Crappy 2014 Retrospective Post

For some reason, not all of my posts transferred neatly from Artvoice to here. Nevertheless, even though I already wrote that year-end retrospective posts suck, here is my sucky 2014 retrospective.

Tom Bauerle’s episode. Geoff Kelly and I didn’t think the story was newsworthy enough to run with, even though we had enough information to publish something. The Buffalo News ran it, and I questioned why it might be something for public consumption. Its abrupt relegation to “life and arts” seemed like vindication.

Dennis Gabryszak’s toilet video. Ew.

We had to vet a former Buffalo chef’s bullshit.  By way of reminder, his dad’s credentials to tell you the weather are “has looked out the window before”.

Here are some thoughts about how the country has moved away from its roots in the Enlightenment.

Eat chicken wings however the fuck you please, and call them whatever you want.

The NYS Thruway Authority is the worst. It is emblematic of what’s wrong with all NYS Authorities; mired in 50s groupthink, resistant to change, wasteful.

I posted this. It’s still accurate. Today is “elevated”.

WBEN is, generally, the voice of horrible things and people. Not Buffalo. Its operations director went so far as to fantasize about committing acts of physical violence against Hillary Clinton, and cheering street thugs harassing a peaceful protester. It came down to Tim Wenger’s WBEN basically being fascist.

Donn Esmonde is still an ass. Also, horrible.

Clarence resisted an effort to ban or otherwise restrict books on the ELA curriculum. Here’s the list, followed by my interpretation of it.

Clarence School Curriculum Letter March 2014 by Alan Bedenko

The Clarence List by Alan Bedenko

In an astonishing display of self-parody, certain people were offended that Mark Poloncarz ceremoniously “pardoned” a butter lamb.

The dad of my best friend from grade school and college passed away this year, and this was my effort to pay homage to him.

Mark Grisanti so angered the gun-hugging right that they opted instead to elect a pro-union liberal Democrat. Thanks, dummies!

In the meantime, it was time to shame all those slutty sluts with their sex and whatnot.

Carl Paladino – a guy whom I got to meet in person for the first time this year – is also still horrible.

Kathy Weppner on ISIS and Ebola and Islam by Alan Bedenko

Did we ban the Ebola flights yet? We had a horrible outbreak of Obola, for real.

Horrible people made up lies about the local League of Women Voters in order to try desperately to score a political point.

I don’t think building some apartments and other buildings on the Outer Harbor is such an awful idea. Neither would a customs and immigration union / statutory harmonization with Canada.

Local Republicans practically salivated over the prospect of Donald Trump running for governor. Boy, that would have been awesome. Bob McCarthy got to fly in Trump’s jet and likely sharted from excitement. 

Electoral fusion is still corrupting everyone. (Again and again). Demand better from Albany. We deserve it.

Don’t let lunatics define you.

Correcting Weppner by Alan Bedenko

We might be getting some sort of justice, as it seems that AwfulPAC is under state and federal investigation.

What would a 2014 retrospective be without invoking Kathy Weppner, who kept us entertained all season long? Thanks for running, Kathy.

Happy New Year! Nice skating rink and stuff!

Happy New Year!

Back in the long, long ago – B.F. (before Facebook), I’d find articles that I thought were interesting and I’d briefly blog something about them. Now I can just hit “share” and throw it up to Facebook or Twitter.

I won’t do a 2014 roundup post because year-end roundup posts generally suck.

1. A common refrain among Republicans is that cutting taxes spurs economic activity. Cutting them for the wealthiest Americans is supposed to somehow magically “trickle down” to the rest of us plebes. The problem is that you can cut taxes down to a certain point where the whole thing stops working. Consider, for instance, Kansas, where Governor Sam Brownback cut the living shit out of taxes. He said that doing so would be like a shot of “adrenaline” to the economy.

Like most states, Kansas’ state budget must be balanced every year. As it stands now, Brownback’s tax cuts have been so disastrous that the state is staring down a $280 million budget shortfall that has to be made up somehow. From Salon: 

Brownback has reduced state contributions to Kansas’ pension fund — already one of the worst-funded in the nation — and cut highway funding. In an ironic twist, the vociferously anti-health reform governor is also relying on Obamacare to help fill the state’s budget gap; Brownback is transferring $55 million in revenue from a Medicaid drug rebate program expanded in the Affordable Care Act into the state’s general fund.

But those measures won’t suffice to make up Kansas’ budget shortfall, and with education and health services already cut virtually to the bone, Brownback may have no choice but to rethink his tax cuts.

That’s too bad for anyone in Kansas who relies on state services of any sort. In Forbes, one commentator says that tax cuts may not have had enough time to work (LOL), but admits,

Everybody knew the tax cuts would cost money; the fiscal note for 2014 estimated that the cuts would cost $800 million in 2014. But the tax cut package was sold as a panacea for all that ails the Kansas economy. Gov. Sam Brownback (R) predicted that the tax cuts would spur economic development, investment, and a lot of job creation. Indeed, Arthur Laffer, who developed the Kansas tax cut plan, practically guaranteed success. But it didn’t work. The Kansas economy is stagnating, the deficit has grown, and the state’s bond ratings have been embarrassingly downgraded.

