Archives for category: Law

BlueInGreene.org

I plan to transfer or shut down this blog within the next couple of months, for two primary reasons. The first: progress on all fronts in this area is extraordinarily slow, and I don’t have the time, dedication or patience to continue promoting it. I hope someone better suited to the task will do so instead. The second reason is that local politics seem to have reduced relevance in light of growing dysfunction at the national level and throughout the world (guns, Trump, Brexit).

Tommorow’s Democratic Primary

Vote for Zephyr Teachout—she already has national recognition and that, plus a wide lead in fundraising, gives her a better chance of turning the 19th Congressional District Democratic. Her focus and authority on political corruption are also important, especially here in New York, where corruption continues apace.

The Presidential Election

I’ll probably have more to say about this before I leave, but for now I’ll just note we are facing an abysmal choice this November. Hillary Clinton is precisely the wrong candidate to field against Donald Trump—she is old news, and out of step with today’s electorate, especially young voters. Nevertheless, it’s important that she win.

Mass Shootings and Guns

This is the sleeper issue in American politics and the trigger (pun intended) that will eventually produce massive change in this country, perhaps even to the point of some sort of domestic breakup of our own. The willful distortion of the second amendment (it does say “well-regulated,” folks) has gone on for too long, to the point where our gun policies have slid into outright insanity. What’s more, no one is proposing appropriate solutions, such as the successful buy-back program implemented in Australia. "Common sense solutions" are not enough, as even gun advocates note. We have to remove the 300-some million guns already out there.

Zephyr Teachout announced today that she will run to replace Chris Gibson in New York’s 19th Congressional District this fall. This comes on the heels of her endorsement by Democratic Party leaders in the 11-county 19th District, an endorsement made even before Teachout announced she would run. Teachout’s name recognition and her strong showing against Andrew Cuomo in the last gubernatorial contest were the principal reasons for the endorsement.


The wind’s at her back: Zephyr Teachout is running for Congress. Photo: ActBlue.

Zephyr’s announcement is outstanding news for the people of the 19th District. She is smart, savvy, progressive and more likely to move the district forward—after decades of stagnation—than any other candidate around. Her campaigning skills and her name recognition give her a very strong chance against any Republican opponent (John Faso is probably the most likely). As a result, other Democratic candidates, such as Columbia County’s Will Yandik, should reassess their current ambitions and clear the field for Zephyr this fall. She represents the best political opportunity we’ve had in a very long time.

Fordham law professor and rising political star Zephyr Teachout is considering a run for Congress this year. Ms. Teachout moved to the 19th Congressional District about a year ago. Her candidacy would give Democrats a strong contender against a mediocre Republican field.

Zephyr Teachout
Zephyr Teachout for Congress. Photo: Wikipedia.

The idea of a John Faso or Pete Lopez succeeding Chris Gibson is depressing, as it would consign this area to continued backwardness for at least the length of the new Congressperson’s term. Teachout would be a refreshing and positive alternative: her experience, ambition, training and smarts could help begin to turn our area around.

We very much hope Ms. Teachout decides to run.

For those who may have missed it, the New York Times is running an editorial on its front page this morning. It is the first time the paper has done so since 1920. The editorial’s subject is of overwhelming importance in today’s America: the need for rational gun control. Here is the editorial in its entirety.

End the Gun Epidemic in America

​It is a moral outrage and national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

All decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.

But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.

Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.

But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.

It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.

Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.

What better time than during a presidential election to show, at long last, that our nation has retained its sense of decency?

Last night, Lori Torgersen, the Democratic candidate for the County Legislature representing Windham, Ashland, Jewett and Prattsville, made some brief remarks at Fitness Concepts in Hensonville. She was articulate and persuasive and would clearly be a strong asset for her district in the legislature.

Lori Torgersen
Lori Torgersen. Photo: tpletcher.

Torgersen is bright, energetic and accomplished—she is especially well-regarded for her work (she was a co-founder) with the Windham Area Recreation Foundation (WARF).

From Torgersen’s website:

WARF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to establishing the Windham region as a preeminent four-season destination and bettering the lives of its residents and visitors through the enhancement of trail-based recreation opportunities. WARF’s accomplishments include bringing the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup to Windham for five of the last six years and building the extremely popular multi-use Windham Path. Perhaps most importantly, WARF raised over $200,000 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and devised a system to fairly and efficiently distribute the funds to businesses and individuals in need.

