Archive | February, 2011

Separation of Sex and State

28 Feb

That former Congressman Chris Lee was so attracted to cross-dressers and transsexuals should not be a source of ridicule and derision.  People in a free country can – and ought to have the right to –  love, or have sex with, any willing partner. That Lee betrayed traditional family values is none of our business, and that he trolled Craigslist for dates with women, and women with penises alike, is newsworthy for its lack of good judgment, but were he a private citizen it would not be our concern – no big deal. His hasty self-return to private life is now explained. As a public figure, it matters because his brazen Craigslist hookups and flailing cover-up were not just hypocritical, but indiscreet.

Likewise, it’s not the kind of sex they like that holds David Vitter, Chris Lee, and Larry Craig up to ridicule or congressional censure, but the poor judgment of hiring and soliciting prostitutes, or soliciting sex in public restrooms. As far as Mark Foley was concerned, he showed poor judgment and also abused his power by soliciting young congressional pages. That they were male ought be immaterial.  It’s 2011; it’s OK to be gay.

That local developer Carl Paladino is out partying at a local lesbian bar with women who don’t look like Cathy Hannon Paladino is and isn’t interesting.  It isn’t interesting because you can’t decipher the whole story from one photograph posted to Reddit, but what it does is at least conceptually confirm the story that comedian Kristen Becker told during last year’s gubernatorial campaign. Becker (from WNYMedia.net partner Buffalo Comedy.com), explained that Paladino had been to Roxy’s and said some not-nice and un-governor-y things to her. Paladinoists figured it was absurd to even consider that Uncle Carl would ever set foot in a lesbian nightclub.  It’s 2011; it’s ok to be gay, or curious, or straight.

[HTML1]

So if it’s ok for so many prominent conservative Republicans to be gay, or gay-curious, why don’t they just lay off their uncloseted brothers and sisters? Whether a Republican politician is a Bible-thumper or not, the GOP platform re-asserts the fact that gay-on-gay sex is un-American, icky, as well as being socially and politically unacceptable. Roxy partier Paladino said this last year:

I didn’t march in the Gay Pride parade this year. My opponent did. There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual. That’s not how God created us, and that’s not the example that we should be showing our children – and certainly not in our schools,

So, Paladino has established that gays aren’t worth giving rights to, aren’t “functional”, aren’t “how God” created them, and are a bad example. Yet he flip-flopped when it came to his own nephew, and his own proclivity to party in bars that cater to homosexual females; Paladino, who just last week wrote a lengthy missive insulting Donn Esmonde, containing a line averring that Chris Lee just had a “bad day”.

It all underscores the fact that the Republican anti-gay platform merely panders to the radical Christian fundamentalists who partly puppeteer that party. There are plenty of LGBT Republicans, and their personal, private sexual lives are nobody’s business. It’s ok to be a gay Republican.

Imagine what a better country this would be if sexuality was divorced (so to speak) from politics. If homophobia was excised from politics and from parties’ platforms, the only place it would remain socially acceptable would be in the pews, prayers, and pulpits of radically fundamentalist houses of worship. Imagine if the very first public proclamation by Republican congressional candidates didn’t involve homophobia.

The Republican Party used to stand for less government, (despite never practicing what they preach). Yet when it comes to sexuality, they out-Puritan the Puritans, which makes it exquisitely embarrassing when someone with an (R) after their name is caught outside the wife-two-kids norm.

Let Chris Lee date all the “passable transsexuals/cross-dressers” he wants. Let Carl Paladino watch all the gay porn, and patronize all the gay bars, he wants.

Whenever the topic turns to treating homosexuals like people, some cretin will chime in with an uninformed slippery slope argument about how tolerance of gay unions will lead to bestiality, pedophilia, and polygamy. It’s a false equivalence; those three activities are victimization and abuse; of kids, of animals, and of multiple women. It’s those kinds of “arguments” that hamstring rational discussion about this particular issue – because its terms are dictated and framed by the radical fundamentalists and their puppets.

Sexuality has nothing to do with running the country. It’s time to legalize gay marriage – by Constitutional amendment if necessary – and to completely separate sexuality and state. Chris Lee and Carl Paladino will thank you.

Escape the Urban: The Last Snow

27 Feb

When the season’s last full snowfall downs,

with wood obscured, white blanketing gown,

I strap shoes to boots. One final trip

to tromp and to stomp, to spy the lip

of secret spring beyond thicket lie,

hidden pond, to frozen shore twixt sky.

