Author Archives: UpStateEd

New York’s Plot to Gut the Second Amendment

December 2, 2014 By Michael Filozof

On Dec. 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will hear oral arguments in the case of Nojay v. Cuomo. At stake is nothing less than whether the Second Amendment grants substantive gun rights to American citizens, or is meaningless rhetoric that allows the government total control over what firearms citizens may or may not possess.

On Jan. 15, 2013, New York passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, commonly known as the SAFE Act. The SAFE Act is beyond question the most draconian gun control passed in the history of the United States – and a cornerstone of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stated plan to make New York “the progressive capital of the nation.”

But the SAFE Act has – by design – implications far beyond the borders of New York. The law’s backers – an ultra-left-wing cabal that includes Cuomo, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, and State Senate majority leader Jeffrey Klein – know that if the law is upheld in the federal courts, it will be only a matter of time before the opportunity arises for Congress to pass similar legislation for the entire nation, effectively killing the Second Amendment forever.

The SAFE Act was rammed through both houses of the New York State Legislature and signed into law within 24 hours. Legislators were given the 39-page bill only fifteen minutes before a floor vote at 2 a.m., and Cuomo waived the state’s mandatory three-day waiting period for public input on new legislation so that the law could take effect immediately upon his signature.

The SAFE Act’s provisions are massive and breathtaking assaults on the Second Amendment.

The law entirely bans the sale of all semi-automatic civilian copies of military rifles issued anywhere in the world within the past sixty years or so. (Actual military-issue rifles are almost always fully automatic machine guns, and were already totally banned.) The ban covers the most popular target and competition rifle in the country, the AR-15 (the civilian version of the military M-16). It also includes civilian copies of military rifles such as the M-14, AK-47, H&K G3, Steyr AUG, and FN-FAL, and numerous others. The “assault weapons” ban is actually worse than what is in effect in some foreign countries that do not have a Second Amendment. Afghans, Iraqis, and Ukrainians are allowed to own AK-47s, but New Yorkers are not. Canadians, Italians, and Germans may own AR-15s (under significant licensing schemes), but New Yorkers – including those who live in counties where cattle outnumber humans – may not.

Prior to the law’s passage, Cuomo publicly announced that the state was considering “confiscation” of these firearms from the public, but the final draft of the legislation required existing owners to register their rifles every five years and forever banned their transfer within New York State. Upon the death of a registered owner, the banned firearm will be confiscated by police; the decedent’s estate must arrange to have it sold out of state, or it will be destroyed.

The law also originally banned all “ammunition feeding devices” capable of holding more than seven rounds, with an exception for police, with no “grandfather” provision for previously legal items. The limit within New York City is five rounds, so backers of the law thought they were doing the rest of the state a favor. (The only exception is tubular rimfire magazines – but the law prohibits putting more than seven rounds of ammunition into them.)

Beyond that, the law bans all ammunition sales except from a registered ammunition dealer, requires a background check for every sale, and requires a State Police database be kept on every single ammunition purchase – including .22 Long Rifle. The law bans all private transfers of firearms, except among parents, children, and spouses. The SAFE Act also allows any doctor or nurse to declare a gun owner unfit to own a firearm; police are then required to confiscate all of that individual’s guns. (The doctor or nurse making the allegation of unfitness is explicitly shielded by the law from civil liability.)

The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, along with several other parties, sued the state – and suffered a resounding loss in U.S. District Court. On Dec. 31, 2013, Judge William Skretny (a 1969 Howard University Law grad and Bush 41 appointee) issued a decision upholding nearly all of the provisions of the SAFE Act. The only significant provision of the SAFE Act Skretny struck down as unconstitutional was the seven-round limit on ammunition capacity (but oddly enough, he held that a 10-round limit was not unconstitutional). Three other U.S. District Courts – in Connecticut, Illinois, and Maryland – have upheld similar “assault weapons” bans with reasoning similar to Skretny’s.

Now the case goes to the Second Circuit in Manhattan – right in the heart of gun control territory. It’s highly unlikely that the Second Circuit will strike the SAFE Act down (in fact, they could even reinstate the seven-round limit), but if they did, the case would then be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And that’s part of the plan. The law’s backers are calling the bluff of gun owners in a very high-stakes gamble. They are attempting to force the hand of the Supreme Court to rule that all Americans have a constitutional right to an AK-47 and a 30-round magazine, and they are confident that a court dominated by justices from liberal states with the strictest gun control laws in the country will vote “no.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor are all ultra-liberals from New York City, and Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy are from liberal Northern California. That could be five votes right there. Only one justice – Samuel Alito – has any military experience and any personal familiarity with the firearms in question. And Justice Scalia, a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment despite having grown up in New York, is getting on in years. If Scalia retires or passes on without ruling on the SAFE Act within the next two years, his replacement will be nominated by President Obama – and it’s curtains for the Second Amendment.

