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.

In a Word, Yes

I think this is a great idea:
Advocates for a higher minimum wage in New York plan to rally Monday at the state Capitol, where they say lawmakers also want a pay hike.

Members of the coalition, following a Thanksgiving week press conference on hunger at a nearby Albany church, say the rally will be held in an adjacent park, followed by a prayer vigil.

The group includes the Hunger Action Network of New York State, FOCUS Churches of Albany and Capital District Area Labor Federation.

They say at $7.25 per hour, New York's minimum wage is out of date, especially with more New Yorkers relying on low-pay jobs.

While noting the Republican-controlled State Senate balked at raising the minimum wage to $8.50, they say lawmakers are considering boosting their own $79,500 annual pay for part-time work.
Lawmakers in New York are part time so they can also hold down "real" full time jobs. This isn't because they cannot earn a living wage in the legislature -- $80k is a very good salary even if you're working 60 hours per week -- it's so they can use their positions as legislators to steer business to their civilian firms. Our own Senator Bonacic's law firm makes hundreds of thousands each year through municipal contracts.

This is what really needs fixing. NY State legislators should not be allowed to hold other jobs, period.

But that is a fix we cannot expect any time soon. So, by all means, let's tie legislators' pay to that of the public. Anything to put the brakes on the corruption gravy train and help raise everyone else's standard of living is okay by me.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Opposing the Stimulus Was Moronic

Though I don't expect the Friedrich Hayek Kool-Aid drinkers to pay any attention, Paul Krugman outlines the economic performances of four different regions, pointing out that the U.S. is by far the best-performing of the bunch. Why is this? Well, the rest of the regions have imposed huge budget cuts, while the U.S. spent money on a stimulus package.

Cutting government "waste" means people are thrown out of work. When people are thrown out of work, they have little or no money to spend. When people don't spend, local businesses suffer and lose money. Businesses that lose money go out of business. Businesses that go out of business pay no taxes. Lower tax revenue means more people get laid off, etc.

The only way to stop this cycle is 1.) Let things happen organically. This is what we used to do before the Great Depression. You are on your own. No unemployment insurance, no Social Security. Your deposits at your local bank are not insured and can evaporate in an instant if your bank makes a bad investment. No safety net. Nothing. Or, 2.) The government intervenes and issues bonds to help finance projects that employ large numbers of people. With this idea, we built huge projects like the Hoover Dam (it should be noted that stimulus spending actually began under Hoover, but he didn't respond quickly enough to save his presidency), and the Tennessee Valley Authority. We created the Civilian Conservation Corps, the National Recovery Agency, and a bunch of other government-backed programs designed to put people to work and fix our nation (can you imagine, though, if the administration actually tried to do this today, the screams from the right wing about Obama's army of socialist brownshirts?).

And being in debt isn't always a bad thing. Investment managers will tell you that if you can get a good rate, being in debt is one of the best ways to increase your wealth. If you can borrow money at two-percent interest, and then invest it in something that pays interest at a rate of three percent, you will become rich -- despite the fact that you're in debt. We go into debt all the time if we think it's money well spent. If debt is always bad, why would anyone pay anything other than cash for a house? Because homes typically increase in value. The recent housing debacle notwithstanding, we know that if we live there for long enough, our home will become our greatest asset, not a liability, and will be the major source of our net worth. And here we are the whole time deeply in debt, sometimes to the tune of six-figures.

Good debt vs. bad debt.

But the morons on the right think otherwise. And I call them morons for a reason. Anyone who looks at 2+2 and says it doesn't equal four isn't qualified to speak about economic policy. Yet, here they are, year after year, selling their snake oil to the nation. It's long past time we stopped listing to them

Group to Push for Campaign Finance Reform

Received this press release this morning:
New York Tech Leaders Call on Gov. Cuomo for Campaign Finance Reform

NEW YORK -- A group of leaders in New York’s growing technology industry released a letter to Governor Cuomo declaring their support for campaign finance reform and public financing of elections. The open and transparent culture of the internet, they argue, can serve as a model for reforming elections and improving democracy.

