Thursday, February 23, 2017

TWF 274: Peter King and Lee Zeldin Afraid To Face Long Islanders

Greetings,

It should come as no surprise to you that this article will have a political slant.  In fact, it represents a very clear dis-endorsement the likes of which The Weekly Freeporter doesn't usually, you know, do. You'll notice I haven't even said a word about the upcoming Kennedy-Drummond-Hardwick race!  (P.S. The vote is on March 21, 2017, from 6AM-9PM; it's a month away, that's why I haven't written on it, yet)  I also no longer live in Freeport, as I have referred to several times in the past.  That is why I walked away from weekly publication of this venue and why I have only posted occasionally, mainly when something had a Long Island/State/National context.

You may either accept this political bend and read on, or shrug your shoulders and look away.  It will require a very direct call to action from you; you may read that call however you wish, and act however you feel is best.  One way or another, however, The Weekly Freeporter is indeed "The Media," and I have indeed been deemed an "Enemy Of The People" by the President of the United States of America; maybe I take that as some sort of sea change in American politics.  So, Here we go:

Republican Congressman Peter King represents the second Congressional District of New York.  This includes areas so close to Freeport as Levittown and Massapequa.  They're not quite our neighbors but we know them quite well, especially Massapequa's football team.  He's had very kind words to say about General Michael Flynn, who had to resign after lying to the Vice President about illegal ties with Russia; to the best of my knowledge he has not said whether the "Media" is the "enemy of the people."  Why, it's as if he's suddenly vanished!

Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin represents the First Congressional District of New York.  It's further away, including large swaths of Suffolk County according to Ballotpedia.  His opinion on our handling of Russia was that Putin was taking advantage of Obama, yet he's quiet about Trump's Putinophilia.  To the best of my knowledge he has not said whether the "Media" is the "enemy of the people."

As reported today by the website Long Island Press, both men are cowards.

Peter King and Lee Zeldin


I'm sorry; I should be a bit more clear.  Both men plan to hide on the other side of a telephone when they do "town halls" because, I guess, they are just too afraid to look at their constituents.  From Louie Gohmert (who votes against background checks on gun sales, but too scared he'll be shot by an angry constituent) to "Little" Marco Rubio, Republicans have been avoiding town halls almost as if they'd have to actually suffer the consequences of their voting records.

All I'm asking is that if you have some time to kill, and that you're one of his constituents out in Suffolk, you...Well I was going to suggest you opt in to his phone call, but apparently it already happened.  Huh!  Quaint.  As for Peter King, Long Island Press' article doesn't mention when he'll have one - nor, for the record, when some of the Democratic representatives we have will be seen in public again, either.  (I must admit:  I attended a rally hosted by Kathleen Rice and Tom Suozzi.  They're engaged.  Very engaged.)

Here's the bottom line:

Both men, Peter King and Lee Zeldin, are unfit to represent Long Island.

I encourage anyone interested to explore how they might run against these two, because they are unwilling to face their constituents and thus unworthy of representing us to our nation.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

TWF 273: Winter Storm Niko, 2/9/2017 - Schools closed, BE SAFE

Friends,

Not much time to post (a longgg day, thanks in part to LIRR delays), but a few basic updates as we prepare for the first "real" storm of the year.

Freeport, most Long Island, and (yes) NYC schools are all closed in preparation for this event.  Check your district's webpage for specific information!

The Village's website contains instructions on how to ride this one out.  Among them, clear out any fire hydrants you might have and try if at all possible NOT to park on the streets so the plows can do their jobs.  Wear proper clothing, only drive if necessary, all of the good stuff.  Only call 911 for serious emergencies.

We've seen this kind of thing before, New Yorkers.  We'll see it through.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

TWF 272: An Open Letter Defending The Washington Post's Credentials, Removed By Donald Trump.

