Can Facebook Elect a Governor?

Andrew Cuomo has disappointed progressives again and again. He has refused to ban fracking while accepting big donations from oil interests. He disbanded the Moreland Commission to investigate public corruption when its subpoenas landed too close to home and upset his contributors. He worked to keep the State Senate under Republican control. Property taxes are high and there’s not enough money for education, but Cuomo found the money for huge tax breaks for the wealthy.
 
In June, Cuomo had no opposition. He was a shoo-in to win overwhelming reelection. Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor, stepped into this void with courage, spunk and determination to get the word out that there is an alternative.
 
Andrew Cuomo is running scared. Facebook is scaring him. He knows that our friends, our friends’ friends, and their friends are all reading about Zephyr Teachout and responding to her message of reform. Cuomo has unsuccessfully used aggressive legal tactics to keep Teachout off the ballot and is refusing to debate her. All of our friends are watching and taking note. And we will vote. For Teachout.
 
The September 9th Democratic Primary is our time to send a message to Andrew Cuomo: You can’t win a Democratic Primary unless you have Democratic values.
 
Could there be a shocking upset? My Facebook page says yes!

Why Vote in the Primary? Aren’t All Politicians the Same Anyway?

If we vote in the primary on September 9th we can pick candidates who will win in November and will fight for progressive causes. We can make it so that when Democrats take over the State Senate we will pass:

  • The Womens Equality Act (equal pay, anti sex trafficking, codifying Rove v Wade into NYS law)
  • The Dream Act (giving undocumented NYS high school graduates equal access to college)
  • A raise in the minimum wage indexed to inflation
  • Public funding of NYS elections
  • GENDA (equal rights for transgender New Yorkers)
  • Fracking (a state-wide ban on hydraulic fracturing)

Why Vote in an Unwinnable Race?

You can’t win an election if you don’t vote! Surprises do happen.

Elected officials need to know that progressives care. They can’t take us or their reelections for granted. They need to know we’ll hold their feet to the fire about issues we care about.

Are these good enough reasons to vote? YES!

Two key Democratic Primaries that ACT NOW wants to have an impact on:

Governor: Zephyr Teachout vs. Andrew Cuomo

ACT NOW is supporting Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor who has taken a heroic stand against the corruption of Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo disbanded the Moreland anti-corruption commission before it could finish its job. He has chosen not to use his incredible influence to pass public financing of elections or to ban fracking. He has supported tax cuts for the wealthy and promoted casino gambling.

State Senate: Oliver Koppell vs. Jeff Klein

Oliver Koppell is running against state Senator Jeff Klein in Westchester and the Bronx. ACT NOW is supporting Koppell. By pulling five elected officials out of the Democratic Conference, Klein and his IDC have helped block voting on the Womens Equality Act, a ban on fracking, and public funding of elections among many other things.

Oliver Koppell has been an elected official in the Bronx for more than 30 years. He has written more than 300 laws and has a long list of accomplishments, notably in the areas of environmental protection and social legislation.

What is ACT NOW doing about it?

On Sunday, August 24th we are having a phone bank in Central Park at 4 PM. We will be making calls to support Oliver Koppell. Come on Sunday at 4 PM to Crystal Springs on the North side of Sheep Meadow next to the Pan Quotidien. E-mail merle@actnowny.org to RSVP and get exact directions. It’s great way to spend Sunday afternoon. Betsy will bring snacks!

Central Park Phone Bank for Democratic Candidates

Volunteers at one of our Central Park phone banks

Volunteers at one of our Central Park phone banks

Join ACT NOW as we phone bank to support Democratic State Senate and US House Candidates.  All you need to bring is your activist spirit and a charged cell phone.  We will be making calls on behalf of Oliver Koppell, Dave Denenberg, John Liu, and Domenick Recchia.

The location is Mineral Springs, just north of Sheep Meadow, just east of the Le Pain Quotidien in the Park (@69th Street).  See you there!

Act Now To Take The Senate: Koppell v. Klein

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ACT NOW is working to help defeat Democrat-turned REPUBLICAN Jeff Klein, the traitor who handed control of the State Senate to Dean Skelos in exchange for personal power. Progressive Alternative and former City Councilman Ollie Koppell is giving Klein a run for his money in the Bronx and ACT NOW is supporting him any way we can.  This Sunday, July 20, we are going to help his campaign.  RSVP here or contact Merle@ActNowNY.org for more information.

Act Now to Take The Senate: Denenberg

Lets put this man in the Senate

Act now to put the New York State Senate in Democratic hands!

Democrat Dave Denenberg is mounting a spirited race to take the seat being vacated by long-time Republican Charles Fuschillo in a winnable district on Long Island.

