins (D-NY26)(incumbent)
Kathy Hochul (D-NY27)(incumbent)
Mike Amodeo (D-SD60)
Justin Rooney (D-SD61)
Ray Walter (R-A146)(incumbent)
Christina Abt (I-A147)

Incidentally, although I made no endorsement, I voted David Shenk for County Comptroller. Given the choice between marginally qualified town finance nerd and wholly unqualified former sensational journalist, I opted for the former. 

If you have a sense of humor and you’re not offended by curse words, you can humorously find your polling place here.  If you want to find it in a way that’s more safe for work, try this. Every state is different, but polls throughout New York State are open from 6am – 9pm. If you’re in a different state, please consult this list

Tonight, I will join others to report on and live-Tweet the reactions and results of this election using the Twitter hashtag #WNYVotes. I leave you with President Obama’s closing argument, and the last political campaign speech he will ever give, delivered last night in Des Moines, Iowa, where his road to the Presidency began in earnest in 2007. 

Go vote.  



Buffalopundit Endorsements 2012

The Iowa Caucuses took place on January 3rd of this year – that’s almost a full year ago. I first want to comment on just how fundamentally horrible and broken our political system is. We have a multi-year process to pick a President. It costs many hundreds of millions of dollars. We have a primary system where candidates have to ingratiate themselves to a party’s extremes before they can move on to the general election and effectively lurch to the center. The Supreme Court has legalized bribery – because money is political speech, its restriction is subject to strict scrutiny and we have barely regulated, completely non-transparent groups able to not just promote or attack ideas, but can expressly endorse or oppose individual candidates. One person can feasibly – legally – fund a SuperPAC with millions or billions of dollars and run whatever ads he wants, with no oversight, no regulation, no limits. I have a huge problem with this, and you should, too.

I detest this system, and hope we can someday fix it. I hate the way in which it has become difficult to debate opinions because we can’t agree on the facts. Other countries manage to hold nationwide general elections in a matter of weeks – not years. They limit contributions, they limit the ways in which money can be spent, they regulate the influence of money in politics and government so that policies help the people, and not special interests. To find out more about how federal electioneering can be changed to focus on people rather than the axis of corporate money and political influence, check out Rootstrikers.

As for our local races, while the Hochul/Collins race gave us a chance to understand that our votes actually count – it couldn’t be closer – It’s disheartening to see how many state races are literally (some figuratively) unopposed. Jane Corwin and Tim Kennedy should have general election races, period. Others are poster children for term limits. Our local politics remain polluted and corrupted by the legalized racketeering performed routinely and legally by the minor parties. Our system of electoral fusion serves no practical purpose and should be abolished.

Please note: these are not Artvoice endorsements, nor are they to be cited as such. They have not been approved or made by the Artvoice editors, publisher, or any combination thereof. Any endorsements are mine and mine alone. They are preferences – not predictions.

Obama/Biden vs. Romney/Ryan: Barack Obama 

Obama. I have very strong personal reasons for this, which are none of anyone’s business. But from a macro standpoint, his leadership helped us to begin shaking off a horrific global recession, from which the world economy is still reeling. He passed a law to guarantee women equal pay for equal work. Obama advanced the cause of universal health care coverage – a goal that our country had hitherto been unable or unwilling to meet despite many attempts since World War II. Obama strengthened alliances abroad while navigating a particularly difficult set of international issues and crises. Obama may not be perfect, but he has done a tremendous job given the circumstances with which he has been faced. He deserves to continue the work he’s started, and we ought to stay the course.

Need something persuasive? The Economist endorsed Obama, explaining that he averted a Depression, he refocused our foreign policy in an intelligent way, and that Obamacare will reverse a “scandal” of 40 million uninsured. It hits Obama for inconsistent stewardship of commerce, and places blame on him for the noxious relationship with congressional Republicans (who also own it), but overall explains just how awful a choice Romney would be.

