Buffalo Hate Radio Trollbaits Race and South Carolina

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It took a heartless massacre to finally convince even some Southern conservatives that the Confederate flag doesn’t deserve state sanction, and should be sent from state grounds to a museum somewhere. This article nicely sums up the sordid factual history of the flag in question,

…history is clear: There is no revolutionary cause associated with the flag, other than the right for Southern states to determine how best to subjugate black people and to perpetuate slavery.

First sewn in 1861 — there were about 120 created for the war — the flag was flown by the cavalry of P.G.T. Beauregard, the Confederacy’s first duly appointed general, after he took Manassas, Virginia, in the first Battle of Bull Run…

…But never did the flag represent some amorphous concept of Southern heritage, or Southern pride, or a legacy that somehow includes everything good anyone ever did south of the Mason-Dixon line, slavery excluded…

…In 1948, Strom Thurmond’s States’ Rights Party adopted the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia as a symbol of defiance against the federal government. What precisely required such defiance? The president’s powers to enforce civil rights laws in the South, as represented by the Democratic Party’s somewhat progressive platform on civil rights.

Georgia adopted its version of the flag design in 1956 to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling against segregated schools, in Brown v. Board of Education.

The flag first flew over the state capitol in South Carolina in 1962, a year after George Wallace raised it over the grounds of the legislature in Alabama, quite specifically to link more aggressive efforts to integrate the South with the trigger of secession 100 years before — namely, the storming of occupied Fort Sumter by federal troops. Fort Sumter, you might recall, is located at the mouth of Charleston Harbor.

Opposition to civil rights legislation, to integration, to miscegenation, to social equality for black people — these are the major plot points that make up the flag’s recent history. Not Vietnam. Not opposition to Northern culture or values. Not tourism. Not ObamaCare. Not anything else.

That’s it. It wasn’t until the middle of the last century that this battle flag became a potent symbol – not of Southern heritage, but of opposition to civil rights for black people; it wasn’t until the federal push to ensure civil rights for Southern blacks during the 1950s and 1960s that this flag flew to protect white supremacy and the supposed right of Southern whites to continue to subjugate black people.

Any bleating about “history” and “pride” and “heritage” you see or hear online, in print, or on AM hate radio is a manufactured lie. It is false – that flag represents white supremacy and treason in the long view, and more recently, opposition to equality and civil rights in the short.

But if you’re a hate radio station, nothing is too low. For WBEN, the station of old, white omniphobes, the push to relegate the flag of sedition to museums is a perfect opportunity to bait that audience, and that audience doesn’t disappoint.

During the 24-hour period of Monday through Tuesday, it posted several things to Facebook with respect to the Confederate battle flag.

and this,

and this,

Now, let’s look at the comments, because Buffalo.

And this, because why the hell not?

More comments you say?

Reducing a symbol of treason, white supremacy, and slavery to clickbait/trollbait is what Buffalo’s hate radio station is good at – riling up the same omniphobes who think Carl Paladino is right on.

Here’s what the President said, as described at Talking Points Memo:

During an interview on the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron,” Obama argued that while America has made some advancement in terms of race relations, “What is also true is the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on. We’re not cured of it.”

Obama added, “And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination.”

Yeah. He used the word “nigger”, echoing in large part a description of the Republican “Southern Strategy” as described in the early 80s by campaign strategist Lee Atwater,

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Here’s Wednesday’s “online poll”:

This Confederate battle flag – and every other symbol of the Confederacy – should not be given any state sanction. It is a symbol of hatred, ownership of people as chattel, and white supremacy. The only “heritage” it celebrates is has to do with the ownership and subjugation of black Americans.

The 1st Amendment allows local malcontents to wave that flag all they want. It does not require state or municipal governments to sanction it, nor does it require that Wal*Mart or Amazon sell it.

Enough.

5 Years Later, Tea Party Wants to Re-litigate Carl’s Emails

news_0The tea party have decided to come after me. Bereft of ideas, strategy, or success, this ragtag grouping of political nobodies have decided to accuse me of a “fraudulent email scam”, going on to suggest that I “admitted” to having “fabricated” some emails way back in 2009 in order to do some sort of political harm to then-Deputy Mayor Steve Casey.

All of this is so outrageous and untrue as to be defamation per se, insofar as it specifically accuses me of fraud.

It’s quite odd that this is coming up now, and I can only attribute it to the fact that Jul Thompson is friends with the woman who is running the effort to kill Clarence schools. The post accuses me of perpetrating a fraud; i.e., that I somehow manufactured and concocted Carl Paladino’s XXX-rated and racist emails from 2010. The post was posted Monday to a tea party blog run by Jul Thompson, the wife of Carl’s driver, John “Rus” Thompson.

Immediately after the post was brought to my attention – around 1pm Monday – I called Rus’ cell phone and left a message. I have not heard back. I also left a comment at the blog post; it remains unpublished, stuck in the moderation queue, (note that the time stamp is wrong, and I likely posted it at 1:27 pm).

I posted a quick response yesterday to buffalopundit.com, but let me be clear: I am a lawyer. To fabricate emails and accuse anyone else of sending them would, frankly, put my license to practice law at jeopardy. I don’t put my livelihood at risk for anyone or anything – not to bring down Carl Paladino or Steve Casey or Byron Brown or Steve Pigeon or anyone. So, let’s operate under this singular assumption:  Jul Thompson is a liar. While I may be a public figure, she is accusing me of fraud – a crime – and that is libel per se.

