I’ve telegraphed my punches on these two races for so long that there is really little reason to read on, but I did want to say one more time for the record the things I’ve been repeating for months (if not years).
So, here are a couple more endorsements.
7th CD: Unlike many in the circles I travel in, I do not regard Vito Lopez as the embodiment of all evil; we just have different worldviews, Vito endorses candidates based entirely upon where they stand in relation to him.
Many of Lopez’s political opponents, like political consultant Gary Tilzer and Councilwoman Councilwoman Diana Reyna, use the same exact standard, but then do the opposite.
Sometimes, as in this race, this leads Reyna to make the right choice, and sometimes it leads to things like her clueless endorsement of Charles Barron, complete with a defense of his past statements that borders on the morally reprehensible.
I have a different philosophy. I evaluate the positions, records, worldviews and personal talents of the candidates in a race, and then try to make the best real world choice based upon the facts on the ground.
I understand the Reyna position, but thinks it suffers from the fact she thinks of the world in simple blacks and whites, just like the person at who’s knee she learned about politics, and who then inflicted her and her limited and skewed world vision upon the body politic because of what he inaccurately perceived as her personal loyalty.
I speak of course, of Reyna’s former mentor, Vito Lopez.
And now, after having given us Reyna (and her limited brain power and total lack of moral vision), Lopez seeks to inflict upon the US Congress another City ouncilmember chosen solely on the basis of his personal loyalty rather than for his intelligence, work ethic and positions on the issue.
There is only one issue in his race. Lopez said it himself:
“I get a lot of agita as leader...Why not say to me, -- “ ‘Hi Vito’; ‘How are you, Vito?’; ‘Are you well, Mr. Democratic Leader?’...If there is a tiger, you wouldn’t go around kicking it, would you?...That wouldn’t be very wise, would it?”
Erik Dilan is a nice enough guy, with a very pretty wife, and a pretty shrewd daddy, who as a Councilman seems to at least be attuned to the workaday concerns of his constituents, if not to the big picture.
On many of the hot button economic issues that come before the Council, Dilan quite often takes a stance which I suspect is somewhat to the right of his constituents (he seems to be very quietly to their left on social issues), but that doesn’t mean he is necessarily wrong on all of them.
My major complaint about Dilan’s Council work is not so much his positions, as the fact that, despite the efforts of his supporters to claim otherwise, he does not seem to be much of a leader in advancing those positions.
This is what a friend of Dilan’s said about him to me:
“There are few people who are lazier in the world than Erik Dilan....”
Dilan’s detractors have sometimes accused of him of gaming the system for his own advantage. The most credible rebuttal to that assertion is that it might be giving him too much credit.
Dilan’s major virtue as an elected is that he’s loyal. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact of who he’s loyal to.
Dilan's legislative accomplishments appear to be written in invisible ink.
Mostly, he takes credit for bills produced by the Mayor's Office, which under the Council's rules bear his name because they've been referred to the Committee he chairs.
It is on national issues where I worry about Dilan, though not too much.
Speaking at a political club this spring, Dilan called for balanced budgets, while promising to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
The words could have come out of the mouth of Bob Turner.
When your view of national issues flows entirely from pre-chewed talking points prepared by your consultants, you can say the damndest things sincerely, since you don’t know better.
Dilan can look you in the eye and say he too would have voted to save the banks, but would have made sure Main Street got taken care of as well, as if his presence would have made all the difference in altering an ugly but necessary bill, which nearly failed and only passed by getting even worse, but probably saved us from a repeat of 1929.
Surely, the bill could have been better. And it would have been, if only poor Barney Frank had only had the savvy political and economic mind of Erik Dilan to call upon in his hour of need.
It takes a very special, G-d given form of cluelessness to be able to say such things with a straight face, or to switch back and forth from Simpson-Bowlesy budget balance to radical economic populist without knowing the difference.
But Dilan has actually joined the two fringe candidate in the race in saying Velazquez is pro-Wall Street, which is true only if you compare her to Fidel Castro.
