Archive | April, 2009

Obama 100 Days Event

28 Apr

From the BP Mailbag:

Barack Obama`s first 100 Day Celebration
When: Wednesday April 29, 2009 07:00 PM
Where: Witter`s Sports Bar. 300 Oliver Street, North Tonawanda, NY

Niagara County Democratic Chairman Dan Rivera and Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan invite you to join them as they celebrate President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, this Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 7:00pm. Please join us for light refreshments and great company!

And Arlen Makes 60

28 Apr

The man conservatives hated and labeled a RINO will now enjoy being hated by liberals and his new “DINO” label. Arlen Specter switched to the Democratic Party today, and there are many reasons for it, and ramifications arising out of it.

Firstly, the moderate Republican is a critically endangered species. This is, in my estimation, a crying shame. I used to be one. The swift, dramatic radicalization of the Republican Party during the Bush years pushed me to become a moderate Democrat. Moderate Republican has become an oxymoron.

The reason it’s a shame is that most Americans aren’t radicals. They aren’t wingers of any sort. They’re pretty middle-of-the-road. Some tilt right, others tilt left, but most average people you meet are pretty centrist.

And so it was a pretty big coincidence that Republican pundit Ross Douthat – formerly of the Atlantic – wrote his first op-ed for the New York Times today explaining why it was actually a shame that Dick Cheney hadn’t run against Barack Obama. The trotting out of John McCain – a pretty centrist Republican – to run against Obama has only emboldened the pro-torture Cheneyist wing of the party. He begins with the current conservative conventional wisdom:

We tried running the maverick reformer, the argument goes, and look what it got us. What Americans want is real conservatism, not some crypto-liberal imitation.

“Real conservatism,” in this narrative, means a particular strain of right-wingery: a conservatism of supply-side economics and stress positions, uninterested in social policy and dismissive of libertarian qualms about the national-security state. And Dick Cheney happens to be its diamond-hard distillation. The former vice-president kept his distance from the Bush administration’s attempts at domestic reform, and he had little time for the idealistic, religiously infused side of his boss’s policy agenda. He was for tax cuts at home and pre-emptive warfare overseas; anything else he seemed to disdain as sentimentalism.

This is precisely the sort of conservatism that’s ascendant in today’s much-reduced Republican Party, from the talk radio dials to the party’s grassroots. And a Cheney-for-President campaign would have been an instructive test of its political viability.

The reaction from many on the right to Specter’s departure has been an echo of that Cheneyist sentiment. Let him go, they say. Screw Specter. Start raising money for the guy from the right-wing Club for Growth who’s running as a Republican for Specter’s seat. Specter was a rat RINO and he and Olympia Snowe and any other so-called moderate Republican can go join the Democrats, too.

That’s fantastic. Cull them. Purge the moderates. Push them out of the remnants of Reagan’s big tent, and further render the GOP an irrelevant anachronism of a shell of a party. Regional in nature, extreme in policy. It is against what most Americans are for, and is for what most Americans are against. Even torture.

The Specter switch is fraught with peril for Obama because on paper, he can roll through whatever he wants now. But Specter will most likely be as independent-minded as ever, so assume nothing will be easy. But it’s nice that the Democratic Party has become the only one that will welcome centrists. Sen. Olympia Snowe calls the move “devastating”. Sen. Lindsey Graham said,

“I don’t want to be a member of the Club for Growth,” said Graham. “I want to be a member of a vibrant national Republican party that can attract people from all corners of the country — and we can govern the country from a center-right perspective.”

“As Republicans, we got a problem,” he said.

For comic relief, here’s the Buffalo Ruse’s take.

High Speed Fail

28 Apr

I am a big fan of the push to build a network of high-speed rail throughout the Northeastern United States. The recent spike in oil prices reminded us that there are other ways to get around that may be more sustainable than others, and given how crappily our road infrastructure is maintained in these parts, rail makes sense.

Part of the problem is that it won’t be Shinkansen or TGV or ICE high speed rail. We won’t be whisked along tracks at 180+ MPH – more like 110. That’s better than our early 20th-century technology in place now, but not as good as can be.