Here is my reply to the false and defamatory blog post: 

Have you ever known someone who leaves a wake of destruction behind them? Case in point, Alan Bedenko, liberal blogger, formerly wrote for ArtVoice, then left with Jeff Kelly and other staff to write for The Public, another liberal rag.

*Geoff Kelly. But never mind.

I sat with a friend today and shared with her my frustrations over my inability to persuade Carl Paladino’s Campaign for Governor in 2010 to answer the ridiculous charge that he was a racist, which were predicated upon emails Bedenko fabricated to “take him out” of the race against Andrew “2nd-Amendment-be-damned” Cuomo. As I attempted to provide her with some documentation to that effect, I found this little gem below, that I had never seen before. I had, at the time, shared the article from the Niagara Falls Reporter in which Bedenko had admitted to having fabricated some emails to sully the reputation of then (real) Mayor of Buffalo Steve Casey.

Let’s be 100% clear here. I have never fabricated any emails to sully the reputation of Steve Casey, or of Byron Brown. I have never fabricated any emails to anyone, anywhere, and I have never fabricated any emails about – or from – Carl Paladino.  Anyone suggesting that I did (or that I would) is a liar. 

I am prepared – at any time – to produce the emails in question to anyone, provided that my source’s identity remains protected. 

I don’t know the author but he is spot-on.

[I omitted here a lengthy paean to Carl Paladino, the savior and messiah of the Buffalo School system].

If I had a million dollars… I would sue the pants off of Alan Bedenko, challenge him to take a lie detector test and let him perjure himself in a court of law. Carl Paladino is one of the finest men I’ve ever known, and he, students and families of the Buffalo Public Schools and the people of New York deserve far better than being lied to by a nutcase on a liberal jihad and held hostage by the race-baiters of the School Board and the Buffalo Teachers Union. It’s a rare bird with “intestinal fortitude” that would subject himself to the outrageous and unrelenting bogus accusations of racism. We who know Carl, know that he is making an enormous sacrifice committing himself to this otherwise impossible task. He has given up his precious time, reputation and personal comfort because he cares so deeply for raising the level of achievement and providing a better future for the residents and families of the City of Buffalo. Jul Thompson Founder, TEA New York

Jul: Presumably Carl can provide you with the filing fee to sue me. I mean, you wouldn’t have standing to sue me, and Carl’s well past the one-year statute of limitations to do so. If I had fabricated those emails – you know, the racist, pornographic emails that Carl had sent and forwarded, including the one showing a horse having anal sex with a human female – why didn’t Carl go ahead and sue me back in 2010? 2011? 2012? 2013? Go ask any of Carl’s bigshot buddies whether he sent them. Ask Jamie Moses. Ask Larry Quinn. I can give you more names, if you want – names of people who might not necessarily be public figures. Email me at buffalopundit[at]gmail.com and I will give you a list of the names of people who received the pornographic and racist emails that Carl sent. Any time.  The reason why Carl never sued me? He sent them. They’re his.

Mrs. Thompson went on to regurgitate a 5 year-old blog post from a guy I contacted on Twitter yesterday. Here is the relevant exchange:

Could some of the Paladino e-mails been forgeries? This, and other questions, that the Albany press refuses to ask by Jerry Myrle Fuller Sunday, April 18, 2010 (Note: Most of you know that I am not a reporter by trade or training, and that my area of expertise is meteorology, so if this reads like a first-person journal entry, that is part of the reason. It seems to flow a little better that way.) By now, most of you have heard about the e-mail leak from a liberal blog known as wnymedia.net that purports, in big letters, to be displaying the scandalous “racist and sexist e-mails” put forth by Buffalo developer and Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl P. Paladino. Immediately I became suspicious. The article asserted that the e-mails were real with all the authority of a Facebook chain message. So, I did some research. Initially, this article was going to be a plain old rant about how this state seems to treat upstate politicians with a lot less respect than downstaters, pointing out the curious parallel between this and Chris Collins’s alleged “lap dance” comments that were unverifiable and blown way out of proportion, killing his proposed campaign for governor. It is no coincidence that both came from Buffalo, and it is also no coincidence that it has been decades since the state of New York has had a governor from the upstate region. However, I began to notice something: while for a few days, it appeared that Paladino’s campaign would indeed go down in flames, as would-be supporters ranging from Curtis Sliwa to Mark Williams disavowed him over the controversy, something funny happened: Paladino’s die-hard supporters rallied around him harder than ever. Paladino has a strong cult following, with passionate and outspoken supporters– something I really don’t see outside the political class for Lazio or Levy. They began to see the outrage over the e-mails as over the top. This led to wnymedia.net trying to push its rebuttal and insist that Carl Paladino was a dirty racist unfit for the office of governor of New York. So, I looked into wnymedia.net– specifically Alan Bedenko, the man who portrays himself as “buffalopundit–” to see who this guy was. To put it bluntly, he’s an ambulance chaser (i.e., an auto injury attorney) who joined the Democratic Party in 2003. Having sporadically read his commentary, he’s always been fairly strongly liberal. This was relatively mundane information, but then I stumbled on a little item from the Niagara Falls Reporter (a local alternative tabloid in the Niagara Falls area) that had something eerily familiar. The article dates to February 2009 and stems from an unrelated e-mail feud between Sam Hoyt and Buffalo City Hall (my emphasis added):

Well, let’s get one thing clear. The author admits that he’s no reporter, and boy is he right. I defend people against whom lawsuits have been brought. I am not an “ambulance chaser”, and haven’t done plaintiff’s personal injury work since 2001. Indeed, even accused drunk drivers know this!

