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The Oligarchy of Complacency

We pat ourselves on our collective civic backs for our social, economic, and political “one step forward, two steps back” way of life. We – all of us – swallow and regurgitate a party line about the virtues of this region’s supposedly exceptional good neighborliness and unique qualities. That’s great.

What we have is a dearth of busy people doing busy things. I don’t mean work to exhaustion and ignore your family and friends type busy things, as depicted in that horrible Cadillac commercial that aired during the Super Bowl.  I mean that old-fashioned notion that if you work hard, you’ll earn decent money, and that your kids will be better off than you.

It’s tough here in Buffalo. This article from a recent ex-pat explains it pretty well, albeit anecdotally.

A Princeton scholar declared that the US is no longer a representative democracy, but a straight-up oligarchy. When the Supreme Court declares that there’s no more racial discrimination, that the wealthy and corporate interests can spend unlimited sums to influence elections and government under the pretext of money being “speech”, and when our broadcast “news” sources either broadcast inane shouting matches that resolve nothing, or else devolve into PLANEWATCH ’14, we keep ourselves complacent and ignorant.

I’ve spent the last couple of days attending the funeral of a great man who changed the country more times than the average American bothers to vote. He did it quietly, without seeking the spotlight, but he maintained a basic integrity – are you doing something because you want to, or because it’s convenient?

Buffalo isn’t really much of an oligarchy. It’s just a mess. Sure, it matters if you’re well-connected and you belong to the right club and you flit around in the right circles – it’s how Larry Quinn can raise $34k overnight to run for a thankless position with a feckless Board of Education so he can align himself with his friend – a malevolent right-wing lunatic. We need more worker-drones to make collection calls, do sales at Geico, and otherwise to support a cyclical low-rent service economy. Add in a dash of parochialism and tablespoons of resentment politics, and now you’re cooking up a Rust Belt stew of mediocrity and low expectations.

You do have your bread and circuses going for you, which is nice.

The area sort of needs a revolution, but both Occupy and the Tea Party have it wrong. We don’t need everyone to carry a gun, nor do we need someone to nationalize the means of production. The startup movement in Buffalo has it right – we need people to create things and ideas. Most will fail, but the few that succeed can lay the groundwork for a brighter civic, socio-economic future that isn’t mired in back-handed nostalgia or stasis. We need a revolution of higher expectations and achievement; a revolution where Donald Trump and Carl Paladino are seen for the malignant thugs they are, and not as deep-pocketed, straight-talking heroes who are going to put those poor in their place. We need a revolution where three or four tower cranes aren’t a point of discussion, and where we create a new batch of good old days for which future generations can someday feel nostalgic.


A Farewell to Mr. Burke

The timing was somewhat tragically apropos.

On Saturday, my best friend from middle school and college called to tell us that his dad had died. When we got the call, we had just reached the 6th floor of the Newseum in Washington. My friend’s dad had been, at one time, the Vice President of ABC News and the President of CBS News. My love for politics and journalism is due, in large part, to David Burke. He led an incredible life and welcomed some sarcastic, obnoxious fat little Republican Croat into his home as if he was a member of the family. 

Mr. Burke was brilliant and inspiring. He attended Tufts University, and later received an MBA from the University of Chicago. He came from a blue collar background, and had a great passion for labor issues. He worked with later Secretary of State and of Labor, George Schultz, to produce “The Public Interest in a National Labor Policy” for the Committee for Economic Development. This report laid the foundation for national labor relations policy. His work on these matters led to Mr. Burke being named to President John Kennedy’s Labor Advisory Council in 1960. 

He led a life that could fill volumes of memoirs. After working for the White House, Mr. Burke became Chief of Staff to Senator Edward Kennedy.  Interviews that Mr. Burke gave in the 1970s about his time working with President Kennedy and with Robert F. Kennedy are available here and here

He spent time at the Dreyfus Corporation in New York before becoming Chief of Staff to Governor Hugh Carey, and was instrumental in saving New York City from an imminent bankruptcy in the late 70s. In the 90s, President Clinton appointed Mr. Burke to be the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, overseeing the Voice of America, and he was named to the New York Daily News’ Board of Directors during the paper’s bankruptcy, and helped save it. 

