Archive | July, 2012

Chuck Swanick and Terribleness

31 Jul

Chuck Swanick skulked back into the private sector and out of government in the aftermath of the epic disaster that was the county fiscal meltdown of 2004 – 2005. He went back to his job with CSX, but saw an opportunity last year when State Senator Mark Grisanti voted in favor of same-sex marriage. 

The opportunity was that Swanick could be the conservative Catholic homophobic Democratic candidate and challenge Grisanti. He enlisted the help of local scheissmeister Steve Pigeon, fresh off of a cush State Senate job under his protege-turned-convict Pedro Espada. This means that every hack with a (D) after their name who has a beef with Len Lenihan’s Erie County Democratic Committee had been enlisted in the Pigeon/Swanick cause. 

Swanick, in expressing his disgust and opposition to same-sex marriage, quickly received the endorsement of execrable Ralph Lorigo-led jobs club known as the “Conservative Party” (which is famously inconsistent in its supposed automatic withholding of support for candidates who back same-sex marriage – see Kennedy, Tim). 

What’s so conservative about Swanick? His opponent, Mike Amodeo reminds us of that, as Chairperson of the Erie County Legislature, Swanick requested $4.78 Million for the Legislature’s 2004 budget. Included in Swanick’s bloated budget request were funds for 50 patronage employees. In addition, the Legislature stashed away another $2.7 Million for member items, more commonly known as pork projects. In comparison, the County Legislature’s 2012 budget is $2.96 Million, with no money allocated for member items. The Legislature staff has also since been right-sized to almost half the employees of the Swanick era

“On the eve of the Red/Green Budget Crisis, Chuck Swanick’s focus was on pork and patronage for his political fiefdom,” said his challenger, Amodeo. “Voters have no interest in returning to the days of wasteful spending.”

During Swanick’s tenure at the Legislature, Erie County’s cash reserves dwindled down to a paltry $4 Million. In addition, Swanick helped squander $250 Million of proceeds from the County’s tobacco settlement. Swanick also voted to allow Erie County to sell the Erie County Medical Center to itself, incurring another $200 Million long-term liability in exchange for an approximately $85 Million short-term benefit. New York State eventually determined that Erie County needed “adult supervision” and implemented a control board. 

“When Chuck Swanick left office in 2005, County finances were in complete shambles,” concluded Amodeo. “Chuck’s decision to campaign as a ‘fiscal conservative’ is an insult to every Erie County resident that had their library closed, services cut and taxes raised.”

Remember all that? You should. It’s what sparked a reasonably serious civic discussion about the future direction of the city and county, and started a local tax revolt of sorts as the county’s share of the sales tax inched up to avoid catastrophe. 

Swanick – a former Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat recently accepted two donations totaling $7,000 from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an anti-equality organization based out of Princeton, New Jersey. Since 2007, NOM has spent millions of dollars across the United States to restrict the rights of LGBT Americans, whom NOM Chairman John Eastman has referred to as ‘barbarians’.

Swanick, a 26 year career politician, also received a contribution of $16,800 from Sean Fieler of Princeton, New Jersey. Mr. Fieler, a major Republican donor and hedge fund manager, is chairman of the American Principles Project, whose founder is chairman emeritus of NOM.

 “I am deeply troubled to hear of Chuck Swanick’s taking of campaign funding from NOM, a hate group designated as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” said Bryan Ball, President of Stonewall Democrats of WNY. “Mr. Swanick’s blatant disregard for the equal rights and protections of every Western New York family he seeks to represent is an offensive assault on the right to freedom we value as Americans. The Democratic Party has always stood to aid the civil rights movement, and hate such as Mr. Swanick’s has no place in our great Party. I am proud of all who stand united against such divisiveness. Never should any part of our great Party support his actions.”

According to NOM’s own press release, the organization “intends to participate in legislative contests throughout the state as part of its $2 million commitment to make sure the voters of New York are able to vote to restore marriage in New York”.

