Captain Collins

Is the Collins Congressional office apparatus set up like the USS Enterprise? Maybe more like the Sea Org? Either way, Collins has a penchant for golf shirts – he famously sold them to county workers when he was County Executive, and encouraged teambuilding and other managementspeak by emblazoning them with the county seal and a Six Sigma logo.

America doesn’t do peerages, so Collins bought himself the next best thing – a Congressional seat, and dammit he’s the captain of that ship. He’s got the stripes to prove it.

Is it just an Adidas ad, or does it designate rank?

I can only assume that Grant and Loomis have similar white and red golf shirts with two stripes. Interns and lower-level staffers get one. It’s good to know your place.

HT DWICollins and Tom Dolina for the “FailBoat” image.

Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

I’m sort of sick of talking about Mitt Romney because, you know, Buffalo. But the Presidential campaign has become that car wreck you rubberneck on the 33. The three swing states Mitt has to win to have a chance of winning this thing are Ohio, Virginia and Florida, right? Well, a WaPo poll has Mitt trailing Obama -8 in Virginia.  Not only that, but Mitt’s entire campaign has boiled down to – hey, disillusioned Obama ’08 voters, not so excited anymore? Vote for Mitt!  That WaPo poll in Virginia reveals that 61% of likely Obama voters are “very enthusiastic” about the incumbent; only 45% of Romney voters are “very enthusiastic” .  It gets better, because the conservative commentariat’s hand-wringing has become so vigorous and anxious that they are warning that Romney isn’t just losing  a sure thing, but he’s taking the entire conservative movement down with him.  And his campaign is currently $11 million in debt

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court remanded a case involving that state’s proposed voter ID/disenfranchisement law. A lower court had upheld the statute, but the state’s highest court demanded that the lower court 

… block the law unless Pennsylvania can prove it is currently providing “liberal access” to photo identification cards and that there “will be no voter disenfranchisement” on Election Day. The two dissenters opposed the voter ID law and wanted the Supreme Court to issue an injunction itself.

The ruling said there was a “disconnect” between what the law prescribes and how it was actually being implemented. It said an “ambitious effort” to implement identification procedures in a short timeframe “has by no means been seamless in light of the serious operational constraints faced by the executive branch.”

Voter ID is an answer to a question no one asked – actual cases of voter fraud are almost non-existent, and the actual effect of these statutes is to disenfranchise the poor and elderly – the 47% about whom Mr. Romney so famously spoke at a $50,000/plate fundraiser in Boca Raton in May. 

Incidentally, click here (part 1) and here (part 2) if you’d like to see the complete, uncensored Romney remarks – where he promises to take advantage of things like the storming of the Benghazi consulate, and that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is so intractable that, why bother? Just kick the can down the road. (That’s “leadership”, folks.) 

Romney went on Fox News yesterday and accused Obama of having a hidden video problem, trotting out a video of then-State Senator Obama in 1998 explaining that he likes the fact that America’s taxation policies are redistributive. McCain did it in 2008, and it went nowhere. Taxes are by their very nature redistributive – they take money through taxes to pay for other things, sometimes social welfare safety net programs. Society has deemed it more desirable to, e.g., provide food stamps rather than revert to a Dickensian nightmare of poor kids stealing pocketwatches for Mr. Fagin. 

No one knows why Romney wants to run against 1998 Obama instead of 2012 Obama, except that it allows him to paint Obama as a socialist. Because even though Obama’s policies are fundamentally centrist and comport with mainstream Democratic policy, because of his name and race, it’s quite easy to paint him as a foreign “other”. Honestly? It’s racist, and we shouldn’t pussyfoot around that fact. 

But if Mitt Romney really wants to compare and contrast videos 1990s videos with Barack Obama, then that’d be fun

Finally, part of the problem in the 27th Congressional District race is that Chris Collins is trying to hop on the Romney bandwagon, unaware of just how much he resembles the out-of-touch, unlikeable Presidential candidate. He has repeatedly stated that he supported the Ryan budget that would have turned Medicare into a complicated voucher program, costing seniors more, and that the Ryan budget in fact, “didn’t go far enough”. So, it must come as a worry to seniors because Collins says his first order of business would be to repeal Obamacare. But Obamacare is in the process of eliminating the Medicare “donut hole”. which saddles many seniors with huge bills for medication

Seniors whose annual drug costs surpassed $2,830 found themselves paying the rest of their bills in total until they hit an out-of-pocket limit of $4,550. At that point “catastrophic coverage” kicks in, and the government pays 95 percent of the costs.

