Saturday, December 29, 2012

Union Thugs With Assault Rifles

So, to all those gun nuts who want to arm schoolteachers, weren't these the same teachers characterized by you idiots as a bunch of violent union thugs in recent months? Forgive me if I seem confused by this.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Politics Getting in the Way of Starving Old People

Too bad there are such entrenched interests on the left. If only the greedy old people and the poors on food stamps and Social Security would get up off their lazy butts:
Congressman Chris Gibson said he's pushed hard for a bi-partisan agreement to reduce the nation's deficit over the long term, but politics are getting in the way.

"What you see is entrenched factions on both sides on the left and on the right that don't want to move and that's not helping our country at this point," said Gibson, a Republican.
Do tell us more, congressman. On one side you have poor people who have actually PAID for their "entitlements" of approximately $1200 per month, and on the other you have people who spend $1200 on breakfast.

It's no contest. The rich are simply overburdened.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Crapo's "Apology" is All Hot Air

So, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) was busted for DUI in Virginia over the weekend:
Idaho Sen. Michael Crapo was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with driving under the influence in a Washington, D.C., suburb, authorities said.

Police in Alexandria, Va., said Sunday that the three-term Republican was pulled over after his vehicle ran a red light. Police spokesman Jody Donaldson said Crapo failed field sobriety tests and was arrested at about 12:45 a.m. He was transported to the Alexandria jail and released on an unsecured $1,000 bond at about 5 a.m.
Normally, this kind of thing wouldn't be that big of a deal. People are human and make stupid mistakes, even U.S. senators. But there is something that bugs me about this. Crapo is a Mormon, which means he's supposed to teetotal as a matter of faith:
Our body is a precious gift from God. To help keep our bodies and our minds healthy and strong, God gave a law of health to Joseph Smith in 1833. This law is known as the Word of Wisdom (see Doctrine and Covenants 89:1-21).

In addition to emphasizing the benefits of proper eating and physical and spiritual health, God has spoken against the use of:

Coffee and tea.
Illegal drugs.

God promises great physical and spiritual blessings to those who follow the Word of Wisdom. Today, the scientific community promotes some of the same principles that a loving God gave to Joseph Smith nearly two centuries ago.
Mormons can't even drink a Coke. Seriously. So, when a Mormon gets pulled over for DUI, this is a bigger story. Especially given that anyone in law enforcement will tell you that a person drinks and drives an average of about 80 times before getting popped by the cops. In other words, it is extremely likely that Crapo has been at this for a very long time, only now getting his deserved comeuppance.

And this is what bugs me about sanctimonious right-wingers. They all talk endlessly about how society should bow down to their perception of morality, a morality almost none of them actually practice themselves. Add Crapo to the long list of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do Republicans.

It's the hypocrisy, stupid.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

LaPierre: "Call Me Crazy"

Don't mind if I do:
“If it’s crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy,” LaPierre said.
It appears he's yet to develop any ironic self-awareness.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


So, the the GOP's poster-boy for right-wing extremism has gone to meet his maker:
Robert H. Bork, whose failed Supreme Court nomination in 1987 infuriated conservatives and politicized the confirmation process for the ensuing decades, died Wednesday at the age of 85.

The former Yale law professor and judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit had a history of heart problems and had been in poor health for some time.
For the incurious among us, Bork's true legacy was the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox:
On May 19, 1973, Cox took a leave of absence from Harvard Law School to accept appointment as the first Watergate special prosecutor. Cox's appointment was a key condition set by the leadership of the U.S. Senate for the confirmation of Elliot Richardson as the new attorney general of the United States, succeeding Richard G. Kleindienst, who had resigned during the spring of 1973, as a result of the Watergate scandal. That summer, Cox learned with the rest of America about the secret taping system installed in the White House on orders from President Richard M. Nixon. During the next few months, Cox, the United States Senate Watergate Committee, and U.S. District Judge John J. Sirica struggled with the Nixon Administration over whether Nixon could be compelled to yield those tapes in response to a grand jury subpoena. When Sirica ordered Nixon to comply with the committee's and Cox's demands, the President offered Cox a compromise: instead of producing the tapes, he would allow the Senator John Stennis (a Democrat from Mississippi) to listen to the tapes, with the help of a transcript prepared for him by the White House, and Stennis would then prepare summaries of the tapes' contents. Cox rejected this compromise on Friday, October 19, 1973. On Saturday, October 20, 1973, Cox held a press conference to explain his decision.

That evening, in an event dubbed the Saturday Night Massacre by journalists, President Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to dismiss Cox.[4] Rather than comply with this order, Attorney General Richardson resigned, leaving his second-in-command, Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus in charge of the Justice Department. Ruckelshaus likewise refused to dismiss Cox, and he, too, resigned. These resignations left Solicitor General Robert Bork as the highest-ranking member of the Justice Department; insisting that he believed the decision unwise but also that somebody had to obey the president's orders, Bork dismissed Cox. Bork also considered submitting his resignation, but Richardson and Ruckelshaus dissuaded him from resigning, arguing that Bork had to remain in office to ensure continuity of the administration of the Justice Department. Upon being dismissed, Cox stated, "whether ours shall be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people to decide." His successor as special prosecutor was Leon Jaworski, named by Bork.

The dismissal of Cox suggested the use of independent counsel, prosecutors specifically appointed to investigate official misconduct. Ultimately, Congress enacted a law to provide for a procedure appointing independent counsels, a statute that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 1986. This statute, which had an expiration date inserted on its original enactment, expired without renewal.

Ultimately, on August 8, 1974, after the U.S. Supreme Court voted by 8 to 0 to reject Nixon's claims of executive privilege and release the tapes (with then Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist recusing himself because, as an assistant attorney general during Nixon's first term, he had taken part in internal executive-branch discussions of the scope of executive privilege), Nixon announced his decision to resign as President.
Bork was a crypto-facsist swine. I'll not shed a single tear for him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Amedore Claims Win, Tkaczyk Says "Not So Fast"

Assemblyman George Amedore thinks it's over in SD-46:
Republican George Amedore declared victory Monday in the race for the state’s new 46th Senate District, though Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk’s spokesman said there are still outstanding objections to be ruled on and Amedore’s declaration is premature.

Amedore, citing a 39-vote lead over Tkaczyk, issued a statement claiming victory and thanking his supporters.
Tkaczyk has good reason not to concede. Unlike the race between Saland and Gipson, Tkczyk still has a path to victory:
“There are still hundreds of outstanding objections that have to be ruled on by the Appellate Court,” Tkaczyk spokesman Gary Ginsburg said in a statement. “These ballots include votes cast by election inspectors that voted early at the direction of both Republican and Democratic election commissioners and hundreds of affidavit ballots that were thrown out because of minor errors. When all the votes are counted, Cecilia Tkaczyk will be certified the winner of this election and will represent the residents of the 46th Senate District.”
I would agree with this. 39 votes isn't enough of a margin to declare victory when there are "hundreds" of ballots still out there. If all the ballots are counted, Tkaczyk wins, as the vast majority of challenged ballots are typically cast by Democratic voters (and the vast majority of those by persons of color, which is all just a big coincidence, I'm sure, and not an indication that the GOP is run by a bunch of racists, shutupshutupshutup!).

The judge is set to rule on Christmas Eve. Hopefully he puts a lump of coal in Amedore's stocking.

Monday, December 17, 2012

When You've Lost Joe Scarborough....