Mike Amodeo supports same-sex marriage. He pledges to take on NYPA to ensure that western New York’s waterfronts continue to improve. He is against hydrofracking and the environmental risks that come from injecting bedrock with water and noxious chemicals to extract natural gas from it.  (Swanick essentially supports fracking). He supports term limits and changing Albany’s careerist culture. (Swanick is the opposite). 

Swanick isn’t a Democrat, and I don’t understand his return to politics, except by noting how he differs from the mainstream Democrat running against him. 

The Morning Grumpy – 7/31/12

31 Jul

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

1. How this isn’t the top story on the nightly news every night and grounds for the formation of a massive populist movement is absolutely beyond my comprehension.

At least 5 million voters, predominantly young and from minority groups sympathetic to President Barack Obama, could be affected by an unprecedented flurry of new legislation by Republican governors and GOP-led legislatures to change or restrict voting rights by Election Day 2012.

The Republican Party is actively engaged in a massive swing state campaign to limit access to the ballot box. It is an affront to democracy and undercuts the legitimacy of the national vote.

2. If you’ve been following Buck Quigley’s great work on the fracking beat here at Artvoice, you already know this to be true.

Last week the University of Texas provost announced he would re-examine a report by a UT professor that said fracking was safe for groundwater after the revelation that the professor pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Texas natural gas developer. It’s the latest fusillade in the ongoing battleover the basic facts of fracking in America.

“They’re trying to buy the prestige of the university,” he said. “And the universities are happy to sell their prestige, I suppose.”

Timothy Considine, another Penn State grad who’s now a geologist at the University of Wyoming, was the lead author on a SUNY-Buffalo report in May that claimed state regulation had made fracking safe in Pennsylvania. Within days, a top Pennsylvania environmental official quoted the Buffalo study in testimony to Congress about the effectiveness of fracking regulations. But both the official and the study itself declined to mention that Considine’s close ties to the industry—and that his department had received nearly $6 million in donations from the oil and gas industry last year. Considine—whom one Pennsylvania newspaper called “the shale gas industry’s go-to professor”—also helped write the controversial 2009 Penn State study and a 2010 expansion of itthat was funded by the American Petroleum Institute.

The University at Buffalo, now a cautionary tale.

3. So, this exists. What to do during an “active shooter” event? Let the Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security give you the lowdown.

I’ve heard that Mayor Brown is working on a similar video, the goal is to protect the Mayoral podium and the big goofy scissors used for ceremonial ribbon-cuttings from active shooters and/or bears. I digress. My primary takeaway from this video? Don’t get caught in an “active shooter event” with a redheaded woman who can’t shut the hell up and properly hide. Notice any other subtleties or interesting facts in the video?

4. Corporate America 101: When making record profits, fuck over the employees who make it possible. Well, at least that’s what Caterpillar is doing.

Despite earning a record $4.9 billion profit last year and projecting even better results for 2012, the company is insisting on a six-year wage freeze and a pension freeze for most of the 780 production workers at its factory here. Caterpillar says it needs to keep its labor costs down to ensure its future competitiveness.

I’ve written about this labor standoff three times now and each time the facts grow more and more absurd. Earlier this year, the CEO was given a 60% pay increase after the company posted $4.9 billion in profit on revenue of $60.1 billion in FY2011 after a healthy 2010 which brought $2.7 billion in profit on revenue of $42.6 billion. Sounds like a growing company with a healthy sales pipeline and a robust reach into foreign markets. Which is exactly why their last contract offer to their workers made so little sense.

Provided no raises, eliminated the defined benefits pension program, weakened seniority rights and required machinists to pay higher contributions for health care.  All of this, at a time when the company is making record profits. In fact, Fortune Magazine recently said the company is “crushing it” when it comes to profitability.

As a reminder, it would take the average worker nearly 244 years to earn the salary that the average CEO makes in one year.

