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Big Brother: Brought to You By the Democrats and Corporate America

What the hell are they thinking? Is this the Democratic majority you intended to elect? This reads like Republican Conservatism all over again. Read this whole article as soon as you can. Be prepared. The Senate may not necessarily want to turn this law down, and the effects on the Internet and your private property could be enormous. Why the hell the Dems decided to push this in an election year is beyond me. Seems like a loser either way:

House vote on illegal images sweeps in Wi-Fi, Web sites | The Iconoclast – politics, law, and technology – CNET News.com

That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user’s account be retained for subsequent police inspection.

The only thing sicker than Internet kiddie porn is politicians seeking to usher in the era of Big Brother on the back of masturbating sickos that look at kiddie porn.

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Oh, About That Maggie Brooks “F.A.I.R.” Plan?

All of that genius fiscal planning Saggy Maggie did was predicated on the notion that New York State was planning on increasing funding to schools. Well, now there’s rumblings in Washington that this may not happen at all:

State budget ills put planned school aid hike at risk || Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

Spitzer and the Legislature earlier this year agreed to raise aid to local school districts by $1.1 billion this year, and $7.6 billion between last year and 2010.The second installment is due in the new fiscal year that begins April 1. But at a budget conference Tuesday, Francis and budget experts from the Senate, Assembly and state comptroller’s office agreed that state finances in the immediate future are shaky because of the recent Wall Street nosedive, the mortgage-lending crisis and the skyrocketing price of oil.

“When Wall Street gets a cold, New York state gets pneumonia,” said Francis, who pointed out that the state depends on the financial-services industry for about 20 percent of its tax revenue.

Have you signed the petition to end this debacle, yet? Can your kids afford you not to?

Wire New York

I’ve had a few too many things going on in the last month, and haven’t had the opportunity to give this bill the time and attention it deserves, but DragonFlyEye.Net is one more blog in New York asking its readers to please support the Brodsky telecom bill, currently being called “Wire New York.”

I’ve taken the opportunity to snag the snazzy graphic from Rochester Turning and Sayhar’s outstanding articles on the subject. It’s now featured prominently at the right of this blog. After all, if this website, one of whose features is an entire section dedicated to technology politics, cannot get behind this bill, who could?

This new bill goes light years beyond any other legislation in promoting the upstate economy by treating the Internet the way it should be viewed: as a key component of the state’s infrastructure, no less important that rail lines or highways. Providing adequate broadband coverage across the entire state means providing a source of revenue, communication, education and free speech, in equal and fair measure, across all segments of our state.

The bill also includes strong Net Neutrality language. The Net Neutrality issues is a complex one that tends to throw people off quite a bit. Go read Sayhar’s articles on the subject, they’re very good primers and include videos by the Save the Internet folks. The trick with NN in New York State is reach: companies who don’t reside in NYS don’t have to follow our rules of Net Neutrality. But the real reason for including such language is to force the issue on the national level, where it can do some real good. If we can get something like this passed in our dysfunctional parliamentary system, surely it can happen on the national level.

And so consider this the first of many appeals to please contact Governor Spitzer and tell him that spreading the prosperity of the Internet across our state is important to you. Tell him to support the Brodsky Telecom Bill today: 518-747-8390.

You’ll be hearing a lot more about Net Neutrality and the benefits of spreading the ‘Net around the state from this blog soon!

Look on the Bright Side, Ericka!

Ericka Rosenberg of WXXI seems to enjoy, like many commentators, having a bit of fun with Eliot Spitzer’s “Day One” dillio from the campaign.  They all gasp in feigned shock to discover that everything did not, in fact, change on day one.

But seriously, were you really so foolish as to have believed that *everything* was literally changing the moment Eliot Spitzer was sworn in?  Did anyone fall for that as a literal promise, or did most people take that to mean that the debate was going to change and that real changes might for once in New York’s history be possible?  If you knew *everything* was going to change the minute you elected a leader, wouldn’t that be dictatorship, and why would you have voted for that?

Don’t be silly.  Great to jab the current executive of the state, but let’s not lose our sensibilities.  And as Mrs. Rosenberg points out herself, there have been changes, albeit not of the earth-scorching variety:

Policy Wonk: Legislative Lessons for a New Governor

At least this year the leaders parted ways over genuinely important issues and each was forced to publicly state his position. In the past, Bruno has been able to sidestep the campaign-finance issue. This year, because of the high profile Spitzer put on the issue, Bruno had to confront it. Yes, he tried to brush it aside by saying voters don’t care how campaigns are financed, but he also had to employ the “campaign giving is free speech” argument to defend the high limits and loopholes in the law.