The Broadcasting Board of Governors gives an award in journalism in Mr. Burke’s honor every year, and Tufts’ Tisch School has a Media and Public Service internship named after him. 

Mr. Burke helped to spark my interest in news and journalism. My friend, Terence’s birthday party in December 1980 involved us kids sitting silently on the floor next to Sam Donaldson doing the nightly news – the top story was John Lennon’s murder a week earlier. I was staying with the Burkes on the Cape when ABC correspondent Charlie Glass was about to be released from captivity in Lebanon. Mr. Burke arranged for me to meet with the executive producer of World News Tonight when I was considering a career in broadcast journalism. He was a big believer in the importance and power of journalism in a free society. When CBS started to cheap out on its news division, he left. When Senator Kennedy faced a tough re-election campaign in the mid-90s against some Romney fella, he arranged for me to meet the Senator, and I watched a barn-burner of a speech in a Waltham IBEW hall. 

Mr. Burke was most recently a member of the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library, where he was also a member of the Profiles in Courage Award committee. 

Mr. Burke led a life that was intimately intertwined with his roots and the turbulent times.  He was talented and fortunate enough to have intimate involvement with the political and social upheaval of the 60s, the economic stagnation of the 70s, the international turmoil of the 80s, and was an elder statesman by the 90s. He was the behind-the-scenes negotiator, leader, and fixer.

My family and I send all our love to the Burkes as they say good-bye to this giant of a man.


WBEN: Fascism Advocacy

Over the next week, consider for a moment that the radio station that brings you the traffic and weather together in the morning, along with a roster of commentators whose extremism builds as the day rolls along. 

But in the last few months or so, the station’s operations director, Tim Wenger, has developed for himself something of a largely off-air personality. In some ways, it’s even more malignant than that of his top talkers. He conducts himself like the most deluded and hateful trolls on the WBEN Facebook page. 

Consider Wenger’s completely unprofessional and false attempt to shame WEDG’s Josh Potter, and this series of horrible, reactionary pronouncements from Wenger’s own Twitter account, as well as the control he obviously enjoys over the WBEN Twitter and Facebook accounts at various parts of the day.  

Whatever personality Wenger is trying to manufacture for himself, it’s horrible and repugnant. 

It culminated in these two Tweets from him, one of which was, of course, simultaneously posted to the WBEN Facebook page. 

No, actually, I’ve never felt like “throwing a shoe” at any American political figure. Mostly because I’m not a violent moron, but also because I feel secure enough in the political system and in debate and discussion that “throwing a shoe” or otherwise committing an assault and battery doesn’t enter into it.  Remember when an Iraqi reporter threw a shoe at President Bush? Did Wenger think that was acceptable? Reasonable? Rational?

I didn’t think it was persuasive or appropriate. People enter politics, and they should expect to be vetted, scrutinized, and questioned. They should not expect to dodge physical assault. They do not deserve battery – no matter how much you disagree with them. For everyone who thinks Hillary Clinton deserves to be hit by a shoe because of Benghazi, I can probably find you two who think that Bush should be behind bars for war crimes. 

So, there’s nothing at all funny or appropriate about someone throwing a shoe at George Bush or at Hillary Clinton. Anyone who thinks differently is no different from a fascist blackshirt, trying to do with violence what they can’t do with words. It is beyond un-American. 

 

The video Wenger loves shows a small handful of protesters minding their own damn business. They had in no way attacked, provoked, or otherwise antagonized the two servicemen who attacked them. You can see in the last few frames, one protester with his hands to his side – he’s asking to reason with them.

In response, they curse at him – this from Tim Wenger, who just can’t tolerate the profane blogs. It’s ok to say “fuck” if you’re a Marine intimidating, assaulting, battering, and robbing a couple of guys on a moped. 

