Tag Archives: 2008

In What Respect, Charlie?

14 Sep

In the wake of Mitt Romney’s devastating failure to act remotely presidential in response to some international incidents, his campaign (and some in the right-wing reactionary commentariat) has shifted into “blame the media” mode, and is running now against, e.g., the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post.

This is a traditional Republican meme as reliable as Reagan hagiography, deficit spending, and tax cuts. 

I wondered this week whether the McCain/Palin team had begun running against the media as early as September 12, 2008. Luckily, GLOW-area Democratic activist Adama Brown was quick with some answers: 

 

Because the Republican mindset nowadays is such that any challenge – any attempt to check facts – any pointed, relevant question of anything at all is an “attack” and proof of some left-wing media cabal set on hurting Republicans and helping Democrats. 

This only works if you consider, “do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?” to be a slanted leftist Marxist attack.  This only works if you consider, “what insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state [of Alaska] give you?” to be a hack job set up to embarrass McCain.  

These aired on September 11, 2008. At the time, Obama was down by a few points. The conventions had just ended, and this was Sarah Palin’s first major interview. She did not acquit herself well here, there, or anywhere. 

2008. It was a year.

29 Dec

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

That’s how I started 2008. Unfortunately, we evidently are all filled with incredible amounts of, and/or tolerance for insanity. After all, within days we were still arguing over bermed expressways and Buffalo exceptionalism. But at least we had a cool outdoor hockey tournament as a distraction. On January 3rd, Obama won Iowa. The very next day, I entitled a post about Obama “the next President of the United States.” And I was right, bitches.

As early as mid-January 2008, we were already openly mocking Bashar Issa. His decision to treat his laborers like shit sort of helped hasten his departure. He did not, however, fly out via Skybus, which announced Columbus – “Toronto/Niagara“, but went belly-up before a single flight arrived or departed.

During the heat of the primaries, I managed to tear myself away from the Clinton-Obama aggression and write what I thought were pretty decent posts about Buffalo and WNY. The problem is that I can do and re-do the same post over and over again, ad infinitum, every year or every week, and it won’t make a stitch of difference. I loved this post, as well, and I think Paterson’s budget might just render the million taxpayer march a very do-able proposition. And the ones I do after going away, reflecting on Buffalo’s very deep tolerance for failure and mediocrity? Ah, those rock.

Could be worse. I could be Al Coppola.

On January 16th, Spitzer gave his state of upstate address. A few months later, he was gone.

The Peace Bridge should not be expanded, and a second span should not be built there. So sayeth the commonest of Common Terns. A new span is needed at Queenston-Lewiston, which offers the most direct highway-to-highway crossing in Western New York. And would it kill them to put up a welcome center on the New York side, for Christ’s sake?

We didn’t make it to Detroit in January, but we made it to Buffalo’s auto show in February (part 1 and part 2).

Buffalo is extremely proud of the B-Kwik Tim Horton’s expansion on Seneca Street. I mean Talkin’ Proud.

Lynn Dejac was exonerated in her daughter’s death after spending a decade in prison for it.

Co-working was a novel concept I wrote about in February. Now? WNYMedia.net rents space in a co-working space on Niagara Street. Which beats the shit out of the fact that the beleaguered pump & dump owner of AM&A actually listed the f*cking thing on Craigslist earlier this year. Craigslist, along with used tchotchkes.

Buffalo still needs a six-word motto. But at least it’s got sense of place (barf).

If Jon Powers’ failed candidacy for Congress accomplished nothing, it kicked Jack Davis out of the political system in Western New York. Good riddance. My favorite day? Exposing Davis’ payoffs to bribe his way onto the Independence Party line. The most notable part of that entire yearlong race, however, was this game-changing ad.

Of course, the biggest story this year that wasn’t Presidential-election-related, was our own Client 9, Eliot Spitzer, and his epic hooker fail. Governor Paterson assumed the helm of the Failboat on March 17th. We had an economic fail in October, which was sort of predicted in this post.

This video was one of the most important of 2008.

