With Apologies to the Simpsons

trumpchoppper

Inspired by this

and this.

Trumpadino: Reactionary Juvenile Entitlement

trumpbaby

The Buffalo News’ editorial board and Carl Paladino talk about “reform” in Buffalo city schools. It’s important to understand how they define that term, which I’ve put in scarequotes. Their brand of “reform” isn’t about solving the generations-old socio-economic catastrophe among the poorest and least powerful in Buffalo’s inner city. It’s about crushing the teachers’ union and privatization of public education in Buffalo.

Expansion of charter schools (not to mention the introduction of vouchers) would represent an historic divestment from public education in favor of private and quasi-private, selective schools which would result in a new form of segregation. Not necessarily based on race, it would, however, segregate the kids who value (or whose parents value) education from those who don’t. It would also be a handy way to warehouse all the kids with special needs into some sort of rump public institution. The Buffalo school board has been dysfunctional for years, and the district itself is in shambles. It’s not about money, it’s about poverty, race, and class.

Park District voters unsurprisingly elected Carl Paladino to the Buffalo Board of Education in May 2013. Paladino’s candidacy and “reform” platform were all but explicitly endorsed by the pro-privatization Buffalo News editorial board.

The News praised Paladino for raising the profile of the 2013 school board election. Its editorial board didn’t endorse Paladino nor his opponent.

His quote in The News on his reasons for considering a run, “I think it’s time for change …,” is on the mark. But his followup, “I’m going to destroy them,” referring to the board members, “All nine of them,” is, well, 100 percent Paladino.

Having said that, Paladino doesn’t owe anybody anything, and that kind of independence is needed on the School Board.

On election day, the News exhorted its readers to vote, and to “bring a friend”.

Carl is the Buffalo elite’s Frankenstein monster. They unleashed him on the school district. Now, let them gaze upon their creation.

Paladino led the fight to fire former Superintendent Pamela Brown, who was replaced by interim Superintendent Don Ogilvie. Although Paladino practically hand-picked Ogilvie to replace Brown, when Ogilvie wouldn’t blindly do Carl’s bidding, Paladino led a fight to remove him, too. Paladino insisted on the retention of someone local to be Superintendent. Someone who could hit the ground running. Someone who, also, would know Paladino’s reputation and perhaps be more prone to follow orders. Even the Buffalo News’ editors thought that was stupid. Administrators, after all, have been leaving in droves.

It’s not unfair to recall that Pamela Brown was given about a year to try and turn around the massive school bureaucracy. Whether you liked her or not, she was never given a chance.

The Buffalo News’ editorial board has grown somewhat impatient with its creation, as set forth in yet another gently critical op/ed piece written in direct response to this email that Paladino sent around:

It doesn’t need to be pointed out that Paladino’s thoughts and language here are unbecoming an elected schools official. Paladino whines and complains about anyone who disagrees with him on anything – substantive or procedural. His hand-picked board President, James Sampson, is now “treacherous” and a “liberal equivocator”, whom Paladino accuses of being too stupid to tie his own shoes. Paladino’s colleagues on the board are, “incompetent idiots”. Schools Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who has worked in education as a teacher and an administrator longer than Paladino has been an attorney is a “rookie”. Cash was “rammed up [the school board’s] asses” and if Cash doesn’t follow Paladino’s commands and instead “mess[es] with” him, Cash will be “fitted for his career ending casket.”

The time for someone to publicly stand up and simply say, “fuck you” to Carl Paladino is nigh.

Just like the Buffalo News wouldn’t explicitly support Paladino for school board, Paladino never gave anyone a straight answer about whether he would support or oppose the appointment of new schools Superintendent Kriner Cash. One day, he’s praising Cash, the next he’s shopping for Cash’s casket (an appallingly disgusting and objectively offensive threat of violence).

But, on the day that the school board voted to appoint Cash as Superintendent, Paladino was absent; he was “out of the country”. WBFO reported that he was vacationing in Paris. Paris, France.

Put another way, while the Buffalo Board of Education was voting to hire the new Superintendent of its struggling school district – arguably the most important vote of Paladino’s tenure so far – its most vocal and combative member was recreating in gay Paree. Through his absence, Paladino was able to avoid actually taking a position one way or another on the appointment. Talk about a coward’s way out.

(And don’t complain that the trip may have been planned for a long time. So what? This is your job. People ` to do this. You’re a public official and you abdicated your duties when it really counted).

Now? You can’t come back and say Carl voted for Cash if it all ends up being a disaster! By the same token, if Cash is the unlikely savior of the Buffalo public schools, Carl will rush to embrace him, and everyone should remind him that when it really mattered, he was strolling along the Champs-Elysees, browsing the St-Germain, or enjoying the breezy shade of the Tuileries.

The Buffalo News’ editorial board chided Paladino for the content and tone of the email reproduced above. But what did they expect? This juvenile inability to lead, opting instead for a loud string of temper tantrums, has been Paladino’s hallmark for at least the last five years. He believes himself entitled to not only direct the pace, scale, and implementation of “reform” throughout the school district, but to do it without opposition or criticism. When someone stands in his way – even minimally so – Paladino overreacts with insults and threats that would get a schoolkid suspended. The entitlement is palpable. The behavior is inexcusable.

Carl Paladino has time and again proven himself unfit for public service. He is a constant embarrassment to our region. His brand of reactionary toddler-fascism is counterproductive.

But Donald Trump is Carl Paladino writ large. Trump and Paladino are two peas from the same pod. Both New York developers have egos and mouths bigger than the known universe, and the meme now is that they are attractive to a populace that is sick of, among other things, “political correctness”.

At an Iowa press conference, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos asked Trump a question before Trump had called on him. Trump eventually had his security goon forcibly remove Ramos from the room, while the candidate commanded Ramos to “go back to Univision”.  (Trump is suing Univision for pulling out of its deal to broadcast Trump’s “Miss Universe” pageant after Trump basically told all Latinos – and mostly Mexicans – that they’re rapists and criminals who should go back to where they came from).

