Midterm Madness: The Year In Review (VIDEO)

Huffington Post – 11-2-2010

Welcome to Election Day, everyone! All year long, we’ve noted that America is facing a host of difficult choices and tough circumstances. Long wars, massive unemployment, a foreclosure crisis that seems to get worse and worse and an economic recovery that’s slow to emerge. How have your would-be lawmakers responded to this time in our lives? With the most infantile, substance-free campaign in memory.

We’ve been watching the campaign ads, the debates, and the interviews, and if there’s some undercurrent of gravitas and maturity and dignity to be found in the country, we’ve not been able to discern it amid all of the chickens and the demon sheep and the gunplay and the singing and the dancing and the barely concealed childish wrath that’s been allowed to masquerade as “conviction.”

If you happened to miss any of our previous chronicles of Midterm Madness, we’re here to help. Here’s the story of how we got to where we are today.

Watch videos here…

Paladino’s Hometown Paper Endorses Cuomo

Surely this comes as no surprise to anyone…

Associated Press

Republican Carl Paladino’s hometown Buffalo News on Sunday endorsed his rival in the New York governor’s race, declaring “there is no choice” but Andrew Cuomo.

The endorsement continues a sweep so far for the Manhattan Democrat. Cuomo’s endorsement include The New York Times, New York’s Daily News, the New York Post, Newsday, and the upstate newspapers in Rochester, Poughkeepsie, Kingston and Glens Falls.

“While it has become trendy to sneer at ‘career politicians,”‘ Sunday’s Buffalo News editorial stated, “the fact is that a good one knows his stuff: How to work the levers of power to best advantage; who the players are; where the bodies are buried. Cuomo knows all that and he has laid out an approach for taking the state back from the special interests and the lawmakers they have bought.”

The editorial states that although Cuomo is “a powerful political insider,” the newspaper believes the son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo “will lead.”

“If he accomplishes only half of what he says he wants — detailed in a series of (policy) books he has released — he will have rendered a historic service to the state,” the newspaper said.

The Buffalo News also warned, however, that Cuomo needs to stave off his special interest supporters from whom he “has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars … and, while we recognize that money is the lifeblood of election politics, it is also the grease that has crippled a once proud state.”

Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo said Sunday that the News’ endorsement “has always been the kiss of death in Western New York … now Carl’s supporters here will come out even stronger.”

Recent polls have shown Cuomo with a growing double-digit-percentage lead ahead of the election Nov. 2.

Paladino never accepted an opportunity to make his case to the editorial board, although Cuomo did.

Instead, Paladino over the weekend tried to highlight an article from another newspaper’s news section. A Wall Street Journal article cited records that criticize Cuomo’s governance as federal housing secretary under President Bill Clinton.      Continue reading…

Cuomo, Paladino Clash in NY Debate

Huffington Post

With just two weeks to go before the general election, the seven candidates looking to be the next governor of New York came out in the first (and most likely, only) debate on NY1 Monday night. Given the wild and unpredictable tone of the race so far, it was a relatively mild event.

Carl Paladino, the angry, unpredictable, and often offensive candidate, was largely a non-presence. Most on stage refused to engage Paladino, and he stammered through his prepared answers — often failing to rebut when directly provoked. “My critics, they want to say I’m angry,” he said. “No, I’m passionate about saving the state of New York.”

Most of the tension played out between City Councilman Charles Barron of the Freedom Party, and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Barron warned: “Cuomo’s gonna be the king of layoffs…I’m telling you. This guy gets in, you’re gonna be laid off, your pension is gone, your health care is gone,” a comment which elicited applause in the crowd.

Cuomo responded: “we go with you, Charles, there will be no jobs.”

With the exception of Paladino, the candidates, a varied and eccentric bunch, largely agreed that tax cuts hurt the middle class, that New York government was crumbling under corruption and waste, and that city agencies like the MTA and the Board of Education require better regulation (or, in some cases, elimination). Kristin Davis, a former Madam, accused the MTA of being a “mismanaged patronage pit” and unlike the MTA her “former [escort] agency delivered on time and reliable service.” Barron chimed in. “Abolish the MTA, we dont need it.” But Davis, once a small business owner herself, would not agree that additional taxes would help revive the economy. “Additional taxes are not the answer…businesses will leave this state faster than Carl Paladino at a gay bar.”