Mary Kunz Goldman started a blog
. I have not mocked it. Yet. The Broadway Market continued to undergo epic upheaval, as it tries to remain relevant, perhaps its status as an enclave of mostly long-gone Polonia needs to be re-examined. As early as June, the automotive chickens began roosting as gas soared to well over $4.00 gallon – and has since amazingly reverted to $1.80/gallon in a matter of a handful of months. Amazing what an economic meltdown will do.

Tom Suozzi and his commission recommended a tax cap – yet another great idea that will never, ever be implemented by the selfish, back-asswards state legislature. They have too much fun spending and borrowing to limit their revenue stream like that.

June saw the end of the Clinton – Obama primary battle, and Hillary Clinton set a precedent that McCain later echoed – her greatest moment on the campaign trail seemed to be her concession speech. In the end, she miscalculated that “experience” would trump “change” as a rallying cry this year. McCain gave his first speech of the general election, looking frog-like in front of a weird green screen. It set the tone for a poor campaign. Obama then opted out of public campaign financing, thus enabling him to raise an unprecedented sum of money that enabled him to take on all comers and do something that no Democrat had been able to do in recent memory – compete everywhere.

In the meantime, the Livery building acquired a name as it crumbled, became a cause, and was ultimately saved by Sam Savarino.

Tor-Buff-Chester was coined by Richard Florida, the now-Toronto-based urbanist guru, and is an idea whose time has come. Downtown saw the unveiling of the Erie Canal terminus park, which is a rare Buffalo triumph.

Buffalo got an economic development czar, and Tom Golisano started Responsible New York, which had a “meh” effect on local elections. Just ask Mesi, Konst, and Kavanaugh. (Indeed, the campaign waged on Kavanaugh’s behalf begat a new phrase I’ll use).

In July, the shit hit the fan when a Federal Judge ruled that the Seneca Buffalo casino was illegal. Like with other never-ending, decade-long issues in WNY, (Bass Pro, Peace Bridge, e.g.)this is a yawn-inducing issue now. So much so, that opinion has given way – for me – to ambivalence. But people began to wonder what the Wendt Foundation was doing funding the anti-casino lawsuits. $2 million for Albany lawyers is a lot of money for a foundation whose aim is to promote education, the arts, and social services. In fact, it’s more than it gave to any such charity in recent years. When the question was raised, its rabid zealot defenders struck with charges of “swiftboating”. Bruce Jackson accused me of being part of a conspiratorial cabal, acting in concert to destroy the reputation of the Wendt Foundation. The fact that Jackson never contacted me to get a comment from me speaks to the quality of his alleged “journalism”, not to mention that what he wrote was ignorant, incorrect, and paranoid. Donn Esmonde, bold protector of the less fortunate, naturally came to the defense of the extraordinarily well-funded casino opponents.

So, it was quite fun to find out that the rabid zealot is a past recipient of Wendt funds, that his kids are among the listed trial counsel on the anti-casino lawsuit, and that the Wendt Foundation is a past investor in Harrah’s Casinos. None of that had ever been disclosed by Bruce Jackson, the rabid zealot, Casino obsessive who used the word “swiftboat”. Likewise, to this day the people who directly receive the millions in Wendt funds refuse to disclose how the money is spent, and who receives it. No one has ever bothered to explain why the Citizens for a Better Buffalo acts as a pass-through for Wendt funds, but isn’t a party to the lawsuit.

The funniest part of it all, is that contrary to what the hippie zealots might say, I’m not really a casino supporter.

In the summertime, it came to light that civilization had completely broken down on the bus to Wilson. Parents depend on teachers and coaches to, at a bare minimum, maintain the trappings of civilization so that bus rides and field trips don’t begin to resemble the Lord of the Flies. Epic fail. In Buffalo, meanwhile, teachers and administrators can run roughshod over notions of fairness and accountability, with complete impunity. Epic fail.

Bashar Issa came up again in August. Rumblings hinted to poor management. Shortly thereafter, Issa turned out to be a lot of sound and puffery, signifying nothing. Epic fail.

McCain picked Sarah Palin. She did a couple of interviews – one with Charlie Gibson, and one with Katie Couric. Epic fail.