Getting to Boston in 5 hours or New York in 4 hours by rail is good, but not as good as 3 or 2, respectively. Plus, it’s better to arrive at South Station than Logan, and it’s better to arrive at Penn Station than JFK, La Guardia, or Newark.

But that’s only part of the problem.

For high speed rail to really matter in Western New York, it needs to be connected southward to Erie, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, and it needs to be connected westward to Niagara Falls and Toronto. Buffalo ought not be the end of the line.

Yet CSX, which controls the rights-of-way that would be used throughout most of upstate New York is playing hardball.

Connections to Toronto and the Falls would be critically important, and it would also make sense to extend down to Cleveland. If it’s worth spending tens of billions of dollars to do, it’s worth doing right. Speed the damn trains up to world-class standards, and point the tracks towards places people go.

New York’s Mandate Relief Agenda

28 Apr

Pending further developments and better candidates, Governor David Paterson is running for re-election in 2010. He’s announced as much, and set up a campaign website.

And if there was any mistake about it, he threw out a blockbuster announcement yesterday – he calls it his “mandate relief agenda”, and promises to pursue it this legislative session. The Executive Chamber and state agencies will not be able unilaterally to impose an unfunded mandate through new rules or regulations any more.. This mandate relief is a direct result of the work done by the property tax relief commission headed up last year by Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.

Face it – it’s not every day a press release from the Governor includes this:

New Yorkers are burdened with the highest local taxes in the nation – 78 percent above the national average, with property tax levies rising at more than twice the rate of inflation and salary growth. Outside of New York City, property taxes account for 76 percent of the local tax burden, and eight of the top ten counties with the highest effective property tax rates in the nation are in Upstate New York – Niagara, Monroe, Chautauqua, Wayne, Oswego, Onondaga, Erie and Steuben Counties. At the same time, Westchester, Nassau and Rockland Counties are in the nation’s top ten in terms of household taxes.

Identification and acknowledgment of the problem is a step in the right direction when it comes to Albany politics.

Paterson has accused of being tone-deaf, or worse, given the recent horror show that was the budget process. Taxes and spending both went up. But this sort of reform is critically important, and tilts the scales back towards Paterson sort of getting it maybe a little. Next up, he’ll revive the proposed school tax cap.

Taking baby steps to make New York more affordable in which to work and do business is probably too little, too slowly, but it beats the alternative. Text of Paterson’s press release, and an approving release from the NYS Association of Counties after the jump: Continue reading

#TCDOT 3

27 Apr

The blogger known locally as the Buffalo Bean enjoys posting Tweets to Twitter. This is good, since he doesn’t enjoy posting to his blog a lot, and much of what he does post is either foolish or ignorant.

I follow a lot of conservatives on Twitter because they’re silly and a lot of them follow me. Admittedly, most of them think I’m silly. So it works pretty well.

Today, ridiculousness reared its dopey head. Twice.

1. PANIC!1! OBAMA TO NEGOTIATE WITH HAMAS!@!1

This tweet linked to an article at the innocuously named “American Issues Project”. I didn’t realize it at first, but Buffalo Bean wrote that article, and then re-tweeted it. His piece links to an LA Times article which can be summarized thusly:

The US provides humanitarian and food aid to Palestinians in the West Bank, but not to those in the Hamas-led Gaza Strip. The Obama Administration understands that there is a possibility that Fatah and Hamas may enter into some sort of power-sharing arrangement. The US is looking into whether humanitarian aid could continue to be sent to help the people in the Palestinian territories if such an arrangement happens. Fatah-controlled areas qualify for aid right now.

There’s nothing there about Obama “negotiating” with Hamas, or appeasing terrorists, or anything nefarious there. But that’s what Margolis made it.

Well, it looks like Bush and McCain were right. But, that’s not the whole story. Not only is Obama opening the door to negotiating with Hamas, but he is looking to begin sending them aid, despite the fact they are a designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and are restricted by law from receiving federal dollars.

Under normal circumstances, I’d call it disingenuous. But it’s not. It’s willfully false and misleading. It displays either a patent inability to comprehend that which one reads, or a knowing distortion of what was read. Or maybe that’s what he really thought the LA Times wrote. I don’t know. A comment I wrote went into moderation before 2pm today – it’s 9pm now and it still isn’t shown. (UPDATE: nor at 6:17 AM the following day) They must not be used to comments there or something.