That protest, by the way, took place in Albuquerque.  The people on the moped were protesting an epidemic of police brutality in that city, culminating in the homicide of an unarmed homeless man. The people on the moped were exercising their right to free speech, protesting police shootings. Their use of an upside-down flag wasn’t an act of disrespect – the upside-down flag is a distress signal, used in many protests as political speech indicating that the republic is in danger. Go look at the title card for “House of Cards”.  Should belligerent and ignorant young men throw shoes, perhaps, at TVs displaying it? 

There is nothing to love about what that Marine does to the protester, whether he’s an “ass” or not. (More profanity! Shock! Horror!). Engaging in street fights with political opponents is what the blackshirts and brownshirts did in the 20s and 30s. That is the only context within which this assault and robbery of a flag can be viewed. The only lens through which we can see this as acceptable or lovable behavior is the lens of fascism. 

 

So, understand that Buffalo: the guy who runs operations for the Entercom corporation locally is a proponent of violent, fascist behavior. He is an outspoken, unabashed fan of violence and intimidation for political ends. To say this is un-American is a dramatic understatement. But even more insidious is that – whether he holds these views sincerely or not – he is encouraging that sort of behavior from the malinformed people listening to WBEN who think Michael Savage is too liberal. 

Tim Wenger and WBEN are encouraging violence against people who hold different political views from them. I don’t know why this is not a big deal. 

If this was happening in the 1930s, this newsreel would be appropriate: 


Guns, Mental Health, and Fascism

1. If you went on the Facebook to try and politicize the stabbing of kids in Pennsylvania, using it as a springboard for a “debate” about gun control,  implicitly mocking and defaming the 20 1st grader victims of Sandy Hook – you’re doing everything wrong. 

One of the goals of gun control advocates is to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill; like kids who go on stabbing sprees or shooting sprees.  There’s a big difference between the two – in Pennsylvania, no one died. 

2. Many people are calling for better mental health services in this country in the wake of the Pennsylvania stabbing, the Sandy Hook shooting, and the Fort Hood shooting. That would be fantastic – oftentimes the first thing that state and municipal governments cut and shrink to balance their budgets are the very costly mental health services offered to people who desperately need – yet can’t afford – them. When services are cut and facilities closed, where do you think they go? How do you think they function in society? The mentally ill are, furthermore, often uniquely unable or unwilling to stand up for themselves, their medical needs, and their rights. 

I think it’s a great goal for society to better serve our most vulnerable. It’s sort of the point of programs like SNAP and WIC, and mental health services need to be taken more seriously.  Of course, this costs money. So, let’s agree to expand mental health services while simultaneously not complaining about the cost of doing so, or denigrating the mentally ill recipients of these services because we resent them receiving them. 

Furthermore, mental health services should be available to anyone who needs them, on demand and for life. The best way to accomplish this is to expand mental health coverage throughout the health insurance spectrum. 

3. At Fort Hood, a troubled soldier shot three people and injured 16 others. The right wing – locally led by the increasingly shrill and dangerous operations director at WBEN (see below) – has recommended that soldiers at the facility be allowed to carry sidearms at all times to protect themselves against a deranged shooter. Is that a good way to run a society – by encouraging shootouts? Have we not progressed at all since the post-civil war frontier times? These men and women have signed up to serve our country. We can’t trust our servicemen and women to not shoot at each other? Nowhere is 100% safe all of the time, and it’s ridiculous to live your life waiting to fend off an attack. Everybody’s Chuck Norris, all of a sudden. Just relax. You don’t need a gun all the time. 

4. Kathy Weppner changed her campaign website yesterday and touted it on Facebook and Twitter. It looks like a 12 year old was let loose on a Livejournal account. Weppner is going to run against Obamacare, which is interesting since it’s expanded health insurance so that the number of uninsured is at its lowest point in years. It’s also interesting since more people with health insurance means more patients for her husband to treat. 

The next report will be on the economy, jobs and Obamacare job loss. This landmark legislation has been changed 40 times. The chaos, uncertainty and cost of this massive piece of legislation and last minute changes has resulted in thousands of job cuts, reduction in fulltime employment, and employer fear of hiring.  The cumulative impact of Obamacare, on top of the highest corporate taxes in the world, and constant Washington interference is devastating to our small business job creators.  Obamacare, as it impacts the medical care you receive, will appear as a separate report.  

