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Governor Hochul and the New York State History Community

"Visited the Lorenzo State Historic Site and experienced its rich history dating back to 1807." Lt. Gov. Hochul on Twitter, December 2018,

The change in governors marks a change for the New York State history community as well. While the outgoing Governor was not hostile to history he was no friend to history either. Besides specific groups or events which piqued his interest or had a connection to him, he did not display much in interest in New York State history beyond pro forma proclamations and declarations which any Governor would make. The change at the top provides a real opportunity for the history community even though it has no or minimal advocacy efforts beyond preservation at present.


The signature achievement of the outgoing Governor for New York State history was the Path through History project. It was launched on August 28, 2012, in Albany. I was at the event as were hundreds of other people from around the state. I even met the Governor in the Executive Mansion at a reception courtesy of Mark Schaming. At that time he was head of the New York State Museum. Now he is Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Education which includes the Museum. He also was in charge of the Path through History project back in 2012 when it was announced. But that only lasted for another two months before the project was transferred to I Love New York where it remains to this very day.

That transfer should have been a clue to what was coming. The well-meaning people in Tourism had no particular expertise in New York State history. There also were no joint committees to foster the development of state history tourism either. It is not my intention here to recap the many many blogs I wrote on the subject of the Path through history before giving up on it. Suffice it say, it became a branding logo with a website and signs. It did not create paths through history. It did not generate tourism revenue. It did not generate sales tax. It simply became another venue through which local history organizations could market programs over a few weekends just as they already did through their websites, newsletters, and press releases.

This development was very disappointing. The watchwords of the project when it began were “collaboration and cooperation.” This meant among other things that history organizations would not go it alone but would work with each other and create joint programs. This was especially critical for the smaller organizations which often failed to meet the criteria and standards of the participating organizations. Originally, the project was for the “jewels” of New York State history. This meant the large organizations that were destination sites on their own and had sufficient parking or accessibility, bathrooms, staff, and hours open for seven-day 9-5 tourists.

While the “jewel” criteria was dropped, the “cooperation and collaboration” never materialized. There was no funding set aside in the REDC process dedicated specifically to developing paths meaning multiday multisite events for a weekend or week-long program. There was no staff in I Love New York or the Office of New York State history (a euphemism for one person, Devin Lander) to develop them. In short, it remained every organization for itself with most too small do anything beyond a request for its own site.

Some organizations have tried. For example the Fort Plains Museum and Historical Park in the Mohawk Valley has an annual conference on the American Revolution along with two days of bus tours to nearby and generally small sites. It sells out. Sometimes these local sites really have to strain to schedule sufficient volunteers to handle an incoming bus of 55 adults. I mention this venture (besides having participated in it several times) because with the upcoming American Revolution 250th such paths will be precisely what are needed. For my blogs on the American Revolution 250th Commission legislation, passed but not yet signed by the Governor, see The NYS American Revolution 250th Commission: A Big Step Forward.

To summarize, a rejuvenated and well-thought out Path through History Project is one area where the new Governor can make her mark in New York State history where her predecessor failed to in a positive way. This will be critical in the coming years as the State experiences a series of anniversaries with tourism and education components that should be addressed in an organized and not piecemeal-let’s-reinvent-the wheel manner. These state-wide anniversaries requiring paths to be created include:

2024 Bicentennial of the return of Lafayette
2024 Centennial of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation
2024 Centennial of the Indian Citizenship Act (national)
2025 Bicentennial of Erie Canal
2027 Bicentennial of New York’s “Juneteenth,” 38 years before Texas.

These are in addition to the American Revolution 250th which will end in November 2031 for New York.


The incoming Governor is far better qualified to meet the needs of the New York State history community. I say this not because she has a background in such history but because of her training in office. For the past few years she has held what is routinely regarded as a “ceremonial” position. As such she has spent a lot of time outside of Albany travelling to a multitude of local events. These events from time to time include history sites and conferences (I have seen her at some and read about her at others).

The irony is that of all the incoming governors she probably has the most contact with New York State history since Roosevelt. He was, after all, a municipal historian in addition to his other jobs. She has visited sites and met with people in the history community throughout the state.

I realize that she has a lot on her plate now. History might not seem like a high priority. Still there are a few opportunities that come to mind.

Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS) – invite her to speak on-line or in person at the upcoming annual conference in September in Oswego

Museum Association of New York (MANY) – invite her to speak on-line or in person at one of the upcoming fall regional meetups

Fort Plains Museum and Historical Park – invite her to speak on-line or in person at the October 15-17 William Johnson conference.

In fact, wouldn’t that be a great setting for signing into law the American Revolution 250th Commission which the Legislature passed during New York State History Month. It would be right there in the midst of so many historical sites and nearby Indian Nations which have been designated as collaborators under the act. Much as I would like to see the signing here in the Hudson Valley where I live and which has so many American Revolution sites, we do not have an upcoming conference or so many of the Indian Nations mentioned by name in the bill nearby.

Even if the new Governor is unable to attend any of these events, it is still beneficial to notify her and the staff who actually will get the request, that the New York State history community is here and looks forward to working with her.

If ISIS Attacked NYC Would Rick Scott Care?

This time, will Robert E. Lee win and destroy the Union?

With about one week to go before the 19th anniversary of the Al-Qaeda assault on the United States, it is worth pondering what has happened in America since then. At that time, despite the turmoil of presidential politics with impeachment and Florida, when the nation was attacked it was possible for Democrats and Republicans to stand together on the steps of the Capitol and sing God Bless America. No such unity is possible today between Democrats and Trumpicans. America consists of two peoples still bound in a single political entity but no longer functioning as one. Whether we separate into separate political entities or remain as one is what the current war is all about.

The coronavirus is different than Pearl Harbor or 9/11. The earlier two events were recognized as attacks on America, all America, the entire nation. The country responded as one. By contrast, the coronavirus never was perceived as a national threat. Health officials understood that the virus represented a national threat. Sometimes they even said so especially if they did not work for the Federal government. Those employees were often muzzled and/or undermined.

From the onset, the White House including an assortment of Trumpicans in various positions, viewed the coronavirus as a Democratic problem and not an American one. In the beginning, this was an easy decision for the scientifically-challenged to make. The virus hit hard in New York. Day after day, Americans watched a city under assault in painful gut-wrenching scenes. No other location in America was experiencing that horror. But for Trumpicans it was as if the Germans were bombing London alone so why should the entire country care.

This scenario played out for weeks if not longer. The disease infected cities, especially cities governed by Democratic mayors in states governed by Democratic governors. And the people dying weren’t even people the Trumpicans cared about anyway. But the economic decline was hurting Trumpicans. So did stock market decline. But now the stock market has recovered. The President dedicated to making rich people richer gleefully noted when it had returned to its former heights. The coronavirus problem was over, it had been solved.

Since the problem was a Democratic one, no national leadership was required. Trumpican governors in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Texas had everything under control. There would be no repeat of what had happened in New York City. Even though under Article 2, a non-Democratic President had the powers of a king, the world’s worst manager and career business failure knew better than to put himself in charge of the response to the virus. Let others carry the ball and bear the blame while he took the credit.

In the months to come, nothing altered this perception of the coronavirus as a Democratic problem. That view remains prevalent with Trumpicans. One thousand deaths per day over an entire country of 330 million is barely noticeable compared to one thousand per day in Queens or New York City as a whole. Despite all the talk about superspreader events, Trumpicans attending those events at an Arkansas Memorial Day pool party, Tulsa political rally, or South Dakota motorcycle gathering have not died in droves or barely at all. Maybe if it had been Tom Brady and not Tom Seaver who had died with Covid-19, Trumpicans would get the message that the virus is a threat to the country. So far it hasn’t happened. It’s not going to happen. The only news that might affect the vote is the coming announcement of a vaccine…not that Trumpicans would be vaccinated anyway. In the meantime, Trumpicans have discounted the virus as a threat to them beyond the flu and remain loyal to the person who kept real Americans outside the cities safe.

This attitude carried over into the aid packages. Once relief had been passed to help rich people get richer or at least maintain their wealth, the enthusiasm for aid relief dissipated. If people received $600 instead of $300, what would be their incentive to work? If Democratic states were bailed out, that would be rewarding states for being expensive, ineffective, and overstaffed. Why should people in Florida bail out those loser states like New York? It’s not like anything had been done to help New York during the past three years anyway. That will teach that other Queens boy who is really the boss.

Now the antipathy has been openly expressed. The war has been declared. The line in the sand has been drawn. President of the United States has said to the Governor of New York: DROP DEAD! There is no need here to repeat the vituperative exchanges which followed between the two Queens combatants. Suffice, it to say, it was a no holds-barred clash involving even relatives of the fighters.

Two points stand out so far.

1. The Governor has yet to call for the defunding of the Confederacy for the over $20 billion surplus in tax monies the state sends annually to the federal government.

