DAVID STOROBIN (5/31/12): "For me, this was never personal."
DAVID STOROBIN (2/14/12): “Character does matter in this race… but it is not my character that is at issue in this election; it is Mr. Fidler’s record of highly questionable, unethical behavior as a career politician, a City Councilman and a power broker whose the product of the corrupt Brooklyn Democrat political machine.
Today, we are here to say that character does count. And that Mr. Fidler’s character renders him unfit to serve in the State Senate.
This is not a statement I make lightly. I realize the the implications of what I’m saying.
But this issue, the character issue, has become the central issue in this campaign.
And now that we know the kind of person Lew Fidler is — the kind of person who would say or do anything to get elected…
the kind of person who would sell out a member of his own faith, his own community, just so he can rise another rung on his career political ladder…
Now that we know the kind of person Lew Fidler is, we have an obligation to examine Mr. Fidler’s record and determine whether he merits our vote for state senate, and the answer is NO.”
I really don’t have much to say about the Storobin victory that I haven’t said in some form before.
David Storobin ran an entire campaign based upon (1) queer bashing at a degree so unprecedented in New York City politics (newspaper ads accusing his opponent of wanting to instruct six year old about homosexuality) that it might have gotten him a felony conviction in New Jersey and (2) feigning outage over a passing remark his opponent got caught making at a party (and then stupidly bobbled when caught, when he should have apologized).
During their sole debate in the campaign conducted entirely in the English language, Storobin once again attacked Fidler about it, but then said the matter was a distraction, and that he wanted to talk instead about issues.
A minute later, Errol Louis gave Storobin the opportunity to ask Fidler one question.
Did Storobin ask about Tier Six?
Property Tax Caps?
Manhattan Beach erosion?
Storobin asked Fidler about his stupid remark; which given his performance in the debate, was quite understandable; Storobin was probably advised not to use the words faygeleh or gomik on television and had nothing else substantive left to say.
It takes a rare degree of self possession and obliviousness to run such a campaign and then, upon your victory, say "I know not a lot of time is left in this session, but I'd like to actually get my hands dirty and roll up the sleeves and get things done."
As I’ve noted before, David Storobin hands haven’t been clean for a long time.
There’s a long paper trail of Storobin falsely calling people he doesn’t like Nazis, Communists, anti-Russian bigots and tools of the gay lobby.
And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of David Storobin’s character (if one can even call it that).
Storobin is a man (if one can even call even call him that) who has given an uncritical forum to white supremacists on repeated occasions, called upon local government to deny people the right to worship freely, called extremist immigrant bashing vigilantes “very reasonable,” denied the Bosnian and Kosovo genocides, gleefully given a forum to deniers of the Armenian Holocaust, affirmed the right of Vladimir Putin to invade countries, preemptively use nuclear weapons and poach American hockey stars, written sympathetically about Russian collaborators with the Nazis, cheered for America’s enemies, slurred the memory of a dead person for committing the crime of being an Italian-American, been repeatedly linked by hate sites and deleted everything he’s written from two different web sites he founded.
But David Storobin wants people like me to let bygones be bygones:
"I think it's very unfortunate that some people are still in election mode…I really don't want to discuss personal and political attacks right now. I hope Lew Fidler and his people can just move on and work together [with us],"
I suppose Lew Fidler does have some obligation to work together with Storobin on issues in their overlapping communities, precious few of which I expect Storobin will ever visit again since virtually none of them are included any of the districts Mr. Storobin might chose to run in.
But I would suggest that this obligation does not extend beyond those forced to work with Mr. Storobin out of a fiduciary duty.
A seat in the NYS Senate is not like the Presidency of the United States, and Mr. Storobin is not entitled to the deference a patriotic political adversary would naturally extend to the POTUS.
A deference which, by the way, Mr. Storobin has never seen fit to extend himself:
David Storobin: "Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan," the president said... Was it really important to take credit openly?
Before I go, a bit of election analysis.
When one loses an election by 14 to 16 votes (I suppose we’ll know the answer when the results are certified), failure has a thousand fathers. I suppose I was one of them.