The letter’s signers include founders of tech firms like FourSquare, Gilt Groupe, bitly and ThinkUp and leaders of venture capital firms including Union Square Ventures, First Mark Capital, IA Ventures, EDVentures, FuturePerfect Ventures, along with academics, authors and other tech community leaders. Organizers have posted the letter at and are urging other leaders of the tech community to add their names to the letter.

Building an open 21st century economy driven by technology innovation requires an open 21st century political system", said Andrew Rasiej, Founder of Personal Democracy media and long time New York based technology entrepreneur. "The tech community is encouraged that Governor Cuomo has made public funding of elections a goal. But the tech community, which is known for delivering great innovative 'apps" now want to see if the Governor can deliver an innovative 'app' for stronger and more open democracy."

The letter highlights crowd-funding website Kickstarter and online code-sharing platforms as powerful models that encourage mass participation and crowd-sourced solutions. Like many New Yorkers, tech leaders see campaign finance reform as a critical step in changing the culture of corruption in Albany.

"Tech leaders have already revolutionized how we communicate and how we shop. If tech leaders can help change how we elect our leaders with public financing of elections, they’ll have done us all a great service,” said Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the Working Families Party, which is also supporting Gov. Cuomo’s efforts for campaign finance reform.

The full list of initial signers is below.

Albert Wenger, Union Square Ventures
Andrew Hoppin, Board of Directors, OpenPlans
Andrew McLaughlin, Entrepreneur in Residence Betaworks
Andrew Rasiej, Personal Democracy Media
Andy Weissman, Union Square Ventures
Anil Dash, CEO/Cofounder, ThinkUp
Beth Noveck, Professor, NYU Graduate School of Public Service & New York Law
Brad Burnham, Union Square Ventures
Clay Shirky, Author/Professor, NYU
David Pakman, Partner, Venrock
David Segal, Demand Progress
Dawn Barber, NY Tech Meetup
Deanna Zandt, Author & Media Technologist
Dennis Crowley, Founder, FourSquare
Esther Dyson, Founder, EDVentures
Evan Korth, Co-Founder, hackNY
Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures
Hillary Mason, chief scientist, bitly
Jalak Jobanputra, Managing Partner, FuturePerfect Ventures
John Borthwick, Founder, Betaworks
John Buttrick, Union Square Ventures
Kevin Ryan, CEO and Founder, Gilt Groupe
Laurel Touby, Founder,
Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School
Micah Sifry, Personal Democracy Media
Nate Westheimer, Executive Director, NY Tech Meetup
Rachel Sklar, Founder, Change the Ratio
Rick Heitzmann, Founder and Managing Director, First Mark Capital
Roger Ehrenberg, Managing Partner, IA Ventures
Scott Heiferman, Founder, & Founder, NY Tech Meetup
Susan Crawford, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School
Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School
If you talk to elected officials about what it's like having elections financed through taxes, the first thing they say is how much they enjoy not having to fundraise. Not only is it a tedious chore (how many rubber chickens can one eat?), in many cases it takes up the vast majority of an elected official's time. This means that the legislator/executive/official isn't doing the people's business, and is instead busy creating the machinery to help him or her to win elections.

If you want to know how our politics become corrupt, this is the way it happens. We decry the influence of money in politics, then we tell our elected officials to get busy collecting as much of the stuff as they can if they want to survive. So, why should we be surprised when we get lousy, self-serving, corrupt elected officials? This is the system we've built for them, and it's working exactly the way the big-money interests want it to work. Financing elections through taxes is the best way to ensure a truly level playing field, where innovative ideas, not money, would be the strongest currency.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rosendale Councilman Apologizes for Halloween Costume

Rosendale councilman Robert Ryan showed very poor judgement by dressing up in blackface for Halloween, but he's showing much better judgement today:
Town Councilman Robert Ryan apologized on Wednesday for attending a recent Halloween party in blackface.

“I am ignorant to what I did, I guess,” Ryan said during a Town Board meeting. “I am ignorant to things. I chose a stand-out character (who) stands out like a lot of other celebrities, and I dressed like him at a private Halloween party, and I am so sorry I did now. I really am sorry I did.”
There are a lot of white folks, middle-aged and older, who grew up surrounded by blackface, minstrel-style performances, and other racist imagery. It was a ubiquitous part of American culture at the time.