A circling path, route I know well.

A last frosty trek to sunken dell,

unique in winter’s tight icy grip,

a fading vision, in summer whip

swarms of gnats, sweltering stinging flies.

Misery at bog in hot steam lies.

Through heather and brambles on I shoe,

past fallen iced woody vines, a clue

that deep winter’s work is nearly done,

a pile like coiled rope, heaped and run

from canopy branch to branch no more,

now a warm fox den on forest floor.

I shoe past dense grove adorned and pale

not with bridal but fat maid’s white veil,

when unseen ice shelf shifts ‘neath my feet.

The sound of cracking plates, my heart beat

both loud in my ears from all surround,

I spring up, I flee to firmer ground.

Fresh liquid water where I last stood,

one more mark that the season’s change could

make this path open mere whether I

am yet done or not with chill, with sky

bitter blue, scurried tracks or softly

muffled, shrouded woods, still and haughty.

Past ash, maple and unlikely elm,

the songs of chickadees overwhelm

the loud crunch of snow beneath my boots,

growing chorus, earnest cry salutes

the steadily warming sun. Release,

fly above my head the vanguard geese

their noisy honk nature’s last sure sign

the freeze will break, the sun will now shine.

Last trek to furtive pond, view I earn,

lost to me til next winter’s return.

Zach In The Buff – Updated!

26 Feb

Originally posted 6 Aug, 2010

I’d like to introduce one of the best things to ever happen to the Internet, Zach Anner. Zach was born in WNY and now lives in Austin, TX. He recently participated in a contest created by Oprah Winfrey as she searches for “The Next TV Star”. Presumably, the winner of this contest would receive their own show on OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network in 2011.

Zach sent in his tape and became an internet sensation.

[HTML1]

His audition tape talked about his plans for a travel show and celebrated his cerebral palsy, which he claims is “the sexiest of the palsies”. It’s hysterical and this guy is a star in the making. He then made dozens of other YouTube videos and is now a finalist in the Oprah contest.

[HTML2]

Zach went on the road as he continued to campaign for a win in the Oprah contest. His travels brought him to Niagara Falls and his next video will document his trip to the Taste of Buffalo. An ambassador for Buffalo with a sense of humor about himself and the region…how refreshingly original. Enjoy!

[HTML3]

The best part of the story? Zach Anner eventually won the competition and will now host his own show on Oprah’s new television network, OWN.

“I would say this about Zach: Being around him makes you want to be a better person,” said Oprah Winfrey. “I’ve never seen anybody with that kind of heart, that kind of humor who has all the challenges that he’s had to deal with, and I’ve met a lot of people. I’ve never seen anybody like him”.

Anner’s inspirational travel show, Rolling Around the World, will debut later this year.

Monroe Rising: Complete Lee Silence #NY26

25 Feb

Epic Fail.

It’s now been several weeks since Congressman Chris Lee embarrassed himself and resigned, all in one day.

You may be familiar with Monroe Rising, which is the (one of? who knows) wingnut blog that covers the Rochester area.  For years, they’ve been dutiful regurgitators of Lee press releases and reliable supporters of the well-coiffed, yet sartorially challenged former Congressman.

I am a registered user at Monroe Rising, and have now submitted two benign comments to this article inquiring why they completely ignored the Lee scandal, never mentioned the Lee resignation, never wrote a solitary word about the fact that a portion of Monroe County finds itself unrepresented in Congress due to a sex scandal. That linked-to article is their first mention of NY-26 since Lee’s departure.

The image above shows you what I see when I go to their site; if you aren’t logged in, there are no comments. Note the “No User Responded” heading.

Now, I’m no one to slam someone for being a partisan blogger, but when a huge scandal breaks in quite literally your own congressional backyard, I think you lose a massive amount of credibility by completely ignoring it, as if it never happened.  They were perfectly pleased as punch to report on former Congressman Eric Massa’s own sexual ethical issues, so why does Chris Lee get a complete pass?  Hell, even the local Buffalo Republican bloggers wrote something about it.

Two separate requests for comment sent to the owner of the site have gone unanswered.  I guess Chris Lee only exists when he’s not scandal-ridden.

Fail.

Ian Murphy for Congress & Corwin goes Homophobe

25 Feb

I don’t even recall where I saw it, but last night I sent an email to the Buffalo Beast‘s general email address and to publisher/owner Paul Fallon inquiring about something big they were planning for the NY-26 race. The response from Ian Murphy and Paul Fallon was that Murphy is considering a run for the Lee seat, possibly on the Green Party line.