Anyhow, here the author embedded the text from Mike Hudson’s Niagara Falls Reporter:

Big catfight in Buffalo last week between amateur bloggers Alan Bedenko of Buffalo Pundit and Glenn Gramigna of New WNY Politics, precipitated by the self-important Bedenko’s decision to publish what he even said was a series of fraudulent e-mails purporting to have been sent between some top aides to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown last summer. Clearly, the e-mails were meant to slander and defame the people at Buffalo City Hall. Why Bedenko, who is an attorney in real life, chose to publish them is anyone’s guess. Enter Gramigna, who openly speculated that — since Bedenko was the only one to publish the lurid e-mails — perhaps Bedenko in fact had been their author. Actually, the theory makes a lot of sense. The e-mails were shopped to various news outlets last summer, and my impression was that they were created in response to the publication by the Niagara Falls Reporter of another series of e-mails between the married state Rep. Sam Hoyt and a young and comely Albany intern he was carrying on with. The Hoyt camp openly accused Brown’s first deputy mayor, Steve Casey, of being behind the leaking of the Hoyt e-mails — which were genuine — and Casey, perhaps coincidentally, figures prominently in the admittedly fraudulent e-mails published by Bedenko. Also perhaps coincidentally, Bedenko was a strong supporter of Hoyt during the last election cycle, has been a consistent critic of the Brown administration and was, after all, the only one to publish the garbage. Anyway, he phoned Gramigna “in a rage” and, being a lawyer, claimed his rival to be guilty of defamation. For his part, Gramigna is every bit the clueless lump comedians make fun of when discussing bloggers, and immediately posted a retraction. One question remains: Who did write the slanderous and potentially damaging e-mails Gramigna ascribed to Bedenko? Bedenko vehemently denies he wrote them, of course, but who knows?

Glenn Gramigna was being paid by one Syaed Ali, who is widely thought to have been the author of the emails in question, and had no proof other than “open speculation” that I wrote the emails, because Chris Smith published them. Makes perfect sense, right? It’s logic for idiots! But be clear: nowhere in any of these articles have I “admitted” to having forged anything; on the contrary, I vehemently denied that I wrote them then, and I vehemently deny I wrote them now, because I didn’t write them. I didn’t even publish them.

Alan Bedenko has a history of questionable e-mail “leaks” that pre-dates the Paladino e-mail flap. As I understood it, reporters are supposed to check the reliability of their sources before quoting their allegations as fact– something that did not appear to happen when these e-mails were leaked and subsequently went viral. Considering that I’m pretty sure wnymedia.net isn’t on most of the Albany press members’ must-read lists (their articles rarely show up on the major blogs), I’d venture to say there was also some shopping going around with the Paladino story as well.

What “history of questionable e-mail “leaks”? The Syaed Ali stuff? Hell, you can go right here and read all about that, from that time. Here is the article I wrote about Gramigna immediately after he published his “speculation”, and I expressly threatened to sue him. It should also be noted that I never published the emails in 2009 – it was Chris Smith who did so.

From that article: UPDATED: Gramigna has retracted what he wrote, and what his source told him. That’s appreciated, but still horseshit. Apart from this morning, when I called him in a rage, I can honestly say that I’ve never exchanged a single word with Gramigna, despite having helped him promote his dreck-laden site when he started it. His business model is: get local politicians to buy ads, print positive crap about them and negative crap about their opponents. Look for an alternative to completely decimate that business model, coming soon. If I had written the offending emails – which I didn’t – I would have reprinted them last summer, when they were originally sent. They are alleged to have been sent by Mr. Gramigna’s newest advertising client, Syaed Ali. But I didn’t print them last summer. Indeed, I alluded to them a couple of times only in an off-handed manner. I had theories as to who might have been sending them, but someone in law enforcement somehow landed on Mr. Ali, and he alleges that he was subsequently placed into custody and that his belongings have been confiscated. I’ve gone on record saying that, if what Ali said is true, it’s a grave injustice. Furthermore, if I had sent them, I wouldn’t have pimped them to mainstream media – I would have posted them on my site contemporaneously so that the TV and other reporters would give me linkage and credit. But I didn’t write them, I wouldn’t have written them, I have nothing to gain from writing them, and never in my wildest dreams would ever conceive of writing something like that about anyone, much less an elected official. For Gramigna, acting apparently as a conduit for the flailing Ali, to even suggestthat I was behind those emails is a disgrace – and a defamatory one, at that. I have my disagreements with the Brown administration – I don’t like their secrecy, I don’t like their sense of entitlement, I don’t like their Machiavellian machinations to try and upset ECDC and its endorsed candidates, and I don’t necessarily think that they do the best job for Buffalo. That doesn’t mean I would ever stoop so low as to spread vicious, defamatory rumors about him or his officials.

