Archives for the month of: October, 2012

One of the most telling moments in the third and final debate between Congressman Chris Gibson and challenger Julian Schreibman came near the end, when Schreibman noted that it was mid-term season at SUNY-Oneonta, where the debate was held.

“If you’re taking a test and you’re asked for your opinion, you’re free to give it,” Schreibman said. “Congressman Gibson and I have been exchanging a lot of opinions in these debates. But if you’re asked when Columbus came to America and you say ‘1776’, you’d be wrong. Facts are facts. Congressman Gibson seems to have his own version of the facts, and you can’t do that.”

Schreibman then proceeded to rip Gibson for his Romney-like effort to evade, deny or cover up his record. On point after point, Gibson has tried to present himself in a way that contradicts his actual votes in Congress.

Another revealing moment, also near the end, came when Gibson complained to Schreibman about “how you’ve treated me.” This would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. As Schreibman noted, it’s not personal. But Gibson seems to take every challenge, and every exposed lie, as a personal affront.

Perhaps it’s his military background. Perhaps he thinks that entitles him to be taken at his word, even when his word is obviously false and contradicts his actions.

“Who do you trust?” he asked, in closing, as he did in the second debate.

Not you, you prevaricating hypocrite. And not your deluded Tea Party followers, with their mantra of small government, small business and “individual initiative”. If this small-minded Randian “philosophy” represents a genuine way forward, then why do so many upstate Republicans live in poverty? Why has upstate New York been so backward for so long? Why do towns continue to stagnate, people continue to leave and opportunities continue to vanish?

Why can’t Gibson’s supporters understand they are being asked to keep things just as they are? Why can’t they see they are being exploited?

The 2012 Congressional election is a rare opportunity for upstate New York to renounce its benighted history, change its status quo and actually move forward. People who believe in facts, in science, in climate change, in common sense, and in the hope of their children—these people should vote for Julian Schreibman. Mr. Schreibman represents a genuine way out of the morass of ignorance and stubborn, self-defeating resistance to change that Republicans have imposed on this region for so long. If Gibson wins, we’ll continue down the same ignorant pathways, continue to watch our towns shrivel and die, continue to watch our kids move away and watch life become even grimmer for those left behind.

Please: stick to the facts. Have the courage to move forward. Vote for Julian Schreibman on November 6.

Most of the instant polls following last night’s concluding presidential debate showed President Obama as the clear winner. The CBS poll of uncommitted voters called it for Obama by 53% to 23%. So the president managed to ring up two victories in a row after his disastrous performance in the first debate, when he appeared not to be fully engaged, or even fully present.

Will it be enough? For any thinking Amercan who follows politics, it should be. But that is not the majority of voters, sad to say. For people who tend to be swayed by sound bites, it’s still an open contest. And I think the Republican base, even though it may be repulsed by Romney’s move to the middle—how many times did Romney utter the word “peace” last night?—is still likely to get out and vote, if only to support Ryan (and get rid of our first black president).

There are now two weeks to go until the election. If any of you reading this should happen to remain undecided, all you need to know is this: electing Romney-Ryan would send America to hell in a handbasket, P.D.Q. The rest of you have made up your minds already. Let’s hope that the half of you who’ve made them up correctly prevail.

President Obama deserves re-election.

The second Chris Gibson-Julian Schreibman debate took place last night at the WMHT studios in North Greenbush. Once again, Schreibman clearly won on points, both for style and substance.

Not that much changed from the initial debate in Kingston last week. Gibson continued to try to disguise his voting record in Congress and portray himself as a moderate. Schreibman continued to thwart that attempt and underscore Gibson’s right-wing voting record on major issues, particularly the Paul Ryan budget that would transform Medicare into a “premium support” (i.e., voucher) program.

As he did in the first debate, Gibson ticked off the four items he sees as his major accomplishments: “storm relief, broadband, Lyme disease and small business”. This is an eclectic and somewhat ludicrous list. It is also misleading, insofar as Gibson claims to have resolved any of these issues. The aftermath of Irene still lingers in many areas, rural broadband accessibility remains a sick joke, Lyme disease continues to be rampant throughout the 19th Congressional District and upstate New York in general , and upstate business is hurting as badly as it ever has.

