Tag Archives: Obama

Chris Collins’ Iranthmetic

3 Dec


The image to the left of this text shows my Congressman’s Facebook reaction to a deal that the “P5+1” countries reached with Iran over its nuclear weapons and energy program. 

The deal was a modest thing, significant for the fact that Iran came to the table in apparent good faith at all. It would dilute existing nuclear material so that it could only be used for energy, and not weaponry, and there would be a 6 month halt to its nuclear weapon program altogether. The aim would be a final deal within 6 or 12 months, allowing for one 6 month extension of the pause. 

Iran’s economy has been absolutely devastated by international sanctions over its nuclear program, and it has a huge incentive to roll back its pariah status. The world benefits if Iran has no nuclear weapons to use against its myriad enemies. To my mind, the whole thing should be rolled into deal whereby Iran ends its support of Hezbollah and recognizes Israel, but diplomacy is often about baby steps. 

So, turning to the representative of NY-27, we could certainly fisk his simplistic statement to kingdom come – e.g., it wasn’t an “Obama Administration” deal, it was a deal between Iran on the one hand, and the US, Russia, China, and the European Union (read: the UK, France, and Germany – it’s called “P5+1” because it includes the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, meaning it would be veto-proof in that body, plus Germany) on the other.  Germany, for its part, does huge business with Iran, and all of these powers – working together – have the ability together to put great pressure on Iran to behave and comply. 

I could snarkily comment on Collins’ recent praise of Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin, or the fact that Collins chooses to manufacture his tchotchkes in China, but I also realize that his public pronouncements are not meant to be taken seriously. I think that we’re witnessing an Andy Kaufman-like comedic performance art that is, unfortunately, unfunny and predictable. Collins is a caricature of a closed-minded conservative backbencher. 

The point of diplomacy, of course, isn’t just to talk with friends. The diplomatic process involves talking with our sworn enemies, as well; to work out differences in a peaceful way rather than war. 

So, why would our caricature be so knee-jerkedly opposed to a rather contextually modest, temporary deal to freeze Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of some sanctions? Because he’s effectively been paid to oppose it

Just this past August, Collins took his son on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel. The trip was financed by a private lobbying group, the American Israel Education Foundation. It paid for transportation, lodging, meals, and all incidentals for Collins (who is well able to afford spending $18,000 to visit Israel) and his son, who visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ramallah, and Bethlehem. 

WGRZ called Collins out on it

Dr. Craig Holman with the government watchdog group Public Citizen said the trips are designed to influence and lobby members of Congress.

“These types of travel junkets have long been one of the favorite means for special interests and lobbyists to use to try to influence members of Congress and peddle their wares on Capitol Hill,” Dr. Holman said.

While AIEF is a non-profit, it is simply the charity wing of the AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC is the largest pro-Israel lobby in America.

AIPAC and its lobbyists are prohibited from giving lawmakers or staff members gifts, including trips. So the group’s charity wing does it for them.

“(The ethics committees) have allowed a lobbying organization — any lobbying entity — to set up a 501(c)3, a charity wing even just on paper,” Dr. Holman said. “And if that (c)3 itself doesn’t employ lobbyists, then it can pay for these congressional travel junkets.”

Neither Congressman Reed nor Congressman Collins would speak with 2 On Your Side either on camera or by phone. They each emailed statements through their spokespeople.

“Congressman Collins’ trip – vetted and approved by the House Ethics Committee – was paid for exclusively by private donations at zero expense to taxpayers,” Collins Spokesperson Grant Loomis said by email. “The bipartisan effort involves both Democrats and Republicans and is critical to educating Members of Congress on the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and protecting American interests in the Middle East.”

Israel, for its part, has slammed the Iran nuclear deal, and her Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called it an “accommodation” and “political theater” that will “wreak havoc” in the region. Well, not all of Israel. For instance, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has taken a much more conciliatory tone, arguing that the 6 month Iran deal gives Israel an opening to solve the Palestinian crisis so that Israel and the Arab world can be united in putting pressure on Iran. The opposition Labour Party has blasted Netanyahu, as has at least one of his former associates, 

On April 27, former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Yuval Diskin said Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were not fit to stand at helm of the Israeli regime. 

“I will tell you things that might be harsh. I cannot trust Netanyahu and Barak at the wheel in confronting Iran. They are infected with messianic feelings over Iran,” Diskin said. 

Later on Sunday, Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan expressed support for Diskin, saying he was stating his “internal truth.” 