And oh, what a memorable collection of Bruno quotes it has been, eh?

While I’ve been critical of the governor’s style from time to time, the fact remains that, especially where Clean Money, Clean Elections is concerned, the dialogue in Albany has changed dramatically.  Inasmuch as talking about election and campaign finance reform won’t be all it takes, it is important to recognize that once an idea is planted in the minds of the body politic, some definitive answer to the question is inevitable.

What that answer will be remains open for debate.  The Citizen Action people are pushing hard to make sure that CMCE is the adopted standard in favour of Sheldon Silver’s ill-omened “partial financing” option.  Of course, Albany leaders can try to sit on this one as long as they can, like usual; silence is also an answer.

But Eliot Spitzer has done a great job changing the discussion in Albany, the rest is up to the activists to bring that message to the people and the people to Albany.

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Don’t Bother Challenging Sheldon Silver

Jay Gallagher paints an unvarnished picture of the power plays within the Democratic Party in Albany in his latest installment at the Democrat and Chronicle.  It almost doesn’t seem worth the trouble to label them “Democrats” or “Republicans” in Albany, just “Albaneers.”

There’s been a lot of talk about Richard Brodsky challenging Silver for the Assembly Speaker’s position.  But if that buzz was ever real, the quote below puts that all to rest quite nicely:

Assemblyman says buzz on bid to be speaker isn’t true || Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

“He’s clearly agitating for change,” one longtime colleague said of Brodsky. “But he knows there are consequences” to taking on Silver, who rebuffed a challenge to his leadership by then-Majority Leader Michael Bragman in 2000. Bragman, of Syracuse, was stripped of his power and didn’t run for re-election the next year.

The activities of Brodsky, 61, apparently haven’t flustered Silver, 63, who has been speaker for 13 years — the second-longest tenure of any speaker in history.

When asked if he was concerned that Brodsky might be trying to build support for a potential bid to become speaker, Silver said, “No.”

Whoa. Talk about your unapologetic display of power! Who does this remind you of? Well, if you’re a sci-fi geek like myself, maybe you recognize these guys?
Is This What Albany Looks Like?

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Joe Bruno: Broke-Ass Loner

Oh, man.  This is a rich one.  The Empire Zone has Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s response to Eliot Spitzer’s Reform Albany Day event and the campaign finance reform bill he attempted to push through.  Seems like Bruno might be a trifle upset.

In addition to a choice selection of other stupid quotes from Bruno’s press conference, this one sticks in my head as the solid-gold whopper of the day.  Hang on to your trousers, folks, ‘cuz the shit’s about to get deep [em. mine]:

Bruno to Spitzer: Lets Debate – The Empire Zone – N.Y. / Region – New York Times Blog

“[Spitzer says], on one hand, everybody has to be controlled in what they contribute, which limits people’s ability to support whoever they want to support, and yet he himself has the ability to write checks by the millions of dollars. He can call friends who will raise 100,000 at a time. He has got that ability. He is very fortunate. I don’t. People like me don’t. People like Senator Farley don’t. We have to do it the hard way.’’

Bwaaaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

I had to read the piece twice to make sure this was the same Joe Bruno.  Sure, Spitz is rich.  Very rich, indeed.  But for Bruno to play the role of the unconnected, hard-working blue-collar guy just trying to make it is preposterous. He’s the most well-connected guy in Albany, and even if the reforms were to go through, he’d be in no danger whatsoever of losing his seat.

But like I said: excuses are going to get interesting as we go forward.

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Live Blogging the Death of a Reform Bill

TAP’s Lipris was on-campus for the Reform Albany Day, an effort to bring some much-needed change to Albany. As if in answer to my recent post on the resistance to Spitzer’s reform, well, read on noble reader:

the albany project :: Legislature debating landmark reform bill?

It’s over. To quote Liz Krueger: “Bruno killed it”. The Assembly, it appears, had been willing to go along; but the reactionary neanderthals in the Senate, well, they like things just the way they are. Want reform? Overthrow the republican Senate majority in 2008.

Well, that does it for this round, anyway. What’s Spitz’s next move? One never knows, so stay tuned!