ACT NOW is scheduling volunteer days to help Denenberg through election day, every Monday and Wednesday at 1:20 PM.  We are meeting at the ticket area at 1:20 to catch the 1:40 train to Bellmore, where we will help the campaign.  Please RSVP here or contact Betsy Malcolm for more information, Betsy@ActNowNY.org

*subject to cancellation in the event of a LIRR strike

 

 

Vegas as a State of the American Mind.

“Real dope gives you the freedom to dream your own dreams; the American kind forces you to swallow the perverted dreams of men whose only ambition is to hold their job regardless of what they are bidden to do.” Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

I’ve been to Vegas a million times, always having a great time. My routine has always followed the same pattern: sleep till noon, have a breakfast in the room – eggs, bacon, mimosa – the whole shebang. Then some time by pool. Then an hour at the gym, sometimes followed by a visit to the spa and a massage. Then light dinner and poker till the wee hours of the morning. I always loved Vegas.

It’s not like we are unaware of all of the fakery and the illusion and the buffoonery of Vegas, and yet we flock to it as if looking for something. Perhaps for an adventure that we don’t have at home. We are looking, in vain, for a contrived “Hangover”-style bacchanalia. But it only works in the movies: in real life, if you want an adventure it will be staged and choreographed, because someone has to make money off of it. In Vegas your desires will be met like the whims of a petulant but doted upon child. The staff is highly trained. The flawless diction, the straight look in the eyes, the smiles, the friendliness, the knowingness. They know what you need before you do. They know what you need to stay in the facility for as long as possible. In Vegas even TSA agents are friendly. If Vegas is a mental facility, then the staff is an army of Nurse Ratcheds, schooled in the art of placating the patients.

Even if you are sane and rational, Vegas will get to you. You may be fully aware of the business model and all the tricks of trade and how everything is designed to keep you in and part you from your money and yet you will still fall under a spell. Knowledge does not protect you from the charms. It’s like heroin. You know it’s bad, you’ve heard all the stories but you do it anyway. Because it feels good.

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Bill de Blasio is off to a Good Start

Hizzoner

 

Unlike most progressives, I had a lot of doubts about Bill De Blasio before he was elected. I knew that he would never be able to get the Legislature to enact a millionaires’ tax to pay for pre-k. I was worried that he would be <a href=”http://grist.org/cities/driving-force-will-bill-de-blasio-stand-up-for-new-yorkers-without-cars/”>overly auto-centric</a> in his transportation policy. I was worried that in his zeal to break with Bloomberg, he would also throw the baby out with the bath water and reverse course on some of Bloomberg’s good policies, notably on the environment and in transportation. And I wasn’t sold on his ability to generate money to spend on good priorities through finding efficiencies elsewhere.

So far, de Blasio has proven most of my concerns wrong and he is hitting it out of the park on several issues.

As I suspected, the Legislature refused to raise taxes on millionaires’. But de Blasio did secure $300 million from the State for pre-k, and his proposed budget has large spending increases for great things like <a href=”https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC0QqQIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2014%2F05%2F09%2Fnyregion%2Fde-blasio-new-york-budget.html&ei=CMNuU9PuJqfLsQToqYCADg&usg=AFQjCNExbgxghGDSzZxc-snuStIcv9SZPg&sig2=RLVUd6kAlMtEEtz0YLppcg&bvm=bv.66111022,d.cWc”>libraries and after-school programs</a>. He was able to <a href=”https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=newssearch&cd=3&ved=0CDkQqQIoADAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2014%2F05%2F02%2Fnyregion%2Fde-blasio-new-york-teachers-contract-deal.html&ei=M8NuU5LqG-3jsAT_hoCQDQ&usg=AFQjCNGEcesQyunNns8yTpYB4eo0lBivlQ&sig2=V8SDwc2CyT4S3FS4NS_BfA&bvm=bv.66111022,bs.1,d.cWc”>find efficiencies in city spending</a>, like in pensioner’s health care plans that allow the city to afford to both not cut benefits and also give fair retroactive raises to the city’s teachers. If all municipal contracts follow the same pattern, that will be a great achievement.

On the environment, de Blasio has continued the great work outlined in former Mayor Bloomberg’s <a href=”http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/images/homeslider/progress-report-042214.png”>PLANYC</a>. On transportation, he has continued expanding the bike lane network and in implementing Vision Zero to protect pedestrians and bikers by reducing traffic deaths.

And on housing, de Blasio has just released an excellent plan that essentially takes a good Bloomberg policy known as inclusionary zoning, and <a href=”http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2014/05/bill-de-blasios-middle-ground.html”>put it on steroids</a> by calling for a great increase in high-density development, with the higher density incentivizing developers to build affordable multi-bedroom apartments that are permanently affordable.

All of these policies show that, at least so far, de Blasio is a pragmatic progressive with a wonk’s view of municipal policy. If he can continue making the right choices during his tenure in office, he could be considered one of the best mayors NYC ever has. Let’s hope he does.