I am not trying to claim that the entire thing is an absolute hoax. Paladino himself has acknowledged that at least some of the e-mails in question were in fact authentic. Many of them, knowing Paladino’s public persona and admitted racial insensitivity, aren’t even all that surprising. However, there is the question that if Paladino in fact did not author some of these alleged e-mails, why did he not come out and deny them? The best answer that I can give is that Michael Caputo didn’t even try to do so. Caputo, after the e-mail controversy broke, stated repeatedly that “We’re not sure about the authenticity of the emails, and we don’t care. I’m not even going to comment on the emails. It’s not something I care to look at.” He has characterized the leak as a “liberal Democrat blog smear” and has declined to delve into the details.

Carl is a lawyer. It doesn’t matter what Caputo did or didn’t say. Carl had until 2011 to go ahead and sue the crap out of me if the emails were frauds. I’m just a middle-class lawyer/blogger and he’s a multimillionaire. Why didn’t he just sue me if it was false?

There could be lots of reasons. The biggest is that they’re provably genuine. Next would be that bringing that lawsuit would have opened up Carl’s own reputation to scrutiny. He knows better than to subject his reputation to the discovery process. Lots of reasons.

As for Syaed Ali, the idea that I wrote emails accusing Byron Brown of being gay is so palpably riduculous and false that Gramigna himself retracted the allegation. Mike Hudson didn’t because Mike Hudson knows how to write a story without crossing over the lines of libel, and didn’t directly accuse me of anything. Jul Thompson is a liar, and “Tea New York” is liable for her defamation. 

I don’t know yet whether I will pursue legal action, but I do know that I now – after 5 years – have to establish, once and for all, the authenticity of Carl Paladino’s emails. That means I now have to produce the emails in an unredacted format, and journalists and laypeople will be perfectly free to inquire of these judges, appointed bureaucrats, elected officials, prominent businesspeople, and developers whether Carl Paladino sent these racist, pornographic, and offensive emails. Given Mr. Paladino’s current status as an elected member of the Buffalo school board, and given the controversy over his ongoing battle with a predominately African-American minority on that board, I don’t know that the timing of this is something that he welcomes, but either way, he has the Thompsons to thank.

Hate Radio in Real Life

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Yesterday afternoon, after my kid got in some epic sledding, we stopped in at our local coffee shop for some hot chocolate. This coffee shop is all decked out in a sort of eclectic-ish, faux-Nepalese decor, and it was pretty empty, except for a guy working on his laptop and two middle-aged guys seated at the table behind us.

The four of us were warming up and chatting when the conversation behind us became suddenly audible. “I’m telling you, Obama is deliberately ruining this country” said the guy who was facing our direction. “We’re going to end up just like France if this keeps up”, he continued. There was some more generic Obamaphobia before he launched into a diatribe about how immigrants like the Irish and Italians never “strapped on bombs” like these “people from Yemen” coming here now, who even have their own supermarkets and whatnot.

I am not about to get into an argument with ignorant stranger 1 and 2, so at that, I just told my family I couldn’t listen to this conversation behind me, and got up to leave. I might have repeated that as I came back to get them after I threw out my trash. Worse than second-hand smoke, I was escaping the effects of second-hand hatred.

But seriously, I’m obviously not going to argue with some stranger in the hippie-ish coffee shop, but I didn’t want to listen to anti-immigrant, racist, ignorant garbage. It’s like when you’re listening to WBEN to get the traffic and weather, and then the host comes back on and the topic is whatever Tim Wenger skimmed on Breitbart that morning. So I did what I usually do – I turned the dial. Only in real life, by leaving the coffee shop.

I mean, I could have explained to this guy how the US has absolutely nothing culturally, nationally, politically, racially, or ethnically in common with France. I could ask, “what’s so bad about France, anyway?” I could have suggested that this guy read up on France’s colonial history and ask himself why it would have Arab Muslim immigrants who were poorly assimilated into an otherwise homogeneous nation-state. Perhaps I might have pointed out how other immigrant groups had histories of violence (the Mafia, the Westies), and even their own ethnic groceries (Guercio’s, Redlinski’s, Hoowa), yet no one finds any of that to be indicative of ingrained, genetic homicidal behavior or refusal to assimilate. As this guy moaned about those violent Muslims, I could have mentioned how many mass killings have taken place at the hands of Christians – everything from the pogroms to Eric Rudolph to Srebrenica to the Spanish Inquisition to the Army of God/Christian Identity/Christian Patriot types.

The conversation at home, however, was better than that. We talked about the Christmas break and the summer ahead, and how we’re going to the Detroit car show for the first time in several years. We talked about things having to do with the excitement and love of life, fear and hatred.

So, what do you do when a Limbaugh show breaks out in your neighborhood coffee shop?

David DiPietro’s Jihad on Learning

Assemblyman David DiPietro of East Aurora has declared a holy war on book lernin‘. ‘Specially that Moozlim kind. (It’s not the first time, either. DiPietro was convinced Obama was a seekrit Moozlim back in 2010).

Just talked to an irate parent. Parkdale school in East Aurora is teaching third graders(8-9 year olds) about the Koran, Mohammed and the Muslim faith. It is MANDATORY reading for Common Core! The teacher would not let the parents see the book until after they asked 3 times and threatened to go to the principal!!! The reading is all done in school and the books can not be taken out of the classroom! MORE TO COME!

