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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 7,768

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A responsive state legislator's office --- now that's what I like to see!

I have had difficulty in getting unemployment benefits. My job ended on 12/31, and I had 14 weeks of severance that carried me through the first week of April. In anticipation of that, I filed my unemployment claim in late March. I got a letter within about 10 days saying that, yes, I was eligible, and that I would receive a second letter once they had made a determination of benefit. But that second letter never arrived, and no benefits have been paid.

I have had to take two early withdrawals from my 401(k) to meet expenses.

I have tried dozens of times to contact the NYS Dept. of Labor. Each time, after wading through countless voice menus, I get a recording saying they are busy with other callers, and instructing me to call again (no option to have them call me back).
So last night, out of desperation, I sent emails to my state Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, my state Senator Brad Hoylman, and Governor Cuomo's office. I got an immediate automated response from Gottfried, but have yet to receive any follow-up. Likewise, the governor's office sent an automated reply. I got no automated reply from Senator Hoylman's office, which concerned me a bit; until, that is, I checked my email today, and found a response from Senator Hoylman's office manager, saying she would be happy to help and requesting some additional information. Guess which one inspires my loyalty!

So I"m posting this public Thank You to Senator Brad Hoylman for his office's prompt attention and responsiveness!
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue May 4, 2021, 04:47 PM (0 replies)

The statement from capitol police about the death of Officer Billy Evans is strangely vague ....

The statement from capitol police about the death of Officer Billy Evans is strangely vague as to how, exactly, Officer Evans died. It says that Noah Green rammed the barricade, but it does not specifically say that he hit the two officers (although some outlets have made that leap). Why do I get the feeling we're looking at a friendly fire incident here?
Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Apr 3, 2021, 12:51 AM (4 replies)

The best argument against the filibuster is also the most obvious one . . .

. . . For anyone who doubts whether the filibuster is contrary to the intent of the framers of the Constitution, here's a simple question they can ask themselves that should provide immediate clarity:

If the framers had intended to require a [de facto] 60-vote majority in order to pass regular legislation, why would they have bothered to designate the Vice President to be a tie-breaking vote, since there never would have been any tie votes to worry about?
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Mar 24, 2021, 07:45 PM (35 replies)

An alternative hypothesis on the Georgia Shooter

I'm going to propose an alternative theory about the shooter in Georgia. You may agree or disagree, but please hear me out.

I don't for a minute wish to minimize in any way the problem of the surge in anti-Asian bias crimes. It's a real problem and we need to address it. But based on what the shooter himself told police, some additional details that have been reported, and certain on-the-ground realities no one seems to want to talk about, what I see is a profoundly disturbed young man whose Southern Baptist church's obsession with sex as the primary locus of sin seriously messed with his head. Hence he came to view the women at these businesses, which he had frequented as a patron, as his "temptresses." And as some Christian men have done for a couple of millennia, he found it easier to place the locus of what his Church was telling him was his "sin" outside of himself, and blame the women instead.

As for those on-the-ground realities, here's what I'm talking about.: in just about any major metropolitan area in this country, one can find these Asian-owned and staffed massage parlors. Here in NYC, it's an open secret that these places, while operating ostensibly as legitimate businesses that indeed offer massage, the 'massage therapists' who work in many of them will offer, um, additional services, for an additional fee. And the fact of the matter is that these kinds of massage parlors are operated almost exclusively by Asians these days. So the fact that so many of the victims were Asian may have been merely incidental to the fact of who happens to own and work in them. And indeed, it has been reported that workers at one of the businesses involved were indeed arrested last year on prostitution charges, after one of them offered sexual services to an undercover cop.

Here is what I see as a very possible scenario: a 21-year-old, unstable young man, with hormones in overdrive, begins frequenting these places, and begins to take advantage of their "additional services." And he finds himself returning again and again for more gratification. Meanwhile, his church is feeding him a pathological view of his own sexuality (wouldn't exactly be the first time a Christian church did this, now would it?), essentially shaming him for enjoying the experiences he has been having, and in his emotionally confused and unstable state, the conflict becomes too much.

Look, none of this makes the shootings any less horrific, and I fully understand why it would appear to be racially motivated by many Asians who are already experiencing a wave of bias crimes. And indeed, it is quite possible that he does harbor racist views. But it is also quite possible that by reductively labeling it an Anti-Asian hate crime, we may be missing an important part of the picture.
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Mar 22, 2021, 09:21 PM (14 replies)

What would James Madison have said about the filibuster?