On WBEN Wednesday morning, a media commentator noted that Ramos was “rude”.  I’ve seen others call what Ramos did, “advocacy journalism”.  OK. Let’s assume that Ramos was (a) rude; and (b) engaging in an act not so much of journalism as political activism. So what? That gives Trump the right to escort Ramos out of the venue?

When the Daily Caller’s Neil Munro interrupted President Obama in the middle of his remarks in the Rose Garden, Obama shut him down,  but didn’t have the secret service remove him by force.

When some forgotten backbencher from South Carolina yelled “you lie” at President Obama in the middle of a September 2009 address to a joint session of Congress, he was not escorted physically from the House chamber.

It bears mentioning that Munro and our South Carolinian backbencher both interrupted President Obama in the middle of remarks about immigration. This is not a coincidence. This is a targeted effort from the right to not only continue to paint Obama as somehow “foreign” and un-American, but also to accuse him of encouraging illegal immigration (the conspiracy goes that all of these undocumented immigrants will somehow magically manage to register to vote, despite not having proper identification, and they will all vote Democrat).

Let’s look at FactCheck.org: Trump says “birthright citizenship” is a huge draw for undocumented immigrants. It isn’t; economic opportunity is. Trump wildly overstates the cost to provide welfare services to undocumented immigrants, as well as the supposed number of crimes they’ve committed. Most visa overstays aren’t coming from Mexico. All of it is based on fear and lies; Die Meksikaner sind unser Unglück.

Trump also renewed his misogynist attacks on Fox host Megyn Kelly, which seems to be a fake, phony, fraud manufactured to bump Fox’s ratings and lead to an inevitable appearance by Trump on Kelly’s show. It’s also unintentionally hilarious because these sorts of assaults on strong, opinionated women comes right out of the right-wing resentment industry’s playbook.

If people like Trump and Paladino are the Republican id brought to life – anti-Obama, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, anti-regulation, anti-tax, anti-welfare, pro-gun, and anti-“political correctness” – what happened to those alleged conservative principles. These aren’t your grandfather’s Republicans – they’re not Eisenhower people, they’re contemporary Birchers.

“…a reactionary movement, a defense of power and privilege against democratic challenges from below, particularly in the private spheres of the family and the workplace.”

It’s really about who’s boss, and making sure that the man in charge stays boss. Trump is admired for putting women and workers in their place, and it doesn’t matter if he covets his neighbor’s wife or demands trade wars.

 

Insulting the intelligence of your political opponents is akin to forfeiting the argument altogether: you lose. Ordering goons to forcibly remove reporters you don’t like and who aren’t threatening you is fascist cowardice. Trump’s phony war on Megyn Kelly, if it was legitimate, would be the most colossal example of being a sore loser in recent political memory. Like Elsa, let it go.

The politics of tantrum is the culmination of tea party politics – it’s not a traditional ideology, but one based on the emotion of resentment. Their hearts bleed, but only for people who feel put upon by “political correctness” – that radical leftist idea that people should be respectful to one another, and treat others with kindness and dignity.

They have, as it turns out, become a reactionary, emotion-based caricature of what it once meant to be conservative. What was once a mighty intellectual movement led by guys like Goldwater and Buckley is now an angry joke, cloaked in the language of white nationalism led by guys like Trump and Paladino.

People are shouting, “white power” at Trump rallies, and Trump’s campaign reacts by saying they, “want to be proud of being Americans”.

Trump reacts to any criticism by pointing out how well he’s doing in the polls. Bernie Sanders’ rallies boast bigger crowds, and he doesn’t have to stoke the fires of hatred to do it.

You watch this and tell me how this isn’t the equivalent of Mussolini’s blackshirts.

Birthright Citizenship: Start Packing

Two imbeciles from South Boston this past week pissed on a homeless man, and then beat the shit out of him. Get a load of what happened,

The homeless man was lying on the ground, shaking, when police arrived early Wednesday. His face was soaked, apparently with urine, his nose broken, his chest and arms battered.

Police said two brothers from South Boston ambushed the 58-year-old as he slept outside of a Dorchester MBTA stop, and targeted him because he is Hispanic. One of the brothers said he was inspired in part by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Forget, for a moment, the fact that “Hispanic” could mean the guy is Puerto Rican – an American citizen at birth from one of our colonial territories. Either way – regardless of his nationality – the victim is documented.  Here’s how Trump responded to this vicious assault done in his name,

When Trump was asked about the Aug. 19 assault in Boston, the billionaire New Yorker reportedly said, “It would be a shame … I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

Get that? Trump spends weeks demonizing Hispanic immigrants, two numbskulls beat the shit out of one and invoke Trump’s name, and Trump calls them “passionate” people who “love this country…want this country to be great again.”

Calling that depraved isn’t nearly strong enough. This is incitement. Irresponsible. Un-American. Donald Trump is setting the US up for an anti-Hispanic pogrom. He tried to amend his reaction on Twitter:

Over the past couple of decades at least, Republicans have managed to pull off something of a public relations feat. They purport to love America – love our Constitution, think ours is the best country in the world. Except they don’t. That’s why Donald Trump, whose campaign slogan is synonymous with “America is horrible” is surging.

This has long been a right-wing trope hurled at liberals; that we hate America because we might seek certain changes to our society, politics, law, and economy. It’s just as ridiculous, incidentally, to accuse right-wingers of hating America because they might also seek changes that happen to differ. But Trump has taken the “America sucks” label and made it a campaign slogan.

As Matt Taibbi writes, it’s not funny anymore.

There’s a difference between saying America is great but has room for improvement, and Trump’s slogan-equivalent of “America isn’t great anymore”. Alas, his slogan hits a particular nerve with the people who feel threatened and afraid, and some are responding positively to him. Whether it’s Obamacare, same-sex marriage, or anything in-between, some people are nostalgic for an America that probably never existed.

But Trump’s initial explicit approval of racial violence isn’t funny. Inciting a pogrom isn’t funny. Trump is unlikely ever to be President, but with each passing day, he further disqualifies himself.

Substantively, Trump is calling for the end of birthright citizenship; the Latin phrase is “jus soli”, or “right of the soil”. Trump reveals himself as a typical right-wing cafeteria Constitutionalist, picking and choosing the parts he thinks are important and worth protecting.