Israel’s Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz said on April 25 that he does not believe Iran will pursue nuclear weapons after years of efforts made by Tel Aviv and its allies to convince the world otherwise. 

Gantz described Iran’s leadership as “very rational” who would not make such a decision. 

There hasn’t been a havoc-free day in the last 3,000 years anywhere surrounding Israel, given its neighbors’ insistence that it be eliminated. Yet with careful diplomacy, Arab and Islamic enemies have succumbed and recognized Israel. It happened with Egypt and Jordan, it could happen with others if talks would take place, but as with all things in the Middle East, it’s just too complicated and fraught with peril. 

If Chris Collins was so effusive with his praise for Putin’s supposed out-maneuvering in Syria, which pledged to destroy its chemical weapons to avoid American military action, his heart should be just as full of praise for the Iran deal, because there isn’t a damn reason why anyone would trust Syria’s Bashir Assad more or less than any of Iran’s mullahs. 

SHOCKER: American Children Compelled to Swear Loyalty Oath to N0Bama Regime

21 Nov

Last night I was listening to Michael Caputo filling in for Tom Bauerle on WBEN, and the topic of the Common Core curriculum came up. Admittedly, I don’t know quite enough about Common Core to be strongly for or against it – I know that there are concerns about excessive testing, and this is troubling to me. 

However, one of the callers likened Common Core to Mein Kampf (OF COURSE) because, although the new school curriculum doesn’t call for, e.g., the extermination of international Jewry, it was implemented under Indo-Kenyan socialist Hussein N0bama. 

The wildly inappropriate Hitler analogy was prompted by a sentence culled from a textbook on grammar that reads as follows, 

The commands of government officials must be obeyed by all.

It’s a simple active/passive voice exercise, but people can find anti-American outrage EVERYWHERE. I mean, if you look at that sentence, it’s palpably true, in 99.9% of instances. If a cop orders you to pull over, you’re supposed to obey. If a government official is carrying out the law, within the bounds of his authority, you’re generally supposed to obey the command – to be drafted, to pay taxes, to stop at a red light, to show your passport at the border, etc. It is a completely uncontroversial sentence that helps instill the notion of civic duty in a kid. Back in the allegedly “good old days”, this is precisely what was taught.  

Furthermore, there are myriad textbooks and materials from which school districts can choose, and if a particular district doesn’t like the way its grammar exercises are set up, it can pick another one. 

Now, if you look at the insane lunatics at Infowars, you find that it wasn’t developed by the Chavista cadres of Obama’s cabinet, but by a massive private corporation. (I’m not linking to Infowars, sorry). 

This country is so fundamentally sick, I think it’s beyond help. It’s not sick because of idiots being outraged by a sentence in a textbook; it’s sick because everything is perceived to be a Stalinist/Hitlerist assault on God Bless America. 

Here’s how easy this is: 

The results of a Buffalopundit investigation reveal that children throughout Obama’s America are forced to swear a loyalty oath every morning. This loyalty oath is directed to a multicolored piece of cloth that the innocent children are told represents the government; the “Republic for which [the piece of cloth] stands”. But our exclusive investigation of the content of this loyalty oath also reveals that the children are forced to swear fealty to the government itself; “…United States of America, and to the Republic…” 

The oath goes on to shunt aside the rights of the individual, instead claiming that they are part of an “indivisible” “one Nation” collective taken right out of Marx’s Das Kapital. That collectivist agenda is tempered somewhat by the addition of the invocation of the Judeo-Christian deity, in whom some of the individual taxpayer-children in the crowd may not believe. 

We don’t know what kind of “liberty and justice” the totemist-communard loyalty oath anticipates, but it’s clear that Obama is indoctrinating America’s children into something that mirrors his particular anti-American agenda. 

Chris Collins & Pathology Disguised as Policy

9 Oct

There’s supposedly a group of moderate Republicans who are willing to to vote for a clean Continuing Resolution (CR), which would fund the government and not include some sort of fantastical effort to defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Chris Collins is not one of these people. He never was, and he never will be. He is a demagogue of the lowest sort, who feeds of the government teat while positioning himself to be a leader in Congress – his ego won’t tolerate anything less. Collins is a better-spoken Carl Paladino. He’s a wealthier, more polished Rus Thompson. He’s not a leader – he’s a follower; a wealthy tea party parrot. 

