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Correcting Newsday’s editorial on the recent NYS Housing Law.

I sent a Letter to the Editor of Newsday on June 21st which they chose not to publish   Since I thought it important to publicly correct their error on the recent housing law passed by the NYS Legislature, I am posting it here  

In commenting on the landmark housing reform just passed by the New York State Legislature, and signed into law by the Governor, Newsdays criticism was based on a serious misreading of the legislation.

It its editorial, Newsday wrote: While the State Legislatures efforts to expand rent regulations are intended to help residents by improving their ability to find and keep reasonably priced rental housing, one piece of the rent legislative package would have the opposite impact, especially in Suffolk County. Lawmakers got rid of the most egregious provision, which would have stopped almost all evictions and limited rent increases. … That might seem like a good idea. After all, Nassau County already has rent regulations that have been baked into the areas housing market and work well in places where theres little land left for new development. But in Suffolk, where there are few apartments and much open land to build them, the bill would have unintended, detrimental consequences. Rent rules would stifle attempts to build reasonably priced rental housing, as developers and lenders would find themselves unable to finance and build rental housing. Whats more, it could lead landlords of existing rentals to consider converting them into cooperatives or condominiums, making the lack of rentals more dire.

But that interpretation is based on a misreading of the law. The facts are, the new system only applies to buildings built before 1974 that contain 6 or more units. Therefore, it would not apply to new development, and would not deter new development at all because those buildings would be exempt from rent stabilization, and developers could price them however they see fit.

Thus, the new law in no way discourages new development in areas with “not enough apartments and open land to build new ones”.  In fact, one could argue that it will in fact incentivize new construction since it will allow for pricing at whatever rate a developer sees fit.

Thus it would thus seem incumbent on Newsday to correct its misleading editorial, and fully applaud the legislature for its progressive legislation.


Dr. David Sprintzen

Officer, Long Island Progressive Coalition


The Truth Revealed, Definitively

I couldn’t resist this comment, which finally puts to rest the entire fabricated “Deflategate” controversy. As I have said almost from the beginning (see my Blogs to that effect), it was a fabricated attack fueled by ignorance and resentment directed at the New England Patriots — but its wider ramifications concern the ability of established forces to use the media to fabricate a reality for ulterior motives. That’s why I long ago linked it to the Bush Adminstration’s fabrication of a case for its criminal invasion of Iraq. With the so-called “Deflategate” controversy, however, we now have a patently clear demonstration that this alternate reality was fabricated. (Will Mike Francesa at WFAN ever apologize for his outrageous behavior in condemning the Patriots from Day One, and in refusing to countenance any alternative comments on his radio program? But I doubt it.)

For the details, see today’s New York Times article by Joe Nocera;

True Scandal of Deflategate Lies in the N.F.L.’s Behavior


A scientific consensus that deflation of footballs in the 2015 A.F.C. title game could be explained by physics has not done anything to mitigate the Patriots’ punishment.

Or, copy and paste this URL into your browser:

Here’s a brief excerpt from that article:

“John Leonard is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who roots for the Philadelphia Eagles, listens to sports talk radio when he is exercising, and teaches a class called Measurement and Instrumentation. When the Deflategate story broke after last year’s A.F.C. championship game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, he found himself fixated on it, yearning to dig into it from a scientific point of view….

Numbers in hand, (finally,) Leonard went to work. He bought the same gauges the N.F.L. used to measure p.s.i. levels. He bought N.F.L.-quality footballs. He replicated the temperatures of the locker room, and the colder field. And so on. When he was done, he concluded that Exponent (the company hired by the NFL’s investigators) had made a series of basic errors. Leonard’s work showed the exact opposite of Exponent’s conclusions: The drop in the Patriots’ footballs’ p.s.i was consistent with the Ideal Gas Law; the smaller drop in pressure in the Colts’ balls was not. (Leonard surmises that because the Colts’ balls were tested after the Patriots’ balls, they had warmed up again.)

By early November, he had a PowerPoint presentation with more than 140 slides. By the end of the month, he had given two lectures about Deflategate, the second of which he had videotaped and posted on YouTube. A viewer who watched the lengthy lecture edited it down to a crisp 15 minutes; Leonard agreed to let him post the edited version.

The edited lecture went up on YouTube on Dec. 1 and has been viewed more than 17,000 times. It is utterly convincing. Leonard told me that if an M.I.T. undergraduate made the kinds of mistakes that Exponent made, “I would force them to repeat the experiment and correct the analysis.” Based on his study of the data, Leonard now says: “I am convinced that no deflation occurred and that the Patriots are innocent. It never happened.””

On the growing threat posed by radical Islam.