Birthright citizenship is enshrined in the Constitution. So far not just Trump, but even Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Scott Walker would abolish or amend it. Specifically, this “Party of Lincoln” wants to get rid of the 14th Amendment – one of the most important legacies of Reconstruction.

The 14th Amendment was ratified just after the end of the Civil War, and granted citizenship to, “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” including, most importantly, former slaves. The 14th Amendment also prohibits the states from denying, “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It was a huge expansion of civil rights to all Americans.

Republican front-runners want it gone.

Pursuant to the 14th Amendment, any baby born on American soil is automatically an American citizen. It has been this way since at least pre-Revolutionary times and was first found in English Common Law. Jus soli applied prior to the 14th Amendment, but only to non-slaves. Jus soli is typical throughout the former colonies of the entire Western Hemisphere.

The alternative is “jus sanguinis”, which is citizenship based on nationality and blood. “American” isn’t a “nationality” in the historic sense. Americans are not bound by ethnicity or religion. Instead, our nationality comes from our citizenship and/or allegiance. Said another way, “French” is a nationality and also an ethnicity. A baby born in the US to two people of French ethnicity is entitled to American and French citizenship from birth. The same goes for most every European and Asian nation-state.

America started as jumble of European colonies, and we’ve continued to bring in immigrants of myriad ethnicities to make up our newfangled type of nation. The citizens of countries of Europe and Asia, by contrast, are bound not just by the contents of their passports, but also through ethnicity or language or religion. (There are, obviously, exceptions. Countries that had been colonized are not homogeneous – think Iraq, Afghanistan, or Burma. In Europe, there are a small number of multi-ethnic states such as Switzerland and Belgium).

As it stands, I’m entitled to Croatian citizenship through jus sanguinis. Under jus soli, I was an American citizen at birth, despite the fact that my parents were recent immigrants with Yugoslav passports.

So, in the event that one of these revisionist conservatives – including Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal, both of whom directly benefited from jus soli (Cruz in Canada) – becomes President, I’ve begun the process of dealing with the possible retroactive rescission of my American citizenship. Ted Cruz had better start looking for Canadian real estate, and Bobby Jindal’s opportunities back home in Punjab are likely better than they were in 1971, when he was born in Louisiana to recent immigrants.

Donald Trump – German by nationality with a fake, phony Americanized name – took to Fox News to rail against what he called “anchor babies”, which is a handy way of literally blaming infants for a crime.

Trump plans to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, and he plans to implement this insane scheme by tripling the number of ICE agents, presumably because he’s going to need a lot of enforcers to round up all the families he needs to deport.

And last but pretty damned far from least, Trump says he’s basically going to either repeal or ignore the 14th amendment to the US Constitution, because he’s planning to end birthright citizenship. His plan doesn’t spell out exactly how he’d accomplish this, probably because he knows it’s never going to happen in the real world.

In fact, none of this is ever going to happen in the real world, and if Trump becomes president and actually tries to make it happen, it would involve turning the United States into a full-blown police state.

But I guess that prospect is attractive to conservatives.

So far the only thing missing is Huckabee telling everyone how jus sanguinis is part of Jesus’ plan for America.

Some on the ultra-right who think Trump has a great idea have convinced themselves that abolition of jus soli in America wouldn’t require a Constitutional Amendment.  Breitbartistan is all over this line of thinking. They point to the italicized text of this 14th Amendment clause, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” So, for instance, because a diplomat in the United States enjoys certain immunities pursuant to custom and treaty, he is not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, and any child born of a diplomat in the US is not entitled to jus soli. This is codified, in fact to apply not only to diplomats, but to heads of state and foreign POWs.

They extrapolate from this, (and use some earlier 19th century case law to do it), that this also applies to any foreign national whatsoever. If you are, “subject to any foreign power”; i.e., immigrant – legal or otherwise, dual citizen, your offspring is not entitled to jus soli. They also argue that foreigners are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the US, although that is patently false in both law and common sense. If a tourist can be arrested under American law for committing a crime, he’s “subject to the jurisdiction” of the US. If an immigrant must obtain a driver’s license to drive a car that he’s registered with a state DMV, he is “subject to the jurisdiction” of the US.

In 1898 the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed, in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, that everyone born in the United States is an American citizen.

By the way, Ted Cruz thinks you’re stupid. Here’s what he said about birthright citizenship in 2011 – just four years ago.

“The 14th Amendment provides for birthright citizenship. I’ve looked at the legal arguments against it, and I will tell you as a Supreme Court litigator, those arguments are not very good,” he said. “As much as someone may dislike the policy of birthright citizenship, it’s in the U.S. Constitution. And I don’t like it when federal judges set aside the Constitution because their policy preferences are different.”

So, you, too, may have to prepare for the day when the Republicans abolish the 14th Amendment and attempt perhaps retroactively to rescind millions of Americans’ citizenship. With that amendment out of the way, it could arguably done without due process of law. The possibilities are endless in terms of making the US just a little less ethnic. This may soon be the real prepper movement – 1st and 2nd generation Americans born to non-citizens making arrangements for deportation.

Over the last few decades, the Republican Party has become not so much a big tent of conservative economic theories and values, but a para-fascist, predominately Southern strain of white identity politics. It might be time for thinking conservatives to find a new home and leave the GOP to history’s dustbin, or perhaps to purge the more reactionary element from its mainstream. Not my problem, though – it merely reinforces my decision to abandon it over a decade ago. If I was a reasonable Republican, I’d be looking at this Trump surge and I’d be not at all happy by what it represents. If I happened to be a 1st generation American and a Republican, I’d be running for the damn hills.

Hey, maybe Canada will take us in?

Throwing Shade at the Homeless & Destitute

kemeling

I first saw Carrie Kemeling’s story where you’d sort of expect to find that story – on Facebook, with a link to Channel 7’s story. I thought it was sort of a cute idea, that someone would stand on the street corner handing out resumes seeking a job. But whoa:

“All of America drives by the homeless and says, ‘Why don’t you get a job?’ Their sign is getting read,” explained Kemeling.