Continue reading…

From Nazi uniforms to witchcraft: America’s crazy election


“Our Mann in America” is a weekly column discussing the big talking points in the U.S. for an international audience. Jonathan Mann is an anchor for CNN International and the host of Political Mann.

If a grown man likes to dress up and pretend he’s a Nazi killer, is that a problem?

One candidate in America’s upcoming Congressional elections acknowledges the satisfaction he gets from historical re-enactments, drawing attention to both a strange subculture and a surprising twist in Republican Party politics.

“The whole purpose of re-enacting is educating people,” Rich Iott, a Republican candidate in the state of Ohio said this week. “This is just another way to communicate a story and keep alive the history of World War Two.”

The history of World War Two is just one of several conflicts that Iott says he helped imitate as costume-drama he could enjoy with his son. In that role, he assumed the identity of “Reinhard Pferdmann,” a fictitious member of a real division of the Waffen SS, the armed wing of the Nazi Party.

Continue reading…

An Angry Rabbi Breaks With Paladino

This is not the sort of thing that wins a candidate votes.  In fact, political pundits are saying that one can “stick a fork in Paladino…he’s done”.

Huffington Post

The alliance between the Republican Carl P. Paladino and an Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn has fallen apart, with the rabbi denouncing Mr. Paladino on Wednesday for his apology over remarks he had made about homosexuality on Sunday.

The rabbi, Yehuda Levin, who helped write those remarks, said Mr. Paladino “folded like a cheap camera” because of the uproar they had set off. And the rabbi said he could no longer support Mr. Paladino’s candidacy for governor of New York.

Read the whole story: New York Times

Carl Paladino Apologizes As Gay Nephew Goes AWOL

The New Yorker

For a while it seemed almost impossible, as if maybe Carl Paladino’s bullheadedness had precluded his capacity for shame or remorse, even if everyone tells him he’s wrong. But yesterday, after he’d spent all of Monday unrepentantly defending remarks like “I don’t want [children] to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn’t,” Paladino apologized. His statement read:

Yesterday I was handed a script. I redacted some contents that were unacceptable. I did also say some things for which I should have chosen better words. I said other things that the press misinterpreted and misstated. I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the Gay and Lesbian Community or their family members. Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong.

He then proceeded to lay out how he really feels about the gays.

1) I am a live and let live person.

2) I am 100% against discrimination of any group. I oppose discrimination of any kind in housing, credit, insurance benefits or visitation.

3) I am 100% against hate crimes in any form.

4) I am in support of civil agreements and equal rights for all citizens.

5) My position on marriage is based on my personal views. I have the same position on this issue as President Barrack [sic] Obama. I have previously stated I would support a referendum by New York voters. I have proposed Initiative and Referendum so New Yorkers can decide important issues like this.

6) The portrayal of me as anti-gay is inconsistent with my lifelong beliefs and actions and my prior history as an father, employer and friend to many in the gay and lesbian community.

Even in his apologies, there is a lot to quibble with. Paladino is a “live and let live person” and “against discrimination,” but is opposed to gay marriage and “disgusting” gay-pride parades. He implies that he supports civil unions (President Barack Obama’s position), but said on Sunday that he would not only veto a gay-marriage bill passed by the state legislature, but even a civil-union bill (at the 6:57 mark in this video), which the gay community doesn’t even want anymore.

It seems clear that Paladino still has zero chance of attracting any gay support. Perhaps not even from his token gay family member. Paladino’s nephew, 23-year-old Jeff Hannon — who, as Paladino has been eager to point out over the past two days, works as a staffer for the campaign — hasn’t shown up to work this week, and tells the Post that he’s “obviously … very offended” by what his uncle has said.