And in case you were wondering,

The tax cuts’ failure to magically transform Kansas has prompted much discussion. Michael Leachman and Chris Mai at the CBPP wrote a paper skewering the Kansas experiment, saying the tax cuts cost money, the benefits inured to the rich, and the economy took a hit because of less government spending. They say that as a result, the state’s economy remains in the doldrums. The CBPP opposed the Kansas tax cuts from the beginning, and Leachman and Mai’s paper is one big “I told you so.” Even The Wall Street Journal wrote a piece noting that the Kansas failure has caused conservative politicians in other states to rethink significant tax cuts.

On another note, remember how people like Kathy Weppner and Carl Paladino feted former Texas Governor Rick Perry? Let’s see how great Texas’ economy does in our new era of $60/bbl oil. The Erie County unemployment rate is 5.7%. The national average is 5.8%. And unlike Texas, our public schools don’t teach kids that Moses was one of the Founding Fathers.

2.  Here are some arguments as to why prosecco is as good as – if not better than – champagne.

3. The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 18,000 last week. Let’s revisit a great anti-Obama op-ed from March 2009 entitled, “Obama’s Radicalism is Killing the Dow”. Ah, memories.

The cartoons are courtesy of Marquil at EmpireWire.com.

Enjoy 2015.

Are We All Defined By Our Lunatic Fringe?

1. Speaking of the recent assassination of two New York City cops in Brooklyn, craven opportunist Rudy Giuliani claims that such a thing never would have happened if he was mayor.

Under Giuliani’s mayoralty, 27 members of the NYPD were killed, not counting 9/11. Giuliani claims that protesters are to blame, and current Mayor DeBlasio gave them “too much power”.

Blaming the Brooklyn assassination on people protesting excessive police force is a common theme. 

2. Jim Kelly’s nephew Chad is a football star who has evidently done wonders for the Mississippi Community College pigskin circuit.

Kelly, 20, of Niagara Falls, refused to leave Encore at 492 Pearl St. about 3:15 a.m. and punched a bouncer in the face, Buffalo police said. Kelly’s companion, Brandon Hickey, 21, of Clarence, had been thrown out of the bar earlier and tried to re-enter, police said.

Kelly continued to fight with two bouncers and stated “I’m going to go to my car and get my AK-47 and spray this place,” according to a report.

Buffalo police officers responding to that alleged threat stopped a 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck in which Kelly was a passenger at 458 Pearl.

Kelly was forcibly removed from the vehicle, officers said. Police said Kelly kicked and tried to swing at officers as they removed him from the vehicle. They said he resisted getting into a patrol vehicle and struggled with staff at central booking.

The bar’s security staff, Scott May and Clay Hubert, suffered minor injuries in the melee, including pain and swelling, according to the report.

What is a 20 year-old doing at a nightclub at 3:15 am? But more importantly, Kelly was belligerent, violent, threatening, and resisting arrest. I’ve heard a lot of people arguing recently that this sort of behavior justifies an arresting officer choking the suspect to death. However, this kid for some reason was released on his own recognizance unscathed.

3. This is going to be a little tough to articulate because it involves nuance and thought – things that don’t fit on a bumper sticker.

People protesting the police are, for the most part, opposing excessive police force; police brutality. A Google search reveals far too many instances of homicide by cop of unarmed Black suspects. One mentally ill suspect in Wisconsin got a hold of a cop’s nightstick during a struggle and was shot 14 times. His original crime? Sleeping in the park. Eric Garner was selling loosies. Mike Brown was jaywalking and was accused of ripping off a convenience store.

These crimes are petty, not capital. The black community in particular has a right to understand why it is that these young men end up dead, but Chad Kelly can hit and kick cops, and threaten to spray bullets into a nightclub with the “AK-47” in his truck, and sleep in his own bed that same night.

People want better policing and the black community in particular would appreciate it if police would maybe stop treating their young men like animals. It’s notable that the assassination of the officers in Brooklyn by a deranged recidivist psychopath (who also shot and wounded his girlfriend earlier that day) has been universally and unconditionally condemned.  Eric Garner’s daughter came to show support for the fallen officers, attending their memorial service.

The point isn’t a war on cops; the point is to stop unnecessary violence and killings.

Oh, but what about the lunatic fringe that is genuinely anti-cop? What about the self-declared leftist revolutionaries who support assassinating cops?

Well, yes. There are lunatic assholes in America. Some of them are leftist “revolutionaries”. Some of them are right-wing “sovereigns”. Luckily, America and her people have a knack for rejecting extremism such as this.

Last week someone clued me in to a relatively new anti-cop activist group in Buffalo that has posted some videos to YouTube and been involved in recent protests in town. A minimal amount of digging revealed that our revolutionary vanguard is led by a privileged 30-year old woman who still lives with mommy in a tony colonial in Snyder, and attended a private local Catholic college. She has bounced around different activist groups and causes in the short time she’s been out of school, and she seems to be a supreme poseur of the highest order. Her services were bought by political opportunists on at least two occasions, unsuccessfully. She is as ineffective and profane as she is fake. I have toyed with the idea of writing extensively about her, but then I see that her group’s YouTube account has fewer than 10 subscribers, very few views, and that she’s basically just a nobody accomplishing nothing more but looking like a clown, there’s no point. Let her flail in the ether, on the fringe.

