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!


Saturday, September 17, 2016

TWF 267: I'm speaking at Adelphi University about The Weekly Freeporter and more!

Hello, Freeport!

I hope you're ready for an announcement that's left me, honestly, stunned!  Well, you've read the headline already so chances are you know!  On October 6th I'm speaking at Adelphi University about my experiences in hyper-local journalism and politics (it's a non-partisan event!).  That's right!  You've heard me correctly!  It's an awe-inspiring event, so let me give you the details.

The Details

What:  "Decisions 2016:  Why your vote matters at all levels"
When:  Thursday October 6th, 2016, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Where:  Adelphi University, Blodgett Hall room 201
Who:  Well...

The History Department, in particular Dr.  Cristina Zaccarini, has been helping us organize this and is far and away an incredible person to work with.  She's written three books on China and, well, her faculty website profile will do more to tell you about her than I ever could.

Our headline speaker is Jamie Diamond, a close friend of mine and a fellow alumni.  She was heavily active in the Buffalo For Bernie movement (now called Liberty Union Progressives), where she helped organize events in support of Bernie Sanders' run for office.  I wrote about some of the things she was up to over on The Daily Kos.

We're hoping to add a number of current students to our list, including, hopefully, campus Democrats and Republicans.  We might even get a former candidate or two to join us!

As for me?  I'll be talking about what I've experienced with The Weekly Freeporter.  I'm probably going to re-enable some old articles for viewing, especially the Hurricane Sandy stuff, but that's a time consuming prospect (you've gotta remember, I've written over 250 articles, here, and I have to comb through them myself after work some day).  Since we're all (mostly) Freeport people here, right?  The list of interesting topics includes...

 - How The Weekly Freeporter got started.
 - Garbage for Gold
 - Hurricane Sandy


So if you want to hear my honest thoughts about those fun times, what it was like to cover them, and why it's so essential that you know your local politicians and be engaged with the county and state levels of politics, come on through!  See you in about half a month!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

TWF 266: Freeport Gerrymandered

Greetings,

Today I went to vote.

Carmen Pinyero is taking on Earlene Hooper, and if the words "Garbage to gold" mean anything to you, you know why that's an important election.  If not, here's why:  Hooper once tried to sell Freeport on building an incinerator.  Why, yes, there is a picture of Hooper and former Mayor Andrew Hardwick in a promotional video for this Simpsons-seque scheme floating around.  I just re-enabled that article on this site!

Anyhow, we're here to discuss something I found out when I went to my polling place - Freeport as a community is split between the 18th New York State Assembly district and the 21st.  What's this mean?  It means that if you live south of an imaginary line, you're in a different district - with a different representative.  And guess what?  You can't vote in the other election.

Hooper's 18th district looks something like this, image courtesy of New York State libraries.


Image result for NYS assembly 18th district

How is Freeport Gerrymandered?


I've written about Gerrymandering before for The Hill, in particular criticizing Florida.  I know I say "guess what" a lot, but guess what?  The 18th district is severely gerrymandered, as you can no doubt tell by the fact that the district looks more like a horse-shoe than it does a sensible geographic region.

Gerrymandering, for those of you who don't know, is (in a nutshell) when the lines of a particular representative district are drawn in such a way that the representatives get to choose their electorate, and not the other way around.  Oh, it might not be a deliberate case of a particular representative choosing a particular thing, but political parties (both Republican and Democrat) are notorious for creating "safe seats."  Given that people at one polling place informed me that they'd had to turn away over a dozen people who wanted to vote, but weren't eligible to vote down the block from their house because they were in a different district, well...

Let's just say that there's something very un-just happening in our town.  In this case, it's the fact that northern Freeport is in one district, southern Freeport is in another, and therefore the village as a whole does not get to have one representative.  Instead, our northern representative also represents Roosevelt, Lynbrook, parts of Hempstead and other communities that, while lovely, might not have our best interests at heart.  South Freeport is connected to Merrick as well as other south-shore communities; also totally fine places to live, but not necessarily putting Freeport first.

If you need a hint:  When Earlene Hooper was proposing the incinerator, she wasn't planning on building it in her district.

That's all; make of it what you will.


For more information about gerrymandering, watch CGPGrey's awesome videos about "Voting in the Animal Kingdom."


TWF 266: Freeport Gerrymandered

Greetings,

Today I went to vote.

Carmen Pinyero is taking on Earlene Hooper, and if the words "Garbage to gold" mean anything to you, you know why that's an important election.  If not, here's why:  Hooper once tried to sell Freeport on building an incinerator.  Why, yes, there is a picture of Hooper and former Mayor Andrew Hardwick in a promotional video for this Simpsons-seque scheme floating around.  I just re-enabled that article on this site!

Anyhow, we're here to discuss something I found out when I went to my polling place - Freeport as a community is split between the 18th New York State Assembly district and the 21st.  What's this mean?  It means that if you live south of an imaginary line, you're in a different district - with a different representative.  And guess what?  You can't vote in the other election.

Hooper's 18th district looks something like this, image courtesy of New York State libraries.


Image result for NYS assembly 18th district

How is Freeport Gerrymandered?


I've written about Gerrymandering before for The Hill, in particular criticizing Florida.  I know I say "guess what" a lot, but guess what?  The 18th district is severely gerrymandered, as you can no doubt tell by the fact that the district looks more like a horse-shoe than it does a sensible geographic region.

Gerrymandering, for those of you who don't know, is (in a nutshell) when the lines of a particular representative district are drawn in such a way that the representatives get to choose their electorate, and not the other way around.  Oh, it might not be a deliberate case of a particular representative choosing a particular thing, but political parties (both Republican and Democrat) are notorious for creating "safe seats."  Given that people at one polling place informed me that they'd had to turn away over a dozen people who wanted to vote, but weren't eligible to vote down the block from their house because they were in a different district, well...

Let's just say that there's something very un-just happening in our town.  In this case, it's the fact that northern Freeport is in one district, southern Freeport is in another, and therefore the village as a whole does not get to have one representative.  Instead, our northern representative also represents Roosevelt, Lynbrook, parts of Hempstead and other communities that, while lovely, might not have our best interests at heart.  South Freeport is connected to Merrick as well as other south-shore communities; also totally fine places to live, but not necessarily putting Freeport first.

If you need a hint:  When Earlene Hooper was proposing the incinerator, she wasn't planning on building it in her district.

That's all; make of it what you will.


For more information about gerrymandering, watch CGPGrey's awesome videos about "Voting in the Animal Kingdom."