Qualifications And Byron Brown

Reluctant campaigner Byron Brown denigrates the qualifications of Democratic Nominee India Walton.

Yet India Walton is literally the only candidate who was able to get her name on the November mayoral ballot.

Tell me more, Mayor Brown, about how inexperienced and unprepared she is. Because she’s been cleaning your clock since at least June 22, 2021. March 25th, if we want to go by the filing deadline.

During the Democratic Mayoral primary campaign, incumbent Byron Brown pretended as if it wasn’t happening. He did not campaign. He refused to debate his opponent. He refused even to acknowledge her existence or to use her name as part of his ill-fated “rose garden strategy“. Indeed, every act and omission of the absent Brown for Mayor primary campaign was designed to keep turnout low.

India Walton won that campaign because she worked hard and treated it – and the Democratic voters in the city of Buffalo – seriously. She campaigned. She showed up.

You don’t earn a fifth term by telling your voters to stay home.

Byron Brown’s rose garden strategy was, frankly, insulting to the electorate and his constituency. They didn’t show up so he naturally lost. Not only because he did not show up, but because he has always been little more than a caretaker mayor. (Example: if you’re the mayor of a city famous for snow and you can’t plow side streets until days after a storm, you’re not going to be some sort of beloved figure.)

Now that Brown lost, he has suddenly decided to take India Walton seriously. He deigned to debate her (as well as a couple of other write-in candidates no one’s heard of). At that debate, he said:

He is? He created a brand-new, bespoke little political party line for himself and submitted petitions months too late. He lucked out for a week or so, but on Thursday the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and the NY Supreme Court’s 4th Appellate Division overturned the lower courts and ruled that he blew a perfectly reasonable and legal deadline and that his name and party line would not be on the November ballot. As a matter of fact, if Brown had taken the primary race seriously and done his little “Buffalo Party” petitions months ago to meet the deadline, he’d have been fine.

He messed it up because he is not qualified to be on the ballot, on the debate stage, or in City Hall, frankly. The developers and fatcats who support him can do their worst, but ultimately they’re funding a write-in campaign that quickly became startling in its blatant illegality.

Byron Brown has had 15 years to become an iconic mayor who would deserve to remain in that role indefinitely. Almost every positive thing that Buffalo has to tout has happened around him or in spite of him. It is state money and county money and federal money, people, and politicians who have helped to improve Buffalo since 2006.

The big appeal of India Walton, which most of her detractors don’t seem to get, is that Byron Brown’s City Hall remains mired in a uniquely Buffalonian nostalgic hangover from the good old days. It’s the 21st Century and it’s high time the city had a leadership that looked out for all Buffalonians, and not just the ones with deep pockets and wallets perpetually opened for “Brown for Buffalo” and his other various political clubs and entities. It’s time City Hall worked well and efficiently for everyone equally, fueled more by excellence rather than patronage.

Dear Mr. President – Ignore Bauerle Like The Rest of Us

Mr. President:

Don’t listen to that guy. He’s not right.

I am fully vaccinated American and I am frustrated and angry with my fellow citizens who have chosen to NOT be vaccinated.

I believe that Americans should be required to have something injected into their bodies by law or regulation when necessary to promote public health and welfare, such as those for smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, and polio. I am also informed enough to know that there is no such thing as the “Nuremberg Medical Protocols of 1946.” I do, however, know that there exists something called the “Nuremburg Code,” which, in 1947, established that medical experiments should not be performed on people against their will. I furthermore recognize that it is, at best stupid and at worst evil, to equate the Covid-19 vaccines with, e.g., Dr. Mengele.

What makes me angry is malicious disinformation and propaganda being laundered as “medical choice.” I know, because I am not an idiot, that herd immunity through mass inoculation is the safest and fastest way out of the Covid crisis, and that disinformation is literally killing people.

Mandating a safe and effective vaccine is safer, cheaper, and more effective than simply allowing people blindly to be exposed to and sickened by a disease that has prematurely killed almost 700,000 of my fellow citizens of all ages, races, classes, and nationalities. Indeed, it is outrageous to me that as we commemorate 9/11, we remember how 3,000 lives taken through violence united us, but now we coddle and excuse exponentially more now-preventable deaths in 2021. We lost more than half a 9/11 from Covid on September 13th alone. There’s no unity now, alas, thanks to malicious disinformation and pseudoscience.