New York has long been known as the “Empire State.” When you think about it, it’s not an honorable nickname. Empires rule over subject peoples by force, against their will. The United States was founded in rebellion against an empire. The reality of New York’s nickname is that it reveals an imperious and arrogant attitude toward the rest of the country. The attitude of Cuomo, Bloomberg, et al. is, very simply, that if the ignorant yokels in red-state America refuse to give up their guns, then we’re going be the ones to force them to do it.

And they just might succeed.

Exclusive: Obama plan to ‘Power Africa’ gets off to a dim start

By Joe Brock – Routers- 11-28-14

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Barack Obama last year told a cheering crowd in Cape Town that a $7 billion plan to “Power Africa” would double electricity output on the world’s poorest continent and bring “light where currently there is darkness”.

A year later, the U.S. president’s flagship project for Africa has already achieved 25 percent of its goal to deliver 10,000 megawatts of electricity and bring light to 20 million households and businesses, according to its annual report.

But the five-year plan has not yet delivered the power.

Power Africa has not measured its progress by counting actual megawatts added to the grid but promises of additional power made in deals it says it helped negotiate, according to sources inside the project and documents seen by Reuters.

Some projects facilitated by Power Africa — a program operated by the U.S. aid agency USAID — were under way years before the scheme’s inception, others are still in the planning stage.

It is unclear how much of the $7 billion Obama pledged has actually been spent or if a further $20 billion in private sector investment commitments will materialize.

“Saying you’ve met targets on projects that might never happen or taking the credit for projects that have been worked on for years makes me uncomfortable,” a source working on Power Africa told Reuters. “It’s misleading.”

Obama’s pledge to double power generation in Africa within five years looked highly ambitious from the start. Per capita electricity output in Sub-Saharan Africa has been flat for three decades because most promised power plants never get built.

“We’re dealing with megawatts on paper, rather than on the grid,” a second source working on the project said.

“Is that really what Obama promised?”

The first African-American U.S. president, the son of a Kenyan father, Obama has often been criticized for a lukewarm engagement in Africa, consisting more of words than deeds.

“WE’RE LIKE A PHARMACIST”

The 48 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, with a combined population of 800 million, produce roughly the same amount of power as Spain, a country of just 46 million. This constrains Africa’s growth and keeps hundreds of millions in poverty.

Power Africa coordinator Andrew Herscowitz told Reuters there had been some confusion about the role of the program. He said it was always intended to “expedite transactions”, facilitating private investment rather than handing out aid.

Herscowitz said Power Africa was there to help the private sector deliver electricity and it had already negotiated commitments from companies worth $20 billion, although he did not know how much of this money had been spent.

“We’re like a pharmacist, where people come to us, we reach out to people and figure out what is needed,” he said.

“In some projects we may have a lot of involvement and in some we have very little involvement.”

Foreign companies sign billions of dollars of agreements with African governments to build infrastructure every year, although a large number never get built.

In April 2011, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corp., a government aid agency involved in Power Africa, signed a $350 million deal to “revitalize” Malawi’s power sector.

More than three years on, 1.7 percent of that money has been spent, according to the programmer’s website, which gives no detail on progress on the ground.

Memoranda of understanding Power Africa signed this year with its six focus countries — Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Liberia and Ghana — contain less than $100 million of financial commitments targeted at specific countries, most of which is for consultants.

U.S. consultancy Tetra Tech won a $64 million contract and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Africa Governance Initiative was given a $3 million deal.

As with many African aid projects, rights groups have criticized Power Africa as mostly being a vehicle to subsidize U.S. companies.

Documents show $5 billion out of the $7 billion pledged is for loans for U.S. exports from the government’s Export-Import Bank (EXIM) and Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC).

TURN ON THE LIGHTS

“It’s absolutely not true. Power Africa is an opportunity to turn on the lights for millions of Africans by taking investment from all over the world,” Herscowitz said.

Herscowitz rejected suggestions Power Africa merely tapped into existing projects, highlighting a 5 megawatt “NextGen” solar project in Tanzania and a 30 megawatt biomass scheme in Kenya which he said “didn’t exist before Power Africa”.

The NextGen project website, however, says a power purchase agreement for the solar project was signed in January 2013, six months before Power Africa was launched.

It is by no means guaranteed that the Power Africa program, which has an initial five-year mandate, will continue or be seen as a priority when Obama’s final term ends in two years, U.S. government sources told Reuters.

In addition, the investment banks EXIM and OPIC are fighting for their survival in Congress, where Obama’s Democratic Party was severely weakened in mid-term elections this month.

In a change of tack, the U.S. government said this month it wants to partner with China on improving power in Africa.

Meanwhile, corruption in the countries that Power Africa operates in remains a problem.

Nigeria’s state oil company was accused last year by the then central bank governor of withholding $20 billion in oil funds due to the government, while Tanzania’s parliament is currently reviewing a report on graft in its energy sector.

Astorino Campaign Highlights

102

Now that the dust has settled and we’ve all recovered from another grueling election year, I wanted to take a moment to give you a couple of key takeaways from the campaign. Together, we worked really hard and built a great team of supporters. While the outcome was not in our favor, there is still much to be proud of.

