Hot Pants (They Got To Say What Is Not To Get What They Want)

Is it just me, or is does the Working Families Party (WFP) only endorse candidates whose pants are on fire?

This may be appropriate for a political institution whose departing treasurer, when called upon to explain his exit (amidst accusations of violating campaign finance laws and very conveniently missing two filing deadlines), took the press equivalent of the Fifth Amendment and referred all questions to his attorney.

A similar reluctance to give a straight answer extends to its candidates.

Take John Liu, who claims to have been middle management in a garment factory (aka “sweat shop”) at the tender age of seven. Liu’s parents have so far refused to confirm this perjury, which is pretty amazing, since one of them has already been convicted of bank fraud.

I think I understand the problem. Given that Liu’s father, a high official in a bank, basically treated the company assets as if they were his own personal candy store, maybe Liu meant to say “SWEET SHOP.”

Then there is Bill DeBlasio. I actually was somehat unfair to Bill last weekend, implying he sent literature featuring his African-American wife only to minority and white liberal areas. Subsequent reports indicate that the mailing’s target covers a far larger swathe, and even though I’ve heard no reports that it has penetrated Gerritsen Beach, Breezy Point or Broad Channel, I am going to have to concede my insinuation was basically inaccurate.


Nonetheless, DeBlasio’s campaign has been stunning in its ability to avoid or distort the truth at all costs.

For instance; it has :

1) Deployed surrogate Al Sharpton to attack Mark Green for a piece a literature Green’s campaign distributed in 2001; I covered this in more detail in an earlier piece, but, at the time, Sharpton demanded that Green’s price for absolution be firing the five campaign aides responsible. One of those aides was Green’s Field Director Jon Kest.

FACT: In his capacity as NY Director of ACORN, Kest is now heavily involved in working for DeBlasio’s election.

2) Also acting as surrogates for Bill in picking at the 2001 scab are the Clarkes, Yvette and Una.

FACT: In 2001, the Clarkes served a similar role for Green in defending him from such attacks.

3) DeBlasio deservedly attacks Green for supporting a ninety day extension of the Giuliani reign of terror in the wake of 9/11, contrasting it with his own vote against the legislative overthrow of the results of two term-limits referenda.

FACT: In 2005, during his race for Council Speaker, DeBlasio promised his colleagues he’s work a for a legislative overthrow of the results of two different term limits referenda. Like Green’s 2001 position, DeBlasio’s 2005 position was clearly a matter of expedience, as is DeBlasio’s opposite position this year; DeBlasio calls this a test of character, and he is absolutely correct. His Mexican Jumping Bean position on term limits defines his character.

4) DeBlasio is now attacking Green for the sources of his campaign financing, alleging much of it comes from the real estate sector, which turns out mostly to mean Green’s brother, who could possibly have motives other than undue influence upon an office with no power.

FACT: One would think that DeBlasio, cousin of Union leader John Wilhelm, might want to avoid the question of whose relatives constitute a special interest. But for DeBlasio, the prime beneficiary of the WFP/ACORN/DFS/CSI shell game, to bring up questions about the other guys funding is chutzpah far beyond the hoary old joke about parenticide.

WFP claims it supports “REAL CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM,” which is a lot like Phil Spector saying he backs “real gun control.” In fact, the WFP shenanagins, both those which are barely legal, and those which may prove not to be, assault the intent of campaign finance laws in at least three distinct way. They allow candidates to elude both the contribution and spending limits embodied in the law; they transform any attempt at transparency into an unventilated hookah bar; and they potentially abuse taxpayer dollars by perhaps allowing candidates to undeservedly access matching funds.

It is with all that in mind, that I deem Bill’s attack on Green’s funding as worthy of a special award, and I am therefore officially changing the Councilman’s name (something with which he has some experience) to Bill DeBALLSio.

Still, when it comes to dissembling above and beyond the call of not only duty, but even self-interest, no one beats chronic WFP Pinnochio, City Council candidate Brad Liar, I mean Lander.

The Lander campaign, which still may pull out a victory, is a case study in misunderstanding the concept of damage control. The first Mayor Daley famously said “the policeman isn't there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder." The Lander campaign seems to have a similar idea of dealing with campaign crises.

