Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Nobel Committee will not be getting back to him

One of the most striking characteristics of Post-Star managing editor Ken Tingley is his pomposity. One of the ways it most often manifests itself is his penchant for breaking his arm patting himself on the back. Take this most recent example.

His column opens:

We try to eliminate excuses with our election coverage.

That's how I see our mission here at The Post-Star. We want to eliminate every possible excuse that a citizen might have for not voting. From not knowing where the polling place is, to not knowing who is on the ballot, to not knowing what a candidate stands for.

Over the past few days, we hope we have provided all that information to our readers.

I can sense a Nobel Peace Prize nomination this year... no doubt Tingley will nominate himself. I just hope when they give him the winner's ribbon, the pin doesn't puncture his ego.

That they try to remedy a citizen's 'not knowing who is on the ballot' a farcical claim, since the paper's reporting virtually ignores the majority of candidates who will be on my ballot.

Tingley self-love fest adds: I often tell people that they cannot be a good citizen if they do not subscribe to the newspaper.

And I often tell people that they cannot be a good citizen if the newspaper is their ONLY news sources. Listen to NPR. Read Watch al-Jazeera English. Read regional blogs to get perspectives the corporate daily has no idea exists (or willfully ignores). Broaden your horizons beyond the extremely narrow focus of the local newspaper and the narrower focus of the wire services most of them rely upon.

Someone who relied on the Glens Falls daily as their sole news source would have little idea of all the candidates on the ballot for governor, would have no idea of all the candidates on the ballot for comptroller, attorney general and both US Senate races and even less idea what these candidates stand for. The rent may be too damn high but some candidates have an agenda broader than that.

People who relied solely on The Post-Star would know nothing about the serious candidates but would be greatly informed about Andrew Cuomo's love life and Carl Paladino's penchant for horse porn. Thanks Ken!

Oh wait, amidst the hundreds of articles on the corporate party candidates, the paper did do a real article (singular) on one of the smaller party candidates for governor: Howie Hawkins and his visit to Glens Falls.

Tingley's right. This IS their most in-depth election coverage ever!

Except it's a sad indictment of what Tingley and most of the media view as worthy of flowery self-congratulation.

Note: If you really want to learn about all the options, forget The Post-Star which is obviously uninterested in doing such legwork (gotta have room for horse porn and poll analyses!). Instead, check out this voter guide by the non-partisan and well-respected New York state League of Women Voters. It has information about ALL the candidates running for statewide office.

Update: I was listening to a wrap up on WAMC about the attorney general debate where the questioners were discussing the event. New York public radio’s Karen Dewitt said she was going to ask a question about hydrofracking but didn’t because they were running out of time and they’d promised to ask a question about Carl Paladino.

Here, you have one of the most respected reporters of state politics scrapping a question about a tremendously serious issue of public policy to a large chunk of the state in favor of one about tabloid personality politics. I think most voters would’ve rather had the serious question in the debate and been allowed to go to the
New York Post instead for the tabloid stuff.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

You’ll never get change by voting for the same old, same old

The New York Post had a front page story which reported: A Rasmussen Reports survey released yesterday found 65 percent of likely voters would prefer to fire every member of Congress and start from scratch... 53 percent of American voters dislike Democrats, and 54 percent dislike Republicans.

And yet most polls show that nationally, at least 85 percent of voters are already committed to voting for a Democrat or Republican... and no doubt, few of the undecideds will go elsewhere.

So most Americans want to get rid of all of Congress because they view Democrats and Republicans as responsible for most of the problems in Washington. But their idea of a solution is to replace those awful Democrats and Republicans with... Republicans and Democrats.

As Benjamin Franklin said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

It seems that Jon Stewart's Election to Restory Sanity is coming not a day too soon.

For a non-insane option, consider voting for a Green Party candidate (such as New York gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins) if one is available or for another smaller party or independent candidate.

Bloodthirsty cowards or 'defenders of freedom'?

It's interesting how many self-proclaimed 'freedom loves' (said breathlessly) are really nothing more than bloodthirsty cowards whose instinctive reaction toward the actual exercise of freedom always seems to be one of violence.