And you thought she was just a benign kook. She has no idea what she’s talking about, and is simply vomiting up Fox News/Rush Limbaugh talking points. 

5. Back to that Operations Manager at WBEN. Regard: 

That protester didn’t do a damn thing to those Marines. He didn’t attack them or disrespect them (an upside-down flag is a distress signal, (36 USC §176(a)), not a sign of disrespect to the flag or to those who fight under her). Furthermore, whatever that protester was doing is protected political speech. What that Marine did to the protester is simple assault & battery; also, larceny. Robbery, possibly. That sort of intimidation and assault of someone with whom you disagree is straight up fascism. 

I haven’t received a reply to this yet: 


Weppner Selling Yacht

On her campaign website, Weppner says she’s running for Congress because she’s a 

…strong voice for those who have a difficult time speaking for themselves due to inequity in power. She intends to carry that voice to Washington to help overcome the unique challenges facing Western New York.

It’s a silly statement, when you read it. “Inequity in power” doesn’t prevent or stunt someone’s ability to “speak for themselves”. Unless Weppner is advocating for that socialist equality nonsense, it’s hard to know what she’s talking about. I can’t decide if she’s trying to be regular people, or if she’s saying, in effect, that she’s better than regular people – you lumpenproles can rely on her to do your anti-Obama, anti-Kenyan advocacy for you

In the meantime, I wonder if Weppner is funding her campaign through the sale of her yacht?

Right now, you can buy a 1989 Beneteau Oceanis 500, a 50′ sailing vessel registered to Kathleen Weppner of Williamsville.  The “Perseverance III” is available for the low, low price of $99,900.  It looks like Weppner let her FCC license for the ship’s radio lapse in 2012, which would essentially coincide with the end of her radio program

‘Perseverance VII’, 5 Cabin, 4 Heads, Roller Furling, Enormous Salon, Great Live-Aboard Potential, Rochester, NY

Description:
The Oceanis 500: This 50 footer has supplied thousands of sailors the “big boat” experience. The accommodations are sumptuous for 4 couples. There is a “crew’s quarters” forward with two bunks. This 500 is fast and stable with a 15 ton displacement. While Beneteau built her to go anywhere, she is equally comfortable in light air as well as a blow.

Always a “Lot of boat for the money” This particular 500 is priced extremely well for a domestically based boat. 

Boat Name: “Perserverance VII”

Dimensions:
LOA: 50 ft 0 in
Beam: 15 ft 6 in
LWL: 44 ft 6 in
Maximum Draft: 6 ft
Keel: Fin w/bulb and wings
Displacement: 30700 lbs
Ballast: 10800 lbs

Engine:
Engine Brand: Perkins
Year Built: 1989
Engine Model: 4.236
Engine/Fuel Type: Diesel
Engine Hours: 8127

Tanks:
Fresh Water Tanks: 4 (63 Gallons)
Fuel Tanks: 1 (148 Gallons)
Holding Tanks: 2 (48 Gallons)

Accommodations:
Number of twin berths: 2
Number of double berths: 4
Number of cabins: 5
Number of heads: 4

Electronics:
VHF – Horizon Eclipse
Log-speedometer
Radar Detector
Depthsounder
Autopilot – Autohelm 4000 plus wheel pilot
CD player – Pioneer with amp

Sails:
RF Genoa
Battened mainsail – Doyle 2001 (great condition)

Other:
Steering wheel – 2 wheels
Inside Equipment
Marine head – 4
Refrigerator
Deep freezer
Battery charger
Hot water
Oven
Electric bilge pump – 4
Electrical Equipment
Inverter – Xantrex 14.4 volts 15 amps 2005
Shore power inlet

Outside Equipment/Extras:
Swimming ladder
Cockpit table
Tender – 1997 Caribe 13′ EMD3C3697 with Yamaha 50hp OB
Covers
Bimini Top
Spray hood