I have been beyond perplexed by President Biden's stated desire to retain the filibuster. He keeps holding out hope that he will somehow be able to find common ground with Senate Republicans, as he did back in his days in the Senate. But this is not the same GOP we are dealing with (despite a few holdovers from his Senate days). I began to wonder what James Madison, the chief architect of the constitution, would have thought of the filibuster. And in Federalist Nos. 58 and 22, I found my answer.

in Federalist No. 58, defending the Constitution against supermajority requirements in all but a few constitutionally-defined circumstances, Madison wrote:

"It has been said that more than a majority ought to have been required for a quorum; and in particular cases, if not in all, more than a majority of a quorum for a decision. That some advantages might have resulted from such a precaution, cannot be denied. It might have been an additional shield to some particular interests, and another obstacle generally to hasty and partial measures. But these considerations are outweighed by the inconveniences in the opposite scale.
"In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority. Were the defensive privilege limited to particular cases, an interested minority might take advantage of it to screen themselves from equitable sacrifices to the general weal, or, in particular emergencies, to extort unreasonable indulgences."

And in Federalist 22, Madison identifies supermajority requirements as one of the principal causes of dysfunction in the Articles of Confederation:

"To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser. ... The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority. In those emergencies of a nation, in which the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government, is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for action. The public business must, in some way or other, go forward. If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good. And yet, in such a system, it is even happy when such compromises can take place: for upon some occasions things will not admit of accommodation; and then the measures of government must be injuriously suspended, or fatally defeated. It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining the concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of inaction. Its situation must always savor of weakness, sometimes border upon anarchy.Ē

The filibuster is an anti-democratic, anti-constitutional blight on the Senate. Created by racists (specifically by John C. Calhoun of South to protect Southern slavery from federal civil rights legislation in the 1840s), it has no place in our system and must be abolished!
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Mar 10, 2021, 05:42 PM (2 replies)

A school-related Covid horror story

A high school classmate who teaches special needs kids in Arizona lost her husband to Covid this weekend. She doesn't wish to be identified, but does think her story should be told, given the push to open schools as quickly as possible.

I know they are saying schools aren't a significant vector of transmission. I dare someone to tell that to my friend. Here's what she wrote to me (shared with permission):

I work with children with special needs. We returned to school in person the end of October. Our district was great about providing PPE and setting up spaces so we could spread students out. I felt as safe as possible given the situation.
I kept my husband safe from October until January. I followed every precaution. Parents did too. District was supportive.

Our district worked tirelessly to get us scheduled to be vaccinated, prioritizing therapists and teachers working with our most severely impaired children.

My first vaccination was scheduled for January 16. On January 14, a family made a decision that changed my life. Knowing that they had another child at home who was symptomatic and tested positive for COVID, they knowingly sent their HS child with special needs to school. They never had him tested. They never warned us. Per district protocol, he was to have been kept home. This requirement was sent to every parent in the district.

His deficits are severe. We canít keep him masked. He spits, bites, yells, hits, scratches, etc. There is no way to socially distance from him. I was wearing PPE.

It wasnít enough. He was an asymptomatic carrier. This family KNOWINGLY put all of us at risk.

My exposure was 1/14. I had my vaccine 1/16, but it didnít have enough time to work. I tested positive 1/21 and my husband did on
1/23. I lost him 2/15.

I love working with children with special needs. Iíve done it for 37 years. I never thought it would be my husbandís death sentence.

I have no words for this -- just utterly horrific. We need to SLOW DOWN on the push to reopen schools!
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Feb 17, 2021, 10:49 AM (57 replies)

Amid the currently circulaying George Schultz hagiographies, let us not forget . . .

. . . that although he was apparently kept out of the loop on Iran-Contra, Schultz was nevertheless the face of Reagan's Central America policies, which entailed support for fascist dictators and right-wing death squads.

Nor should we forget his vigorous defnse of Reagan's opposition to sanctions against South Afirca. The clip below offers a reminder of that, as well as a reminder of who was on the right side of that debate!


Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Feb 11, 2021, 11:51 PM (3 replies)

"If you are a decent American . . ."

Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Jan 7, 2021, 10:28 PM (5 replies)

Why the hell were the Capitol Police not preparex for this??

They shpuld have had a wall of police officers surrounding the capitol that cpuld have presented any storm8ng of the building! They have known this was coming for weeks!
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jan 6, 2021, 04:56 PM (17 replies)

Civil rights leader warns Tom Vilsack nomination could depress voter turnout in Georgia

Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Dec 10, 2020, 10:54 PM (2 replies)
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