With Apologies to Al Jaffee

In recent months, I’ve taken to quietly deleting comments that I find to be ad hominem, off-topic, and belligerent. If you can’t be bothered to argue an opinion or position, then it’s gone. Repeat or exceptionally egregious offenders are sometimes blacklisted from the site altogether. In any event, it’s wholly within my – ahem – executive discretion what stays and what goes. 

Recent posts about Hobby Lobby (here and here) and the “12th Man” trademark (here) have generated some lively and unusually on-topic discussions, and I’ve only gone back and deleted one or two comments. 

But sometimes, a comment is so thought-provoking – or stupid – that it merits a post of its own. I used to do this quite frequently, but as blogging as a medium has been replaced with newer, terser platforms, it’s been rare lately.

But today, we’ll play “snappy answers to stupid questions”, with apologies to Mad Magazine’s Al Jaffee

Tony, aka “wnyresident” is the showrunner of the longstanding cult comedy hit, “SpeakupWNY”. It’s a ragtag collection of Obama haters and other low-information voters who parrot a distinctly right wing weltanschauung. Think Breitbart without the spelling and grammar, or Ann Coulter without the wit. 

Now, it’s not a secret that I’m a partisan Democrat, and a proud one at that. I’m a registered Democrat and town committeeman because I believe that the platform and values of the Democratic Party match my own, as compared with the other major political party – the Republican Party.  I finally made the switch from the GOP to the Democrats in order to help Wesley Clark run for President in 2003-2004, but I had felt that the party had abandoned voters like me in 2000. That year, I volunteered and phone banked for John McCain as he battled George W. Bush for the Republican nomination.

McCain energized me on two occasions – the first was at a Republican candidates’ debate somewhere in the midwest in late 1999. The candidates were asked to name their most influential political philosopher. George W. Bush replied first with an astonishingly unresponsive, “Jesus Christ, because he changed my heart,” whatever that means. Jesus might be a lot of things, but I don’t think he was a political philosopher. (Not that I would necessarily quibble with a candidate who was arguing that, say, Jesus was the most influential figure in his life in general – that would be a valid response. But political philosopher?)

Then one by one, every other candidate parroted – oh yeah, Jesus for me, too. Except for one. 

John McCain said, “Teddy Roosevelt” and explained how this earlier “maverick” had been a Republican who broke up the trusts and believed in conservation. It was a valid response to tendered question, and one that was well-reasoned and insightful. I was impressed, mostly because here was a Republican presidential candidate who was unafraid to not do the easy thing and just say, “Jesus”. 

It showed that McCain was willing to stick his neck out, but more importantly that he had taken the time and brainpower to actually listen to the question – a sign of intelligence and respect. 

The second time? I traveled up to Peterborough, New Hampshire and caught the tail end of a town hall speech he gave.  He was saying all the right things – all the things that a young, sane, Northeastern Republican wanted to hear. 

As we know, John McCain went on to verbally assail the right-wing theocrats Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell shortly before dropping out of the race.  It was a last gasp to attract the sane, secular, Bill Weld Republicans to his team. It failed, and McCain later went on to run a shambolic campaign in 2008 with an unvetted embarrassment of a running mate, whose moronic pronouncements poison our political discourse to this day. In the last 14 years, the GOP has become only more reactionary, theocratic, and unreasonable. 

So, as the Republicans continued to lurch right – especially after the country elected, and re-elected, Barack Obama – its values and platform has gone farther and farther away from my own personal and political values and beliefs. 

I default to Democrat, just like Tony from Speakup, WBEN listeners, and many of you default to Republican. There are exceptions, and I have backed Republicans whom I believe to be exceptional in some way, or somehow better than the Democratic alternative. 

In the case of my own New York State Senate District 61, I am represented by Mike Ranzenhofer.  Mike’s a nice guy, but I think he’s been wholly ineffective in his two decades in public service. So much so that I ran against him unsuccessfully in 2007. He’s now just another Republican footsoldier in the feckless state Senate, and it would be good for SD-61 and New York for his tenure in public office to end. You can’t name anything Ranzenhofer has ever stood for in 20 years, except maybe for his push to make Chobani yogurt the state snack

One big statewide issue is the implementation of the Common Core education standards, and the extent to which kids are overtested in New York schools. I don’t feel particularly strongly about the Common Core because I think that tougher standards are needed to get kids learning at a 21st century level.  I agree, however, that the tests have been poorly implemented and administered, and that teacher autonomy should be respected.  We can strike a good balance here if we retreat from our bunkers and listen to each other, as McCain did at that 1999 debate. 