I realize that the virus can only be stopped when it runs out of people to infect. I understand that viruses mutate rapidly to bypass our efforts to halt it and that the continued resistance of people to take a literal miracle shot is ruining it for the rest of us throughout the world.

You have urged people to follow the science, and the science is clear that the frail elderly are at higher risk for COVID, as are people with known and unknown comorbidities. The greatest tragedy is when a healthy young person discovers too late that they have an undiagnosed susceptibility to Covid, and they die. I recognize that while children may not become as sick as older people, it is no help for them to lose a parent or become orphaned. I am intelligent enough and completely not a hack propagandist, so I will not equate a communicable respiratory disease to “dying from drowning” for political gain.

While it is great that therapeutic options exist that can, in some cases, help people suffering from Covid, I understand that prevention of disease is far more effective than treating it once you get it. I also realize that studies conclusively show that wearing masks helps prevent the spread of a deadly virus that is transmitted through aerial droplets, most of which are too large to make it through a mask’s filtration layers. Anti-maskers are killing people, too.

Furthermore, you ridicule the conclusions of trained physicians who dare to differ from the Fauci and mainstream media as “conspiracy theorists.” Thank you for this. It is high time we called things what they are.

Thank you for protecting susceptible, weakened patients already in hospitals from being inadvertently infected by health care workers who refuse to be inoculated. The people at greatest risk deserve the highest form of protection, and “freedom” means that you don’t have a constitutional right to be a health care worker, and if you won’t undertake simple protective measures for yourself or your patients, you should find another profession.

You actually believe the economy is robust under your stewardship, when working Americans are seeing their dollars buying less and less? Inflation is, indeed, a symptom of a re-heated economy, and we see this the European and British economies, as well.

There is a trope flying around about refugees bringing Covid into the country and causing the current wave, which is completely false, ascientific and merely an effort by right-wing authoritarians to heap hatred and scorn on immigrants and refugees.

Mr. President, I know that a local right-wing commentator who once equated President Obama with al Qaeda wrote, “what a sad day for America, where “my body my choice” apparently only applies in some circumstances.” Amazing irony. He apparently supports the Texas ban on abortions even in cases of rape. Even in the case of incest. Mr. Bauerle would, based on this quip, demand that the government force a 13 year-old girl to give birth to a child conceived through the most disgusting and horrific criminal violence, while insisting that one’s “liberty” demands that the government not require vaccination to protect himself and those around him against a deadly disease in limited circumstances. This is beyond pathological. It is psychopathy.

To the unvaccinated: this vaccinated American is frustrated and angry with you, but does not blame you. I realize that your hesitancy or refusal is a direct result of utter bullshit being fed to you by quacks, killers, idiots, charlatans, and propagandists. Everything was looking up in June until vaccinations hit a wall and Delta came to the US from India via Europe. I only hope that you see that the hospitals being overrun right now are overrun by victims of Covid-19, while exactly zero hospitals are being even mildly populated by people somehow sickened by the vaccines themselves. I guarantee you that the science bears out the fact that the risk of contracting Covid puts you at an exponentially higher risk of complication and harm to your body than any side-effect of any vaccine in the US.

Most importantly, I reject the notion that it’s perfectly ok if 1.5% of Americans drop dead from Covid. There are 330 million Americans, so Mr. Bauerle here is directly stating that 5 million preventable deaths is perfectly ok. I do not consider 5 million American lives to be disposable on the altar of misbegotten “choice”. I guess not “all lives matter”, right, Tom?

Your orders as to federal workers and contractors gives me hope that more people will get the vaccine and prevent their own illness or deaths – and the illnesses or deaths of those around them.

In Buffalo, we are used to snow blizzards, but I feel like I just got struck by a bullshit blizzard of epic proportions, thanks to the relentlessly harmful and misguided rhetoric of malevolent talk-show hosts. Shame on Audacy and its management for allowing its talent to urge people to go ahead and die in the name of “liberty.”

And what if everybody affected just said “no” to your mandates? Well, if they’re federal employees or contractors, they’d be fired is “what”.

There is a reason that India is not ruled by England anymore: peaceful civil disobedience led by Mohandas Gandhi. India’s slow vaccine uptake, incidentally, led to the Delta mutation, which is now killing people here in the US.

America has nothing whatsoever to learn from right-wing talk show hosts and everything to gain from a safe and effective vaccination. The Covid vaccines were developed under Trump. Why not own the libs by getting the jab?

And hey Audacy? When your afternoon talk show host’s “opinion” has to come with a disclaimer, you’re part of the problem.