If I didn’t discover Storobin’s writings and begin rolling them out for public display in all their glory, Fidler would have never had the opportunity to make his “Kinsley Gaffe”, and all that followed would not have followed.
Though let us clear, as I’ve previously reported, the ugly campaign to tear down Fidler based upon character issues was in the pipeline long before the Fidler gaffe which thereafter served as its excuse.
Further, the gaffe eliminated press interest in how radically strange Storobin’s world view was, in the same way that Michael McMahon’s campaign’s stumble concerning “Jewish money” closed off any discussion of the rather serious issue of the method of Michael Grimm’s fundraising from follower of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto.
Could all this have cost Fidler twenty votes? Of course it could have.
Could the absence of Fidler’s hospitalization have saved the race? Of course it could have.
Then there is the tale of the Pometko absentee ballots.
Now that the court case is resolved with finality, I intend to talk about this matter in more detail, and my position may end up surprising some of my friends, but if the courts had ultimately ruled that soliciting absentee ballots from dozens of able bodied elderly persons who swore that they were permanently disabled and unable to vote at their polling place (which was often in the very community room of the building the voters lived in; the very community room where the applications themselves were solicited and the ballots later filled out) was an act which voided those ballots, then Fidler would have undoubtedly won by a landslide of almost one hundred votes.
But in the scheme of things, none of this really matters. Fidler could have won by one vote, or one hundred, and the Democrats would still have lost.
On December 31, 2010, when Tony Weiner was still destined to be our next Mayor, I laid out a grim message about the Democratic Party and its serious but little noticed problem among Orthodox and Russian Jewish voters.
As I said on September 14, 2011, after Bob Tuner’s victory: Fidler is smart, and takes nothing for granted, but this cannot be said to be one of his best days. Not a great day for John Sampson either.
On December 20, 2011 I noted: “Fidler has a strong track record with the Orthodox Jewish community (and the Russian community as well).
Of course, so did David Weprin, who lost this area two to one.
As the Weprin race proves, whether or not the Orthodox community still does the hora with those who brung them is at best an open question.
On January 18, 2012, I engaged in the following dialogue with Rock Hackshaw.
GATE: The problem here is that Rock seems to believe his race is a lock, when it surely is not.
Rock has clearly not looked the numbers, and instead proceeds based upon feelings and instincts (which admittedly are often pretty savvy) in the same manner that led him to predict the Democrats would hold the House even though he admitted to not taking a district by district look at each important race.
I think his unfounded certainty of a Fidler victory allows Rock to proceed to some moderately sharp criticism without asking "Compared to What."
ROCK: Okay. I will crunch the numbers. You are correct on that one. ADMITTEDLY I DIDN'T. However, from my peregrinations, I do know that neck of the woods quite a bit; and I am certain that Dems still have a significant (though dwindling) numerical edge there that plays well in special elections….How come you never bet me? Waiting for a SURE THING? LOL.
GATE: The numerical edge is in enrollment, a metric we should all stop using when it varies so much from actual performance. Calling the 27th Democratic because of enrollment would be like saying the same of Mississippi--and that's just silly.
The 27th went against Gillibrand, Dinapoli and Schneiderman last year. It went heavily for Bloomie all three times. It went for McCain and it went for Dubya in 2004. It went 2 to 1 for Bob Turner. This is not just about weak Dems. For chrissakes, this district voted for Joe DioGuardi!
By what performance based metric does this district qualify as Democratic?
As to making bets, my philosophy is like Arnold Rothstein's. I bet when I know the result in advance.
Once David Weprin’s impending loss was becoming apparent, and in its aftermath, people like Michael Schenkler and Colby Hamilton chose to blame the admittedly weak candidate and ignore, (sometimes, as in Hamilton’s case, willfully) the bigger picture.
It can no longer be ignored. The old bacon and eggs Jewish Humphrey Democrats of Brooklyn and Queens have largely died or moved to Florida and have been replaced by Orthodox and Russian Jews.
Lew Fidler, whatever his slips, and whatever his health issues, was a good candidate. If David Weprin took the vote Fidler did in the areas where the 9th CD overlaps with the 27th SD, he would now be in Congress, now running for re-nomination to Gary Ackerman’s seat.
