Tag Archives: New York Times

Read Dasani’s Story

10 Dec

Dickensian Squalor in Contemporary New York

There was a lot of jokey-snark Sunday night as Twitter was trying to guess what the New York Times’ big blockbuster story was going to be on Monday morning. A Times editor had Tweeted that a game-changing story was coming, but offered no hints. 

The story itself is a heartbreaking one about a bright and energetic 11 year-old girl who lives in poverty and squalor with her family in a dilapidated, uninhabitable city shelter.  We follow her to school, we examine her home, we look at her parents and their obvious problems in such a way that eschews cheap judgment and instead gives us a window into the crushing poverty, desperate need for help, jobs, and education that families like this need. 

It also describes the insane class divide where homes within spitting distance of the shelter and adjacent projects now go for a million dollars; where a fancy new wine shop offers tastings across the street from a liquor store where the clerk sits behind bullet-proof plexiglass. 

Please read all five parts of the story, which will take you on an emotional roller coaster, and consider whether, in our zeal for austerity, we’re causing more problems than we’re solving. 

Some “richest country in the world” superpower we are. 

Russia’s Concern-Troll

12 Sep

Better Opinion Columnist than Donn Esmonde

Last night, a New York Times opinion piece penned by Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s D.C. based public relations and/or lobbying group hit the Times’ website. I’m not particularly concerned with his last-paragraph indictment of American exceptionalism, because frankly the Russian President would be expected to believe in Russian exceptionalism. Yet what he actually writes is that no nationality is special. Don’t believe it, given the existence of what can only be called the Putin Youth, which uses a mix of Russian nationalism and Soviet imagery to lend support to the regime. 

What Putin’s Times piece really amounts to is the most prominent concern-troll in history. Putin lecturing the US about international shit-stirring and democracy is like Kim Jong Un lecturing the world about prisoners’ rights

The United States isn’t perfect by any means. Its government isn’t perfect, either. But of the countries qualified to lecture the US on good government and democracy, Russia is in maybe the lowest third. Since 2000, Putin has been the de facto dictator of the Russian Federation. Ask Chechnya about his democratic peacekeeping. Look how he bypassed term limits by switching between the President’s office and Prime Minister. We’re led to believe that a former KGB agent is a champion of openness and liberty because he is harboring fugitive thief Edward Snowden while actually monitoring communications for political means. 

All the things the tea party right and ultra left criticize centrist Obama for being or doing, Putin is actually being or doing. But, you know, Putin hunts with his shirt off, and he’s tight with the guy who gasses his own people with Sarin, so it’s all good. How many bands critical of the President has Obama thrown into labor camps? How many businessmen has Obama exiled or killed/attempted to kill? How many state-owned industries has Obama “privatized” into the hands of his friends and supporters? Has Obama promoted the cause of LGBT rights in the last 5 years, or deliberately rendered homosexuality illegal? How come people like Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and their supporters don’t criticize the Russian surveillance state

Anyone – including my own Congressman – who has nicer things to say about Vladimir Putin than President Obama is being an idiot, pure and simple. Swallow the propaganda all you want, but don’t pretend like Putin’s Russia is the model for America unless you’re into neofascism, autocracy, tycoonism, and mass surveillance for political, rather than security, ends. 

Spitzer’s Sorry, Silver’s Moving, Food Truck Drama

23 Jul

1. Disgraced former Governor of the State of New York, Eliot Spitzer, famously began running for New York City Comptroller just a few days before nominating petitions were due. As one might expect, Spitzer’s attempt at a comeback is made difficult by his hypocritical whoring. Here is his “apology” commercial, which I think is rather effective. 

2. Alien wizard Nate Silver took his work analyzing baseball statistics into the political arena with his blog Five Thirty Eight, and got picked up by the New York Times. That contract expired, and former Buffalo News editor Margaret Sullivan – now the Times’ Public Editor – explained that Silver simply didn’t “fit in” to the Times’ “culture”, and that some of the Times’ writers simply didn’t like him. Sullivan explained that Silver was “disruptive”; i.e., he disrupted the old model of covering politics. 

In Buffalo, we’re all-too familiar with the way politics have been covered for the past few decades, and its lazy, unsubstantive focus on fundraising and the never-ending horserace. Now, admittedly, Silver’s specialty was the horserace, but the way in which he analyzed and wrote about it was based on mathematical and scientific probability informed by trends, polling, and past performance. Silver had a knack for taking some extremely complicated and convoluted data and making it digestible for average readers, and his record is really quite striking. But in Buffalo, we have political columnists who simply dismiss and ignore candidates who do not fit the 40 year-old mold of a credible machine candidate. We’re all worse off for it. 

3. The City of Tonawanda is contemplating a food truck ordinance to regulate how these mobile entrepreneurs might be able to do business within the municipal boundaries. Unlike Buffalo and Amherst, the CoT is poised to introduce fantastically restrictive regulations – so ridiculous that they effectively amount to a ban on food trucks. $1,000 for an initial license and application, and trucks are forbidden from setting up within 1,000 feet of an open kitchen – farther than three football fields away. (The Buffalo and Amherst rules require operation at least 100′ from any open kitchen). The exercise underscores how stupid it is that all these ultimately pointless municipal entities can regulate business to this extent, and how much better it would be if the trucks could just pay a single regional fee and operate throughout the county under uniform rules. Hell, that’s how the US and EU work, but we can’t (genuinely cannot) do that within Erie County. 

#FreedomofSpeech

15 Feb

1. CNN has been offering up wall-to-wall coverage of the Carnival Triumph, which has limped its way back to the US after suffering a crippling engine fire on Monday. They were calling it, and treating it like, a “disaster”, but was was disastrous about it? What it amounted to was 4,000+ passengers and crew being wildly inconvenienced and placed under poor conditions of sanitation and comfort. But no one died, and everyone came home last night. This wasn’t a floating boxcar of detainees – it was a cruise ship that broke down, revealing perhaps that cruise ships need fewer nightclubs and more backup systems, as WKBW reporter John Borsa pointed out on Twitter. It wasn’t a disaster – it was a mass inconvenience. 

2. Remember the “proud racist South Buffalo guy“? He made headlines some months ago for complaining about how those minorities commit crimes, cause property values to decline, and destroy neighborhoods. He’s now been arrested for robbing a West Seneca bank

3.  A West Seneca high schooler misbehaved at a hockey game and was asked to leave. He later took to Twitter and cursed out the teacher who did it. He did not threaten the teacher, he did not mock or insult the teacher – he merely vented his frustration with a Tweet that read, in relevant part, “f-ck [Teacher’s Name] #freedomofspeech”. The school found out and gave this honor student who, it is said, has no great history of behavioral problems, a five-day suspension. 

Interestingly, the student’s hashtag wasn’t frivolous. A kid doesn’t shed his constitutional rights when he enters the school building, and he especially doesn’t lose them when he uses a public platform from home, off school grounds, and outside school time. This particular student did absolutely nothing wrong. He took to a social media site and vented about a teacher with whom he had just had a negative experience. The only punishment this student should receive, if any, should come from his parents. The teacher can confront the student directly and demand an apology, I suppose, but the school has absolutely no right and no business to regulate or ban speech – even profane speech – a student uses on social media outside school time and grounds. Believe it or not, this is a case with federal, Constitutional, ramifications.

4. A big national tea party group – FreedomWorks, which was until recently led by former Congressman Dick Armey – made a video depicting former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton receiving cunnilingus from a panda. The tea party, relegated to the very deepest fringes of the right wing, has devolved from an anti-Obama movement into a group promoting some pretty base, offensive sexist stuff. I’m not surprised, either

In one segment of the film, according to a former official who saw it, Brandon is seen waking from a nap at his desk. In what appears to be a dream or a nightmare, he wanders down a hallway and spots a giant panda on its knees with its head in the lap of a seated Hillary Clinton and apparently performing oral sex on the then-secretary of state. Two female interns at FreedomWorks were recruited to play the panda and Clinton. One intern wore a Hillary Clinton mask. The other wore a giant panda suit that FreedomWorks had used at protests to denounce progressives as panderers. (See herehere, and here.) Placing the panda in the video, a former FreedomWorks staffer says, was “an inside joke.” 

Another FreedomWorks staffer who worked there at the time confirms that “Yes, this video was created.” 

Days before the FreePAC event, the video was screened for staff. “My mouth was wide open,” a former official recalls. “‘What the hell is this?'” Several FreedomWorks staffers were outraged and stunned that Brandon, the group’s second-in-command after Kibbe, had overseen the video’s production, appeared in it, and intended to show this film at the conference, which would be attended by many social-conservative activists. They raised objections to the film. 

“How was that not some form of sexual harassment?” a former FreedomWorks official asks, noting that two female interns had been requested to act out a pretend sex scene. “And there were going to be thousands of Christian conservatives at this thing. This was a terrible lack of judgment.”

Brandon, a former FreedomWorks official says, defended the film, insisting it was creative and funny. But eventually a decision was made not to show the video at FreePAC. 

Armey says he didn’t became aware of the film until months later: “I heard they had made an obscene video mocking Hillary Clinton.” He says he was told the video showed Clinton having sex with an intern. “I asked another [FreedomWorks] guy if he had seen it,” Armey recalls. “He said, ‘I heard about it. I was traveling at the time. It was shown around the office.'” Armey adds, “There was a concern that this kind of behavior could land you in court. I was shocked at the ugly and bad taste.” 

Dick Armey is the guy who called Representative Barney Frank “Barney Fag”. Dick Armey is a horrible person, and “FreedomWorks” is a horrible organization. The news that they produced a video showing Hillary Clinton engaging in some form of bestiality is unsurprising.  After all, 15 years ago these same clowns were probably referring to her as “Hitlery Klintoon” over on Free Republic. 

5. Tesla is a company that manufactures and markets a gorgeous, all-electric luxury sedan. It recently contacted the New York Times to do a story showing off, in cold weather and real-life conditions, Tesla’s new network of high-capacity chargers placed at 200-mile intervals along the Northeast Corridor. It didn’t go well

Tesla CEO Elon Musk went ballistic, calling the review a “fake” in social media. This prompted the Times’ reporter, John Broder, to refute Musk’s assertions via the Times’ Wheels blog. Let’s swing back to the point that Tesla pushed this test to the Times, and that, 

This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a “normal use,” no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it.

A cold snap in the Northeast shouldn’t cause a state-of-the art $100,000 sedan, marketed as a regular car, to be unable to make 180 mile trip without pausing for an hour to recharge. Practically any car in America can easily make 300 miles before pausing for a 5 minute refueling stop. 

Soon, Musk took to Tesla’s corporate blog, where he challenged Broder’s assertions point by point, and uploaded what purport to be printouts of data the car recorded from Broder’s ride. Again, social media went nuts, calling out the Times for lying. Lying? 

First of all, let’s consider we have a Times reporter with no known axe to grind with Tesla or electrics in general who reported on his experiences trying to get a $100k car from Philadelphia to Boston. On the other hand, we have the CEO of a corporation and his public relations department trying to spin away the negative effects of the car’s failure to accomplish what the lowliest Honda Jazz can do. But also consider the fact that, in his blog, Musk purported to get inside Broder’s mind to ascribe motives to what he wrote. Consider, 

In Mr. Broder’s case, he simply did not accurately capture what happened and worked very hard to force our car to stop running.

Broder had once written an article bemoaning the various criticisms and chicken-and-egg problems with electrics, and Musk simply dismisses that as animus. 

As a result, we did not think to read his past articles and were unaware of his outright disdain for electric cars. We were played for a fool and as a result, let down the cause of electric vehicles. For that, I am deeply sorry.

Musk made this assertion: 

Cruise control was never set to 54 mph as claimed in the article, nor did he limp along at 45 mph. Broder in fact drove at speeds from 65 mph to 81 mph for a majority of the trip and at an average cabin temperature setting of 72 F.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that driving at speeds of 65 – 81 on national interstates is not unusual, and that setting the heat at 72 on a very cold day is perfectly normal behavior – stuff that a $100k sedan that is supposed to be a replacement car and not a superfluous frivolity for the rich should easily be able to accomplish – the statement is wholly misleading. Look at the data: 

He was driving at 0 MPH a whole lot more often than he was driving 80 MPH. Indeed, the data records exactly one momentary spike to over 80 MPH – to say that he was routinely exceeding the speed limit is simply misleading. And why bother offering up the data if you won’t bother to characterize it accurately? Broder responded at the Wheels blog, after New York Times Public Editor and former Buffalo News Editor-in-Chief Margaret Sullivan became involved. As to the speed discrepancy, Broder accurately suggests the speedometer was uncalibrated due to wheel size, 

I drove normally (at the speed limit or with prevailing traffic) when I thought it was prudent to do so. I do recall setting the cruise control to about 54 m.p.h., as I wrote. The log shows the car traveling about 60 m.p.h. for a nearly 100-mile stretch on the New Jersey Turnpike. I cannot account for the discrepancy, nor for a later stretch in Connecticut where I recall driving about 45 m.p.h., but it may be the result of the car being delivered with 19-inch wheels and all-season tires, not the specified 21-inch wheels and summer tires. That just might have affected the recorded speed, range, rate of battery depletion or any number of other parameters. Tesla’s data suggests I was doing slightly more than 50 over a stretch where the speed limit was 65. The traffic was heavy in that part of Connecticut, so cruise control was not usable, and I tried to keep the speed at 50 or below without impeding traffic.

Certainly, and as Tesla’s logs clearly show, much of my driving was at or well below the 65 m.p.h. speed limit, with only a single momentary spike above 80. Most drivers are aware that cars can speed up, even sometimes when cruise control is engaged, on downhill stretches.

Musk accused Broder of deliberately running down the battery during a stop at a Milford, CT plaza where Tesla had a supercharger located, 

When he first reached our Milford, Connecticut Supercharger, having driven the car hard and after taking an unplanned detour through downtown Manhattan to give his brother a ride, the display said “0 miles remaining.” Instead of plugging in the car, he drove in circles for over half a mile in a tiny, 100-space parking lot. When the Model S valiantly refused to die, he eventually plugged it in. On the later legs, it is clear Broder was determined not to be foiled again.

Of course, Musk is merely ascribing ill motives on Broder because he is now butthurt over the article. But here’s how Broder explains what happened, 

I drove around the Milford service plaza in the dark looking for the Supercharger, which is not prominently marked. I was not trying to drain the battery. (It was already on reserve power.) As soon as I found the Supercharger, I plugged the car in.

The stop in Manhattan was planned from the beginning and known to Tesla personnel all along. According to Google Maps, taking the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan (instead of crossing at the George Washington Bridge) and driving up the West Side Highway added only two miles to the overall distance from Newark, Del., to Milford, Conn.

Neither I nor the Model S ever visited “downtown Manhattan.”

As a lawyer, I’m trained to recognize BS when I see it, and when someone has a motive to exaggerate or mischaracterize evidence, and then does so, I’m skeptical of everything else they have to say about a matter. So it is with Mr. Musk, who goes beyond the data and labels Broder a liar who had it out for the Tesla from the get-go. Given a choice between believing the reporter and the company’s PR department, I’ll go with the Times. 

After all, Musk told Broder directly

Mr. Musk called me on Friday, before the article went up on the Web, to offer sympathy and regrets about the outcome of my test drive. He said that the East Coast charging stations should be 140 miles apart, not 200 miles, to take into account the traffic and temperature extremes in this part of the country.

Incidentally, CNN tried the same trip and had no problems whatsoever. Perhaps the temperatures had moderated, as evidenced by the snow-free photograph accompanying the article.

None of this is an indictment of the car, or even of the network of chargers. (As someone who puts lots of miles on two cars every year, I fail to see the allure of spending the equivalent of a Cheektowaga house to buy a car that has trouble making 200 miles before needing an hourlong break to charge up, but to each his own). But the tone of Musk’s response to a negative experience that Broder had, and the malicious way in which he mischaracterized what happened and ascribed to Broder a hostile state of mind, I echo what media guru Jeff Jarvis Tweeted late Thursday, 

 

Truth Vigilanteism

13 Jan

The New York Times’ public editor has an earnest question to ask you:

I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about…

…[for example,] on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney often says President Obama has made speeches “apologizing for America,” a phrase to which Paul Krugman objected in a December 23 column arguing that politics has advanced to the “post-truth” stage.

As an Op-Ed columnist, Mr. Krugman clearly has the freedom to call out what he thinks is a lie. My question for readers is: should news reporters do the same?

If so, then perhaps the next time Mr. Romney says the president has a habit of apologizing for his country, the reporter should insert a paragraph saying, more or less:

“The president has never used the word ‘apologize’ in a speech about U.S. policy or history. Any assertion that he has apologized for U.S. actions rests on a misleading interpretation of the president’s words.”

To me, getting to the truth of a matter asserted is part & parcel of a journalist’s job. Anything less is nothing more than mindless transcription of spin and press releases. It’s as if the Times is asking whether doctors should treat patients, or whether lawyers should represent clients.  For years, it’s been a given that the fourth estate acts as a BS detector for a populace seeking information. Enough with the phony “some say” strawman, enough with letting people get away with repetitive lying.

Should the New York Times, the paper of record, be a “truth vigilante”? It should never have been otherwise.

Tea Party Taxes and Ersatz Paywalls

11 Apr

Dear Tea Party “Leaders”:

It’s sort of silly to complain about your taxes (especially your federal taxes) if you don’t bother to pay them. Also, relying on the expert legal advice of “crazy guy with website” is likely going to get you in trouble.

Love, BP

Dear Buffalo News:

When the Tweet linking to the story linked-to above was first sent, the entire article was present on the website. I read it. Now, it’s only an excerpt, and urges me to buy the paper. Well, the paper is off newsstands now, but the article remains excerpted. Your attempt to get me to buy the paper by withholding certain articles from the website is dumb. It’s 2011, and while the New York Times is getting pilloried for its sieve-like paywall, your clumsy ersatz paywall is stupid and serves not to make me want to rush out and buy the paper, but instead makes me either angry (idiots won’t let me read it!) or ambivalent (must not have been that important).

Love, BP

DigiPouch

9 Dec

It’s not Wikileaks’ fault and it’s not their problem.

The fault lies with the individual who leaked the information to Wikileaks knowing full well that they’d publish it.  Wikileaks is merely the repository – the middleman in the whole thing.  But…

What I reject is the notion that there’s some sort of earnest ideology or transparency ethos behind what Wikileaks is doing.  The only motivation I can see with Wikileaks is the promotion of Wikileaks and the enrichment of Julian Assange, who until recently banked with the less-secretive-than-before-but-still-not-exactly-transparent Swiss banking system. Everyone knows his name, and governments’ secret services are out to get him.

Assange has formed an organization that is a massive, closed, autocratic hypocrisy and I can’t wait for the day that someone on the inside punks Wikileaks by exposing what they do and how they do it. Turnabout is fair play, and someone should watch the watchmen.

The most tedious arguments about all of this, and the one that I reject out-of-hand is the notion that everything – every piece of information and every governmental act or omission needs to be done in public.  Do I have a right to know if the government or its personnel or contractors are engaging in criminal behavior?  Yes.  You have that right, and it is the responsibility of the media to expose crimes whenever and wherever they occur.  Governments should not use secrecy and claims of state security to hide criminal activity – whether it be war crimes or petty ones.

But do you have a right to see diplomatic cables where a foreign service grunt uses insulting terms about a foreign leader?  Do you have a right to see candid discussions between field offices and Washington where they discuss facts and strategy?  Or when they discuss theories or rumors? No, you probably don’t.  You don’t have a right to know all of the details of a common crime, either, if keeping that information secret will help the police to identify and prosecute the responsible party.

It’s no different from comparing what the New York Times does to what the National Enquirer does.  The former reveals public secrets, and the latter reveals private secrets.  One is important and the other isn’t.

Now, you could cherry-pick revelations in those cables and argue that it would be “important” to know the facts contained therein.  But the intended audience for those bits of information are the diplomatic corps.  What benefit is derived from placing all of the information into the public domain without discrimination while these people are working on dealing with those very problems?

Let’s say a diplomatic cable reveals that Shell infiltrated Nigerian oil ministries and engaged in espionage.  That’s criminal behavior and deserves to be exposed.  But is this sort of information about Muammar Qaddafi important for the public to know, or is it strictly National Enquirer junk?

The whole idea that Assange is doing a valid public service is nonsense.  This isn’t the Pentagon Papers, which specifically revealed illegalities and lies that dragged and kept the US in a protracted war.  I think that the members of the US foreign service have a right to engage in communications with each other with some reasonable expectation of privacy.  I believe that oftentimes information concerning world affairs should be kept secret for strategic or tactical reasons – unless there is a compelling public interest to justify its revelation which outweighs the importance of continued secrecy.

But Wikileaks never engaged in that inquiry.

Usually, when there is a conflict between the public’s right to know and the communicator’s right to privacy, a balancing of those two equities takes place so that revelations are not made carelessly or recklessly.  The government obviously needs to better control who has access to what information.  Clearly, the person who released this information to Wikileaks must be prosecuted under the laws and rules prohibiting that activity, if constitutional.

And in the end, the real hacking going on with Wikileaks is a legal one. As the Economist points out,

My gripe against Mr Assange is that he takes advantage of the protections of liberal democracies, but refuses to submit himself to them. If he wants to use the libel protections guaranteed by New York State, then he should live in New York, and commit himself to all of the safety and consequences of America’s constitution. If he wants to use Sweden’s whistleblower laws, then he should return to Sweden and let its justice system take its course. This, as we’ve written in the paper, is what distinguishes Mr Assange from Daniel Ellsberg. Mr Ellsberg did not flee America after releasing the Pentagon Papers; he stayed here and stood trial. Regardless of what you think about Mr Ellsberg’s motives, he followed the basic tenets of civil disobedience: break a law, then publicly accept the consequences. Mr Assange just protects himself.

Julian Assange has created a legal structure that allows him to answer only to his own conscience. This is an extraordinarily clever hack of the world’s legal systems. But it makes his pretense at moral authority a little hard to take seriously. And it also points toward a solution. If America feels threatened by WikiLeaks, then it should lean on its allies—Sweden, Iceland and Belgium—to strip the organisation of the protections it so carefully gathers as it shifts its information around the world. Mr Assange has suggested that he might be hounded all the way to Russia or Cuba. If he has to take all of his servers with him, it wil be harder for him to act so boldly.

By cooperating with Assange’s group, certain newspapers throughout the world hope to stanch their own growing irrelevance.

Mogadishu West

29 Sep

Thanks to the New York Times, the people of the world have learned that Buffalo is a terrible and strange place, devoid of regular people or normal life.  It is squalor and despair.  It is a civic existential crisis.

Empty of shops, it is instead full of empty people leading rudderless, meaningless lives where the only positive trend is in the number of Paladino signs being sought by flannel-clad, snowbound, axe-murdering rubes.

A city where even ennui comes to die, Buffalo is best reported on from the confines of one’s hotel room – a second-rate Priceline mainstay in a third-rate hellhole.  The remainder is best seen from the back seat of a cab, or the parking lot of a Rite Aid.

I can only presume that Ms. Dominus’ cab ride shuttled her from BNIA to the Hyatt and back.  Should she ever have the misfortune of being assigned another story on the eastern shore of Lake Erie, I have sent her an invitation by email to show her that there’s more to Buffalo than Paladino, empty Main Street storefronts, and longer-form versions of Gertrude Stein quips.

The Back-to-School Five-Posts-in-One Sale

8 Sep

A few articles for you to take a look at and consider:

1. Chris Collins is a plucky, stubborn sort who likes to “run government like a business that tells everyone to go fuck themselves and take me to court if you don’t like it.”  The Buffalo News scores his head-butting so far.  I suspect that the Collins administration acts as a sort of real-life example of what a Paladino governorship might look like.  A lot of tough, obnoxious talk – a lot of demonization of enemies both real and imagined – efforts to change things through confrontation and litigation, rather than compromise – and in the end, not very much really ends up changing.  We’d not be changing the game – just the way we play it.

2. NYPA is to keep in WNY more money from energy generated in WNY. This is a good thing. Specifically, the proceeds of NYPA’s sale of unused hydro power would go into a fund to help economic development in Erie and Niagara Counties.  Predictably, there is disagreement as to how much money we’re really talking about.  The consensus seems to be that it’s “a lot”.

3.  In Artvoice, Bruce Fisher wonders why it is that the Buffalo Niagara Partnership – what passes for our local “chamber of commerce” and is charged with, among other things, attracting businesses to this region – talks about how badly it sucks here with such regularity.  His conclusion:

If neutral outside observers praise our cultural, architectural, and landscape fabric, and also praise our cost-effectiveness, and note that there is positive economic growth even as our population shrinks, and that there could be more if we clean up our water, then why is the messaging from our business community so relentlessly negative?

The answer, simply, is that there are two economies here. There is real economy of the producer, the consumer, the merchant, and the much-maligned public sector; the latter, all told, constitutes about one-fifth of the workforce and the payroll. That’s the economy that seems to work positively.

And then there is the economy of those in the business world here who live by the big public project—the bankers and their various support personnel, the engineering and construction firms, and about 3,000 workers (out of a regional workforce of over 550,000) whose leading voices tell this community that massive, disruptive change is needed, or else, as the Partnership’s bow-tied leader recently said, we should all move to Florida, which is the home of America’s most enormous object lesson in what happens when you turn the economy over to real-estate developers and bankers.

I don’t agree with everything Fisher says in his piece, nor with his breakdown of, essentially “good” and “bad” development in Buffalo, and I think he’s ignoring the pervasive and disproportionately strong influence that the big-money foundations have in this community and what gets done here, but it’s a thought-provoking piece, nonetheless.

4. While the commander of American forces in Afghanistan practically begs some asshat in Florida to not hold “burn a Koran day” on September 11th because it’s sort of pissing off the 100% Muslim population of American-occupied Afghanistan, Feisel Abdul Rauf writes in the New York Times in defense of the Park51 community center planned for a site a few blocks away from New York’s World Trade Center site.  The protestations against Park51 stink like an anti-Muslim Kristallnacht more and more each day.

5. The New York Times conducts an “analysis” into Carl Paladino’s status as a big-time Albany insider who likes to play a game of make-believe about being an apolitical tea party activist rich guy.  Seems similar to the analysis done by writers at WNYMedia.net back in March and April.

Paterson: Implicated

26 Mar
New York State Governor David Paterson opening...
Image via Wikipedia

Paterson is in bigger trouble, and deeper in the scandal involving his aide’s alleged battery of his girlfriend, than earlier thought.

Gov. David A. Paterson personally helped draft a statement last month that he hoped would be endorsed by a woman involved in a domestic dispute with one of his top aides, proposing language asserting that there had been no violence in the encounter, according to three people with knowledge of the governor’s role.

This is just insane.