2. The contrasting images of the one person are really remarkable to behold. Based on his real estate years in New York City, Little Donnee Waney is pond-scum slime. He was a successful clown but a failed businessman and human being. He never was accepted by the New York elite try as he might to be accepted. Even after being a long-time Democrat and Clinton supporter, he realized that he had no future in politics or business in the city and would always be a pariah. He was cruel, mean, nasty, and incapable of telling the truth besides being a simpleminded, ignorant, narcissistic bigot.

On the other hand, as THE DONALD, he is God’s gift to America. America should be thanking him for the sacrifices he made of his own free will to help his country by becoming America’s greatest president ever and at great personal cost. He is America’s Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name and he will lead America to victory over the new ISIS, the socialist Democrats who aren’t even real Americans anyway.

The battlelines have been drawn and the war is underway. In the next two months, Americans will scarcely know the world outside America exists. All attention will be on America’s Third Civil War. Even before Election Day, the hostilities are underway. Cuomo may be called back to television frontlines to give daily updates on the ongoing war with the Trumpicans. In fact, maybe even two Cuomos will be speaking daily on the war just as they did when one was infected and the other struggled to stop the spread…unless, of course, Chris becomes a casualty of this war.

In a way, the open declaration to defund Democratic cities does America a favor. Perhaps now we will stop pretending that it is politics as usual or just another presidential election. The coronavirus is not the existential threat to the continued existence of the United States as a single political entity. The current salvo against the Democrats is just one example of the scorched earth war that will only get worse. Tom Friedman, the longtime reporter on Lebanese civil war politics, wrote back on August 19 (print):

Here is a sentence I never in a million years thought that I would ever write or read: This November, for the first time in our history, the United States of America may not be able to conduct a free and fair election…[T]hat would not result in just a disputed election…that would be the end of American democracy as we know it. It also isn’t hyperbole to say it could sow the seeds of another Civil War.

The threat is real.

Yes, it is. The battle is engaged. Militias will be on the march when called. This president genuinely could succeed in accomplishing what Benedict Arnold and Robert E. Lee could not. Is Joe Biden up for the fight of his country’s life?

We Are Not the UNITED States: Covid-19, Confederates, and the Union

The Third Civil War (New York Times Magazine)

We are not the UNITED States. We are the DISUNITED STATES. We were when we were constituted. We were when we fought the Civil War. We were when we celebrated the Civil War Sesquicentennial. And we are now as celebrate the American Revolution 250th. One can make the case that during World War II we were a united people but beyond that specific time period, the issue is more problematic.

Lincoln’s advice that a “house divided can not stand” is correct but inappropriate. We are not a house but two houses. The recent and ongoing developments with COVID-19 illustrate what was known beforehand but is now more obvious. The battle to re-open states versus social distancing in states is an expression of that divide.


The maps used on the news shows to show the spread of COVID-19 and the resulting deaths are deceptive. It is not that they are wrong [although the numbers infected and dead due to COVID-19 are likely to be higher]. They are deceptive because the virus does not occur at a state level. State maps are fine for state events – Electoral College vote, Senate and Governor elections, lockdowns and Medicaid expansion. They paint a deceptive picture for the virus.


To understand how the virus is playing out politically, we need to look at maps that better reflect the political reality. As best as I can tell simply by observing the maps and without any detailed analysis, I suspect there is a high correlation between high COVID-19 outbreak and the congressional districts that voted Democratic and low COVID-19 outbreak and the congressional districts that voted Trumpican in 2016. Similarly, this correlation would match the congressional districts that want to re-open the economy now and those that don’t.


Remember when Angela Merkel predicted a 70% infection in Germany? Remember when America was going to hit with a 75% infection rate? You don’t hear numbers like that anymore. Even a 1% rate of infection or approximately 3.3 million [less if children are excluded] is still significantly higher than the current infection rate although still attainable.

So what happened? How did the rate drop so precipitously? To a non-medical person like me the decline of such magnitude suggests the early models were incorrect. Rather than attribute the substantial decline to stay at home and social distancing, it may also be that the ease of infection was not what was originally forecast. Certainly if you are in close proximity to an infected person for an extended period of time – prison, nursing home, Spring Break, Mardi Gras, family event, conference – then the infection rate is high; less so than if you pass someone on a sidewalk or supermarket aisle for only a moment. Regardless of the reason, I think the American people are entitled to an explanation of why the original epidemic infection rates seem to have been so wrong.

There are unexpected consequences to the projected numbers being reduced so substantially. It undermines the credibility of the experts who originally predicted such catastrophic numbers. At the moment, the number dead due to CORVID-19 is roughly comparable to the annual dead due to the flu. That number will increase and doesn’t take into account the mitigation actions. Still it enables people of certain mindset to compare the death totals from human-based actions – suicide, murder, car accidents, drug overdoses/opioid-deaths – none of which required the closing down the country – to a contagion like CORVID-19. The result strengthens the views of the anti-vaccine/no climate change/anti-science/anti-expert/anti-elitist sector of the American population (see Darwin and COVID-19: Science in America).


The disease to which COVID-19 should be compared is not the annual flu or the Spanish flu of 1918 but AIDS (see The Coronavirus Is Not AIDS: Do Trumpicans Know That?). I mention this again not in a medical sense but a political one. Who are the people who are dying as a result of COVID-19? We now have a population sample of over 30,000 people from which to draw conclusions.

Real Americans in a Trumpian world are not dying in droves or even in significant numbers at this time As with AIDS, COVID-19 seems targeted in whom it strikes. But whereas AIDS required specific actions for the disease to be transmitted, COVID-19 can strike anyone anywhere. However in practice, it only seems to strike some people in some locations.

Prior conditions weakens the body and makes it more susceptible to infections. In and of itself, that observation is not new or surprising. People in a weakened condition are by definition more at risk. People with hypertension or diabetes are different from people who don’t have these conditions. People who have less adequate to medical care and who are in poorer health are more at risk. That means poor people concentrated in urban areas are more at risk…even more at risk than poor people in rural areas who live further apart. In general terms that means black people and immigrants say in Elmont, Queens, the neighborhood epicenter in the borough epicenter or the city epicenter of the state epicenter of COVID-19 in the DISUNITED STATES.

Politically, people who are not being infected in significant numbers after six weeks are being asked to care about people who are. They have lost their jobs, their savings, their businesses, their way of life even though so far they are no more at risk for being infected COVID-19 than they are by the annual flu. And they are being asked to care about people they did not care about even before the epidemic.

Think of the difference in the attitude towards New York. 9/11 was an attack on the whole country; COVID-19 isn’t. As mentioned above, World War II was a time of national unity; now the World War II generation is collateral damage – old people die. Why not play Russian roulette with the lives of people you don’t care about? After all, what happens in New York stays in New York.

Not quite.


The examples of the two Queens bros reflects this divide in the DISUNITED STATES. Andy Cuomo, Governor of New York State, has become the national face and voice of the people who have been infected by COVID-19. With his daughter having been self-quarantined and his brother now infected, Cuomo presents a personal side to the epidemic in addition to his responsibilities as the chief executive of the hardest hit state in the country. His ratings are high and it is quite reasonable to speculate that if the presidential election was next year, he would be the Democratic nominee.

How popular do you think Cuomo is with Trumpicans?

The other Queens bro abandoned Queens and New York for Florida where he now makes his legal residence. Ignorant as he is, he sensed that the United States was and is a divided country. He sensed that many Americans felt the same snub and putdown by elitists that he had when the Manhattan elite refused to recognize him as anything more than a narcissistic sleazeball real estate promoter who failed repeatedly.. He sensed that there was a political opportunity that he could exploit for his own advantage. He sensed that there was no benefit to trying to be the President of all America, of We the People America, of e pluribus unum America. Instead he picked a side and strove only to reach out to his people and not to those people.

It worked. As long as he is defending real Americans from those people, Trumpicans don’t care what else he might do…even if it is to make rich people richer and undermine America’s position in the world. All the shortcomings of his leadership in January to March in the COVID-19 epidemic (see New York Times Investigates the Brain of Donald Trump: President Has a Hissy Fit) are irrelevant as long as he sticks with his primary responsibility. He is their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name. But Trumpicans did not vote for him so they could lose their jobs, their businesses, their savings, and their way of life so he could help those people.

The issue of re-opening versus safety first is part of the culture wars, it is part of the Third Civil War. What may be a 9/11 or 12/7 in Democratic congressional districts is Fort Sumter in Trumpican congressional districts. We have seen Trumpican/Confederates marching in Michigan. We have heard Laura and Rush and Fox call for putting real Americans first now. We have heard sheriffs vowing civil disobedience rather than enforce restrictions on the right of American people to be free (see the Twilight Zone episode The Old Man in the Cave). As the weather improves and summer is upon us, the call to be able to move freely about the country and with each other will rise.

