Archives for category: Congress

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.

Last night, Will Yandik visited a Democratic meeting at the town hall in Tannersville. What he had to say was impressive.

Yandik, who is 38 (he looks younger) and runs a 100-year-old family farm in Columbia County, is running for Congress as a progressive. There is very little to separate him on most issues from Zephyr Teachout, his better-known competitor in the June 28 Democratic primary.


Will Yandik in Tannersville. Photo: Tom Pletcher, BlueInGreene.org.

Some readers will recall that this blog has already endorsed Ms. Teachout to replace Chris Gibson in Congress this fall. (Speaking of Chris Gibson, he surprisingly announced today that he is withdrawing from politics at the end of his current term.) But Yandik, in his brief address to the assembled Democrats and the follow-up Q & A, showed why many local voters really like him.

Yandik correctly views broadband as the single biggest economic issue for our region, and believes the federal government will need to play a role in finally bringing broadband to everyone, including laggard Greene County. He wants the environment protected and he wants consumer privacy preserved (backdoors in software to enable government surveillance should not be allowed, in his view).

Given the similarity of these stands to those of Zephyr Teachout, I asked Yandik why he decided to compete against her. His response: he believes that his local roots and knowledge give him a leg up and make him more resistant to Republican attack. He also noted that he feels the competition has made both candidates stronger.

Will Yandik is a strong candidate. It would be great if we could split the 19th Congressional District and elect Yandik and Teachout both. But we can’t, of course, and I continue to believe that Zephyr Teachout’s growing national reputation and superior name recognition make her the best candidate this time around. Even so, I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of Will Yandik.

Will New York’s 19th Congressional District Democrats never get it right?

Back in January, it seemed they had: party leaders from every county in the district endorsed Zephyr Teachout, the best candidate to run for this office in ages.

Since then, though, renegade party elements in Columbia County—and now Greene County as well—have endorsed Columbia County farmer Will Yandik.

Will Yandik
Will Yandik. Photo: Daily Freeman.

Yandik is not a bad candidate per se, but he has nowhere near the stature of Teachout and has no business running against her. He trots out the tired “carpetbagger” argument to support his role as an interloper.

To repeat, Zephyr Teachout is far and away the best candidate this district has seen in some time. Is she a recent arrival to the district? Yes, she is, and so what? It’s not as if the natives have accomplished much lately.

Fortunately, Teachout is likely to vanquish Yandik in the primary, then prevail in the general election, thus putting the 19th District in Democratic hands. But in the meantime it’s irksome Yandik is running at all, and doubly irksome that local party leaders have endorsed him.

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.

I received a cheaply produced political flyer in the mail the other day—it was from Pete Lopez, getting an early start on next year’s Congressional election. The issue Lopez chose to highlight? Broadband and the lack thereof.

Ordinarily it would be a good thing to have a politico emphasize the need for broadband in our area and vow to help bring us up to speed. But Lopez is following in the footsteps of Chris Gibson, another politician who claimed for years to recognize the importance of broadband to this area and did fuck-all to make it a reality. This just seems like more of the same.

Pete Lopez
Pete Lopez: we need more broadband.

Lopez says he is counting on $500 million in state money to expand high-speed broadband to underserved areas. He says “a high priority for me will be to use these funds to build new Internet lines that would effectively serve our rural communities.” But he does not explain how he will achieve this. How, for example, will he persuade Mid-Hudson Cable to accept government funding to expand its service when it has rejected such funding in the past?

The question is of more than academic interest. Greene County ranks last in New York State in broadband availability, and the service it does have is arguably sub-standard.

Fortunately, another New York politician is on the case—New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. His office is investigating whether current broadband providers are actually delivering the speeds they promise. (Spoiler: in many cases, they’re not.) You can help hold your provider accountable by going to this page, filling out the form, taking the broadband speed test at http://internethealthtest.org and attaching a screenshot of your test results to the form you submit to the AG’s office.

My provider is Mid-Hudson Cable, and according to the test I am receiving less than half the speed I’m paying for.

I’d like to see someone do something about that, and with luck someone will. But it’s likely to be the Attorney General’s office, not Pete Lopez.

Pete Lopez is officially running for Congress. He’ll be running against ex-Assembly Leader John Faso, who was once his boss, and Dutchess County businessman Andrew Heaney in the Republican and Conservative party primaries next year. The identity of his Democratic opponent next November (assuming he can vanquish Faso and Heaney) is still to be determined.

“I see myself as a neighbor,” Lopez said in announcing, and indeed he comports himself that way. The problem, as I’ve noted before, is that behind Lopez’s friendly demeanor resides a far-right ideologue who would represent a step backward from the retiring Chris Gibson. There is also the question of whether Lopez is genuinely qualified to be in Congress, even though that bar is set very low these days.

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.

Former state Assembly Minority Leader John Faso, a Republican who said he was forming an “exploratory committee” last month, seems on the verge of formally announcing his candidacy for the 19th Congressional District. That, at least, is the strong impression given by a new johnfaso.com website, especially its “About” page.


The Fasos. Photo: johnfaso.com.

In the aforementioned About page, Faso says “A lot of us are left wondering if our children will have the same chances we did to live here in Upstate New York, start a career and raise a family of their own.”

I want to work to change that, he says.

How? By talking about broadband for years while doing nothing, like Chris Gibson? By doing nothing to improve rural education or medical access? By maintaining the stagnant upstate status quo, which seems to be the modus operandi of both political parties?

And speaking of both political parties, where are the Democratic candidates? So far we have John Patrick Kehoe, of Rochester—not a great start.

Is there no one who actually lives in the 19th Congressional District capable of running a compelling, charismatic, progressive campaign?

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.

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