But later in the day came another pellet of wisdom:

2. AIRPLANE SPOOKS CITY!@!11

The link is to this New York Post article. Gosh, I was so waiting to see what Murdoch’s minions would write to hilariously and bitingly pwn the Obama goon squad that okayed this! Right? I mean, Margolis said it was the White House that fucked this up.

But the New York Post wrote:

President Obama was in Washington at the time, but the low-flying 747 circling the Statue of Liberty was one of the planes used as Air Force One, sources said.

The NYPD and the city were notified of the planned flight, but did not share that information with Mayor Bloomberg and other New Yorkers, many of whom said they were terrified.

The photo op was ill-advised, but the city’s failure to inform anyone about it was doubly dumb.

UPDATE: The White House has apologized:

Statement from Louis Caldera, Director White House Military Office, on Air Force One flight over New York

“Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.”

DON’T THEY KNOW THAT APOLOGIZING IS A SHOW OF WEAKNESS AND HELPS THE TERRORISTS WIN?! /Cheney

But as for the White House being filled with idiots from top to bottom, I’ll take “idiocy” over malicious incompetence any day.

When the Republicans decide that they stand for something, as opposed to against everything, then maybe people will start voting for them again.

(TCDOT is explained here, and is part of a series).

Help Buffalo ReUse

27 Apr

From the mailbag:

On Friday, April 17th, 2009, Buffalo ReUse submitted their application to the U.S. Conference of Mayors to initiate a Pre-Apprenticeship Green Jobs Training Program called the ReBEL (Buffalo ECO Leaders) Corps in Buffalo, NY.

To be considered, we must have a letter of support from our Mayor, Byron Brown and we need your help!

We know the Mayor is committed to creating Green Jobs and to training youth in our neighborhoods. Your signature will communicate your support for this proposal and urge the Mayor to submit a letter of support on behalf of the City of Buffalo to make GREEN JOBS TRAINING possible for out of school young adults, ages 17 – 24.

Click here or http://www.petitiononline.com/ed2day/petition.html or Cut and paste this link in your browser to support this effort!

Please forward this email to your contact lists.

Onward,
The Staff, Board, and Volunteers of Buffalo ReUse, Inc.

Pigs

27 Apr

HT Marquil @ EmpireWire.com

Robert Saviola – Godwin’s Muse

26 Apr

This guy runs a local hypnosis center, and buys an hourlong weekly radio spot on WBEN which airs at the unbelievably popular time slot of 5:30 am on Saturday. If you get up at 0-dark-hundred to do a radio show that you pay for and that no one will hear, you probably need a life.

Mr. Saviola doesn’t just do radio, and his topic isn’t just hypnosis. He also has a TV show. Mike Wrona saw Guy Marlette appear on the show. He describes the opening sequence thusly:

Guy Marlette, Amherst Town Board Member and Computer Business owner employing 17 people, recently appeared on a cable access program called “Saviola on America” The program Starts out with Rev. Jeremiah Wright Speaking, the the voice of Adolph Hitler, a picture of Barack Obama with a Nazi Battle Flag superimposed over his image, followed by a picture of Hitler accompanied by a Hitlerian tirade.

How can such a juicy montage of Godwinian awesomeness not be all over YouTube yet?

Extra, Extra!

26 Apr

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Electoral Fusion & “Reform”

26 Apr

What on earth is the point of running a political party if it’s going to be completely controlled by another political party? What purpose is served?

While I agree with a lot of what Golisano’s “Responsible New York” stands for vis-a-vis reformation of state government, his alliance with supremely political tin-pot Machiavellis indicates to me (and a lot of other people) that “reform” is secondary to “power”. Need proof? Ask Joe Mesi who raised funds for whom to get him that cush liaison job for the State Senate, of all things.

If a political party gets a ballot line, it should be putting up its own candidates. Period. This is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas – not a marketplace of backroom deals and quid-pro-quos. Electoral fusion is one of the reasons why incumbents continue to win, is a source of political patronage. The Independence Party simply isn’t.