Elaine Altman is running against Ranz, and she’s a teacher. The Common Core is one of her biggest platform planks because she is uniquely qualified to address it and come up with ways to make it better. Admittedly, the race hasn’t begun in earnest, and we still have about three months to find out more about Altman and her positions. Nevertheless, as a Democrat, I default to Altman over her Republican opponent. As someone who thinks that Ranz has been an ineffective seat-moistener as a legislator, I choose Altman. As a Democratic committeeman in SD-61, I choose Altman over the career politician who’s done little to earn his fat state pension. 

So, regard

That’s a fascinating insight, isn’t it? Sure, Altman would probably be a great teacher – is a great teacher – but she’s now taking her experience as a citizen and a teacher and looking to take that to an insular, corrupt Albany that has no clue how the world works outside of its own decrepit bubble.

For as much bleating as the right makes about “career politicians”, put a professional teacher up against a career politician, and they beat a partisan retreat. By Tony’s own logic, professional gun fetishist David DiPietro would “really make a better dry cleaner” than Assemblyman. 

But this one popped up just the other day – a solid two weeks after the original post went up. 

There are no “open borders”, and anyone who suggests that is being willfully ignorant. There aren’t any candidates who want “open borders”, either – at least, not from the mainstream parties. The United States has, in effect, an army of agents along the southern border and anyone who’s actually tried to cross it knows that the process makes crossing into Canada from WNY seem as easy as a drive into Pennsylvania. 

But even more critically, immigration, the border, customs, and international affairs are wholly within the province of the federal government. The states have little, if any, power or control over policymaking or enforcement of federal immigration statutes and regulations. 

To ask what a candidate for the New York State Senate thinks about “illegal immigration” is as pointless as asking Ms. Altman her position on Burmese ethnic strife or Taiwanese independence. It would be like asking a member of the Amherst Town Board their considered opinion on fishing rights in the Georges Bank

Now, as to my “view” on “illegal immigration”, I believe that the federal government should overhaul the entire immigration system to simplify the process for people wanting to live here, and to enable businesses here in the US that depend on migrant labor to hire the people they need under a modernized guest worker scheme.  

But the current headlines are due in large part to right wing propaganda and misinformation. 


I don’t know what Ms. Altman’s position is on “illegal immigration”, nor is it in any way relevant to the duties and responsibilities of a New York State Senator. 


  • My cousin was running for District Attorney in Warren County, PA, shortly after the Sandy Hook Shootings. His constituents were terribly concerned what his position on gun control was, as if it had so much to do with his position as DA in Warren County. Welcome to the Left Side, Alan. We’re glad to have you.

  • Other than this media outlet I have heard nothing of Ms Altmans candidacy. This is part of the problem when some one try’s to unseat a sitting, do nothing, incumbent that has resources. Hopefully the Dem. party is going to ACTUALLY back this candidate and not just throw her out there as the latest sacrificial lamb….on another note…that picture of David Gregory, the man who destroyed my favorite TV show (Tim Russert continues to roll in his grave) really did little to make my day……

    • Much as Russert is beloved here, Tim did his fair share to make MTP a shadow of what it once was.

      David Gregory just sped up the process to Warp 9.

      • Although I agree with your second sentence I doubt you spent much time watching Russert cause that just not true. I saw Tim slam it to both sides countless times…..

  • In WNYresident’s mind, only Democrats are “career politicians.” And only Democrats are responsible for his repeated – and when I say repeated I mean he inserts this into almost EVERY one of his political posts on SPEAKUP – that Democrats are why the region has been in decline. Even despite that clear rebirth of Buffalo, he ignores that, too. When confronted about long-time incumbents including Mike Ranzenhofer – Mike does not count.

    Sometimes I think he doesn’t even read responses to his posts, and comes back with his non-stop “willfully ignorant” responses of recycled crap, which I think he does in order to get the ads that come along every now and then when his readership goes up due to a controversial thread. You can also see, however, that he pines for the intellectual back-and-forth on this website, yet he is stuck with the likes of Frank Broughton, gorja, 4248, and the other SPEAKUP folks.