About ten years ago, Lander and his wife, not satisfied with something as pedestrian as writing their own wedding vows, decided to try an innovate twist (perhaps not the best choice of words) on the ancient ritual of brit milah and included in the ceremony a speech astonishing both for its pomposity and its manifest repugnance for the idea that the Jews, like all of the world’s other peoples, had the right to an national entity of their own:

“Marek, we inscribe you today into the Jewish covenant. We are imposing upon you a set of overlapping identities, inscribing you with a name of our choosing and with the ritual violence of circumcision

…We hope that you will learn to embrace this gift without thinking that you are better than others, or that your identity ought to endow you with special privileges. In particular, we are thrilled to pronounce you a Jew without the Right of Return. Your name contains our deep hope that you will explore and celebrate your Jewish identity without confusing it with nationalism.

Your last name is your mother’s — a non-Jewish one — by the fact of which you are ineligible for the nationalist privilege of automatic Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. We believe that law confuses the wonderful and painful inheritance of identity with unearned advantages — legal, political, and financial — granted by a militarized state over other people, including so many it oppresses daily….

…We pray fervently that by the time you read this, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the settlements, the house demolitions, the violence will be history. But even then, we hope you will appreciate this absence of nationalist privilege in your inscribed identity. We hope you will work for a world where identity is explored, nurtured, critiqued, celebrated, and protected — but not the basis for privilege, for discrimination, for money, for power.”

Translation: “even if war ended and all the awful things attendant to war also ceased, so that no one could object to any of Israel’s actions (no matter how justified) –we think it would be great if you repudiated the idea that Jews should have their own nation.”

Like G-d himself at the moment of creation, they looked upon their work and saw it was good. In fact, so impressed were they with their literary efforts, that four years later they agreed to publish the damned thing in an anthology of mostly anti-Israel writings by noted anti-Zionist Tony Kushner, who I once saw blame Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak for the failure of Yassir Arafat to accept everything he could ever expect to get from the Israelis (and little bit more).

Flash forward six years later, and Lander is now running for City Council in a district with a substantial Orthodox Jewish population (as well as a substantial number of non-Orthodox Jews not necessarily excited about the idea of being represented by a Jew who’s repudiated the idea of Jewish normalcy) and supported by most of the Orthodox Jewish political leadership.

Then one day, an enterprising blogger digs up the bris speech and all hell brakes lose. Perhaps Lander had time to reflect that his words might have benefited from the sort of trimming performed at the ceremony in question.

As has been noted elsewhere, Lander’s supporters responded with a mess of contradictions: 1) “Brad is not anti-Israel;” 2) “if Brad is he is anti-Israel, then he's right and deserves your vote” [“what this demonstrates to me is that Lander highly values human rights”]; and 3) “if you don't like either of these answers, don't worry, it's not an issue anyway. In fact it is wrong even to talk about it.” That argument usually began with the accusation that Mr. Lander was being attacked on the basis of his religious views, and therefore the matter was off-limits.

The issue didn’t go away. Groucho Marx once said “these are my convictions; if you don‘t like them I have others. “ In this manner, Mr. Lander also became a Marxist.

Lander’s solution was to obfuscate. He could have said that his views had changed, which probably would have ended the matter. He chose not to.

Instead, when interviewed about his article by Jewish Week, Lander said he “regrets the language.” Then, Lander explained that he supports the right of return, and his bris speech stemmed from a mistaken impression that his child’s mixed parentage rendered him ineligible to be an Israeli. “I want my son to be part of the Jewish community, but it was a mistake to allow my feelings to go public like that.”

Lander is clearly an environmentalist, because this was the purest of organic fertilizer. His article does not even imply any objection to Israel’s definition of whom it considers to be Jewish

As has been noted before, Lander practically jumps for joy at the thought that his son is ineligible to be a return Jew. His use of terms like “militaristic” and “oppressive” indicates that he takes an extreme view of the Israeli enterprise, and his disdain for the “special privilege” afforded to Jews is clear. Is he now saying he approves of that “special privilege,“ but only if his family is included in it?

