Liberty and Such As

Here’s how yesterday went. 

1. A survivalist in Alabama shot and killed a school bus driver, kidnapped an autistic 6 year-old boy, and absconded with him to his homemade bunker, where a standoff continues. He committed the murder and kidnapped the boy in order to “air his grievances.” Neighbors told reporters that he was a strange person who seemed ready to snap at any time. No word on whether gun enthusiasts in Alabama have come out in support of a comprehensive public mental health scheme yet. I’m sure there will be a well-attended and angry meeting in a suburban library to demand better mental health and improved background checks, right? Or is this just another episode where a well-regulated militiaman liberated a tyrannic bus driver from his life, and protected a 6 year-old boy from the tyranny of his home. 

2. While former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords dramatically addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee as a spokesperson for reasonable gun control measures, a workplace shooting took place in Phoenix, AZ

Arizona and Alabama have comparatively no gun control whatsoever, and are theoretically populated by “good guys” who are armed to the teeth. It is that possibility of any prospective victim being armed that is supposed to deter crime, say gun control opponents. 

3. Why can’t you just own a bazooka

4. 91% of NRA members agree that the mentally ill should not be allowed to buy or own guns – I’d like to meet the 9% who think it’s ok. Yet when asked yesterday about background checks, NRA spokeszombie Wayne LaPierre suggested that, because we aren’t prosecuting people who try to buy guns despite being denied due to a bad background check, we should dispense with them altogether. The logic here is non-existent, and it underscores the fact that, in the end, the NRA is just a shill for the gun manufacturers. This is all too reminiscent of past hearings where tobacco company executives rejected science which showed that smoking is a major form of cancer and other diseases. 

5. Another responsible gun owner/patriot bravely defended his liberty against the tyranny of a person whose GPS got him lost

Rodrigo Diaz, 22, was driving around with his girlfriend and two friends when he pulled into a driveway, thinking they had arrived at another friend’s house, his brother says. But instead he pulled into the driveway of Phillip Sailors, 69, who thought his home was being robbed, his lawyer says. Sailors then shot Diaz, according to the police report, citing what Sailors told officers at the scene. Diaz later died after surgery.

“Basically, what happened is they were looking for one of my brother’s girlfriend’s friends,” says his brother David E. Diaz-Valencia, 23. “The guy came outside and my brother’s girlfriend said he was screaming, ‘Get off my property!’ and he shot into the air. My brother was backing out fast because he was scared and he rolled down the window to say he was sorry and he was not doing anything wrong. Then the guy shot him in his head.”

6. Yesterday, it was announced that the economy unexpectedly shrunk by .1% in the 4th quarter of 2012. At first blush, this is bad news, but if you look at the data, the reason for the contraction has to do with a 22% drop in defense spending. Imagine that – reduced government spending in the economy has the ability to contract the economy; government spending has the ability to grow the economy. People who oppose the economic stimulus and Keynesian economics, however, usually dummy up when it comes to military Keynesianism.

Paired with evidence of how the austerity imposed by Cameron’s Tories in the UK is leading to a triple-dip recession, while stimulus spending in the US has managed to help keep the economy moving quite well.  

Maybe that Krugman guy knows what he’s talking about

One Region Forward – Likely Without You

Last night, something called the “Community Congress” as part of a new regional planning effort called “One Region Forward” was held at Babeville. First I heard of it was when I started seeing pictures and Tweets about it as it was going on.

Admittedly, this is partly my own fault, since both the Buffalo News and Buffalo Rising had regurgitated key points from its press release in the last week, but regionalism and regional planning are things that I’m extremely interested in – I think it’s a huge component of what may be WNY’s improvement, if not renaissance. 

So, given that I pay at least marginally more attention to this stuff than the average person, I was genuinely disappointed that I knew nothing about it, and had no idea that it was going on. It was, however, well-attended, so that’s why I’m so surprised. One way the effort could have gotten the word out would have been to follow lots of people on Twitter – the moment you get followed by a local regionalism congress, chances are you’d check it out. Instead, as of this morning, it’s following 39 people. On Facebook, it has a paltry 208 followers.  That’s a crappy job getting the word out, if you ask me. Given that we have more marketing, PR, and social media experts per capita than we deserve, this is amazing to me.