· Rob Astorino won 46 of the 62 counties in New York! In fact, when you take away the five boroughs of New York City, Rob beat Cuomo 49-46%. This is a huge change from four years ago when Cuomo won 55% of non-New York City votes.

· In Monroe County, where Cuomo won in 2010 by a 2 to 1 margin, Rob became the first Republican gubernatorial candidate to win the county in 16 years.

· We also broke records with the amount of individual donors who contributed to Rob’s campaign for governor. In less than a year, nearly 9,000 people invested their hard-earned money into the campaign. We are so grateful for the support!

Sheriff Chris Moss said something on Election Night that has stuck with me. He said, “This is not the end of our story together, just the end of this chapter.” The support behind Rob Astorino over the last several months was both thrilling and inspiring. I look forward to our continued work together to make New York great again.

With many thanks,

Christina Sofia-Comer

Finance Director, Astorino for Governor

REPORT: Leaked Emails Reveal Hillary Clinton’s ‘Mafia’

Business Insider
By Colin Campbell
November 14, 2014 9:52 AM

Two people who are reportedly in the running to manage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign repeatedly referred to themselves as member of a “mafia” in emails to a private discussion group that were published Friday by ABC News.

“F U Republicans. Mafia till I die,” wrote one of those people, Marlon Marshall. “If you have just a few minutes, hop on that activate and punish those voters!”

Meanwhile, the other person, Robby Mook, once urged his fellow operatives to “smite Republicans mafia-style.”

Mook and Marshall are both veterans of Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and are said to be potential candidates to take the lead role in her still-unannounced 2016 effort.

The emails come from a private listserv the pair participated in with their friends and other campaign veterans called “Mook Mafia.” According to ABC, the messages were leaked by an unnamed Clinton supporter who does not believe Marshall and Mook should lead Clinton’s potential White House bid. The clubby nature of the listserv led to numerous inside jokes that are less than flattering when made public.

For example, Mook referred to himself as “Deacon,” and Marshall called himself “Reverend” in many of the exchanges, the report said.

“First, the mafia never separates, it just continues to grow and expand and move into other states in order to destroy Republicans,” Marshall once wrote. “A special thanks to none other than the namesake himself, Deacon Robby Mook. Without him, there would be no mafia.”

For the past five years, a prominent Democratic operative who is a leading contender to manage a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign has maintained a private email listserv for friends and associates that carries a provocative name: the “Mook Mafia.”

The listserv, which one member said reaches more than 150 fellow campaign veterans, has been a means for Robby Mook and a close friend Marlon Marshall to stay connected with many of the operatives who would likely populate a Democratic presidential campaign in 2016. Mook and Marshall have both been mentioned as possible Hillary Clinton campaign managers.

Copies of a cache of the emails obtained by ABC News, and revealed publicly for the first time, show Mook and Marshall demonstrating an aggressive tone in rallying their friends behind political causes, in exchanges that are often self-mocking and sometimes border on being profane.

They include rallying cries to, in Mook’s words, “smite Republicans mafia-style,” and, to quote Marshall, “punish those voters.” Mook sometimes calls himself “Deacon” in the emails, while Marshall, now a senior White House aide, refers to himself as “Reverend” in many of the exchanges.

“This is even more exciting than walking through the back of the Bellagio.”

Their inside jokes sometimes come at the expense of fellow Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton. A November 2009 mock news release announcing the listserv in addition to a new website and an upcoming reunion for the “Mook Mafia” included a fabricated quote from the former president.

“The Mafia has finally built a bridge to the 21st century,” Bill Clinton is jokingly quoted as having said in an email that appears to have been written by Marshall. “This is even more exciting than walking through the back of the Bellagio.”

The private emails were provided to ABC News by a Democrat on the listserv who has worked alongside Mook and Marshall on previous campaigns. The person who provided the emails is, like the vast majority of those on the listserv, supportive of Hillary Clinton, but does not support the idea of Mook or Marshall holding leadership roles in a second presidential bid. They were provided on the condition of anonymity.

That the emails are emerging publicly reflects the ferocious intra-battle to populate the top positions of an expected Clinton campaign.

Neither Mook nor Marshall responded to requests for comment. ABC News first reached out to both men Thursday morning, by email and phone.

“Crushing it mafia style.”

On one level, the listserv is a testament to the loyalty Mook, 34, has inspired over a decade in national politics. His resume includes stints on Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, running a series of state efforts for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid and managing Terry McAuliffe’s successful run for governor of Virginia last year.

Marshall is also a veteran of Clinton’s 2008 campaign. He joined Obama’s field operation after the primaries, and he then served in top positions for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, often working alongside Mook along the way. He is now a special assistant to the president and serves as principal deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

The exchanges provide a window into the clubby and pugnacious motivational styles of both Mook and Marshall, two stars of their party’s universe of field organizers and operatives.

The two most-recent messages to the group came just last week, on Election Day. They included a reference to a team reunion that would likely be held in New York early next year.

At least some recipients saw that reference as presuming that “Mook Mafia” members would be involved in running Clinton’s likely presidential candidacy. Clinton represented New York in the Senate and is said to be considering a campaign headquarters in Westchester County.