Our society depends on and relies upon police protection, and that’s why we give cops special privileges that you and I don’t share. With those expanded privileges come heightened responsibility and accountability. It is incumbent on people to keep that privilege in check when the authorities won’t do it themselves, and protests are part of that. Every protest movement or event is going to have somebody in it that takes things too far or is inflammatory and not worthy of support. That’s how it goes. But condemning all protests and demonstrators for the misdeeds of the lunatic fringe is unfair and misdirection.

Police officers aren’t under siege from hostile elected officials. At no point, for example, has de Blasio attacked the New York City Police Department. Instead, he’s called for improved policing, including better community relations and new training for “de-escalation” techniques. “Fundamental questions are being asked, and rightfully so,” he said at the beginning of the month, after the grand jury decision in the death of Eric Garner. “The way we go about policing has to change.”

Likewise, neither President Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder has substantively criticized police. After a Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, Obama appealed for calm and praised law enforcement for doing a “tough job.” “Understand,” he said, “our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.”

When directly asked if “African-American and Latino young people should fear the police,” Holder said no. “I don’t think that they should fear the police,” he said in an interview for New York magazine with MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid. “But I certainly think that we have to build up a better relationship between young people, people of color, and people in law enforcement.”

Even Al Sharpton supports cops. “We are not anti-police,” he said after the Wilson grand jury concluded. “If our children are wrong, arrest them. Don’t empty your gun and act like you had no other way.” And on this Sunday morning, Sharpton held an event where he and the Garner family condemned the cop killings in Brooklyn. “I’m standing here in sorrow over losing those two police officers,” said Garner’s mother. “Two police officers lost their lives senselessly.” The family of Michael Brown has condemned the shootings—“[We reject] any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement”—and in a statement, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, said, “This is not about race or affiliation, and it isn’t about black versus blue. All lives matter.”

Query why we have to have so basic a discussion as to the relative value of lives. Query further why it is that an insane man was able to obtain a gun – legally or otherwise.

People are angry about Eric Garner’s death. In the Michael Brown case we learn that one key witness who corroborated Darren Wilson’s story is a white supremacist who clearly lied about witnessing the altercation between Brown and Wilson, yet prosecutors knowingly brought her unvetted testimony before the grand jury with no cross-examination, and helped bolster the narrative that Michael Brown charged the cop and deserved to die. This is, as I argued weeks ago, why Wilson should have been indicted and subjected to the rigors of a trial – so that all stories could be presented to a jury under oath, and that these stories could be vetted through cross-examination.

Shit is all fucked up and shit, but no responsible person is anti-cop or thinks that shooting cops is a great idea. This idiot who did this in Brooklyn was a recidivist violent criminal and representative of the miniscule number of psychopaths who unfortunately infiltrate any political movement. That’s it.

Blaming the assassination on “protesters” and “demonstrations” is a sly way to outlaw speech. The right, who oppose the very notion of “hate speech” when used against them, have suddenly found an affinity for it, because it suits their aims. They lump the peaceful protesters in with those few on the fringes who spew hatred and commit violence. They point to the hate speech in an effort to ban and blame all speech.

(By the way – union boss Pat Lynch, shown above, has managed to do the unthinkable. He has made it safe for America’s right wing to lurve a public sector union boss.)

But these same people on the right wing have argued for years that hate speech on the public airwaves, day after day, can never be blamed for bad deeds. If it’s true that an endless barrage of hate-speech can lead to violence, when does the right begin monitoring what their favorite radio commentators say?

And whom do we blame for anti-government murderer Eric Frein? For “Liberty and Truth” murders Jerad and Amanda Miller?

The Las Vegas attack came just two days after a member of the “sovereign citizen” anti-government movement waged a brief war outside a courthouse near Atlanta. Dennis Marx came supplied with an assault weapon, “homemade and commercial explosive devices,” as well as “a gas mask; two handguns; zip ties and two bulletproof vests,” according to the Associated Press. He opened fire, shooting one deputy in the leg. Sovereign citizens are militia-like radicals who don’t believe the federal government has the power and legitimacy to enforce the law. The FBI has called the movement “a growing domestic terror threat to law enforcement.”

Fox News barely covered the Marx attack on law enforcement. Nor did Fox assign collective blame.

On May 20, 2010, two West Memphis, Ark., police officers were shot and killed by a father-son team during a routine traffic stop. The shooters were AK-47-wielding sovereign citizens with ties to white supremacy groups and who had posted anti-government rants on YouTube.