COVID-19 may do what collusion with Russia, attempted extortion in the Ukraine, and the sheer incompetence of the ignorant and immature President did not accomplish. It may turn Trumpicans against their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name. The bully has backed down to the governors and his feeble efforts at the bully pulpit are laughable. The more Trumpicans protest the restriction and the less their leader does to remove them despite the daily calls from Rush and Fox, the more Trumpicans may abandoned their savior who failed them in their moment of need. This is the first time in this administration when the desires of the Trumpicans and their savior may widely diverge. If he tells them to obey their governors, will they? If he doesn’t eliminate the restrictions and save their jobs, businesses, and way of life, will they still vote for him? If they start dying in droves because no area is safe and no state immune, will they see the light?

America’s Third Civil War (The Atlantic)

I have just learned that the wartime general has called for the liberation of Minnesota and Michigan. How far he will pursue this war remains to be determined. Fox will continually push him to assert his royal powers under Article 2. It is reasonable to predict that as the weather heats up so will the culture wars. COVID-19 will change the way America’s third Civil War will be fought.

When Esau and Jacob emerged from the womb there already was a struggle just as there was between the two houses of America at its birth. Whether the bros will follow the path of Isaac and Ishmael or Cain and Abel is now being determined. It will be the basis, often unstated, of the 2020 elections. Bonespur Boy will not be able to satisfy both the Trumpicans and the governors nor can the world’s worst negotiator mediate a settlement. What will he do? What will the American people do on Election Day (and by mail before then)?

Could Nancy Pelosi Become the First Female President?: A Constitutional Crisis

Trumpican Governor Analysis of the Coronavirus

Could Nancy Pelosi become the first female President? Right now such a scenario seems unlikely. Now think about what used to be impossible and no one ever thought of and now is the New Normal.

Inaugural Day Vacuum

What would have to happen for Nancy Pelosi to become the first female President?

First, there has to be an election in November. Then the Democrats have to maintain the majority in the House of Representatives. Next, the Democrats have to elect her Speaker of the House. Finally, on Inaugural Day, there has to be no President or Vice President of the United States.

Is it possible that as of January 20, 2021, that the Electoral College will not have elected anyone to the two highest offices in the land?

Contested Election

Is there any doubt that the presidential election will be a contested one? In the 2016 election, the candidate who expected to lose already had his legal justification for denying that the winner was duly elected. The issue was illegal voters. 3 million of them. No. Wait! 5 million of them. Whatever number he needed to win the popular vote, that’s how many people voted illegally. If he had filed suit to void the election, it wouldn’t have worked. A Trumpican commission created by the newly elected President failed to find illegal voters. It was a dismal failure.

In the 2020 election, the now incumbent President can’t risk repeating the half ass effort he undertook in 2016. There is no point in finding or wasting time trying to find illegal voters in California. The effort needs to be more strategic. It needs to be well-thought out. It means that even prior to the election, there need to be teams in place to question the results in states that would reverse the election results if the charges prove true. This means in places like Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona and then perhaps places like Georgia, North Carolina, and dare it be said, Texas.

How much time would it reasonably take to collect the required evidence to support such a claim in each of the states with contested results?

How many legal challenges would there be to that effort?

How many rulings and at how many judicial levels would it take to resolve all the claims so it can be determined just who the valid Electors are?

Is it possible that it would take until January 20, 2021?

I have no idea. However with a President having the full weight of the Attorney General and FBI at his personal disposal, it could take quite a while. Now try to imagine the furor Fox would stoke daily. Consider the death threats to Fauci for daring to tell the truth. Fauci telling the truth even when it means contradicting the President equates to attacking the Trumpican Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name.

Meanwhile the clock to resolve the voting disputes would be ticking.

Could Inauguration Day be postponed? The Mayor of New York City floated that idea after 9/11 that he would remain in office temporarily until the dust settled both literally and figuratively. That suggestion didn’t fly. The election was held on schedule and a new mayor was installed on schedule as well.

There is no provision for extending the presidential term of an incumbent if the Electoral College cannot elect a President. If there is no President and no Vice President than the Speaker becomes President. Say hello to Nancy Pelosi, the first female President of the United States of America.


But it probably won’t come to that. As part of that effort to contest the election, both sides would be working with the states. That means also working with the governors of those states. That also also means working in an unprecedented situation of massive mail in ballots that would increase the number of disputed votes exponentially. Even just to count them under normal circumstances would be a challenge. Under these circumstances the chad counters in Florida will seem calm by comparison.

So who are these governors who would manage this count at the state level? Keep in mind, the federal government is just there for backup purposes, will take no leadership role, and will not accept any responsibility.

Many of these governors are extremely popular now. If the election were next year Andrew Cuomo would win both the Democratic nomination and the election in landslides. His poll numbers have skyrocketed compared to the teeny-weeny bump of the Impeached President who never tells the truth except by accident, has limited cognitive skills, and is self-centered. It would be embarrassing to watch the two Queen bros bash it out, the adult and the immature child.

But Cuomo isn’t the only governor with improved ratings. Many Democratic governors have increased their popularity.  Any challenge to the vote totals in a state led by a Democratic governor who is more popular and who has been demeaned and who has not received federal support for the coronavirus then would have the last laugh. Oh, you want to dispute the votes in Michigan. LOL.

Even Republican governors in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Ohio have fared better than the President. These are the people who would be the basis for the Republicans taking back their party after the 2020 elections or who would start a new Republican Party.

Now name a Trumpican governor whose stature has increased as a result of the coronavirus. Texas? Florida? Georgia? Oklahoma? Trumpicans have the analytic skills of a person who jumps off the Empire State Building and at the 42nd floor says “so far so good.” No Trumpican looks better now than before while Democrats are producing a whole new group of people with national reputations for getting the job done.

Meanwhile the Trumpicans are only likely to look more and more foolish and inept, completely incapable of handling the real world but unable to escape the presidential game of make-believe. We are watching the governors of Georgia and Florida play “Simon Says.” They can act to protect their residents until they are given permission to do so. Truly he sucks all the oxygen out of the Trumpican tent until no one is left with any credibility.

Trumpican Behavior

Now consider the Presidential letter to Chuck Schumer. Keep in mind the perfect third-grade letter to Erdogan which is going to figure prominently in the Unpresidential Library. This time we have another unsolicited public example of his cognitive skills. Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, refers to it as an “utterly childish letter.” He writes the letter “reads like a sort of Mad Libs you might fill out and leave in the locker of your 7th grade enemy.” Sounds exactly like something I would write about the seventh-grade-smart-aleck-dumb-aleck. In fact, it is what I have been writing in blog after blog! He is not childish, he is a child. He has the brain of one.

And let’s not forget Nunes, the crooked clown’s performance on Fox.

The Trumpican Party performance from Pence on down has been pathetic. Nikki Haley is reconsidering her desire to become the Vice Presidential candidate after Pence is dumped when Biden names a female candidate. Is she really prepared to debase herself to the Trumpican level? Will she have more of a political future as a Republican or a Trumpican? Too early to tell.

In the meantime, consider what is happening at the ground level now that adult children have returned home due to the coronavirus. [NYT, 4/1/20] In this one example, a son is trying to convince his parents of the seriousness of the coronavirus. He also is trying to convince them of how the government completely trumped-up its handling of the crisis. Shouting matches were the result.

The parents resisted. “How could this happen [here]? It must be fake,” the son reported the parents as saying. The government couldn’t have attempted to cover it up and downplay it at first. Maybe a foreign government is responsible.

But over time, the real world began to sink it. The son said, “Things just got out of control. You could see people dying at home.”

The son in this example is Chinese, not Chinese-American, but Chinese. China has its own equivalents of Trumpicans, its own Hannitys.

Here is an example of an American Trumpican. In a phone call to Rush Limbaugh on March 13, Brian from Richmond, Va., said he wanted the President to say: “[D]on’t believe the fake news and the media hype. It’s not that serious.” [NYT, 4/2/20]

Perhaps all this talk about the end of days makes sense for Trumpicans. Perhaps they are willing to face the truth about their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed be his Name. I doubt it. Unless Trumpicans die in droves, Trumpicans aren’t going to take the coronavirus seriously. Eventually, however, the real world trumps the world of make-believe. The more the Trumpican governors show they are not up to handling this crisis, the more people die on their watch, the more they will be held accountable. The more We the People pull back the curtain and see there is nothing there, the less chance there is of a contested election and Nancy Pelosi becoming the first female President. On the other hand, Biden not Cuomo is the candidate.

He Really Could Stand in the Middle of 5th Avenue, Shoot Somebody, and Not Lose Voters

The Cuomo-Trump Debates in America's Third Civil War (Granger Collection, New York)

On January 23, 2016, the future president of the United States speaking at a campaign rally in Sioux Center, Iowa, said:

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,”

This comment was an impromptu, unscripted, off-the-cuff remark. Prior to the rally, he had no idea that he would make such a comment. He was just showing off to the crowd about how loyal they were to him. He was expressing that loyalty in the strongest terms possible. After he made it, he had no idea of the implications of the comment or its consequences. His brain simply is not configured to think in those terms.