CC: Mr. President-Elect Donald Trump, my fellow Americans

Editorial Note: For the purpose of context - I was under the impression that the Washington Post Credentials Story was a new one. Much of the original article lacks more than maybe one time-sensitive context (the word "nominee" is used), and the fault is mine for the conveyed sense of urgency this article has. I clearly either missed or forgot I even encountered the article at the time of its publication. Then again, with the way Trump treated CNN, this article should not be seen as anything more than out of alignment with time-and-space. The underlying alarm-bells are still very real.
Ordinarily, I don't focus this space on anything besides local, county, or at most state-wide news. With very few exceptions, perhaps none that I can name without searching in depth, I have never taken on a national issue with this publication because I avoid infusing national politics into this venue, entirely. I've chosen it only because at this moment it is the most powerful one I have, and while it's certainly not powerful I'm certainly not staying out of this one. This is an open letter directly to the American People, with a special asterisk for our soon-to-be commander-in-chief, Donald Trump, the President-Elect who in a few days will assume control over a uni-polar Congress with a (probably unconstitutionally stolen from his predecessor) Supreme Court pick, to top it off.
I'm writing this letter because according to a news article by The Washington Post, their press credentials have been pulled by Donald Trump's team due to whatever allegations he wanted to conjure up against them. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/trump-revokes-post-press-credentials-calling-the-paper-dishonest-and-phony/2016/06/13/f9a61a72-31aa-11e6-95c0-2a6873031302_story.html?utm_term=.07e9e5bfabe6) I have no love for the Washington Post after the way they treated Bernie Sanders, and I will never forget the sixteen-hour, sixteen-article blitz they threw down on him as his momentum started to build. They are frequently inaccurate, or at least vague about their points.
Nevertheless, this is a bridge too far.
The First Amendment is first for a reason. It's the written-into-the-DNA core of any Enlightenment-descendant democracy. You might not agree with what a publication puts out, but it isn't for any President to determine who is or isn't "real news" based on the fact that they don't always give him glowing, prestigious headlines.
Forget that Brietbart News, a sort of Daily Stormer-Lite has access to the President; they in fact took the question that should have gone to CNN at Trump's press release. Instead, imagine if Trump simply bans CNN, next. If he bans NBC. If he bans anyone who reports anything he considers unflattering - in particular if it's the truth. When "I dislike this information," and even, "I consider these reports ill-informed and inaccurate, but thanks for asking" leads to, "I will simply remove them from access entirely," the entire nation suffers. How many years did Donald Trump hound Barack Obama over his birth certificate, a rumor most certainly and undoubtedly spawned by racism.
Who will he replace them with? Infowars? I assume Steve Bannon would at least convince Jones to get an new name. After all: Now, the "info" would flow freely and honestly, without PC veils and dishonesty, straight from the President to the psycho himself! There'd be no "InfoWar" whatsoever, just the truths that Alex Jones invents...So long as they stayed favorable to Trump.
Imagine an America where the President appoints and removes news agencies' ability to get first-hand information from his administration at will. Without warning, no negotiation necessary, Trump has removed access from a newspaper which has existed since 1877, one whose print circulation hovers just under 500,000 and whose online reach is limitless in large part because of its sort-of-still-new owner, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' (I'm sorry, "Nash Holdings LLC's") incredible power. Perhaps Trump is simply striking out at Bezos for some reason; perhaps he views Bezos as a wealthy, well-equipped potential rival in anticipation of a struggle to put his agenda on America's table.
That is not an excuse to pull their press credentials without even warning them or offering advice to reform their practices.
I'm sure someone will find some case where a President's administration has limited a particular publication. Perhaps President Obama at one point constrained Fox News, which published far less accurate and honest, to say nothing of politically-neutral content. Perhaps they are right. That does not suddenly justify Trump's decision. It simply means others were wrong, too.
Perhaps, Mr. President-Elect, you will look at my invocation of the First Amendment and say something like, "Well, Congress isn't passing any such law, the President is just acting the way he has a right to with the media." You might be right. That does not make this the right decision, and it certainly doesn't mean that a standing threat to either publish flattering material or face the revocation of access is an acceptable approach for any administration to have in a Democracy.
Far and away, before he has even taken office Donald Trump has taken aim at a much-maligned, but often honest-intentioned institution. That institution is derided as "mainstream media," but if you stop and think about it part of the reason they are "mainstream" is because they fulfill basic tenets of journalism on a basic, if not sufficiently advanced level. I have no real love for the Washington Post. I prefer The Economist. I am absolutely concerned that Jeff Bezos may abuse the publication for political gain. Is that any different than Donald Trump and the time that The National Enquirer allegedly bought a story of Trump having an affair for $150,000? Or the fact that Trump's best Neo-Nazi (I'm sorry, "Alt-Right") publisher friend Steve Bannon, head of Breitbart news, is suddenly going to be a chief strategist with undissolvable ties to his old press room?
Or does this maybe all have to do with the time that The Washington Post exposed links between Trump and The Enquirer? An occurrence which was - I admit - commented on at times by others such as Vanity Fair and Bloomberg?
I think you and I, dear reader, have both hit a point of exhaustion. I hope that I have convinced you to at least reconsider the pulling of The Washington Post's credentials. I hope you will reconsider your approach to the media, in general. I think the rest of America will agree it's time for them to do the same.

My warmest regards,
--Jesse Pohlman

Saturday, December 24, 2016

TWF 271: Ex Gov-Wannabe Paladino Goes Too Far

Freeporters and New Yorkers in general,

As we approach the holiday season, even as we mourn one of our community's servants, word has reached my ears that must be dealt with in the only way I deal with things - honestly.