Someday, we’ll reset the public debate over health insurance and come to the realization that expansion of Medicare to all Americans, with an efficient single-payer program so that people don’t ever see a bill for anything ever, so that their Medicare is paid for through payroll taxes (and is therefore not something for nothing),  and that the very rich retain their opportunity to seek cancer treatments in Switzerland (a country with a universal insurance mandate) complete with LearJet transportation. Someday we’ll reset the debate to question why we agonize over coverage gaps, why our employers spend so much money and effort choosing between crappy insurance plans that cost a fortune. Someday we’ll reset the debate to compare the actual cost of what we pay for costly, inefficient, bureaucrat-heavy private insurance versus the actual cost of what we’d all pay to expand Medicare to everybody. 
 
You know, the debate we’ve been having essentially since the end of World War II, and which every other industrialized, free market capitalist, pluralist nation-state has figured out generations ago. 

 

Siena NY-27: Collins Leads, Baseline Set

A week or so ago, Channel 2 and the Buffalo News commissioned Siena College’s Research Institute to survey 628 likely voters in the newly constituted NY-27. The headlines revealed that Collins leads Hochul by a very slim margin – within the 3.9% margin of error. (Collins: 47%, Hochul 45%, 7% unsure). This comes as no surprise to anyone, given the fact that the district is largely populated in Erie County’s suburbs, where Collins finds his base, and because of the heavy GOP advantage within that geography. 

The sample consists of 32% Democrats, 41% Republicans, 26% independent or other (not to be confused with the execrable, transactional “Independence Party”). 42% of the sample came from Erie County, with the balance from Niagara and GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming). 

The poll’s crosstabs are here. Some takeaways

  1. Hochul’s favorables are much stronger than Collins among voters outside of Erie County. Her favorable/unfavorable/dnk in Erie Co. is 54/39/8; outside of the county it’s 50/29/20. Collins’ are 57/38/5 in Erie, and 41/30/29.  
  2. 54% of the survey respondents say they prefer a majority Republican congress. It’s a testament to the good job that Hochul’s doing that 45% would like to re-elect Hochul to Congress, versus 40% who wouldn’t, and 14% who have no clue. 
  3. President Obama isn’t too popular in the district, with 56% saying they have an unfavorable opinion of him.  Obama would lose the district 53-41 if the election was held during the survey period. Cuomo’s favorable rating is 66%.  
  4. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a 47% favorability rating, 35% unfavorable, and 18% don’t know. Astonishingly, her Republican opponent’s ratings are 15% favorable, 14% unfavorable, and a whopping 71% don’t know. Nevertheless, when the survey asks voters whether they’d vote for Gilibrand “on the Democratic line”, or Long “on the Republican line”, the result is 49% Gillibrand, 40% Long, and 11% don’t know. 
  5. 50% of NY-27 voters would like the Bush tax cuts repealed for amounts earned in excess of $250,000. 47% oppose a repeal, and 4% were holding the phone backwards. 
  6. The top issues are jobs, the deficit, and health care, and voters prefer Collins by a slim margin on all three of those issues. Hochul is preferred on the Afghan war and education. Inexplicably, Medicare was not part of the questioning. 
  7. 46% of respondents think Hochul would do a better job than Collins in representing the district’s interests. 42% prefer Collins, while 12% like turtles. 

It’s a very tight race, and the coming TV ads are going to bombard us with information that’s carefully tailored to move the needle on these issues one way or another. The last time Siena gave Collins news that he was in a dead heat, he sent out current Comptroller candidate Stefan Mychajliw to denigrate Siena and its mother as “fictitious, inaccurate, and worthless”  to anyone would would listen (read: Bob McCarthy). 

Hochul’s big challenge? Corwin wasn’t anywhere near as well-known or well-regarded as Collins throughout the district. Whereas Corwin came across just as aloof and arrogant as Collins, perhaps there’s more than just a hint of sexism at play, since voters seem willing to accept much boorish behavior from the Six Sigma enthusiast than from Assemblywoman Corwin, whom Hochul obliterated in favorability with each passing day during the 2011 race. 

Hochul needs to get out in front of the Medicare issue, and she needs to start making Collins look like the bad guy he really is. I would be shocked if Collins himself didn’t give her the assist by doing or saying a string of absolutely horrible, head-shaking things. 

In May 2011, Hochul defeated Corwin 47 – 43%. What we’ve learned from the Corwin campaign and the Collins race against Poloncarz, when the Collins crew is faced with a credible and well-funded candidate, they get too cocky by half and screw it all up. With Collins’ recent declaration that 25 pages’ worth of his tax schedules and worksheets are too much for our feeble minds to handle, it looks like not a lot has changed. 

Erie County Health Commissioner on Breast & Prostate Cancer

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein saw what the previous County Executive had to say about how people no longer die from breast and prostate cancer and “some of the other things”, and today issued the following press release: 

BURSTEIN CALLS ATTENTION TO CANCER RATES IN ERIE COUNTY

Prostate, Breast Cancer Mortality Rates Indicate that Residents Still Suffer

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein today issued a statement regarding the incidence and mortality rates of prostate and breast cancer in Erie County, underlining their serious nature and the fact that people still suffer from these diseases. Former-Erie County Executive Chris Collins recently stated in an interview, “People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things.”[1]

“All types of cancer, including prostate and breast cancer, have significant mortality rates associated with them.  During 2005-2009, Erie County saw an annual average of 826 cases of female breast cancer, with an average of 176 deaths per year. For prostate cancer in the same period, the annual average was 930 cases, with an average of 103 deaths per year.”

