A provocative take on politics and culture from a skeptical, libertarian point of view

Location: Long Island, New York, United States

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mythsmasher's Brush With Terrorism In 1995 Paris

In the summer of 1995, I visited Paris for the second time.   As I don't speak or read more than a few phrases in French, I was delighted to discover a cinema specializing in films from Latin America in Spanish with French subtitles (called in French v.o.  for version original "original version) rather than dubbed into French which I would not have understood. 

On my way to the movies, I got off the train and was walking towards the exits, when there was a loud boom and a rush of air.  I threw myself to the floor.  Police officers ran past me towards the train.  

I went up and realized I was in the wrong place.  I didn't write down the metro station and the line to take nor did I remember it correctly.  If I had remembered correctly or written it down, I would have been on the line hit with a bomb that contained nails which resulted in deaths and horrific injuries.   This was not the last bombing by Armed Islamic Action, known in French by its initials GIA.  They were an Algerian jihadist group.

Previous to this bombing, as an act of defiance and solidarity I went to Goldenberg's Jewish restaurant in the Marais section of Paris which had been attacked by gunmen in 1982.

Had my memory or organization been better, I might not be writing this today.  Or anything else for that matter. 

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas On The Sidewalks of New York, December 2014

On the way to Eurocircle's holiday party, I was walking up to the Starbucks on 7th Avenue at 35th Street.  Out of the corner of my eye rounding the corner was an apparently elder gentleman with a white beard and red cape.  I realized he was dressed not like Santa Claus but the older figure of St. Nicholas or Father Christmas.  His headgear was like a turban.  Tourists importuned him for a photo but he ignored them. Down on the sidewalk was a man begging.  Father Christmas knelt and took something from the bag on his shoulder which he gave to the beggar.  What was said or done after that I do not know.  When I emerged from Starbucks Father Christmas and the beggar were gone.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Movie "Ida"" A Novice With A Hidden Past

I greatly enjoyed the new Polish film "Ida" about a young woman, Anna, who has been raised in a Polish convent since infancy and is about to take her vows.  She learns that she has a living relative, Aunt "Red" Wanda, a Communist judge and former prosecutor.  She further learns that she is Jewish and that her real name is Ida Lebenstein.  I found it amazing that none of the reviews I read point out the significance of her name Lebenstein which means "Stone of Life" in Yiddish. 

The path of discovery is not just Anna's but also Wanda's. 

Do not miss this film. 

Friday, June 06, 2014

Barclays Center Site For 2016 Democrat Convention?

New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio suggests that the Democrats hold their 2016 convention at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  How appropriate!  DeBlasio supported the eminent domain and corporate welfare scheme which built the Barclays Center and associated real estate development to the benefit of progressive real estate developer Bruce Ratner and his Forest City Ratner firm.  This was done with the connivance of New York State's Empire State Development Corporation. 

The eminent domain scheme also know as Atlantic Yards or Brooklyn Nets Arena received the enthusiastic cheers and non-critical reporting of the New York Times.  The establishment newspaper was itself the beneficiary of eminent domain and corporate welfare courtesy of the Empire State Development Corporation.  Their real estate development partner was yes, Bruce Ratner and Forest City Ratner.  I dubbed this particular scheme "Time$cam."

It is also appropriate that the Democrat Party stands for legalized theft, but then again so does the Republican Party. 

If the Democratic convention is held at the Barclays Center who would like to demonstrate against eminent domain abuse and corporate welfare with me?

Richard Cooper

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cuomo Expels Those Who Have No Place In New York By Richard Cooper

Cuomo Expels Those Who Have No Place In New York

New York locations.  April 1, 2015

After his re-election, Governor Cuomo has taken action against those he deemed extremists.  In January 2014, he told Susan Arbetter of The Capitol Pressroom that “extreme conservatives” should leave New York.

In compliance with his orders and the Democrat-controlled legislature elected in November 2014 Tea Party “extreme conservatives” are fleeing to the South and West.  A group of Long Islanders, waiting to cross the Verrazano Narrows bridge began singing “Massapequa, Massapequa” to the tune of “Anatevka, Anatevka” from Fiddler On The Roof. 

For more than a century the Adirondack Park has been declared “forever wild.”   Governor Cuomo cites as a benefit of the expulsion of the extreme conservatives that with the depopulation of upstate New York, the Adirondack Park will now be enlarged to include Columbia, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, Washington, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Oswego, Otsego, Onondaga, Tioga, Chemung, Livingston, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Yates, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chatutauqua, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, Wyoming, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence counties.  In other words, most of the upstate counties beyond the MTA region.

Libertarians went north and east to New Hampshire to join the Free State project.

Those to the left of the Governor such as the Occupy movement were given the boot as well, heading to the People’s Republics of Vermont and Massachusetts. 