Recent events have made starkly clear that radical Islam has become a serious threat to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The killing of three Muslims in North Carolina — purportedly over a parking space dispute — is only the most obvious sign of the way increasing numbers of non-Muslims — egged on by some demagogic media figures — perceive all Muslims as a threat, and may experience social support in discriminating against them, or even engaging in anti-Muslims violence. This is occurring in a world context in which non-Muslins have seen the emergence of an apparently growing radical Islamism that is more than willing to kill unlimited numbers of innocent civilians in the pursuit of its fundamentalist religious agenda. That is an inescapable reality. This movement is real, morally indefensible, and truly frightening. No wonder many have called for intensive scrutiny of all Muslims, and some have even sought to justify completely unjustified attacks at Islamic institutions. This reality has created a very dangerous and potentially unnerving reality confronting innocent, law-abiding Muslims, of which there are many, possibly a large majority, who are placed in the extremely uncomfortable, and possibly even dangerous, situation of having to continually worry that they may be discriminated against, or even targeted for attack, by members of a frightened non-Muslim world.

Thus, this reality of systemic Islamic terrorists presents vital challenges that cannot be avoided, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It must be addressed, and directly and without equivocation. Non-Muslims must honestly confront the factual reality of an international culture of Islam that has not yet experienced an “enlightenment,” has some difficulty in separating church and state, and all too often remains rooted for the most part in a pre-scientific mindset of “divinely-revealed” religious fundamentalism. It is not enough for well-meaning, and even humanist Westerners, for example, to defend the freedom of religious beliefs and hence the rights and liberties of all Muslims — however important and legitimate that is — and to criticize those who raise serious criticism of the religious beliefs and practices of an Islam that claims to be following the direct divine — and hence, non-questionable — directives of Allah.

Such Western humanists and defenders of religious toleration must take seriously the current historical reality of, and propose practical strategies to address the challenge posed by, the current status of the religion and practice of the religion of Islam across the world. We must take seriously an Islamic religious reality that has created, and far too often sustains, an international culture of Islam that can generate massive local protests against the very depiction of the prophet Mohammed that have taken place across the Islamic World, from Algeria to Indonesia, and practically all places in between. More dangerous than even the horrendous violent extremism of groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, is the support that such terrorism has received from Islamic masses. Such mass protests and overt expressions of support, even involving many middle class individuals and professionals, have been approved, encouraged, and celebrated by many Islamic religious leaders. Some have explicitly justified the murders at Charlie Hebdo and called for the beheading of any people who commit similar “crimes”. These attitudes are in fact the soil that nurtures radical “Islamism”, that fundamentalist perversion of Islamic values that justifies terrorism in the name of religious purity. It is not sufficient for individual Muslims to separate themselves from such views. It is essential for the organized Islamic community, with its religious officials in the forefront, to systematically, and regularly criticize such beliefs and practices — and even, to do so on religious grounds. And they must do that publicly, and on a regular basis to their congregations.

However, inevitable and necessary, for the non-Islamic world to energetically oppose such views, and in so doing, to carefully and effectively reaffirm their commitment in word and deed to freedom of thought, discussion, and association, freedom of the press, and respect for the dignity of all people, that will hardly convince Islamic true believers. Only sustained, public and effective action by the organized leadership of Islam, and that internationally, across the Islamic World, can begin to turn the tide. Until that is done, it is inevitable and understandable that all Muslims will be under some suspicion, and their personal freedom and respect will be on the defensive. And that threat to non-violent and law obedient Muslims, is also a very serious, and probably growing, threat to Western values of human rights and dignity for all people, and to the institutional protections which are vital to the continued existence of free, democratic self-governance.

The Fatefull Syper Bowl Play

As promised last week, let me offer some thoughts in support of the controversial decision of the Seahawks to pass on 2nd down. While I can certainly understand the mountains of criticism — called by many “experts” as unquestionably the worst football decision ever — let’s consider the following:

1)      Seattle had only one time out left;

2)      Marshall Lynch had tried to score from the one yard line 5 times during the regular season, and been successful only once!!

3)      If he did not make it – perhaps even being stopped for a one or two yard loss — Seattle would have had to use its last time out.

4)      With no more time outs, it is quite likely that they would have had to resort to pass plays on the next one or two downs, unless they would risk another failed run, and have the time run out

5)      The Patriots could have better prepared for the pass plays, and hence better defended them.

6)      If the next pass was incomplete, the clock would have stopped, thus leaving about 20+ seconds on the clock, and the Patriots still having two time outs. (Which may have explained Belichick’s decision NOT to call a time out.

7)      If Seattle then scored with 20+ seconds, then kicked off and the Patriots didn’t run the ball back, they would have begun play at the 20 yard line with 20+ seconds left, and two time outs. They would have been able to use the whole field, and would have only needed to get to about the Seattle 40 yard line to them a chance to kick a tying field goal. Difficult, but not impossible.

8)      If, on the other hand, Lynch had been given the ball on 2nd down and scored, then the Patriots would have had approximately an additional 5 seconds to try to get into field position for a tying field goal.

9)      It’s easy to be a Monday Morning Quarterback, but the decision of Pete Carroll was far from as stupid as practically all the “experts”, such as Mike Francesa on WFAN, were insisting.

10) One further point. The interception by Malcolm Butler was an example of the superb preparation by the Patriots staff, and superb execution, of what, otherwise, would probably have been the winning touchdown. The Patriots had scouted that Seattle formation and the “pick” play that was to take place, and Butler ewas totally prepared, diagnosed the formation and forthcoming play, jumped the pass from quite a distance, avoided the pick, and made a perfect play — which is precisely what it took to defeat Seattle.