Witness Jonah Goldberg who thinks that there hasn't been enough carnage. The right-wing extremist syndicated columnist bemoans the fact that Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange hasn't yet been assassinated.

Oops, my bad.

According to's Christian Wilton, another bloodthirsty coward who wants The Assange Problem to *cough* disappear, the new euphemism for assassination is a 'non-judicial action.'

And given all the civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan who've perished via 'non-judicial actions,' one wonders why the esteemed New York Times pooh-poohed Assange for going into hiding.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Guest essay: Howie Hawkins for governor of NY

Green Party candidate for New York governor Howie Hawkins was recently endorsed by the Metroland newspaper. The Albany paper's endorsement can be read here.

I will be voting for Hawkins for reasons which I will explain in a future entry, one of which is that he is the only candidate on the ballot pushing a progressive agenda (and a darn fine one at that).. Below is a guest essay from former presidential and US Senate candidate David McReynolds explaining his support for Hawkins.

Winning on Tuesday

One is tempted to blame the tardiness of these comments on the matter of age, having just turned 81.
But let's not use false excuses - it was a combination of a trip to California combined with a computer
which had to be taken in for servicing (thanks to Carmen Trotta and Bruce Cronin for their help). which
delayed writing this important election eve piece.

This is late. So I ask you, if you find these thoughts useful, send them to friends in New York. Because
in New York state it is possible for us to "win while losing". I'm not going to make things easier by starting
with a quote from Martin Buber, which appealed so much to A.J. Muste that he often used it in his talks:
"To drive the plowshare of the normative principle into the hard soil of political reality is a tremendously
difficult undertaking". What Buber meant is that turning your high morals into real politics is extremely
hard. Slogans do not constitute reality.

On Tuesday, November 2nd, I hope you join me in voting for Howie Hawkins for Governor, and Gloria
Mattera for Lt. Governor on the Green Party line. (I'll also vote for all the Green candidates on the state but
it is the vote for Governor that may make it possible for the Greens to secure a ballot line - they need 50,000

I know Howie Hawkins. He worked hard on my own campaign for Senator in 2004, when I ran on the Green
Party line. He is a working man, a teamster who believes that government should serve working
people. He has run for office before, he is a member of the Socialist Party, he is smart, well informed, and,
if lightening struck and he was elected, he would make an excellent governor.

Gloria Mattera is someone I also know, and, like Howie, consider a personal friend. She lives in Brooklyn, is
a community activist, is active in labor and environmental issues, and is well qualified for public office.

However they won't win. One isn't supposed to say that in elections, but I think facing reality is helpful. How
can we win while losing? First, it is really a "free vote". There is a consensus that Paladino has no
chance of being elected. Don't let Paladino scare you into wasting your vote by feeling you need to vote for
Cuomo. Cuomo will win. He is running as the candidate of both the Democratic and Working Families Party.

Many, worried about Paladino, will vote for Cuomo on the Working Families Party line. There are times when
this might be justified. I'm writing this as a man who voted for LBJ in 1964, and for McGovern in 1972. I've
never felt guilty about that McGovern vote, but the vote for LBJ was one of the times I felt I had to choose the
lesser evil. As I said in the first paragraph, translating your moral values into political reality is not easy. This just
happens to be one time when the right vote is also a safe vote - a bargain really sees in politics!

A word about the Working Families Party - since I have friends who are active in it, and I know a number
of committed radicals have made that their choice. I respect their choice even if I do not agree with it. As
Buber said, it ain't easy knowing how to drive your moral values into the hard soil of politics. The problem
- for me - is that the Working Families Party has endorsed the whole Democratic ticket, which includes not
only Cuomo, but Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (because Hillary Clinton resigned her seat to become
Secretary of State, Gillibrand had been appointed for the rest of her term and that is why we have two Seante
seats open this year).

Schumer is one of the strongest supporters of Israel in the Senate, so there is no chance he will cast any
vote to curb military and economic aid to Israel. Nor is there any reason to think Schumer and Gillibrand will
move to cut military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan (though spending measures originate in the House).

If you oppose the Iraq and Afghan wars why vote for Schumer? If you oppose the role of the bankers in shaping
US economic policy, why vote for Schumer? If you oppose the whole military/industrial complex, then voting
for Schumer is a mistake.