As it stands now, this narcissist backbencher has whatever “principles” FreedomWorks and the Heritage Foundation order him to hold. Now the truth is laid bare – Chris Collins cares about Chris Collins, and no one else. This is why he is helping to hold the country hostage over Obamacare

He has health insurance, but doesn’t frankly care if you do or don’t. It’s not important to him, and he believes that he was elected based on his repetition of “Obama”, “Pelosi” and/or “Obamacare” – a law he lies about daily. It’s like the tea party hatred trifecta that he got himself, and the omniphobes love it. 

Collins thinks Obamacare is horrible for the economy. That’s why Zeptometrix and Volland must be readying to accept Euros or Swiss Francs, because – like a lemming –  Collins has followed the rest of the suicide caucus of Republicans who are threatening not just the work of the federal government, but the global economy as a whole. And for what? To ensure that you can’t get affordable private health insurance. That’s it. 

The pinkos over at the Economist believe that the Republicans are in a completely untenable situation. Having manufactured a crisis, they are cornered. The continuing resolution would fund the government at tea party-approved sequestration levels – something the Democrats already detest.

When Mr Obama stops speaking as a partisan advocate of ambitious liberal goals, adopts his mature school-principal voice, and demands simply that political players adhere to reasonable norms of democratic governance, Republicans are left with nothing to oppose except the reasonable norms of democratic governance. At the moment, Republicans need to be reminded that Democrats do not want the government to reopen and the interest on our debt to be paid. They want the government to reopen, double its infrastructure spending and guarantee pre-school from age three to poor Americans; they want to pay the interest on our debt, then borrow more to run larger deficits right now and for the next couple of years, and lock in higher taxes five to ten years down the road to handle the long-term deficit problem. A fight between Democrats and Republicans over whether or not those are good ideas is a fight America can survive and even thrive with. A fight over whether or not to default on our debt isn’t.

Cue Chris Collins, unpatriotic follower of Washington fashion: 

 

There you have it. Collins and the rest of the GOP want to “talk”. This despite their months-long abject refusal to do anything of the sort

Perhaps there’s a silver lining, though. In his partisan blindness, he has discovered the value of big government. 

False. First of all, the federal Amber Alert site doesn’t issue alerts – it merely collects and disseminates statistics. Second of all, he tweeted the wrong link to Michelle Obama’s health initiative. What does Snopes.com have to say about Collins’ asinine allegation

 

Why would a sitting Congressman lie – in public, to his constituents – about something like this? For short-term political gain? Is he just pathological? 

This one is fantastic, really. Obamacare is working because it is a permanent appropriation – mandatory spending specifically budgeted-for in 2010 by an act of Congress. It doesn’t need to be reauthorized. 

National Parks and the National Institutes of Health? Why? Don’t you remember Collins’ declaration that, “people now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things“? 

This is all a distraction from the real points: 

1. Chris Collins has a lot invested in the failure of the Affordable Care Act. If it is a success, he’ll be in a spot of trouble. If it’s a success and his constituents come to appreciate it, he’ll be in a lot of trouble, as his words come back to haunt him. 

2. Chris Collins had an opportunity to vote in favor of funding the National Institutes of Health, the Amber Alert website, the National Parks, and all the other federally-run and paid-for programs that have been adversely affected by the government shutdown. He failed and refused to do so, because he is not a leader who is looking out for his constituents’ best interests, but a follower who is concerned only about political expediency and his own congressional tenure. 

3. Chris Collins will say anything – will concoct any lie – to gain a perceived political advantage – it can be as trivial as a claim that the Amber Alert system is shut down, or as serious as a claim that people don’t die from cancers anymore. 

4. Chris Collins is a contented passenger on the tea party-driven bus that is hurtling the United States towards global economic disaster.  

5. The Affordable Care Act was debated and negotiated. Passed by both houses of Congress, signed by the President in 2010, and declared Constitutional by a conservative Supreme Court. It is the law of the land, and Collins is acting extra-Constitutionally, attempting to nullify a duly enacted statute. What other statutes would Collins like to see de-funded or repealed? If unsuccessful there, over what other laws would he shut down the government. or risk the full faith and credit of the American treasury? The House has voted over 40 times- unsuccessfully – to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If Republicans want it gone, they should elect themselves a president and a Senate. 

President Obama said he is willing to talk with them about whatever they want to discuss – including the Affordable Care Act. All they have to do is remove the figurative gun from the country’s head, and re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling. Simple. Because ending the shutdown and avoiding default isn’t a win for Democrats and Obama – it’s what the country desperately needs. Is Collins more interested in destroying Obama than in running the government? That’s not policy – that’s pathology. 