This has quickly become a cause celebre (that’s French) among the tea party anti-learning set.

I have a third grader in a public school, and neither the Koran, Mohammed, nor the Muslim faith is MANDATORY ALL CAPS reading under Common Core or any other standard, so I immediately know DiPietro is lying. What are the books, you ask?

Nasreen’s Secret School is a children’s picture book, described thusly:

Young Nasreen has not spoken a word to anyone since her parents disappeared.

In despair, her grandmother risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. Will a devoted teacher, a new friend, and the worlds she discovers in books be enough to draw Nasreen out of her shell of sadness?

Based on a true story from Afghanistan, this inspiring book will touch readers deeply as it affirms both the life-changing power of education and the healing power of love.

A review from the “School Library Journal” describes the premise thusly:

Grade 2–4—This story begins with an author’s note that succinctly explains the drastic changes that occurred when the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in 1996. The focus is primarily on the regime’s impact on women, who were no longer allowed to attend school or leave home without a male chaperone, and had to cover their heads and bodies with a burqa. After Nasreen’s parents disappeared, the child neither spoke nor smiled. Her grandmother, the story’s narrator, took her to a secret school, where she slowly discovered a world of art, literature, and history obscured by the harsh prohibitions of the Taliban. As she did in The Librarian of Basra (Harcourt, 2005), Winter manages to achieve that delicate balance that is respectful of the seriousness of the experience, yet presents it in a way that is appropriate for young children. Winter’s acrylic paintings make effective use of color, with dramatic purples and grays, with clouds and shadows dominating the scenes in which the Taliban are featured, and light, hopeful pinks both framing and featured in the scenes at school. This is an important book that makes events in a faraway place immediate and real. It is a true testament to the remarkable, inspiring courage of individuals when placed in such dire circumstances.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ END

Interestingly enough, “Librarian of Basra” is the other book in question.

“In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was ‘Read.'”*

–Alia Muhammad Baker

 

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library–along with the thirty thousand books within it–will be destroyed forever.

 

In a war-stricken country where civilians–especially women–have little power, this true story about a librarian’s struggle to save her community’s priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries. Illustrated by Jeanette Winter in bright acrylic and ink.

 

And

Starred Review. Grade 2-4 – When war seemed imminent, Alia Muhammad Baker, chief librarian of Basra’s Central Library, was determined to protect the library’s holdings. In spite of the government’s refusal to help, she moved the books into a nearby restaurant only nine days before the library burned to the ground. When the fighting moved on, this courageous woman transferred the 30,000 volumes to her and her friends’ homes to await peace and the rebuilding of a new library. In telling this story, first reported in the New York Timeson July 27, 2003, by Shaila K. Dewan, Winter artfully achieves a fine balance between honestly describing the casualties of war and not making the story too frightening for young children. The text is spare and matter-of-fact. It is in the illustrations, executed in acrylic and ink in her signature style, that Winter suggests the impending horror. The artist uses color to evoke mood, moving from a yellow sky to orange, to deep maroon during the bombing, and then blues and pinks with doves flying aloft as the librarian hopes for a brighter future. Palm trees, architecture, dress, and Arabic writing on the flag convey a sense of place and culture. Although the invading country is never mentioned, this is an important story that puts a human face on the victims of war and demonstrates that a love of books and learning is a value that unites people everywhere. – Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT

 

The theme in both books is the universal importance of education and knowledge, even in the face of adversity or outright hostility. I can’t think of a better lesson to teach young readers than that. To use real stories about real kids to convey that is moving and powerful. These are books that I will go out of my way to acquire and have my child read, because of the irony at work.

Books. Education. Knowledge. Having and accomplishing these things in the face of war or religious fanaticism. Nasreen isn’t a book about religion, it’s about fighting religious extremism. Basra isn’t a book about religion, it’s a book about the importance of reading; protecting your culture and heritage. It’s heartbreakingly anti-American to condemn and ban these books, with these themes.

Both Basra and Nasreen are on the recommended book list for grades 3 – 5 under the National Catholic Educational Association. Nasreen teaches “justice”, and Basra teaches “courage”.

DiPietro is on local AM radio this afternoon concern-trolling about how these books mention Islam, and that’s wrong because Christian and Jewish mentions are forbidden. Like “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

David DiPietro and other book-killers like he are tantamount to the religious fanatics in Basra and Nasreen who would deny books, knowledge, and an education to the protagonists. Unable to see beyond his own limited and prejudiced worldview, DiPietro is seemingly seeking to withhold these important and age-appropriate stories from local children because the protaganists are of the Muslim faith.

As we learned in Clarence in March 2014, the books aren’t the problem, it’s the book banners. Tyrannies ban books.

(Join Banned Books Week on Facebook if you believe in freedom of education and expression; freedom to learn).

What Is and Isn’t a Troll

Right Wing Talk Radio (artist’s impression)

The idea of talk radio call-in shows should be, theoretically, about an intellectual back-and-forth where people share opinions and knowledge, and perhaps reach common ground, or at least listen to a different perspective and perhaps think a bit.

But that’s not what happens. Most talk radio is right-wing hosts taking calls from right-wing callers, and if politics is on the table, dissenting opinions are strictly forbidden. Instead, the callers each try to out-do the host; if the host says Obama is a communist, the callers will insist that he’s … well, they’ll just agree and maybe add “fascist” into the mix because hey, why not?

