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The Western New York Tea Party: Rebuked

Western New York’s Tea Party is as horrible electorally as it is with respect to policy. They lost yesterday, and they lost big. 

Carl and the Conservative Fusion Party

This tea party crowd, which accuses everyone who doesn’t think like they of being “sheeple”, circulated a list of Conservative Fusion Party candidates for whom to vote, without explanation or argument. Just a straight “C” ticket. There is no thought there, just blind following and demands of ideological purity. Politics is, at its heart, a game of compromise. When you foreclose that possibility, you’re bad for America, and you’re going to lose, sooner or later.

Astorino’s WBEN-Mentum 

Local delusional hate radio, which was so deep in the tank for Astorino that it became self-parody, spent all afternoon yesterday using callers to its own radio shows as a representative sample of the electorate. It claimed that Cuomo suffered from an enthusiasm gap, and predicted a wild and unexpected win for its chosen candidate. Last week, during what’s supposed to be the straight morning news program, Astorino’s daily schedule was a news item. Cuomo’s schedule was not given equal time.

WBEN is not “NewsTalk” or “News Radio” or, God help us, the “Voice of Buffalo”. It is a right-wing talk radio station; Limbaugh & his clones, all day. It’s not even the official organ – the Komsomolskaya Pravda – of the Republican Party anymore, having firmly aligned itself with Lorigo’s Conservative Fusion Party and the tea party. Everything that this crew falsely accuses the Buffalo News of being, it is

Not only did Cuomo win with ease, Erie County went for Andrew Cuomo for the first time. It was never even close, and people should think about where they get their information. 

Str8t Talk About Weppner

For a year that brought about a nationwide Republican wave, Brian Higgins did quite well, thankyouverymuch. Higgins will return to Congress with yet another mandate – 69% versus 31% for the tea party.

In a what, now?

Kathy Weppner lost, and so far none of her (or her shills’) social media accounts contain anything except venom, vitriol, and victimhood. Don’t be surprised – this is a woman so self-absorbed and obsessed with portraying herself as a victim, she couldn’t even muster a “thank you”, instead denigrating and insulting the students who asked her relevant questions at the St. Joe’s debate.  

The loss left her somewhat speechless, 

Some tea partiers thought that hers was a “brilliant” campaign. I guess, insofar as it was the most popular WNY comedy act in recent memory. But she only just outperformed the last two tea party activists who ran against Higgins, and she ran a campaign based on resentments and urban legends. 

Weppner is the very embodiment of the low-information talk-radio caller / Buffalo News commenter who regurgitates Twitchy and Fox News talking points. Her wealth and shamelessness enabled her to mount what was, in the end, a nasty and whiny vanity campaign. Maybe at least she can now return all of her radio and blog archives back online for everyone to read. 

Panepinto & The Law of Unintended Consequences

Did you need more evidence of how – despite their deep gun fetish – the tea party can’t shoot straight?

It rejected Republican Mark Grisanti and instead backed Kevin Stocker. Stocker rejected the tea party – its titular head Rus Thompson especially. So, the tea party’s own candidate rejected them, they had burned all their bridges with the establishment’s Grisanti, and all of this led to a Panepinto win and a Democratic pickup in the state Senate

Great job, guys!  Congratulations, Marc Panepinto!

Republican Pickup in Cheektowaga

Hah

Paladinocrats Lose

You don’t go from being a Paladino stooge one day to being a Democrat the next. Johnny Destino was a homophobic Paladino stooge a couple of years ago, and ran this year as an endorsed Democrat. The voters rejected him.

In NY-27, Jim O’Donnell was MIA. He complained that he couldn’t raise money, but that didn’t stop others from doing it for him, but he refused. What really irked me was that he was rude or dismissive to people who offered to help him out. He was prone to outbursts of anger, and simply didn’t bother to do even the free, little things that could have earned him some free media – or at least a Facebook share. 

We also learned on Sunday that O’Donnell was an aide for the 2010 Paladino campaign. If you’re going to strike out in politics, and you scan all the races available to help out, and you land on the homophobic promoter of racism and pornography, don’t come asking Democrats for support without disclosure and vocal rejection. I wrote my own name in for NY-27, but perhaps for the first – likely last –  time, I wished Team Collins good luck. At least Collins is honest and consistent about where his loyalties lie. 

Anyhow, thanks for reading. 


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. 


#Obamacough?

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(Starting around 0.38s)

“If you’re loving your Obamacough…if you’re loving that respiratory infection, it’s not a mystery – it comes from Obama’s children. If you’re enjoying that, why don’t you call Brian Higgins’ office and thank him for it, and ask if he’ll help pay your medical bills for whatever your doctor may have given you to counteract said cough.”