Chris Collins, millionaire of Clarence, is a new breed of confederate secessionist – willing to take down the entire country over a law with which he disagrees, because it helps people obtain quality, affordable, private health insurance in a new marketplace. We’ve crossed over from loyal opposition, and we’re deep in lunatic territory. 

I hope Collins and his family like that federal healthcare program. 

Dictionarypalooza

1 Aug

Bluntly put,  most of the people who bleat and whine about their loss of “freedom” and “liberty” have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. Having lived their entire lives in a country that is almost completely free, these disingenuous Obama-haters have seldom-if-ever experienced a genuine loss of freedom at the hands of a state actor. They have no concept of what “totalitarianism” means, no idea what a dictatorship is, no concept of just how unfettered by state intervention their lives are as compared to other countries – and that’s even with gun control, cell phone handsfree laws, and whatever clumsy, propagandistic NSA revelation Glenn Greenwald publishes each week

So, naturally there will be a disingenuous and propagandistic “Freedompalooza” that Carl Paladino promoted to his entire safe-for-work email list Wednesday. No joke. Freedompalooza is a real thing, in the state of New York, that exists in real life. It will star two country music people I’ve never heard of, will be taking place at Altamont Fairgrounds, (no, not that Altamont), and here’s why it exists: 

Will there be a no-troop-quartering exhibit? A trial by jury display? An establishment clause diorama? What about a Article 2 ride or a Commerce Clause snack bar? You know what this is about – it’s about Obama and guns. It’s about Cuomo and guns. And maybe taxes. There was one libertarian think tank you probably never heard of that decided New York was “least free”, and the Dakotas are the most freest ever.  That’s ok. I’ll take New York because I have a comparative first-hand knowledge of what freedom and liberty mean, and the Dakotas’ freedom relative to New York’s is an infinitesimal difference, in the broader scheme of things. Tickets to this thing are $35.  I wonder who’s collecting on this? 

But here are the constitutional scholars who are going to be learnin’ you on liberty. 

Not re-enactors. “Enactors”. They will enact the Revolutionary War and they will enact “other American History”. This means that they will actually commit American History and war. Someone should call the authorities. Or their 6th grade English teachers. 

Obama, Satan, and Spelling

19 Mar

Ha ha! A tee vee show about a 2,000 year-old work of fiction hired a Moroccan actor to play a fictional bad guy, and he looks sort of like President Obama! Let’s talk about this! This is important business! Can you imagine? The devil looks like Obama! Well, more accurately – the guy the producers hired to play the “devil” resembles President Obama.

This must be important because even WBEN is talking about it! And the comments from people who are apparently not at all embarrassed to use their own names are predictably ignorant and hateful. Also, spelling. 

 

Get me out of here. 

We Can't Tolerate this Anymore

17 Dec

The President with family and friends of victim Emilie Parker, 6

From the President’s speech in Newtown, CT Sunday night: 

This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.

Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting. The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America — victims whose — much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try. 

In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

All the world’s religions — so many of them represented here today — start with a simple question: Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose? We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way. We will make mistakes, we will experience hardships. And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans. 

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have — for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace — that is true. The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger — we know that’s what matters. We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that. 

That’s what we can be sure of. And that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do, for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them — for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison. 

God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort. And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America.