Here is a list of extras:
CQR 45lb with 300′ chain
Refrigeration Frigobaot 200 Twin series installed 2005
Force10 3 burner propane stove installed 2002
CCI controls LP Gas detector (Pre Tell 2)
Xantrex Freedom Marine series remote for the inverter.
Masthead lights new in 2009
EPIRB Sat 406 & Rapid fix 404
2 Oympic lighted compasses on each wheel
3 Main batery switches
Jabsco bilge pumps (3) new 2010
Jabsco sensor Max 17 water pump with guard
Atlantic Marine R12E Hot water tank 2005
Lewmar windlass
100′ power cord
2 breeze boosters and wind scoops
4 fire extinguishers
8 sets of foul weather gear assorted sizes
SPR M700 150 watt speaker system still in box
hatch screens for all hatches
10 life vests
1 adult West Marine offshore auto/manual inflator (NEW)
3 ACR Electronics C-lights
2 five pack life vests in zip pack
Orion Marine signal kit
6 pack star tracers
Night Blaster Light rechargeable 2,000,000 candlepower
7 turbo fans throughout boat.
BBQ Grill
Audiovox Satellite phone
2 Edson leather wheel covers
Triple sets of fitted sheets for all cabins w blankets
All stemware/dishes/pots/pans
Multiple replacement bulbs
Spare clamps,screws/switches/tools
1 pair childs trainer skis
1 pair adult water skis with ski rope

Tea Party Kathy from Williamsville – she’s just regular folk!


Weppner’s Carnival Sideshow

Via Facebook.com

 

Kathy Weppner (R-Clownshoes) is busy getting her campaign in order. She’s had a rough go of it so far, what with her diligent work scrubbing all evidence of her words, deeds, and thoughts from every corner of the internet because practically every bit of it is so delightfully cringeworthy. 

Campaigns have to designate someone to be a treasurer. It’s an important task, marrying the complexities of federal campaign finance regulation, filing requirements, transparency, and math. Mrs. Weppner has appointed a David Lipinoga to be her campaign treasurer. 

Lipinoga is an Amherst Republican Committee member who has developed a game for mobile phones. It’s a blatant and unapologetic rip-off of the wildly fun and popular “Angry Birds” game, but instead of birds you launch “patriots” at shaky structures that also feature images of people whom Lipinoga believes to be enemies of the “patriots”.  He calls them “pinheads”. The game doesn’t appear to be available on the Apple App Store, but it is available for Android devices at a cost of 99 cents. The game description indicates that it was…

…developed with the use of physics, animation, adventure and political parity. The game’s functionality utilizes the touch screen-base technology of the tablet world. Players use a Revolutionary War cannon to launch patriotic characters or the “Angry Patriots” at socialist politicians, actors, musicians, other mainstream pinheads as well as a variety of “jack asses” stationed throughout the board. As players advance through the game, new patriots appear, some with special abilities that can be activated by the player.

20% of the proceeds go directly to MCLEF. MCLEF raises funds to help offset the college tuition costs for children who have lost a parent defending our county or in the line of duty.

20% of the proceeds go to charity. Net or gross? Net or gross proceeds or profit? So many questions. How much has been donated since the game appeared in 2012? Lipinoga lists himself as the “President” of the app, but the app itself is evidently offered by the Lipshall corporation, which is owned by Lipinoga and Keith Marshall of North Tonawanda

The game is a direct rip-off of Angry Birds, complete with caricatures of supposed “socialists” that look like something a 12 year-old did for free using Microsoft Paint and a broken mouse.

Via Facebook.com

 

The American way isn’t to take something great, copy it wholesale, and make it awful. 

Lipinoga’s corporate partner, Keith Marshall was a debt collector sued in 2009 by then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for unfair debt collection practices. Marshall ran a debt collection scam with two other Buffalo men that was so abusive that it racked up 850 consumer complaints with the Better Business Bureau, as well as state and federal consumer protection authorities. They stand accused of threatening debtors with imprisonment and physical harm if they didn’t make payment arrangements. When rebuffed, Marshall’s employees would hurl vicious verbal abuse and make obscene sexual comments at people who, in some cases, owed as little as a few hundred dollars. One of Marshall’s operations is featured at “RipoffReport.com“. 