UPDATE: I learned today that no one at the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation knew about it at all. 

So, what’s this all about? 

 One Region Forward is an effort to better plan how we grow or shrink western New York through a collaborative process; a way to reduce wasteful sprawl without population growth that wastes resources and empties existing communities, rather than trying to repair or reverse their stressors. It is a huge issue that is fraught with difficulty related to racism and classism. From the press release, 

The regional vision will help guide development of One Region Forward, an initiative aimed at ensuring long-term economic prosperity, environmental quality, and community strength across the two counties and 64 municipalities of the Buffalo Niagara Region.

“We will face enormous challenges as a region in the 21st century,” Hal Morse, executive director of the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council said. “Where we work, how we get around, what kind of neighborhoods we live in, and many other aspects of our daily lives – even where we get our food and water – will be under pressure. One Region Forward is about repositioning our assets to support long-term sustainable growth and development.”

The One Region Forward effort is building on a series of recent planning initiatives aimed at reviving the Buffalo Niagara economy, reducing our regional “carbon footprint,” regenerating core cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, developing the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and growing the University at Buffalo, among others.

“We’re not starting from scratch,” Howard A. Zemsky, chair of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, a leading partner in the effort, and co-chair of the Regional Economic Development Council, said. “Our commitment is to make sure that all the plans for our region are working toward the same ends.”

Discussions at the Community Congresses will build on recent planning work in the region – not just the Regional Economic Development Council strategy, the “Buffalo Billion,” the Buffalo Green Code, and others – but others including more than 160 regional, municipal, and special purpose plans throughout Buffalo Niagara.

“We’ve read all of these plans and abstracted a series of statements about what values are common across them – statements about economic development, parks and recreation, transportation, housing and neighborhoods, climate change, water resources, food access, and more,” continued Shibley

“It will be up to citizens participating in the Community Congresses to tell us whether or not we got these right,” Shibley added, “and how we have to change them if we didn’t.”

Based on this direction from the general public, detailed implementation strategies will be developed by a series of working teams on land use and economic development, housing and neighborhoods, transportation, food systems, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. A subsequent Community Congress will review these strategies later in 2013. Further work will produce a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, a document that will give our region priority status for funding opportunities today and into the future.

One Region Forward will develop more than just a plan, it will build capacity and tools to support local decision-making, conduct public education activities, and launch implementation campaigns for prototypical projects around key issues such as redevelopment of suburban retail strips, strengthening village Main Streets, or rejuvenating urban neighborhoods.

The effort is led by a broad-based steering committee that includes representatives from both counties; mayors and supervisors from across the region, the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, major community based organizations, major public agencies in housing, education, and transportation, and the leading business sector organization in the region.

One Region Forward is funded by a highly competitive, first-of-its kind, $2M federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities Initiative, an interagency partnership among HUD, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is administering the program through our region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council.

 One Region Forward is sponsored by the following entities: Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC), Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), Erie County, Niagara County, City of Buffalo, City of Niagara Falls, Association of Erie County Governments, Niagara County Supervisors Association, University at Buffalo Regional Institute and Urban Design Project (UBRI/UDP), Daemen College Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement (CSCCE), VOICE Buffalo, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Buffalo (LISC), The John R. Oishei Foundation, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC), Belmont Housing Resources for WNY, Inc. (Belmont), Buffalo Niagara Partnership (BNP), Empire State Development, Niagara County Department of Social Services, and Niagara Falls Housing Authority.

There will be a second congress held in the Niagara Falls Conference Center on Saturday February 2nd from 2pm – 4pm.  

Gun Owners Pretend Behaving Like You’re Calling in to WBEN is OK in Real Life

When you get gun owners angry about the coming confiscation and equate it with the holocaust, you get ugly scenes like the one yesterday at the Clarence library. One presenter relates that they were there to show a Powerpoint to educate people about the NY SAFE Act, and instead of taking a few minutes and some questions, they were continually heckled and yelled at; the “meeting” took 3 hours, with people in camouflage taking over the podium at times, claiming that this was about “Nazis” starting a “new holocaust”. 