But things change. Today, such images are considered highly offensive, and rightly so. Ryan did the right thing in apologizing for his mistake. In doing so, he shows that he knows how to admit when he's wrong, which is a big improvement over a lot of other elected officials.

Cuomo Appoints Commission to Probe Utilities

This is good. Utility companies do not spend enough on upgrading antiquated equipment, and ratepayers end up sitting in the dark as a result:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced the creation of a new commission with far-reaching subpoena powers to investigate utility companies' handling of superstorm Sandy and a pair of tropical storms that ravaged New York last year.

Cuomo signed an executive order to establish the 10-member commission under the Moreland Act, a century-old law giving the state power to investigate private entities. The commission will investigate the preparations and response to the storms by New York's major utilities, and make recommendations to improve regulations and oversight by the state.

"From (Tropical Storm) Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, to Hurricane Sandy, over the past two years New York has experienced some of the worst natural disasters in our state's history," Cuomo said in a statement. "As we adjust to the reality of more frequent major weather incidents, we must study and learn from these past experiences to prepare for the future."
The number of days we've been without power in this area over the past couple years is far higher than it should be. Hopefully, this will be mitigated in the future by better planning and investment by our utilities -- even if we have to force them to do this.

Homophobe to Caucus with GOP in Senate

When a Democrat from the city says he won't commit to a particular caucus, you can be sure he's going to turn on his party:
A day after deciding he would caucus with Republicans, Senator-elect Simcha Felder was ripped by the Democratic leader of his home county, who said Felder’s decision was “a disgrace.”

Felder, a former New York City councilman from Brooklyn, announced yesterday that he would sit with the GOP, putting the Republicans within one seat of maintaining their majority with paper ballots set to be counted next week in two races that were too close to call.

A registerred Democrat, Felder never committed to sitting with the Senate Democratic conference.

“Senator-Elect Simcha Felder’s announcement that he plans to caucus with Republicans is both a disgrace and a complete betrayal of his constituents,” Brooklyn Democratic Chairman Frank Seddio said in a statement this evening. “If voters of Felder wanted someone to pursue Republican interests they would have voted for (incumbent Sen.) David Storobin – which also means Felder’s entire campaign was a lie.”
Come on, Seddio. You really didn't see this one coming? Anyway, Felder should be happy caucusing with the homophobes and Likudniks in the GOP, seeing as he's of that ilk himself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

John Parete is a Disgrace

And he seems to hate everything Mike Hein touches. To wit, this paragon of virtue has come out against the county executive's plans to implement flow control for the waste generated within Ulster County. And it's one thing to oppose a piece of policy, but it's quite another to compare Hein to Pontius Pilot:
Ulster County Legislator John Parete on Tuesday urged his fellow lawmakers to reject County Executive Michael Hein’s proposal to implement a law requiring that all trash collected in Ulster County be brought to the county Resource Recovery Agency for processing.

Parete, D-Boiceville, made his appeal to members of the Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee, which is considering requests for amendments to Democrat Hein’s proposed 2013 budget.

Hein’s $359.3 million spending plan is based, in part, on the implementation of the trash “flow control” law, which the executive has said would eliminate a $2.45 million subsidy to the Resource Recovery Agency.

Parete, who opposes flow control, said the county should create a dedicated fund through the implementation of a user fee to help fund the agency’s operation.

“I think (Hein’s proposal for flow control) was poorly thought out. I think flow control is the worst possible scenario. … It’s a little like Pontius Pilate washing his hands and saying, ‘I’ve done my job,’” Parete said.
So, let me see if I have this straight. Implementing flow control here in Ulster County, and doing so in a way that John Parete's feeling are hurt, is the same thing as the Romans murdering Christ.

What. A. Buffoon.

This is the same buffoon who was ousted from the UC Democratic Party chair by Julian Schreibman, the same buffoon who says he lives in Boiceville when everyone knows he really lives in Stone Ridge -- and that he has to be living in Boiceville full time by the end of the year in order to continue to legally hold his seat.

And Parete, bitter buffoon that he is, refused to support Julian Schreibman for congress, Parete's ego being much more important than good representation for NY-19. Instead, Parete endorsed the odious Chris Gibson. So, if we're doing biblical references, perhaps Parete should research the name of Judas Iscariot.