5. Andrew Sullivan makes the conservative case for President Obama’s re-election.

The economy has been shell-shocked by the aftermath of a giant debt bubble and reckless financial gambling, all occurring a couple of decades after a bipartisan decision to take off the protections imposed on Wall Street in 1933. America is simultaneously experiencing a dramatic and widening economic inequality and declining social mobility. Its private healthcare system is by far the least efficient in the world, adding a massive burden to businesses and government with spiraling costs. We are clearly facing a climate crisis in which the very goods of industrialization are undermining the earth’s own equilibrium.

At the same time, the economic elites, empowered by radical new moves by the Supreme Court, appear to have rigged the Congressional game through an insanely complex tax code, which both cripples the free market and keeps us insolvent. Above all, the debt is a huge threat to future prosperity, just as premature austerity is a huge threat to the recovery. All of these are combining not just to lower American growth and vitality but also to threaten the very legitimacy of the system which, to increasing numbers of middle class Americans, looks like a game stacked against them. On almost every front, on almost every issue, in this crisis, Obama is more conservative than Romney.

As a liberal, I know the last sentence above to be sadly true.

Fact Of The Day:  The average pencil holds enough graphite to draw a line about 35 miles long or to write roughly 45,000 words

Quote Of The Day: “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley

Video Of The Day: Brevity.

Song Of The Day: (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” – The Kinks

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The Morning Grumpy – 7/30/12

30 Jul

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy. We’ll go with a video-heavy edition today.

1. A documentary that would never be produced in America, “The Mormon Candidate” from the BBC.

An incredibly interesting look at Mitt Romney’s religion, his weakness with evangelical voters because of it, and an adult discussion about the role of religion in politics.

2. Why do the Sunday news talk shows suck? Jay Rosen gives you the answer.

Jay teaches journalism at NYU and is the smartest media critic in America. If you like enjoy smart people saying and writing smart things, follow him on Twitter or Tumblr or read his blog.

3. Gary Johnson is an interesting guy. He’s running for President on the Libertarian Party line and he’s a likeable, affable guy who should be included in the Presidential debates. The problem with his candidacy? He’s seemingly dropped the whole “Aw, shucks” personality that might have allowed him to connect with voters and has instead adopted the language and temperament of the Ron Paul Fanatic Society.

This kind of messaging motivates the denizens of Libertarian Cloud Cuckooland and other members of the Tea Party/Jim Ostrowski Appreciation Society, but does little to motivate independents and Moms in the suburbs. Drop the tyranny nonsense and just talk to people. Be straight and drop the gimmicks; they never worked for Ron Paul and they won’t work for him either. Johnson is on the ballot in all fifty states and is a legitimate candidate…so long as he stops trailing into Alex Jones territory.

4. Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz writes that inequality undermines prosperity.

Any solution to today’s problems requires addressing the economy’s underlying weakness: a deficiency in aggregate demand. Firms won’t invest if there is no demand for their products. And one of the key reasons for lack of demand is America’s level of inequality – the highest in the advanced countries.

This was the original point of the Occupy movement but was subsumed by lack of focus. However, it should still be a significant part of the national discussion.

5. An incredible long-form piece on America’s last true rock star, Bruce Springsteen. (Arguments to the contrary will be summarily ignored.)

Springsteen was aware of the comical contradiction: the multimillionaire who, in his theatrical self-presentation, is the voice of the dispossessed. Very occasionally, twinges of discomfort about this have leaked into his lyrics. In the late eighties, Springsteen played “Ain’t Got You,” which appeared on his album “Tunnel of Love,” for Van Zandt. The lyrics tell of a fellow who gets “paid a king’s ransom for doin’ what comes naturally”—who’s got “the fortunes of heaven” and a “house full of Rembrandt and priceless art”—but lacks the affections of his beloved. Van Zandt recognized the self-mockery but didn’t care. He was aghast.

