Feds issue subpoenas in the general direction of the Cuomo administration. Oops.

Did anyone ever really buy the idea that Andrew Cuomo would crack down on corruption in our State government? Show of hands, please?

Thought not.

It should pain all of us how deep, broad and venal the problem of graft, influence-peddling, no-show jobs, what not else, is within the New York State Democratic Party. As the saying goes, legislators leave office in case of death or indictment; and sometimes, looking at the dynastic succession so prevalent especially in the outer boroughs of the City – Dilan, Boyland, Molinari (R), Lentol, and so on and so forth in a dreary succession of cut’n’paste diadochi, not even in those cases.

This is the swamp Andrew Cuomo said he would drain. For a brief while, there was a Moreland Commission tasked with the job.

Until apparently it got too close for comfort to the governor’s office. At which point the fabled commission died a quick and quiet death. Continue reading

When library use goes up, the city CUTS FUNDING!

Now, what is wrong with this graph?

Let’s see…funding somewhat matched library usage until around 2009…since then usage continues to go UP and funding has been DRASTICALLY cut.

Awhile back I was listening to NPR. It was about the increasing need for computer and internet literacy and how the elderly can catch up to that need. A question came up asking how a family member can help his/her parents learn computer literacy. The answer was that the emotional difficulty in the child becoming the teacher of the parent can be a huge obstacle and that the BEST resource for seniors to learn necessary computer skills is at…THE LOCAL LIBRARY.

Cuts to libraries, despite INCREASING DEMAND, hurts our seniors.

Hurting our kids, particularly among economically disadvantage communities, is a given when you cut libraries.

These library cuts hurt seniors, children, and the poorer communities. And what is the solution the city government came up with? SELLING OUR LIBRARIES! There is an increasing need, so we cut funding and space. Brilliant! It matches the city’s response to hospital needs…but that is another, HIGHLY related story.

The main hallmarks of civilization are clean water, sanitation, libraries, public education and public health. ALL of these are threatened under the current right wing political paradigm.

Check out Citizens Defending Libraries for more on the attacks on our library system (despite increased use!) and what you can do to fight back.

And CLICK HERE to sign a petition to save our libraries.


Victory Salutes Liberty Over Brooklyn (no thanks to developers)

Brooklyn politicians (including our current, supposedly “progressive,” though IDC loving, mayor) tend to give developers ANYTHING they want. But occasionally, developers overstep their usually unlimited welcome in Brooklyn. And two statues put a limit on one developer’s plans.

I was reading a diary on Daily Kos that reminded me of this.

My son and I recently were introduced to a neat connection between Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty. On top of Battle Hill, where George Washington was nearly trapped by the British at the beginning of the Revolution but managed to, um, “strategically withdraw,” there is a statue of “Victory (as Minerva) saluting Liberty.”

(Pictures from THIS SITE)

This statue, built shortly after WW I (hence presumably referencing the victory over the Central Powers as well as over Britain in the Revolution) on the 144th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn, is facing the Statue of Liberty, saluting her with an upraised arm. Liberty of course looks like she is waving her torch in response.

Nearby is a memorial to the soldiers from NYC who gave their life for the Union in the Civil War (I love the unabashedly pro-Union sentiments in NYC). So in one place, the Revolution, Civil War, and WW I are all remembered on the site of the first battle of the Revolution.

As an aside, a developer, in true NYC tradition, wanted to build luxury apartments at the end of 7th Ave in Brooklyn. He fought to build it nice and tall to maximize profits, but for once a developer overstepped himself and was turned down because his building would block the view Victory has of Liberty. You can see this stub of the intended building in the picture above right between the two ladies waving at each other.

So developers can displace PEOPLE to make their profits, but not block the view of cool statues. Well, it is nice to know Brooklyn has SOME standards!

I want to emphasize that this is just one of the really, really cool things we saw at Greenwood. The tomb of Boss Tweed (too bad his spirit still haunts politics to day)…the tombs of Litchfield and of Boreum…etc. Well worth a visit or three.

If “birth control” logic were applied to men

This comes from the Boycott Eden Foods facebook page:

Photo: If "birth control" logic were applied to men.

Sign these petitions to Eden Foods, the Hobby Lobby of organic food companies:




Retaking the NY State Senate: Fundraiser Thursday, July 17th

The New York State Senate has been a boil on the behind of NY State for decades. One of the biggest boils has been corrupt Republican Marty Golden. Now that he is embroiled in scandal, Marty Golden is probably the most endangered Republican in NY State.