I do understand that significant parts of the New York labor movement are involved in the Working Families Party
and they hope to gain an advantage on issues involving labor, welfare, housing, etc. and are willing to make the
compromise of backing the full Democratic ticket in the hopes that the Democrats, if they see that a significant
number of voters voted for the Democratic candidates on the Working Families Party line will make compromises
in the future.

But in the here and now, a vote for the Working Families Party is a vote to support the Afghan war. It is a vote
to support Israeli policy in the Middle East. It is a vote to endorse the military/industrial complex.

The Governor's race is in a separate category from the Senate races, because no matter how many votes
the Green Party candidates get for their Senate candidates, it will not give them a ballot line. But if Hawkins and
Mattera can rack up 50,000 votes, then New Yorkers will have a real "party of the left" on the ballot. It would
be good for New York if we had a real third party - and, God bless them, the Working Families Party isn't it. We
need a party which is independent of the corporate structure, and that is the Green Party.

On issues which I think matter - ending the drug war, equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians, cradle to grave medicare
for all, public banks, etc. - the Greens offer a real choice. Check them out by going to their web site: and
for full information on Howie Hawkins, visit

I hope you can read this before Tuesday, and consider the "risk of winning by voting for two very good folks
who will lose".

(EdgeLeft is an occasional column by David McReynolds. It can be reprinted and used without further permission.
David was the Chair of War Resisters International, was the Socialist Party's candidate for President in 1980 and 2000.
He is retired and lives with his two cats on the Lower East Side and can be reached at:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Question for Scott Murphy and Chris Gibson

If I had a question to ask Scott Murphy and Chris Gibson, candidates for Congress in New York's 20th District, it would be this.

As a career soldier, Mr. Gibson has received taxpayer-funded health care for the entireity of his adult life.

Mr. Murphy has also received taxpayer-funded health career since he became a Congressman.

My question is this: if publicly-funded health care is good enough for senior citizens, soldiers and politicians, why isn't it good enough for ordinary Americans?

Connecting the dots on Democratic corruption

Some are rightly complaining about the avalanche of secret money in political campaigns since the odious Citizens United decision. Still the best broadcast news outlet in America, NPR has a great series about it that will probably disgust you. I believe that if elected officials are going to be bought and paid for, the public has a right to know who owns them. Lack of transparency is the foundation of corruption, something the United States doesn't do nearly as well at as it should.

But while the conventional wisdom is that the secret money is helping the corporate Republicans, the corporate Democrats are doing just fine, outspending the GOP by nearly 50 percent in key races.

The New York Times reports that Democratic candidates have outraised their opponents over all by more than 30 percent in the 109 House races The New York Times has identified as in play. And Democratic candidates have significantly outspent their Republican counterparts over the last few months in those contests, $119 million to $79 million.

And where's the money coming from?

The excellent non-profit, non-partisan journalism organization Pro Publica did an excellent story entitled 'The New Democrats: The Coalition Pharma and Wall Street Love.'

It portrayed a Democratic Party completely under the influence of, among others, banks, big pharmaceutical interests and insurance companies.

(And that's the national Democratic Party. The New York state Democrats have their own myriad of corruption scandals, of which the Aqueduct racino mess is only the latest of many)

The influence of the banks was illustrated by the Wall St. bailout that was approved by a Democratic Congress. The influence of insurance companies was illustrated by the great giveaway misnamed as health care 'reform.'

Now, I read that the UK congolomerate GlaxoSmithKline is in trouble for having sold contaminated baby ointment and an ineffective antidepressant, according to the NYT, despite warnings from employees.

Last year, Glaxo gave 63 percent of its political 'contributions' (legal bribes) to Democrats.

Note: the Green Party, both nationally and in New York State, does not accept contributions from (as per the GPUS website): corporations, labor organizations, national banks, government contractors or foreign nationals. Green candidate for NY governor Howie Hawkins does not accept corporate contributions either.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Non-shock of the week: Iraq invasion helped terrorists

Documents reveal that al-Qaeda gained influence in Iraq only AFTER the US invasion.