According to her resume, she’s looking for a job in sales management and has experience as a sales representative, teller, consultant, design consultant and general store manager. She has a high school diploma.

What!? After reading what Kemeling told the Buffalo News, the idea doesn’t seem so cute anymore.

“If people can give money to somebody who is homeless and not looking for work, they can also help someone who is trying to help themselves,” she said. “I believe this is going to be a success story. People want to see self-motivation. And I’m not giving up on myself and never will.”

Homeless people have it tough enough that they don’t need millenial yuppies throwing shade at them. The poorest of the poor are in desperate need, but not for insults.

Only about 15% of homeless people are chronically so – the rest are temporarily without housing due to some misfortune. 9% of homeless people are veterans. Almost half of all homeless people are actually homeless families. What they need is shelter and food. You could give a homeless person a job today, but that won’t guarantee that they can afford instantly afford habitable housing.

Ms. Kemeling insinuated that, unlike her, homeless people are not “trying to help themselves”, or aren’t “self-motivat[ed]”. I disagree. I’m sure that if Ms. Kemeling had no food or shelter or money, she’d be trying – self-motivated – to help herself whatever way she can. If that means standing by an exit all day begging for spare change, that’s an effort, too.

So, she stands there – in the midst of a pretty poor neighborhood – handing out resumes out of self-motivation and helping herself.

“I’ve gotten lots and lots of positive support,” she said. “I’ve had few people stop and walk over to me to get a résumé. And some people have given me the thumbs up, so I’m feeling the Buffalo love.”

That’s nice. You’d figure she really needed a job, right?

On Friday, before she quit her job, she was at the site, and 20 people took her résumé. On Monday, she handed out 50 more and had a job interview at a temp agency by the afternoon.

Kemeling said she was offered a position but didn’t accept it because the compensation “wasn’t what she wanted.”

So, she’s self-motivated, but, unlike a destitute homeless person, she’s also picky! She had a job, which she quit last Friday.

Kemeling had worked as a sales representative at Brian Michael’s Jewelers in the Town of Tonawanda for almost three years until quitting Saturday.

“Even though I had a job, I’m still looking for better and I know I’m better,” she said. “I’m looking to find a company who is willing to invest in me and I’m investing in them as well. I’m really extremely trainable.”

“I know I’m better” is the special snowflake disease.

She said she’d been “looking to advance myself for the past year. I sent résumés but didn’t get a response. So now I have the time to stand here and actually put myself out there. If I’m going to give my résumé to someone, I want to give it to someone who wants it.”

She said her strengths are in retail sales, marketing and creativity, pointing to her unorthodox job search as an example.

I’ve worked retail before. I don’t remember using a resume to get that sort of job. I remember hustling from place to place and filling out innumerable applications before landing a retail position.

Kemeling has a high school diploma, and before coming to Buffalo, worked as a teller at a credit union in South Carolina.

I think I might know why her resumes for marketing jobs aren’t getting a lot of traction. She told WKBW that she couldn’t afford a degree. She’s a NYS resident. Get thee to Buff State, ECC, UB – you can afford it.

She said she left the jewelers last week because she was overlooked for a promotion.

But, the jeweler says that’s not true.

Brian Levine, owner of the business, said Kemeling wasn’t up for a promotion. An opening for an assistant manager was filled, but Kemeling didn’t have any management experience. He and his staff remain baffled by her abrupt departure from the company, Levine said.

So, she has a HS diploma, worked retail at a jeweler’s, quit abruptly with no notice, tells the papers she was overlooked for a promotion but has no management experience. Her prior experience is as a bank teller.

She doesn’t need a job. She had a job. She wants a career in management or marketing? Then she needs a college degree, or a modicum of self-awareness. She rejected the temp agency because beggars can be choosers.

After four hours on the island, Kemeling had more than a dozen employers offering positions, including the temp agency, a shredding company and an online startup. But Kemeling plans to return to the Thruway exit on Tuesday.

“I want to keep my options open,” she said. “I want to give other candidates a chance. There might be others out there who are interested in hiring me.”

Not good enough, guys! I’m better than you!

Furthermore, Kemeling said she’s looking “for a career, not a job.” Her ideal position?

“Working for Donald Trump as his secretary,” she laughed. “Who knows? Anything is possible.”

HAHAHAHA.

But seriously, go to college. State schools are affordable. Get a bachelor’s and learn about marketing and statistics and all of the other stuff that everyone else with that career has to slog through. Want a career? It’s not just magically going to drop in your lap because you have a diploma and experience doing retail and being a bank teller. Hell, go work for a bank and maybe move up the ranks there and make a career by being a good worker and eager learner. You’re not entitled to your dream job because you think you deserve it, or because you pull a stunt at a highway exit.

Many veterans are homeless due to physical disability. Many others are homeless due to untreated mental illness. Many young people are homeless due to family conflict. I’d sooner employ or buy a meal for one of them than hire someone with scant experience, a HS diploma, and a wildly inflated sense of self-worth who denigrates homeless beggars.

Waiting for someone to drive by and hand you a dream job isn’t hustle; it’s the opposite.

(UPDATE: Channel 4 has posted her resume. It speaks for itself.). 

Paul Cambria on Pat Kane: Don’t Prejudge

paul_cambria_-_Google_Search

The point of Monday’s piece wasn’t to say that hockey superstar Pat Kane shouldn’t hire an off-duty cop to be his designated driver if he wants; a designated driver is a good thing. Instead, the point was to recommend that people close to the alleged victim, and those aligned with Pat Kane, should all stop talking to the media.

At this time, the jury pool poisoning is continuing apace – of course, no one has yet been charged with a crime, but it’s safe to say that the authorities are investigating whether one happened, and whom they might charge. So, what we see happening as the coverage lurches from Mark Croce’s victim-shaming to anonymous supporters of the alleged victim defending her, to Lieutenant Thomas English, the aforementioned designated driver turning to the News to rebut the alleged victim’s friends’ assertions.

