Tag Archives: #Occupy

Happy Christmas. War is Over.

20 Dec

Posting has been light because everything comes across as somewhat insignificant lately. David Bellavia is filling in for Sandy Beach on WBEN this week, and he had me on for two segments to talk about guns, mental health, assault weapons, and Newtown. Bellavia is about as conservative as anyone can get, and we disagree about almost everything – but he is rational, and willing to engage in a discussion. This is a good thing. 

I saw another WBEN host asked his listeners why they own guns. One of the popular answers was, “because it’s my right”. Well, you also have a right to free press, but you don’t write for a newspaper, much less own one. You also have a right to freely exercise your religion, but fewer and fewer people do so, much less lead a parish. You have a right to freely assemble and to petition your government, yet people are woefully disconnected from government lately. 

It also didn’t go unnoticed that people’s attention spans quickly pivoted from what happened in Newtown to the revised terms of service for a cost-free social photo sharing mobile application. Way to keep your eyes on the ball, America. 

My friend Brendan Burke posted this to his Facebook timeline a few days ago, and I’ll leave it here. I think there’s a lot of truth in it. 

This is a public service announcement for anybody who is paranoid about their right to bear arms being taken away as a result of strict regulation. Especially to those from the “from my cold dead hands” camp: Your country has already been taken, my friends. Bank of America, Citi, Chase, Goldman Sachs, Walmart, McDonalds, Exxon. You do not own anything. You lease or rent, you live in hock, your police are militarized, your children are filled with fear and mistrust. You can not fly without taking your shoes off, and then get banged out financially for a carry on bag. Your jobs are outsourced, your wages are stagnant and in many cases dwindling as the cost of living rises, your unions are shot, your healthcare is crushing you with debt, your school is crushing you with debt. You have ZERO ownership of your everyday lives and as a result, have less freedom today than you’ve ever known. Your evil government doesn’t need guns to defeat you, and your guns are no match for the pervasive and poisonous effect that Wall Street has on your congress.

You have lost your country, precisely because you thought your gun was protecting you and your family. You will never win a pitched battle against what the military industrial complex (that you pay into) can deliver in 3 minutes right to your home. In my opinion, its time to use that great big beautiful mind that has been afforded to you by living in such a provident country and dream all night and day of ways to strategically take it back from Wall Street and those moneyed lobbies that infiltrate congress and those whom you elect to “lead” you.

The Morning Grumpy – 5/8/12

8 May

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

Credit - Sarah Emerson @Society6

1. If you think there will be bank operations in the HSBC Tower in downtown Buffalo in 2014, I’ve got a new Peace Bridge to sell you. HSBC is slowly selling off operations and business units and there isn’t much left to keep them in Buffalo at this point. This is a big deal and the incremental reporting on these sell-offs seems to be tamping down the regional concern.

It looks like the mortgage service center in Depew will soon be closed.

The 172,630-square-foot building at Walden Avenue and Dick Road, which HSBC leases, has a total of about 1,000 employees, but about 320 of them work for other parts of the bank, supporting commercial and other lines of business that are not connected with the mortgage unit. Brazil said the bank does “intend to remain in that building for the time being,” but he wouldn’t say how long that may be or how long the lease is for.

As HSBC sells off business units, sheds employees, and relocates teams to various locations around the country, we’re quickly approaching a day when Buffalo’s largest office building will be nearly empty, possibly within two years. The giant suckhole you hear forming is the coming collapse of the downtown commercial real estate market accompanied by the massive hit to regional morale when the tallest building in the city goes dark.

Is anyone working on a plan? I’d tell you what the Mayor is doing about it, but I haven’t received a callback from anyone working in the administration for nearly 10 months. I’m sure he’s busy figuring out how to fuck up the outer harbor.

Is the council doing anything?  They’re still bickering over which kickboxer or turtle enthusiast will replace Mickey Kearns in the South District.

So, no.