I’ve say it before, and I’ll say it again. Once there was rough consensus in the Jewish community on certain issues which served to hold it together politically. Now, that consensus exists less and less. Even among Jews who proudly call themselves pro-Israel, the disagreements concerning which policies would best advance that cause are often so grave as to be insurmountable.
And on social issues, it isn’t so much lack of consensus as open warfare.
As these changes gradually evolved, Orthodox Jews became a swing vote—the default position was Democratic, but it did not take much to move them to the GOP column.
I may be among the first to recognize that those days are truly over.
As I’ve noted before, in 2010, the Orthodox community rejected Democrats lock, stock and pickle barrel.
Being a Democrat running among Orthodox Jews was now an obstacle to be overcome.
The once sacred Orthodox pattern of holding down-ballot Democrats harmless for perceived transgressions at the top of their ticket has finally come to an end.
In 2010, the default vote was Republican, and it was the GOP who was held harmless down-ballot for transgressions for the boob (Carl Paladino) at the top of their ticket.
As I noted then, “Orthodox Jews hate Barack Obama and the Republican are poised to take advantage of it down ballot in a big way.”
These chickens have now come home to roost.
Add in a growing extremism about social issues and bring the chickens to a boil.
With the election of Storobin, we need no longer ask if it’s soup yet.
It is borsht.
This is a lesson for the Democrats, but it is not a lesson without consequences for the Orthodox community.
Ultra-Orthodox communities tend to have low levels of education and high levels of fecundity, and tend, despite the presence of many folks with high incomes, to be impoverished.
While Jewish social service agencies like the Metropolitan Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty are among the City’s foremost social service providers, and receive many contracts through the normal means of competition, most groups serving the peculiar needs of the Haredi community get a lot of their funding through member-items precisely because they fall though the holes of purely objective criteria.
This is not to say they don’t deserve the money, but rather that sometimes some needs are only met through politics.
If the Orthodox community believes it can look at allies like Lew Fidler and David Weprin, and stop taking “yes” for an answer, those politicians, and others, are going to respond by no longer giving them that answer.
It was one thing when the Republicans were pastrami barrelers like Al D’Amato and George Pataki. With Pataki and D’Amato, even when they made cuts that hurt the community, they funneled enough back in favors to give the illusions of more than making up for the damage.
But, Pataki and D’Amato have given way to the likes of David Storobin and Bob Turner, hard line anti-government ideologues. If their policies are ever implemented, no amount of member items (if indeed they still exist) is going to heal the pain when the mohel’s knife slips a bit too far and too hard to the south.
And then, when you come to the Democratic Party looking for friends, someone is going to ask:"But vus haf ya dun fuh me lately, boychick?'
Like the mohel’s knife, Hakoras Ha-Tov cuts both ways.
And now, with the humiliation of Lew Fidler, maybe the Democrats are going to get this.
At least one has. An ambitious elected from a different (but safe) seat with a substantial Orthodox population told me last fall “I deliver all I should and a bit more, I do all my mitzvoth. Yet now they tell me, ‘fine, if you are running for Public Advocate in a field of six liberals, we will support you, but if you are challenged at home by a social conservative, no matter how crazy, you’re out of luck.’
What is supposed to keep me delivering for them, besides the fact that the need is there and it is the right thing to do?”
Food (borsht?) for thought.
Being a person of conscience, I would still advocate that real needs be met, and met though member-items when necessary.
But plenty of aid going to Orthodox organizations is pure pork (perhaps the best choice of words), pork which cannot be justified as public policy, and for Democrats, can no longer even be justified as cynical politics.
According to City Hall News, Dean Skelos used $18 million dollars of your tax money as a down payment on a State Senate seat on southern Brooklyn, by creating a fund to subsidize tuition assistance at rabbinical colleges.
But that's not all we got for our money; we got more Rabbis for Borough Park, because after all, there is such a shortage (I bought my gold wedding band in Borough Park from an ordained Rabbi, and later that day bought an apple from another member of the local clergy).
We also got even more grown adults spending their time studying Talmud and tutoring part time, while having a dozen kids and living in a two bedroom apartment.