And in April, 2009, 22-year-old Richard Poplawski grabbed his guns, including an AK-47 rifle, and waited for the police to respond to the domestic disturbance call his mother had placed after she had fought with her son. When two officers arrived and knocked on the the front door, Poplawski ambushed them, shooting them both in the head. Then he killed another officer who tried to rescue his colleagues. Poplawski was convinced Obama was going to take away Americans’ guns, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

If we’re going to blame anti-brutality demonstrators for the Brooklyn shootings, oughtn’t we blame whomever inspired the shooters above? The American right’s hands aren’t clean on this.

I think that the blame for these horrific crimes lies squarely on the ignorant psychopaths who committed them, regardless of what sort of hate speech – whether from poseur “activists” or right-wing hate radio – inspired them. After all, millions of people listen to stuff like Rush Limbaugh and Tom Bauerle and don’t decide that, e.g., the Obama administration is worse than Al Qaeda, and then decide that they should start assassinating.

The rank assholes blaming politicians and lumping peaceful demonstrators in with the looters and shooters are wrong and misguided.

The tree of liberty doesn’t need any blood today, thanks.

Pigeon, AwfulPAC Reportedly Under Investigation

Credit: Steve Pigeon, Via Twitter

It seems that when Erie County Democrats aren’t battling local Republicans, they’re busy ripping each other to shreds.  In its biennial outbreak of trench warfare between various Democratic factions, the party is too distracted by insider nonsense to remember how to win key elections.

In 2013, the Democratic headquarters/Jeremy Zellner faction endorsed several candidates for the county legislature, as well as Bert Dunn for county sheriff. The Steve Pigeon faction backed different candidates for all of those races, including Dick Dobson for sheriff. On its face, that’s no big deal – primary races during primary season.

But what may have started out as a typical Pigeonesque trolling of county HQ has developed some serious legs.

The suspected Pigeon modus operandi is to use go-betweens and shell corporations or LLCs to funnel money to, from, and between his candidates and certain campaign consultants and companies to do lit, polling, signs, and media buys. They use rhetorical sledgehammers to demolish their opponents with whatever smear they can muster – ask Sam Hoyt. It’s all a well-oiled machine that has few accomplishments, other than spending other people’s money and occasionally harming Democratic candidates in general elections.

The problem is that apparent campaign finance and disclosure violations are seldom investigated and almost never prosecuted.  At least, not in Erie County.

In 2013, Pigeon and erstwhile political commentator Kristy Mazurek set up the “WNY Progressive Caucus”.  It was set up as a PAC – the election law doesn’t use that term, but as an unauthorized committee, the WNYPC could raise and spend money to donate to specific campaigns, but was not allowed to coordinate with them, or spend money on their behalf. I called it “AwfulPAC”.

In early September 2013, just weeks before primary day, the WNYPC paid for thousands of pieces of literature to be mailed to voters, slamming legislative candidates backed by party headquarters; most notably, Tim Hogues, Betty Jean Grant, Wynnie Fisher, and Lynn Dearmyer. By way of example, one piece of WNYPC lit slammed Hogues for being a “Republican”, and promoted the candidacy of his challenger, Barbara Miller-Williams – a woman who quite literally conspired with Republicans to mount a legislative coup in 2010.

WNYPC’s disclosures were not complete.  For a time, it showed the PAC to be in the red – a big no-no. Disclosures came in late. Disclosures were inaccurate or misleading, in one instance showing a donation from a different, long-dormant Pigeon-associated PAC, “Democratic Action”.  What was odd about that purported $9,000 donation from Democratic Action was that it did not disclose any outflow of money during the same 2013 cycle, and had most recently showed a fund balance of $2,400 and a concomitant “no activity” report with the Board of Elections.

Dick Dobson embarrassed Bert Dunn on primary night. Dunn decided to waste his money and run on a tailor-made third party line, unsuccessfully. WNYPC abandoned Dobson, however, during the general election. None of Mazurek’s legislative candidates won, so she used Michael Caputo’s PoliticsWNY.com to smear Wynnie Fisher, who had defeated Mazurek’s candidate, Wes Moore.  Apparently, Fisher and her neighbors don’t get along, so a story was planted accusing Fisher of being crazy.

The problem was that the letter was sent to Wes Moore at an address in Lancaster. But Moore’s campaign committee was based in the Nanulas’ offices in Clarence. The Lancaster address was a house on Doris Avenue where Mazurek was living, and which also served as the mailing address for WNYPC. There was, on its face, a smoking gun of coordination. How and why would Wynnie Fisher’s neighbors decide to send a letter to an address for Wes Moore that didn’t exist in nature?

In late September 2013, Tim Hogues and Betty Jean Grant, with an assist from anti-Pigeon transparency advocate Mark Sacha, filed a formal complaint with the New York State Board of Elections, accusing Pigeon, Mazurek, and WNYPC of various illegalities and violations of campaign finance law.

Geoff Kelly reports at the Public that the investigation has wings .

After the County Board of Elections resolved to investigate the complaint, it was turned over to the state BOE, which in turn appears to have turned it over to the Attorney General’s office and State Police. Once an investigation such as this is put into the hands of people outside of Buffalo, you know that the threat of shenanigans is decreased exponentially.