So here’s a few minutes’ worth of audio that shows what happens when one local talk radio host faces a dissenting opinion on his Facebook page. (Screeners make sure dissent seldom makes it to air).

Labeled as “trolls”, the people who disagree are banned and blocked, sent to a sort of cyber-gulag, leaving the host and his followers safe from any opinions or views that do not mirror their own.

That’s pretty amazing, right? Right down to the “little gook in me” quip near the beginning, referring to President Obama as a “boy”, and the painfully inappropriate minstrelsy.

I can understand a person being upset about being called a racist if they don’t believe they are, but that’s not even what the offending commenter said. This is a childish over-reaction to a fair comment about a relevant topic – not at all trolling under any definition. If you disagree, engage and debate. If you shut them down, you’re just confirming for everyone that your opinion is factually and intellectually bankrupt.

This is why I have Sirius, WBFO, and WEDG on heavy rotation in my car. I want to be informed or entertained. I don’t want to be angry, and I don’t want my commutes to be hate and sedition all the time.

Sandy Beach & Audience on Race in America

Presented without comment.

Erie County’s D-LAN and Right-Wing Stormtrolls

Logo_ErieCo_tpDuring the Snowvember / Knife storm, some municipalities made complaints about county or state aid, and there was a concerted push on local Squadrismo Radio (traffic, weather, and sedition on the tens – these guys, who think it’s cute to assault & batter former First Ladies), to criticize elected officials (all of them Democrats) for, e.g., not getting small town side streets plowed as soon as people would have liked. There was some legitimate debate over the speed with which the Thruway was closed, and how quickly people were freed from their cars, but as we discovered later on, when Cuomo allegedly criticized the National Weather Service’s forecast, there was ample warning of a historic snow event on Monday night into Tuesday.

All of a sudden, personal responsibility goes out the window when there’s a Democrat available to criticize. The WBEN Snowtrolling was amazing and unprecedented.

County Executive Poloncarz sent a warning about the storm to his disaster response team on Sunday night, and by all reasonable and impartial accounts, they performed admirably; “real leadership”, the Buffalo News called it.

But some towns have been complaining about the lack of county plows, despite the fact that they apparently had not bothered to use the decade-old computerized system to request them. In 2004, the County implemented the “DisasterLAN” or “DLAN” system for municipalities to use to request – and the county to coordinate – disaster response, including county plows.

The DLAN system is specialized for disasters and is heavily used around New York State, he said, but ignored by many Western New York highway officials.

“The problem was that only one or two people even knew about the system,” he said, despite county insistence upon its use.

Even conference calls proved inconsistent, he said, with Boston never participating in the daily planning and Orchard Park “hit and miss.”

The county executive pointed to Lake Avenue in Hamburg, a hard-hit road visited by Cuomo on Thursday. It was inserted into the DLAN system because of the volume and underlying ice pack, and therefore became a priority.

“The county knows how to use it, and 95 percent of the towns know how to use it, but not all did,” Poloncarz said. “If those people don’t utilize it, we can’t help it.”

And Lancaster Village Mayor (because we totally need a village overlaying a town government) Paul Maute “never heard of” DLAN, which is apparently everybody’s fault but his own, despite the fact that it’s been used for 10 years.

According to both Fudoli and Hoffman, halfway through the storm they became aware that in order to receive resources such as additional plows and other machinery, they had to use a Web-based system called DLan, but they had little success in doing so.

“The entire storm we were told we had equipment coming,” said Hoffman.

“We never heard of DLan until a couple of days into it,” added Maute.

According to Fudoli, requests submitted by Lancaster employees were not fulfilled, but the system repeatedly labeled them as “completed.”

So, there’s a computerized system that’s a decade old that works perfectly well, but a few highway superintendents don’t understand or use it, so it’s everybody else’s fault that, e.g., the Town of Boston didn’t get a call from the County, or the Mayor of Lancaster never heard of the county’s disaster system. How about using the DLAN or picking up your own phone? All you need to use DLAN is a connected browser. Personal responsibility gone, waiting for big government to bail them out.

Lancaster Supervisor Dino Fudoli learned that he was supposed to use DLAN “halfway through the storm”, but he was a legislator for the entity that set up and runs DLAN – Erie County?! 

That’s before we get to the concept of there being 7 feet of snow on the ground as another 2 feet dumped down just a couple of days later. You can’t just snap your fingers and get every side street in WNY plowed out overnight under those conditions.

Another meme that’s popped up has to do with how Governor Cuomo was preening for the cameras when he showed up with his entourage (read: cabinet) to stay in WNY for several days to help coordinate storm clean-up and response.

Right. Photo-op. Except that Governor Cuomo did exactly what any rational person would expect a governor to do – show up and offer state aid, money, and manpower to get the Southtowns up and running again. Had he not showed up, these same people would be whining about how Cuomo abandoned WNY again.

Cuomo is an arrogant downstater who doesn’t brook much dissent and is rude to the press and critics, plus he took some guns off the market and limited how many bullets can go in there, so he’s been likened to Hitler.

If you want to criticize the speed with which the Thruway closed, or how he came across poorly when talking about the weather service, that’s fine. But hammering the governor for showing up at a disaster area and ordering that help be given? Don’t be a dick.