    HaHa – at least we have Nogods and a few others on there!!!

    • We have LONG LIFE republicans who are career politicians. I agree with Alan that Mike is making a career of it. We have many republicans who are no better than the group of democrats in office. We have many who put their own self interest first before our community’s best interest. Mike counts no less than any other public official.

      • I really wish I could agree with your reply. That attitude is not what I’ve seen for a long time on SPEAKUP WNY. And their obsession with ECDEMS.com, yet ECGOP.com is rarely mentioned.

        • I focus on those who are in control for the most part. What is the point about complaining about those not in control? At the end of the year I would like to see what the Erie County Legislature has accomplish now that we have quite a few republicans on board.

  • “So sir, to what do you attribute your long life?” “To the fact I haven’t died yet.” Al Jaffee was a genius.
    I’ve never even heard of SpeakupWNY, I guess it’s for the better.

  • I admit my surprise. I had come to believe that I was the only Wesley Clark supporter. Both uber-smart and successful it takes something special to give up your career simply because you believe (contrary to Bill Clinton) that when in a situation you must do what is right.
    I did vote for McCain. Despite his force to the right by his own party he is a stand-up guy. I began my admiration for the man when I read his book “Why Courage Matters”. It’s a good read, try it.

  • Good clip of the village idiot David Gregory doing the right’s bidding.

    • The rights bidding??? It’s hard to confuse David Gregory as a tool of the right (or just about anyone at NBC for that matter). But when he asks a tough question based on actions and comments by the administration and the left democrats in general (okay just the democrats, saying the left democrats is a little redundant) I find it good journalism.

      I appreciated Tim Russert, not just because he was a local done well, but because he asked tough questions to all. It was his interview with gore that actually made me see how shallow he was in 2000. (Not that he has added a lot of depth since then) it convinced me it was alright to vote for Nader even though I knew he had no chance.

      Voted Bush in 2004 because I detested Kerry and was 100% right about John Edwards. Kerry’s bad judgement on Edwards was slightly less stupid than Bush on Cheney. Bush represented the smarter of two stupid idiots to me. This said to keep in the Al Jafee Mad magazine stupidity theme of this whole stupid blog.

      • Fuck you. Piss off if it’s all so “stupid”.

        • Alan, I thought we were staying on topic? That comment was truly meant to be on Mad magazine style. They skew everything left, right and have raised the concept of stupid to a pleasurable art form that can be enjoyed by all.

          In retort you could have come back in an Al Jaffe style of a clever snappy answer to a stupid comment instead of a stock thoughtless “Fuck you” I do know you are better than that.

          But I would be happy to piss off on a stupid photo of Barack Obama. As for fucking you, no thank you

      • David Gregory asks hard questions? Can you let me know when that will happen cause I’ve been waiting for 6 years……

      • Comparing Cheney to Edwards is like comparing a watermelon to a pea…..

  • Actually, Mr. Bedenko: the low-info voters are the Obama partisans.

  • Mr. Bedenko: If you have a blog that anyone can access, then any and all comments come on.

    • And are subject to blocking or deletion. My blog, my rules.

      • Lloyd: If you don’t like that, nothing’s stopping you from starting up your own blog and setting up your own rules. I mean, you’re a good conservative…you believe in the free market and all that, don’t you?

  • Interesting how we start out criticism of people asking irrelevant questions to irrelevant politicians then finish with a criticism of a left wing journo asking a relevant question to an admin official who wants to lie about the situation.

    I am really looking forward to the blog post on the current border situation. Hope it includes photos of Obama playing pool and being offered a joint while he refuses to personally check out the border having his Katrina moment

    • The so called Katrina moment ended when Obamas plane landed. As hard as you righties might try with your FAUX-isms your guy the shrub will never be replaced as the single largest American tragedy……

  • Tony, aka “wnyresident” is the showrunner of the longstanding cult
    comedy hit, “SpeakupWNY”. It’s a ragtag collection of Obama haters and
    other low-information voters who parrot a distinctly right wing weltanschauung. Think Breitbart without the spelling and grammar, or Ann Coulter without the wit.

    Hello Alan.

    I’m looking for more information on a candidate you are promoting your site.

    Other than campaign slogans how much less information can one have?


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