Jamie Kemmerer is Golden’s opponent this year and is making a good run of it. But he will be up against a ton of developer money backing Golden. So if we want any progress at all in NY State, we need to have Jamie’s back. A Young Professionals Fundraiser will be held for Jamie Kemmerer’s run for the State Senate on Thursday, July 17th:

Young Professionals Fundraiser

If you can’t make this fundraiser, you can also donate to this and other reform candidates on my Reform Albany Act Blue Page. If we want change, we have to help get the word out and counter the big money interests that oppose reform. If you can’t donate money, donate your time!

Jamie Kemmerer has also been endorsed by Lambda Independent Democrats, Brooklyn Young Democrats, and Bay Ridge Democrats.

Corporate rights should not trump women’s rights: Boycott Eden Foods

This comes from Boycott Eden Foods:

Photo: Ahhh the pro-"corporate" life movement.  Brought to you by Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court.

It is important to realize that Hobby Lobby did not act in isolation. They are just one of many corporations that filed lawsuits specifically to refuse to pay for contraception for women. They want their corporate “personhood” to be more respected than the right of a woman and her doctor to make her medical decisions.

In my world it is Eden Foods that catches my attention. They also filed a similar lawsuit as Hobby Lobby. I used to buy Edensoy Soy milk with some frequency at the Park Slope Food Co-op. Once I learned they filed a lawsuit to get out of fully covering women’s healthcare I stopped buying it. Now that the Supreme Court has decided that corporate rights take precedence over women’s rights, I want to again publicize the Eden Foods Boycott. I think this has more of a chance of having an impact than a Hobby Lobby boycott.

And by all means contact Eden Foods to tell them what you think of their lawsuit against full coverage of woman’s healthcare.

More than ever, IT’S THE SUPREME COURT! Fight for the future.

It comes down to this…the Supreme Court. The decision to put corporate personhood ahead of women’s personhood makes this clear.

The most influence a President can have on America, extending far beyond his or her term in office, is through the appointment of Supreme Court justices. Between the President’s ability to appoint and the Senate’s ability to approve, we, as progressives, HAVE TO fight our asses off to keep Dems in the White House and Senate for the foreseeable future. That is the ONLY way we can stop these destructive, highly right wing decisions. Women’s lives are on the line.

I am no fan of Hillary Clinton. And I may well oppose her in the primaries. But there is NO WAY I won’t fight hard to elect her in a general election over ANY Republican. That goes for just about any Dem. And even this year, I am changing my mind about one Senate race I was sitting out: Louisiana. You see,  Sen. Mary Landrieu has been so right wing I haven’t really cared if she loses her seat. But today, as the impacts of the right wing Supreme Court decisions start sinking in, I am now even willing to have Mary Landrieu’s back…I admit I am likely to put more effort into better candidates, but even Mary Landrieu sitting in the Senate is better than a Republican because if nothing else, she will be a vote for a Democratic President’s Supreme Court nominee.

So right now, though I will certainly spend a great deal of time fighting for progressives in primaries (see, for example, my Reform Albany Act Blue Site), I think my main focus will be the Senate now and the Presidency in 2016…and whoever our candidates are I will support them.

I honestly think we can hold the Senate. MAYBE even gain a seat or two? My Closest Races in 2014 is an Act Blue site dedicated to keeping the Senate and to fight for Governor and House races particularly in states with close Senate races. Synergy between Senate candidates and candidates for other offices can often succeed better than a campaign working in isolation, so I am highlighting even some not so close races in states with hot Senate races to try and encourage such synergy.

I have just passed the $1000 mark. Can we get up to $2000 and really kick ass in November? PLEASE DONATE TO WIN KEY RACES IN 2014.

In addition, eying not just this year but 2015 and 2016, I am raising money for feminist, choice, LGBT, immigrant, etc. advocacy groups that can help set up a great progressive victory machine for 2016: Moving America Forward 2014. This is a broader effort, focusing on many states including some pretty red ones in an attempt to strengthen progressives in blue states and establish more effective opposition to the right wing in red states. PLEASE DONATE TO MOVE AMERICA FORWARD! This IS a culture war and we are on the right side…let’s fight for it.

The Greedy Oil Party will push as hard as they can to take away the rights of everyone except wealthy white men and their corporations. The rest of us really have to fight back.

Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats Primary Endorsements

The latest endorsements from Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, the reform/progressive Democratic Club my wife is on the board of, for the September 9th Democratic Primary were decided tonight.

The two hotly contested endorsements were for the 51st and 52ónd Assembly races.