Totalitarianism, Texas Style

New State Emblem of TexasSetting aside the fact that the new Texas state statute effectively banning all abortions, (but purporting only to ban them after 6 weeks’ gestation – well before most women even know they are pregnant), the way in which the law is set to be enforced is especially egregious and anti-American in all its facets.

The law does not make an exception for cases of incest or rape.

This means that a school in Texas cannot protect young women against catching Covid-19 through a mask mandate based on “body autonomy”, but the Texas state government can force, say, a 14-year-old victim of statutory rape to carry her tormentor’s baby to term. It is distinctly unconstitutional, based on 50 years’ worth of jurisprudence. It is, truly, medieval and barbaric. It is literally a leap backwards to women being mere chattel with no right to control their bodies.

The same people screaming about not being told by the government whether to wear a mask or take a vaccine during a deadly pandemic based on “choice” are literally legislating away every Texas woman’s right to reproductive healthcare.

Well, not every Texas woman’s. Those with money and connections can always fly to a blue state for a procedure. The men in the Texas legislature who accidentally impregnate their mistresses will undoubtedly find a way to flout these restrictions. So, it’s really a law designed to punish the poor and the underprivileged.

The technical, stated reason why the Supreme Court majority of anti-Roe activists refused to block this patently barbaric law has to do with how it is to be enforced. The statute empowers literally anyone to simply call in a tip and inform on any person who performs, aids, or abets an abortion procedure that is violative of the law. Texas requires women seeking abortions to get “counseling” to discourage abortion, and then wait another 24 hours. This requires two trips to the clinic with the state requiring that the provider ply the patient with propaganda.

This law also empowers private individuals to make anonymous reports to the government about abortions. The law specifically creates a private cause of action allowing people who otherwise have no standing to sue individuals, groups, and institutions that “aid and abet” in providing abortions. This sets up a lucrative incentive for people to lie and engage in punitive behavior and harassment, obviously. But it also empowers average citizens to form anti-abortion bounty hunting posses. That will further act to chill any abortions from being performed – including a D&C of a miscarriage. Yep, a woman with a dead fetus inside of her will be required by law to birth it and not have it surgically removed because there will be no medical providers willing to risk fines or jailtime to do it. Like I said, barbaric. Medieval.

The reason why the right-wing court majority did not enjoin enforcement of this distinctly un-American piece of legislation? Because no one had yet dropped the dime on anyone, so the issue is not ripe. How convenient.

Why do I say this is un-American? Barbaric? Medieval? Because it comes directly from the “my first totalitarian dictatorship” playbook. Under both communist and fascist totalitarian regimes, secret police have regularly recruited and encouraged average citizens to inform on their friends and neighbors. This sort of institutional snitching would result in the informer receiving money or perks, like a citizen of East Germany being granted permission to visit the west. Totalitarian regimes regularly consolidate their illegitimate power through denunciation.

This is how the Texas abortion ban is designed – to institutionalize and legitimize denunciations and to subject women and medical providers to civil and criminal penalties, harassment, and possibly personal harm.

This was predicted when Clinton lost in 2016, and it was predicted when Trump got to pick Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement on the Court. People like Susan Collins and a bunch of male pundits and leftist Clinton haters told people not to worry.

Fully a third of this country – the Trumpers and the political Christianists – no longer support freedom or democratic institutions. They have transformed themselves fully into totalitarian ultra-nationalist one-party authoritarians. This Texas bill is not even the beginning.

India Walton Story Ideas For the Buffalo News

P1012065

A neighbor heard from someone that India Walton once drank a beer.

According to the neighborhood grapevine, Walton once spoke with a person who, years later, committed a crime.

A cop phoned in an anonymous tip because he heard from a colleague that Walton once drove 35 in a 30 zone.

A political opponent illegally gained access to Walton’s credit report and phoned in that Walton had missed a credit card payment one time years ago.

A woman in Tonawanda heard from her cousin that Walton once defended herself against false and scurrilous accusations at work and clearly did not know her place.

The friend of an acquaintance of a Lancaster man says he once heard a rumor that Walton had the nerve one time to question a white man’s judgment.

Steve Pigeon, awaiting sentencing, never heard of India Walton.

The ghost of Joe Illuzzi complained that Walton wouldn’t buy an ad on his site and didn’t pay off the head of the Independence Party for an endorsement.

One guy overheard someone at Ralph Lorigo’s weekly breakfast say that India Walton is a dirty commie.