The difference in this debate, to the extent there was one, was in Gibson’s demeanor. He didn’t become as flustered or excited as he was in the first debate, and he attempted more attacks on his opponent, largely in the form of asking “OK, then, what’s your plan?” But most of Gibson’s energy continued to be spent dodging his own record, and I think he was unsuccessful in this.

Schreibman has the stronger presence and does a far better job of speaking directly to the audience. This is likely due to the fact that, unlike Gibson, he’s not trying to hide anything. Gibson tried another distraction at the end by closing with an especially sleazy and divisive line, asking “who do you trust? A combat veteran or a New York City lawyer?”

Well, I’ll tell you, Chris: I trust Julian Schreibman a hell of a lot more than I trust you.

You can watch a stream of last night’s debate on the New York NOW website. The third and final debate in the series will take place at 7 PM on Wednesday, October 24 in Craven Lounge in the Morris Hall building at SUNY Oneonta.

Last night, the real President Obama showed up. In doing so, he handily won the second of the three presidential debates and likely stopped the momentum Mitt Romney had achieved from the first one.

Always ahead on substance—even in the first debate—Obama clearly outperformed Romney on style as well. To continue our boxing metaphor from the last post, all the major blows of the night were delivered by the president. These included a solid shot to the chin in the debate’s closing moments, hitting hard at Romney’s disdain for 47% of Americans.

That last shot, in fact, typified Romney’s miscues throughout the night. In his closing remarks, Romney had said he was for “100% of all Americans”. Up until that point, no one had discussed what percentage of the country he cared about. It was a perfect opening, and Obama took it: Bam!

There were several other Romney slipups as well. His phrase “binders full of women” became an instant Internet meme because it nicely encapsulates his patronizing, out-of-touch attitude on women’s issues and rights. His repeated insistence that Obama had not called the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi a “terrorist attack” until two weeks after the fact had to be forcefully refuted by the moderator, Candy Crowley. “Say it louder, Candy,” the president smilingly urged. Finally, when Romney suggested that Obama look at his own pension, the president replied “I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours….”

Last night was all Obama, all the time. If he repeats this performance next Monday in the final debate, he can put Romney down for the count.

Debates are not sporting events, yet we tend to view them that way—witness Mitt Romney’s bounce in the polls since “winning” the first debate with President Obama. Last night, the first of three debates between U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson and Democratic challenger Julian Schreibman took place before hundreds of people in the auditorium of the M. Clifford Middle School in Lake Katrine, and Schreibman clearly outpointed Gibson. No knockout punches were thrown, but the challenger turned in the stronger performance.

Gibson and Schreibman in Lake Katrine
Gibson and Schreibman in Lake Katrine. Photo: Tom Pletcher.

The debate was sponsored by the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters, and it covered a fair amount of ground. Written questions, submitted on index cards by members of the audience, formed the basis of several discrete segments on topics ranging from Medicare to the Middle East, from climate change to energy policy. Schreibman had Gibson on the defensive throughout—”on the ropes.” as it were—as the Congressman sought to distance himself from his conservative voting record, notably his vote in support of Paul Ryan’s budget plan.

There were some areas where the two candidates agreed. These included Middle East policy (unquestioning support for Israel), fracking (both view the process as hazardous) and, surprisingly, the Patriot Act—here, each man said the act had seriously eroded civil liberties; Gibson went so far as to call it unconstitutional. But these moments of agreement were relatively rare; the differences were more pronounced, and Mr. Schreibman defined and underscored these differences very effectively.

Nowhere did Gibson take more punches than on his vote for the Paul Ryan budget. They left him wobbly. Although the Medicare segment of the debate was relatively brief, Gibson kept reverting back to it after the debate had moved on to other topics, in an effort to defend himself. For example, he noted that he later voted for a somewhat obscure budget resolution based on the principles of a bipartisan deficit commission. (However, he didn’t say that this was after his Congressional district was redrawn and had become more Democratic.) Gibson also offered his Ryan budget vote as “an attempt to get the conversation going”.

Schreibman’s counterpunch landed solidly: “When you vote to end Medicare,” he said, “you’re not starting a conversation. You’re ending a conversation.”

And so it went throughout the evening. Gibson’s attempts to redefine himself as a moderate were consistently pushed aside by Schreibman, and this caused Gibson to become visibly agitated and strident. His gestures became more exaggerated, his voice rose in simulated fervor, and he repeatedly veered off into what he hoped would be distracting generalities. (“This is a great country! We can do anything!”) It didn’t really work—Gibson’s discomfort was obvious, and Schreibman maintained his cool throughout.