Culture of Poverty, anyone?
The whole idea of the Tuition Assistance Program is to help people lift themselves out of poverty; the idea of the program is not to facilitate poverty's perpetuation.
At a time when public schools and colleges are facing massive cuts, this might not be illegal, but it is surely a crime.
Democrats should not violate their moral principles in order to punish the Orthodox community politically, but it is time that Democrats stopped violating their moral principles in order to shovel Orthodox organizations funds which cannot be justified as anything but political payoffs.
Not when your quo isn’t being quidded and your quid isn’t being quoed.
Genug is genug.
I know there are those who will call me a bigot for advocating stripping from organization like Agudath Israel money that no sane person would give them in the first place.
After all, we must respect the delicate religious sensibilities of Agudath leaders like Rabbis Chaim Dov Zweibel, who condemns the publication by other Orthodox Jews of information about pedophiles and the Rabbis who protect them (because it wastes time that could be spent studying Torah and because the publication of true negative information still causes hurt) with almost as much vehemence as he reserves for those who would extend the most basic rights of citizenship to families headed by consenting adult homosexual couples.
Another lesson for the Democrats concerns the Russian Jewish community.
Though I often lump the Russian community with the Orthodox politically, it is time to draw some distinctions.
I am not about to join the alternative reality world of Gary Tilzer, in which Russian voters cast landslide votes against Barack Obama to send a message to the local Brooklyn Democrats, rather than the other way around.
In a manner similar to that of most Orthodox Jews, most Russian Jews embrace the most extreme right wing sort of Zionism (though a far more secular brand thereof). Part of the likely reason David Storobin is so comfortable with apartheid and ethnic cleansing is that he advocates their Israeli implementation in the manner of Soviet-born Avigdor Lieberman, a crypto-fascist, who, like the arguably crypto-fascist Storobin, also loooooooooooooooves Vladimir Putin.
But, while being located down-ballot from Barack Obama will hurt Democrats among Russian voters in any event, Democrats still have a lot they can do in the matter of damage control.
While I reject the outright falsehoods propounded by Tilzer and Storobin that the egregious 2002 slicing and dicing of the Russian community to benefit Republican State Senator Marty Golden, and the current propounding of that obscenity to create an Orthodox district while still protecting Golden, are somehow the fault of the Democrats, Tilzer’s point about the Democrats needing to be more supportive of the Russian community’s empowerment is a cogent one.
While, unlike the Orthodox, the Russian community does not have a long tradition of supporting the Democrats, there is a strong element of the Russian community, especially, but not exclusively, among the elderly, which is highly dependent upon our social services safety net.
It is not in the economic interest of much of the Russian community to elect Republicans.
Further, while there are elements of the Russian community which are socially conservative on certain issues, social conservatism is far from a universal in the Russian community, and on some issues, it is a distinctly minority viewpoint.
While the majority of the Russian community may indeed oppose same sex marriage, my guess is that if Fidler and Storobin had switched positions on the issue, it might have impacted about twenty-six votes (admittedly enough to have changed the result).
Most Russians, whatever their position on same sex marriage, do not care enough about it to make it dispositive. In fact, Igor Oberman, whose departure from Marty Markowitz’s office coincidentally coincided with his being caught supporting Storobin, raised money from gay sources on the basis of his support for same sex marriage when he himself was a candidate for the same Senate seat against Carl Kruger.
In fact, most younger non-Orthodox Russians (which means most younger Russians) are somewhat socially liberal.
I suspect that, in his heart of hearts, Storobin may be as well (although, while I doubt that Storobin’s purported anti-gay fanaticism, or anything else about him stems from the religious beliefs he pretends to have, I willing to believe he is just a stone cold blooded hater).
Nonetheless, I think deep down the turd knows he is wrong.
To paraphrase the late great Earl Long, talking about a different cud-chewing redneck:
"I think there's such a thing as being overeducated. Scientists tell me there's enough wrinkles inside my head to take care of all kinds of stuff. Maybe I'm getting old - I'm losing some of mine. I hope that don't happen to Storobin. After all this is over, he'll probably go up there to Trump Village, get up on his balcony, take off his shoes, wash his feet, look at the moon and get close to God. And when you do, Duddy, you got to recognise that faygelehs is human beings."