A Conservative Party apparatchik / city worker with a secret home in Cheektowaga was on his fifteenth coffee break one day when he overheard someone say that India Walton ripped the tags off her mattresses.

A former boss who wishes to remain anonymous reported that India Walton did not, in fact, avoid the Noid.

The head of a city department heard from his neighbor that the neighbor’s girlfriend’s husband once saw India Walton cross Delaware Avenue against the light.

Byron Brown, Grassroots, and the Conservative Party have a lot of informants and had put together a comprehensive and dirty opposition playbook against India Walton but never thought they’d have to use it.

The hedge-funder landlord of India Walton overheard from neighborhood chatter that India Walton let someone with a lot of friends stay in her home.

I hope I’m doing this right.

The Ballad of Byron Brown

For fifteen long years he’d been cream of the crop.
The king of the hill. The man at the top.
He’d cut all the ribbons for fifteen long years.
For a renaissance fueled by hotels and craft beers.
For fifteen long years, he had gone with the flow,
Mild-mannered and monotone, rostrum in tow.

Byron Brown has been mayor since two-thousand-six.
Plenty of time – with more problems to fix.
While things have improved for the white upper classes,
Not all see his tenure through rose-colored glasses.
Crime getting worse, cops are out of control,
Even punitive speed traps had taken their toll.

So India Walton said she would oppose,
This longtime incumbent, whom everyone knows.
For her community – for change and for hope.
And for her it seemed unlike some boring old trope.
The people, she says, had deserved so much more,
than from Byron Brown’s terms – of which there’d been four.

Progressives knocked doors, they made calls and held signs,
Throughout winter and spring to earn Walton two lines.
She envisaged – promoted a rust belt New Deal,
And spoke of her ambitious plans with a zeal.
But Brown kept pretending she didn’t exist,
His “rose garden strategy”? Easy to miss.

No campaign, no debate, never uttered her name.
He figured that this year was more of the same.
His machine was well-oiled – his lackeys would show,
It wouldn’t be close, if they all would just go.
He thought he was safe and he’d get his fifth term,
But India Walton became a concern.

On primary day, Walton’s backers turned out,
And this suddenly gave Brown a reason to doubt
His own re-election and chance number five.
His campaign ran on fumes and seemed barely alive.
He lost, and his chances were over, he reckoned.
The dread private sector, beginning to beckon.

But lo, who is this? Doug Jemal from the South?
Rocco’s out of his pool and Carl opened his mouth?
The Partnership, Jacobs, our own one percent,
Would not abide changes without their consent.
My fainting couch! Fan me! Arrange my affairs!
(To them welfare’s fine, just so long as it’s theirs.)

A meeting was hastily called to review,
What this millionaire posse should, could, and would do.
Carl called it and made sure that Pigeon was there,
and he told Bob McCarthy; their plans were laid bare.
They canceled it once and then tried it again,
But Carl was like poison to some of these men.

India, meanwhile, was doing the rounds.
Explaining that city hall wasn’t just Brown’s.
The national media gave her much attention,
This winner, whom Brown couldn’t bother to mention.
As mayor, she’d help out the poor and forgotten,
Before Tesla and plans grandiose, misbegotten.

He waited a week, let it all settle down,
Our caretaker mayor, the one Byron Brown.
His people held “protests”, sent loads of group texts,
All his patronage hires were suddenly vexed.
A grassroots campaign! A moment propitious!
But the grass isn’t real. That turf is fictitious.

It was too much to bear, all this talk about “people”.
So Brown hatched a plan both pathetic and feeble.
If democracy‘s something that should not be flouted,
Then where was the mayor’s campaign when it counted?
“There is only one mayor at a time!” Brown proclaimed.
She’s a radical! Socialist! Shame! Shame! Shame! SHAME!!

He could have conceded, acknowledged her win.
Been gracious in loss, let these changes begin.
But power corrupts, so instead he’ll contrive
A plan born of weakness and lame “strive for five.”
Byron Brown, the caretaker of all he surveys,
Will write himself in, if it means that he stays.

Brown’s shelf life, politically, may have expired.
Dems voted last Tuesday and told him he’s fired.
Despite all his noise, our democracy worked.
He didn’t campaign, and instead he just lurked.
Now angry and bitter, too late to the stump,
‘Stop the steal’ he’ll demand, like that other guy, Trump.

