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AV Photo Daily

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Guns, Ebola, Torture, and a Sour Weppner

Image Credit: WBFO.org

At long last, Kathy Weppner got her debate against Brian Higgins yesterday. The candidates vying to represent NY-26 in Congress faced off in front of an audience of about 1,000 students and faculty at St. Joe’s. The debate was moderated by the AP Government teacher, and students selected and asked the questions. 

Here’s what Brian Higgins tweeted after the debate: 

And here is what Kathy Weppner tweeted about it:

 

So, the shorter version is Brian Higgins thanking St. Joe’s and its AP Government class, teacher, and students for a lively and fun debate, versus Kathy Weppner denigrating the kids and their questions, just one step away from accusing them of perhaps conspiring with Higgins’ campaign because she had to face tough questions. 

Also, Higgins accused Weppner of missing two recent candidate fora – not three. She skipped the Good Government Club and the Association of Retired Federal Employees events in the last few weeks. She was invited to them both. For someone who’s spent the last few weeks whining about how the League of Women Voters has conspired with Brian Higgins to support only Demoncrats, you’d expect her to attend everything offered to her. 

The Weppner campaign has been one of the best campaigns ever to be run in western New York, but not for the reasons you think. I don’t objectively mean it was “good” or the “best”; instead, it’s the best insofar as it has enabled regular people to hear and consider things that are usually kept in the deepest basements of AM hate radio. It’s rare that malicious and false right-wing misinformation sees the sunlight, and when it’s taken even a millimeter outside of its typical venues, it’s revealed to be so false and dumb that regular people simply dismiss it as “crazy”.  For instance, 

Yesterday, Brad Riter and I recorded an hourlong podcast where we set out to dissect yesterday’s debate. There’s so much there, we only made it through about 15 minutes’ worth.  You can listen to the podcast here

You can listen to the entire debate here, at WBFO’s site. Did you catch how Weppner whined about how Higgins conspired with WBEN to let the entire debate audio to be shared online? Weppner evidently didn’t read the rules, because the prohibition on recording and re-use of the debate was only as to the campaigns themselves – there were myriad cameras and microphones present, and the rules were quite clear that media could share their recordings. Indeed, after spending so many weeks whining about the lack of debates, you’d reckon that Weppner would scream bloody murder if the debate wasn’t shared with voters, right? 

In terms of substance, the student-led, teacher-moderated debate touched on several issues, none of which are trivial. More importantly, they were things that the students themselves deemed interesting. The first question dealt with the apparent epidemic of school shootings – a uniquely American problem. Weppner’s response to this question was typical right-wing pablum; more guns will lead to a more polite society. Weppner said things about how only “good” people with guns – like she – can protect society from bad people with guns, as if there were no other alternatives. Higgins affirmed people’s 2nd Amendment rights, but added, 

Good people should be able to carry guns but the framers of the Constitution could not have imagined this kind of hell,” Higgins said. “If you are a good guy with a gun then what’s wrong with reasonable background checks? What’s wrong with reasonable gun control?

The Weppner plan can be summarized thusly: 

Weppner came out in support of a travel ban from West African countries, while Higgins said we should follow the lead of medical professionals, and not politicians, on these sorts of issues. Weppner said, 

The CDC has spent 6% of its $3 billion over the last few years on silly studies instead of on infectious diseases. We’ve been squandering the money that we do have. So I believe, yes, there should be a quarantine. They’re quarantining our soldiers in Germany for 21 days. 

According to Weppner, if the CDC spent 6% of $3 billion on “silly studies”, then that still leaves 94% to study and prevent infectious diseases. However, typically, she’s got her facts wrong. She seems to be parroting a Politico article penned by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who claims

Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent—$180 million—of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity.