The NRA has had our elected officials wrapped around its little finger for far too long. It's time to confront them and make them defend their insane obsession with the kinds of weapons that should be used only on a battlefield.

And perhaps Scarborough is right, that this time is different. I'm not so sure. The weeks surrounding the Columbine massacre were filled with similar incidents. I remember thinking at that time that we had reached a breaking point, and that now our elected officials would act. They didn't. I was wrong.

So, will they this time? I'm skeptical. But I do know that my right to keep and bear children, as one writer put it over the weekend, trumps your right to keep and bear arms.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why Does Fox & Friends Hate Christmas?

"Holiday" party? Aren't Fox employees all members of the Jesus club? After all, Bill O'Reilly rants on endlessly about how the term "happy holidays" is tantamount to murdering Christ all over again:
Deck the halls and man the battle stations. The fight has resumed.

I'm referring, of course, to the so-called War on Christmas, a yearly call to arms by those whose Christmas cheer is under siege. Or so they claim ... fear ... and warn.

[. . .]

Every right-thinking person needs to "stand up and fight against this secular progressivism that wants to diminish the Christmas holiday," he fulminated recently to that night's guest, Fox News personality and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. "We have to start to fight back against these people."

"You know, Bill," Huckabee said gently, "the nature of most Christians is not to get into a fight and a squabble."

"But you're gonna LOSE!" warned his host.

Turning the "No-Spin Zone" into a holiday war zone, O'Reilly is all for keeping Christ in Christmas.

At the same time, he proclaims that everyone — no matter their faith — should call a Christmas tree "a Christmas tree" and knock off their whining.
Looks like O'Reilly should start this counteroffensive within his own place of employment, bunch of secular-humanist do-gooders that they are.

Cuomo Wants Disclosure in Campaign Finance

I think states have a lot of say when it comes to people having to report campaign spending, so maybe this is a way to shine a light on exactly who is funding a particular super PAC:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants New York to be a “progressive leader” in reforming its campaign-finance laws, he said in a radio interview Wednesday afternoon.

Speaking to public radio’s Karen DeWitt, Cuomo said he will unveil a package of reforms in his upcoming State of the State address that would require politically active groups not registerred in New York to more broadly disclose their donors.

His proposal, he said, will go further than recent disclosure regulations from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics—which regulates lobbyists—and a plan laid out today by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who regulates non-profits.

“We’re going to work on a piece of legislation for next year that will part of the State of the State that rationalizes the entire system,” Cuomo said. “The JCOPE regulations I think were a good start; I think we need to go further. The attorney general’s jurisdiction is helpful; I think we need to go further.”
There are essentially no federal rules in place, so someone with millions of dollars can come into a state and spend like crazy without anyone knowing where the money is coming from.

Let's hope this legislation has legs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Monserrate Gets Two Years in Prison

A slap on the wrist, but better than nothing:
Hiram Monserrate, a former New York City councilman and state senator who acknowledged misusing about $100,000 in city money to help pay for one of his Senate campaigns, was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison.

Mr. Monserrate, 45, a Queens Democrat, pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and conspiracy in May. On Tuesday, he told a judge in Federal District Court in Manhattan that his misuse of the money had been motivated partly by his zeal to help poor and disenfranchised people.

“I am ashamed and deeply sorry for my lapse in judgment,” Mr. Monserrate said in court, adding, “I wanted to make a difference.
Yeah, you made a difference, alright.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Will Saland Concede?

Sounds like it's going to be soon:
Ballots were still being considered Monday in the closely contested race for the state’s 46th Senate District, but in the 41st Senate District one candidate declared victory even though the counting had not been completed.

[. . .]

Saland on Sunday evening issued a statement saying his attorneys would no longer challenge any ballots. He said as of Friday, the margin between him and Gipson had shrunk to 1,181 votes with 2,267 absentees and nearly 1,400 affidavits still to be counted.

“Although we have gained a significant number of votes during the recount, and the margin has been greatly reduced, I have used the weekend to reassess our standing,” Saland said. “Despite these gains, it is becoming apparent that we may not gain enough in the end to ultimately be successful.”
So, when is he going to throw in the towel?

And nothing has apparently changed in SD-46, with George Amedore holding a 110-vote lead over Cecilia Tkaczyk. The article mentions the nearly 900 challenged ballots that need to be dealt with, but it doesn't say anything as to when this will be resolved. Gonna be at least a few more days, it appears.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rand Paul is as Dumb as a Box of Rocks

The senator from Kentucky is suggesting that the GOP get out of the Democrats' way and allow them to pass whatever legislation they want. And what do we need to do to make this happen? Seriously, if this is what he wants, it's totally okay by me. You clowns have been obstructing the recovery for long enough. Get out of the way and let the people who actually want to fix the economy do so.

Democrats will happily own the recovery that will follow. Bring. It. On.

Christie Rejects State-Run ACA Exchange

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tell me again how moderate Chris Christie is. But, it's all good. The feds will come in and do a much better job than the local yahoos.

And I agree with Governor Dean. These guys really couldn't be any more clueless. Christie and his right-wing pals are inadvertently helping push this country toward a single-payer health insurance system. Keep it up, guys.

The "Fiscal Cliff" Will Reduce 2013 Deficit by $720 Billion

Yes, you read that headline correctly. So, why are the deficit hawks running scared over this? This is what you guys have wanted all along, and next year you just might get it:
If all you wanted to do was to reduce the deficit as quickly as possible, here’s one very simple way to get it done: Go off the fiscal cliff.

Do so would result in about $720 billion in total austerity in 2013, and it would bring down the deficit that year in some of major ways, including $180 billion from income tax hikes, $120 billion in revenue from the payroll tax, $110 billion from the sequester’s automatic spending cuts, and $160 billion from expiring tax breaks and other programs, according to Bank of America’s estimates.

So when businesses and politicians fret about the economic fallout from the fiscal cliff, they’re reacting to the consequences of dramatic deficit-reduction in the short-term. It would save the government hundreds of billions of dollars next year, but would also take away the equivalent 4.6 percent of GDP through tax hikes and spending cuts—a sharp fiscal contraction that economists say would be a drag on growth in a still-tepid economy.
Did you catch that? Economists are worried that we would pay off this debt too quickly, which means less government spending and a further drag on the economy. Virtually all of the current debate is about whether we should reduce the deficit by a lesser amount. I'd be interested to hear what the folks over at the Liberty Coalition have to say about this.

Remember this when you're sitting at the neighborhood tavern or chatting around the water cooler.

More Angry White Guys

Faux liberal Andrew Cuomo and his pals in the GOP Independent Democratic Caucus are set to ensure that virtually no minority voices will be heard in the next legislative session:
New York is one of the most diverse states in the nation, with 3.5 million Hispanics, 2.8 million blacks and 1.5 million Asians. More than 40 percent of its residents are minorities.

Yet all of its statewide elected officials are white politicians. And in Albany, Republicans and a group of dissident Democrats have taken control of the State Senate by forming a coalition that would consist almost entirely of white lawmakers.

The coalition would prevent the Senate Democratic caucus, which includes 14 blacks and Hispanics and is the only legislative caucus in Albany led by a nonwhite person, from taking power. Democrats have 31 of the 63 seats in the Senate, and are expected to win seats in two districts where votes are still being counted; Republicans have 30 seats.
Cuomo and the so-called Independent Democrats are a bunch of racist assholes. I will never support Cuomo for president. I'll vote for nutjob Cynthia McKinney before I'll vote for Cuomo. Swine.