2. The 1% are delusional.

Some unknown but alarming number of ultra-rich Americans are now basically totally delusional and completely divorced from reality. This is now an inescapable fact, confirmed by multiple media accounts of billionaire thought and an entire special issue of the New York Times Magazine.

Here’s a brief list of insane things that are apparently common knowledge among the billionaire class:

  • That President Obama and the Democratic Party have treated wealthy finance industry titans maliciously and unfairly.
  • That the fact that they are perversely wealthy and growing richer during a period of mass unemployment and staggering debt is a sign that the economy is functioning correctly.
  • That poor people, and not the finance industry, are responsible for the financial crisis and subsequent recession.
  • That the ultra-wealthy are wealthy because they are smarter and work harder than everybody else, and that they are resented for their success.
  • That the ultra-wealthy in general, and finance industry executives in particular, are the victims of widespread prejudice akin to that faced by ethnic minorities.

The most fascinating thing to me is that they are able to convince a sizable chunk of Republican America that these things are true.

3. Stephen King is filthy rich and he wants to be taxed more…damn it!

Mitt Romney has said, in effect, “I’m rich and I don’t apologize for it.” Nobody wants you to, Mitt. What some of us want — those who aren’t blinded by a lot of bullshit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money — is for you to acknowledge that you couldn’t have made it in America without America. That you were fortunate enough to be born in a country where upward mobility is possible (a subject upon which Barack Obama can speak with the authority of experience), but where the channels making such upward mobility possible are being increasingly clogged. That it’s not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. Not fair? It’s un-fucking-American is what it is.

I don’t want you to apologize for being rich; I want you to acknowledge that in America, we all should have to pay our fair share. That our civics classes never taught us that being American means that — sorry, kiddies-you’re on your own. That those who have received much must be obligated to pay — not to give, not to “cut a check and shut up,” in Governor Christie’s words, but to pay — in the same proportion. That’s called stepping up and not whining about it. That’s called patriotism, a word the Tea Partiers love to throw around as long as it doesn’t cost their beloved rich folks any money.

Wow.

4. The House GOP introduces a budget to fix America. Holy shit, this thing is a doozy. The “Sequester Replacement Act” authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan slashes social programs while increasing defense spending. Do the Republicans know it’s an election year?

Fully one-fourth of the House GOP spending cuts come from programs directly benefiting the poor, such as Medicaid, food stamps, the Social Services Block Grant, and a child tax credit claimed by working immigrants. Federal workers would have to contribute an additional 5 percent of their salaries toward their pensions, while people whose incomes rise after receiving coverage subsidies under the new health care law would lose some or all of their benefits.

The budget-cutting drive is designed to head off a looming 10 percent, $55-billion budget cut set to strike the Pentagon on Jan. 1 because of the failure of last year’s deficit “supercommittee” to strike a deal. The Obama administration and lawmakers in both parties warn the reductions would harm readiness and weapons procurement, and reduce troop levels.

The House Appropriations Committee bill released Monday includes $519.2 billion for the fiscal 2013 base budget and $88.5 billion for Afghanistan and other counterterrorism activities. That’s $1.1 billion more than the current level and $3.1 billion more than Mr. Obama requested.

To recap, the Republicans drove the American economy to the brink of global collapse last summer during the debt ceiling negotiations, agreed to the Super-committee idea, submarined that effort, and now wish to take away Grandma’s Meals on Wheels program to fund Israeli missile programs and high altitude unmanned aerial vehicles?  The GOP plan would cut food stamps for 2 million people and reduce the same benefits for 44 million others. Nearly 300,000 school children would lose free school meals and hundreds of thousands could lose their Medicaid or CHIP coverage. GOP 2012! 

5. The media is bored with the #Occupy movement, which means we’ll be hearing a lot less about income inequality, the gender wage gap, corporate greed, corruption, and other inconvenient truths.