“We had one of our biggest fights of our lives,” Van Zandt recalled. “I’m, like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ And he’s, like, ‘Well, what do you mean, it’s the truth. It’s just who I am, it’s my life.’ And I’m, like, ‘This is bullshit. People don’t need you talking about your life. Nobody gives a shit about your life. They need you for their lives. That’s your thing. Giving some logic and reason and sympathy and passion to this cold, fragmented, confusing world—that’s your gift. Explaining their lives to them. Their lives, not yours.’ And we fought and fought and fought and fought. He says ‘Fuck you,’ I say ‘Fuck you.’ I think something in what I said probably resonated.”

It’s not very often to see a journalist get this close to Bruce, it’s really a compelling piece of work.

Fact Of The Day: The United States uses more energy for air-conditioning than the entire continent of Africa uses for all purposes

Quote Of The Day: “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” -Yogi Berra

Song Of The Day: “The Taming of the Hands That Came Back to Life” – Sunset Rubdown

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Battlezone: Webster Block

30 Jul

Late last week, two proposals to redevelop the Webster Block – across from the First Niagara Center and Canal Side – were put before the public. Physically similar, the major differences between the two plans is that one includes publicly accessible indoor ice rinks, costs more money, will take longer to build, and relies more heavily on public money. 

Submitting the two proposals for public vetting and comment, for the use of land the City currently holds, is laudable. However, I will be not at all surprised to see it devolve right into bitter litigation, because of the ease with which that can happen, and stymie the whole project. It’s cost of doing business in our so-called “lighter, cheaper, faster” placemaking/crowdsourcing development culture in contemporary Buffalo. It’s also why our skyline has not changed significantly since the 1960s. 

First, the Sabres’ proposal. Costing over $123 million, with a promise of 450 permanent jobs, “HarborCenter” is projected to open in mid-2015, include two ice rinks, and rely somewhat heavily on public incentives and subsidies, although the exact figure hasn’t been determined.  It features a sports bar, hotel space, retail space, and a 965-space parking garage. 

Next, here’s a proposal put forth by “Webster Block, LLC”, a joint venture led by Carl Paladino’s Ellicott Development. It features retail space, residential condos, a hotel, office space, and 1,089-space parking garage. 


Recognizing that design is largely subjective, I somewhat prefer the Paladino proposal. I don’t like the overuse of brick in every new development save the Avant, and these two proposals incorporate that. The archways over the street-level retail in the Paladino plan, along with the awnings and other features one typically sees in big-city urban developments appeal to me. I have seen some criticism about the visibility of the parking ramp in the Paladino proposal, but the Sabres’ renderings seem to conveniently omit that, so Webster Block, LLC gets points for transparency on that point. 

But the brick-and-windows designs are, to me, so late-80s post-modern. The clean simplicity of the Avant should be a model for contemporary high-rise design in Buffalo. This all looks like an NYU or BU dorm, ca. 1986. 

Aside from money and the need for subsidies, the major difference here is the Sabres’ inclusion of two rinks. I think it’s a pretty neat idea, especially if there’s non-hockey related just general skate time available to local and visiting families. Adding amateur hockey space to downtown is clearly a positive, and would be a great asset to have to attract league play and tournaments to downtown. 

But either way, Buffalo wins. This isn’t currently a site, but a blight; another surface parking lot in a city jam-packed with them. It’s the site where the Adelphia Tower was supposed to go – first 40 stories, then 15, then zero as Adelphia went out of business, in disgrace during the last decade.  Anticipating complaints about parking – of course you need parking. It’s not the existence of parking that’s bad, but its visibility and use – a surface lot is an utter waste of space, but a parking garage nestled within a larger project and hidden from view is an absolute necessity. Anticipating complaints about the historic nature of the site of some sort, any such complaints would be disingenuous nonsense. No one moaned about historical significance during the decades during which it was a parking lot. Is someone going to complain that it should be a replica of the original Webster Block? A low grouping of brownstone warehouses

Either proposal would enhance the area around the Arena and Canal Side. Either proposal would be a net plus for the inner harbor area of downtown Buffalo. Either proposal would be a welcome change from the status quo. We have to get past the mentality where one person can halt civic progress for the public benefit with one lawsuit. I wonder if we’ll get there with this project. 