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6: After much begging, Charlotte’s mom let her wear a new pink dress and boots to school. It was the last outfit the redheaded girl would ever pick out. “She was going to go some places in this world,” says her uncle.
  • Olivia Engel, 6: Olivia was looking forward to coming home Friday, to make a gingerbread house. “She loved attention,” says a family friend. “She had perfect manners. She was the teacher’s pet, the line leader. Her only crime is being a wiggly, smiley 6-year-old.”
  • Dawn Hochsprung, 47: “I don’t think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day,” the principal said in 2010. As the AP writes, “When the unthinkable came, she was ready to defend.” She died lunging at Lanza.
  • Madeleine Hsu, 6. A doctor at Madeleine’s house said her family had no comment, adding, “This is the darkest thing I’ve ever walked into.”
  • Catherine Hubbard, 6. “We are greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet,” said her parents in a statement that thanked emergency responders.
  • Chase Kowalski, 7. Chase was outside all the time, and had recently won a mini-triathlon, says a neighbor. “You couldn’t think of a better child.”
  • Jesse Lewis, 6. “He was always friendly; he always liked to talk,” says the owner of the deli where Jesse ate his favorite sausage, egg, and cheese with hot chocolate on Friday morning.
  • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6. Video of Ana singing “Come, Thou Almighty King” is going viral. It’s in the gallery orhere. “As much as she’s needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me, Ana beat us all to paradise,” wrote dad Jimmy Greene on Facebook.
  • James Mattioli, 6. “It’s a terrible tragedy, and we’re a tight community,” says the mayor of the upstate New York town where James’ mom grew up. “Everybody will be there for them, and our thoughts and prayers are there for them.”
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52. “You don’t expect your daughter to be murdered,” her father said, after he and her mother waited in vain for hours for news of their daughter. Murphy, a teacher described as a “happy soul,” died shielding her students. “It happens on TV. It happens elsewhere.”
  • Noah Pozner, 6. Noah’s parents moved him and sisters from New York “for safety and education,” an uncle says. He called Noah, the youngest victim, “extremely mature. When I was his age, I was not like him.” He will be buried today.
  • Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, 30. “Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten,” said her mom in a statement. After years of substitute teaching, she finally got that call this year. “It was the best year of her life.”
  • Mary Sherlach, 56. Sherlach died rushing Lanza with principal Dawn Hochsprung. “Mary felt like she was doing God’s work,” said her son-in-law, “working with the children.”
  • Victoria Soto, 27. “She beams in snapshots,” notes the AP, and she was killed after making sure her first-graders were safe. “She put those children first. That’s all she ever talked about,” says a friend. “You have a teacher who cared more about her students than herself,” says the mayor of Soto’s hometown. (Via)

 

We Can’t Tolerate this Anymore

17 Dec

The President with family and friends of victim Emilie Parker, 6

From the President’s speech in Newtown, CT Sunday night: 

This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.

Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting. The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America — victims whose — much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try. 

In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

All the world’s religions — so many of them represented here today — start with a simple question: Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose? We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way. We will make mistakes, we will experience hardships. And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans. 

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have — for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace — that is true. The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger — we know that’s what matters. We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that. 

That’s what we can be sure of. And that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do, for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them — for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison. 

God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort. And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America.

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6: After much begging, Charlotte’s mom let her wear a new pink dress and boots to school. It was the last outfit the redheaded girl would ever pick out. “She was going to go some places in this world,” says her uncle.
  • Olivia Engel, 6: Olivia was looking forward to coming home Friday, to make a gingerbread house. “She loved attention,” says a family friend. “She had perfect manners. She was the teacher’s pet, the line leader. Her only crime is being a wiggly, smiley 6-year-old.”
  • Dawn Hochsprung, 47: “I don’t think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day,” the principal said in 2010. As the AP writes, “When the unthinkable came, she was ready to defend.” She died lunging at Lanza.
  • Madeleine Hsu, 6. A doctor at Madeleine’s house said her family had no comment, adding, “This is the darkest thing I’ve ever walked into.”
  • Catherine Hubbard, 6. “We are greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet,” said her parents in a statement that thanked emergency responders.
  • Chase Kowalski, 7. Chase was outside all the time, and had recently won a mini-triathlon, says a neighbor. “You couldn’t think of a better child.”
  • Jesse Lewis, 6. “He was always friendly; he always liked to talk,” says the owner of the deli where Jesse ate his favorite sausage, egg, and cheese with hot chocolate on Friday morning.
  • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6. Video of Ana singing “Come, Thou Almighty King” is going viral. It’s in the gallery orhere. “As much as she’s needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me, Ana beat us all to paradise,” wrote dad Jimmy Greene on Facebook.
  • James Mattioli, 6. “It’s a terrible tragedy, and we’re a tight community,” says the mayor of the upstate New York town where James’ mom grew up. “Everybody will be there for them, and our thoughts and prayers are there for them.”
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52. “You don’t expect your daughter to be murdered,” her father said, after he and her mother waited in vain for hours for news of their daughter. Murphy, a teacher described as a “happy soul,” died shielding her students. “It happens on TV. It happens elsewhere.”
  • Noah Pozner, 6. Noah’s parents moved him and sisters from New York “for safety and education,” an uncle says. He called Noah, the youngest victim, “extremely mature. When I was his age, I was not like him.” He will be buried today.
  • Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, 30. “Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten,” said her mom in a statement. After years of substitute teaching, she finally got that call this year. “It was the best year of her life.”
  • Mary Sherlach, 56. Sherlach died rushing Lanza with principal Dawn Hochsprung. “Mary felt like she was doing God’s work,” said her son-in-law, “working with the children.”
  • Victoria Soto, 27. “She beams in snapshots,” notes the AP, and she was killed after making sure her first-graders were safe. “She put those children first. That’s all she ever talked about,” says a friend. “You have a teacher who cared more about her students than herself,” says the mayor of Soto’s hometown. (Via)

 

Unimpressed

17 Nov

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President Obama and McKayla Maroney are unimpressed. (White House Flickr Pool)

Quick Take

7 Nov

Quick take because President Obama didn’t start giving his acceptance speech until almost 2am. If you see me today, steer clear. I’m tired and filled with mixed emotion. 