As a new report indicates, Occupy has been central to driving media stories about income inequality in America. Late last week, Radio Dispatch’s John Knefel compiled a report for media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), which illustrates Occupy’s success: Media focus on the movement in the past half year, according to the report, has been almost directly proportional to the attention paid to income inequality and corporate greed by mainstream outlets. During peak media coverage of the movement last October, mentions of the term “income inequality” increased “fourfold.”

The movement helped set the tone for President Obama’s renewed focus on these issues as the re-election campaign ramped up and helped him demonstrate a semblance of a backbone when dealing with Republicans these last few months. However…ta

As mentions of “Occupy Wall Street” or “Occupy movement” waned in early 2012, so too have mentions of “income inequality” and, to an even greater extent, “corporate greed.” The trend is true for four leading papers (New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times), news programs on the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), cable (MSNBC, CNN, Fox News) and NPR, according to searches of the Nexis news media database. Google Trends data also indicates that from January to March, the phrases “income inequality” and “corporate greed” declined in volume of both news stories and searches.

The national media tells most of America what to be concerned with at any point in time. Once they pull the plug on the attention or outrage machine…*POOF* we no longer give a collective shit. Looking for followup stories on the BP Oil Spill? The Haiti earthquake? Japanese tsunami? Etc.? You’ll have to wait for the anniversary of the event for a quick look on the nightly news and maybe, if we’re lucky, an overwrought and emotional human interest piece on one of the morning shows.

Fact Of The Day: Scientologists warn that reading the Xenu story without proper authorization could cause pneumonia.

Quote Of The Day: “You get what you get and you don’t get upset” – My 3 Year Old Daughter, Josie

Video Of The Day: “Islam, the Quran, and the Five Pillars All Without a Flamewar: Crash Course World History #13” – Crash Course, A brilliant YouTube channel

Laugh Of The Day: “Muffins” – Bill Burr

Song Of The Day: “Cool Jerk” – The Capitols

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

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

The Morning Grumpy 5/3/12

3 May

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

 

1. On Tuesday, Alan wrote a blog post about President Obama starting off the general election season on offense, rather than playing defense against Mitt Romney. I replied with the following comment:

Within weeks, the Republicans will put his ass right back on defense. They’ll attack him where he is strongest, it’s the Rove strategy.

The killing of Bin Laden will be discredited and conspiracy theories around it will make John Kerry’s Swift Boat fiasco seem tame.

Well, I appreciate a good opportunity to pat myself on the back. Within 24 hours of the release of that Obama2012 campaign video, the swiftboating of President Obama began.

On Tuesday night, Veterans for a Strong America, a political action group led by Joel Arends, a lawyer and veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, released an ad attacking Obama for exploiting the killing of Osama bin Laden.

I’m still a little unclear, is Obama a socialist terrorist hugger who is always apologizing for America or a football spiking braggart? Anyhow, Hannity, Limbaugh and the rest of the right wing media mafia will continue pounding this home until election day. Next up? How Mitt Romney actually saved General Motors and the American Auto Industry over the objections of the Obama Administration.

2. Keep buying those Apple products!

Apple currently keeps about two-thirds of its $97.6 billion in profits abroad.

While some of Apple’s monumental success is due to the undeniable popularity of its products, the Times reports that Apple “has devised corporate strategies that take advantage of gaps in the tax code.” This has ultimately saved the company (and thus cost the public) as much as $2.4 billion a year, according to a recent study by a former Treasury Department economist.

Apple fights for favorable tax policies in the United States with a formidable army of lobbyists. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Apple spent $2.3 million on lobbying last year and its lobbying expenditures have been steadily increasing over the past decade – in 2000, it only spent $360,000 on lobbying.

What a great American company.

3. 40 years of workers being left behind. AKA, the reason behind the Occupy movement.

From the article:

Particularly striking is the fact that for years leading up to the 1970s, productivity gains were broadly shared, as theory predicts. Then the linkage abruptly broke. What explains the shift?

Yeah, what could it have been?

“The continuing growth of the wage gap between high and middle earners is the result of various laissez-faire policies (acts of omission as well as commission) including globalization, deregulation, privatization, eroded unionization, and weakened labor standards,” he writes. “The gap between the very highest earners — the top 1 percent — and all other earners, including other high earners, reflects the escalation of CEO and other managers’ compensation and the growth of compensation in the financial sector.”

The article and the study it references note that this isn’t a global problem. It’s an American problem.

4. Here’s an article which eloquently supports a point I’ve been trying to make for at least a year. Why Facebook won’t matter in five years.

Facebook is the triumphant winner of social companies.  It will go public in a few weeks and probably hit $140 billion in market capitalization.  Yet, it loses money in mobile and has rather simple iPhone and iPad versions of its desktop experience.  It is just trying to figure out how to make money on the web – as it only had $3.7 billion in revenues in 2011 and its revenues actually decelerated in Q1 of this year relative to Q4 of last year.  It has no idea how it will make money in mobile.

Facebook was never meant to be a mobile company and they don’t have the core competencies required to become a mobile company. Now, they are about to become a public company, which means they will slowly curtail innovation and focus on shareholder return and risk mitigation. They will innovate, like most large public technology companies, through acquisitions. Even then, the street will judge those acquisitions on the short term and turn bearish on the stock if it becomes too reliant upon the strategy, which is why Mark Zuckerberg raced to acquire Instagram prior to Facebook’s IPO.

Will someone build a better social network? Probably not, but someone will invent a mobile or augmented reality technology that makes traditional social networks obsolete.

5. How would America be different if rational, realist adults were in charge, rather than emotional reactionaries?

#7. A normal relationship with Israel. Realists have long been skeptical of the “special relationship” with Israel, and they would have worked to transform it into a normal relationship. The United States would have remained committed to helping Israel were its survival ever threatened, but instead of acting like “Israel’s lawyer,” Washington would have used its leverage to prevent Israel from endlessly expanding settlements in the Occupied Territories. An even-handed U.S. approach would have taken swift advantage of the opportunity created by the 1993 Oslo Accords, and might well have achieved the elusive two-state solution that U.S. presidents have long sought. At a minimum, realists could hardly have done worse than the various “un-realists” who’ve mismanaged this relationship for the past 20 years.

Someday, we might return to a rational foreign policy, but not right now it seems.

 

Fact Of The Day: Homosexual behavior is found in at least 1,500 species of mammal, fish, reptile, bird, and even invertebrate. I hope those fish know that Rick Santorum believes they’re going to hell.

Quote Of The Day: “Death gives meaning to our lives. It gives importance and value to time. Time would become meaningless if there were too much of it.” – Ray Kurzweil

Video Of The Day: A Real Life Robinson Crusoe

Laugh Of The Day: “Grapes vs. Grapefruit” – Gary Gulman

Song Of The Day: “The Way I Walk” – The Cramps

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

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

The Morning Grumpy – 1/23/2012

23 Jan

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

Flo Rida, “Low

1. The Buffalo News story about 97 Rock’s morning show left me asking a few questions.

Since late 2008 — Norton has been broadcasting most of his morning show — announcing school closings, celebrating Bills victories and bashing local leaders — from Florida.

“We were hesitant to talk about this story because I don’t want to offend listeners who think that somehow I’ve given up on Buffalo,” Norton, 55, said over the phone from his home in southwest Florida. “That’s not the case at all. I came down here for good reason.”

What’s his reason for being in Florida?

For years, Norton’s father Wallace “Wally” Norton lived in Cape Haze, Fla., where he had moved after losing his wife, Bertha, to cancer in 1995.

“[Barb and I] had been going down here almost every month checking on him, getting him to the doctor. He asked if we could take care of him, because he didn’t want to go into a nursing home,” Norton said. “It’s what I had to do. He was my father.”

Well, I know I would do the same thing if I were in Larry’s shoes. Family always comes first with me as I’m sure it does with you, but that isn’t the issue.

Larry’s father passed away nearly two years ago, but Larry is still in Florida. Noting the emphasis I put on Larry’s quote at the beginning of this story, why didn’t the reporter ask him why he is still there? Why has Larry not moved back to the city “he hasn’t given up on”?

Norton may very well have a good reason and I suppose he doesn’t owe anyone an explanation about his residency. However, if a reporter is going to do this story, asking why he isn’t back here full time seems like the logical followup, doesn’t it?  Since Larry tried to assuage concerns of his listeners who might be upset that he doesn’t live here anymore, the reporter should ask why he doesn’t. Half-assed reporting annoys me, even when it’s a silly little story like this.

2. The intellectual dishonesty by the executives featured in this story is simply breathtaking. In short, why does Apple make the iPhone overseas?

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

The president’s question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.

Really, I wonder what they mean when they say “flexibility, diligence and industrial skills”? Oh, here it is!

Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

Ah, yes, the lament of America’s wilting middle class. If only we were willing to live in tiny dormitories, working in hostile conditions, exposed to unregulated and dangerous chemicals, paid less than $17 per day, forced to work 16-18 hour shifts six days per week and forced to sign a pledge to not commit suicide due to the live/work conditions…we’d all have jobs from our benevolent corporate masters.

I guess we’re just not “flexible” or “diligent” or “industrious” enough. America’s new motto should be “Maximizing Shareholder Value”.

3. Next time you hear Newt Gingrich talking about Barack Obama being the “food stamp President” or hear other Republican candidates imply that the unemployed are lazy, maybe watch one of these videos. People waiting on lines for hours on end for the chance to apply for a job. This is America. People with real problems, living lives of quiet desperation in search of their piece of the American Dream. Yes, Newt is running for President on a platform of ridiculing a program which kept people from starving during a recession they had little part in causing. GOP 2012!

4. The fruits of abstinence-only sex education in schools.

A new government study suggests a lot of teenage girls are clueless about their chances of getting pregnant. In a survey of thousands of teenage mothers who had unintended pregnancies, about a third said they didn’t use birth control because they didn’t believe they could pregnant.

Nationally, teen pregnancy rates have been falling, but they are up significantly in the south and southwest regions of the country. Broadly speaking and due largely to religious influences on school curriculum, these regions are leaders in the promotion of abstinence-only sex education in schools. Where kids are taught about birth control and STDs, pregnancy rates are lower. Big shock.

5. Respected journalism professor and media critic, Jay Rosen, linked to a story the other day which highlighted the polarized media that now influences elections and politics.

With just hours remaining before South Carolina’s Republican primary, it’s clear to campaign strategists and voters alike that the revolution in how Americans get their news has dramatically altered the political process. There’s more campaign news and commentary out there than ever before, but more and more citizens are tucking themselves inside information silos where they see mainly what they already agree with. The result, according to voters, campaign strategists and a raft of studies that track users’ news choices, is an electorate in which conservatives and liberals often have not only their own opinions but also their own sets of facts, making it harder than ever to approach common ground.

The reporter rarely, if ever, asks the $64,000 question. What role did we play in this and why? Did we drive them away? Until editors ask themselves that question rather than blaming the audience, newspapers will grow increasingly irrelevant. If Marc ever puts my WNYMedia archives back online, I’ll link to the dozens of articles I’ve written about his issue over the years. It merits serious discussion in this one newspaper town.

Fact of The Day: Keep buying that cheap shit at Wal-Mart, if you hate America. The world’s biggest retailer, U.S.-based Wal-Mart was responsible for $27 billion in U.S. imports from China in 2006 and 11% of the growth of the total U.S. trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2006. Wal-Mart’s trade deficit with China alone eliminated nearly 200,000 U.S. jobs in this period.

Quote Of The Day: “The business of government is justice” – Millicent Fenwick

Song Of The Day: “Girls In The Backroom” – Ike Reilly

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]gmail.com

Bill Moyers On Inequality

16 Jan

Bill Moyers, also known as “America’s Conscience” , returned to the public airwaves this week with his new show, Moyers & Company.

Moyers & Company Generic Promo from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

He came back with a progressive bang; airing segments on engineered income inequality, Occupy Wall Street, and the political system that birthed both of those outcomes. It was the most intelligent and thought-provoking television I’ve watched since, well, the last time Bill Moyers was on the air.

His segment on Occupy Wall Street was the best I’ve seen since the movement began. It’s amazing what a a journalist can do when given 15 minutes to tell a story without multiple pundits arguing over the top of the content.

Moyers’s closing essay was fantastic.

Waking up is right. Waking up to the reality that inequality matters. It matters because what we’re talking about is what it takes to live a decent life. If you get sick without health coverage, inequality matters. If you’re the only breadwinner and out of work, inequality matters. If your local public library closes down and you can’t afford to buy books on your own, inequality matters. If budget cuts mean your child has to pay to play on the school basketball team or to sing in the chorus or march in the band, inequality matters. If you lose your job as you’re about to retire, inequality matters. And if the financial system collapses and knocks the props from beneath your pension, inequality matters.

I grew up in a working class family. We were among the poorest in town, but I was rich in public goods.

I went to a good public school, played sandlot ball in a good public park, had access to a good public library, drove down a good public highway to a good public college, all made possible by people I never met. There was an unwritten bargain among the generations — we didn’t all get the same deal, but we did get civilization.

That bargain is being shredded. The occupiers of Wall Street understand this. You could tell from their slogans. A fellow young enough to be my grandson wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the words: “The system’s not broken. It’s fixed.” That’s right. Rigged. And that’s why so many are so angry. Not at wealth itself, but at the crony capitalists who resorts to tricks, loopholes, and hard, cold cash for politicians to make sure insiders prosper and then pull up the ladder behind them.

Yes, Americans are waking up. To how they’re being made to pay for Wall Street’s malfeasance and Washington’s complicity. Paying with stagnant wages and lost jobs, with slashing cuts to their benefits and to their social services. And waking up to the grotesque Supreme Court decision defining a corporation as a person, although it doesn’t eat, breath, make love or sing, or take care of children and aging parents. Waking up to how campaign contributions corrupt our elections; to the fact that if speech is money, no money means no speech.

So the collective cry has gone up loud and clear: enough’s enough. We won’t, as I said, know for a while if this is just a momentary cry of pain; or whether it’s a movement that, like the Abolitionists and Suffragettes, the populists and workers of another era, or the Civil Rights movement of our time, gathers force until the powers-that-be can no longer sustain the inequality, the injustice and yes, the immorality of winner-take-all politics.

Welcome back, Mr. Moyers. Welcome back.

The Morning Grumpy – 1/6/2012

6 Jan

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

1. WGRZ gave some coverage to the Buffalo Cash Mob effort last night on the 11PM news. More importantly, a quality local business received some earned media coverage to raise brand awareness.

“If they have a good time than hopefully they will tell someone else,” says Scott Wisz, owner of Chow Chocolat.  “You know that’s how we like to grow our business…I think we’re more of a word-of-mouth type venture. If people came here and had a good experience than hopefully they will tell their friends. And that’s really what we’re hoping for.”

This “Cash Mob” event will take place from 4pm-6pm on Friday, January 6, 2011 at Chow Chocolat, located at 715 Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo.

When a small business makes an investment in our community, we should reward their investment with our own. That’s the entire point of this effort. Do you want more local business in Buffalo? Do you want to see more retailers opening up in the City of Buffalo? Well, here’s how you can help make it happen. Support them and support Buffalo First!

Just to make things clear for everyone, I make no money nor receive any goods or services in exchange for organizing this effort and neither does Artvoice. This is simply a way of thanking entrepreneurs for showing the courage to open or maintain a storefront in a difficult economic time.

2. The Cuomo Billion dollar pledge to Buffalo is nice, but a bit misguided.

Cuomo’s comments came a day after he unveiled a $1 billion economic-development package for Buffalo and possibly some area communities over the next five years. The money and tax breaks are to be spent on companies willing to invest $5 billion in expansion or relocation efforts.