The whole case has devolved into a public relations battle. In this case, Kane has deeper pockets, star power, and more to lose, so it stands to reason that his PR effort would be well-funded and professional, while the alleged victim’s side has been silent, and some friends talked to the News without attribution.

As you might know from Deadspin, WBEN/WGRChicagoist, CBS Chicago, and Time Warner Cable News, Kane’s attorney, Paul Cambria, commented on my personal Facebook page, alleging that I was being irresponsible, and pointing out the witness credibility issue that he believes inures to his client’s benefit.

Cambria was specifically complaining about my insinuation that Kane was “trashed”. Specifically, in Monday’s story, I wrote, “So a police officer who stands by to drive Kane home when he’s too trashed to drive wants you to know that the alleged victim really wanted to go home with Kane, if you know what he means. Is this real life?” The point wasn’t whether or not Kane was “trashed”, although certainly people tend not to leave nightclubs at 3am sober.

The point was to expound on English’s motive to embellish or lie to protect his friend, who also happens to pay him. English wasn’t testifying at a trial; he had the benefit of Buffalo News reporters who took notes and simply printed what he told them. At trial, he’d have been under oath and the truth of his statements would be tested through a withering cross-examination. At trial, he’d have a duty to testify truthfully – no such duty exists when talking to the News.

That’s why the driver shouldn’t have opened his yap. The News prints his words without cross-examination or proper context, and another Kane defender gets to chalk up another point for the subject of a police rape investigation.

Trying this as-yet-non-existent case in the media is stupid and counterproductive. It cheapens the import of what happened here, and the very real accusation of violent crime.

That was, I thought, a fair point.

I don’t think Croce spoke in order to gain some advantage, except to protect a wealthy, popular customer; he also spoke to avoid liability and, ironically, to protect his reputation and that of his bar.

Cambria didn’t have much else to say, except cryptically to recommend that people keep an “open mind”, that he’s “keeping it even”, and that people shouldn’t “prejudge”. It was a lively discussion. If you want to see the rest, here it is as it appeared Tuesday morning with all comments uncollapsed.

Here’s to hoping no one else who thinks they know something and is desperate to get their name in the paper decides to talk to the press about things they saw on the night that Patrick Kane allegedly raped a woman. Everything anyone’s said – on or off the record – has been wholly irrelevant to the underlying key issue of consent.

Patrick Kane’s Paid Designated Driver Opens Yap

In the Buffalo News, friends of the alleged victim would like you to know that she’s a responsible and trustworthy sort and that she deserves people’s respect and consideration. It seemed a “too little, too late” response to the appalling victim-shaming Kane’s alleged victim received thanks to Mark Croce. (Here, once again, is the Pat Kane FAQ).

We also recently learned some details from the off-duty cop who gave Pat Kane, his male friend, the alleged victim, and her female friend, a ride from Buffalo down to Kane’s house. The cop’s information appears to contradict the alleged victim’s friends’ assertion that she didn’t want to go to Kane’s house, but went to accompany her friend. All of this cross-talk isn’t helping anyone but Kane. Everyone – and I mean everyone – should take a cue from all the lawyers involved in the case and stop talking to the press. This is especially true for the people who have ancillary “information” that bears no reasonable connection to the alleged rape itself. It doesn’t matter who consented to ride to Lakeshore with whom, or for what reason – the News has not spoken with anyone who was in the room with Kane and the woman who was allegedly raped, and that matters because what happened before – at the bar or in the car – isn’t relevant.

The same goes for the alleged victim’s friends who were trying to help. None of them are witnesses as to what happened, yet they’re talking to the media about the alleged victim’s character. I’m sure they thought it might help, but now we have people who are connected to Kane going to the press to contradict that fact. Consider that Buffalo Police Lieutenant Thomas English,

…said he supports Kane, a longtime family friend who has employed him for the past five years.

So a police officer who stands by to drive Kane home when he’s too trashed to drive wants you to know that the alleged victim really wanted to go home with Kane, if you know what he means. Is this real life?

Incidentally, Kane’s buddy whom English also drove that night is Tom Cowan, a co-owner of Rocco Termini’s ridiculously named Dog-E-Style, Doc Sullivan’s, City Tavern, and the space formerly known as Nektar on Elmwood.

“It was a mutual agreement to go hang out at the house,” English said.

So, Kane’s employee says there was consent to hang out. That doesn’t mean that there was consent to have sex.

English, in discussing the Kane matter, was not speaking as a representative of the Police Department. Officers are prohibited from speaking to reporters in official capacity.

Croce said he spoke last week with a District Attorney’s Office investigator and told his general manager to fully cooperate with the authorities in providing a list of bartenders and their contact information.

So, here’s a question – what’s on Kane’s bar tab from that night? Croce went out of his way to tell the News that Kane only had a couple of drinks and a couple of shots in an effort to establish that he wasn’t visibly drunk. Go get that information. After all, that bar tab is impartial and has no motive to support or attack anyone.

If you want to read something responsible about the Kane case in the Buffalo News – something that isn’t based on irrelevant observations, hearsay, irrelevant extraneous information, and information about the alleged victim’s character – in other words, if you want to read something that doesn’t pre-emptively poison the jury pool and attempt to try the case in the really unreliable court of public opinion, then read this “Another Voice” by Jessica Pirro from Crisis Services, and this commentary by Amy Moritz on rape culture.

The accused athletes are not unfailing heroes. They’re not your “brah” even if he did once buy you a shot. Nor do all athletes abuse their protected cocoon of athletic privilege.

So let’s step away from our corners and our fierce loyalties and take a beat.

Let’s move beyond playing the ill-informed “he-said-she-said” game and really examine the ways in which our sports culture perpetuates rape culture.

Everyone who thinks they observed something needs to shut up, and the good-hearted people who are trying to bolster the alleged victim’s character aren’t necessarily helping, either. “No comment” works, and talk only to the cops – not to the press.

Ban Ki-Moon Could Have Been A Buffalonian

navyisland

Late last week, United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon came to Buffalo to speak to our various elites, and to do a little sightseeing.

Few people know that the UN’s headquarters was almost built on tiny Navy Island, nestled between Grand Island and the Ontario shore.