Further, unlike Storobin or his DINO imitator, Ben Akselrod, very few Russians of any age want to put any legal restrictions on abortions.
The most successful Russian Republican candidate in the area before Storobin was a doctor well known for performing them, and he won overwhelming support in his community.
The Democrats are perfectly well suited to be competitive with Republicans among Russian voters, at least in local races, without betraying their ideological principles (too much), provided they start to become willing to run Russian candidates and support Russian political aspirations.
This means giving the Russian community a fair shake in the City Council reapportionment, and this means that when, as expected, Alec Brook-Krasny takes Dominic Recchia’s seat in the City Council, they don’t use their County Committee to nominate a non-Russian for his Assembly seat.
I say that even though I suspect that the non-Russian would probably be a friend of mine.
Vito Lopez and company might manage to pull off such a victory, but there will be hell to pay for the Democrats, and they will be paying it for a long time.
I differ with Tilzer here in that I don’t believe that in a race between two Russian candidates, Brooklyn Russians (as opposed to Queens Bukharins) would necessarily prefer to nominate an Orthodox Jewish socially far-right wing pro-life conservative like David Akselrod.
Most Russians are pro-choice and non-Orthodox. Better, we should look to the young talent already active in the community and the Party—dynamic young future stars like Mariya Yudkevich and John Lisyanskiy.
Finally, a thought on why Fidler conceded without exhausting his remedies.
Though I think the judge had no choice but to rule as he did based on the evidence before him, Fidler certainly had a cognizable basis for an appeal, and could have pursued it, but I suspect he no longer cared.
After his concession, Fidler's colleague, Mark Weprin, actually posted a congratulations to Fidler on Colin Campbell's Facebook page.
When he began the race, Fidler saw an opportunity to extend his term-limited political career and become a statewide heavyweight (perhaps not the best choice of words) in a Senate Democratic Conference desperately in need of a few grown-ups.
By the end of the race, a new reapportionment was firmly in place, with all obstacles to its implementation removed, which would have given Fidler the choice of running in a district full of Orthodox Jews who’d just repudiated him big-time, another district, where his strongest areas were full of Irish Catholic enthusiasts of the GOP incumbent (and where he’d face a primary) or a black district where he would face the Senate’s Democratic Leader.
The Council, where Fidler’s term would end a year later that a Senate term which would probably be his last, surely looked to be a better place to reside.
But there was a countervailing consideration; As Sleepy Bill Burns said in “Eight Men Out”:
“Bucky's one of the boys, but the thing about Bucky is he don't like to lose.”
The beauty of not appealing the Court decision is that Lew Fidler gets to say, with some justice, that under the rules he really won, but got cheated out of his prize.
Yet, by not appealing, Fidler is spared the consequences of actually winning what has turned out to be a booby prize.
By contrast, the booby prize Storobin won gives him his fifteen minutes, and not much more, but as someone once said to me “There are two guys from Buffalo named Coppolla who between the two of them spent about a year in the Senate, but they are still lifetime members of “The Senator’s club.”
At 33, Storobin gets to be “THE SENATOR.”
As Friday night turns into Saturday at Rasputin, some of the girls might actually think that means he sits next to Chuck Schumer and John McCain, and such a booby prize might then lead to some real booby.
Moreover, Storobin gets to be the first State Senator from the former Soviet Union.
Storobin will probably try to keep his shiny new title, and he will probably get his brains bashed in, probably not even winning the Republican primary.
But, as Abe Attell said in “Eight Men Out”:
“I was champ, and can't nothin take that away.”
So, with all the sincerity that is the hallmark of David Storobin’s career, I offer David Storobin my congratulations.
For the Republican nomination for the 17th Senator District, Gatemouth endorses Nachman Caller.
I have no doubt Caller shares Storobin’s position on same-sex marriage (he even seems to have paid for some of those offensive ads), but but at least he does so out of sincere religious belief rather than hatred or opportunistic political pandering.
Further, I would bet good money that Nachman Caller never denied anyone’s genocide.
Where is Sport Sullivan when you need him?