The “responsible gun owners” aren’t comporting themselves very responsibly. 

http://www.wivb.com/video_player/swf/EndPlayVideoPlayer_v1_4_FP10_2.swf?v=101712_0

Gun meeting draws anger in Clarence

http://swfs.bimvid.com/player-3.2.15.swf http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Buffalo Talk Show Host: al Qaeda better than the Government

On January 24th, during the 11am hour, Entercom’s WBEN talk show host Tom Bauerle and his guest, Assemblyman David DiPietro (R-147), discussed what they consider to be constitutional jurisprudence, the supposed coming confiscation of all guns, how Obama has destroyed America, and the fact that armed citizens must be ready and willing to assault and murder law enforcement when they come to take your guns. All of this semi-informed nonsense culminated with Tom Bauerle exclaiming, “I regard the [US] government as a greater enemy than al Qaeda”. Because? Because guns. 

Bauerle2

Tom Bauerle and al Qaeda: besties.  This guy is a never-ending compendium of lowest-common denominator derp. 

Buffalo’s ultra-right wing is always lurching from manufactured outrage to conspiratorial fever-dream, and has WBEN’s morning host Tom Bauerle to act as its lurcher-in-chief, spokeschampion, and ur-patriot. Last week’s outrage involved the New York State gun legislation that was recently passed by overwhelming state senate and assembly majorities. Signed by Governor Cuomo, New York’s gun regulations rank among the toughest in the United States, and people who take issue with them promise to fight them through litigation. 

That is, after all, how our system of laws; our representative democracy with its checks and balances, is intended to work. 

It’s the sort of thing that gets a particularly uninformed and ignorant part of the community angry and riled up. These are people who bastardize Martin Niemoller’s famous quote about encroaching fascistic tyranny into, “first Hitler came for the Germans’ guns” and “then Stalin came for the Russians’ guns” and they were just given up willingly, and so Europe endured genocide and war. This is all part of the “fight tyranny” falsehoods that people have built into the 2nd Amendment, whose true purpose was to ensure that the United States – which did not have a standing army at the time – could call up militias who would already be armed, in order to defend the country against its foes. Nothing in the Constitution, nor in the case law, nor in the vast volumes of statutes of the United States gives citizens the right to take up arms against the government. 

Being the constitutional scholars that they purport to be, one would expect Mr. Bauerle and Assemblyman DiPietro to be somewhat familiar with the 5th Amendment’s Taking Clause and its interplay with the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which together stand for the proposition that the government cannot arbitrarily take one’s private property without due process. Instead, derp. 

At one point, Assemblyman DiPietro alleged that his legislative colleagues have no respect or understanding for the constitution; that they consider it to be a nuisance. Such inflammatory talk from someone who is himself so fundamentally ignorant of Constitutional jurisprudence is despicable. Perhaps the 5th and 14th aren’t taught as part of the BBA program at Wittenburg University, nor must they make up part of the communications or history curriculum at UB, however this doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Derp. (Hey, what part of “shall not be infringed” does Antonin Scalia not understand, AMIRITE?)

Turning to the radio program in question, lest anyone think I heard it live, here’s how I found out about it on Thursday, January 24th: 

Here is the clip, within its context, with Assemblyman DiPietro’s comments immediately preceding it: 

Bauerle and al Qaeda: Besties

And this wasn’t some fluke: 

183 people like that. Several more left encouraging comments, (all [sic]) like Richard Wheeler, who suggests that this is “counterrevolution. The dems drew first blood”. Laurel Krupski thinks it was “Well said !!” Kale Crum says, “The one thing thats preventing a full on revolution is the air cover the US military currently has. The only way thats mitigated is if there is a secession and the leaving states claim ownership of airbases and military equipment in state. I see it coming and hopefully can get a shot in before i myself am taken out. Snipers Unite!!!!” At least one commenter, Jim Walczak, brought up a discredited, false quote from Josef Stalin. Because guns go with derp. 