Bob McCarthy Doing Mychajliw PR

The Republicans are fighting about which of their Sheriff candidates is MAGAier. Here comes Stefan Mychajliw to offer his ethical and fiscal clarity, such as it is.

Oh, and here comes Bob McCarthy to simply transcribe and publish whatever Mychajliw tells him, without checking it first.

On one side we have Somethingorother Garcia, who switched parties a few times and voted in the Democratic primary in 2016. So not MAGA!

On the other side we have Somethingorother Healy-Case who also switched parties even more times, but did not vote in the Democratic primary in 2016. OMG MAGA!

Who cares.

Anyhow, Mychajliw, gearing up to lose a town supervisor’s race in a landslide, sweatily called Bob McCarthy to tell him:

In a routine review of county expenses, Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr. said he is scrutinizing payments of $282,037 since 2015 to 716 Security and Investigations, partly owned by Garcia.

Bob McCarthy

Mychajliw has spent much of his recent tenure as “Comptroller” no-showing and launching little culture war catfights. There exists no place on earth and no person with a brain who suddenly believes that Mychajliw – who doesn’t know how to do the job from which he has absented himself – undertook a “routine” review of county contracts with a current candidate for office. It insults everyone’s intelligence and quite obviously so. But what McCarthy wrote next is simply amazing:

Mychajliw, also a Republican, emphasized that he has taken no position in the hotly contested primary race featuring Garcia and Karen L. Healy-Case, the endorsed party candidate.

Bob McCarthy

Now, this is a lie. To clarify: I have no doubt that Mychajliw opened his gob and told Bob McCarthy this lie. What is doubly egregious, however, is that McCarthy and the Buffalo News did not see fit to double-check Mychajliw’s assertion that he had “taken no position” in the Sheriff’s primary race between Garcia and Healy-Case.

Had McCarthy or his editor undertaken a simple check of the state election website, he would have discovered the $100 donation Mychajliw made to Healy-Case in late March 2021.

Mychajliw can support whomever he wants, but it is an abuse of his power to use his state-sanctioned office to target political opponents for special scrutiny or persecution. It is just as much an abuse of power as Trump pulling reporters’ phone logs or Mychajliw using the Comptroller’s office to issue what amounts to a campaign press release. I guarantee you that the Erie County Comptroller has no say or authority over what the state does with its state and federal funding for the Skyway.

Mychajliw also noted that the payments pose “numerous issues and concerns” for Garcia, especially should he win election as sheriff and profit through the county.

“There could be a serious conflict if he is potentially sheriff and privately benefits from a job his office can handle to begin with,” he said.

Bob McCarthy

So, Mychajliw is not accusing anyone of malfeasance, but merely suggesting that there is a potential conflict of interest. “Could be” and “potentially” are the weasel-word clues. Garcia responded he would sever his relationship with that company if he should win, so what is the problem?

The problem is that Stefan Mychajliw used his public office to do the Healy-Case campaign’s bidding and generate some mailer copy for it.

It is time for this shamefully opportunistic serial candidate to be retired to the dreaded private sector.

The Jacobs Coup

Dear Congressman Jacobs:

You are a disgrace to your district, your constituents, and everything for which you purport to stand. You dishonor your office and its oath. You waited until the last possible moment to issue this statement on January 6, 2021 :

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Was this you paying Trump back for his support of your candidacy? Do you really believe a word of that statement? Was this you pretending to be a tough MAGA guy for all your supporters out in the country, around whom you look so awkward? We’ll never know. I called your Washington office and expressed my outrage over your anti-American, anti-democratic abrogation of your oath of office. Your participation in this idiotic and manufactured soft coup came quietly and late.

Literally just moments after I made my call (at 1:34 pm, for the record), your people – your MAGA Trump people invaded the Capitol. They defiled it. It was as violent and lawless a mob as anything anyone saw last summer, but last summer people were enraged by the mistreatment of Americans at the hands of lawless police officers – what exactly are you and your cohorts enraged by? Losing an election?

We cannot have a democracy if your side refuses to accept loss and the peaceful transfer of power. Your abrogation of your oath of office and your participation in this vile charade will not be forgotten.

By 4:30 – just three hours later – you sent this to the Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski:

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Too little, too late.

No, this current behavior has no place in a democracy. Trying to manufacture a procedural coup to steal the election from Joe Biden has no place in a democracy. The President inciting a riot has no place in a democracy. Trump throwing gasoline on the fire he set has no place in a democracy. Your army of MAGA snowflakes storming the Capitol has no place in a democracy.