In addition, Ms. Torgersen cited two of Greene County’s longterm quality-of-life weaknesses and its subsequent lowly ranking within NY State: healthcare and broadband. She would like the county to fare better in both, and to do a better job of advocating for women’s interests as well.

If you missed Lori last night, you’ll have a chance to see and hear her tomorrow (Sunday, Oct. 25) at the Country Suite B & B from 2 to 4.

Vote Torgersen on November 3. She would help move Windham and Greene County forward.

This post is for the gun-loving, Second Amendment-cheering, Red State/redneck half of the American public (and the majority of Greene and Columbia County residents who proudly vote Tea Party Republican).

There’s been another mass shooting, this time at a community college in Oregon. Ten dead, no big deal. Watch the liberals come out and wring their scrawny hands and cry and whine for gun control. Predictable, right?

Why don’t those leftists get it? Why can’t they see all this complaining about all the guns out there only masks the real solution to this problem? Which is, of course, that we need more guns and no restrictions on them. If even one of those community college students out in Oregon had been armed, chances are this latest incident wouldn’t even have happened? Right? Right?

Oregon community college mass shooting
Captions by New York Times, aerial photos by Google Earth.

All right, fucktards, enough of your point of view. Picture this: you’re having breakfast with your buds at your favorite spot in Hudson or Catskill or Tannersville or Windham. In walks a pissed-off progressive with an AR-15. “Here’s a tea party for you,” he says and opens fire. You die with a mouthful of bacon and eggs.

Assuming your imagination stretches that far, how would you address a situation such as the above? Would you:

A) Start taking your AR-15 every place you go, including breakfast?
B) Lobby for a change in gun registration laws to prevent any Democrat from owning a firearm?
C) Loudly proclaim that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun?

You’re probably thinking that my hypothetical scenario is ridiculous, because no liberal would have the balls to bring a rifle into a gathering of country Republicans at breakfast. The truth is that most progressives don’t even own a gun, and that is by choice.

But you’re crazy if you think the current state of affairs will last forever. As more and more Americans die by gun violence, and more and more family members and friends are devastated by their deaths, things will start to change.

One way or another, eventually the number of guns in “private” hands will shrink dramatically.

By ballot or bullet, as you like to say.

A progressive website in Greene County, NY is bound to spend a lot of time focusing on negatives and seeking prospects for improvement, just by the nature of things (and the nature of upstate politics). So it is a pleasure to briefly report on two feel-good events in our state last week, both from New York City.

The first and most important was the visit of Pope Francis to three East Coast cities, including New York. This Pope has inspired people from all faiths around the world, and his message resonates with secular citizens, too. His focus on fundamental fairness and the Golden Rule appeals to everyone in possession of any empathy at all, and his insistence that we—humanity—address the major issues of our day, such as income inequality, climate change and massive immigration, provides much-needed hope for many.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis in NYC. Photo: popefrancisnyc.org.

The Pope concludes his American journey in Philadelphia today.

Our second bit of happy news stems from the New York Mets, who are once again amazin’. Yesterday the Mets clinched the Eastern Division title, albeit on the road in Cincinnati. (A large contingent of New Yorkers had driven out to Ohio for the event.) It’s been 9 years since the Mets’ last division title, a long drought that includes two late-season collapses, so this year’s triumph is especially sweet.

Matt Harvey with Mets fans
Matt Harvey celebrates with fans. Photo: Aaron Doster, Associated Press.

The Mets will take on the L.A. Dodgers, another team with strong pitching, in the first round of playoffs. It should be a lot of fun.

In the midst of America’s gun carnage, a new Democratic candidate came forward this week to announce his intention to run in our 19th Congressional District next year. His name: John Patrick Kehoe, the chief of Yellowcake Music. There may be a slight problem, though: Kehoe’s own press release says he lives in Rochester, some three hours away.


John Patrick Kehoe, of Rochester or Woodstock.

If there’s one thing we don’t need, it’s another young would-be Congressperson from outside our district. Especially when the semi-likable Chris Gibson will be removed from the equation in 2016.

