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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

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Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com