Eternal shame on you and your family name for this. Not only did you eagerly participate, but you tried to have it both ways and delay your announcement of the participation. You and the entire western New York Republican committee heirarchy – all of you supported Trump and Trumpism with breathless and instantaneous enthusiasm – you all own this coup attempt, this riot.

You are a disgrace to western New York and your family name. You have no honor. You have no courage. You have no moral authority. You are a shell and a puppet, moistening a seat you haven’t really earned.

I urge your interns and employees to abandon your office immediately. None of this is worth the stain on your resumes. Get out while you can. There’s more to life than doing the bidding of coup plotters.

I fully support Congressman Cori Bush’s proposed resolution:

I fully support it. You defile your office like your supporters defiled the People’s house.

Jacobs Jettisons Trump

When Congressman Chris Jacobs first announced his candidacy for the House of Representatives, he posted a pretty racist video to his Twitter page that was just vicious towards Spanish-speaking economic migrants from Mexico and Central America. When Jacobs ran for the State Senate in 2016, he was publicly silent, never answering questions about whether he supported Donald Trump. Behind the scenes, he told union audiences that he did not support Trump. In 2019, however, the Erie County Republican Committee, which has various close ties to Trump, coordinated a Trump endorsement of Jacobs. That led to a congressional campaign where it almost seemed as if Jacobs was Trump’s running mate, or vice-versa.

Jacobs narrowly won a special election in June, and he is now running for his first full term in Congress. June, you’ll notice, was only four short months ago. Yet in that short span of time, Jacobs has gone from full MAGA TRUMP TRAIN to Trump who?

His latest TV ad makes no mention whatsoever about Donald Trump. Trump‘s name and image do not appear – not audibly or visibly. What a difference four months makes.

Look at him. He’s a “job creator” through his real estate investments. He gallivants about the district, maskless, pretending to “fight” to protect people from insurers discriminating against them due to pre-existing conditions. Donald Trump is nowhere. He is appealing to the people in the middle who are disgusted by Trump. It is amazing what the epic mishandling of a hundred-year pandemic can do.

Here’s an example of what Jacobs’ ads looked like before Trump caught the ‘vid and went crazy on Dexamethasone.

Big difference.

Chris Jacobs repeated the Trump Administration’s fraudulent lie that the New York Green Light Law justified the termination of Trusted Traveler status for New Yorkers. He deliberately backed Trump propaganda that was not only false, but represented an unprecedented punishment of a state’s residents by the federal government to which they pay taxes over a manufactured political issue.

Chris Jacobs is just another flaccid opportunist who has taken another step up the ladder of political power. He has no plan to better your life or the lives of the people hurting the most in this post-Covid reality.

Donald Trump has ruined this country. He has deepened class, racial, political, religious, and economic divisions that were already well-carved. Especially since his impeachment acquittal, which showed him he could engage in unprecedented conspiracies for political gain with impunity, he has carved out the closest thing this country has had to a strongman dictatorship in its history. Donald Trump is a disaster, and Chris Jacobs is part of that disaster.

He went so far as to vote “no” on a bill to strengthen the U.S. Postal Service, and I don’t think it was a mistake. When you surround yourself with brazen liars, why should we take you at your word?

What we can glean from Jacobs’ current propaganda is that Donald Trump is polling poorly enough in NY-27 that it’s best to not mention him, and that people like Obamacare insofar as it rendered illegal insurance company discrimination against people with pre-existing medical conditions. But Chris Jacobs would probably tell you he opposes Obamacare. The problem is he has no alternative plan available for review.

And that’s what really matters about the Republican Party – its only ideology now is belligerent lying and nihilism. It is only against things and people and groups. It has no plan except “whatever Trump says.”

The 27th has had enough of millionaires named Chris who are too timid to answer to – and serve – the people whom they purport to represent.

how it ends

Some have said that the United States is engaged in a cold civil war. I don’t think that’s true. The depth of Americans’ political divisions has ebbed and flowed since the founding of this country; there’s nothing new under the sun. Certainly social media and the manipulation of bad information has complicated matters, but I have faith in the numbers.

Let’s begin with this: Donald Trump is a fluke. He won in 2016 thanks to a lot of good luck and white grievance. But ever since January 2017, his approval has rarely approached 50%. Only about 40 percent of Americans can tolerate his antics, and really only about 1/3 of Americans are considered to be his base. That means 60-ish percent of Americans have had a negative view of Donald Trump throughout his Presidency, and it really hasn’t been all it was cracked up to be.