That is all.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

McConnell Filibusters His Own Bill

A parody of a mockery of a sham:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wanted to prove on Thursday that Democrats don’t have the votes to weaken Congress’ authority on the debt limit. Instead they called his bluff, and he ended up filibustering his own bill.

The legislation, modeled on a proposal McConnell offered last year as a “last-choice option” to avert a U.S. debt default, would permit the president to unilaterally lift the debt ceiling unless Congress mustered a two-thirds majority to stop him.

McConnell brought up the legislation Thursday morning. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) initially objected, seemingly proving the Republican leader’s point that it cannot pass the Senate. But then Reid ran it by his members and, in the afternoon, agreed to hold that same vote. This time it was McConnell who objected.
The Senate GOP would filibuster their own grandmothers' pensions.

And McConnell overreached, apparently believing that the Democrats would blink. They didn't and they won't.

Finally, Simpson-Bowles Explained

If you, too, are confused about the so-called Simpson-Bowles plan to locate the Lindbergh Baby reduce the deficit, Alex Pareen over at Salon lays it out in easy-to-parse language:
Not many people know this but “The Simpson-Bowles Plan” is magic. It is whatever you want it to be. It will fix the deficit and grow the economy and it does it without raising taxes on anyone, unless you want to raise taxes on some people, and then it does that. It cuts all government spending but in a way that doesn’t hurt Medicare or The Troops. If you stand in front of a mirror and say “Simpson-Bowles” three times David Gergen and Gloria Borger appear out of nowhere and praise your wisdom and seriousness. “The Simpson-Bowles Plan” gives you Your Country Back and makes it the ’90s again, or the ’50s, or whatever past decade you wish it was, when things were better. Simpson and Bowles were two kindly wizards and they granted America three wishes but dumb Washington, D.C., is too Partisan to make the wishes. Obama and the Republicans need to Grow Up and Get Serious and Pass “The Simpson-Bowles Plan,” everyone in America agrees.
The deficit debate -- and the deficit itself -- aren't the problem. Washington, D.C., is the problem, as it's currently filled with hucksters and psychopaths who have no qualms about watching old people starve to death. And if you think that's a radical statement, you haven't been paying attention. Read the whole thing for an epic take-down of what is sure to turn out to be really horrible policy.

Hugh Reynolds Makes a Funny

At least, that's what I think it has to be. Either that, or he's talking about a different Terry Bernardo:
The executive will not be happy to see Terry Bernardo back for another term. She’s a bear for research, with a talent for connecting policy decisions to campaign contributions, motive to action.
If this is Hugh's roundabout way of saying, "throws mud unscrupulously to see what sticks," then perhaps I am in agreement with Reynolds.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Knife in the Back

That's about how I would describe this if I were a Democratic state senator in New York:
Imagine that in some alternate universe, in 2010, President Barack Obama had encouraged Sens. Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, and Mark Pryor to create an "Independent Democratic Caucus" that would caucus with Republicans and deprive the majority of control of the Senate?

How angry would that make you? Well, that's exactly the sort of thing you could expect from a President Andrew Cuomo, considering he's doing just that in New York today.
Cuomo just sold the state senate down the river. And this flaunts the will of voters, who quite clearly returned the state senate back to Democratic hands. These so-called independents are a bunch of traitors and should have any and all party support withdrawn from them.

And, just to add, I will never support Cuomo for president, and I'm glad I voted third-party when he ran for governor.

Corruption During Sottile Tenure?

We have dueling stories in today's Freeman, both of which sling mud at their respective subjects. The first is one by Paul Kirby in which Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo reprimands former Kingston Mayor Jim Sottile for taking a job with a developer that had business with the city during Sottile's administration:
Mayor Shayne Gallo says his predecessor, James Sottile, created an “appearance of impropriety” when, after leaving office, he took a job with a developer who was instrumental in obtaining a modular home for a local not-for-profit agency.

Sottile’s 10-year mayoral tenure ended last Dec. 31, and he went to work soon after for developer John Palmucci, who Sottile says was able to secure a modular home, at cost, from a third party for an Ulster YouthBuild project. The home was paid for with money from the city’s federal Entitlement Program funding.

According to both Gallo and city records, the modular home, which now stands on Catherine Street, was purchased for $62,775 in 2011.
The article goes on to say that Sottile's administration skirted federal housing laws when it came to the purchase of this modular home, and that Sottile should not have taken this job as it appears improper.

And Gallo has a point. A developer could, for example, provide a golden parachute to an outgoing executive for certain "considerations" for the company while he or she remains in office. Having a rule that bars elected officials from certain types of employment for a specific period of time (a year, two years) is prudent and helps to prevent corruption. Gallo is right when he says that Sottile should have known better.

On the other hand, how did Sottile benefit from this deal? Corruption, which Gallo is definitely implying, requires the person at the receiving end to have accrued some sort of shady financial benefit. The article and Gallo don't go there.

Reading between the lines, though, let's say, totally hypothetically, that a developer wanted to recoup losses on a modular home it had sitting around. The problem is, they don't have a buyer for it. So, they approach the mayor of a local city/village to take the thing off their hands. The mayor says, "Sure, the city/village will buy it, but I personally want a piece of the action." The developer says, "Okay, no problem." But how do you get the payoff to the mayor? Well, you could offer him/her a nominal job at your development firm once he or she leaves office and funnel the kickback to him via a legitimate-seeming paycheck. It happens all the time, folks.

But is this what happened here? No idea, as the article doesn't offer anything in the way of a smoking gun. It's just Gallo throwing mud at Sottile. Is there a "there" there? Maybe. And if there really was this kind of corruption during Sottile's tenure, throw the f*cking book at him. The Freeman probably doesn't have the resources to turn this into a full-blown corruption investigation, but it should do everything it can to look into this, nonetheless.

Not to be outdone by his replacement, Sottile shoots back at Gallo -- and in the same edition of the paper, no less:
Former Mayor James Sottile suspects Mayor Shayne Gallo harbors hard feelings toward him because he did not support the current chief executive’s bid for a city judgeship several years ago.

Sottile said that could be the reason why Gallo has been openly critical of the past administration, particularly the way it oversaw the city’s Office for Community Development.

“I think it could be the fact that he was not appointed judge,” Sottile said. “It could be related to that.”
Sottile says that Gallo going after him is nothing more than sour grapes. Perhaps. But this seems unlikely to me. How does this benefit Gallo? Why do it now, when Sottile no longer has any power? Payback? If so, then Gallo has a very long memory, and would have to be a very embittered person. After all, he now has Sottile's old job, right? It doesn't make sense that this is nothing more than revenge. But I could be wrong.

So, maybe there's something serious going on here. And, given that the money came from HUD, the feds might have something to say about all of this. And they don't screw around. Has Gallo's office been in contact with any federal agencies regarding potential corruption during the Sottile administration? This would be a very good question to ask Gallo. Maybe someone at the Freeman will let their readers know what he says.

This could turn out to be nothing, or it could be a big story. But we won't know until (if?) local reporters start turning-over more rocks.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cuomo "Optimistic" Over Sandy Aid

Let's hope he's right. I, however, believe that the House GOP "leadership" will behave like a bunch of spoiled children:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo emerged Monday from meetings with top Obama administration officials and congressional leaders "optimistic" that Congress will act quickly to provide tens of billions of dollars to help the state recover from Hurricane Sandy.