Things Worse than #LatteSalute

Eliminationist radio station WBEN spent an entire day Wednesday lamenting / concern-trolling the President’s apparently impeachable offense of saluting Marines with a coffee cup in his hand.  Of course, because he’s Obama, it was a latte. But while Tim Wenger’s obsession du jour was n0bummer’s epic disrespect of every troop and all troops everywhere, what sort of thing has WBEN (and the rest of the local media, for that matter), completely ignored? 

How about a former WBEN employee and current sponsor raising money off the severed heads of Americans slaughtered by ISIS? This isn’t the semi-informed lunatic ramblings of some online crank listener – this is an endorsed Republican candidate for Congress. Not once did anyone on WBEN spend a nanosecond condemning this. 

Or how about WBEN’s afternoon drive time shock jock dreaming – literally – of a military coup in Washington, and his idiot commenters trying to out-do each other with eliminationist wet dreams. (Helpful hint: the page is publicly viewable, so don’t whine to me about not blocking the names out. 

That’s some station Tim Wenger has molded into his own image. So, while it’s a daylong horror for Obama – a civilian – to salute Marines whilst holding a coffee cup, it’s perfectly ok to make political hay off American martyrs and to openly advocate for and dream of sedition, treason, and a coup d’etat. Clear? 

Scenes from America

In Ferguson, Missouri, a police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black teenager. The shots were not at close range, indicating no immediate struggle, and there were at least six shots fired. Setting aside the subsequent character assassination of the victim, the police response to popular outrage and demonstrations has been militaristic in nature, and overflowing with issues of race and class in contemporary America. 

No one condones looting or violence, but the ridiculously overwrought police response has quashed the people’s right to demonstrate. 

Hysterical right wing commentators have overwhelmingly sided with the police officer who shot Michael Brown, labeling the dead kid a “thug” who clearly deserved to die. Of course, we still don’t have a copy of the police report surrounding the shooting incident. The people in Ferguson are outraged by the latest homicide of an unarmed Black teenager under questionable circumstances, and their demonstrations have been met with this: 

Some months back, there was a standoff in Nevada over Cliven Bundy and his cows. Back in 1993, Bundy didn’t like a change in policy at the Bureau of Land Management, so he refused to renew his license to permit his cattle to graze on public land. In 1998, a federal court barred Bundy from letting his cattle graze on the “Bunkerville Allotment”. In July 2013, a federal judge further ordered Bundy off of additional lands

It should be noted that, in both court cases, Bundy had an opportunity to be heard, and exercised it.

In 2014, the Bureau of Land Management undertook action to forcibly remove Bundy’s cattle from federal lands pursuant to the court orders. Hundreds of armed, right-wing, so-called “militia” came to Bundy’s aid in the Nevada brush, and the rancher became a right-wing, anti-Obama cause celebre. 

American fascists justify the homicide of Michael Brown, whom they dismiss as nothing more than a thug who got what was coming to him. They deride the outpouring of grief and anger in Ferguson as being nothing more than a subhuman gallery of violent looters. They have nothing whatsoever to say about a military show of force against lawful protests in Ferguson, and ignore the obvious provocation of police snipers and tanks aiming at civilians in middle America. 

But when Cliven Bundy disregarded a lawful order of the court, and declared some sort of idiotic war against a federal government he claims has no legitimacy, hundreds of American fascists came to his aid. The bloodlust against federal agents was shocking, and we had images that contrast with those out of Ferguson in one very salient way: 

In Ferguson, protesters are mostly African-American, and the government’s guns are pointed at them. 

In Nevada, protesters were mostly white, and they pointed their guns at government agents. 

It’s like the anti-Burning Man

 

Cliven Bundy had people aiming guns at federal agents, but we’re supposed to get all upset because some angry demonstrators in Ferguson broke a McDonald’s store windows or stole some TVs? 

The people who support Cliven Bundy’s defiance of legitimate government authority think that the demonstrators in Ferguson have no business protesting questionable government actions. 

Go home, America. You’re drunk. 

Second-Generation Americans Against Refugees

Once again, Tony Fracasso from the long-running broad-comedy show “SpeakupWNY” weighed in, this time on immigration, in my most recent Kathy from Williamsville thread

So Alan,

Do you support mass migration of people from other countries to the USA? Yes or No.

Do realize this cost the net tax payers tens of millions of dollars?

80 years ago when people immigrated to the USA they still followed the rules on the books plus we didn’t have the costly social programs we have today.

Like Derek Noakes loves animal videos on YouTube, Fracasso loves to demand “yes or no” answers and to use the phrase “net tax payers”. My response

Do I support “mass migration of people from other countries to the USA”? Absolutely. Immigrants like the Fracasso family helped make this country what it is today. Never mind that Italian immigrants found it hard to assimilate, were discriminated against, subjected to hatred and bigotry, and tended to live amongst each other in homogeneous neighborhoods, now Italians are considered to be just like our WASP founders.