Fatigue has set in, sure. We are sick of worrying about the various ways in which the President and his entourage of malignant grifters, malcontents, fascists, and unqualified kin can embarrass themselves – and our country – seemingly minute by minute. On the night of October 1st, each successive news cycle lasted about 30 minutes as we learned in quick succession how Hope Hicks had Covid-19, Melania Trump had cursed out migrant children her husband had caged and also Christmas itself, and then that she and the Donald had also contracted Covid-19.

But good God, the fatigue – 2020 is the longest year and over 200,000 Americans have died from this virus. Many of those deaths were needless and preventable. The federal government’s response to Covid-19 has been weak and feckless, leaving states to fend for themselves. The problem with this strategy is that some states take it seriously and others don’t. If having a country means anything, it should mean that the health of someone in North Dakota is taken as seriously as the health of someone in Vermont. Covid-19 and its relentless path of destruction through America should, alone, disqualify the current administration from being re-elected. That’s before we get to literally everything else.

Are you better off today than you were four years ago? Are you more proud to be American today than you were four years ago? Do you think that the last four years have restored some long-lost greatness to America? Do you feel confident that the federal government is looking out for you?

Soon after Trump came down that escalator in Trump Tower to denounce Mexicans in 2015, I have referred to him and his movement as neo-fascist in nature. (Here, here, and here). He is not an ideologue or thinker – he is a huckster. He’s a snake oil salesman. Rather than offer a positive plan for a renewal of American greatness, he raised the black flag of aggressive nativism and used it as a sword to attack anyone not white and not Christian and not sufficiently loyal to him. If you want to know the genesis of the current state of unrest over black lives and police militarization and white supremacy, look no further than the White House. We like to think that government – even when it does things with which we do not agree – at least has our best interests at heart. Not anymore.

Does a Muslim in Trump’s America feel safer than she did in 2014, before he announced his candidacy? How about a black person? A non-Cuban Hispanic or Latino person? How about a gay kid or a Sikh physician? Rather than competently address real systemic economic and social problems, Trump and his coterie of bandits have plundered our treasure and pitted American against American in ways that are fundamentally sickening. He and his nativist, protectionist, racist, authoritarian brand of politics is weak and decent Americans reject it.

Trump isn’t unique to this country, however. There are mini-Trumps in power here and there. Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Brazil – they all have their own flavor of ultra-right anti-democratic nativism. But those are developing countries. Alas, so is the United States. Our economy is in shambles. Our health care system is broken and stupid. Our politics are disgraceful. Our discourse is poisoned by foreign interlopers and domestic trolls. Fake news gets international attention before the truth has gotten its socks on.

Trump cares about one thing: Trump. He is a wannabe dictator and a reflexive fascist. He is a last gasp, however, of boomer white grievance and history will look upon him unkindly.

In a way, the future of this country is really up to the sixty-ish percent of us who haven’t completely lost our minds. The future depends on those of us who know Q-Anon is utter garbage, and who cherish the notion that America isn’t a nationality so much as it is an idea, and that idea is subject to change from time to time. The America of 2020 is very different from the America of 1920, and one has to imagine, (or, at least, hope) that the chaos and turmoil of 2020 will lead to a reckoning of sorts.

We’re at a crossroads. If you want to simplify it all, you could say we can choose light or we can choose darkness. Right now, it’s dark out. Without getting deeply into it, many in 2016 saw our choice as one of differing shades of gray. But we know now. The differences are stark. We need to hit a hard reset; we need to unplug the country and plug it back in again. After that, we’ll need a truth and reconciliation commission of sorts to purge ourselves of our hateful and divisive binge.

We have a short attention span in this country, but don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s going to be easy to lift this country up from the place it is now. This is going to be difficult, but it is the only way. America has always been an aspirational place – a place that believed in equality and freedom and opportunity even when those things were denied to significant swaths of her population. That sixty-ish percent of us who really believe in that, (rather than the Greenwood Americans who pay it mere performative lip service), recognize our past faults and want to move the country in the direction of those aspirational goals.

What I’m trying to say here is that we won’t get to the promised land by smacking marionette effigies of Andrew Cuomo with the butt end of a fake rifle. We won’t rediscover our unity of purpose by electing craven opportunists to office. Law and order without justice is fascism, and we need to be honest about that. Police should walk a beat, not beat peaceful protesters. Police need to be part of the community, not fighting a war against it from behind their tanks and shields. We’re better than Donald Trump, or at least we should strive to be. We’re better than Trumpism and its hatred of science, history, facts, and immigrants.