Kelly reports that police interviewed several people at the county legislature. I have confirmed that at least one of the legislative candidates from 2013 was also interviewed.  Subpoenas have been issued and action taken to enforce them. Don’t be surprised if forensic accountants are trying to account for all the money – where it came from, and how it was spent.

Kelly also reports that real estate deals and former Deputy Mayor Steve Casey are under investigation. This likely has something to do with the Seneca Mall project, where Casey is now employed.

For once, at long last, it seems that campaign finance and election laws are being enforced in a serious way. Will there be a prosecution? Time will tell, but something big is going on behind the scenes, and it’s being directed by very serious people from outside the area.

Buffalopundit Endorsements 2014

Caveat: Artvoice does not do political endorsements. Nothing written in this post should be interpreted, construed, or cited as an endorsement by the owners or editors of Artvoice itself. This endorsement is mine alone. No person or campaign has directly or indirectly paid for or otherwise sponsored any post or endorsement.  I do not know whether any candidate or party has ever paid for an advertisement in Artvoice, nor would I be in a position to know. I am an independent contractor and have no involvement or employment with Artvoice or its advertising or editorial staff. Any questions or issues can be directed to me at buffalopundit[at]gmail.com. I recommend you click the links – especially in NY-27. Now, on with the countdown. 

United States Congress (NY-26): Brian Higgins

I did this already, I’m sure you all know.

I posted it here just a short week ago

Kathy Weppner talks nonsense, her utterings, laughable; 

Congressman Higgins belongs in the Capitol

United States Congress (NY-27): No Endorsement

I admit that this pick came to me as a shock, 

but I got information I can’t simply mock.  

It shows that the Democrat, not long ago, 

worked for the campaign of Paladino

He helped with debate prep – and this made me cross –

he helped Carl defame a planned downtown mosque

Chris Collins is there, and he’s one of the worst. 

But principle matters; it ought to come first. 

Chris Collins? You kidding? At least he’s consistent. 

Not “Democrat now!”, but once Carl’s assistant

The incumbent, he voted for Cruz’s shutdown, 

harmed our economy and then, like a clown, 

claimed to be against it, despite his own vote

And (of course) blamed Obama, repeat, edit, rote. 

But Collins was for it, before he was not; 

he blamed the “extremists”, rejected the plot

Although Collins’ tenure has been ineffective

I won’t back a Carl guy, he must be rejected. 

Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New York State: Cuomo/Hochul

Listen, Cuomo’s got flaws, and of that I’m aware. 

But Rob Astorino I just cannot bear.

His running mate –  Hochul – I respect a great deal,

and the great things he’s done for our region are real.

The Buffalo Billion and Startup New York,

should not be dismissed as cheap welfare and pork.

Never before has an Albany pol,

done this much for Buffalo, as I can recall.  

I do want to see much more effort to end

corrupt fusion and graft – those Albany trends. 

Transparency now is the name of the game, 

and Cuomo’s too secretive, to his own shame. 

After all that he’s done, though, I can’t just reject, 

Cuomo and Hochul, whom I hope you’ll elect. 

Attorney General: Eric Schneiderman

Did you see the debate? Whoa, that Cahill’s a twit. 

He screamed, interrupted, behaved like a shit. 

And kudos to Bob – wow! A substantive question!

I’m voting for Schneiderman this coming election. 

His office protects every one of us from, 

fraud and abuse, and the criminal scum. 

For those who take pills for pain they can’t stop, 

he set up I-STOP, so they can’t doctor shop

Schneiderman’s strong on consumer protection,

And Cahill deserves this year’s voters’ rejection.

State Senate District 63: Tim Kennedy

Given the choice between sellout or dummy, 

the outlook for voters just isn’t too sunny. 

Tim Kennedy isn’t my favorite guy

his opponent, however, should make you ask, “why…

“…would local Republicans beclown themselves so…

“…by running a guy who’d make Weppner say, ‘whoa’“.

Kennedy may have some bridges to fix, 

but Donovan? Please, voters, no, nada, nix

State Senate District 62: Rob Ortt

Oh, great. For fuck’s sake. What a choice – I’m aghast. 

Two Republicans, one Paladino backed last.

Ortt is the Mayor of North Tonawanda,

Destino’s a Dem whom I’m not wholly fond of. 

Paladino endorsed him the last time around

and that’s generally something I can’t just write down. 

Destino was backed by the goons who had tried

–  in a spurious way that I cannot abide – 

to smear Maziarz as a closeted gay

and failed, like the cretins they are, by the way. 

Ortt is a vet with conservative views. 

But defeated that Gia – so, he’s reasonable, too

When assholes supporting you campaign on hate, 

it behooves you to answer with outrage, and state

something where you reject their assistance and views,

and you do it quite loudly, and make it big news.

I’m sorry you didn’t, and I hope that you’ll scorn

that loudmouthed old hater who forwards horse porn. 

State Senate District 61: Elaine Altman

Hah! Mike Ranzenhofer? Career politician. 

Dear reader, what was his agenda or vision? 

Say “no” and do nothing, for 20-odd years? 

It’s time for a change, and it’s time to switch gears. 