It’s no secret that I wholeheartedly endorse President Obama for re-election. Mitt Romney has completed the Republican Party’s departure from “compassionate conservatism” to “severe conservatism”, and he has run a fundamentally opportunistic and disingenuous campaign, where he promises absolutely nothing of substance to middle-class families. So, instead, I’ll offer up some graphical and audiovisual reasons to vote for President Obama.

Job growth rebounds after the dreadful global Bush recession:

Obama passed the Ledbetter Equal Pay Act:

The case for Obama now:

The Dow is up.

Employment is up.

Obama soshulizm.

Romney went to Europe, and came back a punch line:

We never got that “Whitey Tape“, but we got to see Romney’s.


Gillibrand vs. Long: Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand is running for her first full term after winning a special election to take over what had been Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat. She has proven herself to be a capable and responsive representative in Congress, who has taken up the cause of “Made in America” in a positive, consistent way.

New York is a pretty left-center state, and the tea party may have some emotional influence within Republican circles, it’s a Paladino-fed joke among the electorate at-large. Wendy Long is a tea party candidate who has attracted all the support she deserves – not a lot. Gillibrand would have been quite vulnerable had the Republicans put up a credible, centrist Republican to run against her, but the Republican Party in New York is in as much disarray as its national counterpart will be after Tuesday when Mitt Romney’s opportunistic campaign loses. The stage is set for an epic battle between the pragmatic reasonableness of people like Chris Christie, and the reactionary, obstructionist hatred of the ultra-right tea party. This will be good not only for the Republican Party, but also for the country.

NY-26 Higgins vs. Madigan: Brian Higgins

Brian Higgins is a tireless champion for western New York. He has worked relentlessly – from the center-left – to improve Buffalo, WNY, and especially her waterfront. Mike Madigan is another tea-party candidate in a decidedly un-tea-party district. He has fallen back on a platform having to do with the poor quality of education in the inner city. He has identified an acute problem – one that he could better address in city or state government, or within the school board. The right wing agitates for de-federalization of education, and abolition of the Department of Education. I don’t know how that would improve school quality or student outcomes versus, say, promoting a 10th Amendment states’ rights agenda, but you can’t voucherize your way out of the problem. If Madigan is serious, he’ll try again for a seat where he might actually have a direct positive affect.

NY-27 Hochul vs. Collins: Kathy Hochul

Not only is Kathy Hochul a fantasic legislator who is pragmatic, independent, and votes as you’d expect a conservative Democrat to vote, but she isn’t Chris Collins. Chris Collins has a record of mean-spirited failure. Make no mistake about it – sending Chris Collins to the House of Representatives would be an utter disaster. He is a person uniquely unqualified to act as an effective legislator – arrogant, mean, rude, inflexible. He doesn’t need the job, and the people in the district don’t deserve the shambles he would cause. I know that this is a tied race, so it is incumbent upon everyone to pitch in to help re-elect Hochul and to prevent Collins from going to Washington and acting in his own best interests, rather than ours.

Think about this – when have you ever heard a single person, ever, say, “that Chris Collins – I like him. He seems to have my best interests at heart.” Never.

SD-59 Gallivan

Gallivan runs for re-election unopposed. This is a shame. I’m sure he’s not perfect.

SD-60 Grisanti vs. Amodeo vs. Swanick: Mike Amodeo

First off – I don’t care if you self-identify as a Republican, Democrat, or Conservative – a vote for Chuck Swanick is a vote for transactional politics at their worst, for someone who was at the forefront of the great Erie County fiscal meltdown of 2005. That leaves Grisanti and Amodeo. Grisanti has ably served the district, and although he too often devolves into a cookie-cutter Republican, railing against fantasy bogeymen like “free college tuition for illegal aliens” and tougher criminal penalties for various things, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that his vote for marriage equality in 2011 was a genuine profile in courage.