He didn’t even believe it. How own actions reveal that he did not think his assertion was true. It was and is true but because he didn’t believe it, he has done things he never needed to do.

For example, he had no need to pay hush money to the porn start and the playmate. Trumpicans couldn’t care less about family values, adultery, and campaign finance laws. It would be different if Barack Obama had done those things. It would be different if the previously impeached President had done those things. But it was a matter of complete indifference if their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed be his Name did them. Their ire was directed only against Michael Cohen, the fixer, for daring to tell the truth.

Similarly, there was no need to fire Jim Comey. Suppose Comey had launched a full investigation and discovered that the candidate had colluded with the Russians and laundered money for the Russian mob, so what? With Trumpican control of both houses of Congress nothing would have happened. New York at the federal and/or state level might have pursued criminal actions against him. He would not have cooperated with any such investigations and the district attorneys would have had to wait until he was no longer in office to get anywhere. But he wouldn’t have lost any votes.

We know that because a Special Prosecutor was appointed. And what happened? Despite finding 10 examples of obstruction, no action was taken. Did he lose any support? This example illustrates the importance of controlling the narrative. Imagine How Fox would report the shooting on 5th Avenue. First it would be hoax by the media mob and the Deep State intended to reverse the 2016 election. Its goal was to remove from office the duly elected by 63 million real American voters president. Then when Fox learned he really had shot someone, Fox would identify the person as Deep-State agent, Seth Rich, and he would be portrayed as a hero.

The same situation occurred with the Ukrainian extortion attempt and cover-up. In this instance Mick Mulvaney got it exactly right: “Sure we attempted to extort the Ukraine for our political benefit. That’s the way the game is played. Get over it.” This time an impeachment did occur. The Trumpican majority in the Senate said, “So what if he did everything of which he is accused?” If it been Obama that would have been a different story. Now it was “so what” with the official legal blessing of the OJ lawyer as well. And once again, he did not lose any support.

When the coronavirus first broke in China, China deployed the Trump Playbook. The Chinese Hannitys denied that anything had happened. They suppressed the whistleblowers who dared to tell the truth. Then when China seemingly had things under control, China bragged about the superb job they had done all along, worthy of a world leader.

Then in this country, the American Hannity went ballistic. He was livid in his denunciation of the Chinese. He directly blamed them for the unnecessary deaths that were occurring in Italy and elsewhere. He was furious at China for the deaths they had caused by not telling the truth and allowing the coronavirus to spread. He wanted China held accountable.

Now the American leader has done exactly what Hannity denounced the Chinese leader for doing. Now the death toll is rising in this country at an almost Italian-like rate. Under the watch of our President, we have become the world leader in the number of cases and will be in the number of deaths. Our leadership position will only increase in days and weeks to come.

The Speaker of the House has denounced the President of the United States for fiddling while Rome burned. That accusation is not fair since Nero was an adult. The Speaker now has asserted that the President of the United States is responsible for the deaths of Americans. Death has come to 5th Avenue. Death has come to Manhattan. Death has come to the five boroughs. Death has come to New York State. Death has come to America. Our Dear Leader did not cause the coronavirus, but he has maximized its deadly impact in the United States with his ineptitude, incompetence, ignorance, dishonesty, self-centeredness and simplemindedness.

Trumpicans deny the charges. It is the disloyal traitors scum who bear responsibility with their cutie pie nasty questions who are making things worse. And the coronavirus like AIDS is targeting people who aren’t real Americans anyway. Real Americans don’t have to fear the coronavirus. Many governors do not. A map of the United States showing which governors have acted and which haven’t looks like a map of the Union states and the Confederate states and like the 2016 elections.

From time to time, I have been writing about our third civil war (Battle Report from America’s Third Civil War: Trumpicans versus Democrats Since July 14, 2019). The lines are drawn in this fight but so far there only have been skirmishes. My expectation was that our Battle of Saratoga, our Battle of Gettysburg, our showdown at high noon would occur after the presidential election. I stand by that prediction.

If Joe Biden wins, the full force of the United States government will be unleashed to undermine that victory. There will be for all practical purposes no limits to what the Attorney General will do to reverse the results since the Democratic victor will not have been duly elected. If the polls showing a 9% lead for Biden persist throughout the campaign, the intensity of the attacks against him will ramp up. How violent the battle becomes remains to be seen.

If Joe Biden loses, tens of millions of people will have a meltdown. How could it be happening again? How could it be happening to when the victor is directly responsible for the deaths of Americans?

Whatever happened before the coronavirus will be forgotten. Who cares what John Bolton has to say? He missed his moment. The election will focus on the coronavirus. In part this means, we won’t know until the fall what the facts on the ground will be. We won’t know what the impact on the voters will be. The intensity of the struggle will ratchet up. After all, the conversation will be about death. Americans will become even more divided.

Here are the two competing campaign strategies.

Trumpicans will claim it is not by chance that our Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name, is here at the precise moment the United States needed him to defeat the Chinese invasion and save the country. Truly he is our greatest president and the only one who could have saved us. Look at how few people died. Since there is no more room at Mount Rushmore, we need to find a new mountain to be named Mount Trump where his image can be carved.

Democrats will claim that the inept, incompetent, ignorant, immature, simpleminded, self-centered child is directly responsible for an increased number of deaths and a bigger decrease in the economy. They will want to hold the former President of the United States responsible.  A commission would be created after the new President takes office to prosecute him to the hilt. Perhaps Adam Schiff will lead that effort.

How this will play out is not certain. So far the coronavirus has not cooperated with the happy-talk of our immature child president playing make believe.  It just keeps infecting and killing people. Even he finally has learned to live somewhat in the real world. There is no more talk about just 15 people total and they are recovering. There is no more talk about the coronavirus just disappearing one day. There is no more talk about a miracle. And he has not lost any support for his mismanagement of the crisis. Instead, his poll numbers are up.

The coronavirus has been weaponized.

Florida gets it requests filled because it has a Trumpican governor and he needs that state to win.

Michigan is insulted because it is led by a nasty female Democrat. That woman has been banished to the cornfields (MAD DOG BANISHED TO THE CORNFIELDS: TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE BECOMES REAL).

Does that mean he has abandoned any hope of winning Michigan this time even though it was important to him in 2016? Quite possibly.

But what about Florida? What if the virus continues to spread there? What happens if he can no longer meet the needs of the state? Is it possible Trumpicans will finally open their eyes to the truth of their savior’s shortcomings? It is possible but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Trumpicans would have to die in droves before they would even consider that possibility.

Let’s end with another campaign rally about killing people. There was a raucous professional political wrestling arena rally in the Panhandle in Florida. When he raised the subject of what should be done about people crossing in the United States illegally, a voice from the audience rang out, “Shoot them!” Everyone laughed. That person is a true Trumpican. That audience consisted of true Trumpicans. Are they still laughing now? Will they still be laughing in the weeks and months ahead if not only New Yorkers die but they do too? Too early to tell.

One safe prediction: expect to see Andrew Cuomo on the campaign trail all the time especially in Florida with its former New Yorkers. Those campaign exchanges will be heated. Move over Lincoln-Douglas debates, there is a new civil war brewing.

Trump Fires Fauci and Cuomo by Twitter: “Only I Can Save America”

Abraham at Sodom: How Many? (

Donald Trump, our Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Bless be His Name, has tweeted that director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci and Governor Andrew Cuomo have been fired under his powers of Article 2 where he can do anything. The Very Stable Genius, the smartest person in the room as long as it is a morgue or a nursery school with no adults present, thanked them for their work and then sent them on their way.

Did anyone think that when the Vice President of the United States was put in charge of the crisis team that it meant that he would be in charge? That he would be making the presentations to the American people? If you thought that then you shouldn’t be a reporter and probably not a voter either. Vice President Brown Nose knows his place and it is not center stage. That position is reserved. Your job is to genuflect and sing my praises at least once every five sentences.

Obviously Fauci did not get the memo. He thought that as the professional in the field, the American people should hear from him. He did not realize that the uncle of our Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be His Name, was a supergenius and that the medical people were amazed at much the President absorbed and understood what they were saying.  Therefore Fauci was superfluous. He was retained only by the kindness of our sympathetic, empathetic and pathetic President.

And how did Fauci replay this kindness? By hogging the center stage, by continually correcting the false information communicated by the Very Stable Genius, and even boasting of these actions to the media. Such disloyal actions cannot be tolerated. Remember what happened to Mick Mulvaney when he said “Of course we tried to extort the Ukrainian president. That’s how the game’s played. Get over it.” He’s I Ireland now. The 79-year old Fauci is even older than Biden, older than Sanders, as old as I will be when I start my third term. It’s time for Fauci to spend some time with his family and stop complaining about only getting three hours of sleep each night.