“TEAM! I was just at the DCCC last night for the GOTV [get-out-the-vote] rally, where we were in the middle of GOTV calisthenics when Nancy Pelosi walked in and said we looked like the Village People. Some things you can’t make up,” Mook wrote at 2:59 pm on Election Day.

Mook continued: “This has been a tough cycle — midterms always are — but what’s been so amazing to me is how from the Senate to the House to Governor’s races and beyond, we’ve been keeping the other side on defense. So many of you have played leadershp [sic] roles building field programs, managing campaigns, or running programs from allied groups. It’s been incredibly insipiring [sic] to see.”

Marshall had written the group earlier that day from Florida, where he was working – apparently in a volunteer capacity because he still works for the White House — to elect Charlie Crist as governor.

“I know many of you are out there on campaigns, crushing it mafia style,” Marshall wrote. “We unfortunately didn’t do a call this year, but Robby and I wanted to start a chain to acknowledge many in our great family who have been out there busting their tails for all that is right in the world.

“We also wanted you to know that this years [sic] reunion will actually be held early next year, January or February, and likely in New York for a weekend. Apologies for the late notice and for not sending anything out on a reunion. Please believe there will be one. The planning committee has just been a tad busy!”

The email was signed “MM,” with Marshall adding a hashtag: #mafia4life.

“F U Republicans.”

The existence of a “Mook Mafia” of friends and loyalists who extend through Mook’s previous campaign work has long been known. Scattered references to the informal group have appeared in favorable Mook profiles, and a Politico story last week referenced the possible New York reunion that was mentioned on the listserv.

The emails themselves, though, have not been seen publicly before. Much of the email traffic on the listserv appears to have been mundane: announcing job openings and new assignments, advertising or seeking rooms for rent in battleground states and organizing reunions in places including Las Vegas and Columbus, Ohio.

In the more substantive messages, though, Marshall emerges as the more aggressive of the duo. Writing in January 2010 to urge fellow “mafia” members to work hard on behalf of Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley, Marshall offered “an overall big thank you to everyone on this list who continues to fight the good fight.”

“F U Republicans. Mafia till I die,” he wrote. “If you have just a few minutes, hop on that activate and punish those voters!” (“Activate” is an apparent reference to a software program allowing volunteers to contact targeted voters by phone from anywhere in the country.)

“The Mafia never separates.”

The following year, in confirming news that he would be taking a new job that would include a move to Chicago, Marshall offered special thanks to Mook.

“First, the mafia never separates, it just continues to grow and expand and move into other states in order to destroy Republicans,” he wrote. “A special thanks to none other than the namesake himself, Deacon Robby Mook. Without him, there would be no mafia and I for sure know I would not have learned as much as I have in this business and have this opportunity.”

Mook responded by announcing “mandatory” attendance at a goodbye party for Marshall at a Capitol Hill bar.

“It’s true: Marlon Marshall is leaving our fold. Today is the day the grownassman [sic] grows up and leaves for America’s Second City. I know this prodical [sic] son will return to the mafia manger soon enough to smite Republicans mafia-style,” Mook wrote.

“If you can’t be here in person, join me in spirit by sending your words of love and encouragement to the Most High Grown Ass Reverend Marlon D as he embarks on his pilgrimage. Please believe and obey the beard.”

Both Mook and Marshall have been discussed as potential Clinton campaign managers, should she run for president. Another top contender, Guy Cecil, may have seen his chances damaged by last week’s Republican rout because Cecil was running the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for this election cycle.

Fired up Nojay ready for Dems

By Jason Jordan
The Evening Tribune
Nov. 12, 2014

Hornell, N.Y.

Tuesday’s election saw Democrats yield the majority in the New York State Senate to Republicans, and lose seats in the State Assembly, leaving many voters to wonder if there will be a new political dynamic in Albany when the new state Legislature convenes next year.

Asking Assemblyman Bill Nojay (R- District 133, Pittsford) the answer is a definite yes when he gave his reaction to last week’s election results on Monday.

Nojay was re-elected to a second term in his State Assembly district as he ran unopposed.

Nojay reaffirmed that the outcome of the election has not changed his priorities at all, and that going forward, Republicans would engage in what he called a “holding action” to keep downstate Democrats from pushing their agenda through the legislature.

“It was a victory for Upstate and Hornell in that we’ve seen when New York City Democrats run things, it favors New York City,” he said of the election results.

“It’s not good for our primary industries, manufacturing and agriculture, when Democrats are in charge,” Nojay added.

He is excited that his party closing the gap on Democrats in the Assembly.

“I think chances are very good that (Assembly Speaker) Sheldon Silver’s power will be diluted,” he said.

Nojay believes that the election results mean that more people are beginning to open up to a Republican message that “supports free markets and personal liberties.”

“Let’s face it, this is a blue state, and divided government was the best we could have possibly hoped for. The divided legislature gives us a seat at the table,” he said.

Nojay then noted his intention to use that seat at the table to address issues he thinks are crucial to the region, which notably included hydrofracking, the SAFE Act, and the economy.