If you want to second-guess bad decisions from long ago, you can start with the plan from the 1940s that, had it been implemented, would have guaranteed that our region comprised of Southern Ontario and Western New York would have been an economic powerhouse.

Navy Island is an uninhabited green blip on the map. After World War II, as the United Nations was being formulated and ideas for its headquarters were being considered, Navy Island was a top contender.  Because of its location between – and easy access from – two friendly nations, Navy Island would have been a better symbolic choice for the UN than the East Side of Manhattan, and a less expensive, less congested one, as well.  Turning a small island over to a peacekeeping organization with deep pockets, turning it into an international zone employing and attracting tens of thousands of diplomatic, secretarial, and administrative staff to southern Ontario and western New York would have had a billion-dollar impact today.

The ancillary economic impact from all those well-remunerated people engaging in the local economy is unfathomable today, and would have attracted businesses, schools, investors, people, and money.

Instead, the UN is on the East River, on land bought with a donation from the Rockefellers.  Had the UN been located in WNY, I wonder how much different this region would be, how it would look, how it would have evolved.

 

The Patrick Kane Case FAQ

On Sunday morning I wrote a piece that was critical of the Buffalo News‘s transcription of SkyBar owner Mark Croce. Not being a sports guy, I’ve been surprised by how much that post blew up, especially on Twitter. A solid majority of people were in agreement that Croce’s comments to the News were little more than the first salvo in what is likely to be a long and drawn-out effort by people aligned with Kane to blame the victim. A small minority of people were indignant, insisting that neither the News nor Croce did anything wrong, and an even smaller minority simply spewed ad hominem attacks.

Earlier this week, I followed up on Sunday’s piece by publishing this story, responding to the irony of Maki Becker’s piece in the News about victim-shaming in rape cases, and a second article questioning why it was that the Buffalo News‘s sports columnists—with the exception of Tim Graham—were utterly silent on such a big story.

Since then, Bucky Gleason wrote what I consider to be a weak opinion piece about not jumping to conclusions, and the News has a follow-up story that appears to try to fix some of the truly egregious damage that Mark Croce did to the alleged victim in the pages of the paper on Sunday. Tim Graham’s byline has been added to the story.

Brad Riter and I discussed all of this at some length at Trending Buffalo.

All that prompts me to this: the Pat Kane FAQ.

1. Pat Kane: innocent until proven guilty / presumption of innocence

Yes. In court—by a judge and jury—Kane is entitled to a presumption of innocence.  The prosecution—in this case the Erie County District Attorney’s office—bears the legal burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. In real life, however, the presumption doesn’t preclude the average person on the street from thinking whatever you want.

But if you insist on “innocent until proven guilty” as it relates to the superstar athlete, then it logically follows that the alleged victim’s story should be treated as true until proven false.

2. No Charges Have Been Filed: What Does That Mean? 

It means the police and prosecutors have not yet concluded their investigation, and they aren’t yet prepared to bring charges against Kane, present the case to a grand jury, arrest him, or undertake any other action towards prosecuting him. These things take time—there are tests to conclude, witnesses to interview. Because of its high profile, and because the victim and the accused both have lawyers representing them, everything will be done with exquisite care.

3. The only evidence is scratches and bite marks, right? 

Right; and, frankly, you shouldn’t even know that. Whoever told that to the Buffalo News was likely speaking out of turn and had no authority—legal or otherwise—to pass it along. Among other concerns, HIPAA prevents confidential medical information from being released, so quite frankly you and I don’t know what evidence exists, nor will you until such time as the matter is tried to a jury. Stop asking.

4. Did Croce Do Anything Wrong? 

I think so, and so do many other people, including:

Croce was under no obligation to speak with the media in general, or the Buffalo News in particular. Insofar as neither Croce nor the reporters could verify that the woman described in Croce’s statement has anything to do with this case, the information was completely irrelevant. The only thing his comments did was begin the spiral of victim-blaming and slut-shaming that contributes to bro/rape culture in this country, and that issue is especially acute when you’re dealing with a wealthy, successful, popular, good-looking young star athlete. The athlete has a lot to lose if, in fact, he committed a crime, so it isn’t unthinkable that there would be a sudden and concerted effort to accuse the victim of making it up, being a gold-digger, somehow deserving of what victimized her.

All of this is even more acute now that we have some information that the alleged victim a) was not the woman who wanted to accompany Kane to his home; and b) is by all accounts a responsible, motivated, respectful, and honest young woman.

5. Mark Croce didn’t do anything wrong! He’s just reporting what he saw!

Well, what precisely did he see that is relevant to this case? He doesn’t have the facts right, but he sure had a motive to open his yap. Croce went out of his way to tell the News that he saw a woman being flirtatious and hanging all over Kane at his bar that night. He also went out of his way to tell everyone that Kane wasn’t drunk. As I reported on Sunday, that’s significant for two reasons: 1. If Croce’s bar served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated Kane, that is a violation of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law of New York; and 2. If Kane was drunk and tries to use that as part of his defense, Croce’s company, Buffalo Pub Concepts, Inc, may be liable to Kane’s alleged injured victim in a lawsuit brought under New York’s Dram Shop laws. Croce also had a motive to go to the News because he doesn’t want to slight Kane, who was evidently going to bring the Stanley Cup to one of Croce’s establishments last weekend.

As I mentioned before, Croce was under no obligation to go to the media about this. Given his company’s potential liability exposure, he’d have been smarter to issue a “no comment” and let his PR team or lawyers handle it. He was wrong for essentially slut-shaming a young woman who patronized his bar—whoever she was. But more significantly, he was wrong for letting loose the insinuation that the woman he described might be the alleged victim in the case, and because of her behavior at his bar, place doubt in people’s minds about the issue of consent. It was, in a word, despicable. 

I will never patronize one of his places again, and neither should you. (I’ve actually had that personal rule for five years, but that’s a whole other story). 