Carl Paladino is a filthy-rich businessman who sits on the Buffalo School Board and has, in the past, run for Governor of New York.  He also served as a district-level delegate to the RNC on behalf of Donald Trump, as a co-chair to Donald Trump's team in New York, a position which is, after quite a bit of research, best defined as 'vague.'  Suffice to say that he can command a meeting with the President-Elect and believes he might or might not have a place in the administration.

Artvoice, a Western NY/Buffalo oriented website, asked a number of people what they wanted to see in 2017.  Carl Paladino's response was, well...Forgive me for quoting him...

"2.  Michelle Obama.  I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla." - Carl Paladino

Pause-and-full-stop.  I need to clarify something.

"Saying something racist" versus "being a racist."

Humanity is an imperfect species, and language is even less-so.  Throughout all of our lives, even if it comes out of genuine misunderstanding, misconstruction, or misinformation, we will at some point or another say something racist.  Even if we just - as a hypothetical - quote a statistic on crime we later discover was false, we will eventually say something that offends someone.  In civil society, we apologize, the apology is accepted, and we move on with our lives knowing that the person we're talking to is a completely good and kind-hearted person.

Then there is "being a racist."

Racists do not simply fail to apologize or even blame others for thinking what they say is racist, but they actively hold biases and exhibit bigotry.  They perpetuate it.  They are twisted in the head, believing they are justified by some greater cause.

Carl Paladino is a racist.

Not only has he gone on to confirm what he said about Mrs.  Obama is true - to say nothing of hoping her husband dies of mad cow! - but his explanation for his racist commentary is as follows:

"It has nothing to do with race.  That’s the typical stance of the press when they can’t otherwise defend the acts of the person being attacked." - Carl Paladino
Ahem.  Mr.  Paladino, you're going to sit back and tell me that suggesting a Black woman go live in Africa (Zimbabwe is in Africa) with a Gorilla isn't racist?  Really?  Really?  I'm sorry, sir, but did you suffer some kind of injury to the head as a child?  Do you have some kind of medical condition which has blinded you to the history of African-Americans in this country?  I can't think of any such disorder, but...

...Fuck this.  I'm not going to even try.

Carl Paladino is a racist.

Now, I want to make one small tiny thing clear:  Donald Trump's transition team has come out against what Mr.  Paladino said.  As reported even by Brietbart (itself, to paraphrase its boss Steve Bannon, a "Platform for the Alt-Right," with "Alt-Right" being a sugar-coated word for "White Supremacy" as per its inventor, Richard Spencer):

 "Carl’s comments are absolutely reprehensible, and they serve no place in our public discourse" - Jessica Ditto of Trump's Team, as per Breitbart.

So is it then fair to say the President-Elect's team is firmly against Carl Paladino?  Well, see, if this was the first and only time Paladino had demonstrated his reprehensible racism, I could see my way to excusing it.

Trump Allied With Paladino In Spite Of His Penchant For Racist Propaganda.

Yep, I said it.

In 2009, during Paladino's campaign for our state's Governorship, WNYMedia reported that Paladino circulated e-mails with content pulled directly from Stormfront, arguably one of the oldest online hate-groups which is strongly affiliated with the American Nazi Party.  You can look at the details yourself, but it should have been clear to anyone with any iota of intelligence that Carl Paladino was at best just a racist, and at worst a front-man for Neo-Nazi ideology.

Oh, he also sent pornography around to his e-mail list.

Strangely, Donald "I appoint the best people" Trump not only wasn't aware of this man's behavior, was not only willing to spend his precious time meeting face-to-face with this man, but allegedly has considered him for a position within the United States Government.  In other words, President-Elect Trump was either too lazy to do his research, too cowardly to refuse a meeting with Paladino, or too comfortable with hanging around racists to notice.  If it were just Paladino, then perhaps the same rules of accidentally saying a racist thing would apply - one would apologize, and one would move on.  But it's not just Paladino, and any analysis of Paladino's potential position with a President of the United States must be fully analyzed if we're being honest with ourselves.

Enter, again, Steve Bannon.  Steve "Appointed As Chief White House Strategist" Bannon.  See, not only did I cite Breitbart to make it clear that the Trump team's statement is authentic (just in case you had any doubts), but I wanted to bring Bannon up again since he ran the publication until his involvement with the Trump team.

Steve Bannon is the man who said he looks up to Satan.  Mr.  Bannon was charged with domestic abuse in 1996, with the charges only dropped in the face of alleged threats of further harm to his wife.  So, there's that.  During those proceedings, Bannon's anti-Semetic (specifically, anti-Jewish) beliefs became widely published as he once lamented, according to his ex-wife as cited by NBC News, that a school he was considering sending his children to had a problem with "the number of Jews that attend."  Also, lest we forget, just two weeks after Dylann Roof's June 15th, 2015 racism-driven terrorist Charleston Church Massacre, as national outcry over Roof's love affair with the Confederate Battle Flag whipped up to a feverish pitch, what did Bannon's outlet publish?  Right, a screed on how one should be proud of that very symbol of treason.