“These numbers represent the sad reality that, despite advances in cancer treatments, people still die from these types of cancers.  It is imperative that people not only be aware of the potential risks from all types of cancers but get appropriately screened and checked as recommended by your doctor for breast and prostate cancer.”

For more information on Erie County cancer statistics, visit: http://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/vol1/v1cerie.htm

For more information on the Erie County Health Department, visit:  http://www2.erie.gov/health/

(Image courtesy Tom Dolina)

Erie County Health Commissioner on Breast & Prostate Cancer

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein saw what the previous County Executive had to say about how people no longer die from breast and prostate cancer and “some of the other things”, and today issued the following press release: 

BURSTEIN CALLS ATTENTION TO CANCER RATES IN ERIE COUNTY

Prostate, Breast Cancer Mortality Rates Indicate that Residents Still Suffer

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein today issued a statement regarding the incidence and mortality rates of prostate and breast cancer in Erie County, underlining their serious nature and the fact that people still suffer from these diseases. Former-Erie County Executive Chris Collins recently stated in an interview, “People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things.”[1]

“All types of cancer, including prostate and breast cancer, have significant mortality rates associated with them.  During 2005-2009, Erie County saw an annual average of 826 cases of female breast cancer, with an average of 176 deaths per year. For prostate cancer in the same period, the annual average was 930 cases, with an average of 103 deaths per year.”

“These numbers represent the sad reality that, despite advances in cancer treatments, people still die from these types of cancers.  It is imperative that people not only be aware of the potential risks from all types of cancers but get appropriately screened and checked as recommended by your doctor for breast and prostate cancer.”

For more information on Erie County cancer statistics, visit: http://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/vol1/v1cerie.htm

For more information on the Erie County Health Department, visit:  http://www2.erie.gov/health/

(Image courtesy Tom Dolina)

Romney & Collins

Mitt Romney flew into Buffalo for as long as wealthy Massachusetts/Californian/Utahn multimillionaires can stand being in Buffalo – a couple of hours. 

His mission during his nose-holding tour of a flyover New York burg was to do something else he habitually does – collect a whole lot of money and pull it out of the WNY economy. Every loathsome corporate welfare recipient and electoral fusion enthusiast was in attendance, gladly plunking down thousands of dollars to ensure future favors, future corporate welfare, and to make sure the President of color is defeated. 

Among them was our own little local Napoleon, Chris I, Duke of Spaulding. Seen here eagerly double-clutching his wine goblet, with a look of absolute lurve in his eyes. What could they have been discussing? Our President’s birth certificate? The commoditization of labor? How well they have the plebes fooled? We’ll never know, but chances are, we’re going to get a lot of mileage from this simply bizarre image. 

Romney & Collins

Mitt Romney flew into Buffalo for as long as wealthy Massachusetts/Californian/Utahn multimillionaires can stand being in Buffalo – a couple of hours. 

His mission during his nose-holding tour of a flyover New York burg was to do something else he habitually does – collect a whole lot of money and pull it out of the WNY economy. Every loathsome corporate welfare recipient and electoral fusion enthusiast was in attendance, gladly plunking down thousands of dollars to ensure future favors, future corporate welfare, and to make sure the President of color is defeated. 

Among them was our own little local Napoleon, Chris I, Duke of Spaulding. Seen here eagerly double-clutching his wine goblet, with a look of absolute lurve in his eyes. What could they have been discussing? Our President’s birth certificate? The commoditization of labor? How well they have the plebes fooled? We’ll never know, but chances are, we’re going to get a lot of mileage from this simply bizarre image. 

UnInformed Attacks: Engage

Check out the comments to this Buffalo News article regarding changes that County Executive-elect Poloncarz would like to make to Collins’ 2012 county budget. It involves re-shuffling existing money to fund what Poloncarz considers to be his priorities, as opposed to Collins’. The uninformed are already accusing him of increasing taxes and spending, when neither is actually occurring.

Such is the state of information in western New York.

In a post on Facebook, Poloncarz wrote,

Although this is Mr. Collins’ budget and both he and the Legislature have final say on what is passed, I hope to have some if not all of these priorities included. Considering the Comptroller’s Office has already identified approximately $5 million in overbudgeting, I believe the roughly $2 million in restorations I suggested are modest. This is in no way additional spending, simply part of my promise to spend what we have more wisely and on the things residents/taxpayers need, want and deserve from County government.