Of course, it’s also a complete lie that immigrants are a net drain on the economy. For instance,

Via Buffalo Niagara Partnership

Immigration grows the economy and helps enhance local cultural vitality. Immigrants also create jobs for native Americans here in WNY:

Via Buffalo Niagara Partnership

So, if you’ll notice above, I pointed out to Fracasso that, 100 years ago, Italians were treated rather horribly by native-born Americans, and like new immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries, they found it tough to assimilate and kept to themselves in insular communities. Fracasso responds

That was then and this is now. To different scenarios. When are families came over a 100 years ago the country was in a different economic state. We also didn’t have the social programs we have now compared to 100 years ago. This has nothing to do with bigotry or hatred. Is that a tactic in the Democratic Playbook? When someone doesn’t agree with you call them a hater or a bigot?

I’m also rather sure the mass of immigrants that came over 100 years ago came into the states by following the laws.

Why do we have borders and laws Alan?

So, here’s my response: 

Right. YOUR playbook is to shout about how YOUR ancestors came here “legally” at a time when immigration from Europe was essentially unrestricted, save for the “not an anarchist” box that needed to be ticked before you could get tested for syphilis on your way through Ellis Island.

But when it comes to brown, Spanish-speaking tweens from Central America who are escaping social, economic, and political problems that are not dissimilar from, say, turn-of-the-century Italy, all of a sudden it’s an “invasion”. Yet you want to sit there and tell me that’s not bigotry or hatred – or that the bigotry and hatred that was hurled at Italian and Irish immigrants 110 years ago was not just as disgusting and sordid.

We do have borders, Tony. When was the last time you actually crossed the southern border? Have you ever crossed the Rio Grande or taken a day trip to TJ? Ever? Have you ever witnessed the interminable lines, super-tight security, and state-of-the-art anti-drug and human trafficking measures put in place at even remote crossings in the desert Southwest? Have you seen the miles and miles of barren wasteland out that way?

Yes, we have borders and they are reasonably protected, and here’s the reason why this is all about bigoted hysteria and not at all about facts:

While illegal immigration of kids 12 and under has shot up by 117%, theoverall number of people of any age crossing illegally is at a 40 year low, and even the number of kids crossing has dropped.

Most of the anti-immigrant hysteria stems from a conscious or unconscious belief that Obama is a foreign Manchurian candidate who is here to destroy America as we know it. If you don’t believe me, just look at Weppner’s own birtherite hysterics.

Furthermore, the kids are mostly from Honduras: “The fact that Hondurans represent the highest percentage [27%], followed by Salvadorans, makes clear that the major push factors are violence,” said Susan Terrio, an anthropology professor at Georgetown University who has interviewed dozens of unaccompanied immigrant children.”

“Invaders” my ass.

Yes, we do have borders and they’re being reasonably defended, and we also have laws. I don’t know why you’d so quickly invalidate your own argument, but the law states that undocumented unaccompanied minors cannot be deported before they have a court hearing – due process.

What you’re really saying is, “why won’t Obama disobey the law?

Here is a Forbes list of 7 myths about immigration

Myth 1: There are more immigrants than ever and these immigrants break the mold of previous waves.

Between 1860 and 1920, fourteen percent of the population was foreign-born. The average for the 20th century is 10-plus percent. The proportion is not different today—about 13 percent. Until the 1880s immigration originated in northern and western Europe but in subsequent decades they came from southern, central and eastern Europe, which was culturally, politically and economically different. Not to mention Asians, who arrived in significant numbers.

The difference seems to be national origin, not numbers. 

Myth 4: Present-day immigrants do not assimilate, unlike previous waves.

About forty percent of newcomers speak reasonable English anyway, but the three-generation pattern echoes that of previous immigrants: the second generation is bilingual but speaks English better and the third generation speaks only English. By the third generation, out-marriage is strong among immigrants. A century ago, seventeen percent of second-generation Italian immigrants married non-Italians while 20 percent of second-generation Mexicans marry non-Hispanics today (even though, given the numbers, it is easier for them to marry another Mexican.) Second-generation immigrants do better than their parents, as in the past.

That proves my point about Italians, supra

Myth 5: Low-skilled workers take away jobs, lower salaries and hurt the economy.

As producers and consumers, illegal immigrants enlarge the economic pie by at least $36 billion a year. That number would triple if they were legal—various studies point to a $1 trillion impact on GDP in ten years. Low-skilled workers fulfill a need by taking jobs others do not want, letting natives move up the scale. Without them employers would need to pay higher salaries, making those products and services more expensive. They have a tiny negative effect on wages at the lowest end that is offset by a rise in the wages of those who move up—the net effect is a 1.8% rise.

That’s right – even undocumented immigrants help to grow the economy

Myth 7: Immigrants don´t pay taxes and cost more than they contribute. 

Immigrants pay many local and state levies, including real estate and sales taxes, and about $7 billion in Social Security taxes. Between the 1970s and the 1990s they represented $25 billion more in government revenue than what they cost. They would contribute much more if they were documented. Most immigrant children have at least one parent who is a citizen, so counting all of them as part of the cost of immigration is deceptive. The welfare state was never a “pull” factor: until after World War II immigrants were not entitled to relief programs. Immigrants did not cause government spending to grow by a factor of 50 in one century.

These myths are further confirmed and expanded upon in this Washington Post article, and this article from the Southern Poverty Law Center

If people like Fracasso are so concerned about facts and the law, then it would likely behoove them to educate themselves not only about the facts about immigration – legal and not – and what laws apply. 

Immigrants do not harm or destroy America – they make America stronger. 

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