John Parete is a disgrace to the Democratic Party, and should be run out of Democratic politics for good.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

FEMA Comes to Ulster County

And it's a good thing, too:
Ulster County has been declared eligible for FEMA’s Individual Assistance program that will help families recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Individuals and families may apply online at or by calling (800) 621-3362 .

County Emergency Management Director Arthur Snyder will be meeting with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials on Wednesday about establishing a Disaster Recovery Center that will supply access to the various FEMA services available under the declaration.
One of the reasons we pay taxes is so the government has the resources to help Americans in their time of need. And while there are other parts of the area that were hit much harder than we were, this doesn't change the fact that lives have been severely disrupted in our local community as well. If you need help recovering from the storm, be sure to make a note of the phone number above.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Armistice Day

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori

Wilfred Owen
8 October 1917 - March, 1918

Saturday, November 10, 2012

GOP Councilman in Rosendale Wears Blackface for Halloween

Rosendale councilman Robert Ryan isn't a racist, he just wears racist Halloween costumes:
The use of blackface by town Councilman Robert Ryan at a private Halloween and birthday party at the American Legion Hall in Tillson has drawn sharp criticism from a town employee and the leader of a local civil rights organization.

Ryan said he intended no disrespect to black people when he dressed as rapper Flavor Flav for the Oct. 26 event.

He said the VH-1 show “The Surreal Life,” on which Flav appeared in 2004 and 2005, provided the inspiration for the costume.

“I used to watch a show all the time with Brigitte (Nielsen), the one Sylvester Stallone was married to,” Ryan said. “I enjoyed the show. I thought (Flavor Flav) was a very unique kind of a character, and then, I just read about him the other day.” Nielsen, who was on “The Surreal Life” at the same time as Flav, has been romantically involved with the rapper, whose real name is William Jonathan Drayton Jr.
And, yes, Ryan is a Republican, which is entirely un-shocking to me. The party's standard-bearer just ran one of the most racist presidential campaigns I have ever seen, so this is the par for the course. I am, however, a bit shocked to see it happen in Tillson.

And for those who say I should be ashamed about the way I talk about the GOP, take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror. Maybe, just maybe, you guys should find some better people to represent you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

More Vote Fraud

Thank you, wingnuts, for showing us how easy it is to commit vote in these here United States:
Two Republicans in separate states were taken into police custody during the past week for allegedly attempting to test how easy it would be to commit voter fraud.

In Nevada, 56-year-old Roxanne Rubin, a Republican, was arrested on Nov. 2 for allegedly trying to vote twice, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The newspaper quoted a report by an investigator with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office that said Rubin “was unhappy with the process; specifically in that her identification was not checked.”

Rubin allegedly voted at one polling location in Henderson, Nev. on Oct. 29 and then went to another voting location in Las Vegas to try to vote again. Poll workers told her records indicated she had already voted, but Rubin allegedly told them she hadn’t. A poll worker reportedly overheard Rubin tell another man that she had “signed my name differently, and they did not ask for ID.” She was arrested at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and charged with a category “D” felony.
So, they were arrested and charged with a crime. And was it was all just a little experiment they came up with all by themselves?:
On Tuesday in New Mexico, a Republican poll watcher was taken into police custody after also apparently trying to test the system. According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, the man voted, then obtained a second provisional ballot and announced he was simply “testing the system to see if people could get away with voting twice.”

[. . .]

“From what we understand, he was trained by the Republican Party,” Sandoval told TPM. The Grant County Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment. (emphasis mine)
Ah, he was trained by the Republican Party. To do what? Oh, just a little James O'Keefe-style "sting" operation that would clearly show how easy it is to commit voter fraud. But, like all the other half-baked wingnut ideas, this one didn't go exactly to plan. Hopefully these two hapless boobs will tell the authorities exactly who was behind this idiotic stunt.

Team Romney in Action

Here's a review of the GOP's vaunted GOTV operation from a true believer:
By 2PM, I had completely given up. I finally got ahold of someone at around 1PM and I never heard back. From what I understand, the entire system crashed at around 4PM. I'm not sure if that's true, but it wouldn't surprise me. I decided to wait for my wife to get home from work to vote, which meant going very late (around 6:15PM). Here's the kicker, I never got a call to go out and vote. So, who the hell knows if that end of it was working either.