Both pro-frackers and anti-frackers were declared extremists by the new legislative committees on Extremist Activities.  Speaker Silver said “They should wait until the Governor decides to know how they should protest in his support.”

Moses said to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.”  Pharaoh Cuomo said “Let the extremists go where they belong.” 

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, January 13, 2014

Before Cuomo's Renter Tax Credit There Was...

In his 2014 State of the State message to the legislature, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed property tax cuts for homeowners.  Not to leave them anyone out, he also proposed an income tax credit for renters as landlords pass property taxes along to their tenants.

See here for a transcript  The Governor handed out a “free book” Not surprisingly, as a Libertarian I read it with dismay but there were some good things. 

Back in 1976, the US Senate killed a proposal by former New York US Senator James L. Buckley (Republican and Conservative) that would have allowed renters to deduct from their federal income tax a portion of their rent which goes to cover taxes.  See,3107110

I remembered this proposal because in 1976 I was Chair of Columbia Youth For Jim Buckley.  Amongst other things I did at headquarters was stuffing press kits.  One of the pieces was on the renters tax proposal.

After his defeat by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Buckley was an Undersecretary of State and at Radio Free Europe during the Reagan Administration.  President Reagan appointed him to the Federal court from which he has retired.   He was one of the nicest political figures I have encountered over the years.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Libertarian Responds To Cuomo’s 2014 State of the State Speech

Governor Cuomo delivered his 2014 State of the State message to the New York State Legislature and invited elected officials.  As a former Libertarian Party of New York State Chair, I followed this with great interest and read the message completely. See here for a transcript  The Governor handed out a “free book” Not surprisingly, as a Libertarian I read it with dismay but there were some good things. 

For example on criminal justice, Cuomo said:
We need to insure fairness in the justice system. The problem is mistaken eyewitness identifications contribute to approximately 75% of the wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence and false confessions contributed to approximately 25% of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA. Remember, this is not a numbers game for a prosecutor. It's not the more convictions the better. A wrongful conviction protects no one, and you are still innocent until proven guilty in this system. And let's make sure the system remembers that and the system provides that. We propose innocence protections in the justice system. We propose requiring blind administering of eyewitness photo IDs and videotaped confessions for suspects in violent crimes and related offenses and sex offenses. This will give us more certainty that the convictions we obtain are actually fair and justified.
I think I would agree completely with that.

On the other hand, Cuomo tooted his own horn Governor Al Smith liked to say ‘let’s look at the record.’  Well let’s look at the record.  Gone is the obstructionist state bureaucratic culture, replaced with a new entrepreneurial government.  Gone is the tax capital mentality, replaced with a property tax cap, tier VI, and the lowest middle class tax rate in 58 years.  Gone is the anti-business mentality, replaced with regional collaboratives and a new public-private sector partnership that is working extraordinarily well.  Gone is the political gridlock, replaced with a government that puts politics aside, remembers why they’re here, puts the people first, and makes the government work for the people of the state once again.  The speech is an early salvo in Cuomo’s reelection campaign.

Cuomo did not go into detail of his own tax plan as expressed in the book.  There is less than meets the eye unfortunately.  The property tax relief is contingent on the local municipalities consolidating services and other ideas which may well be good but are not guaranteed to happen.  There is no property tax relief for NYC homeowners.  About a third of New York City residents own their home or apartment.

Cuomo called for elimination of a tax on upstate manufacturers, defined as outside the MTA region.  As a downstate manufacturer, I ask what about us?  What are we, chopped liver?

On guns, Cuomo did not refer by name to his own legislation, the fraudulently named NY SAFE Act.  This legislation rushed without justification was so ineptly written that even supporters of gun control wanted clarification so as not to prevent film and television crews from taking pictures of firearms.  But Emperor Andrew I did not want anything to detract from his image of competence.

Cuomo said about guns: In the area of public safety - gun violence - has been on a rampage as we know firsthand and we know painfully. We must stop the madness, my friends. And in one word it is just enough. It has been enough. We need a gun policy in this state that is reasonable, that is balanced, that is measured. We respect hunters and sportsmen. This is not taking away people's guns. I own a gun. I own a Remington shotgun. I've hunted, I've shot. That's not what this is about. It is about ending the unnecessary risk of high-capacity assault rifles. That's what this is about. We have a seven point agenda.
 Number 1: Enact the toughest assault weapon ban in the nation period.  
Number 2: Close the private sale loophole by requiring federal background checks.umber 3: Ban high-capacity magazines.
 Number 4: Enact tougher penalties for illegal gun use, guns on school grounds and violent gangs.
 Number 5: Keep guns from people who are mentally ill.
 Number 6: Ban direct internet sales of ammunition in New York.
 Number 7: Create a State NICS check on all ammunition purchases.
New York State led the way on guns once before. It was Sullivan's Law of 1911, which was the first in the nation gun control law - a model law that required a permit for possession of a handgun. New York was the first; it's still on the books. New York led the way then, let's pass safe and fair legislation and lead the way once again in saving lives.