"People are still reeling from this trauma, and New York needs help," Cuomo said after meeting with Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii); Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the panel's senior Republican; and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who is chairwoman of the panel's subcommittee on homeland security.

"New York has been there for other parts of the country when they needed help," Cuomo said. "We're asking for the same today. So far, I'm optimistic."
Again, I hope I'm pleasantly surprised and the House does the right thing. But, as the Beghazi witch-hunt demonstrates (politics are supposed to stop at the water's edge), the GOP are capable of changing their entire platform, as long as it hurts President Obama's ability to govern effectively. For the GOP, the means and the end are the same thing. To them, power is everything. So, I would expect them to exercise this power. And it's also a great way to punish liberals (New York), and deliver some payback to the latest GOP apostate (Chris Christie).

Costas Said What Needs to be Said

There are few things that Americans are as passionate about as guns. Americans fetishize guns to the point it becomes creepy, as if the NRA should be reclassified as a religious organization. So, what Bob Costas did is remind us of what most rational people already know: there are almost as many guns as there are people in this country -- think about that for a moment -- so random killings sprees are the price we pay for having such easy access to firearms. There is no two ways about it. If you love guns, and don't want any gun control laws, then you need to understand that there's a chance you'll be shot dead next time you go to the mall or any other public space.

And what was Costas's heresy? That we "need to have a discussion." For that, he is being castigated as the second-coming of Che Guevara and Benedict Arnold. I'm not surprised by this characterization, as the gun nuts are among the most wound-up paranoids this country has ever produced. Any encroachment on their right to keep an bear arms = Hitler. I'm guessing that Costas, though, is a bit surprised by the vilification and the vitriol. Welcome to my world, Bob.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chipman: Freeman Wrong on Landfill Remarks

Well, that certainly didn't take long. Town of Rochester Supervisor Carl Chipman says that he never said he was in favor of siting a landfill in the town, and that the statement Freeman reporter Patricia Doxsey attributed to him was misconstrued by the paper.

And I think Chipman has a point. His statement was that he is "willing to talk" about using the Town of Rochester as a potential landfill site. That's very different than being "open" to the town hosting the landfill, as the Freeman's very misleading headline suggests.

But don't blame Patricia Doxsey. She's actually one of the few good reporters in our area. And there doesn't appear to be anything misleading in the text of the article itself, so she did her job.

The sensational headline, however, certainly got them some clicks, even though it was actually false. And, as headlines are almost always written by editorial staff, this screw-up is on Doxsey's bosses, not her. And there is no other way to parse this one. Chipman didn't say what the headline attributes to him. The paper published a false headline in order to generate web traffic.

I'm no fan of Chipman's right-wing politics, but this was bad journalism by the Freeman. And this could (and often does) happen to Democrats, so push-back against this kind of thing is a worthy endeavor.

The Freeman should print a correction and apologize to Chipman.

Holding the Northeast Hostage

I've been watching the Governors of New York and New Jersey, and the mayor of New York City, as they begin to tally the damage from Superstorm Sandy. Cuomo at last count was going to seek $41 billion, while Bloomberg has said that the city needs $9 billion from the feds. That's $50 billion before you get to New Jersey, which is likely to be another $40 billion. Throw in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, and the lesser damage to points south, and you have a storm that will probably exceed $100 billion in damage (Katrina cost $108 billion, so Sandy is likely to be even more expensive in the long run).

So, here's my question: will the GOP hold the Northeast hostage and refuse to appropriate these funds? We are, after all, snooty East Coast elitists who think we know it all. Why should congressmen from red states have any sympathy for our degenerate Hamptons' lifestyle? The storm was probably god's payback for gay marriage, right?

My guess is that the GOP nihilists in the House will actually enjoy inflicting as much pain as possible on us Obama voters. Take a look at the debt ceiling negotiations if you don't believe me. Hopefully I'm proved wrong, but I wouldn't count on it.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Where are the Women?

This would be hilarious if it weren't for the fact that these clowns have a role in the governance of this country:
It was somewhat disappointing, though not particularly surprising, when House Speaker John Boehner announced yesterday that the GOP's 19 House committee chairs will be occupied exclusively by white men starting next year.

For one thing, the current Congress has only a single minority chairperson — Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a Hispanic woman.

For another thing, the GOP itself is composed almost entirely of white men: Of the 234 (or 235) Republicans that make up the 113th Congress, only 20 are women, seven are Hispanic, and one is African-American.

Compare that with the Democrats, who, for the first time, will count white male lawmakers in the minority.
For the GOP, a true reflection of this nation begins and ends with white male privilege. If you want to see a party that truly represents the diversity of this nation, you have to look at the Democrats.

But, don't worry. Speaker Boehner fixed everything:
After days of pressure from Republicans and Democrats alike, House Republican leaders finally put a woman in charge of a committee Friday afternoon. But if Speaker John Boehner and the rest of the House leadership thought choosing Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) to lead the House administration committee — making her the sole female committee chair in the House — would put the issue to bed, they appear to have been mistaken.

Democrats and advocates for women in politics say Miller’s appointment feels like “tokenism” — and say the gender makeup of the House’s committee chairs will follow the GOP to 2014.

“I’m not sure which was worse: House Republicans refusing to have any women Chair a Legislative Committee or only appointing a woman to Chair the Congressional Housekeeping Committee,” said one Democratic official.
Housekeeping committee. Ouch.

But I don't know why anyone is complaining. These committee chair appointments are a reflection of the modern GOP, the party of angry white males.

Bernardo Watch: Wishful Thinking

If you had asked me six months ago whether Terry Bernardo's post as chairwoman would survive January's upcoming reorganization meeting for the county legislature, I'd have said "no way." But county legislators are a particularly timid species, and they have weak spines from an evolutionary perspective. Thus, they are particularly susceptible to the wind conditions. You can often observe them in their native habitat with their fingers in the air.

Robin Yess wonders if Bernardo will weather the storm, and she's commissioned an online poll asking readers who would be the best replacement. Drop by and weigh in. Bartels gets my vote, as she consistently demonstrates that she knows what she's talking about and is a good progressive.

But when it comes to Bernardo being bounced fro her leadership post, I'll always wager on timidity and entropy. In other words, it's far easier to chicken-out and do nothing than it is to do hard work.

But it cannot hurt to let your county legislator know that you would prefer someone as legislative chair who isn't using the office like it's a human resources department for her and her freeloading pals.

SD-46: Challenged Ballots are 90-Percent Democratic

Good news in the race for SD-46. While Republican George Amedore maintains a 110 vote lead in the ballots counted thus far, there are still close to 900 challenged ballots, 90 percent of which were cast by Democrats:
With all machine, absentee and affidavit ballots in the district counted, Amedore leads Tkaczyk by 110 votes out of some 126,000 cast, but there are 877 challenged ballots, Work said. He said about 90 percent of the challenged ballots were cast by Democrats and only 10 percent by Republicans.
Wow, I had no idea there would be such a disparity. Ninety percent is seriously lopsided. But, the GOP hates it when liberals vote, so the fact that nine-of-ten challenged ballots were cast by a Democrat (and likely a person of color) is a symptom of the party's overall problems with race and democracy.

As for SD-46, the way I figure it, Cecila Tkaczyk needs to see about 20 percent of these ballots approved in order to ensure victory by a razor-thin margin. I did a little poking around regarding the rate at which provisional ballots make it into the final total, and found news articles that show that anywhere from 20-70 percent of provisional ballots are typically rejected.