Cuomo’s office uncovered that Marshall’s collectors would demand payment for debts that didn’t exist, and they would sometimes inflate the amounts owed. They would pretend to be law enforcement to frighten and humiliate people. One collector threatened to rape a purported debtor’s daughter, using her name Collectors routinely called consumers “drunks,” “scumbags,” “deadbeats,” and, in one instance, “a low-life piece of trash.”

Marshall appears to still be active in the debt collection industry. In the comment thread here, someone with that name practically begs the Association of Credit and Collections Professionals (ACA) to intervene in a class action suit: 

A few weeks ago, Weppner played word games with the Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski over whether she was a birther - one of the people who believe that President Obama was born in Kenya. Weppner’s campaign treasurer, David Lipinoga, holds similar doubts.  Here, Lipinoga speaks to someone from Mother Jones and wonders why it is that Barry Hussein Soetoro of 1600 Kenya Avenue has a “Social Security Number from Connecticut with an 1895 date of birth”. 

 
He wonders why that isn’t being investigated – these are, in some circles, considered to be reasonable questions.
 
Via Facebook.comBack in early March, I wrote, that Weppner is a “walking, talking anti-Obama chain email, and anyone reporting on her should be sure to have Snopes queued up on their mobile browsers. Seriously – there will be no point covering her campaign if you’re not able immediately to vet her pronouncements and cross-examine her on the inevitable fabrications and fantasies she’ll discuss.” Cue Snopes.com, which reveals that the people who think Obama’s Social Security number was stolen from an elderly French immigrant aren’t good with numbers.  The Social Security Death Index reveals that the Connecticut Frenchman’s SSN was 045-26-8722, while Obama’s is  042-68-4425. Because Obama was born in Hawaii, he was assigned his own SSN at birth. 
 
To learn more about the game that Lipinoga developed, here are some images of characters and gameplay (all via Facebook.com). 
 

The images speak for themselves. 

We’re well aware of Weppner’s penchant for birtherism and her aversion to human sexuality. But you are also known by the company you keep. 

Kathy Weppner and her campaign team can associate with whomever they want. They can associate with unfair debt collectors and birthers, they can spread half-baked propaganda about “socialism” and equate people with Karl Marx. No one says they can’t. But when you run for federal office, you should take the clown shoes off – not make them bigger and brighter. If you want to be an elected representative of the people in Washington, you can’t base your campaign on lies, and misrepresentations that are easily debunked by a common website. You shouldn’t run away from the hatreds and insecurities that you worked so hard to cultivate and profit from for a decade, either. Doing so will make you look opportunistic and false. 

I contacted Lipinoga via Facebook to find out how much the app has donated to MCLEF. I have not yet received a response. 

The Kathy Weppner campaign for Congress is a carnival sideshow. 


LD-3 Democrats Select Savage, Disrespect Females

The Erie County Democratic Committee selected loyal City Hall soldier Peter Savage III to fill the seat that Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinelli vacated in January. A vote Monday is expected to formalize the recommendation. Here is the press release that went out this past weekend: 

(Buffalo, NY) Democratic committee members in the 3rd Legislative District voted today to recommend Peter J. Savage III to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Lynn Marinelli. Savage currently serves as Senior Deputy Corporation Counsel in the City of Buffalo Department of Law.  He has worked in a number of roles in city government and served on the boards of West Side Neighborhood Housing Services and the Good Government Club of Western New York.

Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner said, “I would like to congratulate Peter Savage on his decisive victory in today’s vote.  He will bring a wealth of knowledge and passion for his community to county government.  On Monday I am sending a letter to the Erie County Legislature calling on them to appoint Peter quickly.  The people of the 3rd Legislative District deserve representation.  I look forward to working closely with Peter and County Executive Mark Poloncarz to continue moving our party and community forward.”  

When Bob McCarthy wrote about the hand-wringing that’s taken place over the past few months over this, he focused on factionalism; whether Savage is too close to City Hall.  That is far from any reasonable point.  