POTUS: Barack Obama won re-election rather handily, and a great deal of people – mostly made up the disingenuous and the dumb – owe Nate Silver from 538 a massive apology for doubting his predictive models and for complaining about “skewed” polls. Silver was right on the money, and people like the always-wrong Dick Morris, and a whole set of mostly Republican “pundits” were beyond wrong. Science and math win over “gut” and “feelings”. Maybe it has to do with boomer conservatives all being former hippies. You know, “me, myself, and I”. I’ll write more about this later, but a win is a win, and watching Fox News during part of last night, I found the most amazing Vaudeville show ever produced

NY-27: This is devastating. Make no mistake, the electorate of the 27th Congressional District has left me – themselves – effectively without Congressional representation. For all intents and purposes, I’m an inadvertent, unvoluntary liberal tea partier.  Only for real. Late last night, Kathy Hochul, who has served in Congress with excellence and bipartisanship sent this: 

“Early this morning I called Chris Collins and congratulated him on being elected to Congress.  I encouraged him to work across the aisle and offered to assist him in any way I can.  I also volunteered to help him make a smooth transition in January to ensure our constituents are well served.  Congress can do better, and the people of this country deserve better than what Washington has given them.”

Collins is all over the air saying Hochul lost because of her Buffalo China ads. I’ll agree that they went too hard on that tack, and didn’t push the real issue – that she’s bipartisan and he’s completely partisan. Mr. Obamapelosi has no business claiming not to have been more negative than Hochul in the race. Thank God Obama won, otherwise you’d see the rapid dismantling of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and a whole variety of so-called “entitlements” that you depend on and pay for

Comptroller: Voters chose name recognition over qualifications, such as they were. No surprise there. Now what, Stefan? 

Other than that – marriage equality won referenda in Maine and Maryland – a first. Horrible red-baiting Congressman Allen West is gone. Michele Bachmann almost lost. Elizabeth Warren defeated Scott Brown in Massachusetts; democrats took back “Teddy Kennedy’s seat”. 

A mixed night, but a relief that we will continue to move forward with President Obama. Hopefully Washington will start to get things done, now that the Republican’s chief policy aim of preventing Obama’s re-election is extinguished, they can get back to governing

 

 

Buffalopundit Endorsements 2012

5 Nov

The Iowa Caucuses took place on January 3rd of this year – that’s almost a full year ago. I first want to comment on just how fundamentally horrible and broken our political system is. We have a multi-year process to pick a President. It costs many hundreds of millions of dollars. We have a primary system where candidates have to ingratiate themselves to a party’s extremes before they can move on to the general election and effectively lurch to the center. The Supreme Court has legalized bribery – because money is political speech, its restriction is subject to strict scrutiny and we have barely regulated, completely non-transparent groups able to not just promote or attack ideas, but can expressly endorse or oppose individual candidates. One person can feasibly – legally – fund a SuperPAC with millions or billions of dollars and run whatever ads he wants, with no oversight, no regulation, no limits. I have a huge problem with this, and you should, too.

I detest this system, and hope we can someday fix it. I hate the way in which it has become difficult to debate opinions because we can’t agree on the facts. Other countries manage to hold nationwide general elections in a matter of weeks – not years. They limit contributions, they limit the ways in which money can be spent, they regulate the influence of money in politics and government so that policies help the people, and not special interests. To find out more about how federal electioneering can be changed to focus on people rather than the axis of corporate money and political influence, check out Rootstrikers.

As for our local races, while the Hochul/Collins race gave us a chance to understand that our votes actually count – it couldn’t be closer – It’s disheartening to see how many state races are literally (some figuratively) unopposed. Jane Corwin and Tim Kennedy should have general election races, period. Others are poster children for term limits. Our local politics remain polluted and corrupted by the legalized racketeering performed routinely and legally by the minor parties. Our system of electoral fusion serves no practical purpose and should be abolished.