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Power

Through the Metro Justice Clean Money, Clean Elections mailing list, I was alerted to this rather interesting article from the Albany Times Union concerning Eliot Spitzer’s proposed reforms on campaign contributions and the objections lining up against it.  It should come as a surprise to no one that there would be strong resistance to any reform of a system that keeps politicians employed for a life time.

However, you have to give them credit: you would think that, their positions assured after years and even decades of collecting campaign donors, Albany politicians wouldn’t be that good at making up creative excuses for their continued employment.  Ah, but there you would be dead wrong:

Campaign finance stirs opposition — Page 2 — Times Union – Albany NY

Canestrari, chairman of the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee the past decade, is one of several lawmakers briefed in recent days on the talks and opposed to across-the-board reduction of donation levels.

“I’m a firm believer of the two party system in our state and nation; it’s shown to be a model for the world,” Canestrari said.

What, dude, what?

More TAP “Selfish Reasons” for Legislative Reform

These articles are getting more and more interesting all the time.  TAP’s simonstl is putting together articles about legislative reform, each of which takes the issue up from a particular point of view.  It’s a great exercise in persuasive argument: putting yourself in someone else’s shoes as best you can to come up with the best reasons for them to support your cause.

Today’s serving is an unusual one.  Today, he’s tackling lobbyists and why they should support legislative reform.  That sounds nuts on the face of it, but when you read the article, you will find there are more surprising and persuasive arguments than you might have thought.  I did:

the albany project :: Lobbyists – Selfish Reasons to Support Reform

  • No more double standard. Today’s New York Times pointed out that lobbyists seem to be the only ones punished for violations – legislators get off with barely a slap on the wrist. I don’t think anyone – probably especially the lobbyists – thinks ethics enforcement should work that way.
  • More competition means better threats. Right now it looks like New York State lobbyists can only pursue legislators’ hearts with carrots – lots and lots of carrots. The leadership has pretty much the only sticks. In a reformed legislature, lobbyists could help take it to the voters when they don’t like a legislator’s views.

This is really quite brilliant.  Not being in Albany, it’s hard for me to say whether or not this is really a valid set of arguments for your average lobbyist.  On the outside looking in, however, the argument seems to be made fairly well that this reform is about letting in some competition.  That’s great news for the young bucks and the newbies, but not so much for the entrenched elite, which is exactly the same position we find ourselves in where legislators are concerned.

I’m going to fold this one because it’s getting long. . . . .

Blogie Nights, TransAlbany and the Devil in Craig Johnson

Oh, this is just rich.  Nothing like seeing Albany politicians getting into this type of argument: a money and fundraising argument.  Better yet, let us now hear from the master of ceremonies in the Albany Rent-a-Slut Daily Cavalcade of Human Intemperance and Legislative Bazaar:

Bruno Ramps Up Spitzer Attack – The Empire Zone – N.Y. / Region – New York Times Blog

Among other things, he was irked that Democrats are using common tactics like circumventing limits on individual donations to Senate candidates by raising funds for the party instead of directly for the candidate. Not that Mr. Bruno, the state?s most powerful Republican, was making a case for campaign finance reform?he was not.

?My point is they can do whatever it is that they please, but please don?t step up on a pulpit and pontificate,? he said. (Em. mine)

Translation: “Be a whore and for God’s sake, don’t question it.  Suck it like a man.”  Good one, Joe.  You’re really earning that monogrammed designer cock-ring you got for Christmas.

Now, as for Spitzer and the rest of the kids: well, Patterson certainly has an excuse which allows for the “plausible deniability” factor.  His is the kind of equivocation the stuff of which lawyers dreams are made of:

Bruno Ramps Up Spitzer Attack (cont’d)

?We are playing by the rules that exist in that particular campaign,? Mr. Paterson said, adding that the governor was ?not raising money for himself, he?s raising money for Craig Johnson.?

Hardly fills you with pride in your new governor, now does it?  No, indeed, though I get the feeling I’m getting filled with something.  In fact, what he’s really saying ~ and what the Spitzer camp is saying through it’s surrogate ~ is, in effect, “we were never going to lose, so we didn’t need to be whores. This guy, on the other hand, is ripe for a rim-job. Just look at that ass! Step right up, boys!”

It is horribly depressing for those of us who have worked so hard to try and push the Clean Money, Clean Elections agenda forward; those of us who until quite recently had thought the Spitzer camp an ally in that fight; to find them peddling ass at the first convenient moment.

