The Morning Grumpy – July 19th

19 Jul

1. Just about every Buffalo lover will be sharing this article today in an effort to reaffirm to themselves and their friends that they made the right decision to live right here in Buffalo, NY. It seems that many of us love the validation of our choice by outsiders (especially if that validation is about our architecture) and The Atlantic Monthly has dropped by to give it to us. This following on the heels of other validation from the financial website “The Street“, on which we were labeled as one of the most underrated cities in America. Yay.

2. Kent Gardner of Rochester’s Center for Government Research makes the point that good policy requires good politics.

Vision and ideas aside for the moment, (Andrew Cuomo) has demonstrated the power of a New York governor and wielded that power with skill that is, in recent years, unprecedented.

But if ideas are ever going to win, policy wonks need political leaders who can drive a vision to action. That makes it possible for us to think big thoughts and urge new policy directions. To turn good ideas into good policies, we need elected officials who can get the job done.

This, even more than the racist, sexist, and bestiality emails was the primary case against the candidacy of Carl Paladino for Governor. He didn’t have the political skill to build consensus and sell ideas to the public. He was a bully with a baseball bat and a propensity for dropping turds in various punchbowls.

3. Hey, good news for you Republican voters who don’t think any of your party’s candidates for President is secessionist, Christian, or crazy enough…Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is stepping into the void. He feels he is “being called” to run for President. Great, another Texan who talks to god each night and thinks men rode on dinosaurs.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he is feeling “called” to run for President and will announce his official decision in two to three weeks.

“I’m not ready to tell you that I’m ready to announce that I’m in,” Perry said during interview with the Des Moines Register on Saturday.

“But I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs.”

Aside from his secessionist talk during the health care reform and stimulus debates, Perry just wasn’t very good at that whole governing thing. He’s also one of those “ideological” movement conservatives who hold principled stances against federal spending and bailouts. Well, at least until he needs them.

Gov. Rick Perry used federal stimulus money to pay 97 percent of Texas’s budget shortfall in fiscal 2010–which is funny, because Perry spent a lot of time talking about just how terrible the stimulus was.  In fact, Texas was the state that relied most heavily on stimulus funds, CNN’s Tami Luhby reports.

“Even as Perry requested the Recovery Act money, he railed against it,” Luhby writes. “On the very same day he asked for the funds, he set up a petition titled ‘No Government Bailouts.'” It called on Americans to express their anger at irresponsible spending.

Ooof, the stupid, I can barely stand it.

4. Wanna know how I’m feeling today? Well, I did have a Nutrigrain bar this morning. I FEEL GREAAAAT!

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Yes, this was an actual commercial that aired on television. Clearly, it was the greatest commercial in history.

5. The previous video seems like a good segue into this…Is America becoming a nation of psychotics? You’d think so based on the medications we’re taking.

In 2008, with over $14 billion in sales, antipsychotics became the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States, surpassing drugs used to treat high cholesterol and acid reflux.

The kicker is, the drugs aren’t working.

There is an apparent “raging epidemic of mental illness” among Americans. The use of psychoactive drugs—including both antidepressants and antipsychotics—has exploded, and if the new drugs are so effective, Angell points out, we should “expect the prevalence of mental illness to be declining, not rising.” Instead, “the tally of those who are so disabled by mental disorders that they qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) increased nearly two and a half times between 1987 and 2007 – from one in 184 Americans to one in seventy-six. For children, the rise is even more startling – a thirty-five-fold increase in the same two decades. Mental illness is now the leading cause of disability in children.

6. Martin’s Fantasy Island is offering special discounts to kids who “excelled” in school this past year.

Report Card Days
On Tuesdays in July, admission for students in 8th Grade or lower with a “C” average or better is just $13.95. Must bring and show report card.

Now, I’m not your typical complainer about our emerging “everyone gets a trophy” culture, but this is ridiculous. A “C” report card, the academic equivalent of mediocrity, gets you a reward? Come on. Just for giggles, here’s a few photos from our family’s first (and last) trip to Fantasy Island last summer.

7. We’ve been doing these “morning grumpy” posts for a few weeks and it’s high time I present the first link that references the spirit of this daily post, “stuff you can read/watch during your morning grumpy”. I present to you, Pooping 2.0

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From the YouTube comment section: “This video changed my life. since i started pooping properly, i’ve gotten through college and now have a successful small business and a hot wife.” ‘Nuff said.

8. An excellent long form television piece on the ghost cities and malls of China. Also known as the “China Bubble”. Fascinating.

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9. Those pinko socialists over at The Economist have put together yet another awesome analysis with a sweet chart. See, they think the crazy people in our Republican Party are playing Russian Roulette with the global economy, and they’re right.

Congress has acted a total of 91 times since June 1940 to either raise, extend or alter the definition of the debt limit—36 times under Democratic presidents. And they have done so with some 300 days to spare on average.

Look how conservative those Republican Presidents have been with that debt limit thing in previous years!

10. The end of America’s consumer culture?

We are living through a tremendous bust. It isn’t simply a housing bust. It’s a fizzling of the great consumer bubble that was decades in the making.

The notion that the United States needs to begin moving away from its consumer economy — toward more of an investment and production economy, with rising exports, expanding factories and more good-paying service jobs — has become so commonplace that it’s practically a cliché. It’s also true. And the consumer bust shows why. The old consumer economy is gone, and it’s not coming back.

The choice, then, is between starting to make the transition to a different economy and enduring years of stop-and-start economic malaise.

Have a day!

29 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – July 19th”

  1. Leo Wilson July 19, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    “Look how conservative those repulican presidents have been with that debt limit thing in previous years!”

    You may or may not have noticed, but in the last election there was a coup that ousted a good chunk of the Republican machine in favor of fiscal conservatives.

    Shall we also look at the performance of the Democrat party from the end of the Civil War to the early sixties and say, “Look how good Democrats’ record on human and civil rights has been!”?

    Seriously, Chris… this reaches a bit far anymore.

    • Christopher Smith July 19, 2011 at 9:10 am #

      A “coup”? By whom? Recklessly ignorant tea party politicians without the skills to effectively manage government? Putting us in the precarious position of destroying the subtle balance of the global credit and economic system?

      I don’t think it’s “a bit far” to look at the rapid expansion of spending when Republicans own the White House and draw a conclusion that maybe, just maybe, they don’t have any more claim to the title of “fiscal conservatives” than anyone else.

  2. RaChaCha July 19, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Number 2 (no, not a ref. to #7): I know Kent, and as usual he’s spot on. My hometown of RaChaCha has had the good fortune to have had relatively good government for decades. Part of that is attributable to a culture of good government for which the CGR has taken the lead since being established by George Eastman. Many similar organizations were formed nationwide when ‘Good Government’ was a movement, and CGR is one of the few remaining from those days. Kent would make a good interview.

    The downside is that for decades folks or neighborhoods in RaChaCha who have a good idea have gotten in the mode of going to City Hall to sell the idea to try to make it happen. Sometimes it does, sometimes not. Even if, often not well or as envisioned. In an era of declining gvt. resources, folks are increasingly disappointed. One of the things that has always attracted me to Buffalo is that folks aren’t in the mode of going to City Hall and expecting results — yikes, that sounds like a real negative, but stay with me — which leads to a culture of people actually doing things that are innovative and socially entrepreneurial, instead of waiting for ‘they’ or ‘them.’ They become them.

    That said, we ZOMG REALLY REALLY need Good (or even Gooder) Government here — and for precisely the reason Kent says.

  3. Leo Wilson July 19, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Sorry, Chris… it is the professional, experienced politicians that got us to this point, not the people struggling to survive it and maintain some semblance of family and responsibility. I’d say the toothless hick who eats mostly corn and venison shot in his back yard has a more realistic vision of what that survival takes than any academician who spends his life under pale flourescent bulbs in Harvard’s libraries.

  4. Leo Wilson July 19, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    My complaint about the TEA movement: What took you so long?

  5. Bbill July 19, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    My complaint about the TEA movement: What took you so long?

    We hadn’t elected a black President prior to 2008.

    Doesn’t the fact that so many teabaggers cheered on the neocons in the early-mid ’00s as they bankrupted the Treasury strike you as a bit o’ cognitive dissonance?

  6. Jaquandor July 19, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    Ooooh! A slam on “Harvard academics”! If I didn’t know better (because they keep telling me so!), I would almost think that 98% of all the teabaggers in the country are just Republicans who have decided to breathe new life into the tricorne hat industry.

  7. Mike In WNY July 19, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement for Rick Perry. Opposing bailouts and going after stimulus funds for his state are two entirely separate issues. The money for the states was designated for distribution, regardless of what Perry believed or supported overall. Failing to go after funds for his constituents would have been an egregious betrayal of his responsibilities. The cost to taxpayers would have been the same had Perry refused the federal aid, the money would have gone elsewhere.

  8. Chris Smith July 19, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Mike, you either have principles or you don’t. Perry clearly has none, as do all the other pols who voted against stimulus funds and demonized the socialism of it all only to show up months later with the big check and herald the arrival of the money. Its dishonest and unethical.

  9. Starbuck July 19, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    @Bblill
    Is this fact or a vague talking point cliche?

    Doesn’t the fact that so many teabaggers cheered on the neocons in the early-mid ’00s as they bankrupted the Treasury strike you as a bit o’ cognitive dissonance?

    Who were the teabaggers who cheered spending growth in the early/mid ’00s – which was modest by comparison to some of what’s followed – but even so, who were some of those so many who cheered the GWB era’s new domestic programs?

  10. Mike In WNY July 19, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Chris, I really don’t understand how anyone can not see the two separate issues. The principle was behind the vote against stimulus funds. The funds were approved with a majority vote for all U.S. taxpayers. All U.S. taxpayers are now more in debt. The taxpayers of Texas should not be penalized because their Governor, or other pols, took a principled position opposing the stimulus.

  11. Leo Wilson July 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Ethics, pragmatism and the law are separate at nearly every turn. This point about Perry is Very Much the Same as the point the right makes to Warren Buffet and Bill Gates Sr. and George Soros about donating their wealth to the government instead of enabling thugs with guns and auditing power to extort monies from everyone… it’s specious to the point of being silly or sophomoric. The best response is to ignore it, the same as those rich guys ignore the donation suggestion.

  12. Leo Wilson July 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    @Jaq – scouts honor, I thought I was making a dig at flourescent lights.

  13. Chris Charvella July 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Mike, the problem as I see it is this: Governors like Perry opposed ARRA because they thought it wouldn’t work and it would just be a waste of money. If they were so convinced of those things, why accept the cash?

  14. Leo Wilson July 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    @Charvella, how would that serve his constituents? Would their taxes go down if he refused that money, or would they still have that money (their money!) wasted?

    • Alan Bedenko July 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

      The issue isn’t whether it serves his constituents. The issue is whether he has principles. Of course stimulus money helps his constituents, that’s why the law was passed. The point here is that a particular political subgroup was happier with “doing nothing” which would have merely prolonged and worsened an already long and bad economic downturn.

      That they then accepted the money and promoted it shows a lack of principle.

  15. Leo Wilson July 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    I take exception to the idea that the stimulus serves his constintuents, Alan. There’s been scant proof that it has. They took nothing but their own money back, or a portion of what was borrowed against their childrens’ productivity, which would have been redstributed to others in the country who didn’t work for it and disposed of with an equal lack of results.

    • Alan Bedenko July 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

      There’s been “scant proof” because you say so?

  16. Mike In WNY July 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    @Chis Charvella, because the money was allocated. If Perry rejected it, the people of Texas would get nothing while still incurring the cost for the stimulus.

  17. Jaquandor July 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    I’d find the “Well, the money’s there so he’d just was well take it and be done with it” argument more convincing if his, and other Republican “anti-stimulus” folks, had behaved in a way that made their disapproval clear. But as Chris noted up above, a lot of ’em sure liked the photo ops that the stimulus money made possible. If you’re going to be against something, then you don’t get to take credit for it.

    And I too would like to see some proof that stimulus didn’t help anyone’s constituents. Real proof, that is, as opposed to more half-baked “Sooner or later Free Market Jesus will save everybody!” nonsense.

  18. Leo Wilson July 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Distraction.

  19. Mike In WNY July 19, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    I don’t subscribe to any free-market Jesus, but there is this:

    Spontaneous Order. The tendency for markets to order themselves naturally through the laws of supply and demand is one of the most familiar principles of the free market. When individual rights are respected, unregulated competition will naturally tend to reduce costs and increase the abundance of products that are in demand. This principle is also referred to as the invisible hand of the marketplace.

    Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_basic_principles_of_a_free_market#ixzz1Sa9tOz8o

  20. Brian Wood July 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Perry is both Republican and “christian.’ Now I’m only 67 years old, but I’ve never met one of either stripe who was not a liar and a hypocrite. Republicans are obvious. Christians? “Sell ALL that I hath and give to the poor? You’re kidding!” “Minister to the sick, visit the imprisoned, feed the hungry, take in strangers? I’d rather be a goat!”

  21. Leo Wilson July 19, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Ah, Jaq, the money wasn’t there, it was borrowed against his constituents’ earnings power, and his constituents’ children’s earnings power. There wouldn’t even be a debate if “the money’s there”. It was their money to begin with, or the promise of their money. And, I don’t see him taking credit for it… rather, he got some back quietly.

    This “proof” one way or another is a distraction from the question at hand, which is if it is ethical for someone to accept some of the money back that he objected to having extorted from his constituents in the first place.

    The violation of principle isn’t in his accepting it back, the violation of principle is that it was borrowed against his voting constituents’ earnings power in the first place.

  22. Leo Wilson July 19, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    A little more current: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/real-unemployment-rises-162-june-253-mil

  23. Eisenbart July 19, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    #1 – Yes and when ever there is a negative article people also use it as validation for moving away or otherwise hating on WNY. But yet WNYMedia does post a lot of the negatives to prove how frustrating this area is. There is really little point to either of these situations… to me anyway.

    #4 – That commercial still makes me laugh after years of seeing it. yeaaahh babies everywhere!

    #6 – They don’t really care how well the kids do. they are just attempting to make money and limiting it who most likely decrease the amount of children that would go. Fantasy Island is in a perpetual state of being fixed up.

    #8 – China is so odd. Why don’t they just decrease the value of the housing to make it affordable to people who can use it? Could you imagine purchasing a house and having to put half down and pay the other half in three years? All so the numbers can look good. “The biggest mall in the world” with a, as in one, toy shop. Grats China seriously.

  24. Leo Wilson July 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    @Alan – what’s your proof that the stimulus worked? Wall Street is showing profits? The rich are getting richer? Those who were “too big to fail” didn’t?

    Shouldn’t you, a class warrior, have a little more evidence about the people that are trying to find a job, buy a home and pay for their childrens’ education? The people who are going to have to honor the liens against their future earnings, and ultimately have to pay for today’s mindless spending spree?

  25. Leo Wilson July 20, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    Just a point about Buffett, Gates and their ilk… they are campaigning hard to get billionares to donate to charity, and more importantly, to bequeath to charity in their wills. This is really impressive, but… it will effectively keep their vast fortunes out of the hands of government, now and when they die. The needy will be served (and that really is a good thing), without government scraping huge chunks of it off and without easing public obligations in the society that allowed them to gain so very much.

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