Murphy has definitely gained some notoriety this past week with the Buffalo Beast’s epic prank call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and has lefty bona fides that make a run on that line possible and interesting. The Green Party in New York is tiny, but to its credit does not play the fusion game and runs its own candidates.

While Murphy has practically no shot of winning in this conservative, rural district, he has a unique opportunity to draw even more attention to a special election process that is already quite notable indeed. I predict shenanigans aplenty that will ironically mock the very foundation of our political system.

It’s good to know the Beast is back, and better than ever.

In other news, as you may know the Department of Justice has decided that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in pending litigation to declare it an unlawful usurpation of state’s rights, but remains obligated to continue to enforce DOMA until it is struck down by a court or repealed. Of course, almost everyone in the media and politics has begun screaming about how wrong it is that the Obama administration will now refuse to enforce an Act of Congress, when any fair reading of what’s going on shows that to be patently untrue. Chalk it up to some people not understanding much of anything, and posing as “journalists” and “politicians”.

To illustrate how stupid our politics has become, yesterday brand-new and sparkly Republican candidate for Congress in a non-existant special election, Jane Corwin, came out strongly in favor of the execrable Defense of Marriage Act and slammed President Obama for “usurping the power of the Supreme Court”; something he has quite clearly not done even remotely, even a little. I don’t know what the hell DOMA has to do with jobs and a crap economy in western New York, our needs for science, technology, industry, agriculture, employment, and a knowledge-based economy, but quite literally the first thing Corwin took up in her run for Congress is homophobia. Shame on her, and shame on the Republicans for being so preoccupied with their culture wars and not at all interested in jobs and the economy.

But it won Corwin the unanimous endorsement of the Monroe County Conservative Party, although she needs the state party’s approval for the line. Good to know the Conservative Party’s principles remain firm: hatred of gays, hatred of reproductive freedom, and love of patronage jobs.

When Corwin issued her scathing indictment of President Obama and gay people, three Tweets on the #NY26 hashtag came down simultaneously (One, Two, Three). Evidently, the “New Yorker’s [sic] Family Research Foundation“, the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, and the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms PAC have their Twitter feeds run by the same person; all three united to halt the growing menace of teh gay. A-holes.

Kevin J. Hosey

24 Feb
Photograph by Val Dunne

Kevin Hosey, Mensch

Let me tell you about Kevin Hosey.  He and his wife, Val Dunne, are friends of mine.

At the beginning of 2010, Kevin was working for the Democratic majority in the Erie County Legislature.  He had worked his butt off throughout 2009 ensuring that the legislature maintained its Democratic majority, and his hard work paid off.  Despite some setbacks, the Democrats maintained their majority.

Yet at the reorganization meeting after election day, Kevin, who was Democrats’ Director of Communication, found himself jobless. Kevin wasn’t tied in with the Pigeon-Grassroots-Collins alliance that created the so-called “reform coalition”, so he was out. Summarily.

Buffalo is not exactly the most fecund job market in the world for a writer, journalist, or editor.  Nonplussed, Kevin set about finding another job, finally landing a position in October 2010 as the Managing Director of the YMCA of WNY.  His supervisor had called me, and I gave him a stellar recommendation.  Not only is Kevin a hard worker who is diligent, punctual, organized, and efficient, but he’s one of the nicest guys connected to local politics in Buffalo – any party, anywhere.

Yet the position with the Y only lasted a short time, and Kevin now finds himself again looking for work.  This is a fundamentally unfair turn of events.

Without getting into more detail, the way in which Kevin was shoved out of both jobs is, to my mind, inexplicably and needlessly cruel.  I told him I would do this post to help him in the hopes that one of you might know of something. Writing, editing, PR, radio – he can do it.

I have posted his resume below, and if you know of any positions locally for which Kevin might be qualified, please feel free to share, post to Facebook, Twitter (and follow him there), or contact him either directly, or through me at this address. Thank you for your help with this. I really appreciate it.

[HTML1]

The Buffalo Beast’s Ian Murphy

24 Feb

Here is the Buffalo Beast’s Ian Murphy on MSNBC last night:

[HTML1]

He also appeared on Corey Griswold’s 1230 at 12:30 on WECK 1230-AM yesterday afternoon. (WECK’s main competitor merely regurgitated an AP wire story about a LOCAL story.