6. The Buffalo News didn’t do anything wrong! It’s just reporting what Croce said!

This isn’t how this is supposed to work. Do you want confirmation of your pre-existing bias, or do you want information? If you want the former, then the News was right to act as Croce’s slut-shaming stenographic service. If you want the latter, then you’ve learned absolutely nothing, except that the self-interested owner of the bar where Kane was drinking that night wants you to know he didn’t think Kane was drunk, and that he saw a pretty aggressive girl hanging all over Kane. The Buffalo News, as the sole paper in town, has a responsibility to print information that is relevant and newsworthy—Croce’s remarks about the flirty girl around Kane were neither. His remarks about Kane’s intoxication should have been offered with the caveat that Croce has an interest in getting that story out. Dan Herbeck defended this part of the report, and that he has the support of his editors. How truly sad that is; it’s truly tantamount to protecting the very powerful at the expense of the powerless.

In any event, reporters aren’t just stenographers—they should offer context and background. They should leave you informed, not inflamed.

7. Croce didn’t call her a slut, you did!

You’re right—Croce didn’t come right out and call the girl whom he saw a “slut”. Then again, neither did I.  I also didn’t say that he called her that. I said he was engaged in “slut-shaming“—click the link to see the definition. Again,

Croce told The News that he and several of his employees noticed a young womanhanging all over” Kane at SkyBar for at least two hours that night, putting her hands on his arms and “being very forward, very flirtatious with him.”

Even if Croce could somehow establish that the woman he’s describing is Kane’s alleged victim, this is all completely irrelevant to the question of whether Kane and she engaged in consensual sex later on that night. Indeed, its only purpose is to insinuate that it was the same woman, and that she was deserving of whatever happened back at Kane’s house later on.

But it’s even worse than that because Croce,

…said he does not know the woman and does not know her name.

Well, then the entire thing is irrelevant nonsense, and he only made it worse.

“It was almost like she stationed herself near him and was keeping other women away from him,” Croce said. “I noticed it and kind of laughed about it.”

So, we’re discussing rape allegations, and Croce is finding the humor in it all.

A bar manager that night also noticed the woman’s behavior with Kane, Croce said.

Objection. Hearsay.

Croce said the woman and a female friend “followed” Kane as he left the nightclub with a couple of male friends around 3 a.m. last Sunday.

I don’t know if this is the same woman who made the rape allegation against him,” Croce said. “I only know what I saw that night on my own premises. If you’re going to ask what happened between them after they left that night, how would I know?”

You wouldn’t. You frankly don’t know jack shit about any of it.

“This is America, the place where you are still innocent until proven guilty,” Croce said.

It’s also the place where you leave rape victims alone and don’t try to smear them, especially when they’re not exactly, e.g., rushing out to take advantage of their 15 minutes of fame.

8. She left the bar at 3am with Kane! It’s her own fault!

No, that’s false. First of all—that information is part of what Croce said about the mystery girl he saw hanging all over Kane at the bar, and we don’t know who that was. Indeed, the News now tells us that the alleged victim didn’t want to go, but went with her friend, who did. Nevertheless, here’s a quick little video to explain the idea of consent.

9. What does Kane’s lawyer have to do with this? 

We don’t know. The Buffalo News mentioned that Kane’s lawyer Paul Cambria was seen at SkyBar the same night as the events that Croce described. We don’t know what Cambria may have observed or witnessed, so there’s no way of knowing if Rule 3.7 of the lawyers’ ethical rules is a concern here. That provision generally prohibits a lawyer from representing someone in a case where he may also be called as a witness. Insofar as Cambria may have observed Kane, whom he was with, and what his demeanor or sobriety was, and that may preclude him from representing Kane in this particular case.

But it may not. It’s too early to tell, and we don’t have enough information. It’s just a possibility.

10. This is just your opinion!

Yes, mostly. That’s why it says “commentary” above in big red letters.

11. Kane is innocent! 

Innocent of what? He hasn’t been charged. He is presumed innocent in court, but as of right now we also have no reason to not believe the veracity of any allegation against him.

12. Is it cool to post what I think is the victim’s identity on the internet? 

No. Doing something like that—whether you’re right or wrong—makes you a class-A jerkoff. Have a little respect for this woman and leave her alone. By the way—if you’re wrong, you might be defaming whomever you’ve named.

Indeed, an especially irresponsible area media outlet has all but outed the alleged victim in this case and gone much further to try to blame her for her own alleged victimhood than Croce did. I won’t link to it or mention it, but suffice it to say that the outlet in question is run by a renowned gynophobe.

13. Is Mark Croce correct when he says he has, “no skin in the game”? 

Hell no. See #5, above. He has loads of skin in this particular game.

14. What do you think of Bucky Gleason’s piece? 

It came out several hours after I asked where these guys all were. I thought it was weak—the Chicago columns were, I thought, more reasonable and more clearly rejected the whole Kane-sports-god meme. I’m not a follower of his work, so I don’t know the extent to which it is consistent with his general reaction to criminal allegations against local sports figures, but…

This is no time to rush to judgment, whether you’re a sex-crimes expert or proud owner of a No. 88 jersey. It’s difficult to comprehend Kane would commit such a crime. It’s difficult to comprehend a woman would concoct such an allegation. Perhaps everyone can agree that there will be no winners.

It is, however, time to respect the rights, privacy, and veracity of the alleged victim. It’s also a great time to confront the bro/rape culture.

Like I said, we don’t know if anyone’s being charged, or with what. We don’t know who the victim is and what her injuries are, and we should keep it that way. We should also avoid and condemn any victim-blaming and slut-shaming whenever we see it. Any more questions? Email buffalopundit[at]gmail.com and follow along on Twitter @buffalopundit.

Joe Mascia on Gerrymandering & his Goons Referred to DA

Joe Mascia, about whom I’ve recently written hereherehere, and here, has chutzpah. Even though he was caught on tape calling some of Buffalo’s African-American elected officials horrible racial epithets, and refusing to exit the race for the Fillmore District Council seat, he is now claiming to be the anti-racism candidate.

It hasn’t been reported that Mascia’s campaign treasurer recently quit, joining Mascia’s original campaign manager.

