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.


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.