This is not good news for George Amedore. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Golden Hill Sold

That's all, folks!:
The Golden Hill Local Development Corp. announced today that Ulster County’s Golden Hill Health Care Center will be sold for $11.25 million to a partnership comprising Dr. Anthony J. Bacchi and Martin and Edward O. Farbenblum.
And another public asset slips into private hands.

Gibson in Favor of Tax Increases?

At first blush this sounds awfully strange:
A spokeswoman for Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) on Thursday offered a peculiar explanation for why the re-elected congressman is abandoning Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge: his district number changed.

Originally elected in 2010 in New York's 20th Congressional District, Gibson won a second term this year in the state's newly redrawn 19th Congressional District. That, Gibson's spokeswoman Stephanie Valle said in a statement, is sufficient reason to walk back the pledge he signed two years ago. Like the old 20th District, Gibson's current district also encompasses New York's Hudson Valley although it does lean slightly more Democratic.
The spokesperson was probably trying to say that a new district means new voters -- a huge chunk of whom are liberals who don't like/trust Gibson and would like to see him bounced from office ASAP. Gibson seems to recognize this, at least rhetorically. But how will it translate when it comes to the way he votes in Congress?:
He is opposed to increasing the marginal rates for individuals and businesses and has voted against this as a standalone measure; however, he will consider all comprehensive packages brought forward as a result of bipartisan negotiations.
So, Gibson appears to be saying that he will vote in favor of tax increases, as long as they're part of the package. Let's see if he keeps his word on this, or whether this is just more hot air.

White Turkey Chili and Chicken Salad

Was there a message in the menu? Could be:
Mitt Romney and President Obama dined together at the White House on Thursday afternoon, attempting to heal campaign wounds over a lunch of white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad.

“Governor Romney congratulated the president for the success of his campaign and wished him well over the coming four years,” the White House said in a five-sentence summary. “The focus of their discussion was on America’s leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future.”

According to the White House, the two former rivals also “pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future.”
Uh, yeah. I'll start a pool or something. For that, and for when hell freezes over.

But I gotta admit I love the menu. And if you don't think this was intentional, you don't know politics. The White House plans this stuff down to the most minute detail.

It reminds me a bit of something that happened a few years back. Take a look at then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto letter to the California State Legislature above. Read the first letter of each line and you'll get the drift.

I'm sure yesterday's menu was as coincidental as the Governator's letter.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Stand Corrected

Well, sort of, anyway. A few days ago, I suggested that there isn't a municipality in Ulster County that would welcome a new landfill. But there is at least one elected official who would like to see it happen in his town:
Town of Rochester Town Supervisor Carl Chipman has offered his community as a potential site for an Ulster County landfill.

Chipman made the statement during a public hearing on Tuesday about a proposed “flow control” law that would mandate all solid waste collected in the county be brought to a site run by the county’s Resource Recovery Agency.

Chipman told county legislators that he opposes flow control but recognizes it as an “economic necessity.”

He said the law, if approved, won’t solve all of the county’s solid waste problems.

“I believe we need a county landfill,” Chipman said. “I’m even willing to talk about it in the town of Rochester. Somebody’s got to take responsibility, and it’s time that we do.”
Good on Chipman for stepping up. Of course, he's just one guy, and I have a feeling that there will be quite a few residents who won't feel as sanguine about this as Chipman does. There will be voices raised at town meetings, no doubt.

And it isn't the landfill itself that's at issue. New landfills aren't the fetid open pits they once were, so it may be possible to find a site tucked away out in the western portion of the town.

But all the truck traffic this would generate is going to be a bigger problem. This means road infrastructure would have to be addressed (can the roads take the additional wear-and-tear?). Given this, proximity to Route 209 is likely to be important -- which means it would have to be located right in the middle of the more densely populated parts of the town. People are not going to want this thing to be situated where they can see it, no matter what Chipman says.

Let's see how the residents respond. My guess? It's going to be ugly.

Chris Gibson's "Heroics"

So, our own Tea Party congressman has decided that he too has seen enough of Grover Norquist:
More than a year after he took a pledge to refuse to support any tax increases, newly re-elected Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, confirmed Tuesday he is on a new path — one that does not include embracing conservative Grover Norquist's push for holding the line on taxes regardless of the consequences.

Gibson, fresh from an Election Day victory over Democrat Julian Schreibman during an election cycle that was overall bad news for Republicans, becomes the latest Republican to abandon the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" touted by Norquist. Gibson had signed the pledge last year.

Asked if his decision shows he has evolved to the point he will no longer assume the position of an inflexible naysayer against higher taxes, Gibson told The Daily Star, "I don't envision signing any pledges now because going forward I have a record that I'm proud to run on that's pro-growth."
Say what? Either you are for raising taxes on the wealthy, or you are not in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy. It's a simple answer to a simple question. Instead, we get Milton Friedman gobbledegook talking points. How about making a commitment, Gibson, you coward?

But, since empirically, higher taxes lead to higher rates of growth, I can only assume that Gibson has seen the light and will vote to increase the top marginally rate from a fair-and-balanced 36 percent, all the way up to the tyrannical rate of 39.6 percent. Why, it's almost like the invasion of Poland!

Actually, I don't believe that Gibson will come around. This is nothing more than theater. Gibson will fold like a house of cards when he hears from the mouth-breathers in the Tea Party.

I don't buy Gibson's supposed tax heresy. Not for a second.

SD-46: Ballot Count Reduces Amedore's Lead to 110 Votes

The good news is, George Amedore's lead over Cecilia Tkaczky in NY SD-46 has been reduced to just 110 votes:
With most ballots counted, George Amedore leads Cecilia Tkaczyk by about 110 votes out of some 126,000 cast in the race for New York’s 46th Senate District seat. That tally, however, does not include about 1,000 ballots that have been challenged, which is more than enough to change the outcome.
"Could" is the operative word here. Thus, the bad news is that the UC ballots weren't quite enough for Tkaczyk to retake the lead. Absentee ballots traditionally end up with a slightly more conservative bias than regular ballots, so it's not a huge surprise, even if it's disappointing.

Still, it ain't over quite yet. Let's see what the next 24 hours have in store.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gillibrand Backs Filibuster Reform

It's beginning to look like the filibuster might actually be changed. And with good reason. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is on board:
As I've traveled throughout New York, one of the concerns I hear most from my constituents is a deep frustration with those in Congress. They feel that Washington is broken and unable to do the job we were elected to do. If voters sent one message on Election Day, it was that they are desperate for their elected representatives to work together to get things done for the people who pay their salaries.

If we're going to continue to grow the economy, create jobs, reduce the deficit and accomplish all the things the American people expect of us, we simply must get Washington working again. Which is why I am a strong supporter of efforts to reform the filibuster.
It's one thing to block a few bills on occasion, when the opposition does something that you think is particularly egregious, but it's another thing entirely to bring the business of the Senate to a total halt:
The fact is, as a consequence of unprecedented obstructionism during the last Congress, the filibuster was used more in two years than it had been in the 1950s, 60s and 70s combined. This is unacceptable.
How bad has it been? This bad:

As the graphs show, only 56 cloture motions were filed over 52 years from 1919 through 1970.  At just over one per year, filibusters were rarely used. 420 cloture motions were filed over the next 22 years, from 1971 to 1992, a sharp increase to 19 per year.

1993-1994 saw Republicans’ “Contract with America” that escalated partisanship to higher levels. From 1993-2006, motions nearly doubled to 36 per year. Cloture motions took an even more dramatic upturn in 2007 when Republicans lost control of the Senate.  Cloture motions nearly doubled again to almost 70 per year, and rose further to 74 in 2009.  Clearly, filibuster became the weapon of choice for Republicans.