Paladino: I didn’t say gays were ‘dysfunctional’

Carl Paladino  tries to back track his statement about gays…

‘Don’t misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie’

The Republican candidate for governor of New York lashed early Monday at reports that he had said “there is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.”

Carl Paladino’s campaign said several media outlets initially reported that the gubernatorial hopeful had made the remarks to Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn on Sunday.

He was said to have added, “That is not how God created us.” However Paladino said in a statement obtained by NBC News that the comment was “not the actual statement I made.”

“I do not agree with this passage, nor did I say it,” he said, saying his hosts at a synagogue in theWilliamsburg neighborhood had handed out what he described as “suggested remarks” after he left.  

Continue reading…

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Paladino Attacks Gays in Brooklyn Speech – children should not be “brainwashed”…

The New York Times

Republican candidate for governor Carl P. Paladino told a gathering in Williamsburg Sunday that children should not be “brainwashed” into thinking that homosexuality is acceptable, and criticized his opponent, Democrat Andrew M. Cuomo, for marching in a gay pride parade earlier this year.

Addressing Orthodox Jewish leaders, in Williamsburg, Mr. Paladino described his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“That’s not how God created us,” he said, reading from a prepared address. “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.”

And then, to applause from the group at Congregation Shaarei Chaim, he said: “I didn’t march in the gay parade this year — the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did and that’s not the example we should be showing our children.”

Newsday.com reported that Mr. Paladino’s prepared text also included a sentence saying: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.” But Mr. Paladino omitted that statement when he gave the speech.

About an hour after Mr. Paladino’s remarks, Mr. Cuomo’s campaign released a statement condemning them..

“Mr. Paladino’s statement displays a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality,” it said. “These comments along with other views he has espoused make it clear that he is way out of the mainstream and is unfit to represent New York.”

Mr. Paladino declined a request to be interviewed after his appearance. His campaign manager, Michael R. Caputo, denied that Mr. Paladino was anti-gay, and noted that he employed an openly gay man on his campaign staff.

“Carl Paladino is simply expressing the views that he holds in his heart as a Catholic,” Mr. Caputo said in a telephone interview. “Carl Paladino is not homophobic, and neither is the Catholic Church.”   Continue reading…

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Paladino Took Government Tax Break By Pledging To Deliver Jobs, But Instead Pocketed The Money

This man will not win the gubernatorial election in NYC on November 4, 2010.  He’s got too much baggage.  This latest revelation is just one of a string of unsavory actions by Mr. Paladino…

Think Progress 

An investigation by the New York Daily News finds that New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, a multi-millionaire real estate developer, promised to revive the economy of Buffalo by creating new jobs, received $3 million in state tax breaks to do so, but then pocketed the tax refunds while delivering very few jobs:

A Daily News probe found Paladino’s companies netted $3 million in tax breaks through a program called the Empire Zones – while producing a grand total of 25 new jobs.

To justify tax breaks in one instance, he sold a dozen vacant lots he owned to himself and claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in “real property investments.” Seven years later, these “investments” remain what they were – vacant lots.

His Empire Zone investments consisted mostly of renovating his own buildings – $19 million worth. He completed no new construction and brought no new businesses in any of his Empire Zone projects.

Instead, the Paladino companies such as the Ellicott Group mostly generate income through six big office buildings that collect millions of dollars in rent.

Ironically, Paladino claims his campaign is standing up for taxpayers. For instance, he wants to slash the state’s Medicaid spending by almost half because, he said, New York invites anyone to “come here and sit on the backs of our taxpayers.”

Speaking before New York business leaders this past week, Paladino pledged to cut taxes for the rich, including across-the-board cuts in corporate franchise taxes. “I will provide businesses relief from the onerous taxes and regulations strangling them today,” Paladino said. “I’m going to make our businesses competitive again.” But his own experience suggests that cutting taxes for the wealthiest is hardly the best way to jump-start the economy.

One of Paladino’s properties lost its Empire Zone tax credits during a state review last year, “with the state arguing the property did not create enough jobs to justify the tax breaks.” Perhaps the taxpayers should be telling Paladino: “Don’t tread on me.”