Yes... the same US invasion that was justified by the fradulent claim that it was designed to expel al-Qaeda from Iraq.

That the aggression against Iraq helped increase terrorism exponentially is not a new revelation.

But it's a reminder that the people who conjured up the invasion should not be enjoying a peaceful retirement. In fact, they should not be enjoying freedom at all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Death of the Liberal Class

"Democracy is one man, one vote. Corporatism is one dollar, one vote." -Chris Hedges

Unfortunately, I missed the great Chris Hedges speak in (sort of) nearby Troy at the Sanctuary for Independent Media, though I was told by friends he was fantastic. Hedges spoke about his new book The Death of the Liberal Class. It’s definitely a book I will have to pick up. The publisher’s description of the book is quite revealing itself.

The Death of the Liberal Class examines the failure of the liberal class to confront the rise of the corporate state and the consequences of a liberalism that has become profoundly bankrupted. Hedges argues there are five pillars of the liberal establishment – the press, liberal religious institutions, labor unions, universities and the Democratic Party— and that each of these institutions, more concerned with status and privilege than justice and progress, sold out the constituents they represented. In doing so, the liberal class has become irrelevant to society at large and ultimately the corporate power elite they once served.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meet the Green Party candidate for governor this Saturday in Glens Falls

Press release

Local progressive and Green Party activist Matt Funiciello, announced today that Green Party candidate for New York State Governor, Howie Hawkins, will be the guest of honor at a “Meet and Greet” fundraiser to be held at 6:00 p.m., October 23, 2010, at Rock Hill Cafe in Glens Falls. The event is sponsored by the Upstate Greens, a group of enrolled Greens and citizen activists. Refreshments will be served. Space is limited, so advance tickets are suggested and will be available at Rock Hill beginning Tuesday morning (suggested donation $25).

This election cycle will include an all-inclusive debate at which Hawkins will face all six candidates in this Governor’s race. The debate will be held October 18th at 7:00 p.m. at Hofstra University (Long Island) and is scheduled to air on select stations that same evening. “Hawkins represents the best and brightest of the Green Party,” said Funiciello, a former member of the Green Party's National Committee, “We’re extremely proud to have our candidate face the two millionaires, Cuomo and Paladino. But we’re also extremely pleased that all the candidates on the ballot have been invited and will attend. I think every New Yorker is sick and tired of corporate candidates who only represent the wealthy elite who pave their way into office. It’s long overdue that an actual worker like Howie, someone with a clear agenda and some very enlightened ideas on how to fix our economic and social woes, be allowed to share those views with the electorate.”

Howie Hawkins has been active in movements for peace, justice, the environment, and independent progressive politics since the late 1960s. A former Marine, he helped organize opposition to the Vietnam War and was a co-founder of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976. He was a co-founder of the Green Party in the United States in 1984 and currently serves on the Green National Committee.

After attending Dartmouth College in the early 1970s, Howie worked as a carpenter in New England and helped start up a construction workers cooperative that specialized in solar and wind energy installations. Howie moved to Syracuse in 1991 to be Director of CommonWorks, a federation of cooperatives working for an economy that is cooperatively owned, democratically controlled, and ecologically sustainable. A member of Teamsters Local 317 and active in the national Teamster rank-and-file reform caucus, Teamsters for a Democratic Union, Howie presently works unloading trucks and rail cars at UPS.

Howie's articles on social theory, cooperative economics, and independent politics have appeared in many publications, including Against the Current, Green Politics, International Socialist Review, New Politics, Peace and Democracy News, Peaceworks, Resist, Society and Nature, and Z Magazine . He is the editor of Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2006).

Upstate Greens is a group of local Independents, along with members of the Green, Libertarian, Constitution, Democratic and Republican parties interested in fostering a local dialogue on today’s most important issues.

For more information, contact Matt Funiciello at (518) 361-6278 or mattfuniciello @

To contact the campaign directly,
2010 @ or

Monday, October 18, 2010

Homophobia today, homophobia tomorrow, homophobia forever!