Please note: these are not Artvoice endorsements, nor are they to be cited as such. They have not been approved or made by the Artvoice editors, publisher, or any combination thereof. Any endorsements are mine and mine alone. They are preferences – not predictions.

Obama/Biden vs. Romney/Ryan: Barack Obama 

Obama. I have very strong personal reasons for this, which are none of anyone’s business. But from a macro standpoint, his leadership helped us to begin shaking off a horrific global recession, from which the world economy is still reeling. He passed a law to guarantee women equal pay for equal work. Obama advanced the cause of universal health care coverage – a goal that our country had hitherto been unable or unwilling to meet despite many attempts since World War II. Obama strengthened alliances abroad while navigating a particularly difficult set of international issues and crises. Obama may not be perfect, but he has done a tremendous job given the circumstances with which he has been faced. He deserves to continue the work he’s started, and we ought to stay the course.

Need something persuasive? The Economist endorsed Obama, explaining that he averted a Depression, he refocused our foreign policy in an intelligent way, and that Obamacare will reverse a “scandal” of 40 million uninsured. It hits Obama for inconsistent stewardship of commerce, and places blame on him for the noxious relationship with congressional Republicans (who also own it), but overall explains just how awful a choice Romney would be.

It’s no secret that I wholeheartedly endorse President Obama for re-election. Mitt Romney has completed the Republican Party’s departure from “compassionate conservatism” to “severe conservatism”, and he has run a fundamentally opportunistic and disingenuous campaign, where he promises absolutely nothing of substance to middle-class families. So, instead, I’ll offer up some graphical and audiovisual reasons to vote for President Obama.

Job growth rebounds after the dreadful global Bush recession:

Obama passed the Ledbetter Equal Pay Act:

The case for Obama now:

The Dow is up.

Employment is up.

Obama soshulizm.

Romney went to Europe, and came back a punch line:

We never got that “Whitey Tape“, but we got to see Romney’s.

 

Gillibrand vs. Long: Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand is running for her first full term after winning a special election to take over what had been Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat. She has proven herself to be a capable and responsive representative in Congress, who has taken up the cause of “Made in America” in a positive, consistent way.

New York is a pretty left-center state, and the tea party may have some emotional influence within Republican circles, it’s a Paladino-fed joke among the electorate at-large. Wendy Long is a tea party candidate who has attracted all the support she deserves – not a lot. Gillibrand would have been quite vulnerable had the Republicans put up a credible, centrist Republican to run against her, but the Republican Party in New York is in as much disarray as its national counterpart will be after Tuesday when Mitt Romney’s opportunistic campaign loses. The stage is set for an epic battle between the pragmatic reasonableness of people like Chris Christie, and the reactionary, obstructionist hatred of the ultra-right tea party. This will be good not only for the Republican Party, but also for the country.

NY-26 Higgins vs. Madigan: Brian Higgins

Brian Higgins is a tireless champion for western New York. He has worked relentlessly – from the center-left – to improve Buffalo, WNY, and especially her waterfront. Mike Madigan is another tea-party candidate in a decidedly un-tea-party district. He has fallen back on a platform having to do with the poor quality of education in the inner city. He has identified an acute problem – one that he could better address in city or state government, or within the school board. The right wing agitates for de-federalization of education, and abolition of the Department of Education. I don’t know how that would improve school quality or student outcomes versus, say, promoting a 10th Amendment states’ rights agenda, but you can’t voucherize your way out of the problem. If Madigan is serious, he’ll try again for a seat where he might actually have a direct positive affect.

NY-27 Hochul vs. Collins: Kathy Hochul

Not only is Kathy Hochul a fantasic legislator who is pragmatic, independent, and votes as you’d expect a conservative Democrat to vote, but she isn’t Chris Collins. Chris Collins has a record of mean-spirited failure. Make no mistake about it – sending Chris Collins to the House of Representatives would be an utter disaster. He is a person uniquely unqualified to act as an effective legislator – arrogant, mean, rude, inflexible. He doesn’t need the job, and the people in the district don’t deserve the shambles he would cause. I know that this is a tied race, so it is incumbent upon everyone to pitch in to help re-elect Hochul and to prevent Collins from going to Washington and acting in his own best interests, rather than ours.

Think about this – when have you ever heard a single person, ever, say, “that Chris Collins – I like him. He seems to have my best interests at heart.” Never.

SD-59 Gallivan

Gallivan runs for re-election unopposed. This is a shame. I’m sure he’s not perfect.