Also, the Mascia operatives who attempted to manufacture a case against Franczyk aide and attorney Mike Kuzma may soon find themselves in some real trouble. Kuzma’s attorney, Daire Irwin, has referred the matter to the District Attorney’s office in the hopes that the Mascia’s goons are prosecuted for filing a false police report.

Undeterred, Mascia is continuing with his doomed-to-fail campaign by whining about gerrymandering and accusing Francyzk of racism in the expansion of his district to include more predominately white districts. From a press release,

Commissioner Joe Mascia is demanding that 28 year Councilman David Franczyk explain the racism behind the redistricting map that he drew while he was Council President.

During the 2010 redistricting process, then Council President David Franczyk gerrymandered himself a district so contorted for blatantly racial motivations, that it has attracted national criticism from academics at UC Berkeley and in national publications, including The New York Times.

In drawing himself a Whiter district, he simultaneously stole a Black district from the Eastside, a Latino district from the Westside, and a gay district from the Elmwood Village — so that he could use White voters in Allentown to get reelected.

Racism that is codified in public policy is egregious and offensive.  Let’s start talking about the issues that matter.

(See the attached map of current Common Council districts. Note that now-Council President Darius Pridgen lives on the Erie Basin Marina.)

A gay district?

Mascia is being hilarious here, and it’s hard to know whether it’s intentional or not. After all, it’s a tough row to hoe for him to whine about the whiteness of Franczyk’s district, given that its expansion included Marine Drive – offering Mascia himself the opportunity to run for that council seat – and, well, the fact that Mascia is a Caucasian of Italian descent who was recently caught on tape referring to the Mayor, a Councilmember, an Assemblywoman, and others as “ni**er” and “tizzun”.

The press release included a crudely-written graphic, which I’ve fixed for you.

Note the highlights. Who writes “way more”? If Franczyk stole a “black district” and added it to Fillmore, how is that “racist”?

If we are to have a person work to bridge the racial divide, Joe Mascia seems the last person to do that. If you’re going to complain about racial gerrymandering, those complaints ring hollow given the fact that Mascia is also white. He won’t be elected and he’s wasting his time, and I’m sure any push to replace our current redistricting scheme with a mathematical “planning approach to local redistricting” could find quite literally anyone else to promote it, and be a more effective communicator for it.

Buffalo News Sports Columnists: Where Are You?

graham

There are 30 teams in the NHL. (I don’t know from sports, so I had to look it up).

That means there are at least 30 local papers with sports columnists who offer opinion and commentary on things having to do with sports. It would make sense that they’d offer up opinions on local sports stories, national sports stories with a local angle, sports stories that may somehow affect a local team or player, and presumably anything else that they or their readers might deem interesting.

I didn’t have time to look them all up.

It goes without saying that an international superstar athlete being accused of rape is a big story. An international story, in fact, given the roster of NHL stars from other countries.

It, therefore, follows that you would expect the sports columnists who write for the single paper that exists in the city where the alleged rape occurred to be all over the story; “on it“, as we like to joke. You would expect that the media in the cities most directly affected—Chicago and Buffalo—would be clamoring not only to break news, but to offer some sort of insightful commentary.

Online, the Daily Beast wrote about it. So did DeadspinThe Times is “on it”, and so is “Fansided“.

Kane plays for Chicago’s Blackhawks, so that city’s columnists have been all over it. Here’s Julie DiCaroSteve Rosenbloom, and David Haugh in the Chicago Tribune, and CBS Chicago’s Jim Baffoe and Dan BernsteinRick Telander in the Sun-Times had a column about Kane, too. Matthew Schwerha in the Sun-Times explains how to handle these allegations with kids.

The Sporting NewsAndrew Forbes, a Colorado student paperProHockeyTalk at NBC sports, and USA Today all opined on the matter.

So did Russia’s ChampionatTASS, and SovSport.

So did the Czech Republic’s AktualneHokejportalDenik, and Hokej.guru.

In Finland, it was picked up by Jakiekko ExperttiSeiska.fiIlta-Sanomat, and MTV.fi.

It’s been covered in Sport1.deBluewin.ch, the Aargauer Zeitung (Kane played in Biel, Switzerland during the 2012 lockout). That’s why a paper in the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino covered it, too. So did Le Matin.

You know who hasn’t written about it very much? At all, really? The Buffalo News’ sports columnists.

The Buffalo News has not published a single, solitary opinion piece about the Patrick Kane rape allegations from any of its columnists or bloggers. Nothing.

Harrington has a baseball piece from August 8th. There’s a Greg Connors piece about fantasy football. On August 6th, Bucky Gleason reminded us that Andre Reed is a great guy. Jerry Sullivan’s most recent column is about Bill Polian, dated August 5th.

Sullivan has been silent on Twitter since August 5thBucky Gleason tweeted out an August 8th BN story about how this whole pesky rape thing overshadowed Kane’s day with the Stanley Cup—nothing else. Harrington’s notoriously prickly Twitter account? Silent on Kane.

The only Buffalo News columnist who has treated this rape allegation story with the seriousness it deserves—at least, via Twitter—is Tim Graham, who has been all over it during the past several days.

I don’t know if anyone’s on vacation this week or what, but it seems outlandish to me that the Buffalo News’ opinion machine—whether it’s the editorial board or any individual columnist—has been completely silent about an international story involving a local mega-star. Even the BN Hockey Blog has nothing new or salient.

Have they nothing to say?

Are they being told to keep quiet?

Are editors spiking or delaying stories or columns?

Is there some sort of editorial crisis going on?

What the hell is going on? Why wouldn’t the Buffalo News want to try and compete with Chicago’s sports media about what they think about these Pat Kane allegations?

Could it be that Sunday’s disastrous use of victim-blaming quotes from local asshole club owner Mark Croce is the root of this crisis? Has the Buffalo News so beclowned itself that it has effectively forfeited the ability properly to cover an international story happening in its own backyard?!

By the way—wouldn’t it be funny if Croce’s rush to comment to the News came back to bite him? For instance, what if the woman he described turned out to have been under the age of 21, in which case she had no business being at SkyBar? Wouldn’t that just be poetic?

Whatever it is, the Buffalo News is harming its own reputation through dumb acts and blind omissions.

1 2