What is he talking about? What does this mean? What “Obamacough” did “Obama’s children” cause people in WNY to contract? Why should Brian Higgins pay for anyone’s medical bills, given that everyone in New York is mandated to have health insurance coverage nowadays either through their employer, through the exchange, or through Medicaid? 

In what way is this responsible? What sort of radio station is this, exactly, this WBEN? I mean, I get Bauerle saying any old oddity – that’s his job – but when it crosses the line from commentary into crackpot tin-foil hattery, doesn’t someone step in and do something about it?  

I mean, I know Obama is a public figure, and so are his kids, to a degree – I don’t put it past any right winger to leave Obama’s kids alone – but what evidence is there to back this up?  Isn’t this sort of the very definition of “actual malice” set forth in Sullivan v. New York Times

 


Spitzer Unloaded, No One Exploded

“Jail” FINAL :30 from Rob Astorino on Vimeo.

Right? Wow.

This is the perfect distillation of a desperate campaign looking to get some attention. Frankly, this reboot of the Daisy ad is perfect in its utter stupidity. Now, I know that Cuomo has been hitting Astorino hard on some nonsense lawsuit down in Westchester, but I thought that the “soup is nice” ad was pretty damn effective. (Dentures are an optional Medicaid coverage that New York State offers, and that Astorino wants to eliminate). The ad resonates because it reminds people that Republicans love to cut, cut, cut things that help actual New Yorkers. True, paying for seniors’ oral care won’t benefit the extremely wealthy, like Carl Paladino and indictee Rick Perry, both of whom can feasibly pay for their own dentures and dental work, but it will do much for seniors for whom budgets are often tighter. 

Astorino’s suggestion that Cuomo could go to jail is pure hyperbole – there’s absolutely zero chance of that happening. Secondly, by bringing that up, it reminds me – hey, isn’t Astorino up to some shady shenanigans, too? Thirdly, if Cuomo went to jail, there would not be a catastrophic nuclear holocaust; there would, instead, be an orderly substitution of Kathy Hochul. Remember Spitzer? Spitzer unloaded, but no one exploded.

 


Bucky Gleason tl;dr

Kim Pegula, as described by the Buffalo News

Buffalo is so thankful that naïve, pussy-whipped Terry Pegula and ice-bitch-queen Kim Pegula will be buying the Bills. 

I could go on, but this article nicely sums up the culture war that’s being waged by and against women, and how women are winning. 

(For the uninitiated (remember BobbyCat?), tl;dr stands for “too long; didn’t read”) 


A Tuesday For the Books

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Eligible WNY Voter

Antoine Loses: Faith in Humanity Restored

Crystal Peoples-Stokes easily halted Antoine Thompson’s effort to go back to Albany, this time as an Assemblyman. That’s enough, Antoine. You had your chance and the power and prestige went to your head. There’s plenty of other ways to help the community – including, but not limited to, just getting a job and paying your taxes.

Tim Kennedy Wins Handily

Tim Kennedy also defeated Betty Jean Grant. This is, to me, a shame because Tim Kennedy is a sellout. He sold out the Democrats and his constituents when he cut a deal with Steve Pigeon and Chris Collins to hand over a Democratic legislature to the Republicans. He sold out to further his own political career – to replace Bill Stachowski in the state Senate. He out-spent Betty Jean by a huge margin, and she simply couldn’t raise the money to get the word out against someone who was, this time, ready for her.  Kennedy ran on legislation to strengthen child abuse laws, and securing some back-office jobs for our Bangalore-on-the-Lake. One thing is for sure – Betty Jean can go to sleep every night secure in the knowledge that she’s no sellout. 

Tea Party Finally Gets Grisanti

Oh, you tea party. You got a huge victory last night! You finally got rid of Mark Grisanti. Your disgust for him began when he voted for same-sex marriage – you still bring it up today. The SAFE Act vote mobilized you, because guns > gays for you; guns are your common denominator. Congratulations! I saw sponsored posts in my Facebook timeline from Rus Thompson’s extremist “Tea NY” and from former GOP challenger against Brian Higgins, Mike Madigan.  The visceral hatred that the right wing has for Grisanti finally manifested itself in an electoral victory – they got Kevin Stocker.  On the other side, we have Marc Panepinto, a Democratic activist and personal injury lawyer. The district in question is predominately Democratic and people with Italian surnames tend to do well in that district.

But here’s one possibility: Grisanti and Panepinto are both lawyers. Wouldn’t it be funny if Panepinto dropped out, Grisanti switched to the Democratic Party and was appointed to replace Panepinto on the Democratic ballot in November? Panepinto would have to run for Supreme Court somewhere – anywhere in the state. This is a thing that can happen. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the tea party spent all this time and effort just to expel Grisanti from the GOP and have him win in November as a Democrat? 