By contrast, the CDC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement Funding, which helps municipalities deal with outbreaks of disease, has decreased dramatically in the last decade. The CDC’s overall 2015 budget is not, incidentally, $3 billion, but almost $7 billion. That also represents a decrease of 3.5% over FY 2014, and you can see specifically what the administration sought, and what the tea party Congress granted

Weppner got two applause lines – the first when she said that marijuana “kills ambition” and leads kids to sit on the couch, watching TV, and eat Doritos. Not shockingly, teenage kids love the idea of sitting on the couch, watching TV, and eating Doritos, and cheered. Weppner also rejected medical marijuana, claiming,

If there are medicinal purposes that medical marijuana can be used for then we need to study it. We wouldn’t put a medicine on the market without studying it. If there are properties that help seizure disorders then we need to study what properties those are and put it into a little inhaler.  We can’t open pot stores. We need clear thinking young people to attack the problems we have. Not people that are going to sit back with a bag of Doritos and watch television.

Even Channel 2’s Michael Wooten pointed out on last night’s news that Weppner is lying about medical marijuana not having been studied. It’s been studied plenty, and shown to be effective in treating nausea in chemotherapy patients, glaucoma, chronic pain, seizures, and other maladies. UC San Diego has an entire department devoted to the study of medicinal uses for marijuana, a plant that grows in nature

The mic drop moment, though, came when the candidates were asked about the use of torture in interrogation of enemy combatants and terrorists. Weppner claimed, 

I don’t think sleep deprivation or waterboarding is something, if we are going to get valuable information that can save lives, is a horrible thing. I really don’t.

The notion that torture generates valuable information is categorically, scientifically false. While Weppner shocked the Catholic schoolboys with her pro-torture position, Higgins’ one-sentence response resulted in huge applause, prompting Weppner to whine about it later on Twitter (seen above). 

Torture should not be tolerated in any context in any part of the world.

The candidates’ reactions on Twitter aren’t an accident – Higgins’ performance was competent, relevant, and rational. Weppner’s was defensive, offensive, and bizarre. This is the shorthand to describe both candidates and their campaigns, overall. 

You think I hate Weppner or her right-wing followers? I don’t. I feel sorry for them, frankly, because it must really suck walking through life being angry and afraid of everything, always. I hate people who commit crimes and hurt others, I don’t hate people who think differently from me, however misguided I think they are. Part of what I do through this blog is highlight thoughts, ideas, words, and deeds that I believe to be ugly or nice – dangerous or helpful – reactionary or progressive. I pay attention to what my ideological opponents have to say because I refuse to formulate my opinions in a left-wing echo chamber. I read and listen to lots of points of view from lots of sources – so if I see, for instance, that the local AM talk radio station leaves a comment up for over an hour, which calls for the extermination of all Muslims on Earth, I feel it’s my duty as a normal human being to call that to the station’s attention.  It’s not only Nazi thinking, it’s violative of that station’s Facebook terms of service, “… will not tolerate racist, homophobic, sexist or abusive comments”. 

The real hatred comes from those who shut down dissent, and get called out in other venues. The real hatred comes from those who are utterly allergic to scrutiny or criticism of any kind. The real hatred comes from people who cower in their echo chambers, treating as unpatriotic or insane anyone who dares to disagree. The real hatred comes when the local news radio station blocks you on Twitter, because you pointed out that maybe “all Muslims need to be exterminated” doesn’t belong on their Facebook page. 

Election Day is next Tuesday. The tea party point of view is out in the sunlight for all to see. Reject it. 


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NEJM: Ebola Quarantine “Like Driving a Carpet Tack With a Sledgehammer”

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From the leftist pinkos at the New England Journal of Medicine, who are totally in Obama’s evil, Marx0-fascist totalitarian pocket or something: 

The governors of a number of states, including New York and New Jersey, recently imposed 21-day quarantines on health care workers returning to the United States from regions of the world where they may have cared for patients with Ebola virus disease. We understand their motivation for this policy — to protect the citizens of their states from contracting this often-fatal illness. This approach, however, is not scientifically based, is unfair and unwise, and will impede essential efforts to stop these awful outbreaks of Ebola disease at their source, which is the only satisfactory goal. The governors’ action is like driving a carpet tack with a sledgehammer: it gets the job done but overall is more destructive than beneficial.

Read the whole thing here, and stop living your life sprinting from one crisis spelling imminent doom to another. In other words, stop being this: 


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Kathy Weppner: Victim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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