Here we have a talk-show host, employee of a multimillion-dollar public corporate entity, taking to the publicly owned airwaves and to a corporate-sponsored Facebook page to talk about armed insurrection, and to favorably compare al Qaeda to New York and the United States. Wow. 

I know that Bauerle is a conspiratorial birther, but I have yet to see the proposal to turn America into a part of al Qaeda’s global caliphate.

In fact, Obama comes under much criticism for maintaining a “war on terror” policy whereby unmanned drones are used to target suspected al Qaeda terrorists. I am not, however, aware of any government policy encouraging or permitting the deliberate or indiscriminate targeting of civilian non-combatants. When you see Governor Cuomo or Hillary Clinton post a video to the internet wherein he and some cabinet henchmen behead a captive, you let me know. When the state sets up a paramilitary training camp to train terrorists to mass murder civilians, you let me know. When Shelly Silver hijacks a plane or three to hurl it into some landmarks, you give me a holler. When Harry Reid or John Boehner dons a suicide bomb and detonates it in a crowded shopping area, text me. 

As for Assemblyman DiPietro, he was perfectly content to stay on the line and talk with Bauerle through another several segments after Mr. Bauerle expressed his comparative admiration for al Qaeda. But he didn’t hear that; Mr. DiPietro released this statement: 

I was interviewed via telephone Thursday by WBEN’s Tom Bauerle. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Bauerle and I am a fan of his show. I did not hear him compare the New York State government to al Qaeda. As a legislator, I am a member of the New York State government and I do not believe we are the moral equivalent to the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization.

There you have it – a sitting Assemblyman appearing on a radio program in Buffalo, NY, having to issue a statement disavowing the radio host’s statement that the United States is a terrorist organization? These sorts of discussions didn’t, interestingly enough, take place when, e.g., the government made up stories about Iraq developing weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons in order to start a war.

You can disagree with the new gun laws the state passed. You can protest them. You can move to another state. You can file a lawsuit to challenge it. You can do just about whatever you want, within the law. You can even go on the publicly owned, privately licensed airwaves to favorably compare al Qaeda to New York State, if you’re a complete mental defective who spends time on the radio advocating secession and civil war, riling up every gun nerd with a micropenis and an AM radio. 

Indeed, to the extent Bauerle’s political speech doesn’t make the shift into armed insurrection or outright treason, he has every right to say or write whatever idiocy he wants to. But you can’t get away with saying it in a vacuum, and I – you – have every right to expose it, criticize it, and hate it. And frankly, his speech is perilously close to the kind of speech that is expressly prohibited by Article III, section 3 of the Constitution

It comes full circle – the people who remained silent during the run-up to the Iraq war tainted anyone who opposed it with the “treason” brush. But now, with a duly elected Democratic government, treason and armed insurrection is all the rage. 

I don’t quite understand why Entercom (ETM) or WBEN thinks it’s a good idea to have its commentators make stuff up about confiscation (as if Albany was going to pass a law to reimburse people for the confiscation of their guns), but Bauerle and his corporate parent Entercom are whipping gullible, already angry gun owners into a much bigger frenzy.  If they keep it up, I fear one of them will hurt someone. Maybe a cop. Maybe you. 

Nary a word was spoken about the fact that a lunatic stole his mother’s militaria in order to massacre almost two dozen first graders. Mssrs. Bauerle and DiPietro make stuff up about the Constitution and denigrate the patriotism of those who think that gun violence is a problem in this country, but they cavalierly reject any notion that people – that parents – have a right to be free from gun violence that is at least equal to their right to arm themselves against some fantasyworld. Assemblyman DiPietro argued that humans have always been violent; after all, Cain killed Abel. 

Constitutional questions should rarely be settled with allusions to Biblical allegories. 