Meanwhile, I must say that I’m also a bit disappointed in my friends at RochesterTurning.com and TheAlbanyProject.com and loads of other blogs for having been wooed into the middle of this Saturnalia that Spitzer’s gotten himself involved in.  Dangle a bit of DailyKos in a blogger’s faces, and they get all exited.  In addition to a $25,000 a plate dinner, they’re organizing a big “bitch betta have ma money” festival including a whole slew of big-name blogs.  Check out the lame advertisement done by Spitzer.  Suddenly, all that inspirational music just makes me sick.  I’d like to believe that I’m wrong, but man, he’s not helping me.

Let me be clear in this: that blogs have the ability to keep the politicians and journalists honest; that we can provide the “meta-journalism” needed to add context to the national and local narratives; that we even have the power to change the direction of the entire conversation; that we have the power to affect even the relatively disaffected Democrat and Chronicle is a good thing to be praised.  That we just get used to be the free billboards and unpaid labour for the next round of whores is not.

I confess that, had I been asked, I probably would have considered it for a moment.  I’m as given to having my ego stroked as anyone.  But eventually, I would have come to the rather obvious conclusion that the only thing worse than being involved in an Albany Orgy would be getting stuck being the stenographer to an Albany Orgy. 

Eewww. . .  You can keep the free pencil holder. . . .

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The TAP-opedia Project

Many of you have probably heard of TAP by now, The Albany Project. You may also have heard of their new project, the TAP-opedia, a Wiki of Albany lawmakers. I personally heard about it from NYCO and RochesterTurning.com. Well, I’m on board, now. I’ve setup two Rochester assemblyperson’s pages already, Joe Morelle and David Gantt. I’m already learning more and more about the State Legislature of which I have been, as previously stated, so piteously ignorant till now. I’m jumping in with both feet.
My one concern with the TAP-opedia is the way they’re currently gathering information on Assembly and Senate districts: they’re basically linking to the legislator’s New York government pages, the state government’s current map and then creating an individual legislator’s page in the Wiki. This is not only duplication of data, it’s also erroneous. The Wiki should include a page on each legislator and one on each district as two separate but related entities.

Hard though it may be to conceive at the moment, it is mathamatically possible for a democratically-held election in the State of New York to yield a winner other than the incumbent. Besides, people die from time to time. In those rare cases, what will they do with all that information gleaned over the decades of incumbency? Just get rid of it and start over with a new legislator? That is folly. What if you want to refer back to former legislators for historical perspective? This information is lost.

Moreover, there is room for a great deal of information about districts which would have no place on a page about a legislator, such as the voting, demographic and economic trends.

I have voiced this concern on the Wiki, but thus far, have not heard any response back yet. I am hoping someone over there is watching the NY LeftyBlogs feed and will respond back either there or here shortly.

But in the meanwhile, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. More information in one easily navigated place is a good thing for all of us concerned with New York politics. I’ve even created a new web badge for TAP-opedia, which you’re welcome to use if you collect those sorts of things:

TAP-opedia Badge Go a head and right-click it, select either “save as” and then upload it somewhere convenient, or if you have FireFox, select “copy image location” and use it where ever. I’ve also suggested that each legislator’s page conform to a specific format, for which I’ve created a template that you can view here.

Just a suggestion, but one way or another, I think that everyone interested in New York politics aught to get involved where ever possible in this project.

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Boy, Are Their Faces. . . Well, Red. . .

Linked through NYCO’s Blog, here’s a great chart over at TAP showing the New York State Senate member spending by party.? It would come as no surprise to anyway that the majority party is spending the lion’s share.? This is true on the national level as well, and right or wrong, is one of the spoils of political war.? However, I’m not certain that you could find a more outrageously slanted scheme anywhere else than in good old New York if you tried.

As much as this seems at first blush to be a black eye for Republicans in this state (and certainly, for us Lefties, it’s convenient), the truth is that this is a far more damning indictment of the political system in our state than the political parties that thrive in it.? As NYBri, the author of the original TAP post points out, “(and I bet if I looked at the Assembly, I’d see blue.)“? The problem is not specifically Republican corruption as it has been on the national level for the last few years; neither is it the whim of a party recently elected to power and basking in it’s own self-importance; but rather the fault lies in an ingrained power structure in which no one loses their seat and the majority in both houses run their houses like brothels.

Elsewhere in Clean Money, Clean Elections news, don’t miss Bob Schieffer’s closing remarks from yesterday’s Face the Nation.? I love the way this guy writes, I really do.