Take note that he made the ritual incantation about hunters and sportsmen to show that he isn’t anti-gun.  Cuomo says nothing about self-defense.  Well he shouldn’t with a security detail.
Cuomo isn’t correct about the Sullivan Law.  It wasn’t the first gun control law.  The segregationist South enacted gun controls to disarm the black population.

The Sullivan Law grants arbitrary authority to local police who act arbitrarily in deciding on handgun permits.  I favor repeal not just of the NY Safe Act but of the Sullivan Law.  Failing that repeal, New York should become a “shall issue” state.  That is, if you are not legally barred from having a weapon, then a permit must be issued.  If they really want to cut gun violence, end the drug war.

When it comes to government reform, we all believe in government, otherwise we wouldn't be in this room today. But for government to be effective, we must be trusted and the more we're trusted the more effective we are because it's all about the relationship that we have with the citizens of this state.   

Cuomo believes the problem with lack of trust in government has to do with campaigns.

We must enact campaign finance reform because people believe that campaigns are financed by someone else at exorbitant rates. New York currently has the highest contribution limits among all states, third lowest rate of participation. I want to propose the Disclose New York plan, which is very simple. It's the nation's most aggressive disclosure law period. What it says is disclose all political and lobbying contributions within 48 hours electronically period. Right now – Right now the disclosure law says you can disclose sometimes every six months, sometimes a year, sometimes never. We would apply this to all political and lobbying organizations - PACs, 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4)s that do lobbying, political committees, political party. Any contribution within 48 hours is disclosed over $500. There is nothing like it in the country. Implement a public finance system based on New York City. It works well in New York City, it will work well in New York State. We need to lower the contribution limits for all offices, political parties, housekeeping accounts because the limits are just too high.

I would probably support the Disclose New York plan.  I do not see any connection between the contribution limits and participation.  Maybe it is the fact that the Republicans and Democrats are just two wings of the party of legalized theft.  Why choose between either criminal gang?
Cuomo proposed both lower contribution limits and a public finance system like that of New York City.  By public of course he means taxpayers pay for election campaigns.  As a Libertarian, I regard that as unjust.  We compel people to fund the campaigns of people they are either not interested in or oppose.  Why do we have the First Amendment’s ban on the establishment of religion?  To prevent such funding of those with whom one disagrees.

At the risk of being cynical, why might the incumbent governor and son of a former governor benefit from these so-called campaign reforms?  Lower contribution limits make it harder to defeat incumbents.  Taxpayer finance means his union allies and business cronies can use their money in other ways.  There is a real benefit to those with an organization already (shout-out to Working Families Party) or name recognition from his plan.

Cuomo said well Economic development is the engine that drives the state.”  On one hand he speaks of cutting taxes and regulation but on the other he promotes corporate welfare with a green face in the detailed book.

He did not address medical marijuana in his speech, only in the book.  As with the property tax relief, it is more about the appearance of change then the reality.  Up to 20 unnamed hospitals will administer a very restrictive program, instead of the dispensaries as in California and elsewhere.  When they are selected, I wonder which Cuomo cronies will be on their boards and which unions will be part of their control apparatus.I say legalize marijuana nationwide now.

In his education remarks Cuomo didn’t mention the Common Core standards fiasco. I would not implement Common Core. I would not implement Common Core.  To opponents of Common Core, I say what did you expect when government is involved in education provision, funding and regulation?

Cuomo concludes this campaign kickoff.

So my friends, what is the state of New York State?  The state of New York State is that New York State is rising.  New York State is rising because it is more unified than ever before.  New York State is rising to build back better and stronger than ever before.  New York State is rising to build a smarter, stronger state than we’ve ever had before.  New York State is rising with a passion and a commitment to make this state better than it’s ever been with a brighter future than it’s ever had for your family and for my family.  And New York is rising with us together, as one committed to that vision and making it a reality this year.  Thank you and God bless you.

I wish I had royalties for coining the word “rising.”  Cuomoism is the little blue pill of New York in its Emperor’s imagination.

As for the Republicans, they fell over themselves to support the tax plan.  They make occasional noises about cutting spending but cannot be regarded as serious about it as they are just as committed to corporate welfare as the Democrats.   Not only is the Empire State Development Corporation a vehicle for corporate welfare but it is a major engine for eminent domain abuse.  The New York Times noted that it houses many Cuomo loyalists.  I call for abolition of the Empire State Development Corporation.

It is enough to make me laugh, cry and gag. 

I say, let New York rise.  Let New Yorkers make their own decisions without the interference of Washington, Albany, or City Hall.  Free New Yorkers from the Empire State.

--Richard Cooper

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,