So, the end result was that 30,000+ of the most active and fired-up volunteers were wandering around confused and frustrated when they could have been doing anything else to help. Like driving people to the polls, phone-banking, walking door-to-door, etc. We lost by fairly small margins in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Colorado. If this had worked could it have closed the gap? I sure hope not for my sanity's sake.

The bitter irony of this entire endeavor was that a supposedly small government candidate gutted the local structure of GOTV efforts in favor of a centralized, faceless organization in a far off place (in this case, their Boston headquarters). Wrap your head around that.
Hah! Try wrapping your head around the fact that Romney and his team actually thought they have what it takes to run the executive office of the president of the United States. When I hear about this kind of incompetence in regard to something so simple, such as getting people to the polls, and then I look at Romney's blithering overseas tour this past summer, I have to ask my conservative friends, just what the hell was it that you saw in this guy, other than the fact that he's not black the other guy? Seriously? He'd have driven the country into the ditch at the first bend in the road.

Classy Republicans

In the spirit of bipartisanship, both the speaker of the house and the senate minority leader told the president of the united states to f*ck off on Tuesday night:
After his speech, Mr. Obama tried to call both Mr. Boehner and the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, but was told they were asleep. The efforts from both sides, after a long and exhausting campaign, suggested the urgency of acting in the few weeks before roughly $700 billion in automatic tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts take effect at year’s end — the “fiscal cliff.” A failure to reach agreement could arrest the economic recovery.
If president Obama had been on the receiving end of such an election-night drubbing, and he refused to take phone calls from Boehner and McConnell, they'd be drafting articles of impeachment.

Oh, and get used to that term, "articles of impeachment." As they did to Bill Clinton, the mouth-breathing nutjobs on the right, unsatisfied with the bloodletting they experienced this past week, will double-down on the crazy and cook something up to try and impeach Obama. It won't work, of course, and it will only serve to make the next generation of voters despise the GOP. But it will happen, likely by this time next year -- and its central architect will be Darrell Issa.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quote of the Day

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“It’s gotta be shut down, it needs to be repudiated by serious leaders in the party. Look, conservatism is a serious governing philosophy…. Conservatism shouldn’t be defined by fidelity to all of these crazy statements by talk-radio personalities, or by reality show hosts who go out and say outrageous things. And when you have these reality show hosts, like Donald Trump, who are hanging around with our presidential candidates, they are, by virtue of that, given some platform for seriousness, and they call for 'revolution' on their Twitter accounts, after the president has been legitimately re-elected by the American people. It’s gotta be shut down by serious leaders in the Republican party.”

-- GOP strategist Steve Schmidt on the state of his party.
And where, pray tell, will the GOP find these serious leaders? Their bench is awfully thin at the moment.

Cuomo Fires Emergency Manager

This is pretty amazing:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has fired his $153,000-a-year emergency management director for diverting a crew to remove a tree from his Long Island home's driveway after Superstorm Sandy hit, a state official said Wednesday.

Director of Emergency Management Steven Kuhr was fired after the governor was told that Kuhr called a Suffolk County crew to remove a fallen tree from his driveway, according to the official. Kuhr was working in Albany at the time last week, shortly after Sandy hit.
Good on Cuomo for keeping his department heads honest. This kind of petty corruption has gone on for far to long here in NY State.

Buerkle Refuses to Concede

What is it with wingnuts and their contempt for the democratic process?:
Democratic activists said they’ll offer “Bon Voyage” tomorrow to Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-Syracuse, as she heads back to Washington for a lame-duck session.

The Associated Press last night reported that Buerkle lost her re-election bid to Democrat Dan Maffei, who lost in 2010 to Buerkle.

Maffei had a 48 percent to 44 percent lead. She hasn’t conceded. (emphasis mine)
Say what you will about Willard, at least he had the grace to concede a race he clearly lost. Too bad Buerkle doesn't have the class to do the same thing. Don't let the door hit, you, Ann Marie.