In the meantime, who will protect us from the tyranny of the angry, violent, and misinformed 2nd amendment revisionists? 

http://videos.mediaite.com/embed/player/?content=BN7GYQ315TKL7W0Y&content_type=content_item&layout=&playlist_cid=&media_type=video&widget_type_cid=svp&read_more=1

Max v. Ward, et al.: Transcript of Judge Chimes’ Decision

Judge Chimes’ Decision on Max v. Ward, et al. by

http://www.scribd.com/embeds/122208945/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll

Valenti’s: Where are they Now (Slight Return)

Remember yesterday, when I indicated that I didn’t know where they were? Well, I did know, but wasn’t at liberty to reveal their location  because of pending legal matters.

Well, they’re in the Dallas area and had been leasing kitchen space in a nursing facility. There was supposed to be a meeting yesterday to let the residents complain about the food coming out of that kitchen. In the meantime, as seen above, Valenti was arrested on the newly re-filed Midland County forgery charge and is being held in a Dallas County Jail on $10,000 bond. Now you know. Karma and whatnot. 

Sneak Attack

 

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

Valenti’s: Where are they Now?

A little over a year ago, then-Buffalo News restaurant critic Janice Okun reviewed a seemingly pedestrian and typical red sauce joint that had recently opened in a plaza in North Tonawanda.

In ten years of blogging, no other series of blog posts I’ve ever done so completely unraveled some bad journalism, a pack of clumsy lies, or generated quite as much conversation in comments and social media. The saga of Valenti’s will go down in the annals of western New York’s culinary lore. 

 At the time, it was fun to deconstruct Okun’s reviews, and how they emphasized booth comfort while de-emphasizing food taste and quality. Yet the Valenti’s review was different, because Okun’s review recounted how the young owner-chef had recently returned to his native western New York after stints as an executive chef in Texas and Florida. But that’s not all – Valenti was reportedly so accomplished that he supposedly competed against – and defeated – celebrity chef Bobby Flay on the TV program “Iron Chef America”. This was a lie. It was alleged that Mr. Valenti’s culinary excellence had rendered the lowly parsnip into something so delightful that the judges were floored.  Here is a snippet from Okun’s review, which I annotated at the time: 

To this day, I don’t know what constitutes “parsnip cuisine”, nor do I understand how it could be the “parsnips that did it” if, apparently, they were the secret ingredient for the fictional episode on which Valenti never appeared.  In fact, the image shown above reflects the Buffalo News’ first edit of the review, to remove a mention that Valenti had appeared on Iron Chef America in 2003. At that time, no such show existed. Valenti also claimed to have graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1993 – another lie confirmed by that institution’s spokesman, Jeff Levine. By the end of that particular Friday, Okun’s review in the online Gusto was changed to read thusly: 

As it turned out, he never could have been a cook at Mama Leone’s, either, as it had long since closed by the time he allegedly graduated from the CIA

But don’t blame Ms. Okun – she was doing what a lot of journalists do; transcribing press releases almost verbatim.

But Valenti’s had bigger problems than just a cook with a false resume. Terry Valenti and his girlfriend Lori Brocuglio opened the restaurant with a partner in September 2011. It was a problem tenant for plaza owner Frank Budwey almost from day one. By early February, Valenti’s was evicted for failing to pay back rent. It had loads of debt and a trail of people who had been taken advantage of.  Among them was Valenti’s and Brocuglio’s nominal “partner” in the business, Melissa Janiszewski, who had signed on for all the business’ liabilities, but had no access to the restaurant’s finances, no signing privileges on the business’ accounts, and (ultimately luckily for her), was not named on the lease.  It appeared to be was a bust-out scenario, where Valenti and Brocuglio used Janiszewski’s good credit to run up debt, skip town, and leave her holding the bag. Luckily, she got wise and sought help, but not soon enough to avoid a bankruptcy filing. 

Dramatically, during the late January 2012 eviction trial in North Tonawanda City Court, Terry Valenti was taken into custody on a Texas felony warrant for forgery. After losing his job at Captain Hiram’s in Florida, Valenti moved to Texas, where he cooked at a retirement community in Odessa. Valenti stands accused of forging an ex-girlfriend’s name on a Power of Attorney and title, to fraudulently transfer a motor vehicle for his benefit. The whole saga is available here, with an innocuous takedown of a Janice Okun “review”, updated herehereherehereherehere, and here.)