We had Dale Volker engaging in never-ending thuggery, and David DiPietro deserved to unseat him, as did Kathy Konst later on. September saw the primaries roll around, and I made my endorsements here. Predictably, some asshole or another called my political know-how into question because my “predictions” were so off the mark. Problem is, they weren’t predictions – they were preferences.

In September, the entire economy burned out, and needed to be bailed out. The biggest welfare queens turned out to be investment banks on Wall Street, and we went all socialist in response. Thus was the entire conservative deregulation laissez-faire trickle-down movement decimated into obscurity. John McCain “suspended” his campaign to address the bailout. Obama called the bluff, indicating that a President should be able to do more than one thing at once.

In late September, the Great Lakes Compact was finalized, guaranteeing that our most valuable natural resource – even more so than oil – stays right here.

Also, we had debatez. Here’s episode 1, then the Vice Presidential Ifill Cavalcade of Bias, the Town Hall debate featuring McCain versus “that one”, and debate the third, which was good & substantive, except perhaps for JOE THE PLUMBERSZ!@@##@.

The result?

party1.gif

October was packed with stuff I won’t rehash here – most of it Obama vs. McCain. My endorsements were here. The election day post is here. The election results post is here. The Buffalo blogosphere reacted.

As one might expect, a bunch of credits and idiots instantly named Obama the next Stalin or Hitler. Stay classy, cons.

Rumors swirled that Hillary Clinton would be the next Secretary of State. I think Brian Higgins would be a great pick to replace her. Not, you know, that one.

After the election, I started looking at local stuff again. A hit & run at Main & LaSalle, a fugly hotel in Buffalo’s Waterfront Village, the treachery of the gang of three and the nonsense in the State Senate, Six Sigma efforts, Canal Side,

Finally, we at WNYMedia.net started “Patersonisyournewtax.com“, and a poem about the Collins vs. Leg lawsuit fun.

Wishing you and yours a happy and prosperous 2009.

Rick Warren & The Invocation

21 Dec

1. I haven’t opined at great length about Obama’s cabinet appointments because I frankly don’t have time to research each and every one and find out why they’d be a good or bad pick. There’s only so much time in the day and so many things to care about. Whether Bill Richardson goes to Commerce or Arne Duncan goes to Education, it is hardly something I feel qualified to write about. K? THX.

2. Rick Warren is some evangelical preacher who doesn’t like teh gays and is going to give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration. Understandably, a lot of Obama supporters are up in arms about thisespecially gays. They can’t imagine why Obama would pick someone to participate in the inauguration who equates gay marriage with pedophilia. By all accounts, Rick Warren is a real jackass when it comes to that particular issue. I have no idea, and don’t care to learn, about what his views are on other political matters.

And so what?

Barack Obama doesn’t have to only invite people who share each and every one of his political views. He doesn’t have to meet with or include only people who support gay marriage – a position Obama himself hasn’t adopted. Anyone who demands doctrinal rigidity and complete obeisance to his own views is going to be sorely disappointed.

But even deeper than that is who Obama was as a candidate – what made him so appealing to so many people. He specifically said that this isn’t a red and blue America, but a United States of America. We can’t reject the help of people, or their support, or fail to include them just because we differ strongly on a position or three. Rick Warren reached out to Barack Obama and opened a dialogue with him that other evangelists wouldn’t have done. While John Hagee and other wealthy Southern tent revival preachers with Breitling watches all but called Obama a Muslim jihadi quisling-in-waiting, Warren and Obama discussed their differences and how they could reach common ground in spite of them.

Not just that, but by reaching out to the megachurch evangelicals, Obama undercuts the notion that never the twain shall meet or discuss or agree.

It’s like the idiotic and short-sighted failure of a policy whereby we’ve broken off diplomatic relations with Cuba – CUBA!? What the hell kind of threat is Cuba? What are they, going to rust us to death? Are their collective sugarcane farms going to forment socialist revolution among our own lumpenproletariat? Of course not. Cuba is no more or less offensive or unpalatable than any other authoritarian dictatorship with which we trade, exchange diplomatic missions, or to which we permit travel. By turning our backs on Cuba for so long, we’ve accomplished absolutely nothing. Cuba, on the other hand, gets to point its finger at the bad old US, which has a Bay of Pigs sequel up its sleeve any day now. Instead of destabilizing the Castro regime(s), we’ve emboldened and strengthened them.

We elected Obama partly to get away from the deep cleaves that have affected our society and our politics over the past 8 misbegotten Bush years. We elected him to try and end the culture wars and engage in dialogue. People can’t always be expected to agree on every single thing. But we can respect other people’s views and try to find common ground.

Think of it this way: it was less than a decade ago that then-governor Howard Dean legalized homosexual civil unions in Vermont. That was met with outrage and amazement. The right and the evangelicals were up in arms. Now? The same right wingers promote civil unions over gay marriage. Dean’s revolutionary decision is now the fallback, moderate position.

Obama’s decision to invite Warren is as appropriate as any pick would have been, in keeping with his promises of an inclusive, non-confrontational government, and politically brilliant.

Vacancy Dominoes

22 Nov

If Higgins or Brown go to the US Senate, Jim Heaney reports on speculation that Sam Hoyt will eagerly step up to replace either one.

Then, who takes Hoyt’s seat in the Assembly? Iannello? Then who takes Iannello’s seat in the county legislature?

Fredonia Podcast

21 Nov

A podcast of the panel discussion on the 2008 election is here, courtesy of Erica Wolfling of WCVF at SUNY Fredonia.

[audio:http://www.fredoniaradio.com/audio/download/8782/2008+What+Happened.mp3%5D

Politics @ SUNY Fredonia Last Night

19 Nov

The Observer put our panel discussion from last night on its front page. I had a great time, and the questions from the audience were very good and insightful. My understanding is that there will be video and audio available shortly, and I’ll post them here when it’s up.

On Sarah Palin:

“She has more then carved out her own persona in the past two weeks to the extent that she has become a superstar in the party, although that can very much change,” McCarthy said. “Don’t forget she reflects everything the Republican party stands for and has some personality to boot. The other part, in four years probably continuing as Governor of Alaska, she will have an record that is enhanced tremendously by that time and she’ll have some stature.”

“I think a good campaign doesn’t cancel on Letterman and say they’re going to Washington when they’re doing an interview in the same building,” Cornell said, referring to how poorly he felt the McCain campaign was organized, even from an entertainment standpoint.

I added that it was up to the Republican Party to decide whether it was going to back to what it had stood for pre-Bush II, or whether it was going to continue down the spending, big government, Christianist, anti-intellectual, anti-thought ways of the present. If they go for the former, then someone like Romney or some other person with conservative credentials will be the standard-bearer. If they pine for Bush II, then Palin will be a lock.

(Photo by the Observer)

As Seen Last Night on 60 Minutes

10 Nov

Obama’s campaign team talks to 60 Minutes at 1am the night of (after?) election day:

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ANC – BUF World Record Flight

7 Nov

The McCain-Palin campaign chartered a JetBlue Embraer 190 to fly Alaska Governor Sarah Palin around the country. It ended its voyage in Anchorage earlier this week, and was returned to JetBlue.

The 2-engine jet then flew the 2694 miles from Anchorage to Buffalo yesterday, setting a world distance record for the E190. The standard range is 2071 miles.

Change.gov

7 Nov

The President-elect has set up a transition website at … change.gov, with a blog. Natch.

State Senate Goes Dem — Wait, Not So Fast

6 Nov

Four New York City-area Democratic Senators, being referred to as the “gang of four”, are meeting with GOP leaders to consider doing a switcheroo.

That would be a fascinating betrayal, given that at least some people voted the way they did in order to give the Democrats a majority in that house.

On the table at Wednesday’s meeting was a possible power-sharing agreement by Democrats and Republicans or a kind of hostile takeover of the Senate by Republicans using the swing Democrats to maintain control of the Senate when a majority leader is elected in January.

If Republicans kept majority power, they could then reward the four Democratic defectors with lucrative committee chairmanships.

Wow. That sounds so – good governmenty, doesn’t it?

Here’s an idea – unicameral legislature. What on Earth do we need a State Senate for, anyway?