Wednesday, November 3, 2010

News That Matters - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - Post Election Roundup

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Good Wednesday Morning,

That's how many write-in votes were cast in the race for County Executive! While we do not know how many were cast with my name, it does not matter - that wasn't the point. The point was to generate an "option" and it worked.

In the race for Congress, Neil DiCarlo ran a write-in campaign and received 103. Altogether this election 476 people cast write-in votes in various races, an outstanding number that shows voter discontent with the balloted candidates.

Putnam County has about 59,000 registered voters. 30,302 voters cast their ballots in the Governor's race and 29,442 cast votes for the State Senate race.
But in the County Executive race only 26,250 bothered to vote, a loss of near 4000 voters who had no one to vote for and so didn't even bother. Considering that more than any other office we voted for yesterday the CE was the most important and most influences our lives, a full 6th of the voters who voted passed it by.

In the end, 71% of the registered voters in this county did not vote for Vinnie Leibell and it would be to his credit to consider that when making appointments and setting policy. Like, don't you think I'd be great as the Watershed Information dude?

As well, when he takes the County Executive's office on January 1st, 7 of the 9 Legislators will be 'yes men' for him leaving us only two voices (LoBue and Birmingham) in the opposition. This does not bode well for you and me but it does set the stage for the 2011 Legislative elections when a little balance might be instituted.
The good news is that the Greens managed to pull 56,000 votes in the governor's race which gives us back our ballot line!

Someone on Facebook wondered what would happen if all the monies spent on elections were spent on projects such as libraries and schools and highways and infrastructure and housing and, you know, all that leftist-progressive-socialist stuff we hate so much. The answer is that I do not know. But I do know that outside groups and PACS spent more than $455,000,000 to influence elections this year. Here's more: a Senate race in Colorado cost $33,000,000 and one in Pennsylvania cost $26,000,000 and in Washington state, $20,000,000. In California, the loser spent $140,000,000 of her own money. Wow!
The most expensive race for the House of Representatives was in Michigan's 7th district which has run the opponents nearly $9,000,000. And this is all for a job that pays $100,000 a year. No wonder Americans are feeling a financial pinch! Look how they're spending their money!

And though it seems we'd die from the deluge of Hall vs Hayworth noise that's been coming our way of late, the two have spent a little over $1,500,000, a paltry sum in this day and age.

While we're talking local, the Log Cabin Republicans spent $2,775 in support of Ms. Hayworth. Now that she's most likely won, let's see if their investment was a good one or if, once again, they'll find themselves left begging, not unlike a kicked dog that comes crawling back its master for more abuse. Does she support DOMA and the ending of DADT? We shall see.

And while we're talking about Ms. Hayworth her largest donations came in from 21st Century Oncology ($72,000) and the Mt. Kisco Medial Group ($64,400), health professionals ($118,250), Securities and Investment firms ($93,131), Health Services and HMOs ($90,300) and Lawyers and Law Firms ($50,066). Looking at all that, who do you think she will be serving in Congress, you?

What's really going on here?

The answer is simple: Influence. People, mostly the corporate elite and those who wish they were, are buying influence and votes for their favorite projects. And since we're talking about the wealthy, they're buying the tax structure that forces the working classes to pay more so that they can keep more of their earnings. And when you're making $250,000 a year, a campaign donation of $4,000 is a good investment when it comes to tax law.

According to a report in the Journal News a 67 year-old man in Scarsdale was out using his electric leaf blower the other day - naked from the waist down. When the police arrived, as if they had nothing better to do, he said that while on his own property he could do as he liked but they insisted otherwise and arrested him for public lewdness.
While I agree that at 67 the human body can take on a certain, shall we say, patina, which is not all that pleasant, there are plenty of 67 year old's who still look pretty good. Cher, for example, at 64 still looks hot. And Dolly Parton, too.

I would think that in the future the determination of what constitutes "lewdness" be based not on some blanket determination but on the personal opinion of the affected segment of the population, the neighbors. So I call upon the village of Scarsdale to post pictures of this gentlemen and let the community decide. Or, find something better for the cops to do.

I guess it's just a good thing he wasn't using a chainsaw.

So, now that I've spent the last year pissing everyone off it's time once again for our Annual Fund Drive
which runs from today until Thanksgiving weekend.

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Pumpkin Putnam County but someone has to do it.

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And now, The News:

Was It Worth It?