Under normal circumstances, it would be good form for Democrats to nominate and select a female to replace an outgoing female – not because of any quotas, but because women are generally underrepresented in elective office. The Erie County Legislature has three women remaining in an 11 – person entity. Savage’s entry does nothing to change that. Frankly, because Democrats are supposed to stand for some semblance of gender equality, justice, and fairness, you’d expect that the 3rd District would get it together to recommend one of the qualified females to replace Marinelli. 

Michele Iannello is a veteran of the factional wars, so I can see the committee passing her over, but what about Jennifer Diagostino or Amber Small? You mean to tell me there did not exist one qualified female in the 3rd Legislative District to replace a female legislator? 

This is not to say Savage is unqualified – he surely is. I also don’t much care whether Savage was Deputy Mayor Steve Casey’s right-hand man. The question is one of judgment, and what it means to be a Democrat. 

My problem is that Savage carried Conservative Party petitions for Republican Chris Collins during the 2011 County Executive race against Democrat Mark Poloncarz. He carried petitions for a piece of garbage fusion party that opposes reproductive rights for women, same-sex marriage, and every other social justice item for which Democrats are supposed to stand. He carried those petitions in opposition to a qualified Democratic candidate who had a very difficult race. Some say that sort of thing is just politics as usual; I call it an unforgivable betrayal. 

City Hall was quite open about its support of Collins in 2011 – after all, many of the benefits then-extant legislative coup granting Collins a de facto legislative majority inured to City Hall.  The quo for that quid came about with some Republicans close to Collins reportedly helped Brown against Sergio Rodriguez last year. 

It’s also come to light that Chairman of the Conservative Party – Ralph Lorigo (whose son is a County Legislator) – lobbied the Tonawanda Democratic Committee on Savage’s behalf. The Conservative Party which, when it isn’t busy wielding political influence that it hasn’t really earned, is busy advocating for things Democrats are supposed to hate, like reduction in spending on social programs and education. The tea party, for God’s sake. 

Savage heads up a PAC called the “Committee for Change” and is active in Steve Pigeon’s “Democratic Action”. Board of Election filings reveal that the “Committee for Change” donated to Joe Lorigo, who is a Conservative Party member who caucuses with the Republicans. How, precisely, does “Committee for Change” back Democratic candidates, as claimed, if it’s supporting Conservative candidates? Based on this, what guarantee is there that Savage will caucus with the Democrats at all? 

That’s some change. 

Congratulations seem to be in order for young Mr. Savage. But the Democrats in the 3rd LD should take a good hard look in the mirror and ask themselves whom they’ve become. It’s still a man’s world when a guy who so actively campaigned against the Democratic County Executive can get a nod to replace a female on the county leg. It’s a sick joke that an active supporter of the notorious Conservative Party – which stands against everything the Democrats should – gets an appointment such as this. 

At this rate, I’m shocked that Kathy Weppner wasn’t under consideration. She’s a conservative and a woman, but lives outside that particular district. 


The Weppner Files

I know some of you think that it might have been a little much with the Weppner posts over the past week or so.  You have my sincere sympathies.  My most fervent wish is to never again have to dive into the fever swamps of ultra-right wing fascistic chatter in order to find tidbits of information that render local tea party candidates, to my mind, unelectable. 

The scary thing is that, in terms of politics, opinions, and pronouncements, there’s hardly much difference between Weppner’s lunatic ravings and Chris Collins’ constant drumbeat of anti-middle class millionaire resentment; it’s a very fine line between WBEN caller and representative from NY-27. 

A few weekends ago, the Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski picked over some of the more malodorous parts of the Weppner mindswamp, and asked her for an interview. She declined, and agreed instead to answer via email. The result was a glorious, factual recitation of some of the things she’s promoted and said, and her weak explanations for them. (Weppner Vetted 3/24/14) Much of it surrounded her very outspoken involvement in the “birther” nonsense, questioning whether Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, or part of some half-century-long conspiracy to overthrow America. 