Republicans accuse Democrats of filibustering, and there is some truth to that. But as the graphs show, Republicans initiated each spike and have now taken filibustering to an absurd new level.
Absurd indeed. But it's what the Senate GOP said they would do in 2008, that they would throw a monkey wrench into everything this president tried to do. And they were partially successful.

But get ready for a lame-duck president who doesn't have to deal with the right-wing troglodytes in the Senate anymore. Then we'll see what passing progressive legislation is all about. I hope the president shoves it up McConnell's keester sideways.

Alternatives to Indian Point

I think Cuomo is on the right track here:
Consolidated Edison must work with the New York Power Authority to develop a plan to address power needs if the Indian Point nuclear power plant were closed, a state agency that regulates utilities has decided.

The Public Service Commission announced Tuesday that it gave Con Ed the directive. It’s part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Energy Highway initiative that seeks to ensure the state’s energy grid is advanced, can meet current and future energy needs, and promotes investment by businesses in the state, a commission news release said.

Cuomo, state attorney general Eric Schneiderman and others have called for Indian Point’s closure, saying its location, in Buchanan, in the midst of a densely populated region is too dangerous. Entergy, Indian Point’s owner, is seeking permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue operating them for an additional 20 years after the current 40-year licenses expire next year and in 2015.

Con Ed said in a statement that it will work on the contingency plan.
Good. Of course, you cannot help but wonder if Con Ed will undertake this study in good faith. The solution is to decentralize our grid. Utility companies don't want this because people will use less power and these companies will make less money.

But Indian Point needs to go away. It's an outdated facility in a too-dense population zone. If there were a meltdown, most of the lower Hudson Valley would become uninhabitable for generations -- including much of the city, potentially. Hopefully, this study will show that we can make this transition with relative ease.

Birchez Wins Arbitration

And City of Kingston officials look like a bunch of yabos:
A state Supreme Court justice has ordered that proceedings regarding the assessed value of Birchwood Village apartment complex go before an arbitration panel, according to a Kingston city attorney.

Corporation Counsel Andrew Zweben said state Supreme Court Justice Mary Work made the ruling.

The decision was made in the case involving an ongoing dispute between the city and developer Birchwood Village LLC. The dispute is focused on the assessment appraisal of the Flatbush Avenue property; the developer sued to have the case moved out of court and have the figure set by an arbitration panel.
The city's vendetta against Birchez is idiotic, and it's costing the taxpayers money. The company is entitled to have its assessment reviewed. Period. Just like everyone else is entitled. I don't see why this is so hard to understand. The housing market collapsed. Reassess the damn thing and move on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SD-46: Tkaczyk Might Pull This Off

The Freeman reports that George Amedore has about a 400-vote lead over Cecilia Tkazcyk, and that there are about 3000 outstanding ballots left to be counted here in Ulster County:
A count of absentee and affidavit ballots by Ulster County elections officials in the hotly contested race for the 46th state Senate district was ongoing Monday evening and is to continue into today.

According to the Associated Press, going into Ulster’s count on Monday, Republican Assemblyman George Amedore was leading Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk of Duanesburg by about 700 votes, with roughly 3,000 votes to be counted in Ulster County, where Tkaczyk is expected to do well. The Associated Press did not give vote totals.

Tkaczyk led Amedore, 22,800 to 14,601, in Ulster County on Election Night.
If these uncounted ballots come in at the same percentage is the regular ballots, this would mean Tkaczyk would pick up 1950 votes to Amedore's 1050. In other words, it's enough for her pull out a narrow win.

It's possible that this one could be decided by fewer than 100 votes.

GOP: The Circular Firing Squad will Continue

The Republicans will lose more senate seats in 2014. You don't need a crystal ball to predict this, all you need to do is look at who will be running:
After two disappointing election cycles, Republican leaders demanded that conservative groups end their war on electable primary candidates or risk handing the Senate to the Democrats in 2014. This week, the groups delivered their reply: “Nuts!”

Activists on the right launched a volley of criticism at 2014’s first major Senate hopeful on Monday, Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV). Capito is considered a strong contender for the seat held by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), especially if he decides to retire, but her conservative detractors are demanding a purer candidate.

It’s all very reminiscent of the kind of primary fight a lot of Republicans are desperate to avoid after 2012’s Senate shellacking. But the groups who helped get candidates like Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin on the ballot this year say they’re ready to fight it out with the establishment again in 2014. West Virginia is just the first battlefield of what could be many.

“Congresswoman Capito has a long record of support of bailouts, pork, and bigger government,” Club For Growth president Chris Chocola wrote in a press release. “She voted to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for massive expansions of government-run health insurance, giveaways to big labor, and repeatedly voted to continue funding for wasteful earmarks like an Exploratorium in San Francisco and an Aquarium in South Carolina. That’s not the formula for GOP success in U.S. Senate races.”
The lunatics have taken the asylum, so you can forget any moderate Republicans getting through the primary process when faced with a Tea Party challenger. We will see more Todd Akinses, Sharron Angles, and Christine O'Donnells -- and we will see the GOP lose more winnable senate seats.

Keep it up, guys, at this rate it'll be three or four more election cycles until the Democrats have a veto-proof majority in the upper chamber.

'Going Galt' on Someone Else's Dime

One of rallying cries of the right-wing in recent years is that they are the producers of society, and liberals like me are the moochers and the parasites. Conservatives, they believe, are the ones who actually "make things," while the rest of us merely "take things." It's pretty damned stupid, as well as insulting.

This idea is central to the work of Ayn Rand, an atheist and self-styled philosopher, as well as a writer of truly dreadful novels, who seems to have people like the now-irrelevant Paul Ryan all aswoon. One of the principles of Rand's philosophy (some might call it a psychosis) is that altruism, sharing, and a collective approach to solving problems are actually immoral. If you help someone down on his or her luck, you are actually being victimized by this person. A panhandler who asks you for spare change is in fact taking advantage of your good nature, because he or she knows that you cannot resist feeling badly. So, you reach into your pocket to give this person a few coins.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Selective Outrage Over Benghazi

Journalist Tom Ricks tells Fox News that it's a propaganda machine, and they hustle him off the air just as fast as they can. You can probably hear the producer screaming in to the talking head's earpiece if you clean up the sound a bit.

So, how many times were our embassies attacked, and U.S. personnel killed during the Bush administration? It turns out there were seven attacks during those years, and that nearly three dozen were killed. In fact, there has been an average of about one attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission each year since 1958:

Contempt Ruling for Dutchess Election Commissioner?

Republicans, as usual, think the law applies only to other people:
The Dutchess County Democratic elections commissioner is seeking a hearing for criminal and civil contempt charges against her Republican counterpart.

In a release issued Monday, Democratic Elections Commissioner Fran Knapp stated she is seeking a finding of contempt of court against Republican Elections Commissioner Erik Haight for failing to obey a New York State Supreme Court ruling.

Knapp claims Haight has ignored the details of an April 5 court settlement and “continues to employ efforts to intimidate voters and restrict their right to register to vote.”
This guy doesn't like it when liberals vote, so he did everything in he could -- including ignoring a court ruling -- to prevent Bard students from exercising their franchise.

Haight, according to the article, could be on the hook for civil and criminal penalties for his anti-democracy stunt. Let us hope.