Altman’s a teacher, she knows Common Core, 

and she’ll fight to fund schools, and absolutely do more

to help out a district that’s been represented 

by someone who’s done not a lot, I’ve lamented. 

Send a teacher to Albany!”, that’s where she belongs. 

Ranz’s tenure in government’s two decades too long.

State Senate District 60: Not Stocker

I mean no disrespect to Dem Marc Panepinto, 

I don’t mean to leave him out hanging in limbo. 

Think Again, Turn Away

A vote for the Dem would be great and just swell,

but Grisanti deserves to go back for a spell

As senator, he’s been unfazed and courageous. 

“Profile in Courage” would not seem outrageous. 

He helped us to pass same-sex marriage, and took

a risk to pass SAFE Act after Sandy Hook.

It showed us that people don’t need a damn armory,

and schools should be havens of peace and of harmony. 

So, whatever you do, and don’t think it’s a shocker

vote for anyone, just not the tea party’s Stocker

NYS Assembly 146: Ray Walter

Did you know that Ray Walter is in a real race? 

Against a young Dem with a fresh, stubbled face? 

I’m sure that Steve Meyer’s an earnest young chap, 

with ideas and energy. Aside from all that, 

I have to agree that he’s lacking know-how, 

and has yet to consider what furrows our brow. 

He’s just out of school, and has loads of more time, 

to get a career, pay some taxes and climb

up to a level where he really can get, 

the problems that we New York families fret. 

Ray and I see eye to eye on the tolls, 

that the Thruway Authority always controls, 

with antiquity formed in the shape of a booth, 

within it a person, who I doubt, in his youth, 

Imagined his life would be handing out slips.  

Yet throughout the world, the traffic just zips, 

through camera tolls without stopping to pay.

This dreary old system, it pisses off Ray, 

So, send my friend back to fight Albany pols, 

besides, the Assembly’s in firm Dem control. 

OTHER

For a number of races, there is no opponent. 

For a real democracy, that’s a missing component. 

For all of these races, you have a blank check,

vote whomever you please, except for Mazurek

I’ll note, on the side, that Ray Walter’s a friend, 

and he’s running against a young Dem 

 

But no matter what, do not let the time pass. 

Just remember to vote, and Donn Esmonde’s an ass. 

Kathy Weppner: Victim

Kathy Weppner, for whom you should totally never vote, scored a few points on Monday.  

Not against her opponent, but against the Buffalo News. She even recorded a radio ad blasting the News, because she is accusing its Washington correspondent, Jerry Zremski, of misogyny and sexism. For instance,

Here’s something I’ve not said before – Weppner has a point. When I read that passage, I thought that Zremski’s description of Weppner’s manicure was out of line; it’s simply not a way you write about a female candidate for office. But look at the passage within its context

Looking out over Canalside from the plaza outside downtown Buffalo’s new Courtyard by Marriott on Friday, with the new HarborCenter rising to his left and his brownish hair flying every which way in the breeze, Rep. Brian Higgins talked a bit like a proud father.

“It’s campaign season, so I’ll say it: We had something to do with this,” said Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat whose strong-arming of the New York Power Authority provided the funds to begin the city’s waterfront boom.

But a day earlier at the Lake Effect Diner in University Heights, Higgins’ opponent laid two immaculately manicured hands, with 10 long hot-pink fingernails, out across a pile of paper that foretold doom of one kind or another, and spoke like a very worried mother.

The emphases are mine. Zremski described something about Higgins’ appearance, and described him as a “proud father”, and then described something about Weppner’s appearance, and described her as a “worried mother”. He was more descriptive about Weppner’s nails, admittedly. 

He wasn’t blindly mocking Weppner’s fingernails – he was trying to illustrate for readers something about each candidate’s demeanor and appearance. You’ll note that no one quotes the Higgins passage, and plenty of people locally poke fun of Higgins’ sense of style. 

Interestingly, the people screaming loudest about this insult are the people who scream loudest against things they call “political correctness” and the “war on women”. People like this guy: 

I mean, if you’re going to be a hypocrite, I guess it’s best to do so within the same thread. But you can’t with a straight face complain about PC and then accuse someone of being a celibate or gay or whatever Bauerle’s trying to do here. Bauerle and his buds make all kinds of cracks about Higgins all the time. Their buddy Carl goes so far as to reportedly call Higgins a “cocksucker” in private, and he means it literally. That’s OK, I guess. 

But does Weppner not want people to notice her nails? I mean, they neither qualify or disqualify her for office, but they’re quite palpably there

This is a candidate who refers to women as, “girls” in a video mocking the very notion that there exists a “war on women”.  Now she’s a victim of it? 

She complains that she never had a professional manicure, but Zremski never said she did – he simply said they were manicured – he didn’t say who did it. 

Here’s what I wrote in May about Weppner’s dismissal of the “war on women”: 

The “war on women” has been coined as shorthand for policies and proposals that specifically target issues relating solely to females.  These can include restrictions on reproductive rights and choices, lax enforcement of workplace anti-discrimination regulations and statutes, outrageous slut shaming of feminists who advocate for women’s rights, and still-prevalent positions held mostly be men that, for instance, women who are beaten or raped must have contributed to their own victimhood; that they brought it on themselves or “deserved” it.