"Heresy is just another word for freedom of thought." -Graham Greene

For a long time, I used to be fairly tolerant of people who were 'uncomfortable' with homosexuality or gay rights, so long as they weren't overtly hateful or malicious. I'm finding I'm less and less tolerant of that.

I had a 'Eureka' moment in that regard thanks to a family friend.

Recently, there have been a spate of highly publicized suicides by gay teens who were mercilessly bullied. There were other incidents such as repeated anti-gay comments by New York's GOP gubenatorial candidate as well as a savage hate crime in New York City against two people suspected of being gay.

Someone posted a column on Facebook in which a reader wrote to Dan Savage, politely explaining that he didn't hate gays, he just felt that gays shouldn't have the same rights as straights. Savage gave him an appropriately angry and dismissive response.

I reposted it on my Facebook saying something like, "Bigotry, politely expressed, is still bigotry."

A family friend wrote back claiming that it wasn't bigotry and then went to explain that the guy's objections probably had something to do with his religious beliefs. And that's it. Nothing else.

And that was my "Eureka" moment. There really is no 'reason' for homophobia, except 'religious beliefs.' In other words, there is no rational reason.

It wasn't new observation but I guess it just hit me in a different way.

At its best, religion is a guide for how to treat one another. Much good has been done in the world due to the impetus of religious people. The black civil rights' movement in the US, being one of many examples.

But at its worst, religion is an excuse to forfeit independent thought. There are countless examples, both historical and contemporary, of this as well.

People who oppose homosexuality or gay rights do not have a rational, thoughtful reason for doing so. At least, I've never heard one. They simply hide behind the 'religious beliefs' argument as though it's a protective cloak that exempts them from having to come up with a real argument and exempts them from criticism. Being gay is not a choice. Being a bigot is.

Some people are under the mistaken impression that you are not a bigot if you aren't hateful or malicious or wish death up them. Some think that as long as you don't take the route of Fred Phelps or Bull Conner or the people who assassinated Matthew Shephard.

This is simply wrong.

In the old south, some lynched black people and launched hateful invective at them. Other people supported segregation but tried to be nice (within the context of society) toward blacks.

Yes, the latter group were a bit less violent and nasty about it, but they were still bigots because they supported a bigoted system and held bigoted beliefs. In fact, these 'nice' bigots were instrumental in upholding Jim Crow. They were the 'respectable' face of segregation. They weren't keen on violence, so long as blacks kept 'their place.'

Both of these groups of people were racists and bigots for one simple fundamental belief: that being black was inferior to being white and that the law should reflect that.

Similarly, even people who express their anti-gay or anti-gay rights position in a 'polite' way are still homophobes and bigots. Many of these people can tolerate the existence of gay people so long as they aren't gay in public, so long as they keep 'their place.' They think this is being generous. But no matter how they rationalize it, they fundamentally believe that being gay is inferior to being straight and that the secular law should reflect this.

In the civil rights struggle, Alabama governor George Wallace became a star of bigots by declaring, "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" Later in life, Wallace recanted his racist views. We can only hope that, 25 years from now, large numbers of people will similarly recant their homophobia.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Media deceit, smaller party candidates and good business sense

When challenged about their blacklisting of smaller party/independent candidates, the Post-Star and other corporate outlets usually offer the rationalization that they don't have 'space' or 'resources' to waste on candidates they decree 'no one is interested in'... despite evidence to the contrary.

The lack of resources argument is a common theme. In this blog piece, Post-Star managing editor Ken Tingley began: "I’m often surprised when a reader suggests that we should get one of our investigative reporters on a story," before going on to explain how expensive journalism was. Though readers can rest assured that they will always find resources to do dubious pieces on anything related to the Adirondack Park Agency or green groups.

Still, Tingley's admission is rather startling. If I ran a newspaper, I wouldn't be surprised when readers suggested investigating a story. I'd be flattered.

One reader of this blog emailed me with these comments on the blog piece (posted with his permission): He states that the P-S has eight news reporters and five sports reporters. The staff email directory lists nine news reporters and six sports reporters (not counting stringers). Unless this is his way of announcing another round of staffing cuts, Mr. Tingley should really consider getting someone to check his arithmetic as well as his grammar and spelling.