It takes a very special sort of empty headed cynicism to run a campaign conceived in Vito Lopez’s Ridgewood bedroom and executed out of his Bushwick clubhouse and still assert that Ms. Velázquez was virtually “appointed” by party bosses when she was first elected 20 years ago, when she did, in fact, have to beat an incumbent of two decades in a hotly contested six way races in which she had the support of very few elected officials.
It takes a special sort of discipline to mount a podium and talk about issues you know nothing about besides the talking points you have memorized.
The only reason I don’t worry more about Erik Dilan is he’s always done what he’s told, and without Vito in the room, he will doubtless take his cues from Joe Crowley and vote with his Party.
But we can do better, and we already have.
Nydia Velazquez actually cares about national issues, and is often times an articulate spokeswoman for the public good. She understands how Congress works and does not disdain the unglamorous work that gets done in committees which decides whether the devil is in the details.
I can personally attest that Velazquez has been extremely aggressive on behalf of the neighborhood she represents.
I have my difference with Velazquez, but she is a solid member of Congress.
Further, it is unfair, as Erik Dilan has done, to call Velazquez an enemy of Israel.
Dilan’s handlers have actually have actually had Dilan claim that Velazquez is personaly responsible for strife in the Middle East:
“[Nydia Velazquez's] inaction as a US representative has inadvertently exacerbated the decades long struggle in Israel and the region.”
Erik Dilan’s election will ensure an end to such strife, just as it surely would have improved the Bush bailout.
Now, even if one thinks that Velazquez is insufficiently pro-Israel, Dilan’s statement has got to rank as the stupidest comment made on the matter since UN Ambassador Warren Robinson Austin said "The Jews and Arabs should sit down and settle their differences like good Christians."
Although it appears Velazquez has taken a couple of bad votes on Israel over a twenty year period, one cannot compare her to Yvette Clarke, let alone Charles Barron. I don't think one can fairly call Velazquez, whose record has been largely pro-Israel, an "anti-Zionist."
Further, it is my understanding these days that Velazquez is now taking her cues on Israel from Jerry Nadler (more than sufficiently Zionist for all but the district’s most right wing Jews) and has put her Jane Hancock on every pro-Israel letter that someone has bothered to submit to her (the letters she’s been criticized for not signing apparently never were), which may be why AIPAC is remaining silent rather than opposing her.
This might appear to be expedience, but does anyone believe that Erik Dilan wakes up in the middle of the night with a start, breaks out into a cold sweat and starts singing Hatikvah with tears welling in his eyes?
Clearly, either way we end up with a Latino rep who supports Israel out of expedience.
Now I ask anyone who has seen both these candidates speak: who between the two of them would be more effective to display as Latino supporter of Israel when you need to trot one out?
As to the other candidates, one a Ron Paul Democrat, the other a former patronage hack turned faux Wall Street occupier, I’ve already given them far more ink that they deserve.
GATEMOUTH ENDORSES NYDIA VELAZQUEZ.
8th CD: I’ve not always been a fan of Hakeem Jeffries and I’ve even called him out for things like his silly bill to keep realtors from calling neighborhoods by the wrong name (wish I could find that link).
But Hakeem Jeffries is a serious and thoughtful legislator with real accomplishments.
Plus, unlike some other young intellectually gifted hotshots (think Rory Lancman), people like him and he reads people well—which means he can and will get things done.
Hakeem Jeffries is a future star.
As Mary Alice Miller has noted, Charles Barron represents the past.
Not only the past, but the road wisely not chosen.
I’ve written so many pieces referencing the many despicable things this would-be despot has said and done over the years that to link them all would take all day, so these two will have to do.
I will give Barron some credit. In 2012 Brooklyn, he is the only man capable of making Orthodox Jews, the LGTB community, the Working Families Party, reformers and the Democratic establishment unite in common cause.
GATEMOUTH ENDORSES HAKEEM JEFFRIES AS IF HIS LIFE DEPENDED ON IT.