On the issue of fracking, Nojay faulted newly re-elected Gov. Andrew Cuomo for “setting up a never ending civil war in local legislatures.”

“These people are communists, using the environmental issue as a front to attack our property rights,” he said disdainfully of fracking opponents.

Despite Democrats keeping the governor’s office, Nojay does not think the SAFE Act beyond repeal.

“Not necessarily. Last Tuesday was a good day for the Second Amendment. It would have been better if we won the governor’s office, but it gave us the three seat majority in the Senate,” he said.

Assessing the economic situation in the district, Nojay said, “Governor Cuomo has proven to be not good for our economy.” He called Cuomo’s Start-up NY program a failure.

Nojay praised the local delegation to the Legislature.

Cuomo had a secret re-election ‘pact’ with Republicans

By Fredric U. Dicker – New York Post 11-10-14

The state’s most powerful Republican secretly worked for months to help Democratic Gov. Cuomo win re-election — in exchange for Cuomo’s promise not to aid Senate Democrats in their Long Island races, a top New York GOP leader has charged.

Former state Republican Party Executive Director Michael Lawler — who managed Rob Astorino’s ill-fated gubernatorial run against Cuomo — told The Post that he learned of the alleged bombshell deal between Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos and Cuomo just days ago, after suspecting for months that it existed.

“Dean Skelos clearly was working against Rob’s campaign — he and the governor cut a deal,’’ seethed Lawler, a protégé of GOP Chairman Ed Cox.

The Nassau County-based Skelos and his aides “fight for nothing, stand for nothing except staying in power,’’ Lawler charged.

Lawler said he found out about the alleged Skelos-Cuomo arrangement from a top political aide to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican and Skelos ally who, in a serious setback to Astorino, endorsed Cuomo last month. “We heard rumblings that Mangano was going to [endorse Cuomo], and I reached out to his folks and was told ‘absolutely not,’ that Mangano would endorse Astorino, although he would then let Cuomo use a video of him praising the governor,’’ Lawler said.

“But after Mangano actually endorsed Cuomo in a video on TV, I called Mangano’s guy and said, ‘What the f–k?’ He said, ‘When this is over, give me a call.’

“So I called him a few days ago, and he said, ‘A deal was cut for Mangano to endorse Cuomo in exchange for Cuomo staying out of the Senate races on Long Island,’ ’’ Lawler continued. “I asked him, ‘Who cut the deal?’ And he said, ‘People higher than me.’

“I said, ‘Dean?’ And he responded, ‘That would be a pretty good guess.’ ”

Both GOP and Democratic sources had been speculating on the possibility for a while, noting that in the lead-up to last week’s election, Cuomo had been doing little to help his party win a majority in the Senate. If the governor made any appearance on behalf of a Democratic candidate on Long Island, it was a token in-and-out visit, with no follow-up and virtually no financial support, observers said.

The GOP rout of Long Island Senate seats included Jack Martins’ win over Adam Haber, Tom Croci over Adrienne Esposito and Kemp Hannon over Ethan Irwin.

Lawler said he and others in Astorino’s camp saw repeated additional evidence that Skelos — a key Cuomo political ally on such controversial measures as gay marriage and the anti-gun Safe Act — wanted the governor re-elected. “We asked Dean numerous times to hold press conferences with Rob in Nassau in reference to Cuomo’s Moreland Commission scandal, in reference to Rob’s tax, jobs and education plans, on Cuomo’s taking $37.5 million from Sandy victims for his Start-Up NY ads,’’ Lawler said. “And each time, Dean or his people either refused our request or they just didn’t respond,’’ Lawler said.

Skelos spokeswoman Kelly Cummings called Lawler’s charges “totally false,’’ insisting that “Skelos supported Astorino’’ and contending that Mangano’s decision to back Cuomo “was his own.”

A Cuomo spokesman also dismissed any deal between his boss and Skelos as a “delusion,” adding, “It’s wrong on the facts.”

But Lawler noted that ironically, Skelos would likely become leader of the new Republican-led Senate because Astorino’s presence at the top of the ticket helped three upstate GOP challengers defeat Democratic incumbents.

“The only reason Republicans will have a majority is because of Rob Astorino, who outperformed the governor in key areas including Monroe County and the Capital District, where we won,’’ Lawler said.

“Senate Republicans worked against Rob tactically, but if it wasn’t for Rob providing a strong top of the ticket in these areas, those same Senate Republicans would not have won the majority,’’ he said.

Lawler said he realized his explosive comments could cost him his future in New York politics but insisted he didn’t care.

“I’ve had enough of these f—ing people,’’ he said. “I’m happy to go on the record about all of this, and if that means I don’t get a job up in Albany, I’m happy with it.”

With GOP in control of State Senate, Cuomo faces delicate balancing act

By Tom Precious | News Albany Bureau | November 5, 2014

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s public position was that he wanted his fellow Democrats to take control of the State Senate so he could push through a series of GOP-blocked measures – abortion rights, immigration policies and another increase in the minimum wage.