The candidate’s response to Zremski’s article was jaw-droppingly horrible. (Kathy Weppner Tries to Explain; Fails 3/25/14) I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. The passive-aggressive whining about being on vacation, the declaration of war on the librul meediya. 

Among Weppner’s defenses was that she was just asking questions, like everyone else, about the birther issue, and other halfhearted denials about being part of some wider birther movement. A quick listen to an online radio show on which Weppner appeared reveals not only that she was more than just “asking questions”, she was an active believer in the lunatic rantings of the fringe dead-ender birther movement. (How Not To Be A Birther, By Kathy Weppner 3/26/14). 

Now, much of the information that the Buffalo News and I had been using to vet Weppner came from recordings of her own WBEN radio show, as well as materials that she published on her blog “str8talk.wordpress.com”. Up until Zremski’s article, that site was still intact. After Zremski’s piece, she began selectively deleting certain passages, such as the racist “White Guilt” article she reprinted, verbatim, without comment. Soon, she took the entire site down altogether, and redirected the url to her campaign website; it remained, however, still visible via the waybackmachine. Finally, by 3/31, her campaign had successfully petitioned Archive.org to remove her entire internet archive from its site, and we are now left with not a single piece of evidence that she ever published a blog or had a radio show. Despite the fact that she proudly touts her WBEN radio show on her campaign bio, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any lasting evidence of its existence. (Kathy Weppner: So Proud of Her Radio Program She Deleted All Evidence of It 3/31/14). 

All we’re left with now is transcripts of her several calls to the Rush Limbaugh radio program.  Everyone knows who Rush Limbaugh is – he’s the fascist, racist, drug-addled, misogynist radio troll who spits hatred on a daily basis over the publicly owned airwaves. 

In 2008, Weppner called in with a particularly dumb theory about how Hillary Clinton was going to get the Democratic nomination because Obama was such a racist who “bathed his children” in hatred of white people.  Also, “October Surprise” and other such half-baked nonsense. (Kathy From Williamsville Calls Rush Limbaugh in 2008 3/31/14). That same day, I found a campaign image on her Facebook page that used the House seal, in direct violation of federal law. (Kathy Weppner Violates Federal Law 3/31/14)

In 2011, Weppner called Limbaugh to vent about how people need to start attending tea party rallies, or else we’d have “nothing left”. Also, her kids are serving in the military to protect things like Chris Lee and sovereign debt. It was a quick recitation of a couple of dopey talking points generating no discussion whatsoever. (Kathy Weppner: Why Are American Troops Fighting for Shirtless Chris Lee? 4/2/14). 

This one is one of my favorites – Kathy Weppner complaining about how no one from Congress held any town hall meetings in WNY so she and her cohorts could go and disrupt them. Yet she is so deathly afraid of the opinions and pronouncements that she spat when no one was looking, she deleted all evidence of them. I can only hope that Weppner takes her own advice and hosts some town halls.  I have some questions for her. (Kathy Weppner on Town Halls 4/3/14

Weppner called Limbaugh in July 2008 to ramble off a litany of groups whom she resents.

You know, we have ended up with a society where all the people that work in government, all the politicians, the teachers, the firemen, the policemen, all of our state governments, municipalities, and we are in a very heavily governed area here in western New York, all of them are living inside the castle walls, and all of us, everybody else is living outside of the castle walls. And all of the rules they make protect them, where our people, the public employee, they can retire at 55 here and they live to 85.

Yeah! To hell with our first responders and educators! Good talk, Kathy! (Kathy Weppner on Whom She Resents 4/4/14). 

Finally, there was the call to Limbaugh in 2009 – just a month after Obummer overthrew ‘Murrka, and Weppner threatened to go Galt because Barry and his cadres were going to just take everything anyway and give it to the lazy takers, (ostensibly the aforementioned teachers, firemen, policemen, and lazy blacks). Meanwhile, I learned that even physicians who receive Mexican medical degrees can earn a tremendous amount of money here in the United States. Weppner. What a card! (Kathy Weppner on Going Galt 4/4/14)

The best part? This campaign has barely started. 




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