The unexpected result was poetic justice; Lander was surely lying that the article was a plea for a more liberal definition of who is a Jew, but unfortunately for him, the Ultra-Orthodox community actually believed him, even though they’ve largely disdained everything else he said on the topic as prevarication. And the part they did believe, they considered an insult to the beliefs they held most dear.

Typical is the Jewish Press:

“Sadly, Brad Lander, the current frontrunner in the District 39 race, is someone who has spoken out quite forcefully against Israel. In addition, he has voiced objection to Orthodox control of Israeli religious life and used derisive terms to describe certain Jewish practices…Incredibly, he has nonetheless garnered support from prominent members of our community, including at least one elected official…It is also important that our community sends a message of its own that we will not support anyone who opposes Israel.”

Lander’s new tactics are now on the edge of desperation. In a paid advertisement on Dov Hikind’s radio show, Hikind vouches for Lander’s pro-Israel credentials, Israel having now apparently become a legitimate issue after all.

Moreover, Hikind and his sycophants now join Lander in vouching that Lander was merely misunderstood. Hikind, who’s made a career of endorsing Republican presidential candidates over any Democrats’ slightest little variance from far right wing Zionist orthodoxy, is now vouching for a candidate whose statements on Israel put him at the furthest extreme of not merely American Jewish politics, but all American politics.

Speaking on Hikind‘s show about talk that he was ever anti-Israel, Lander says, “it’s painful, it’s preposterous, it’s a campaign.” Meanwhile, Hikind emphasizes again and again that Lander’s piece was written over a decade ago, as if Lander were then a small child not responsible for his own actions.

In actuality, Lander, was thirty years old at the time, and actually chose to publish it years after that. Hikind echo chamber Joe Lazar then joined the amen corner and said “what you wrote was probably in a different context altogether.” Which is most assuredly true; rather than being an issue in an election, Lander made his comments totally out of left field while his son’s foreskin was being removed. But that does not change the meaning of the words.

As to the words themselves, they are never mentioned. However Lander says, “as it was sort of published, it doesn’t well represent what I think, what I feel, it’s very one-sided, it doesn’t represent who I am or what I am. “


Who put the gun to Lander’s head to make him put those words inside a hardcover? If it didn’t represent what he thought, why did he let it go into print? “One sided”? Well, who wrote it that way? Yes, if I wrote a criticism of a particular Israeli action (something I am not adverse at times to doing at times myself), it might appear one-sided outside the context of my generally pro-Israel perspective. But, Lander’s words cannot be defended as a one-off dissent on a particular aspect of Israeli policy. Though some Israeli policies are mentioned in passing in Lander‘s article, the article did not merely object to Israel’s actions; it objected to Israel’s existence.

As such, Lander’s appearance on the Hikind show continues to amplify a lie of almost mountainous proportions even more than I thought possible.

When I first listened to the show, I almost missed the piece de resistance. About forty minutes into the show, Lander, who in the Jewish Week article had evolved from an anti-Zionist into a left Zionist now advocating a two state solution, evolved somewhat further.

Hikind had earlier been advertising one of his “Support the Settlers” trips to Israel. On the last one he’d shepherded none other than Mike Huckabee. Now, the dialogue became comic:

HIKIND: One of these days I’m going to schlep you along to Israel with me on one of my trips.

LANDER: I’m looking forward to it; that price, $1350; you can’t get a better price to go to Israel than that.

So, before the campaign began, Lander’s two-state solution was the West Bank and Gaza Strip; now in front of an Orthodox audience, he implied it was Judea and Samaria. He gone from Chomsky to Kahane in a matter of a few months. Of course, he may have been joking, but even on the radio you could hear him winking.

During the rest of the show, Lander usually sat in stone silence as Hikind and his anti-Hellenistic chorus implied falsely that John Heyer was no more socially conservative than Lander (helped by Hikind and Lazar’s quite accurate description of Heyer’s stand on marriage as incoherent and worthy of ridicule).

This effort included a Lander radio ad, which implied Lander would help religious schools (though his plans, if he has any, were not specific like Heyer’s, and may have promised little more than was done by the rest of the pack).