NY-26: The Word is “Fluid”

24 Feb

The Democratic county chairs covering NY-26 issued the following press release yesterday:

The people of this district deserve a representative that understands our issues — whether it’s in our farm communities or the suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester. We are looking for a candidate who will bring common-sense solutions to the table to work on the most important issue facing our district, improving our economy and bringing jobs to Western New York.

The process we have developed to identify the best possible candidate to serve the people of the 26th District is a deliberate, open and inclusive one. We want to ensure that all who are seriously interested in being the Democratic candidate have the opportunity to be heard and to share their vision for addressing the needs of our district.

Unlike our Republican counterparts who seem to have made a rush to judgment, we believe taking the time to find the best person is of utmost importance. Democrats are energized and excited and we are moving forward with the process. We assure the people of the 26th Congressional District that we will be ready with an outstanding candidate to run in the Special Election.”

In order to be eligible for further consideration, if they have not already done so, interested candidates must submit their resume and cover letter to any of the county chairs no later than COB March 3rd. Contact information for each county chair is below.

  • Erie County – Chairman Len Lenihan, len@ecdems.com
  • Genesee County – Chairwoman Lorie Longhany, lorie.longhany@gmail.com
  • Livingston County – Chairwoman Judith Hunter, judith.hunter@gmail.com
  • Monroe County – Chairman Joe Morelle, joe@monroedemocrats.com
  • Orleans County – Chairwoman Jeanne Crane, jeannecrane01@localnet.com
  • Niagara County – Chairman Dan Rivera, ntdemocrats@aol.com
  • Wyoming County – Chairman Hank Bush, Jr., hbush3@rochester.rr.com

In addition, yesterday Governor Andrew Cuomo offered up a bill that would extend the various deadlines applicable to the calling of a special election. The purpose behind the bill is to better enable mail-in and military ballots to be counted. As of today, Governor Cuomo has not yet called a special election for NY-26, and likely won’t until this bill makes its way through the legislature. The federal Department of Justice has been pushing the state to better deal with military ballots, and this measure is part of the fix.

[HTML1]

On the Republican side, Iraq war veteran David Bellavia filed papers with the FEC towards a petition drive and ultimate run in NY-26. The Conservative Party has been making mouth-noises that are blandly supportive of Corwin, so the only thing left is the job-promising and patronage. On the cloud-cuckooland side, each major party has told Jack Davis to go and get his shinebox, so Davis will run on some third party line and muck up the works.

As for Hochul, sources say that there’s some friction between her and the DCCC. The D-trip wants someone who is like Bill Owens was in NY-23; an exquisitely wealthy, centrist Democratic fresh face. On the other hand, Hochul isn’t thrilled with the notion of DCCC having a big say in a potential campaign. So, that somewhat explains the interview process outlined above.

One thing’s for sure – if Bellavia and Davis both make it onto the ballot, the Democratic selection will have an unprecedentedly good chance of winning this thing.

Wisconsin: Lesson Learned

24 Feb

I’d like to formally thank the public employees of Wisconsin – the nurses, teachers, and other people who work long hours in often-thankless jobs for pay that doesn’t make anyone rich, and benefits that any human being should be entitled to in exchange for such work.  I’d like to thank them not just for the work that they do, ensuring that their charges are healthy or educated.  I’d like to thank them for standing up for hard-fought rights they are trying to retain.  But above all, I’d like to thank them, as well as Ian Murphy from the Buffalo Beast, “David Koch”, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for showing me exactly why it’s important that public employee unions exist and can collectively bargain with governments that are set on paying those workers as little as possible. Governments that have been brought about thanks to the donations of extraterritorial billionaires on a mission to screw the poor, hurt the middle class, and enrich the already-rich while rolling back health, safety, and environmental rules that protect everyone.

The story about the Beast’s call, of course, isn’t just the fact that Walker explained in detail his strategy to trick Senate Democrats into a supposed quorum. The story is that Walker took the call at all, so readily, when Democratic lawmakers and the press in his own home state can’t get him on the phone.

Don’t forget that Walker cut taxes for businesses by millions of dollars, setting up a deficit that he intends to repair on the backs of public workers.  When he asked those unions for concessions, they readily agreed to many of them, and to negotiate on others. Walker and the Republicans have refused to negotiate.  This isn’t about fiscal discipline – it’s about a crusade to break the back of labor in America. When malicious Republican executives decide that they’re going to bust unions, in the glorious tradition of 80s union-busters Ronald Reagan, Wojciech Jaruzelski, and Leonid Brezhnev, then it’s important that this be exposed for what it is.