Looking up Main Street 1905 (

If you want to add your two cents, you can email the city at


30 Jul

Late Friday, as viewers in the United States began watching an Olympics opening ceremony that had literally just ended in real time (#NBCFail), @BuffaloJill on Twitter imagined out loud what a Buffalo Olympic opening ceremony would look like. Hilarity ensued. 


[<a href=”” target=”_blank”>View the story “Buffalo Opening Ceremony” on Storify</a>]<h1>Buffalo Opening Ceremony</h1><h2>On July 28, during the Olympic opening ceremonies, Twitter user @BuffaloJill imagined what a similar event would feature if held in Buffalo. Hilarity ensued. </h2><p>Storified by Alan Bedenko · Sun, Jul 29 2012 04:13:35</p><div>What if Buffalo had an opening ceremony? What would we have? #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyJill</div><div>Vincent Gallo narrates. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyJill</div><div>.@BuffaloJill Wing-Bleu Cheese-Celery Race #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyChris Ryndak</div><div>Instead of lighting the torch, Trent Edwards checks down. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyJill</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Ralph Wilson lights the Ralph Wilson torch at Ralph Wilson stadium.Alan Bedenko</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Buster Bison and Chip interpret the closing of Bethlehem Steel through modern dance.Alan Bedenko</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony 1/8th of it takes place in Toronto.Jeremy White</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Tom Bauerle gives dramatic speech about cats, ghosts, implied bisexuality.Alan Bedenko</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony 50-foot tall puppet of the Lady In WhiteAlan Bedenko</div><div>Conehead would’ve given his guarantee on the Olympic torch. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyKevin Snow</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony AFSCME picket, inflatable rat on site.Alan Bedenko</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Ani DiFranco sings a medley of songs no one’s heard beforeAlan Bedenko</div><div>After years of planning, studies, etc & countless dollars spent the stadium is never built & the games go elsewhere #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyMark Poloncarz</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony stadium empties to reveal thousands of old shoes and clothing items left by "Team Canada"Jeremy White</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony is blacked out in BuffaloGeoff Smith</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony we actually hold two competing, simultaneous ceremonies, because someone pissed someone off once.Alan Bedenko</div><div>dignitaries arrive by driving cars into buildings #BuffaloOpeningCeremonya tramp abroad</div><div>We tailgate it. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyChris Ryndak</div><div>Lead all newscasts with first person who complains that there is nothing to do during Buffalo Olympics #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyAaron Mentkowski</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony sketchy guy invites the world to come work at Geico.Alan Bedenko</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony A drunken Pat Kane extinguishes the flame by dumping out his 40oz beer on it.Bobby Digital</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Lenny Palumbo writes something phenomenally homophobic about itAlan Bedenko</div><div>"Better Days" named official song. #BuffaloOpeningCeremony @createvidsKevin Snow</div><div>Goo Goo Dolls play a full four hours. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonySabres 101</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Carl Paladino lists athletes he doesn’t care for on top of his burned out buildings.DBUF11</div><div>Parade of Nations has to keep stopping at unsynched traffic lights. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyJill</div><div>@JeremyWGR Tailgating is recognized as an official sport. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyJeff Scharf</div><div>12 Led Zeppelin cover bands. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyScott Michalak</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony The team at NBC is replaced by a Buffalo all-star team comprised of Duke McGuire, John Murphy, and Rick JeanneretGeoffrey Blosat</div><div>A reminder to all medal winners: "Bum-bum-bum, we buy silver, we buy gold…" #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyTodd O. Massey</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony for those that don’t have a ticket, head to party in the plaza!DBUF11</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Pearl Street offers a discount on drinks with ticket to the opening ceremony.Geoffrey Blosat</div><div>Every visiting athlete comments on how ugly the city is. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonySteve O</div><div>Golisano holds U.S. team hostage until they agree to perform in Rochester for "one night only". #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyhippiegrrl</div><div>Irv announces lighting of Olympic Flame as "5 Alarm Fire in Orchard Park – details at 11" #buffaloopeningceremonyGlenMcDole</div><div>Keith Radford & Joanna Pisceri talk over the ENTIRE THING. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyTodd O. Massey</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Scott Norwood comes through the floor and kicks a flaming ball to light the torch but this time hits its on turfjason ziegler</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Greece is first team to enter. Buster Bison, armed with a squirt gun, obstructs pathJosh Veronica</div><div>Olympic torch used to make Chiavetta’s chicken barbecue. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonySabres 101</div><div>#buffaloopeningceremony we go til 4 in the morning. Then breakfast at PerkinsJoe Haniszewski</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony giant blow up beef an wecks and chicken wings appear in center of ceremonyjason ziegler</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony where pop officially replaces sodaJon Clark</div><div>Carl Paladino makes a speech to complain about all the foreigners "invading" his city. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyTravis Worth</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Irv Weinstein hands out 1 buffalo wing to each person coming into stadium to hold up during torch lighting.My Low End Theory</div><div>After #BuffaloOpeningCeremony is held east of Transit Road, @BuffaloRising commenters call it the "Clarence Olympics."Ra Cha Cha</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony subject to blackoutDarin Schwabe</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony During the Biathlon the crowd is heard yelling Shoot!Mike Ripley</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Scott Norwood goes wide right with torch, sets Lake Erie on fireian leggin</div><div>Crowd throwing their plastic beer cups at this shit. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyScott Michalak</div><div>Team Elmwood Village would protest any suburbanites and/or SUV drivers being allowed to play. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyCeeDee</div><div>Those who can’t get in have a Party in the Plaza #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyCasey Schroeder</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony the torch is lit by a drunk marshawn lynchJames Misercola</div><div>The Town of Orchard Park refuses to allow others to participate in swimming events #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyMark B</div><div>AMVETS outfits Team USA at #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyMarquil</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony everyone walks into the stadium and says "wait, why do you have O.J. Simpson on your wall?" #forrealthoughNick Veronica</div><div>biggest. tailgating party. ever. #buffaloopeningceremonyAndrew Haynes</div><div>Byron Brown has a field day with his giant scissors upon the opening of Buffalo’s olympic village aka Statler City #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyBennett Collins</div><div>People from Rochester say that they would have done a better job. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyThomas Mehs</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony listen to Matt Lauer continuously refer to it as "northern New York".Trlr</div><div>Only coverage it gets in local media involves investigation into the cost of parking. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyBradford Reid</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Everyone outside of New York State assumes the ceremony is occurring just a few minutes from New York CityChris Ceci</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony Carl Paladino is awarded midnight permit to demolish Olympic Stadium just minutes prior to ceremony kick-off.Chris Ceci</div><div>Instead of Paul McCartney, Hit N Run Live from Cheektowaga town park #BuffaloOpeningCeremonyDennis Louis</div><div>Everything goes as planned and everyone gets upset that there’s nothing to get upset about. #BuffaloOpeningCeremony #NOOUTRAGEOUTRAGE!!!Buffalo Outrage</div><div>Terry Pegula blubbers at the sight of Usain Bolt. #BuffaloOpeningCeremony (hashtag corrected)Tim Graham</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony buffalonian athletes get nothing better than silverdk</div><div>1 person would complain 1 week before the event, Olympics are cancelled. #BuffaloOpeningCeremonySmokey Tokey</div><div>#BuffaloOpeningCeremony months after loss, Judge Bettmann says "yeah, it was a new record, but oh well. Oops."Tony House</div>

Heckuva Job, W.