Teachout’s 35%

Cuomo and Hochul easily defeated Teachout and Wu, which is no surprise. What was a surprise was the fact that Teachout earned about 35% of the statewide vote with almost no money, very little name recognition, and a pretty short race. Hopefully a message was sent to the Governor’s mansion about the importance of fighting corruption. Or maybe not. Maybe we should shut up because of the Buffalo billion and other stuff, and just be satisfied with what we have. What difference does it make if the state is still run like it’s 1953? Shut up, you. 

Tea Party Didn’t Back Gia

Robert Ortt easily defeated on-again, off-again candidate Gia Arnold. Arnold’s entire campaign centered around getting rid of George Maziarz. Once Maziarz announced he wasn’t running again, he stole a ton of her thunder and she was stuck becoming a silly kid, talking about guns, guns, and guns, going so far as to wear a clip as a prop jewelry. In the end, Ortt was the serious and credible Republican guy, and he won handily. 

Mazurek Defeats Brandon

It should come as no surprise that the guy with the Polish name came out ahead in what was once Gabryszak’s Cheektowaga/Sloan district. 

Pegulas Buy Bills

All of this political nonsense was overshadowed by the palpable civic sign of relief when it was confirmed that the Pegula family had won the bidding war to buy the Bills. Not only is the uncertainty over the Bills staying in WNY over for the foreseeable future, but the team can now begin its second chapter in earnest. What amazing news. 

Shredd & Ragan Will Not Be Intimidated

I called in to Shredd & Ragan’s show on 103.3 WEDG Tuesday morning at 7am.  When they asked me something about guns and the SAFE Act, I accidentally said, “I don’t give a shit about guns”, forgetting in my uncaffeinated haze that I was on terrestrial radio and not a podcast. A thousand apologies for that. 

But what would you say if you knew that someone attempted to intimidate WEDG into not having me on the air? 

On Monday around lunchtime, I posted my standard September primary endorsement post, and noted at its conclusion that I’d be appearing on Shredd & Ragan’s show at 7am Tuesday morning. 

After my appearance on WEDG, I spoke with a few people who work behind the scenes for Shredd & Ragan’s show. It turns out that one particularly noxious politically connected individual had contacted the station about my upcoming appearance. This poor creature started out almost eerily polite, explaining that he or she was a friend of the show,  calling as a courtesy to advise them that – now, they’re not threatening anyone – but that I was “under investigation” by a “team of lawyers” and that WEDG – and anyone who gives me a “platform” might be held responsible if I said something slanderous. To say this is completely bizarre, outrageous,  and uncalled-for is an understatement. 

To their credit, the people at WEDG would not be intimidated into keeping me off the air, and directed this complainant to contact the station’s legal department if there were any further issues. 

I’m not altogether sure that the public figure who called the station wants to litigate his or her reputation, but empty threats and petty bullying will not intimidate me into shutting up. 


Maziarz in the Niagara Falls Reporter

Down They Go, Horseshoe Falls in Winter, Niagara Falls, Canada (DTB_0134)

Photo by Daniel Novak via AV Photo Daily Flickr Group

The founder and Californian former editor of the now-gynophobic Niagara Falls Reporter, has only good things to say about his friend, Senator George Maziarz, who is retiring under a cloud of suspicion.  Maziarz is under federal investigation for allegedly converting campaign funds to personal use

No one doubts that Maziarz is a personable guy or that his office was excellent at constituent service. The question is whether he misappropriated campaign money. Lucky for Maziarz, he’s got $1 million in campaign funds that he can use to hire excellent criminal defense counsel

The Reporter‘s founder is very self-righteous about corrupt politicians, except the ones he likes. For instance, you’ll likely not find a less corrupt politician than Paul Dyster, yet he is savagely attacked on a weekly basis for the crime of trying to do right by a horribly troubled city. While the Reporter almost single-handedly led to former Mayor Aniello’s indictment and conviction on election fraud (accepting a $40,000 sweetheart “loan” from a Niagara County businessman), it has nothing at all negative to say about Maziarz and the allegations against him. Any other pol would be savagely pilloried. 

Either way, Mike Hudson moved 3,000 miles away, and although his byline occasionally appears in the Reporter, he’s divested himself from any Niagara or WNY worry. 

Oh, and there’s also this, from Maziarz’s latest campaign disclosure

You know, when I was writing nice things about Jon Powers, it was because I supported him and his platform. I gave money to him – not the other way around. 


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.




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