Steve Bannon is a racist.

In case this wasn't clear:  Yes; the Confederates were literally traitors.  Yes; you personally (though not in any capacity as a government or governing official) have the freedom under the first Amendment to wave such a flag.  Yes; in my eyes, your fawning support of that flag means you are equally as loyal to the Union as those who waved it in the 1860's.  Yes; your love of a flag which stood for the enslavement of African-Americans makes you a racist.

Simply put...

Why is President-Elect Trump Surrounded By Racists?

Carl Paladino is a racist.

Steve Bannon is a racist.

Why are these men exerting such power in Donald Trump's sphere of influence?  I realize that Trump and Paladino both worked within similar circles of business - the Real Estate game.  But if I were a multi-millionaire landlord businessman shark like the President-Elect claims to be, and I had the opportunity to engage and defeat an overtly racist man like Carl Paladino, I would savor the chance to go after and destroy him.  I'd make it a point to do so while saying, "All men and women are created equal" and "you're a racist weakling and you're a relic of an ancient, pathetic pattern."

Instead, Paladino gets to have meetings with the President-Elect?  Gets to talk about getting positions within his administration?  Only gets rebuked when it's far too obvious he's a racist, and even then there is no condemnation of his future prospects, just his past commentary?

Friends, I will leave you here.  I will let you draw your own conclusions.  I will let the predictable responses come, but I ask you to honestly evaluate the question I asked in this last sub-heading:  Why is it that our President-Elect is surrounded by racists?

Friday, December 23, 2016

TWF 270: Condolences to the De La Cruz Family.

Freeporters,

There are no words which can do this tragedy justice, but after heavy consideration I feel like it is a story I have to write.  Today, or perhaps more appropriately last night, Freeport Police officer Sandy De La Cruz took her own life.  She served both New York City and our community for eleven years.  She served with honor.  She served with a husband and two children.  Last night, at the most difficult part of the year, her watch ended in the most rueful way.

I cannot pretend I knew her.  I cannot pretend, despite whatever I've experienced in my own life, that I understand what ultimately killed her.  I do know, however, that suicide is a fatal symptom of a deeper disconnect that, without a much greater context, must not be viewed solely from the perspective of the outsider.  It's natural for us to speculate on what caused her death in that terrible moment, but out of respect for her family we must demonstrate our strength by simply standing beside them, lending them our warmth and allowing the illumination of time to give them an understanding of her last days and moments.  It is a painful undertaking, aching in ways I cannot imagine.

We must do this in order to better prepare ourselves to help others who struggle with self-destruction.  I can only speak from personal experience, but if we honor the memory of those who have passed by treating each other with kindness and Humanity we will absolutely better help those who struggle with these beasts.

I am far from the best and only person to speak on this, but let us honor her life, and may she find her peace in the afterlife.  If I can do anything for the family, simply reach out to me and it will be done.

I beg anyone who struggles with these issues - be it depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation - to seek help immediately.  You are not alone.  You are not too far gone to be helped.  People do care, and they will help you get through it.  The National Suicide Hotline phone number is 1-800-273-8255.  Call, please.  It gets better.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

TWF 269: Freeport Internet Sensation CJ Stryker Celebrates 50 Episodes Of "The StrykeZone!"

Hello Freeporters, and Happy Thanksgiving!

This is one I couldn't pass up an opportunity to talk about.  Freeport High School graduate and all-around awesome guy CJ Stryker has, in my humble opinion, been an outspoken (sometimes way outspoken) leader of Long Island's LGBTQ community since as far back as our days in college together.  On November 6th, 2013 he asked me to be a guest on his internet talk-show "The StrykeZone," where I talked about The Weekly Freeporter and hyper-local journalism's impact on people's lives.  While we have very different 'flavors' in our content, his show's accomplished quite a lot in it's history.

Well, now CJ has filmed fifty episodes!  With the end of this season he's planning to take a break and re-evaluate his situation, but I want to congratulate him.  My video message is at the 13:00 mark, but I'll say it again - Congrats!  I know how hard it is to exist in a world of social media, and CJ claims the title "Prince of Social Media" with a purpose!



The StrykeZone - 50th Episode from CJ Stryker on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

TWF 268: The Weekly Freeporter at Adelphi University!

Hello, friends,

Here's the full video of my appearance at Adelphi University for the History Department-sponsored event "Decisions 2016:  Why Your Vote Matters In all Races."  I was introduced by the amazing Dr.  Cristina Zaccarini, and filmed by Scott Diamond.

I want to thank Jamie Diamond, Marcus Henriques, and Freeport's own Anthony J.  Miller for joining me and speaking alongside of me.  We might be able to bring footage from them, too!