Looking forward, however, one of the biggest pressing statewide issues right now is whether the state will allow hydrofracking for natural gas. It’s fair to say the electorate-at-large is pretty uninformed when it comes to the risks and benefits of hydrofracking, so this makes it unfair to force New York voters to weigh them and decide either to allow or prohibit the practice. This is something so fraught with emotion, and an issue so backed by money that the pressure will be strong; relentless to arrive at a quick decision from the top, down. Until we as citizens of New York have had an opportunity to have a full and fair, fact-based debate about fracking’s pros and cons, we should prohibit it altogether. On this point, Amodeo is stronger and the edge goes to him.

SD-61 Ranzenhofer vs. Rooney: Justin Rooney

Mike Ranzenhofer has been an elected official for 20+ years. Name one accomplishment. You can’t. His continued tenure in government is to pad his pension and lifetime benefits, which I’m sure his small law office wouldn’t afford him. Justin Rooney is young blood who deserves a chance to free eastern Erie County from the Ranzenhofer record of [blank].

SD-63 Kennedy

Tim Kennedy is running for re-election unopposed. This is a shame. I’m sure he’s not perfect.

Assembly: Ray Walter, Christina Abt

A-140 Schimminger vs. Gilbert

A-141 Peoples v. Donovan

A-142 Kearns

A-143 Gabryszak v. DeCarlo

A-144 Corwin

A-145 Restaino v. Ceretto

A-146 Walter vs. Schultz

A-147 Abt vs. DiPietro

A-149 Ryan vs. Mascia (C)

Of the above, I can endorse Ray Walter and Christina Abt. I know Ray, and I know he’s actually going to Albany to try and make a difference. Walter’s opponent hasn’t mounted a credible campaign. Christina Abt is a brilliant writer, a lover of the region, and someone who has proven her ability to reach across the aisle to get things done. DiPietro has become a Rus Thompson-like perennial candidate, and his tea party ideals certainly play well on obscure Google groups and listservs, but his political inflexibility contrasts starkly with Abt’s flexible pragmatism.

I don’t know anything about any of the other races, but note that neither Jane Corwin nor Mickey Kearns deserve to be running unopposed.

Comptroller: Shenk vs. Mychajliw: No Endorsement

This is a tough one. I like Stefan, despite the over-the-top caricature of a Republican hack he played while acting as Collins’ spokesman in 2011. But he is uniquely unqualified for the hypertechnical post of County Comptroller and has no experience handling a budget of any size, much less a billion-dollar one.

Shenk’s qualifications are, to be honest, not much more impressive. He does, however, have extensive experience handling municipal finance in the town of Boston, so arguably he could expand that countywide. I don’t put much stock in the anti-Shenk argument about how he was selected to run out Poloncarz’s term – anyone complaining is merely upset because the political selection didn’t comport with their particular preference.

However, what Shenk should have done was to establish his independent bona fides at some time in the last 11 months. He did not do that, and that enabled his detractors to point out that fact to underscore their argument that he’s under Poloncarz’s thumb and would be an ineffective watchdog. That’s bad policy and bad politics, and reflects a troubling tone-deafness. On the other hand, Mychajliw should be explaining to voters how he would overcome his utter lack of experience by explaining whom he would hire to do the gruntwork.

This is a push. I would be leaning towards a Mychajliw endorsement if I knew the people he’d be hiring, and if I wasn’t so sure he’d hyperpoliticize the office. Shenk may have a marginally better grasp of what the job entails, but hasn’t used his time in the office to do much with it. I won’t know for whom I’m voting until I’m there with pencil in hand.


Polls open on Tuesday at 6am and close at 9pm throughout New York State. Some areas have propositions on the ballot – you can check the ones in Erie County here. An .xml list of all Erie County candidates is here. To find your polling place, and to generate a sample ballot based on your Erie County address, click here.

Every Obama Conspiracy

This chart, produced and posted by Mother Jones, explains through a handy Venn diagram, each of the known and popular right-wing conspiracy memes used against President Obama. So, now, you can ignore those emails from Carl Paladino and the inane Facebook postings and un-Snopesed chain letters you get from older acquaintances and family members. 

Now, you can tell them you know all about it. 


Courtesy Marquil at

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