I am voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris not because they are the perfect antidote to Trump and his malicious reign, but because they are the hard reset that this country needs.

But beyond that, I am going to make sure that my memory of Trump is long, and that the people whose reactions to him ranged from apologia to toadyism pay for it politically, in perpetuity.

This country used to be, if not perfect, at least a place that was looked up to in the world. That is no longer the case. We are, at best, pitied. As Trump emulates his favorite dictators, our reputation in the world is embarassingly diminished. We have spent four years antagonizing our allies and cozying up to murderers. I’ve had enough, and 60-ish percent of you have, too.

In New York, you can vote early starting on October 24. Do it. Take advantage of it. Since Trump is threatening to foment a coup over mail-in voting, don’t give him the satisfaction and vote in person if you can. If you are voting by mail or absentee, don’t trust the defunded USPS and get your ballots out as soon as possible.

Let us toast our fellow Americans whom we have lost to war and disease. Let us toast to an America that can do and be better than all of this.

Rus Thompson Gets the Attention He Ordered

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John “Rus” Thompson, who pled guilty in 2017 to a misdemeanor arising out of voter fraud and lying under oath, is ordering up a steaming heap of attention this week. He and a few other guys in Oakleys will be driving their pickups counterclockwise in downtown Buffalo to protest the state’s emergency orders related to Covid-19.

The novel coronavirus is a viral pandemic that so far has killed 41,000 Americans. By this time next week, it will have taken more American lives than the Vietnam War. 

The Public covered Thompson’s 2016 episode of lying under oath here, here, here, here, and here

The reality under which we are now living is frustrating at best, and millions of Americans have lost their jobs, their health insurance, and their overall economic security. It is precisely this sort of situation for which our welfare safety net was created and designed. To say that it is, for many, woefully inadequate is a dramatic understatement. This reality underscores how this country has done too much to accommodate the wealthy and well-to-do while ignoring the middle and working classes. In no other industrialized country do the newly unemployed face the loss of their health coverage, because in no other industrialized country is health cover connected to employment. That $1,200 “stimulus” check would barely cover one COBRA payment for a typical furloughed American worker. 

Because everyone is hunkered down and trying to stay safe and healthy, it feels like wartime. The uncertainty and indefinite quality of it all is making people upset and anxious. All of that is understandable. 

If, as Thompson and his cohorts suggest, the shelter-in-place should be lifted because western New York is “not NYCity” [sic], then why congregate in one place? If they need a job, there are loads of jobs going for people willing to work in an essential industry. Volunteer to pack lunches for people. Donate to – or volunteer at – the food bank. There are desperate ads on TV looking for people to fill jobs to work as carers for disabled WNYers. 

Instead of doing literally one single thing – symbolic or substantive- to help families in need or medical professionals or nursing homes in this pandemic, Rus Thompson and his pro-virus squad are going to honk their horns while driving counterclockwise for the right to get sick. It is a completely frivolous tantrum that flashes a middle finger at the people working under dangerous conditions to maintain some semblance of a quality of life for all WNYers – sick and otherwise. It laughs at and mocks the thousands of WNYers who have caught the coronavirus, and the hundreds of your friends and neighbors who have died from complications related to it. 

Almost literally overnight, Facebook groups and websites popped up to support and promote protests against governors who issues stay-at-home orders. The President this weekend tweeted exhortations to “liberate” some states – as direct an order as possible to people to congregate and sicken themselves and each other. Like the well-organized AstroTurf tea party movement of 2009, when thousands of people protested Barack Obama’s health insurance marketplace, stimulus package, and purported country of origin, this is a top-down fake grassroots stunt operated by movement conservative people and groups whose purpose is to disrupt things and get people killed in the name of – no one really knows. 

What have our local media been doing about all of this? Covering an event that hasn’t happened; inadvertently promoting it by interviewing its organizer and informing you as to when and where it will be held, and how to get involved yourself. It is a completely irresponsible act of promotion. Only Caitlin Dewey Rainwater at the Buffalo News did a deep dig into the misconceptions and lies that Thompson is spreading, and she deserves kudos for her effort. 

Stay home and keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and safe. Do not succumb to misinformation or disinformation. Local media should stop amplifying it. 

And hey, Rus: 

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