Deflategate, or the anatomy of a public lynching

Deflategate, or the anatomy of a public lynching

The story of the purported deflation of footballs by the New England Patriots is increasingly looking like an ambiguous fact turned into a fabricated major scandal. Fueled by many who begrudge the Patriots their success, and by a media ever in search of an audience-making scandal, fans across the country have “piled on”, feasting upon unauthorized leaks, ambiguous information, and personal venom to convict the Patriots of systematic cheating, often gloating over the ability to therefore devalue their historical successes.

None have been more egregious in their unqualified promotion of deflategate and in excoriating the Patriots for once again proving to be the cheaters he knows them to be, than the popular sports commentator at WFAN, Mike Francesa. A man who is clearly quite intelligent, and superbly well-informed about professional football, he obviously was convinced of the Patriots guilt from day one. He showed no evident concern about clarifying the facts before reaching a conclusion, making continual reference to unnamed ex-Patriots who attest to the Patriots continual violation of the rules, regular mention of their having been found guilty of Spygate as supporting evidence, arrogant dismissal of all who offered alternative interpretations, including disparaging, and even ridiculing all remarks made by Brady, Belicheck, and Kraft.

An impartial observer might have interpreting Brady’s initial light-hearted dismissal of charges of playing with deflated footballs as an honest surprise at the issue even being raised. And then, one might have interpreted his hesitant performance several days later, after the issue had become a focus of national attention, as an honest expression of his inability to explain what might have happened. And similarly with Belicheck’s press conference. And then, one might have taken seriously the claims presented by Belicheck in his report of the Patriots’s internal investigation. And, even more, such an observer might have reflected that Belicheck would be opening himself to a far more serious attack on his credibility with this press conference if he did not honestly believe that they were not guilty of intentionally deflating the footballs. But, having already convicted the Patriots of cheating, Francesa read each of these events as proof of their obvious guilt, and did not even seriously entertain an alternative interpretation. No thoughtful questions about the effects of weather on air pressure, nor on the effects of differential prior treatment of footballs, nor documentation of the actual condition of the footballs before the game, of their air pressure when “tested” by the referee, nor questions as to whether the referee actually used a guage to measure the pre-game air pressure on all 24 footballs, among other facts that he might reasonably have considered. None need be considered by him, since he already “knew” the truth.

Of course, Mike Francesa was not the only one who seemed more than happy to jump to the conclusion of Patriot guilt. Such people were rampant, among fans and experts, such as Chris Mortenson and Peter King. But as Tom Brady noted, this is not about ISIS, and nobody has been killed, so this, in an important sense, is a tempest in a teapot. Football is after all just a game, not a life and death affair. And the related issue of air pressure is probably not that big a deal, either. And further, scientific. evidence now shows that the weather can have such an effect on air pressure. (As chance would have it, my wife and I just bought a Super Bowl balloon a couple of hours ago for our little Super Bowl party. As soon as we left the store and went out doors and into our car we noticed that the balloon was severely under inflated, and considered returning it. But we were too lazy, and drove away. But as soon as the car warmed up, we saw the balloon re-inflate, and we were even concerned that it might burst.) The really interesting and important aspect of this whole affair, however, is the ease with which the media itself can inflate a controversy, and be used to, and promote, a rush to judgement in the service of often nefarious interests. This is simply a most recent example of the way that a media orchestrated popular stampede can override common sense and a concern for the facts, and rational judgement, as, for example, was the case when the Bush Administration orchestrated its campaign to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein. We are continuing to pay for that disastrous use of the media — of which the creation of ISIS is only the most obvious result — and will no doubt continue to be paying for that imperial manipulation for years to come. As for those in the media who propelled this latest fiasco, such as Mike Francesa, will we see any public acknowledgement of his malfeasance, or will he seek to justify himself by blaming a league cover-up, which, of course, the NFL is quite capable of engaging in.

On The Importance of the Greek Election

The victory of the “radical left” in Greece this past Sunday, along with the remarkable ascent of Podemos in Spain, could truly be the dawn of a new day for progressives in Europe. It certainly bears watching, and I find it quite hopefully. Especially, with the deplorable state of politics in America — fueled by the destructive influence of the very wealthy following the Citizens United decision. Here’s a brief excerpt from Reuters, that suggests that the new Greek government is quite serious in its challenge to the EU’s conservative economic policies.

“In his first act as prime minister on Monday, Alexis Tsipras visited the war memorial in Kaisariani where 200 Greek resistance fighters were slaughtered by the Nazis in 1944.

The move did not go unnoticed in Berlin. Nor did Tsipras’s decision hours later to receive the Russian ambassador before meeting any other foreign official.

Then came the announcement that radical academic Yanis Varoufakis, who once likened German austerity policies to “fiscal waterboarding,” would be taking over as Greek finance minister. A short while later, Tsipras delivered another blow, criticizing an EU statement that warned Moscow of new sanctions.”