But with Republicans in full control of that chamber after the elections Tuesday, Cuomo’s best opportunities might be for getting approval of popular fiscal plans that otherwise would be dead with the more left-leaning Democrats in leadership roles.

Although it does give Cuomo something else: political cover to blame Republicans for initiatives that the liberal base of his own party wants but that Cuomo can’t get through.

After winning 32 seats in the 63-member Senate, Republicans will have full control of that chamber next year for the first time since 2011-12, and they won’t need any help from Independent Democratic Conference members.

How did the Senate GOP pull this off?

For starters, money, and lots of it. Some of the money was raised by the GOP. But super PACs – political action committees representing a range of interests and wanting to block a Democratic takeover – also raised substantial funds for their own campaigns that helped elect Republicans.

Money from outside groups totaled $15 million over the last few months. Leading the outside spending for Senate races, as of Wednesday, was New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, a pro-charter school group that unleashed $4.8 million, according to Bill Mahoney at the New York Public Interest Research Group. Democratic-friendly super PACS also raised and spent large sums, specifically the New York State United Teachers union, which spent at least $4.1 million.

The GOP also found a strong slate of candidates this time.

And, some observer say, it did not hurt that Cuomo came out in favor of Senate Democrats in areas of the state where he did not perform well in his own election. They credited Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos of Nassau County and Sen. Catharine M. Young, R-Olean, who heads the Senate GOP campaign committee.

Democrats blamed their losses on everything from the SAFE Act gun-control law, an anti-Obama sentiment that cost Democrats elections in other states and a still-sour economy.

Plus, as Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat, pointed out, the three Senate seats that Democrats lost were all previously held by Republicans, and in 2012, district boundary lines were redrawn by Republicans to favor Republicans – a process that Cuomo signed off on.

“The farce of redistricting set this in motion,” Kennedy said of the Democratic losses in the Senate.

Republicans won three Democratic-held seats in the Senate from Monroe County and the mid- and lower Hudson Valley, held open seats and suffered only one loss: the 60th District seat in Erie County, where Democrat Marc C. Panepinto won in a four-way race with just a third of the total vote. Interestingly, Panepinto was the one Democrat vying in contested races where Cuomo did not make endorsements.

Voicing the loudest anger with Cuomo over the GOP Senate victory was the Working Families Party. Cuomo courted that labor-backed party last spring and, in return for its endorsement, he pledged to work hard to prevent Republicans from controlling the Senate.

Cuomo “squandered millions on a fake party,” Working Families Party director Bill Lipton said, referring to Cuomo’s new Women’s Equality Party.

He “left millions more in his campaign account as New York Democrats in the Legislature and in Congress withered on the vine,” Lipton added.

Additionally, Senate Republicans came “flying out of the gate” after the September primaries with messages, especially upstate, meant to move voters to their side, said Bruce N. Gyory, a political consultant and adjunct political science professor at the University at Albany.

Upstate, they focused on a theme: GOP losses means Democratic takeover, and that means loss of power to upstate at the hands of downstate politicians. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a backer of Senate Democrats, became a lightening rod, and Democrats failed to follow with a tough “rapid response” message to counter the GOP mantra, Gyory said.

“Republicans did a better job of driving home a regionalism theme: that ‘we’ll protect your interests more than Democrats,’ ” he said.

Now the unanswered question: Where does Cuomo want to go?

The governor fueled a reputation in his first term as a social progressive and fiscal moderate, but following nasty tussles with Democratic progressives in the September primary and in the general election, Cuomo likely will be under continuing pressure to lean left in his second term.

The governor recently said he needed a Democratic majority in the Senate to push a progressive agenda in his second term, including an abortion proposal, a plan to give state college aid to children of illegal immigrants, another increase in the minimum wage and a taxpayer-funded campaign finance system.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York said that it would be a “mistake” to think the Senate GOP takeover was about the Women’s Equality Act, which includes the abortion measure. President M. Tracey Brooks blamed Democrats’ legislative defeats on education and property tax issues as well as a “mood of general dissatisfaction.”

An anti-abortion group, meanwhile, said backers of the abortion proposal “were utterly defeated” in the Senate elections. The Chiaroscuro PAC said the issue ended up “blowing up in the faces of New York Democrats who neglected talking about the economic issues New Yorkers really care about in order to spin a yarn about a fabricated war on women.”

But Senate Republicans said that based on campaign promises by Cuomo and Democratic senators, the state was getting ready for a hard left turn. The GOP victories stopped that from happening, they suggested.

“We have balanced the New York State government, and the entire state remains represented, as opposed to control being in one place, particularly New York City,” said Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, R-Elma.

In 2015,Senate Republicans will push for expanded job-creation programs, more tax cuts, fewer regulatory burdens and more funds for to remedy crumbling infrastructure, he said.

That leaves open the question whether Senate Republicans can or will want to cut another deal with the five-member Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC, which broke away from the mainline group of Democrats in 2013 to form a ruling coalition with the GOP.

If there is a continued relationship between the IDC and the GOP, it likely won’t be as beneficial for the IDC as in the last two years, which included rotating top leadership titles on a daily basis between Republican Skelos and Democratic Sen. Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx.