Governor Cuomo Is Not A Friend Of Progressives

Progressives are finally waking up to the fact that Governor Cuomo is not our friend. Will he face a progressive challenger on the Working Families Party line?

The Big Guns Come Out for Klein

Have you seen this Bronx Democrat lately? We haven’t either.

David Nir at Daily Kos has decided to put this legislative race on the national map, calling Jeff Klein “The Biggest Douchebag Democrat in New York:”

[Klein] further insisted that his buddies in the GOP were “committed to seeing major pieces of progressive legislation pass the Senate”

…Here’s just a small sampling of the progressive priorities that mainstream Democrats are prepared to pass, but that Klein’s puppeteer, Skelos, has stymied in the Senate:

• The Women’s Equality Act, a 10-point plan that would, among other things, safeguard reproductive rights and strengthen equal-pay-for-equal-work laws

• Meaningful campaign finance reform

• A moratorium on fracking

• Paid family leave for medical emergencies or the birth of a child

• The state DREAM Act

And how about some of the stuff “Skleinos” has supported?
• A bill to increase the revenues of cigarette wholesalers

• Legislation to allow payday lenders to charge 200 percent interest—eight times the current limits

• A law requiring the governor to arbitrarily eliminate 1,000 regulations

• A resolution that would have defunded the state’s health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act

It’s a good, policy-detailed takedown of how Klein’s ego has stood in the way of much important progressive legislation in New York.  Go read the whole thing, as they say.  Jeff Klein burnishing his progressive bona fides at election time is about as sincere as when Joe Lieberman used to do it.

Kudos to Nir for shining the national spotlight on this race- it may well help Koppell tip the scales, should he jump into this race.  This is a great race for progressives to get involved in this cycle, and it gaining national profile only buttresses that further.

“Winning Mindset” Wins. Everybody Loses.

Conservatives love to ascribe laziness to large swaths of the population. They think the prudent thing to do is to give the lazy moochers a kick in the butt. A kick in the butt to do what? People who are unemployed are not lazy, contrary to a widespread conservative belief. The mistake, or rather the convenient excuse, of the libertarians/conservatives is that they apply their own abilities and their own career trajectory to all the others. They think “if I can do it, so can anyone.” And this is the fork in the road, this is the basis of all other aspects of their political philosophy: low-taxes on the rich, ripping of the safety net, worshipping of self-reliance, as if there are no children, single mothers, elderly and the disabled in this world – only white frat boys, stomping the ground in their bullpen, eager for a race. “Let the best one win!” they yell, knowing full well, even before the race started, that they are the best. Wouldn’t you want to participate in the race if you knew in advance that you’re going to win? And then, they attach philosophy to their own abilities. Then, after they won, they create a narrative that they won fair and square, missing the fact that their skill is the result of their current proximity to the trough, not the way they got there. This is the idea behind “Trading Places” – it doesn’t take a special pedigree to be a trader. All it takes is a platform and a nice suit. But still, they pontificate about their scrappy childhood and the bootstraps and hard work and risk-taking and wallow in their own narcissism, followed by a humble-brag “I’m just a regular guy” mandatory display of modesty. Is then there’s any surprise that people like Tom Perkins think only the winners should be allowed to vote? They think that it’s validated by them winning the race.

If you view society as a competitive construct, as many social Darwinists do, then it is a natural conclusion: The winner gets to claim the prize and to write rules and history books. Thus the pitting of citizens one against the other at the altar of “competitiveness” is a normal course of events. The suckers lost, too bad. That’s just life. And that would be fine, too, if only the winners knew moderation. Here, the winners would be wise to stop and take, or rather give the suckers, a breather. But the winning mindset and moderation do not go together. The game is in full swing, we can’t just stand up and leave. If we don’t take that last stack from the sucker at the table then someone else will. It’s just the cruel truth. Who can stop a train at full speed? We would rather just jump on the bandwagon.

And what or who can play the role of a moderating hand at this point? Where is that ‘invisible hand” that restores the balance, applies breaks to a runaway train? Where is the mitigating factor of supply and demand, the efficient markets, the equilibrium that we learned about in Econ 101? There’s no push and pull, no regression to the mean. The “pull” is nonexistent, or has been sidelined, or denied meaningful levers. The classic argument is that if the customers don’t like the product they will stop consuming it or go to another provider. But what if, at this point, the product that we’re talking about is a bare minimum of food, shelter and basic health care? Are those customers really in the position to dictate anything, to refuse to buy food, to refuse to pay rent? Where the hell are they gonna go, what the hell are they gonna eat?

The train won’t stop on its own. It can either crash into a wall or go off a cliff. The winners will be playing musical chairs till the very end, because they will always think to themselves: “I can get out just in time. I’m the winner.”