More Anti-Grover Congresscritters

The revolt appears to be spreading, according to TPM:
A vast majority of elected Republicans have signed Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes, and GOP leaders have strictly hewed toward it for years.

But things have changed: anti-tax purity went out of style this election year, and the nearing “fiscal cliff” is motivating some influential conservative Republicans to speak out against Norquist’s pledge, wherein lawmakers promise to vote against any legislation that would raise new tax revenues.
There are now seven lawmakers (current and former) who have rejected Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform pledge. They are: the aforementioned Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Rep. Perter King (R-NY), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Senator-elect Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) who was a member of the Cat Food Commission.

Plenty of speculation as to what is really going on here. Are members of the GOP finally seeing the light on raising taxes on the idle rich? Or is this some sort of theater, the purpose of which remains unclear at the moment? None of the seven mentioned above, except maybe for Alan Simpson (and that's a big "maybe"), can be trusted as far as you could throw a small moon. Just a few months ago all were talking about eliminating whole government agencies in order to give their rich benefactors even bigger tax cuts.

Some have even speculated that Norquist himself is behind this little revolt. And it's a good theory. Norquist's style of bully politics works best when you can operate in the shadows. Constant media attention is the last thing he wants. So, why not construct a little show to make it appear that you have lost your influence? Then, once the media attention goes away, you go right beck to quietly twisting arms behind the scenes.

Am I giving Norquist too much credit? I wouldn't bet on it. He has managed to lead the GOP by the nose for more than two decades now. If anything, the guy knows exactly what to do to keep his congressional peons in line.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Romney Was Right, The Polls Were Skewed

Only they were skewed towards Mitt Romney:
We know that the national surveys tilted heavily against Obama. When we don't count any one survey date twice (that is, tracking polls such as from Gallup only have each day counted once), we can say that the average of national polls taken after the first debate through election day had Obama winning by 0.3 percentage points. President Obama currently has a 3.2pt lead nationally and it seems like he may finish with an edge above 3.5pt.
Apparently, this huge discrepancy was a result of a bad likely voter model. Most of the polling firms thought that more angry white guys would be voting. They were dead wrong.

SUNY Albany Professor Bruce Gyory had this to say back in September:
Since polls of registered voters have been more accurate than likely voter samples, news media outlets should demand that both sets of data be provided (as Pew Research, Marist and the Siena polls, to their credit, do). And the media should give greater reporting weight to the more accurate polls of registered voters -- unless and until likely voter samples reprove their empirical validity.
So, it turns out that there were academics who saw this coming, but it appears none of them manged to crack the Tea Party bubble encapsulating Mitt from reality. Not that I'm complaining. I'm totally down with the GOP losing more elections because they don't understand how math works.

This Will Be Fun to Watch

Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss has decided he's seen enough of Grover Norquist:
Sen. Saxby Chambliss took aim at Americans for Tax Reform head Grover Norquist on Wednesday, telling a local television station he’s not worried about a potential primary challenge if he votes to raise taxes.

“I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,” said Chambliss, who signed Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” when he first ran for Senate. “If we do it his way, then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”
So, we have hear a radical right-wing Republican telling the Prelate of No New Taxes to take a long walk on a short pier. For those of you who have been living under a rock, Grover Norquist through his organization, Americans for Tax Reform, has single-handedly done more to bankrupt the United States Treasury than any other human being alive. Norquist is famous for saying "I'm not in favor of abolishing the [U.S.] government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

Seditious statements aside -- and I do consider what Norquist said to be as anti-American and seditious a statement as I have ever read -- Norquist's destructive pledge has made it virtually impossible to govern this country. So, I applaud Senator Chambliss for telling him to get bent. I wish more Republicans would come to their senses and do the same. Then, maybe, we can actually sit down and hash-out reality-based compromises. That's how our government was supposed to work before the anti-tax nihilists grabbed a hold of the GOP's family jewels.

But Chambliss is likely to pay a heavy price for breaking Norquist's anti-tax omerta:
Karen Handel, the former Susan G. Komen for the Cure executive who drove the charity's attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, is considering running for U.S. Senate in Georgia, according to one of her former aides.

“She’s considering it,” Rob Simms, a Republican campaign consultant who worked on Handel’s unsuccessful run for governor in 2010, told the Weekly Standard.

If she ran, she would be going up against Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), whom Roll Call reported may be vulnerable to a primary challenge from the right, given his "willingness to reach across the aisle and his comfort with the idea of compromise."
Handel, if you can believe it, is even more right-wing than Chambliss, an incarnation of the phrase "to the right of Attila the Hun." And woe be to ANY member of the GOP who decides to compromise. This is a war, after all, and Democrats are the enemy. You don't ever compromise with the enemy. You vanquish them.

Well, the Tea Party will only end up vanquishing this seat into Democratic hands. The Tea Party have put up a total of five raving lunatics for U.S. Senate in the last two election cycles, and every one of them lost. They are: Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Todd Akin, and Richard Mourdock. Each ran in a state that was winnable for the GOP, and this year in Indiana caused the GOP to lose Richard Lugar's senate seat, which they had held for decades in that (quite conservative) state.

Indiana is not unlike Georgia, though perhaps a bit more conservative. But there are liberals down there, and a very large African-American community. With wingnut Handel on the ballot, this seat might just be a Democratic pickup in 2016 2014.

So please, Karen, do it for the good of the country. And pass the popcorn.

UPDATE: This is the same Karen Handel who damn near destroyed the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Another Millionaire Deadbeat

There seem to be a lot of them around these days, too:
Two days after the election campaign workers came to News 8 claiming, they had not been paid by Linda McMahon's campaign. We spoke out on their behalf and one week after the election the campaign was writing checks. The only problem is that the checks bounced.

"We already paid the money to the people and we were just looking to get our percentage which we charge two percent," said Troy Stokes, M&M Check Cashing Co.

M&M Check Cashing on Howe Street had been cashing McMahon's checks all through the campaign, but all the checks dated November 8th have bounced.

"We're out right now, $1,600," Stokes said.
It sucks when you work hard for someone wealthy -- and then that person turns around does something like this. And what kind of person refuses to pay his or her bills, and instead send out a "f*ck you" to a former employee who is rightfully owed the money? But this is the modus operandi of the One Percenters, so we shouldn't be surprised.

Thank god this horrible person isn't headed to the senate.

Guided by Voices

Shorter Pat Robertson: God is trolling me.

If god has indeed decided to mess with Pat Robertson's head, I couldn't think of a more worthy recipient.

Enjoy your turkey, folks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Skate Time Gets Off Easy on PILOT Delinquency

It pays to have friends in high places. When you have such friends, they let you off the hook with a wink:
The Ulster County Industrial Development Agency wants the owners of Skate Time 209 to pay more in property and school taxes than the Accord business originally agreed to because, agency officials said, the business hasn’t created all the jobs it originally proposed.

The roller skating rink is owned by Ulster County Legislature Chairwoman Terry Bernardo, R-Accord, and her husband Len Bernardo.

[. . .]

On their application for tax breaks, the Bernardos indicated they would create 20 full-time jobs, but have only created nine full- and part-time jobs, a 55 percent shortfall in job creation. Under the IDA policy, the PILOT would be reduced by 27.5 percent, however, because the business has provided other benefits to the community, such as acting as a draw for tourism, that reduction was cut in half, to 14 percent. That means, if the Bernardos agree, for the remaining four years of the company’s pilot program it would receive only a 36 percent reduction in taxes as opposed to the 50 percent reduction granted the company.

