It’s an age-old question: how do you fight a bully? Or perhaps yet more timely, how do you topple a bullying racist billionaire politician?
The new Field of Vision documentary Adversary zooms in on a town doing its best to answer this question. Buffalo is home to Carl Paladino, who amassed his enormous fortune by putting up buildings all over town and across western New York state. Formerly a Democrat who gave generously to the party, by the mid-aughts, Paladino became a Republican and an active voice in the Tea Party movement. The real estate developer self-funded a run for New York governor in 2010, with longtime Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone serving as adviser and with anti-Obamaism as his primary platform. The New York Times wrote an almost poignant paean to Paladino’s “combative style,” highlighting his “outsize, impulsive and even outrageous behavior.”
“Buffalo media trip over themselves to get access to Paladino,” wrote Western New York political site WNYmedia at the time, apparently underestimating the scope of Paladino’s free ad potential, “because practically everything he says has the potential of being hugely controversial.”
In the midst of his gubernatorial bid, that same outlet leaked emails from Paladino that included pornography, bestiality, racist Obama jokes, and at least once, the N word. Despite, or perhaps because of those revelations, the candidate defeated all GOP takers in the primary and rose to the top of the Republican ticket.
If this story sounds uncannily like that of another septuagenarian plumbing the political depths, that’s because Paladino and Trump are two of a kind. (The former would go on to co-chair the latter’s campaign in New York.) But in the general election, Paladino lost to the widely unliked establishment Democrat.
Three years after that loss, Paladino ran for and won a seat on Buffalo’s school board. He also became a prolific property developer of charter schools in the area. Adversary offers a look at the inevitable conflict that arises when Paladino, a man prone to belligerent racist outbursts, takes a spot on a board filled with a significant number of women of color in a district that’s 80 percent black and brown students.
Director Scott Cummings’ documentary is featured in its entirety below:
As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode
This article first appeared in Salon.
There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)
The GOP is a suicide cult
Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
Back in March, we argued that Donald Trump had become the charismatic leader of the dumbest suicide cult ever. There were fewer than 500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the time, but it wasn't difficult to see the trajectory we were on at even that early date. At the time, we were commenting on the President's* repeated claims that the whole thing was a big hoax and polls showing that Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to say they were taking steps to avoid becoming infected.
Trump has committed at least 11 disgraceful acts just since April: conservative
On Saturday, writing for The Washington Post, conservative columnist Max Boot outlined all of the chaos President Donald Trump has caused just in the last three months — arguing that "he has disgraced the nation’s highest office as no previous occupant has come close to doing."
"Think about all that has happened since April 5," wrote Boot. "That was before security forces attacked peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square so that Trump could stage a bizarre photo-op. Before he pushed to send the armed forces into the streets. Before he embraced 'white power' and called Black Lives Matter 'a symbol of hate.' Before he vowed to veto the defense authorization bill to prevent the renaming of military bases named after Confederate generals. Before he used the novel coronavirus as an excuse to shut down immigration and threatened to revoke the visas of college students unable to attend classes in the fall."