All of these lessons are applicable to our own Chris Collins, and New York’s own public sector unions.  Now, Wisconsin doesn’t have a Taylor Law, and its Triborough Amendment ensures that unions can continue to operate under the previous contract so long as a new one isn’t executed, thus eliminating any incentive for them to negotiate.  Unions in New York have a stronger hand than those in Wisconsin.  Maybe that needs to change.  What doesn’t need to change is the right of public sector unions to bargain collectively, especially when they’re treated as fungible commodities by their ostensible boss-of-all-bosses.  What these people do is important, and if you don’t think that teachers deserve to earn $50,000 per year plus benefits for educating the younger generation – even other people’s kids – then the concept of civilized society needs to be reconfirmed and redefined.

Buffalo Beast Poses as David Koch, Calls WI Gov. Walker

23 Feb

The story behind the prank phone call is here. David Koch is one of the famed Koch Brothers, the Hayekist moneybags behind the tea party and much of the anti-Obama right wing.

[HTML1]

[HTML2]

Koch: [Laughs] Well, I tell you what, Scott: once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.

Walker: All right, that would be outstanding. [*** Ethical violation much? ***] Thanks for all the support…it’s all about getting our freedoms back…

Koch: Absolutely. And, you know, we have a little bit of a vested interest as well. [Laughs]

he’s pretty reasonable but he’s not one of us…”

Some more of the transcript, since the Beast’s site is down:

Koch: I’m very well. I’m a little disheartened by the situation there, but, uh, what’s the latest?

Walker: Well, we’re actually hanging pretty tough. I mean—you know, amazingly there’s a much smaller group of protesters—almost all of whom are in from other states today. The State Assembly is taking the bill up—getting it all the way to the last point it can be at where it’s unamendable. But they’re waiting to pass it until the Senate’s—the Senate Democrats, excuse me, the assembly Democrats have about a hundred amendments they’re going through. The state Senate still has the 14 members missing but what they’re doing today is bringing up all sorts of other non-fiscal items, many of which are things members in the Democratic side care about. And each day we’re going to ratchet it up a little bit…. The Senate majority leader had a great plan he told about this morning—he told the Senate Democrats about and he’s going to announce it later today, and that is: The Senate organization committee is going to meet and pass a rule that says if you don’t show up for two consecutive days on a session day—in the state Senate, the Senate chief clerk—it’s a little procedural thing here, but—can actually have your payroll stopped from being automatically deducted—

Koch: Beautiful.

Walker: —into your checking account and instead—you still get a check, but the check has to be personally picked up and he’s instructing them—which we just loved—to lock them in their desk on the floor of the state Senate.

Walker: …I’ve got layoff notices ready…

Koch: Beautiful; beautiful. Gotta crush that union.

Walker: [bragging about how he doesn’t budge]…I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders—talk, not negotiate and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn—but I’ll only do it if all 14 of them will come back and sit down in the state assembly…legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they’re actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have quorum…so we’re double checking that. If you heard I was going to talk to them that’s the only reason why. We’d only do it if they came back to the capital with all 14 of them…

Koch: Bring a baseball bat. That’s what I’d do.

Walker: I have one in my office; you’d be happy with that. I have a slugger with my name on it.

Walker: [blah about his press conferences, attacking Obama, and all the great press he’s getting.] Brian [Sadoval], the new Governor of Nevada, called me the last night he said—he was out in the Lincoln Day Circuit in the last two weekends and he was kidding me, he said, “Scott, don’t come to Nevada because I’d be afraid you beat me running for governor.” That’s all they want to talk about is what are you doing to help the governor of Wisconsin. I talk to Kasich every day—John’s gotta stand firm in Ohio. I think we could do the same thing with Vic Scott in Florida. I think, uh, Snyder—if he got a little more support—probably could do that in Michigan. You start going down the list there’s a lot of us new governors that got elected to do something big.

Koch: You’re the first domino.

Walker: Yep. This is our moment.

Koch: Now what else could we do for you down there?

Walker: Well the biggest thing would be—and your guy on the ground [Americans For Prosperity president Tim Phillips] is probably seeing this [stuff about all the people protesting, and some of them flip him off].

The Beast is right.  This is clear evidence that government is controlled by the moneyed interests, who have access and a “good time” with their partners in government. Shame on Walker.