It Ain't Over in Arizona

Apparently there's a little problem with some uncounted ballots:
More than 600,000 early and provisional ballots statewide have yet to be processed and counted, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said Wednesday.

Of that total, nearly 460,000 votes still haven't been counted in Maricopa County, and that's complicating the ability to call several close races throughout Arizona.

Bennett said the uncounted ballot total was 602,334 as of Wednesday, including Maricopa County's 344,000 uncounted early ballots and 115,000 provisional ballots yet to be verified.
And he answer to your question is, yes, this could change the outcome of several races, including the senate race between Jeff Flake (R) and former surgeon general Richard Carmona (D). It could also have a profound effect on a notable local race, the one between hard-right incumbent sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Latino opponent Paul Penzone:
He (Arpaio) garnered 53% of votes cast in this year's election, and his chief opponent, Democrat Paul Penzone, conceded as results showed Arpaio ahead by 88,000 votes.

"Arpaio won, you have to accept it," said Alberto Gutier, a Republican analyst. "He said it very clearly that he was going to be the sheriff that enforces laws, and not who makes laws."
While most of these votes would have to break Penzone's way, 460,000 is enough to change the outcome of this election. The race between Flake and Carmona was also very close, about 80,000 votes. They'll be counting these ballots for another 10 days or so, apparently.

And how much does the GOP have to be sweating over the fact that the Democrats got within spitting distance of a win in full-metal-wingnut Arizona? Lots of angry Hispanic folks down there, apparently.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nate Silver's Batting Average

It currently stands at .975:
Barack Obama may have comfortably won re-election in the electoral college, and squeaked a victory in the popular vote. But here is the absolute, undoubted winner of this election: Nate Silver and big data. The analyst, despite being pilloried by the pundits, outdid even his 2008 prediction. In that year, his mathematical model correctly called 49 out of 50 states, missing only Indiana (which went to Obama by 0.1%.) This year, according to all projections, Silver’s model has correctly predicted 50 out of 50 states. A last-minute flip for Florida, which finally went blue in Silver’s prediction on Monday night, helped him to a perfect game.
Statistics isn't some game mathematicians play, it's a science based upon actual numbers. The pundits, all of whom were wrong to varying degrees, can hem and haw all they want, but it doesn't change the math. Karl Rove used to say that "he has the math," but that was so much bluster. If he really knew what he was doing, would he be on Fox News pontificating that the race isn't over, while the hair-sprayed host has to talk him off the ledge (see above)? I think not. Rove was always more about intimidation and saying the things wingnuts want to hear, like how the American public thinks they're dreamy and really wants to go steady. Not. So. Fast. But Karl will be back. There are more billionaires for him to fleece, no doubt. But Rove's sage-like aura of political prescience is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. And people on the right are beginning to figure this out.

A Good Night That Could Have Been Better

Everything seemed to break for the Democrats last night, though perhaps not quite as dramatically as it did in 2006. But it was a very good night overall. In addition to the president easily winning re-election, Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren are now United States senators, several marriage equality measures passed at the ballot box (for the first time ever, no less), and our old friend Alan Grayson retook his House seat, while it appears that war-criminal Allen West lost his. Comedians like Bill Maher will also be pleased to know that dingbat Michele Bachmann will be sticking around for at least two more years (shudder).

In our area, things also went well for Democrats -- unless your name is Julian Schreibman. The incumbent Gibson was able to beat him, though by a relatively slim margin given the fact that Schreibman was a really awful candidate. He's an earnest guy, and he meant well, but he lacks charisma and wasn't a very effective campaigner. Gibson, however, remains vulnerable in the new NY-19. The DCCC needs to fire Steve Israel and replace him with someone who actually knows how to recruit candidates. This was a seat we should have won. Oh, and a memo to Mike Hein: if you are interested, NY-19 is a piece of low-hanging fruit ripe for the picking.

If you look to our south, Maloney beat Hayworth. See what happens when you recruit a good candidate?

And Democrats like me are also pleased that the party appears now to be in control of both houses of the state legislature.

So, this blog will have Gibson to kick around for the next two years. And I intend to broadcast as much as I can to highlight his continually awful record. Let's see if he's the "moderate" he spun himself to be during the campaign.

But that comes later. In the mean time, a victory lap!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

President Obama Re-Elected!