One of Gibson’s more desperate swings came when he accused Schreibman of being “divisive”. This, from a member of the most obstructive, do-nothing House in living memory. Schreibman countered strongly by hitting Gibson with Mitt Romney’s “47%” remarks, and noted that Gibson’s support of the draconian Ryan budget reflected this bleak vision of the country. (By the way, Gibson has also sought to duck our petition asking him to renounce Romney’s remarks; he has never responded.)

There were a couple of points during the debate when Tea Party supporters in the audience booed while Schreibman landed solid blows against the Congressman. But for the most part, the audience seemed evenly divided, or even slightly pro-Schreibman. Certainly Schreibman received the louder ovation after his concluding statement, with many in the audience standing to applaud.

A stream of last night’s debate is available on the Daily Freeman’s website. The next debate in the series will take place at 8 PM on Thursday, October 18, and will be broadcast by WMHT.

Yesterday’s post mentioned an upcoming Chris Gibson-Julian Schreibman debate on Oct. 18, to be broadcast by WMHT. There will actually be three Gibson-Schreibman debates.

The first is this Wednesday, October 10, at the Miller Middle School Auditorium in Lake Katrine. This debate begins at 7 PM and is open to the public.

The second debate, apparently not open to the public, is the Oct. 18 WMHT broadcast. A video of this debate will be posted online at the morning after the event and the video will remain available until the Nov. 6 election.

The final debate will be at 7 PM on October 24, in Craven Lounge in the Morris Hall building at SUNY Oneonta. This event will be hosted by the League of Women Voters; as far as I can determine, it too will be open to the public.

A few statistics, insults and upcoming events to keep in mind as we roll toward the November election.

  • Romney won last week’s debate—all the poll numbers say so—but he did it by blatantly lying.
  • Although Obama did not bring up Romney’s “47%” remark during the debate, Romney himself brought it up just the other day. He said his remarks were “completely wrong“.
  • There’s an excellent chance Romney was lying when he issued that apology.
  • Chris Gibson has issued no apology, either for Romney or himself. He continues to ignore our petition, which asks him to renounce Romney’s remarks on behalf of his constituents. If Romney can renounce his own insensitive remarks—even if insincerely—why can’t Gibson?
  • Our petition has topped out at 450 signatures. The moment has passed, people have moved on, including Gibson—who has effectively given our 450 signers the finger. We’ll take the petition down before long, but you can still sign it before we do—when we’ll sent it off to Gibson again, along with your best regards.
  • If you feel ill-used and insulted by Romney’s suggestion that you are a dependent, victimized freeloader, and you’re angry that your Congressman did nothing to repudiate those remarks, then don’t vote for Gibson. In fact, don’t vote for Gibson in any case.
  • Speaking of Gibson, he will be debating Julian Schreibman at 8PM on October 18, sort of. This is going to be a fairly stress-free, candidate-friendly, TV-type event with a moderator and a three-person “panel”. Don’t expect tough questioning. But whatever—it’s better than nothing, I suppose, and probably better than Jim Lehrer. You can watch it on WMHT.
  • And speaking of prolific liars, catfish mangler Paul Ryan will debate Joe Biden this coming Thursday; it should be quite lively, and will be widely broadcast.

Stay tuned.

Well, it’s been a week since I submitted the results to date of our online petition to Rep. Chris Gibson’s office. The petition, available here, asks Gibson to repudiate Mitt Romney’s ill-considered and divisive remarks that 47% of Americans are dependent victims. After all, many of Gibson’s constituents fall into the categories that Romney was blithely dismissing—ex-military personnel, students, retired people on Social Security and Medicare.

“Nice guy” Chris Gibson is ignoring the petition and the 449 people who’ve signed it so far. He obviously doesn’t care that his silence on Romney’s remarks makes many of his constituents angry. He apparently feels he can do without their votes.

Let’s not accept Gibson’s stonewalling. If being called a “dependent victim” makes you angry, let Representative Gibson know it! Let him know you’re disappointed he has not chosen to stand up for his constituents by repudiating Romney’s insulting remarks. Sign the petition! And make your disappointment known directly by contacting his offices in Washington, D.C. (202-225-5614) and Kinderhook (518-610-8133).

Thanks for making your voice heard.