Klein, an aide said, was on a plane Wednesday and unavailable for comment, and Skelos declined an interview – signs that he and Klein still have much to work out before they heavily engage with reporters.

One Democrat said Wednesday that the Senate GOP and the IDC were already negotiating a change in Senate rules to permit the continuation of the IDC as a stand-alone group, with various perks, including staff, offices and committee chairs but with less power than it has had in the last two years.

Gallivan said that he does not know the future of relations between the Senate GOP and the IDC but that he expects them to “work together” on common interests, although Tuesday’s results make clear that the GOP will run the show in the Senate.

There are reasons the GOP might still want some sort of formal relationship with the IDC, if for none other than wanting to have a cushion for votes. Moreover, one Senate Republican, Thomas W. Libous of Binghamton, is under federal indictment and no one can predict the future of that case.

Gyory said the GOP working with the IDC also makes sense just for the simple legislative reality of vote cushioning.

“In the course of the Legislature handling issues, there are controversial measures that some of your members are not going to want to vote with the majority,” he said, adding that the IDC could give the Senate GOP that leeway on some controversial votes in the next couple of years.

email: tprecious@buffnews.com

How Bloomberg’s Million-Dollar Desire For Gun Control Is Backfiring

9/25/2014 Frank Miniter – Forbes

With the midterms just over a month away New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending at least $50 million to make his gun-control agenda part of this election. His gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety has endorsed more than 100 federal and state candidates. They are also running television commercials, holding events and pushing their studies into the newsrooms of a mostly favorable press.

John Feinblatt, Everytown’s president, told USA Today, “We want gun safety to be an issue that people vote on.”

John R. Lott, Jr. says he’s fine with that statement. He just wants people to know the truth about what really reduces violence before they vote. He says, “I can’t find a single study from Bloomberg’s groups that aren’t loaded with errors. They have an anti-gun agenda and will lie to achieve it.”

Before getting to the inside story behind the politics, the piles of money being used to shape public opinion and to how the truth is stubbornly winning the debate despite—or because of—Bloomberg’s spin, I’d like to tell you how I first met John R. Lott, Jr. He is an important voice in this debate and this anecdote shows what kind of researcher he is.

In 2006 I was at a cocktail party in Arlington, VA, talking to a liberal journalist about his soon-to-be-released book on Iraq when John Lott joined us. John listened for a moment and then said to the author, “I’m curious. You say you just finished a book on the Iraq war. I always find it so hard to finish a book. I get so deep into the research I have a hard time stopping to write. I’m guessing you had a hard time leaving Iraq. There is so much to investigate and understand.”

The author said, “I didn’t go to Iraq.”

John paused with this quizzical look on his face before asking, “Oh, how did you do your research?”

The author said, “I didn’t have to do much. I mean, I already know what I think.”

They were both so baffled with each other that, after an awkward silence, the liberal author shrugged and moved away.

Lott, of course, entered the national stage in 1998 with his groundbreaking book More Guns, Less Crime. The book details his research that found that, despite what people are often told, violent crime rates actually tend to go down when states pass “shall-issue” concealed-carry laws. (Shall-issue laws force a licensing agent to give anyone a concealed-carry permit to carry a handgun as long as the individual passing certain criteria as stipulated by law.)

As soon as the book was published a lot of academics made it their mission to prove Lott to be the fraud they were sure he must be. The thing is, the researchers kept finding that Lott is right.

A study by Carlisle E. Moody and Thomas B. Marvell that was published in Econ Journal Watch in January 2009, for example, looked into Lott’s findings and determined: “Many articles have been published finding that shall-issue laws reduce crime. Only one article, by Ayres and Donohue who employ a model that combines a dummy variable with a post-law trend, claims to find that shall-issue laws increase crime. However, the only way that they can produce the result that shall-issue laws increase crime is to confine the span of analysis to five years. We show, using their own estimates, that if they had extended their analysis by one more year, they would have concluded that these laws reduce crime.”

To continue his detailed search for the truth about guns in America Lott founded the Crime Prevention Research Center about a year ago. Lott has held research or teaching positions at the University of Chicago, Yale University, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University and Rice University. He has a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA.

Lott says a few foundations and some individuals donated “a few hundred thousand dollars” to get his foundation started. His nonprofit “has 501(C)(3) status and does not accept donations from gun or ammunition makers or organizations such as the NRA.”

Lott told me, “The NRA and other gun-rights groups are doing a lot of important things, but we decided to fill an influential niche by not taking money from either side.

“Still,” Lott said, “honest research leads to real answers—not the political spin Bloomberg’s groups prefer.” Lott says because of this “the gun-control groups don’t want an honest debate. I’ve challenged Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun-rights groups [Everytown for Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns] to debates many times but they always ignore me.”

I’d found the same thing. While doing the investigative reporting for my book The Future of the Gun I spent a lot of time with police officers, gun-rights lobbyists, inner-city gang members, public-health experts, engineers at firearms manufacturers, victims of criminals with guns, heroes who’d stopped a bad guy with a gun … but though I tried and tried Bloomberg’s group wouldn’t even answer an email.