Incidentally, Mr. Tingley's latest tweet—beside the explanation of how difficult it is to assign investigative pieces—is a comment to the effect that with baseball playoffs coming it will be tough getting to work for the next few weeks. Priorities, Ken.

The Post-Star, like most corporate media outlets, has chosen not to cover any of the five smaller party candidates on the ballot for governor of New York.

(To its credit, the Long Island paper Newsday is co-sponsoring a debate on October 18 involving ALL the gubenatorial candidates.)

Despite its blacklist against candidates it decrees 'not serious,' The Post-Star managed to find precious resources and space to run a story on some guy running a write-in campaign, one who admits to consciously "not taking many positions, hardly any at all."

However, the 'lesser known candidates' on the ballot mentioned in a side graphic to the article (but nowhere else) are on the ballot precisely because they gained thousands of signatures to put them there.

The paper claims not to have space or resources to cover these serious candidates (who take actual positions!) who've done the hard work of generating interest but they find resources and *front page* space to cover this Green Tea guy (to say nothing of all the empty personality politics and polls analysis articles about the major party candidates).

In response to past criticisms of the same nature, Tingley has emailed me to complain, angrily asking me to tell him when his paper has been unfair. In his mind, they give about equal coverage to both the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate, hence it's fair.

Or to put in a way the former sports editor might understand. In his eyes, an umpire can be biased against the other 28 Major League Baseball teams but as long as he treats the Red Sox the same as the Yankees, then he's 'fair.'

In the corporate media's eyes, fairness means ignoring the overwhelming majority of the candidates or given them only the occasional token mention while running hundreds of empty articles on polls or the personal lives of the major party candidates. Fairness means ignoring smaller party candidates in a nation where the majority of people want more than two parties. All we need now is the self-appointed advocates for the public to report on those that already exist. Who knows? Maybe if newspapers gave their audience what it wanted, it might prevent that audience from shrinking even more.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Brainwashing children into being civilized... or scumbags

I don’t particularly care what Carl Paladino thinks or says (and I use the word ‘think’ quite generously), even when he’s pandering to one of the most socially conservative groups in the country. Maybe if I swore a lot and insulted everyone I could think of, that might make me qualified to fix the world’s 16th largest economy.

Carl may think ultra-orthodox Jews should set the political agenda, but most of the rest of us believe in freedom and the Constitution. Though admittedly that group doesn’t include the Bronx gang that savagely and methodically brutalized and sodomized a 17 year old they suspected of being gay.

Carl and others seem to forget that while being gay is not a choice, being bigoted certainly is.

I don't want children to be brainwashed into thinking that being a hateful, anti-American scumbag is an equally valid or successful option compared to being a civilized human being.

Update: One of Paladino's opponents, Howie Hawkins, rightfully denounced Paladino's scapegoating and bigotry. Hawkins compared Paladino's comments and the general mood within the GOP to the old Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850s. Their politics of fear and division scapegoated Catholics and immigrants. Today’s Republicans target Muslims instead of Catholics and people of color, gays, and Latino immigrants instead of Irish and German immigrants.

Friday, October 01, 2010

An –ism is bankrupting this country, but it’s not socialism

The theory behind socialism is the redistribution of wealth to make society more economically equal. Even critics of socialism cite this as its main flaw (or at least the means required to achieve this goal). And yet income inequality, already high in this country, is surging even faster.

It just goes to show that people calling President Obama a ‘socialist’ haven’t the slightest clue what the term signifies and merely use it as a generic insult devoid of any meaning.

His policies and results are nothing like what socialists actually advocate. Did Marx ever advocate taking money from the working class and giving it to banks, as TARP did?

Let's get serious, please.

And speaking of cluelessness, let’s talk about the people who wave their arms hysterically and claim that things like foreign aid for poor countries is taking food out of the mouths of America’s poor. This graphic and its numbers intrigued me.

What it shows is that combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (not including the huge amounts of other military spending) cost 37.4% more than what is spent on arts funding, Amtrak, public housing, Head Start, the EPA, NASA, Pell Grants, foreign aid and national parks COMBINED.

People are right that an –ism is bankrupting this country, but they have the wrong one. It’s not socialism. It’s militarism.