27 Jul

W. as in W. Mitt. He is so adept at diplomacy – he will so dramatically change Obama’s foreign policy – that he managed in just one day to epically piss off our country’s very closest ally. This guy is a trip

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Climate Change Perspectives

27 Jul

Courtesy Marquil at

The Morning Grumpy – 7/27/12

27 Jul

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

1. Frustrated by the ongoing efforts of ISPs like Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner to destroy Net Neutrality, Google decided to just go ahead and make their own Internet. And it’s awesome. Sure, there are other reasons to make your own network, but Google wants to do away with the middleman and bring you Internet the way it should be.

You can pre-register for the service and the cities that have the highest number of pre-registrations will be prioritized as future Google Fiber rollout locations. So, go sign up and welcome your new Google overlords.

2. Innovation is hard, the story behind Microsoft’s fall from grace.

Amid a dynamic and ever changing marketplace, Microsoft—which declined to comment for this article—became a high-tech equivalent of a Detroit car-maker, bringing flashier models of the same old thing off of the assembly line even as its competitors upended the world. Most of its innovations have been financial debacles or of little consequence to the bottom line. And the performance showed on Wall Street; despite booming sales and profits from its flagship products, in the last decade Microsoft’s stock barely budged from around $30, while Apple’s stock is worth more than 20 times what it was 10 years ago. In December 2000, Microsoft had a market capitalization of $510 billion, making it the world’s most valuable company. As of June it is No. 3, with a market cap of $249 billion. In December 2000, Apple had a market cap of $4.8 billion and didn’t even make the list. As of this June it is No. 1 in the world, with a market cap of $541 billion.

How did this jaw-dropping role reversal happen? How could a company that stands among the most cash-rich in the world, the onetime icon of cool that broke IBM’s iron grip on the computer industry, have stumbled so badly in a race it was winning?

There is a lesson for every business in Microsoft’s inability to innovate and change with market demand, even newspapers.

3. Frank Rich takes on the perception of American decline and reminds us that the good old days weren’t always as good as they seem from the rear-view mirror.

The wave of nostalgia for Andy Griffith’s Mayberry and for the vanished halcyon America it supposedly enshrined says more about the frazzled state of America in 2012 and our congenital historical amnesia than it does about the reality of America in 1960. The eulogists’ sentimental juxtapositions of then and now were foreordained. If there’s one battle cry that unites our divided populace, it’s that the country has gone to hell and that almost any modern era, with the possible exception of the Great Depression, is superior in civic grace, selfless patriotism, and can-do capitalistic spunk to our present nadir. For nearly four years now—since the crash of ’08 and the accompanying ascent of Barack Obama—America has been in full decline panic. Books by public intellectuals, pundits, and politicians heralding our imminent collapse have been one of the few reliable growth industries in hard times.

As usual, Rich offers an interesting perspective.

4. Pew Research reports that the number of conservative Republicans who say Obama is a Muslim has doubled since October 2008 (from 16% to 34%).

Nearly one-in-five voters (17%) say that Obama is Muslim. And 19% of voters say they are uncomfortable with Obama’s religion. Discomfort with Obama’s religion is predominantly concentrated among those who say he is Muslim. And there is a much stronger partisan component in views of Obama’s religion than Romney’s. More than one-third (36%) of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say they are uncomfortable with Obama’s religion, compared with only 7% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters.

Meanwhile, everyone is cool with the whole magic underpants Mormon thing.

Eight-in-ten voters who are aware of Romney’s religion say that they are comfortable with his religious faith (60%), that his religion does not matter to them (19%) or express no opinion (2%). Among voters who know that Romney is Mormon, about one-in-five (19%) say they are uncomfortable with it. This represents 11% of all registered voters, given that many are unaware of his faith.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have an atheist President?

5. I know my Republican friends have liberty boners for the founding fathers, so I thought I’d look into what one of those founding fathers might have to say about the whole “You Didn’t Build That” Obama nontroversy.

“Personal property is the effect of society; and it is as impossible for an individual to acquire personal property without the aid of society, as it is for him to make land originally.

Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.”

From “Agrarian Justice, Part Three” via Reddit.

Fact Of The Day: Bill Gates has donated more to charity ($28 Billion) than number eight on the Forbes Rich List (Stefan Persson) is worth ($26.0 billion).

Quote Of The Day: “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” – Bertrand Russell

Video Of The Day: A father records an excellent version of “Let It Be” to pay for the cost of with the medical treatment for his one year old son who was just diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Consider a donation and when people tell you we don’t need universal healthcare in this country, tell ’em to go fuck themselves. NO ONE should have to hold an auction or a bake sale or sing and dance to pay for medical costs in the “greatest country in the world”.

Song Of The Day: “Choctaw Bingo” – Ray Wylie Hubbard

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The Dog-Whistle Election of 2012

26 Jul

It was reported yesterday that an un-named advisor to Mitt Romney complained to a foreign publication how President Obama doesn’t share or “appreciate” the shared “Anglo-Saxon heritage” of America and Great Britain. The Romney campaign itself later disavowed this unbelievably stupid comment, but that’s not dissimilar to a celebrity apologizing for an insensitive Tweet. 

You know they meant every word of it. They just realized that it was inconvenient. 

First of all, Anglo-Saxon Britain ended in 1066 with the Norman conquest at Hastings. Like their persistent use of “Soviet” and “Soviet Union” to describe the country known as the “Russian Federation”, the Romney folks need to brush up on their history. 

Secondly, this is all part of a wider theme that’s taken hold of much of the American right since Obama’s nomination and election. It all has to do with painting Obama as a foreign savage devil. How that characterization is made depends somewhat on the person making it, and the intended audience. It may also have something to do with the intelligence of the person making the characterization. 

For instance, the extremely dumb and ignorant – oft racist – will simply aver that the President is a foreign-born Kenyan who was raised at a madrassa in Indonesia as part of a worldwide Communist/Muslim conspiracy to take over the United States – a plot dating back to 1961 at least. People mildly more intelligent will simply “ask questions” about the President’s birthplace and loyalty. 

The less stupid will say they don’t doubt the President’s birth certificate is real, and “take him at his word” that he’s Christian. The scale slides as people more benignly accuse Obama of “not sharing our values”, or being “socialist”, or going around the world “apologizing for America”. 

All of it has a central theme of Republican omniphobia, and of being so fundamentally out of ideas – ideas that plunged the world into a couple of quagmire-y wars and a crushing, long-lasting worldwide economic crisis – that this is all they have to fall back on. Literal demonization of the foreign usurper President, and urging reversion to the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place. 

Obama may not be perfect, but he’s not a foreign Communist savage, either. Mitt Romney, however, is by no means the answer to any sane or rational question. 

Neil Garvey Foundation for the Arts: Fundraiser Tonight

26 Jul

Neil Garvey was an attorney, but much better known as a local theater icon – he frequented the footlights of the Kavinoky, Irish Classical, and Shakespeare in the Park, and was a firm believer that the arts were a critical component of our society.  He passed away earlier this year, and his friends and family have devoted themselves to keep his memory alive. 

Established in 2012 by the family and friends of Neil Garvey as an independent organization to foster artistic endeavors throughout Buffalo and its surrounding communities, the mission of the Neil E. Garvey Foundation for the Arts is to empower and financially assist artists across all disciplines and, thereby, to promote the betterment and cultural growth of Western New York.

Tonight, just before the premiere of Shakespeare in the Park’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an inaugural fundraiser for the Garvey Foundation will take place. 

When: July 26, 2012, 5pm until the show opens

Where: the Marcy Casino in Delaware Park

Info: Your ticket will settle your hunger, quench your thirst and keep you laughing! There will be raffles and a 50/50 and food will be prepared by Rich’s Catering.  Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by calling the Shakespeare in Delaware Park offices at (716) 856-4533 or by filling out the form, here!