As for Cuomo, what can be said about the Queens bro. We grew up together as longtime Democrats and Clinton supporters with very successful fathers. Now look at you. Holding daily press briefings on your own. Displaying a command of the data instead of rambling all over the map with disjointed thoughts. Having an organized presentation using PowerPoint. Sticking to a planned performance while also speaking without a script. Showing sympathy. Showing empathy. Not making it all about you. These characteristics are unforgivable. If you were the Democratic nominee for President, I would be in big trouble now. You are too visible!

Now it is time for the Very Stable Genius to show who is boss. Now it is time for the smartest person in the room to save America. Now it is time to show that I should not be added to Mount Rushmore but should have my own mountain. Now I will reveal to the world my plan to save it. It will be so brilliant and so great that people will be in awe of it.

What are the prime factors in making such a plan?

First, it is all about me.
Second, it is all about me.
Third, it is all about me.

That means I must be re-elected as America’s greatest president and keep my immunity. Look at what happens when all your life you are pond-scum slime and it finally catches up with you. Did you see what happened to Epstein? Suicide? Did you see what is happening to Weinstein? A medically broken man who can barely hold himself up even with assistance! I can’t let that happen to me. Got to be re-elected. Got to get the Dow Jones back up where it should be.

Why not just let everyone go back to normal and America rise from the dead by Easter? Let’s see what happens and focus on the bad spots like New York City.

Suppose Americans die? How many?  Worst case scenario: If every American got the coronavirus and 1% died that would be about 3.3 million people? But suppose the economy was saved. Is that acceptable? They keep saying you can’t put a price on human life but we do that all the time. Ever hear of life insurance? How about the 9/11 commission that distributed the money after I had the tallest building in Lower Manhattan? Of course, we can put a price on human life and as the president with no empathy and no sympathy I am the best qualified person to do it.

Suppose instead of 100% of the people getting the coronavirus only 50% do based on common predictions, only 1.65 million people died, and the economy was saved. Is that acceptable?

Suppose the doctors who predict 20% of the people getting the coronavirus are right, only 660,000 people died, and the economy was saved? That’s less than he people who died in the Civil War. Is that acceptable?

Suppose we have mitigated the curve and continue to do so in the bad spots? Is that acceptable?

And how many people have died so far anyway> How does that compare with the number of people murdered annually? The number who commit suicide? The number in car accidents? The number from drug overdoses? We don’t close the country because of those actions do we? And the number of coronavirus deaths is less than any of those yet alone all of them.

We know how Abraham’s bargaining with the Lord over the destruction of Sodom worked out. We don’t know how it will play out in the mind of our immature child president who is not capable of having such a discussion and instead relied his gut and Fox.

And whatever decision I make, how am I going to explain it to the American people? In my usual baby talk? By making it all about me? By calling the dead “collateral damage”? In another disastrous Oval Office address written by idiots and delivered by a moron? Trumpicans will believe anything I say, college-educated women won’t. But in times of trouble, people want a leader. Regardless of what I do as long as I am doing something as the leader my poll numbers will go up. But suppose my plan doesn’t work, can I talk my way out of it even with Putin’s and Fox’s help?

The countdown has started. Invisible Joe Biden has until just before Easter to become relevant.

A Rose by Any Other Name Is Still the Tappan Zee Bridge

What can we learn from the controversy over the naming of the Tappan Zee Bridge? What lessons can be drawn by looking at the larger picture? Let’s examine the data and see if we can put the pieces together. Start with the above-the-fold headline in my local paper on August 31, 2018:

Cuomo or Tappan Zee: Names Feed Identity Crisis by Frank Esposito, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

The article recounted the ongoing struggle to preserve the historic name of Tappan Zee Bridge in contrast to the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. The former bridge could be located in one and only one place; the latter bridge could be located anywhere in the state. Confusion continues given the signs to the Tappan Zee Bridge which still exist on the highways and byways, in the internet, and in our minds. The article ends with a reference to the son in the gubernatorial debate when he, too, referred to the Tappan Zee Bridge.

The article on page 3 on the same day is entitled “Cuomo Pressed on Tappan Zee Name, Toll” by Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau. The moderator asked the candidate if he is open to renaming the bridge.

By coincidence, earlier in the same month, Tappan and Rockland County resident Steve Dunlop wrote an opinion piece for the same newspaper entitled ’Tappan Zee’ Played Pivotal Role in American Revolution (8/5/18). Dunlop was referring to the “Tappan Sea Skirmish” using the British name (“zee” suffered the same fate as “New Amsterdam” when the British replaced the Dutch). The skirmishes were on August 3 and 16, 1776, in attacks on the five British frigates anchored near where the current bridge is located. Dunlop declares that the unexpected resistance offered by the Americans served to inspire other Americans along the Hudson Valley and put the British on notice.

Pushing back to June, the headline in the local paper was:

Tappan Zee Bridge Name Supporters Deliver Petitions to Andrew Cuomo (6/7/18). The article also was by Jon Campbell who has chronicled the violation of federal regulations with Cuomo’s I LoveNY highway signs (see below). The article reported the delivery to the Governor’s office by ten members of Save Our Tappan Zee of a two-foot high petition with over 108, 000 signatures asking for the change of the name to the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge.

The previous day an article Tappan Zee Bridge Name Change Awakens a Grassroots Movement that Cuomo Can’t Stop appeared in the local paper by the aforementioned Steve Dunlop. I imagine the title was crafted by the newspaper and not the guest writer. Dunlop described the process of the name change by Cuomo as follows:

The vast majority of New Yorkers don’t pay attention [to Capital politics]. Gov. Andrew Cuomo knows this well. A master of statecraft, he exploited that very somnolence when he snuck the name change at the close of the 2017 legislative session, then stuck it in the session-ending reconciliation session. He did it with no fanfare, and not even a token attempt to muster public support. He did it because he could. And he could because no one was looking.

Dunlop reports on a growing grassroots effort by the history community, especially in Rockland County, to advocate for something specific in Albany. Remember the advocacy motto: No “asks” means “No gets.” Now the history community is asking.

How much of Tappan history do you think the Governor knew before making this change? Do you think when the Governor was contemplating changing the name of Tappan Zee Bridge he ever inquired into the meaning of that name? Do you think he inquired of the New York State historian how it came to be that the bridge had the name that it did? Do you think he inquired of the scholars who have written about the building of the bridge or the development of Rockland County after its completion? Has he documented any connection between his father and the Tappan Zee Bridge sufficient to warrant the name change? Did he do his homework?

By now it is not surprising to realize that our Governor has a sincere but superficial interest in New York State history. Over the years, I have had the unfortunate honor to write numerous blogs about the failure of the once-promising Path through History project. I also had the unfortunate honor to write about the still ongoing violation of federal regulations with the highway signs that included the Path through History. I will not repeat that information here.

But as I tracked the shortcomings in the Path through History project, I wondered if the Path project was unique in this development. Was it a one-of-kind failure or was it symptomatic of multiple programs? Historians know that unique is not a pattern that one should not pass judgment on the whole based on the example of the one.

As I result I began to notice other new programs which had been created recently. I wondered how they were working out. I am not referring to the 80% of life which is showing up, of maintaining the current programs which exist on their own momentum. Instead, I looked to the new and unprecedented to compare their execution with that of the Path through History.

The first new program I noticed was called Start-Up NY. Cuomo launched he program in 2013 effective in 2014. It allows businesses to move into tax-free zones on or near college campuses and pay no taxes for 10 years. Shortly thereafter, I began to notice articles that suggested the Start-Up initiative was an even bigger failure than the Path was. Here are a sample of some headlines from my local papers that I accumulated over the years.

2/6/15 Report: Agency Generates Few Jobs by Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau Chief
4/22/15 Facing Criticism, Cuomo Defends Start-Up by Joseph Spector
5/15/15 Jobs Effort That Cuomo Vowed Would Fire Up Economy Is Slow to Take Hold by Susanne Craig and Jesse McKinley (NYT)
5/27/15 Corporate Welfare Fails to Deliver the Jobs: The Sad Case of Start-Up NY
by Lawrence S. Wittner, Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany on Start-Up NY and SUNY. Because the author had been a history professor, the article received some traction in the history community (History News Network).
1/20/17 Cuomo Changes Name and Focus of Jobs Effort by Vivian Yee (NYT)
The article reported that the program that cost nearly $50 million in 2014 to produce 76 jobs and $53 million in 2015 to produce another 332 jobs would henceforth be called Excelsior Business Program. These numbers appeared in other articles as well.
2/2/17 Lawmakers, NY Economic Czar on Job Growth by Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau
Without meaning to, Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development President and CEO, implied that changing the name is a good thing given the previous failure associated with the name by the media.
4/3/17 Start-Up NY created 757 Positions in ’16 by Jon Campbell
5/28/17 How Business “Partnerships” Flopped at America’s Largest University by Lawrence Wittner, writing two years after his earlier foray (History News Network).
8/26/18 Cuomo’s Jobs Record: The Good, Bad, and Ugly by Jon Campbell
Under “The Bad,” the first item is Start-Up NY. No one seems to call it Excelsior Business Program. Changing names is not so easy. The English actually had to conquer New Amsterdam to make that change work!