When I told this to Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, he said, “If the gun-control groups can’t control the messaging they won’t even talk to you.” Gottlieb knows all about this, as he’s been publically asking Bloomberg and others who fund anti-gun-freedom legislation to debate him for years.

The only responses Lott has gotten from Bloomberg’s people have been some “snarky Tweets from Shannon Watts,” says Lott. Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action, a campaign funded by Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund.

Bloomberg’s groups might not feel they have to respond because they already have much of the media behind them.

Lott said, “When Bloomberg’s group puts out a press release they get huge coverage from the media and little critical analysis of their claims. When we do research that shows Bloomberg’s group is blatantly wrong we get coverage from FOX News and some other media, but the networks, CNN, the Washington Post and so on often ignore us. When those mainstream outlets do quote our studies they typically include the views of someone from the gun-control groups. I don’t mind that, but why aren’t they being as critical of the gun-control groups? Those groups have official ideological agendas.”

Meanwhile, the anti-gun groups have found some very wealthy people to fund them. CNN reported that Harvard University’s School of Public Health is receiving $350 million donation to study “gun violence” and other “complex health threats challenging the U.S. and the world” from the Morningside Foundation. The descendants of Hong Kong real estate tycoon T.H. Chan run this foundation. Also, Bloomberg has donated $350 million to Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health and, according to the Washington Post, Bloomberg “has committed to spending $50 million of his personal fortune” to build Everytown for Gun Safety. Meanwhile, the Democracy Alliance, backed by George Soros, is giving millions to a variety of groups that support gun control and other “progressive” causes.

On the pro-gun side most of the money is coming from the grassroots. There are estimated to be 100 million gun owners in America. About 5 million of them are members of the National Rifle Association. Millions more are members of other gun-rights groups and gun clubs. These are the people who fund the NRA and these are the people who vote this issue. Though there are wealthy individuals on the gun-rights side, it’s not a stretch to say a few wealthy, out-of-touch billionaires are trying to disarm the people. To accomplish this they have to sway the people to vote away their freedom. This would be democracy at work if it were an honest exchange of ideas leading into another election, but too often the media is simply printing Bloomberg’s studies as if they are not from group’s with official ideological positions.

Lott said, “Still, the truth does have a way of getting through.”

For example, when anti-gun groups and politicians began saying that 40 percent of gun sales are done without background checks Lott dug into the numbers and found that President Barack Obama got it all wrong when he said, “As many as 40 percent of all gun purchases take place without a background check.”

Lott found that the 40 percent figure comes from a 251-person study covering gun purchases during 1991 to 1994. “Not only is that two decades-old data, but it covered sales before the federal Brady Act that started the National Instant Background Check System took effect on February 28, 1994.”

The many anti-gun groups who used this figure also failed to note that the vast majority of these gun sales involved within-family inheritances and gifts. “And,” Lott said, “That survey also found that all gun-show sales went through federally licensed dealers. If President Obama really trusts the study, he should stop raging about the ‘gun show loophole.’”

In this case the claim was so egregious that Washington Post’s fact checker weighed in and gave Obama and the many anti-gun groups using this 40 percent figure three Pinocchios. The Post cited the problems Lott noted, criticized the loaded wording of the study and a lot more.

Meanwhile, after Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety put out an info-graphic claiming there had been 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, Lott and other researchers looked into the claim. They soon found that Everytown inflated the statistic by “including suicides, accidents, incidents related to criminal activity (e.g. – drug dealing or robbery), and incidents that took place outside of school hours or were unconnected to members of any school community,” reported the CATO Institute. For its statistics the CATO Institute relied on numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2013 “Indicators of School Crime and Safety” report.

There are a lot of other examples showing how often the anti-gun movement misuses and spins data. Lott helped to blow holes in Bloomberg’s groups figures on how many mass killers have mental illnesses; his research has helped to explain how gun control made Chicago’s murder rate skyrocket; and he has shown what the political term “universal background checks” really means.

Lott says, “We’re not just responding to errors and lies propagated by the anti-gun movement; we’re also doing new research to inject truth into this debate. It’s critical that we do. I can’t find a Bloomberg study without a lot of errors. We need to push back with honest research. If we don’t people will believe the trumped-up studies from the anti-gun groups. The result of what could happen then can be seen in places like Chicago.”

As the truth has come out on the statistics and studies being pushed by Bloomberg’s groups a lot of mayors have left Bloomberg’s groups Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). So many, in fact, Bloomberg was compelled to start a new group and pushed MAIG under its umbrella. Bloomberg also lost in Colorado and more recently he failed to unseat Sheriff David Clarke Jr. of Milwaukee County, Wis. In both of those political battles guns were a central issue.

In 2013 gun-control groups outspent gun-rights groups by about 7.4 to 1 on TV advertising. This was largely because of Bloomberg’s massive anti-gun war chest. Guns have not been a big issue nationally in this election cycle, but the gun issue is influencing voters in places like Washington State, Colorado, New York and Maryland. These contests will affect the momentum, one way or the other, of how the gun issue affects the next presidential election.