By Ross Douthat

We don’t know the final extent of the Democratic losses yet. (So far, it’s looking like 65-ish seats in the House, but a somewhat better showing in the Senate.) But we do know the questions that liberals and Democrats will be asking themselves tomorrow morning. Was it all worthwhile? Was the 111th Congress’s flurry of legislative activity worth the backlash it helped create? Were the health care bill and the stimulus worth handing John Boehner the gavel in the House of the Representatives? Did it make sense to push and push and then keep on pushing, even after the polls and town halls and special-election outcomes made it clear the voters were going to push back?

Today, Ezra Klein made the case that the answer for liberals should be yes. A lot of Democratic politicians will lose their jobs tonight, he conceded. But “if you see the point of politics as actually getting things done,” rather than just trying to preserve a majority for as many years as possible, “the last two years, for Democrats, have been a stunning, historic success. Whatever else you can say about the 111th Congress, it got things done … if [its members] failed as politicians, they succeeded as legislators. And legislating is, at least in theory, what they came to Washington to do.”

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Environmental protection needed in good times and in bad

By Adrienne Esposito

In a move that continues Gov. David Paterson's legacy of dismantling environmental protection, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis was abruptly fired for being honest and telling the truth about how additional draconian cuts to his agency would degrade the environment and endanger public health.

All state agencies have been asked to cut staff to assist with New York's budget deficit; DEC staff, however, has been cut by 22 percent, or 850 employees, since 2008. The governor wants to ax an additional 224 by the end of the year, resulting in deeper cuts than in any other agency. The DEC and environmental programs have been targeted by the Paterson administration for disproportionately high cuts.

DEC was requested to provide a memo discussing the impacts of additional job reductions.

The memo states that "further staff reductions may result in potential serious risks to human health and safety and environmental quality, and could seriously limit or eliminate the public's use of state assets."

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UN seals historic treaty to protect threatened ecosystems

by Karl Malakunas

NAGOYA, Japan (AFP) – A historic global treaty to protect the world's forests, coral reefs and other threatened ecosystems within 10 years was sealed at a UN summit on Saturday.

Rich and poor nations agreed to take "effective and urgent" action to curb the destruction of nature in an effort to halt the loss of the world's biodiversity on which human survival depends.

Delegates from 193 countries committed to key goals such as curbing pollution, protecting forests and coral reefs, setting aside areas of land and water for conservation, and managing fisheries sustainably.

"This is a day to celebrate," UN Environment Programme chief Achim Steiner said straight after the accord was struck early on Saturday morning following nearly two weeks of tense talks in the central Japanese city of Nagoya.

Delegates and green groups also said the accord offered hope that the United Nations could help to solve the planet's many environmental problems, particularly after the failure of climate change talks in Copenhagen last year.

One of the most significant elements of the accord was a commitment to protect 17 percent of land and 10 percent of oceans so that biodiversity there thrived.

Currently only 13 percent of land and one percent of oceans are protected.

Nevertheless, Greenpeace expressed disappointment at the new targets, which delegates said were lowered on the insistence of China and some other developing countries.

There were other limitations to the Nagoya pact -- including that the United States was not a signatory as it is one of the few countries not to have ratified the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

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Democrats with military ties lose re-election bids

By Rick Maze - Staff writer, Navy Times

Tuesday’s elections swept some key Democrats from House of Representatives, including the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress.

Also gone is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee who was one of the key proponents of improvement in military family housing and barracks, the House Budget Committee chairman who made sure there was money for improvement in military pay and benefits, and chairman of the veterans’ disability assistance subcommittee who have been pushing to eliminate the backlog of veterans’ benefits claims while trying to reduce the number of errors.

The lawmakers were defeated in an election that will result in control of the House of Representatives shifting in January to Republicans.

One of the biggest Democratic bulls to fall in the election is Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, the House Armed Services Committee chairman and a 17-term lawmaker. He had shown unusual concern during his career about the professional education of people in the military, and he played a key role in the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act that gave combatant commands more power and forced joint-service education and cooperation on a reluctant Defense Department. A self-taught military historian, Skelton believed that young military officers could learn lessons from the past, and created a list of books he felt every officer should read.

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Major Technical Difficulties

A NY Times Editorial

Behind closed doors in Washington, American officials are shaping an overhaul of the 1994 federal statute that requires phone and broadband carriers to ensure their networks can be wiretapped.

Based on a chilling recent precedent, the risk is substantial that this so-called technical updating will spread far beyond what’s said to be contemplated — and greatly expand the already expansive power of the government to spy on Americans. Congress should be especially cautious about the scope of the revision.

The precedent is the 2008 amendment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. While it also needed updating to keep pace with technology, the Bush administration added measures that sanctioned spying without a warrant, without suspicion, and without court approval. Retroactively, it gave legal cover to more than five years of the administration’s illegal spying. Congress turned those provisions into law.

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