I do not claim to have made an exhaustive story of the Start-Up NY program. I can say simply as someone trying to be an informed voter, the optics for the Start-Up NY program are pitiful. From an historian perspective, what is interesting is that as with the Path through History, Start-Up NY was a government initiative that comes across as a failure to anyone not dependent on the state government.

With that thought in mind, let’s briefly turn to the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) funding better known as “hunger games” in political circles. In a scathing analysis of its shortcomings and failures by Riley Edwards, research associate at the Citizens Budget Commission, he concludes:

Rather than pursuing headline-grabbing projects in which taxpayers are the ones on the hook when a deal falls through, or providing excessive, narrowly targeted tax breaks, the state should consider approaches that provide more widespread benefit. Investments in infrastructure, workforce development, and higher education, as well as a more competitive tax system, can improve New York’s ability to attract and retain employers.

Along the same lines, Stephanie Miner, Democrat and former Syracuse mayor running for governor as an independent, has called for the state to cease operating a host of economic development efforts. She says, they waste taxpayers dollars and fail to live up to the hype (Former Syracuse Mayor Calls for End of State Economic Development Programs by Tom Precious, Buffalo News, 7/31/18). Miner said the billions of dollars directed to economic development projects for which both Democrats and Republicans take credit should be earmarked for a massive and well-defined infrastructure improvement effort for public transit systems, water and sewer projects, decaying bridges and pothole-strewn roads.  “Government should not be in a position of picking winners and losers,’’ she said of the programs. She highlighted such efforts as the Buffalo Billion, which she said has failed to live up to early job prediction estimates and was the subject of a recent bid-rigging corruption trial that ended up with the conviction of longtime Buffalo businessman Louis Ciminelli and others.

While some of these comments can be attributed to electioneering, the general thrust seems valid. Government should focus on infrastructure and not picking winners and losers. That’s for the market to do. On the other hand, when Cuomo responded by touting his development plans underway at LaGuardia Airport, he did not disclose the name change for the renovated facility.  Once again, as someone seeking to be an informed voter, the optics for “Hunger Games” seem pitiful.

How about those I LoveNY signs? They cost over $8 million much of which went to out-of-state vendors. This government initiative still faces a September 30 deadline for removal. The penalty is $14 million loss in federal highway funding for New York. Three headlines in my local paper tell the story of the Governor’s thinking:

NY’s Plan: Swap I Love NY Signs with Similar One by Jon Campbell (2/15/18)
I Love NY signs likely won’t come down by summer as promised by Jon Campbell (6/6/18)
Millions on Line in Spat over Signs by Chris Carola (8/7/18).

A Governor willing to risk $14 million in funding is not going to be swayed by 108,000 signatures on a petition to change the name of a bridge.

One last headline:

Cuomo Had the MTA Waste $30M on Tunnel Vanity Project by Danielle Furfaro, Lois Weiss and Nolan Hicks (New York Post, 7/22/18).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the cash-strapped MTA to waste as much as $30 million on his latest vanity project — retiling two city tunnels in the state’s blue-and-gold color scheme — instead of using the dough for desperately needed subway repairs, The Post has learned.

The boondoggle began soon after the taxpayer-funded agency ordered white tiles to reline the Brooklyn-Battery and Queens Midtown tunnels after Superstorm Sandy, documents show.

The governor got wind of the plan — and insisted that the cash-strapped transit agency add stripes of blue and gold, thinking nothing of the additional $20 million to $30 million cost, according to sources and project documentation.

Is there a commonality to these government actions?

Instead of considering the Path through History in isolation from the other initiatives…

Instead of considering the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in isolation from the other initiatives…

look at all these other projects together. Maybe it should be no surprise that the Path through History project failed or that vanity trumped history with the renaming of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Make New York State History Great Again

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passport (

On August 28, 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared his intention to make New York State history great again. The occasion was the launching of his Path through History project. I attended the program in Albany and still have the materials and souvenirs from that day. The program was intended to generate revenue (and jobs) through the telling of the history of New York to tourists.

The plenary address was given by Ken Jackson, Columbia University, Mr. New York State History. In his address, Ken spoke of the ways in which New York had been a national leader over the centuries. He recounted various events, named various people and places, and highlighted the prominence of the Empire State. He also noted how much better other states like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were at touting their own stories than New Yok was. You would never know that George Washington spent more time here than in any other state over the 1775-1783 period.

In the years to come, the Path through History quickly became a joke and embarrassment. Instead of being a revenue generator, it became a project of signs, a scarcely used website, brief programs not during the tourist season that historic sites already did anyway, and no paths. The best that could be said for it was that it created a logo and phrase for I LoveNY and history sites to use as a brand. It did nothing to fulfill its original promise that had brought hundreds of people to Albany six years ago to expectantly witness its birth.

As a result, Ken Jackson morphed from plenary speaker to critic. He criticized the program in a letter to Cuomo. He criticized the program when speaking at subsequent conferences. He criticized the program in private conversations. The program certainly has garnered its share of critical columns here in this history column. All to no avail. The Path through History mocked the idea of making New York History great again through telling its story to tourists.

Perhaps the most egregious exposure of its shortcomings occurred in the AMC cable series “Turn” (for example, see AMC Mocks the Path through History). The nationally-shown program was about America’s first spy ring, the Culper Spy Ring, based in Setauket, Long Island, in New York. Although the show was filmed in Virginia, the story was a New York one. Who advertised on the show to visit the historic sites of the American Revolution? If you guessed Virginia, you are right. Come see where it happened. In Virginia. One might think New York would make that claim since the scenes were in New York, but no, it was Virginia that marketed its history to the national audience. Perhaps it was just as well. If someone had flown into JFK or LaGuardia to see the American Revolution sites shown in the series, no American Revolution Path through History itineraries had been created. Make New York State History great indeed! New York had been handed an opportunity on a silver platter to reach a national audience and did nothing.

The South has continued to show up the Empire State. As reported in previous posts, the southern states collaborated to produce a Civil Rights Trail (for example, see The Confederacy Trumps New York on Civil Rights Tourism). It opened January 1, 2018. That effort involved creating teams of people from the tourist, economic development, and academic sectors to cooperate and collaborate to produce the trail. New York State had talked the talked of doing that when the Path through History was launched but it hasn’t happened. To add more insult to injury, the U.S. Civil Rights Trail has attracted interest even in New York publications (for example, see In the South and North, New (and Vital) Civil Rights Trails, Learning About the Civil Rights Era Through Travel, and On a Civil Rights Trail, Essential Sites and Indelible Detours). When was the last time you read about someone following a Path through History trail? Even the events listed on the path website on Father’s Day and in October are of short duration intended for people within a 50-mile radius as a daytrip.

Speaking of trails, let’s not overlook the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. New York may have its wineries, but Kentucky has its Bourbon Trail. The Trail is complete with maps, mugs, t-shirts, history booklets, an itinerary and a passport. The website provides a suggested seven-day trip with an optional eighth day. It explains how the passport can be obtained and used. Seen any Path through History passports lately? Is there a winery one? Puts New York to shame. Sad.

By these comments, I do not mean to suggest that nothing has happened. We now do have a fulltime state historian but that is not due to the Governor. The New York State Museum has exhibits in recognition of the two centennials – women gaining the right to vote in 1917 and New York’s involvement in World War I – but they are not due to the Governor. The New York State Barge Canal has begun celebrating the Erie Canal bicentennial from the beginning of construction on July 4, 1817, to the completion with the Wedding of Waters on November 4, 1825.  The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation still operates but the parks and recreation take precedence over the historic sites under its administration, just as they always will. So, yes, things are still happening at the state level related to history.

I operate in the basis of the 80% rule. As a New Yorker, not Yogi Berra, is said to have said, 80% of life is showing up. The issue is not whether the bureaucratic momentum continues to grind forward on a routine basis but of leadership. What about the extra 20% that requires more than just showing up? In baseball terms, this is known as wins over replacement (WAR).  One analytically examines what a player contributes above and beyond just showing up, just being a replacement. Does this player add to the team value? Will the team win more?