So, where are they now? 

By late February, Budwey had contracted with Cash Auctions to sell off the contents of Valenti’s Restaurant. The building now houses North Tonawanda’s own branch of Mighty Taco. 

In April 2012, a Midland County Texas grand jury indicted Valenti on the forgery charge. Interestingly, around that same time, there was a rumor that Valenti was back in western New York, looking to start up a new restaurant on Delaware Avenue, and was supposedly trying to recruit people who had worked for him in North Tonawanda.  This turned out never to have materialized, thankfully. 

By late June 2012, the Texas charges against Valenti were still pending, and he was appearing there in person with counsel. Meanwhile, in Florida, Valenti’s ex-wife initiated a court action seeking physical custody of their son. Lori Brocuglio’s ex-husband in Florida had custody of their son, and an action was brought to allow his new wife to adopt. Brocuglio contested the adoption, but the court instructed her that she needed physically to appear in court to testify – the problem is that there were a couple of minor warrants out for Ms. Brocuglio in that state, rendering her appearance a tricky proposition, at best. Meanwhile, Mr. Budwey’s criminal complaint against Ms. Brocuglio for grand larceny is still pending in North Tonawanda City Court and scheduled for an appearance in February. 

Meanwhile, the entire time they lived in western New York, Valenti and Brocuglio rented a living space in Eden. 

By July, Valenti had rejected a guilty plea in Texas that would have resulted in probation, court costs, and restitution. As for the adoption case involving Ms. Brocuglio, when process servers in New York attempted to serve papers on her, Valenti told them that she had moved back to Connecticut. This was quickly resolved – during the time that Mr. Valenti had to appear in Texas, they re-served papers in Eden knowing that the only person who would be home would be Ms. Brocuglio.  On July 29th, she was home, and she was served. 

But Valenti and Brocuglio attempted to fight back.  Valenti sought a temporary restraining order against Valenti’s ex-girlfriend, but failed to serve it in a way that could be enforced against a non-resident of New York. At best, it was a nullity; at worst, it was an attempt to intimidate the star witness in the Texas forgery trial. Nothing ever came of the TRO. Lori Brocuglio lost her parental rights as to the son in Florida in November on the grounds of abandonment. Terry Valenti’s ex now has physical custody of their son in New York. He is also about $13,000 in arrears on child support. There are no-contact orders imposed upon Valenti and Brocuglio in connection with these actions. The forgery action in Texas had to be re-filed and a new indictment was issued in December, and that matter is still pending. 

About that place in Eden: as you might expect, Valenti and Brocuglio ended up mistreating their landlords there, as well. They were forced to bring two eviction actions against them; the first time, they obtained an emergency rent assistance loan from Erie County, and the back rent was paid. By July 2012, the landlords were dealing primarily with Brocuglio, who indicated she was going to Texas. After the second eviction for non-payment, the judge gave Valenti and Brocuglio a week to show receipts that $3,000 was paid.  It hadn’t been. Not only did Valenti and Brocuglio skip out on back rent, but they are alleged to have stolen or sold items belonging to the landlords that were stored on the property, such as an upright air compressor, a drill press, welders, and a John Deere tractor and trailer.  The house was left in a horrible state, filled with garbage and junk. They left moldy, rotten food in the refrigerator, moldy clothes in the washer, food and garbage in the dishwasher, 36 bags of garbage, six truckloads of garbage furniture, six very large televisions, and tons of clothes and belongings left behind. Among the treats Valenti and Brocuglio left behind was shut-off of all utilities for non-payment, including $800 for electric fees. Because the electric system ultimately needed to be changed, it took three months and thousands of dollars to do so and also to clean up the property. 

Their whereabouts are not precisely known at this time, but Ms. Brocuglio’s grand larceny charge is set for an appearance in North Tonawanda City Court on February 7th.  There are also rumors swirling of new charges. 