It’s perfectly reasonable for people to argue about how to deal with these sorts of things from different political and moral perspectives, but it’s not reasonable to simply deny that the problems themselves exist. It’s not reasonable to suggest that it’s ok that women are treated like inferiors in the labor market, for instance.

But instead of praising the women who have worked tirelessly for decades to improve the lot of all, Weppner denigrates their fight for equality as the real “victimhood”. Was Susan B. Anthony displaying weakness when she demanded equal rights and suffrage? Were the suffragettes just playing as weakling whiners when they demanded the vote? How about the women who, in the mid-19th century, gained the right to be treated as more than mere chattel under the law?

I do like that this lecture is being delivered from an all-American kitchen with a dollar-store flag in the background. Because patriot.

Kathy Weppner, an allegedly serious person supposedly running for federal elected office, can get on the YouTubes and allege that, when women fight for equality and liberty, they’re really waging war on men.  But I’ve got a transvaginal ultrasound right here that says Weppner’s wrong .

Weppner: she rejected the “war on women” before she decided it was politically expedient to become its victim. 

I don’t know if I agree with the “war on women” rhetoric, but I do believe that women should be treated as equals with men. I also think that the media need to be mindful of the ways in which they describe female candidates, and Zremski’s attempt to contrast Weppner’s and Higgins’ appearance was clumsy, at best. But there’s nothing here to indicate that he was displaying any animus, or that it was in any way an attempt to de-humanize Weppner because she’s a woman. He should have simply added something more about Higgins’ appearance. 

You can’t spend all your time complaining about political correctness, and then try to be politically correct. It’s either a valid concern, or it’s not.

In the end, none of this renders Weppner any more or less electable than she was on Sunday morning – i.e., not remotely

UPDATE: Here is one of the few remaining clips of Weppner’s WBEN show that exist on the internet, courtesy of WNYMedia.net. In it, she denigrates activist Sandra Fluke for her sex toy agenda or something; “contragestives are being snuck in under the name ‘Ella'”. Sandra Fluke was famously insulted as a “slut” by Viagra huckster Rush Limbaugh for daring to suggest that contraceptives be included in health insurance policy. 

When Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut”, Kathy Weppner piled on. She is a hypocrite of the highest order. 

Also, a commenter on Twitter suggests that it wasn’t the crack about the fingernails that was insulting, but that the juxtaposition of “proud father/worried mother” is just as troubling. I think it’s an interesting point, although I think that the whole passage was more about color commentary than about substance. 

Kathy Weppner on ISIS and Ebola

The silly radio lady – our own politically backward version of Mariann from Brooklyn, Kathy “Infected Poors” Weppner – is following up her big May hit, “Stop Common Core in NY” with this doozy that links together Islam, ISIS, and Ebola.

Remember – this is a serious candidate for Congress. Not a joke. Not at all. Now, on with the countdown. 

Kathy Weppner on ISIS and Ebola and Islam

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/243984430/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&show_recommendations=true

Kathy “Purple Penguin” Weppner

Step 1: See what appears to be regurgitated, unvetted nonsense likely spreading rampant through the fascist blogosphere in order to assail the imminent destruction of ‘Murrka by n0bummer and the Alinskyite cadres. 

Step 2: Not being privy to the rampant dementia infecting the idiot fasict blogosphere, Google it and find who’s talking about it. 

Step 3: Be a curious and intelligent person, and try to get to the truth

Step 4: Find out that the whole fascist outrage is not only false, but damningly critical of an attempt to make kids feel comfortable in the classroom. In other words: based on evil. 

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Spitzer Unloaded, No One Exploded

“Jail” FINAL :30 from Rob Astorino on Vimeo.

Right? Wow.

This is the perfect distillation of a desperate campaign looking to get some attention. Frankly, this reboot of the Daisy ad is perfect in its utter stupidity. Now, I know that Cuomo has been hitting Astorino hard on some nonsense lawsuit down in Westchester, but I thought that the “soup is nice” ad was pretty damn effective. (Dentures are an optional Medicaid coverage that New York State offers, and that Astorino wants to eliminate). The ad resonates because it reminds people that Republicans love to cut, cut, cut things that help actual New Yorkers. True, paying for seniors’ oral care won’t benefit the extremely wealthy, like Carl Paladino and indictee Rick Perry, both of whom can feasibly pay for their own dentures and dental work, but it will do much for seniors for whom budgets are often tighter. 

Astorino’s suggestion that Cuomo could go to jail is pure hyperbole – there’s absolutely zero chance of that happening. Secondly, by bringing that up, it reminds me – hey, isn’t Astorino up to some shady shenanigans, too? Thirdly, if Cuomo went to jail, there would not be a catastrophic nuclear holocaust; there would, instead, be an orderly substitution of Kathy Hochul. Remember Spitzer? Spitzer unloaded, but no one exploded.