SD-60 Grisanti vs. Amodeo vs. Swanick: Mike Amodeo

First off – I don’t care if you self-identify as a Republican, Democrat, or Conservative – a vote for Chuck Swanick is a vote for transactional politics at their worst, for someone who was at the forefront of the great Erie County fiscal meltdown of 2005. That leaves Grisanti and Amodeo. Grisanti has ably served the district, and although he too often devolves into a cookie-cutter Republican, railing against fantasy bogeymen like “free college tuition for illegal aliens” and tougher criminal penalties for various things, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that his vote for marriage equality in 2011 was a genuine profile in courage.

Looking forward, however, one of the biggest pressing statewide issues right now is whether the state will allow hydrofracking for natural gas. It’s fair to say the electorate-at-large is pretty uninformed when it comes to the risks and benefits of hydrofracking, so this makes it unfair to force New York voters to weigh them and decide either to allow or prohibit the practice. This is something so fraught with emotion, and an issue so backed by money that the pressure will be strong; relentless to arrive at a quick decision from the top, down. Until we as citizens of New York have had an opportunity to have a full and fair, fact-based debate about fracking’s pros and cons, we should prohibit it altogether. On this point, Amodeo is stronger and the edge goes to him.

SD-61 Ranzenhofer vs. Rooney: Justin Rooney

Mike Ranzenhofer has been an elected official for 20+ years. Name one accomplishment. You can’t. His continued tenure in government is to pad his pension and lifetime benefits, which I’m sure his small law office wouldn’t afford him. Justin Rooney is young blood who deserves a chance to free eastern Erie County from the Ranzenhofer record of [blank].

SD-63 Kennedy

Tim Kennedy is running for re-election unopposed. This is a shame. I’m sure he’s not perfect.

Assembly: Ray Walter, Christina Abt

A-140 Schimminger vs. Gilbert

A-141 Peoples v. Donovan

A-142 Kearns

A-143 Gabryszak v. DeCarlo

A-144 Corwin

A-145 Restaino v. Ceretto

A-146 Walter vs. Schultz

A-147 Abt vs. DiPietro

A-149 Ryan vs. Mascia (C)

Of the above, I can endorse Ray Walter and Christina Abt. I know Ray, and I know he’s actually going to Albany to try and make a difference. Walter’s opponent hasn’t mounted a credible campaign. Christina Abt is a brilliant writer, a lover of the region, and someone who has proven her ability to reach across the aisle to get things done. DiPietro has become a Rus Thompson-like perennial candidate, and his tea party ideals certainly play well on obscure Google groups and listservs, but his political inflexibility contrasts starkly with Abt’s flexible pragmatism.

I don’t know anything about any of the other races, but note that neither Jane Corwin nor Mickey Kearns deserve to be running unopposed.

Comptroller: Shenk vs. Mychajliw: No Endorsement

This is a tough one. I like Stefan, despite the over-the-top caricature of a Republican hack he played while acting as Collins’ spokesman in 2011. But he is uniquely unqualified for the hypertechnical post of County Comptroller and has no experience handling a budget of any size, much less a billion-dollar one.

Shenk’s qualifications are, to be honest, not much more impressive. He does, however, have extensive experience handling municipal finance in the town of Boston, so arguably he could expand that countywide. I don’t put much stock in the anti-Shenk argument about how he was selected to run out Poloncarz’s term – anyone complaining is merely upset because the political selection didn’t comport with their particular preference.

However, what Shenk should have done was to establish his independent bona fides at some time in the last 11 months. He did not do that, and that enabled his detractors to point out that fact to underscore their argument that he’s under Poloncarz’s thumb and would be an ineffective watchdog. That’s bad policy and bad politics, and reflects a troubling tone-deafness. On the other hand, Mychajliw should be explaining to voters how he would overcome his utter lack of experience by explaining whom he would hire to do the gruntwork.

This is a push. I would be leaning towards a Mychajliw endorsement if I knew the people he’d be hiring, and if I wasn’t so sure he’d hyperpoliticize the office. Shenk may have a marginally better grasp of what the job entails, but hasn’t used his time in the office to do much with it. I won’t know for whom I’m voting until I’m there with pencil in hand.

Vote

Polls open on Tuesday at 6am and close at 9pm throughout New York State. Some areas have propositions on the ballot – you can check the ones in Erie County here. An .xml list of all Erie County candidates is here. To find your polling place, and to generate a sample ballot based on your Erie County address, click here.