NBC News calls Ohio for Obama, which puts him over the top for re-election. Sorry, GOP. Well, actually, I'm not sorry.

Four. More. Years.

Election Returns Live Blog

Had a busy morning systematically disenfranchising conservative voters. But I'm now back in the cockpit ready to watch the mayhem. I'll be updating the blog as results from our area become available, and I'll be keeping an eye on the other important races around the country -- including that presidential thing. Stay tuned.

2:58PM -- Fox News has PROOF of voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia. Here's the shocking video:

The most intimidating part comes at 0:45 seconds when he holds the door open for two little old ladies. Absolutely terrifying.

4:31PM -- Missed this earlier:
A federal judge has ordered the Dutchess County Board of Elections to register the roughly 100 college students whose voter registration applications had been denied by Republican Elections Commissioner Erik Haight.

U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas issued his ruling late Monday following a full day of arguments in a class action suit brought by four college students who said they were illegally being denied the right to vote.

Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which represented the four students, called the ruling “a great decision that vindicates the right to vote.”
Haight should resign. He's not fit to hold the post of election commissioner.

7:00PM -- MSNBC calls Kentucky and Indiana for Romney (no surprise), and Vermont for Obama (also no surprise).

Obama -- 3
Romney -- 19

7:30PM -- Romney wins West Virginia. The others are too close to call or too early to call.

Obama -- 3
Romney -- 24

7:45PM -- South Carolina, and its nine electoral votes, goes to Romney (another shocker).

Obama -- 3
Romney -- 33

UPDATE: MSNBC calls Georgia for Romney. That's 49 EVs for Romney, to Obama's 3. Still no surprises, though.

8:15PM -- Lots of polls just closed. Too many to list. Still no surprises. Lots of states too close to call.

Obama -- 64
Romney -- 82

8:30PM -- Romney wins Arkansas, which he was projected to do. But MSNBC calls CT senate for Chris Murphy over Linda McMahon. She spent $100 million of her personal fortune, twice trying to purchase this seat, but to no avail. Woot!

Obama -- 64
Romney -- 90

9:00PM -- NBC projecting that the GOP will retain control of the House. Gerrymandering pays.

Obama -- 114
Romney -- 153

UPDATE: NBC calls PA for Obama. Plus 20 EVs.

9:30PM -- Add Wisconsin. Plus 10 EVs for Obama

9:40PM --
NBC has it 158 Obama, 153 Romney. And they are also Projecting Elizabeth Warren as the winner in Mass. Woot!

9:45PM -- And Joe Donnelly beats Tea party nutjob Richard Mourdock in Indiana senate!

10:05PM -- McCaskill beats yet another Tea Party nutjob, Todd Akin, in Missouri senate.

10:30PM -- Maloney up 69,482 to 58,426 over Nan Hayworth, according to Mid-Hudson News. That should be about 50 percent of the vote total.

10:42PM -- And Chris Gibson is up 22,004 to 17,589 over Schreibman. Lots of votes left to count, though.

Monday, November 5, 2012

NYS AG Schneiderman Goes After Price Gougers

Price gouging during a crisis is one of the most reprehensible things you can do to your fellow human beings. People who are in such situation are frequently desperate for basic necessities, the prices of which can then be jacked-up by the unscrupulous in order to make a nice windfall. Well, our attorney general is having none of it. Here's the press release:
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced an investigation into post-Hurricane Sandy price gouging after receiving hundreds of complaints from consumers across the state of New York. Before the storm made land fall, the Attorney General issued an open letter to vendors in areas forecast to be affected by Hurricane Sandy to warn against price gouging, the inflation of the price of necessary goods and services. General Business Law prohibits such increases in costs of essential items like food, water, gas, generators, batteries and flashlights, and services like transportation, during natural disasters or other events that disrupt the market. Attorney General Schneiderman also issued a guide to New Yorkers recovering and rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, including tips on how to avoid scams as they restore and rebuild their homes and businesses.

“Our office has zero tolerance for price gouging,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We are actively investigating hundreds of complaints we’ve received from consumers of businesses preying on victims of Hurricane Sandy, and will do everything we can to stop unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of New Yorkers trying to rebuild their lives.”