 

A Tuesday For the Books

Eligible WNY Voter

Antoine Loses: Faith in Humanity Restored

Crystal Peoples-Stokes easily halted Antoine Thompson’s effort to go back to Albany, this time as an Assemblyman. That’s enough, Antoine. You had your chance and the power and prestige went to your head. There’s plenty of other ways to help the community – including, but not limited to, just getting a job and paying your taxes.

Tim Kennedy Wins Handily

Tim Kennedy also defeated Betty Jean Grant. This is, to me, a shame because Tim Kennedy is a sellout. He sold out the Democrats and his constituents when he cut a deal with Steve Pigeon and Chris Collins to hand over a Democratic legislature to the Republicans. He sold out to further his own political career – to replace Bill Stachowski in the state Senate. He out-spent Betty Jean by a huge margin, and she simply couldn’t raise the money to get the word out against someone who was, this time, ready for her.  Kennedy ran on legislation to strengthen child abuse laws, and securing some back-office jobs for our Bangalore-on-the-Lake. One thing is for sure – Betty Jean can go to sleep every night secure in the knowledge that she’s no sellout. 

Tea Party Finally Gets Grisanti

Oh, you tea party. You got a huge victory last night! You finally got rid of Mark Grisanti. Your disgust for him began when he voted for same-sex marriage – you still bring it up today. The SAFE Act vote mobilized you, because guns > gays for you; guns are your common denominator. Congratulations! I saw sponsored posts in my Facebook timeline from Rus Thompson’s extremist “Tea NY” and from former GOP challenger against Brian Higgins, Mike Madigan.  The visceral hatred that the right wing has for Grisanti finally manifested itself in an electoral victory – they got Kevin Stocker.  On the other side, we have Marc Panepinto, a Democratic activist and personal injury lawyer. The district in question is predominately Democratic and people with Italian surnames tend to do well in that district.

But here’s one possibility: Grisanti and Panepinto are both lawyers. Wouldn’t it be funny if Panepinto dropped out, Grisanti switched to the Democratic Party and was appointed to replace Panepinto on the Democratic ballot in November? Panepinto would have to run for Supreme Court somewhere – anywhere in the state. This is a thing that can happen. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the tea party spent all this time and effort just to expel Grisanti from the GOP and have him win in November as a Democrat? 

Teachout’s 35%

Cuomo and Hochul easily defeated Teachout and Wu, which is no surprise. What was a surprise was the fact that Teachout earned about 35% of the statewide vote with almost no money, very little name recognition, and a pretty short race. Hopefully a message was sent to the Governor’s mansion about the importance of fighting corruption. Or maybe not. Maybe we should shut up because of the Buffalo billion and other stuff, and just be satisfied with what we have. What difference does it make if the state is still run like it’s 1953? Shut up, you. 

Tea Party Didn’t Back Gia

Robert Ortt easily defeated on-again, off-again candidate Gia Arnold. Arnold’s entire campaign centered around getting rid of George Maziarz. Once Maziarz announced he wasn’t running again, he stole a ton of her thunder and she was stuck becoming a silly kid, talking about guns, guns, and guns, going so far as to wear a clip as a prop jewelry. In the end, Ortt was the serious and credible Republican guy, and he won handily. 

Mazurek Defeats Brandon

It should come as no surprise that the guy with the Polish name came out ahead in what was once Gabryszak’s Cheektowaga/Sloan district. 

Pegulas Buy Bills

All of this political nonsense was overshadowed by the palpable civic sign of relief when it was confirmed that the Pegula family had won the bidding war to buy the Bills. Not only is the uncertainty over the Bills staying in WNY over for the foreseeable future, but the team can now begin its second chapter in earnest. What amazing news. 

Shredd & Ragan Will Not Be Intimidated

I called in to Shredd & Ragan’s show on 103.3 WEDG Tuesday morning at 7am.  When they asked me something about guns and the SAFE Act, I accidentally said, “I don’t give a shit about guns”, forgetting in my uncaffeinated haze that I was on terrestrial radio and not a podcast. A thousand apologies for that. 

But what would you say if you knew that someone attempted to intimidate WEDG into not having me on the air? 

On Monday around lunchtime, I posted my standard September primary endorsement post, and noted at its conclusion that I’d be appearing on Shredd & Ragan’s show at 7am Tuesday morning. 

After my appearance on WEDG, I spoke with a few people who work behind the scenes for Shredd & Ragan’s show. It turns out that one particularly noxious politically connected individual had contacted the station about my upcoming appearance. This poor creature started out almost eerily polite, explaining that he or she was a friend of the show,  calling as a courtesy to advise them that – now, they’re not threatening anyone – but that I was “under investigation” by a “team of lawyers” and that WEDG – and anyone who gives me a “platform” might be held responsible if I said something slanderous. To say this is completely bizarre, outrageous,  and uncalled-for is an understatement. 

To their credit, the people at WEDG would not be intimidated into keeping me off the air, and directed this complainant to contact the station’s legal department if there were any further issues. 

I’m not altogether sure that the public figure who called the station wants to litigate his or her reputation, but empty threats and petty bullying will not intimidate me into shutting up. 

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