Throughout all of this – right up to the present day – a very cohesive group of former strangers has formed, all with one thing in common – each one has been cheated or mistreated by Mr. Valenti, Ms. Brocuglio, or both. Through a bizarre set of Artvoice posts – all relating to a strange restaurant review in the Buffalo News – these people have developed a virtual support group to help each other find out where these two are, what they’re up to, whom they might be taking advantage of, and to generally vent about the wrongs done to them at the hands of Iron Chef Parsnips and his henchwoman. There have been bankruptcies, lawsuits, criminal actions, threats, harassment, child custody actions, evictions – federal, state, and interstate civil and criminal litigation has arisen as a result of two apparent sociopaths riding roughshod through the country, leaving behind a trail of debt, lies, broken lives, and broken property. The Valenti / Brocuglio fact pattern could very easily be an essay question on a bar exam. 

In the end, be nice to people. Treat them with respect, fairness, and kindness. If you don’t, you could be in for a world of hurt, and karma will indeed maintain its reputation for being a bitch. 

And Beyonce Lip-Synced, Too

There was, of course, Rand Paul’s chutzpah – complaining about the management of an underfunded State Department, the budget for which he would further halve. But Rand Paul is Ron’s kid, and he has no use for State or for foreign relations whatsoever. He’s the very embodiment of ignoramus fortress America, which disengages from the rest of the world and becomes some fantasyland glibertarian dystopia. 

But the best exchange was the one below, where Republican Senator Ron Johnson cross-examined Secretary of State Clinton on the big scandal Republicans concocted out of the Benghazi attack – the one where it was scandalous that the US Ambassador to the UN went on the tee vee to regurgitate talking points about Benghazi that had been drafted and approved by the CIA.  

Ron Johnson, by the way, is an Iran interventionist, a tea partier who thinks 50 million uninsured Americans, medical bankruptcies, lifetime limits on health claims, and policy rescission represent the “finest health care system in the world“, favors perpetual occupation of Afghanistan, supports discrimination in employment based on gender identity, and opposes same-sex marriage. He also thinks he can condescend to the female Secretary of State: 

 And now you know why right-wing radio talk-show hosts hang up on or pot down liberal callers. 

Wōdnesdæġ

The Off-Season

“The Off-Season” by Flickr user rssloan via the AV Daily Flickr Group

1. Max Dismissal

Supreme Court Justice Deborah Chimes dismissed Frank Max’s lawsuit challenging Jeremy Zellner’s election as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee. Judge Chimes ruled that Max had waited too long to challenge the June 1, 2012 redistricting that the board of elections undertook. Max’s side argued that the board acted after the 1st, but the court disagreed and determined that the lawsuit should have been filed by October 1st, but was 4 days late. 

Naturally, the dismissal of the case of Max v. Foregone Conclusion will be taken up on appeal. 

2. 2013: Brown vs. Rodriguez? 

Who is Sergio?” signs have been popping up all throughout town, and young Republican veteran Sergio Rodriguez is making the rounds, promising to be the first Republican to become Mayor of Buffalo since Chester Kowal in the mid-60s. Although he has no money, little name recognition, and little to no support among the county Republican committee, Rodriguez is right in suggesting that no incumbent should be unchallenged in a general election. The problem here is that Stefan Mychajliw, fresh off a poorly-managed mini-scandal concerning his chief of staff’s DWI conviction, is likely to face a tough re-election battle against a popular Democrat. His margin of victory could be so narrow that a Rodriguez challenge to Brown might bring out enough people in Buffalo to hurt Mychajliw’s chances. 

On the other hand, when your countywide election strategy includes consciously and actively suppressing the urban vote, then your ideas and candidates suck. Be good enough to win in Amherst and Hamburg and Buffalo. 

3. Social Media & Politics

Our podcast with Brad Riter at Trending Buffalo has changed over the last few weeks into a commentary on local social media usage, among other things. Yesterday’s edition covers social media and politics in western New York. 

http://www.trendingbuffalo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/TBOneThing01-22-13.mp3

4. Time Machine

Incredible photographs of the Russian Revolution – many of them hand-colored – have been found in a California basement. 

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