The reduction translates into a roughly $8,340 increase in the amount the company would pay in lieu of property taxes.

Len Bernardo, who attended Wednesday’s board meeting, again argued that job creation was never a criteria for receiving tax breaks. He said he didn’t know whether he would agree to the reduced PILOT program.

"I don’t know what I intend to do," said Bernardo. "I’m thinking about it."
Here's to hoping that Len Bernardo digs in and fights this tyranny all the way to the highest court in the land! In the meantime, O'Halloran can revoke the PILOT completely and the Bernardos will begin paying their fair share. The Bernardos get to stand on principle, and the rest of us will no longer have to subsidize the their floundering business. Sounds like a win-win.

Christie Can't Win the GOP Nomination

NJ Governor Chris Christie's approval ratings have apparently soared since he dropped the partisan crap and welcomed the president's help:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has seen a dramatic bump in his approval rating in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the super-storm that pummeled his home state late last month.

The Republican governor, who served as the keynote speaker at this year's Republican National Convention and is widely considered a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, is now seen favorably by 67 percent of New Jersey voters. That's a rise of 19 percentage points from October in the poll from Rutgers University released Wednesday.

Christie will face reelection next year, and is likely to face popular Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) in the contest. But if the governor is able to solidify some of the gains earned by his handling of the storm's aftermath, he could significantly improve his chances of winning a second term.
Some are speculating that this will give Christie a boost if he decides to run for president in 2016. While a lot can happen in four years, this is a scenario that is highly unlikely -- unless Christie moves back to the right after he wins reelection as NJ Governor. But even that's not a given, with Newark Mayor Corey Booker waiting to throw his hat into the ring.

Chris Christie might never hold another elective office -- unless he switches parties. Then he might have a future. But moderate Republicans cannot hope to win the nomination for president any time soon, so Christie had better stay focused on Trenton for the time being.

Tkaczyk-Amedore Still Razor-Thin

The vote count for SD-46 keeps going back and forth. First, Tkaczyk was in the lead, then it was back to Amedore being in front. Yesterday, the lead changed hands twice, or maybe it didn't, as we have two competing stories from local papers that contradict one another. The Freeman says Tkaczyk is in the lead by 34 votes:
Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk retook the lead over Republican George Amedore by 34 votes on Tuesday in the tight race to represent the new 46th state Senate District.

The updated tally came after the Albany County Board of Elections finished counting absentee and affidavit ballots.

Absentee and affidavit ballots in Greene County were to be counted late Tuesday or early today, and the Montgomery County Board of Elections planned to count their paper ballots today and, if necessary, Friday.
The Daily Gazette, however, in an article that was also published yesterday, says that Amedore has a 120-vote lead as of about 11 p.m.:
As of the latest count from Greene County, which was provided by Amedore's spokesman Kris Thompson, Amedore had gained 474 votes and Tkaczyk had only gained 324. This gives Amedore a lead of almost 120 votes, with about half the county to go.
The article says that there are still votes in Ulster County that need to be tallied, where Tkaczyk did very well. No idea whether the Freeman piece is more current, though I'm inclined to go with the Gazette's analysis, as they're likely have a better idea of what is going on in their coverage area than the Freeman.

This one is as close as it gets, and it will have a huge impact on which party controls the state senate.

A Long and Ugly Fight

Approving a new landfill is going to require years of litigation:
Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency officials say they’ll be ready for discussions about establishing a county landfill once the current debate over a flow-control law has ended.

Finding a property with at least 200 acres was discussed during an agency board meeting on Monday at which member Charles Landi provided a list of 93 properties that would meet the size requirements.

“I’ve been doing this in my spare time, thinking that maybe, at some point in time, we might be looking at one of those (properties) as a landfill,” said Landi, a former city of Kingston alderman.

The list includes three properties in Denning, two in Esopus, one in Gardiner, 21 in Hardenburgh, three in Hurley, two in Lloyd, one in Marbletown, three in New Paltz, six in Olive, four in Rochester, one in Rosendale, one in Saugerties, 11 in Shandaken, 21 in Wawarsing and 13 in Woodstock.
No one is going to want this thing. Garbage trucks by the hundreds will descend upon the town that ends up with the short straw. I would expect there to be a protracted battle no matter where they decide to put it (assuming they approve it in the first place).

Landi goes on to suggest that the old landfill in Wawarsing could be lined and reopened, which might be the path of least resistance, especially if the county somehow sweetens the deal for the town. There is, however, a strong argument for ensuring that a new landfill incorporate the latest in environmental technology; no word on whether this is possible in Wawarsing.

Whatever happens, if the county legislature decides to go for it, we're going to be reading stories about this for years to come.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

RIP, Senator

Former Senator Warren Rudman has died:
Former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, co-author of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction act and a key backer of fellow Granite Stater David Souter’s being named to the U.S. Supreme Court, has died. He was 82 years old and died just before midnight at George Washington Hospital from complications from lymphoma.

He had been in declining health for some time.
Folks may remember him as a member of the Gramm–Rudman–Hollings Balanced Budget Act Troika. Rudman was one of the last sane Republicans, the type that don't really exist anymore -- at least on the national level. Godspeed, senator.

U.S. is Still World's Strongest Economy

And by a pretty big margin. I know I mentioned this the other day, but it bears repeating since Robin Yess brought it up on her blog. Europe and the other economic regions affected by the crash are doing very poorly compared with us. We had a stimulus. They didn't. They imposed austerity. We decided to do deficit spending. The numbers speak for themselves.

Now it's entirely possible that the double-dip recession in Europe will spread. Stupidly, Europe, Britain, and Japan have decided not to invest, thus their economies remain in the crapper. But the powers-that-be have done just enough to prevent the European economy from bleeding-out, so we can probably expect them to continue to do so. We can say with near-certainty, however, that if the US slides back into recession, it won't be because of policy out of Washington, D.C. If anything, the administration is likely to seek other ways to goose the economy without congress (the nihilists are still in control of the House, unfortunately).

The right-wingers who believe, despite all facts pointing otherwise, that this president is bankrupting the country, have zero evidence that this is the case. None. Maybe they use tarot or Ouija boards for their forecasts. That would explain a lot, actually.

Almost-President Pumps His Own Gas

Last night in La Jolla, CA:

A few days ago he might have been the leader of the free world, but now he is relegated to obscurity (how many people would recognize Michael Dukakis if they bumped into him on the street?). A few days ago, the idea of such an important personage pumping his own gas would also have set off every Secret Service alarm there is. No way they would even let him near the pump. A few days ago, he was the center of attention whenever he walked into the room. Now he's just a schlub like the rest of us, to paraphrase the late Henry Hill

I point this out not to rub salt in the wound -- the photographer said the encounter was entirely pleasant and that Romney was polite and friendly -- but because I find the contrast so startling. No wonder it went viral on Reddit.

But have no fear. Romney still has a huge pile of ill-gotten gains to sleep upon each night. His supporters, most of who are struggling to make ends meet themselves, wouldn't want it any other way.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cuomo is Hedging His Bets

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I can't say that I like it, but the makeup of the new state senate when it convenes next year is still up in the air, especially after turncoat Democrat Simcha Felder decided that gay people are icky. So, Cuomo is behaving like a politician and is refusing to push one way or the other. Chris Hayes at MSNBC and Alex Pareen over at Salon take Cuomo to task over this. And it's fair criticism. But we also shouldn't be surprised that Cuomo is doing what he's doing.