The point about the Israel stuff is not that one should vote against Lander because he does not like Israel, because it is not really that important in a City Council race (though I might use it as a tie breaker, since, like other issues not necessarily relevant to local government, it gives one a window into a candidate’s worldview and values); the point is that Lander’s gyrations on the topic indicate a willingness to abuse the truth, and cut corners, again and again. Further, this problem is amplified by a concomitant ability to never to admit to error, no matter how obvious,

No matter where one stands on the question of Israel (and no matter where one stands, there is a Brad Lander who agrees with you) this should be a matter of concern. That it is worthy of such concern is proven by Lander’s response when he learned a virulently anti-gay ad had run in his name in the Satmar paper, Der Blatt.

As I’ve noted before, City Hall News reported that sometime after an anti-gay Heyer ad ran in Der Blatt, Lander’s Borough Park Balaboosteh, Yitzchok Fleisher contacted the paper about placing what he called “something almost similar” for Lander. The reporter at Der Blatt then essentially copied the Heyer piece, producing “something almost similar.”

Fleisher unconvincingly claims to be surprised by what appeared.

When interviewed by City Hall News in the wake of the ad’s revelation, Lander said he had no idea that the ad, which included photos of both him and Bill DeBlasio with prominent local rabbis, even existed. He also denied that he had authorized Fleisher to place it, “He’s got no authorization. He can’t do anything on my behalf…I have hundred of campaign volunteers, and none of them are authorized to spend money for my campaign.”

By contrast, Fleisher, when initially contacted by City Hall News, said that Lander had sent over various pictures of himself with rabbis and DeBlasio intended to run in the newspaper. Four days after the ad ran, the Lander campaign sent a letter to the Campaign Finance Board stating that they “did not request, see, authorize, approve, or pay for this advertisement.”

According to a story in the Courier-Life papers, Lander first blamed Fleisher for the ad, but later, in a Politicker NY article by Azi Paybarah, Lander changed his story and said that his campaign had nothing to do with it, and he's now asking the Campaign Finance Board for an investigation.

Lander’s still sticking with that story. In the Courier, Fleisher says that he authorized an ad, but not that content, which he left up to Der Blatt.

As reported in Tablet Magazine, the editor of Der Blatt, Alexander Deutsch, now states that, after being contacted by Fleisher, he “received copy for a paid advertisement and put it in just like any other ad.” Fleisher, he said, “bought the advertisement in the name of the Lander campaign,” and thus Der Blatt sent the campaign a bill.

Lander has been telling reporters that Fleisher never contacted the campaign about placing such an ad, and that Fleisher merely provided Der Blatt with pictures of Lander and didn’t dictate the copy. “Everything suggests that [Der Blatt] just wrote it,” Lander said. Lander maintain that Der Blatt, or someone trying embarrass Lander made up the ad, then sent the bill to the Lander campaign.

Lander could have solved the whole problem by merely acknowledging that someone and his campaign had, without his knowledge (and I believe he had none) done a grievous wrong and then dismissing the malefactor. I have again and again urged him to do so, for his own good, and that of the body politic.

But someone in Borough Park might have gotten their feelings hurt. So Lander kept changing his story as his nose grew larger and larger (who knows, that might actually help). Meanwhile, a promised Lander retraction in Der Blatt has yet to appear.

Like in the bris speech, there was an easy way out, but Lander refused to take it, preferring to keep changing his story.

And one cannot help noticing that Lander's behavior concerning the ad is exactly consistent with his behavior on the Hikind show: standing silent while others attempt to convince Ultra-Orthodox Jews of the falsehood that Lander is the race's social conservative.  

We know where Mr. Lander stands on a plethora of issues today, just as where we knew where Bill DeBlasio stood on tem limits each time before he changed his mind again. Yes, mostly Mr. Lander will stick to what he ran on.

So what’s the worry?

Well, we never really know what issues will come up during the course of any elected official’s term. We do our best to find if a candidate core values resemble ours and we do our best to act accordingly; and hope for the best.

Can anyone tell me if Brad Lander has any core values besides “what’s in it for me?” and “any weapon to hand?”

(an embarrassing but fairly inconsequential typo has been corrected)