In the 51st AD, newcomer Cesar Zuniga is challenging incumbent Felix Ortiz. This is a district the club doesn’t usually endorse in, so we were not so familiar with either candidate, which did lead to some discussion of a “no endorsement vote.” Cesar Zuniga came off very well, and I think was well liked, but he didn’t seem so knowledgeable about key issues. The main complaint about Ortiz from both Zuniga and some club members is that he seemed out of touch with his constituents, acting more like a Patrón than a representative. However, other club members had found Ortiz very approachable. But a key, probably deciding, factor was the record Ortiz has of generating good legislation and of being one of the very few District Leaders to stand up to the Vito Lopez machine in Brooklyn. Fellow Assemblymember Jim Brennan emphasized both of these qualities and publicly endorsed Ortiz. In the end, Felix Ortiz received the endorsement of CBID. Interestingly this puts CBID in opposition to some fellow reform clubs, namely New Kings Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats, and the Jim Owls Democratic Club, all of which endorsed Cesar Zuniga. Bottom line for us was that Felix Ortiz has a proven record of standing up for reform and for key progressive issues but Cesar Zuniga needs to establish more of a clear reform and progressive record for himself.

Three candidates are running for the 52nd Assembly seat to replace Joan Millman who is retiring from the Assembly to serve in the city Department for Aging. Jo Anne Simon is the clear front runner, having been endorsed by Joan Millman as well as key reformers like State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez. Pete Sikora is the young challenger with WFP support. And Doug Bivano is running an outsider’s candidacy coming in late and with little support so far. Doug could argue he is the clear non-machine candidate, since Jo Anne has been endorsed not only, like Carlos Zuniga, by the reform clubs Lambda Independent Democrats and the Jim Owls Democratic Club, but also by the Brooklyn Democratic machine boss Frank Seddio, and Pete Sikora has been endorsed by the WFP machine. In that sense Doug is definitely the true outsider, but he also made little impression on the membership and came in tied with the “no endorsement” vote. Pete Sikora was well liked and some people argued for endorsing him based partly on differences with Jo Anne on the details of some issues, like Atlantic Yards, and because Pete has a strong union background. But people kind of were wondering where the hell he has been during the last 10 years of heavy fights the club has been involved with…in essence, no one really knows much about him and few people had seen him on the front lines of fights in the community. By contrast we are well acquainted with Jo Anne and her fights on behalf of the community. My wife put it this way: Peter seemed nice but Jo Anne blew him out of the water. Personally I think Jo Anne is one of the smartest and hardest working people in the district, has fought and won ground breaking legal cases on behalf of disabled people, stood up repeatedly against the Vito Lopez machine at just about every chance, and even was prepared to challenge Frank Seddio for the leadership position in county committee but in the end withdrew when Seddio largely accepted most reform measures Jo Anne and the rest of the reform movement (primarily from the 44th and 52nd Assembly Districts) were demanding. I have not always agreed with Jo Anne, but she has always been on the front lines for reform and she has proven her worth repeatedly. In the end Jo Anne won the CBID endorsement overwhelmingly and in this case Lambda, Jim Owls and CBID agree. And as in the 51st race, we do hope to see the second place candidate again in the future, but for now, we are going with the stronger candidate with the more proven record.

More endorsements below.

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June 26th: JFK’s “Jelly Donut” Moment Made History

Ich Bin Ein BerlinerOn June 26th, 1963, President John F. Kennedy made a historic speech, one that was received with incredible enthusiasm by a crowd that was nervous about JFK because of his record in WW II. Sadly, though, due to right wing Republican lies, many Americans have the wrong idea about this speech. It amazes me the isolated bubble in which right wingers envelope themselves. To them all reality is subject to their ideology and anything that DOESN’T fit has to be discounted or revised to fit.

A BBC News article highlights this.

Talk to a teabagger (if you dare) and you are bound to hear the claim that JFK called himself a jelly donut to the laughter of the Berlin crowd in his famous 1963 speech. That is if they even know where Berlin is.

But reality has almost no resemblance to the teabagger ideology based fantasies. Yet you will hear it over and over again that JFK was laughed at. But he wasn’t. The teabagger fantasy, like almost all their ideology, is a lie that they perpetuate not because they have evidence, but their belief in it supports their ideology which in turn supports their belief in an every descending spiral of self-delusion and self-satisfaction.

It is ideological masturbation when you get right down to it.

What was the reality? Something MUCH more impressive and MUCH more interesting.

Here is the speech:

Ich Bin Ein Berliner

Details below the break:

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