For example, next year is the centennial of the state requirement for municipalities to have an historian. Sometimes even our Governor has mentioned this law as a sign of New York State’s commitment to its history. The law is often honored in the breach. Too many municipalities have no historian. The responsibilities are ill-defined especially given the new technologies available for the storing and dissemination of information to the general public. When the position does exist, it is often disrespected or minimized. There is no training. All in all, it is easy to see why there are no plans to celebrate the centennial – it would only highlight the shortcomings which need to be fixed.

So here are some suggestions as to how a governor could provide the leadership to make New York State history great again. They are offered in the hopes that the victorious candidate will rise to occasion and set New York on a great path through history. One should note that the implementation of these suggestions requires the assistance of the Regents and the Legislature as well.


1. Celebrate the centennial in 2019 of the legislation creating municipal historians in the state.
2. Enforce compliance with the legislation in all municipalities.
3. Define the responsibilities of the municipal historians based on the population of the municipality.
4. Extend the law to include creating a New York City historian.
5. Extend the law to create community district historians in New York City.
6. Establish a one-week training program for municipal historians starting with the county historians. The program should be based in Albany and include presentations by the New York State Archives, the New York State Education Department, the New York State Library, the New York State Museum, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation including a visit to the Peebles Island facility and I LoveNY. The program should conclude with a reception at the Executive Mansion.

Municipal historians should provide the local infrastructure for the creation of history tourism programs throughout the state.


1. Allocate $1 million of its REDC funding to the Path through History project or $100,000 for each of the ten regions.
2. Create teams in partnership with the New York Historian for each of the themes in the Path through History following the format of the southern states in creating a U. S. Civil Rights Trail.


Establish a $1 million REDC funding pool for history projects to include what used to be done through member items, for anniversaries such as the Suffrage Centennial, and for other history projects.


Create a Senate and Assembly history caucus. The caucus would aim to provide a forum for members to share their interest in history and to promote an awareness of the subject throughout the state. Start by calling for a history roundtable meeting since it has been years since the last one was held.


1. Offer courses in state and local history throughout the community and four-year SUNY colleges.
2. Require teachers to take such courses as part of their certification process and/or for professional development.
3. Include field trips to the local historic sites as part of the courses.
4. Revise the curriculum to include links to the local historic sites.

New York does have great stories to tell. New York does have great stories to tell that are directly relevant to the issues confronting and challenging the country today. New York has people dedicated, committed, and eager to tell these stories. What New York does not have is the leadership and support the history community needs. Let’s make the telling of New York State history great again.

Signs of the Times: The $14 Million I Love NY Signs

Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau , Gannett

The I Love NY Interstate Highway signs are back in the news and for all the wrong reasons. I first reported on the construction of these illegal signs back on December 5, 2016 in the post

Signs of the Times: Follow the Money and Not the Cuomo versus Federal Government Showdown

The subject were the signs erected by the Department of Transportation in defiance of the Federal Highway Administration. The 514 out-of-state manufactured signs were hurriedly installed requiring overtime just prior to the July 4 weekend in 2014. The Governor found the funds he needed because that’s what the Governor can do when he wants something done.

The situation did not go over well with the FHA leading to on-and-off meetings between the state and federal organizations. The threat to the state was the loss of funding from the federal government if it refused to comply with federal rules. It would seem as if the state didn’t really take seriously the threat of any loss of funds over these 514 signs.

I next reported on the situation on February 5, 2017.  The Albany Bureau of Gannett led by reporter Jon Campbell had obtained additional information regarding the costs using FOIL requests.  The funding had been done through “emergency contracts” because as everyone knows what better qualifies as an emergency than I LoveNY signs. In the post I wrote:

Mike Elmendorf, president and CEO of the state Associated General Contractors, [said] this usage was “’not typical.’” Elmendorf’s words bear notice. He is a critic of the signs and said the money could have been better spent.

“I think the bigger concern is using capital dollars for something that certainly has no benefit to infrastructure and, I think you could argue, has negligible benefit for tourism, because they don’t really tell you anything.”

Exactly right. Cuomo has paid millions to market the Path through History concept but no money to create actual paths through history. For a person who wants to be president of the United States in a time of great national division, it is astonishing that he would engage in alternative facts and be so dismissive of the local and state history that helped make America great in the first place.

So I wrote one year ago.

What has happened since then?

The following articles by Campbell appeared in my local paper as well as a variety of papers throughout the state that are part of the Gannett chain.  I used the titles from my paper which may vary from the title used in other papers. The dates are from the website and not the publication dates which often were the following day.

February 15, 2017: ‘I Love NY’ Signs Cost More Than State First Claimed

The total cost was $8.1 million including about $3.6 million for materials and $4.5 million for installation. This figures compares to the $1.76 million originally reported for the 514 signs.

February 28, 2017: Cuomo Defends ‘I Love NY’ Signs

March 20, 2017: Feds, State Battling over Replacing I Love NY Signs (print title)
Feds say no, but NY replacing wind-swept I Love NY signs (website title)

The article refers to Mother Nature (temporarily) removing some signs through a wind storm that Cuomo refused to remove. The article concludes with a quotation from Assemblyman Stephen Hawley (R), Batavia: “Only in New York can you use taxpayer money in plain sight to fund illegal activities and no one bats an eye.” Naturally he was taken to task for his comment by those who champion the prowess of the federal government.

June 1, 2017: Feds Press NY on ‘I Love NY’ Signs

July 19, 2017: I Love NY Signs Aired at Congressional Hearing

September 28, 2017: Up or Down? Feds, State Continue Battle over I Love NY Signs

October 6, 2017: I Love NY: ‘Almost time’ to Change Signs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo Says

The Governor’s words were more suggestive of a change because after they had been up for over three years, they had served their purpose so perhaps something new was in order. There was no suggestion that they would be removed because they were illegal. He may have been laying the groundwork for the face-saving words he would use once he was compelled to remove them.

I had been clipping these articles from the local paper the old-fashioned way with a scissors waiting for the right time to write another blog about them. I didn’t know when that might happen but sooner or later something had to give. This month the signs hit the fan.

February 1, 2018: New DOT Chief Weighs in on ‘I Love NY’ Signs

Paul Karas, head of the state DOT, said on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, that his agency was not submitting a plan to the feds in the coming weeks to resolve ongoing issues over I Love NY highway signs. The agency did four days later. This item is a video of Karas being interviewed and not an article. As it turns out the coming weeks ended up being the coming days.

February 1, 2018: State Docked $14M for Violating Law – Installing I Love NY Highway Signs

Cuomo’s prediction comes true. He was right when he said the federal government would not take down the signs. Instead it ordered the state to do so by September 30 and withheld $14 million to force compliance. So add the cost of removing them to the $8.1 million cost of installing them.

This action attracted attention.

Newsday published an editorial Finally, New York’s useless highway signs will hit the road writing

the federal government is forcing Cuomo to take down the 514 nearly useless eyesores, which cost about $15,700 apiece.

The Post tactfully proclaimed: Cuomo Finally Signals ‘surrender’ in Highway-sign Fight

The gov’s minions don’t have much choice but to do as he orders. But it seems Cuomo found that “my way or the highway” doesn’t work with the Highway Administration.

The Poughkeepsie Journal delicately phrased Cuomo’s surrender this way:

STATE BLINKS: I Love NY Signs to Come Down by Summer to Avoid $14M fine

WARNINGS IGNORED: New NY highway signs are illegal, feds say

The counterpunch anticipated by Cuomo last year was that the signs had worked but had now outlived their usefulness and would be replaced by new signs and slogans which the FHA may or may not approve.

2018 is of course an election year and the governor position is on the ballot. Senator John DeFrancisco (R), Syracuse, as expected, criticized Cuomo for his actions and defiance (video).

He has called for hearings on the subject.

Naturally Cuomo is fighting back. DOT spokesman Joe Morrissey said: “Since it began, tourism has increased 18 percent and the economic impact of tourism jumped more than 20 percent. DOT makes road signs and the Senator should know that since this program was included in the budgets he voted for. We know he’s running for Governor, but this sort of nonsensical grandstanding should be left at the door.”

That claim led to the following counter-response by DeFrancisco:

The Governor and his DOT Commissioner are delusional. They must think that New Yorkers are morons to think that they would believe that illegal signs costing $8 million increased tourism by 20%. He just can’t admit that he’s wrong. Clearly, Andrew hasn’t learned any lessons from the Percoco trial.”

Let the games begin. Imagine if they catch on that the Path through History touted on those signs has been a joke and subject of ridicule for even longer than the signs!

Interestingly the Republican charge that the Democrat chief executive from Queens acted above the law in the state capital was eerily similar to the Democratic charge that the Republican chief executive from Queens in the national capital operates the same way.

P.S. For the history signs that actually are needed see my post from November 8, 2016: History Signs: Pathway to the Past.

How about taking all the millions the governor can find when he wants and spend some of it on the history signs themselves. Let’s take an inventory of the signs we do have, the corrections and repairs which are needed, and determine the signs we should have that we don’t.