Not to worry, though: the Democracy.com site says Kehoe actually lives in Woodstock, and in fact Yellowcake Music’s Facebook page says the organization has offices in Rochester and Woodstock. If Kehoe actually can demonstrate residency in Ulster County then it’s all good.

Still, it would be nice to have someone who’s definitively, 100% local step up to fight off the pro-gun, anti-progress likes of John Faso or Pete Lopez next year.

Guns and racism, twin exemplars of the hatreds that are devouring America from the inside. Held high on their odious perches by today’s around-the-bend Republican Party, which will do or say anything to retain power. If you think the political gridlock in Washington and the seething venom many white voters employ against their black president have no consequences on the street, South Carolina is here to remind you, for the umpteenth time, that they do.

Racism and guns. They align geographically and politically, and the twisted little turd who killed nine churchgoers in Charleston is just an offshoot of a deep-seated malignancy in the body politic. Geographically, Google has recently demonstrated that the Deep South and much of the rural Northeast (including rural NY) are the most racist sections of the country. Not coincidentally, these regions are also teeming with pro-gun fanatics. And they are ruled, almost without exception, by Republicans.

The Confederate flag in South Carolina
Flying high in South Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images.

For all of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s crocodile tears, the Confederate flag still flies over her statehouse.

What does all this have to do with the isolated citizens of little Greene County, New York, you might ask? Plenty. The Civil War is celebrated every summer in Windham. Excuse me, I meant to say “commemorated.” You see “Repeal the S.A.F.E. Act” signs everywhere on the Mountaintop. What you do not see are many black faces.

Republicans, largely of the dumb-ass variety, rule. Greene County is, in its own small way, aligned with places like South Carolina and Texas in its desire to resist change and progress. And you could in fact argue that the county has been more successful than most in resisting progress.

The little fuck who killed nine people in a church committed a political act and even seemed dimly aware of doing so, saying he wanted “to start a civil war.” Every cop who kills a black person and walks away free also makes a political statement. And if you have semiautomatic weapons in your house, or multiple guns of any kind, you too are making a political statement.

Our last civil war never really ended. Racism won’t go away, and apparently neither will our craven policy of allowing uncontrolled gun ownership.

I personally would like to see every Republican and Red State yahoo take their guns and move to Texas, and then have Texas go off on its own somewhere far away. But it’s far more likely I’ll be the one to move, to somewhere bluer. Not everyone has the resources to do that, though. For many people who are just trying to live their lives, things don’t look so good. For citizens of color, things look far worse.

America’s current political system is not just divided, it’s broken.

So we learned this week that State Assemblyman Pete Lopez plans to run as Chris Gibson’s successor in the 19th Congressional District next year. (Gibson himself is supposedly considering a run for governor somewhere down the road.) This is depressing news indeed.

It’s depressing on two counts.

First, Lopez is unqualified, even by the meager standards of today’s U.S. Congress. He is a local politician, in every sense of the word. And, he holds far-right views that are out of step with many voters in this district. He would actually represent a step backward from Chris Gibson.

Pete Lopez
Pete Lopez. Photo: David Lee, Columbia-Green Media.

The second reason that a projected Lopez run is depressing news is the fact he could win.

The National Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took the announcement of a Lopez run seriously enough to issue a response. "For a disturbing preview of what Assemblyman Lopez would do in Washington, voters only need to look at his record in Albany," the committee noted, citing Lopez votes against equal pay for women and against increasing domestic violence protections.

Lopez has cultivated a "nice guy" persona that has served him well in a district where lots of disadvantaged and less thoughtful voters are impressed by his apparent earnestness and ubiquity (Lopez attends nearly every local function imaginable). He has good name recognition throughout the district, along with an aura of friendliness and good intentions. These are superficial and misleading assets but they are assets nonetheless, and a weak Democratic candidate may have a tough time overcoming them.

Lopez is not yet guaranteed to be the Republican candidate, and Gibson has not yet endorsed him. A number of other Republicans are interested, including Columbia County Republican Committee member John Faso.

But regardless of who runs for the Republicans, the Democratic leaders in this region will need to field a far stronger candidate than they have in the past two Congressional elections. One hopes they’re already hard at work and planning to do just that.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers