The Morning Grumpy – 2/28/2012

28 Feb

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Dan Herbeck published a profile of local attorney and political power player Adam Perry in the Sunday edition of The Buffalo News. Yesterday, Jim Heaney came around to add the meat to the skeleton that was Herbeck’s article.

For example, Perry’s official bio lists him as general legal counsel to Community Action Organization of Erie County, which historically has been a landing spot for many members of Grassroots, the political club closely aligned with the mayor. You might recall the COA’s former president, a Grassroots stalwart and one-time Common Council member. His name is Brian Davis. He’s been in the news a bit.

Hodgson Russ has given Brown’s two campaign committees $12,100 since he first ran for the job. Perry, individually, has given another $6,925.

Perry has also anted up $9,347 for 10 candidates and committees aligned with Brown, starting with then State Sen. Antoine Thompson ($2,525) and North Common Council Member Joe Golombek ($2,000) when he ran against Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, Brown’s arch-rival. Perry also donated $500 to Grassroots.

Heaney’s article links out to nearly a dozen sources and paints a much broader picture of Perry’s allegiances and duties. Thanks, Jim.

2.For several months, beltway pundits have repeatedly asked the same question, “Why won’t republican voters embrace Mitt Romney?”. I’ll tell you why. He’s an asshole. An uncompromising asshole. Not in the cool, “Oh that son-of-a-bitch got me again” kind of way, but the old fashioned, “Holy shit, that guy is a real fucking jerkoff” kind of way. In WNY parlance, he’s Chris Collins.

Politics isn’t business. Helping retired people or badly maimed veterans with their health care needs isn’t “efficient.” If you were a businessperson, you’d do anything to keep those veterans out of your hospital. It’s not the job of a businessman to feel sad about the consequences of cutbacks for your marriage, your employees, your grandma, or your community. But it should be the president’s job. The inherently destructive nature of a dynamic market economy means that lots of people are suffering on any given day thanks to forces beyond their control. Romney’s strength is that he understands those forces better than anyone in the race, but his weakness is that he doesn’t understand the suffering.

Mitt Romney was born on third base, thinking he hit a triple and has no idea to relate to people who deal with the rigors of American life. His lack of empathy shines through to a nation of people looking for a leader.

“If people think there’s something wrong with being successful in America, then they’d better vote for the other guy, because I’ve been extraordinarily successful and I want to use that success and that know-how to help the American people.”

He can’t win.

3. The anti-intellectualism, it burns. College education is a plot to turn us all into pinko secularists and wanting kids to go to college makes one a “snob”

We have now reached the once unthinkable point in this presidential race where even higher education has come up for debate. At a time when our global competitors are churning out engineers and scientists at a faster and faster rate; at a time when the industries of the future require not only a college education, but more and more advanced degrees; and at a time when the economy is becoming more demanding of innovation than ever before, one of the leading candidates for the GOP nomination calls the president a “snob” for wanting “everybody in America to go to college.” Really?

According to Santorum, you should probably homeschool them as well. Why expose them to critical thinking and different perspectives, right?

My soul similarly rolls over and groans whenever Santorum uses the phrase “home-schooling.” I first heard about it in the dim days when the John Birch Society was a going thing. (Young folks, I don’t blame you for not believing that this organization held that President Dwight Eisenhower was a “conscious, dedicated agent” of the Soviet Union.) Some benighted McCarthy-admiring parents decided to pluck their children from the clutches of “commies” teaching our kiddies their godless doctrine.

I feel sorry for the poor kids whose parents feel they’re qualified to teach them at home. Of course, some parents are smarter than some teachers, but in the main I see home-schooling as misguided foolishness.

Teaching is an art and a profession requiring years of training. Where did the idea come from that anybody can do it?

To deny kids the adventure and socialization of going to school, thereby missing out on the activities, gossip, projects, dances, teams, friendships and social skills developed — to deny kids this is shortsighted and cruel. I think of the mournful home-school kid watching his friends board the school bus, laughing, gossiping and enjoying all that vital socialization we call schooldays.

Homeschooling is a particularly bizarre strain of the evangelical and libertarian communities and ultimately denies your children many of the experiences that help craft them into well-adjusted adult members of society. You’d deny your child exposure to differing viewpoints, cultures, and curricula due to your own ideological xenophobia? Supplement their education with your own, but don’t lock them away from life, that’s just odd. Join us in the pool of normal society, the water is fine.

4. How does government create jobs? It goes a little something like this.

Envia Systems, a battery maker based in California, announced on Monday what it called a “major breakthrough” in lithium-ion cell technology that would result in a significant increase in the energy density — and a sharp reduction in the cost — of lithium-ion battery packs. Envia is financed by the Energy Department and G.M. Ventures, the venture-capital arm of General Motors, as well as other investors.

Envia, which was founded in 2007 and has licensed some technology from Argonne National Laboratory, was awarded $4 million in late 2009 by the Energy Department’s ARPA-E program, which finances advanced energy research. As a founding principle, the program was designed “to develop lithium-ion batteries with the highest energy density in the world.”

With a little bit of seed money from the government, this company has created a technology that can be developed and sold to global manufacturers. They’ll seek further funding to scale production to meet demand and their suppliers and vendors will benefit as well. Also, because General Motors is involved, it gives them an advantage over foreign competition. Hooray, America.

5. Ezra Klein asks why we allow the political parties to determine what’s “left” and what’s “right”. And what it means for our nation.

Perhaps my biggest frustration with the U.S. news media (and yes, I am a card-carrying member) is that we permit the two parties to decide what is “left” and what is “right.” The way it works, roughly, is that anything Democrats support becomes “left,” and everything Republicans support becomes “right.” But that makes “left” and “right” descriptions of where the two parties stand at any given moment rather than descriptions of the philosophies, ideologies or ideas that animate, or should animate, political debates.

He goes on to point out a few examples.

Supporting a temporary, deficit-financed payroll-tax cut as a stimulus measure in 2009, as Republican Sen. John McCain and every one of his colleagues did, put you on the right. Supporting a temporary, deficit-financed payroll tax-cut in late 2011 put you on the left. Supporting it in early 2012 could have put you on either side.

Supporting an individual mandate as a way to solve the health-care system’s free-rider problem between 1991 and 2007 put you on the right. Doing so after 2010 put you on the left.

The problem is that most Americans are prone to the changing winds of politics and are left without a compass. This is where the press is supposed to come in and where the current “he said/she said” methodology of “fair and balanced” reporting kills us. As Jim Heaney wrote last week,

I always thought my job as a reporter was to figure it out – after all, I was the one with the time, training and resources – and provide readers “the best obtainable version of the truth.” This required me to do my homework, get things right and write with clarity – “telling it like it is,” in the words of Howard Cosell.

This is why I’m so glad Heaney is back on the job. More journalists should think like this, else we risk trafficking in stenography.

Fact Of The Day: 50% of the shares in Domino’s Pizza were once traded for a used Volkswagen Beetle. Those shares were later sold for $1,000,000,000.

Quote Of The Day: “The god excuse. The last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument.” – George Carlin

Video Of The Day: “Movie: The Movie” by Jimmy Kimmel

Cartoon Of The Day: Lovelorn Leghorn – Foghorn Leghorn

Song Of the Day: “Taste The Floor” – Jesus and Mary Chain

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

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23 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – 2/28/2012”

  1. Nick Geiger at 7:44 am #

    I don’t think it is appropriate to be condescending towards home schooling. I believe in the virtues of public schooling and that teachers work incredibly hard to teach our kids…but you can’t force kids to enter in the public school system, that’s not your place.

  2. Bruce Beyer at 7:46 am #

    As to point #2. I think you’ll have to be a little more specific. Aren’t they all assholes?

  3. Max at 8:08 am #

    I celebrated my morning “Foghorn Leghorn” fix which I haven’t enjoyed since I was a lad. It also helps me recall the substantive legislative legacy of Sen. Fred Thompson who without the benefit of L&O TNT reruns, would have disappeared from our collective consciousnesses – along with his trophy wife – years ago.

  4. Brian Bray at 8:41 am #

    I don’t understand the hatred for home-schooling. How you educate your child is a personal choice that parents should make on how what they think is best for their child. Besides, it’s becoming a thing among hipsters now:

    • Chris Smith at 9:43 am #

      I think hatred is a strong word, but I think I explained my position clearly enough. Want to raise a kid who struggles to relate to peers and misses out on the complexities of social education while reinforcing your own worldview through curriculum choices? Home school them. As for hipsters, who gives a fuck? They also make their own pickles and pretend it’s 1890. I’d rather prepare my kids for the complex new economy in which empathy, diversity, and understanding of technology will form the basis for success.

  5. Pauldub at 10:08 am #

    I remember watching a home schooled kid on a televised spelling bee a few years ago. The social skills of this kid were horrific. Couldn’t relate to others or the environment.

    I make my own Pasta. Does that count?

  6. Mike Chmiel at 10:19 am #

    The entire basis for home-schooling seems to be the paranoid fear some parents have that the “government” will indoctrinate their kids. Usually, these folks fear a leftist brainwashing will be forced upon their children.

    Unless times have really changed, I found my public education to be decidedly right-wing and nationalist. Sure, we were taught about Martin Luther King (without getting too deep into his economic positions), but for the most part, we learned that America was always a beacon of freedom and justice all over the world. We got the Southern-influenced version of the Civil War, and we completely glossed over Vietnam.

    Personally, I think parents have no more right to brainwash their kids do than the teachers do. They may be your kids, but you do not own them.

  7. RaChaCha at 10:20 am #

    Even the assholes think Rmoney is an asshole. This just in from Carl Paladino:

    As usual, the Republican elite, in an effort to maintain their power, is pushing Rino Romney on us.


    Help us build an organization to defeat the status quo candidate Romney in New York.

  8. mike in buffalo at 10:22 am #


    If you think public school and higher education prepares kids for the complex new economy you should spend some time at a public school or any college in the country. So far the kids doing the best that I went to school with are the ones who went into the military or took a factory job rather than continued to college. I’m 26. Its certainly what I wish I would have done rather than 4 year undergrad and 3 in law school to enter the workforce in debt and without experience this late.

    Santorum’s anti college rhetoric is probably large part anti-intellectualism but what is wrong with that. Most people are not intellectuals, why should we continue to train them as such? And as Bill Maher recently noted, most people study bullshit at college. See exercise science and visual arts/graphic design.

  9. Allen Miller at 11:33 am #

    Chris, Enjoyable videos as always.

    Being a 2%’er I trusted neither the public schools or the quality of education of home schooling. We used private schools and the best ones at that. The school that my son and daughter went to had 100% graduation and 99% went on to graduate from college. Don’t listen to Rick Santorum, unemployment rates of people with a degree are 4%, he is just saying that horseshit because democrats can vote in Michigan and he wants to get blue collar workers who look down on educated people.

    Your child can get a great education regardless of whether its private/public/home (looks like a Linux directory, geeks will catch on to what I am saying) if the parents put the time in and get involved. One huge difference is that that private prep schools ‘make it easy’. Most of the home school kids that have no social skills probably wouldn’t have them anyways. I have met some really great kids who were homes Schooled so the broad brush attack is just Chris himself being a jerk about it. Maybe part of the reason that they are home schooled because the parents do not have good social skills either.

    As for Romney being an asshole? I hear the same thing about Obama its all a matter of your point of reference. If Henry Waxman (D California) and Chris Coon (D Delaware) put their heads together they would physically look like an ass.

  10. Ethan at 3:27 pm #

    Deep Cut from one of the best albums of the late 80’s Alternative Nation-era; nice choice.If you like that, their cover of Who Do You Love? is awesome.

  11. Jaquandor at 9:00 pm #

    The statement that visual arts/graphic design are ‘bullshit’ is pretty gobsmackingly ignorant. Ask anyone who works in advertising why.

    And as far as Santorum’s “Obama wants everybody to go to college, what a snob!” line goes, it’s not even true. Santorum’s a lying shit. You wouldn’t expect that from someone who likes to wrap himself in the pages of the Bible, but then, the only parts of that book that Santorum takes seriously are the ones that might, depending on translation and interpretation, be about women and Teh Gay.

  12. Jesse at 8:47 am #

    Google John Taylor Gatto if you want to know what the vaunted public schools are all about.

    Yes, let’s all join in the pile of steaming shit that ends up with American Idol being more important than anything else in American society. Great advice, Chris.

  13. Charlie Headrow at 10:08 am #

    The John Birch Society never said that Ike was a communist agent. And it was certainly never the organization’s official position. That was Robert Welch’s personal opinion. ( RW was the founder of the JBS). He only shared that opinion with his closest associates, and that statement is only present in a personal letter to them. Later, when the letter was published as “The Politician”, he did not include those thoughts. Again, it was his personal opinion – and like all of us, he is entitled to it. He did not include it because he felt the general public would find that opinion too shocking. Big Surprise.

    I’ve read “The Politician” – note it wasn’t titled, “The Agent”. Its well resourced and I have to admit – fairly convincing. Global Communism made some shocking gains while Ike was in office and if we are truly open minded, that debate should have been entertained. Ezra Taft Benson (Ike’s Secretary of Agriculture) seemed to think Welch was on to something. Was Ike a communist agent? In the James Bond sense of the word? No. Did he aid the Communist cause? Well, read the book. I think you’ll be surprised.

  14. Allen Miller at 10:10 am #


    How true! So many public school students could tell you who won american idol but could not name one supreme court justice, most would not even know what the supreme court is.

    The problem with government mandated public schools is that they have removed the parent from from the equation. Here in Rochester at one of the crappiest inner city public schools last year we had a Cambodian immigrant who finished at the end of 10th grade and was awarded a scholarship at the university of Rochester. when the local rag newspapers and TV news broadcasters asked her how she did it her reply was “I owe it to may parents who were completely involved” Her English during the interview was superior to any student who grew up in the PS system. This after only 4 years in the US.

  15. Mike Chmiel at 10:29 am #

    “The problem with government mandated public schools is that they have removed the parent from from the equation.”

    How do they do that? You then completely contradict your argument that pointing out an immigrant girl who from the public school system that is obviously a success.

    But you are right about parental involvement – it is a key. But I think you’re mixing up causation with correlation. Private school or home-schooled kids usually have completely involved (and educated) parents, not to mention stable home environments.

    Kids from broken, impoverished homes overwhelmingly end up in public school. Do you think these kids would become better students private schools? No way.

    To blame public schools for poor outcomes involving at-risk kids is unfair and complete inaccurate. The problem begins at home.

  16. Ethan at 11:03 am #

    I have read John Taylo Gatto, and even many of the primary sources he makes his case based on, and I tend to agree with him. But as an argument against Public education–that’s not the case he’s making at all. He is pointing out some of the despicable origins of it, which certainly leads to some of our current problems, but he’s not saying the answer is charter schools or private ones, either. The answer is Public Education reform– and yes, that begins with an honest critique of the system as it exists and was meant to exist: to sort, to categorize, to sift even… But in the sorting, some learning certainly does go on.

    If you want less rather than more parental involvement, look no further than privatized education. Parents can, if they want to, have plenty of involvement in Public education, from the politicians they elect(local, state, school board) to PTO’s. You have zero leverage over the curriculum or disciplinary policy or any other aspect of a private school.

    Mike above is also right about the direction of the causal arrow (if indeed there is one; only correlation can be shown scientifically) between parental enthusiasm for education and educational outcomes. Committed patents in any of those educational settings account for a huge proportion of successful students, wherever they go to school, or income level, or other factors (which themselves have some effect and as well, tend to interact, as in any complex system).

  17. peteherr at 12:08 pm #

    Not in the cool, “Oh that son-of-a-bitch got me again” kind of way, but the old fashioned, “Holy shit, that guy is a real fucking jerkoff” kind of way.

    Dude….you crack me up. Laughed right out loud.

  18. hank at 1:50 pm #

    I’m NOT a Romney fan or supporter. Has nothing to do with him being an asshole.
    He’s a Republican Barry Obama. Has been always told (and always thinks) he’s the smartest guy in the room. We have found with Obama a person who thinks that way is inherently dangerous.

    He was born with all the advantages that Obama had open to him as a minority.

    He probably never pumps his own gas, does his own grocery shopping, changes his own oil, never has to sweat out a loan payment, mortgage payment or credit card bill—Just like Obama, they have NO IDEA what so many Americans are going through, and just like Obama, he scares the crap out of me.

    The Left needs to calm down about Santorum. He wasn’t my choice either. After 3 years of Obama—neither a Christian or a Muslim, btw–regardless of what he says, it’s just scary for secularist,agnostic and atheist Lefties to see a man of moral conviction run for President.

    Many Catholics home school their children, because Public Schools are plain bad for your kids. Social Skills aren’t taught in Public School anyway—you can socialize in your neighborhood, within your Church, Scouting groups. If you don’t think public schools are bad for your kids, read Jim Ostrowski’s book. They don’t educate, but they DO indoctrinate. I want a kid to know that Thomas Jefferson was well educated, a lawyer, wrote the Declaration of Independence, Was the 3rd President of the United States, and doubled the size of the country by negotiating the Louisiana Purchase. As an aside, it should be noted that he was part of the Virginia Gentry, and owned slaves, which was a part of the American Culture during his lifetime–which were all freed upon his death. All a public school kid learns about Jefferson is HE OWNED SLAVES. Samey Same Robert E Lee. No mention of being the only West Point Cadet to get no demerits in the history of the Academy—including up to the present day—that he was an outstanding civil engineer, and an incredible combat commander, that was offered command of the US Army as the civil war began—Nope–SLAVE OWNER. WTF?

    The Department of Education, aka the Ministry of Truth, makes sure kids learn only what THEY feel appropriate—to hell with the facts.

  19. Allen Miller at 2:08 pm #


    If you want less rather than more parental involvement, look no further than privatized education. Parents can, if they want to, have plenty of involvement in Public education, from the politicians they elect(local, state, school board) to PTO’s. You have zero leverage over the curriculum or disciplinary policy or any other aspect of a private school.

    Where do you get this load of crap from? I put two kids through private non parochial schools, I had tons of communication and leverage. The thing is I never needed it. A private school parent has the ultimate leverage, they can take their kid and my money out of the school. However you rarely need to do it because you can free market shop for a private school that correlates with your beliefs to begin with. We very rarely lost kids to the PS system. When we lost them they usually went to other private schools. Again my kids school had 100% graduation and 99% went on to college graduation.

  20. Chris Smith at 3:02 pm #

    Hey guys, just wanted to take a moment and thank you for the excellent comments, discussion, and feedback in the grumpy articles. We seem to have a smart group of people who don’t necessarily agree on things, but keep it civil and exchange information. A pretty rare thing on the internets. Just wanted to say that I appreciate it.

  21. Jesse at 3:50 pm #

    Hey Chris, F*** YOU. (Was that too predictable?)

    @Allen: right on. You get a LOT more influence when you’re one of a few hundred parents directing a private school than you do with any school board that Knows Better Than Thou. And no matter how passionate you think you are, there’s one lady on the PTA who’s way the f*** nuttier.

    I’m sure the folks running the schools think they’re doing the Right Thing. But public schools end up just warehousing kids until they’re old enough to go to work. Does some learnin’ happen? Of course. Loads of great stuff gets learnt in the “pool of common society”, like all kinds of 4-letter words I learned on the back of the school bus.

    In what world is a school anything other than evil when a 6 year old has to get up before 7am to make a school bus and gets work to do when she gets home?

    Public education? Yes. Public schools whereby you can’t get out unless you’re rich or a homeschooler? Hells no. Tax cuts for education donations are the way of the future.

  22. peteherr at 12:01 pm #

    @Hank, that is the dumbest thing I ever heard. The schools here in NY teach ALL OF THOSE THINGS about Jefferson. The only time Jefferson’s slaves come up is when dummies like Sarah Palin say that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery. Your disdain for government blinds you….so blind, in fact, that you read and believe Ostrowski’s completely biased writing. He doesn’t even make any qualms about his biases.

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