P.P.S. It is time to look at the awards granted by I Love NY for the 2017 REDC funding for the Path through History touted on the signs.

The Battle for New York State History: Representative Paul Tonko versus Governor Andy Cuomo

The State of New York State History

On April 12, 2015, Representative Paul Tonko received the Legislative Leadership Award from the Museum Association of New York (MANY). He was a co-winner with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of the inaugural award by MANY.  The award recognizes exemplary leadership in support of museums and cultural institutions in the state. These two elected officials were cited for their work in Congress in support of funding the Office of Museum Services within the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Representative Tonko appeared in person in Corning to receive the award at the annual MANY conference. During the reception in the glass-blowing exhibit area, he spoke to the attendees. Unfortunately, I took no notes and did not record what he said. In general terms, I was impressed with what he had to say, with his vocabulary and choice of words on behalf of local and state history. As I recall, he never once mentioned them in conjunction with economic development or job creation. It was all about the civic and social importance of local history in the community.

On April 2, 2017, Representative Tonko was present in Saratoga Springs at the MANY conference when Regent Roger Tilles was the award winner. As a member of the Culture sub-committee, Tilles deals directly with the state Archives, Library, and Museum. He received the award due to work in support of the Museum Education Act. During the reception, Tonko addressed the audience. This time I paid more attention to his words. At times he seemed to be channeling my blog. I do not know him and I doubt he has read them, nonetheless one couldn’t help but wish when it comes to local and state history that he was governor. He is well aware of the of the importance of a sense of place, a sense of belonging, a sense of community and the importance of local history to the social fabric and civic health of a municipality. Once again, there was no mention of economic development or job creation as primary responsibilities of local and state history organizations.

It is hard to imagine Governor Cuomo ever winning the MANY Legislative Leadership award unless it was a crass political move as a quid pro quo in his quest to be President. Let’s look at some of the key actions which have occurred during his tenure.

1. Member items have been eliminated. Given the chronic corruption in the state government, one might easily applaud this attempt to rein in the endemic misuse and abuse of taxpayer money. Unfortunately, the action threw out the baby with the bathwater. Many small non-profits seeking comparatively small sums of funding turned to their local legislator and/or senator (as I did) for support. Larger scale funding often was a bureaucratic challenge. Starlyn D’Angelo, executive director Albany Shaker Heritage Society and current MANY Board of Director, raised this very point at the History Roundtable chaired by State Legislator Steve Englebright on May 29, 2014 with Regent Tilles in attendance (see Report from the NYS History Commission Roundtable). It was Devin Lander’s last day as a legislative aide before becoming executive director of MANY, his position before becoming State Historian.  While there is some funding in Republican Senate districts as Fort Niagara availed itself of, there is no state-wide mechanism to address the small-scale needs of the history community (see January History News).

2. REDC funding has now begun a new cycle of funding application for the 2017 awards. To some extent, the funding simply includes the types of funding that history organizations directly applied to NYSOPRHP and NYSAC for in the past. In general terms the local history organization has no place in this process. The Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) are interested in economic development and job development. Imagine if the local library had to request funding based on those standards…or the police department!

The game is rigged against the history community. At the recent MANY conference, Ross Levi, Marketing Initiatives for Empire State Development for I Love New York and the public face of the Path through History, spoke in the “Partnerships for Progress: Museums and Tourism” session.  The theme of the session was the ways in which museums and cultural institutions can partner with I Love New York to promote their organizations. I will more to say about this in future posts taking into account the Tourism Advocacy Council, the plenary address at MANY, and related materials.

In the meantime, I wish to report on a question asked from the audience to Ross about the local tourism representation. At the second Women’s Suffrage conference last October 7, (see Women’s Suffrage Centennial), Rick Newman, Seneca County TPA, distributed a list of the Tourism Promotion Agency (TPA) from every county. By law, I Love New York works through these agencies and not directly with local history organizations. Ross suggested that the local history organizations contact the TPA in their county. These TPAs could be an advocate for the history community in the REDC funding process.

I take Ross at his word. While I do not know him well, I think he genuinely believed what he was saying was sound advice with real world application. Here we have a classic example of the disconnect between the Albany-Manhattan bubble and that real world. While I can only comment anecdotally, I have heard multiple incidents from people in the history community about TPAs who don’t give them the time of day. TPAs are interested in wineries, recreational tourism, and sites that bring head to beds. TPAs often are non-government organizations, that is, chambers of commerce, working to do what is best for its members. The members rarely are small non-profit history organizations and are even if they were or became members, they are not likely to carry much weight. There is nothing wrong with Chambers of Commerce actively promoting economic development, but once again it means the history community is left high and dry with nowhere to turn in the funding process.

3. Speaking of nowhere to turn, let’s turn to the great failure itself, the Path through History. It will celebrate its fifth anniversary on August 28, 2017. What does it have to show for itself? I attended the kickoff meeting for the HV region on January 25, 2013 (see A Fork in the Road on the Path through History).  Of the ten regions originally created and recipients of $100,000 grants from the State, how many of those regions are still functioning? If they are functioning, what do they do? If they aren’t functioning, what replaced them? Was there ever any additional funding?

Historic sites are ranked by revenue/budget for tourist purposes. Within the Hudson Valley region where I live, there are five over the $1,000,000 threshold I Love New York uses to calculate the crown jewels for tourism. I don’t know what they are in this region but some possibilities include Historic Hudson Valley (multiple sites including Kykuit), Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt library and homes run by the National Park Service and National Archives, and the Culinary Institute. Approximately 70% of the organizations in the region are under $50,000 in revenue meaning they are below the radar where anyone in the state gives a dam about them.

In my blog after the initial meeting, I recommended that the $100,000 be used to hire people who would create paths. Years later, I recommended that there be funding through the REDC process to hire PATHFINDERS who would create the paths that the TPAs and I Love New York would promote (see Create Pathfinders in Your Region). One region tried and it was rejected – there is no place for cooperation and collaboration no matter what jargon terms are used at conferences and meetings. Once again the history community is left high and dry.

As it turns out there are people at the grassroots level who can and have created paths through history. Generally these are conjunction with a conference. I will be writing about these examples in a future post. Of course, these are created without state support or promotion.

The cost to New York State of the failure to respect the Tonko model is enormous if difficult to quantify. The stakes for the country are even larger. It goes to the heart of what it means to be an American and resident of one’s community. In a recent op-ed piece entitled “America’s Political Disunion” by Robert P. Jones (NYT 5/2/17), he cited British writer G. K. Chesterton’s observation after he had visited the United States that unlike European countries we did not rely on ethnic kinship or cultural character to create a shared identity. People of any race, any ethnicity, any religion can and have been American. Once upon a time in New York, German Palatines, the English, the Dutch, the French both Huguenots and Catholics, Scotch-Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics, were people of different “nations” and types. Today they are all Americans and lumped together as white. And anyone who thinks all the Haudenosaunee nations live together in a two-dimensional kumbaya relationship as one Native American people should think again or think for the first time.

We are a storytelling species. We’ve lost that story feeling. We’ve lost the narrative. Can we tell a shared story of our history at the national level, at the state level, at the community level? Can we tell a narrative that unites us around a common multigenerational project that gives an overarching sense of meaning and purpose to our history? What is our shared narrative in our community? What is our shared narrative in our state? What is our shared narrative as Americans?

For most of the past 400 years, America did have an overarching story. It was the Exodus story.

The Puritans came to this continent and felt they were escaping the bondage of Egypt and building a new Jerusalem….

During the revolution, the founding fathers had that fierce urgency too and drew just as heavily on the Exodus story….

Frederick Douglas embraced the Exodus too….

The successive immigrant groups saw themselves performing an exodus to a promised land…

In the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders drew on the Exodus more than any other story (David Brooks, “The Unifying American Story, NYT 3/21/17).

There is a unity in the story from long ago in lands far far away to boldly going where no one has gone before.  There are stories to be told in every community throughout the land from Ice Age to Global Warming about the people who lived there and the people who do live there. There are stories to be told about how all the different peoples of the Mohawk Valley became part of We the People. There are stories to be told about how all the peoples who arrived at Castle Garden became part of We the People. There are stories to be told about how all the peoples who arrived at Ellis Island became part of We the People. There are stories to be told about how all the people who arrived at JFK Airport became part of We the People.

There are stories to be told if We the People are to survive as a nation, to long endure, to not become Syria, to not become Yugoslavia, to not become Iraq. We don’t even celebrate the birthday of our state or the anniversary of when we constituted ourselves as New Yorkers.

Brooks ends his op-ed piece with a call to leadership for We the People.

What’s needed is an act of imagination, someone who can tell us what our goal is, and offer an ideal vision of what the country and the world should be.

Neither of the candidates provided such a vision in 2016. They didn’t even try. Will anything be different in the 2020 rematch? Maybe Tonko should run for president instead of Cuomo.