“I told everyone today this is not a blank check. We want jobs. We want leverage, and this is for new business opportunities,” Cuomo said.

If the local council does not find businesses willing to locate, the money won’t be spent, the governor said.

While relocating businesses to Buffalo should be part of a regional economic development strategy, it shouldn’t be THE strategy. We need sustainable, headquarters-based industry in Buffalo. No more back offices, no more secondary or tertiary datacenters, no more regional offices or secondary manufacturing plants for businesses headquartered in other areas of the country. That type of development is susceptible to whims of corporations looking to trim costs and increase margins.

How about we carve out a small portion of this money to develop regional incubators or startup accelerators for technology?  Not the type of technology found in biomedical or pharmaceutical research companies which can take years upon years to produce results, but angel and venture stage funding for software and web entrepreneurs. Perhaps focus on utilizing our darkened manufacturing facilities to attract companies looking for space and funding for small, advanced manufacturing processes? If we really have a billion dollars at our disposal, let’s not just focus on sending Tom Kucharski and the folks from Buffalo Niagara Enterprise around the country with pamphlets and a wad of cash for bribes. Let’s build our own economy.

As Paul Graham once said, “If you could get the right ten thousand people to move from Silicon Valley to Buffalo, Buffalo would become Silicon Valley.” He footnotes this by saying we could probably turn Buffalo around with 500 people or less. If they were the right kind of people. Put some money on the table for people to come here and DEVELOP business rather than relocating businesses at a high cost.

Incidentally, how pissed off are the people in Rochester? Kodak is going out of business, they face significant challenges of their own and their former Mayor is the Lieutenant Governor, which you would think would give them the inside track on state funding. Including the monies handed out during the Regional Economic Development competitions late last year, the current scorecard is $1.1 Billion for Buffalo and $68 Million for Rochester.

3. A Canadian comedy troupe has seen enough of our Republican Presidential candidates and they’ve decided to throw their toques in the ring with an announcement that they are forming their own American political party.

Beauty.

Follow The Canada Party on Twitter.

 

4. Jay Rosen on the real importance of the Iowa caucuses, reaffirming media rituals.

My suggestion is that it would be more profitable to treat the Iowa Caucuses as a “ritual,” rather than an informational or news event. There may be a modicum of information emerging from the caucuses themselves; they may tell us something–a little bit–about the relative standing of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Michelle Bachmann. But caucus coverage is more profitably viewed as a campaign ritual, in which the tribe of political reporters (like Chuck Todd or Mark Halperin) and pundits (an E.J. Dionne or a David Brooks) and pollsters (like, say, Frank Luntz) and operatives (or former operatives like James Carville or Donna Brazille) claim interpretive rights over the election of 2012.

Every four years they gather in Iowa to affirm that their way of seeing is the way to see a presidential campaign. They say they are bringing you news of what happened in Iowa. But what they’re really doing is maintaining their little society of insiders across yet another election cycle. That is what rituals do. They preserve community over time

The theater of it all is almost too much to bear.

5. Corporate profits have rebounded to pre-recession levels, but unemployment is still high and corporate tax revenue has not yet rebounded to pre-recession levels.

Why? because fuck you, that’s why.

Corporate tax revenue has plummeted for several reasons, but one of the big ones is the growth of deductions, loopholes, and outright tax evasion that helps companies limit, or entirely eliminate, their income tax liability. 30 major corporations, in fact, paid no corporate income tax over the last three years, while making $160 billion in profits.

Just a weekly reminder about why the #Occupy movement began and what we should actually be pissed off about in this country.

Quote Of The Day: “If we do not maintain justice, justice will not maintain us.” – Francis Bacon

Fact Of The Day: Blue is the dominant design color found on Facebook because CEO Mark Zuckerberg suffers from Red-Green color blindness.

Song Of The Day: “Here Comes The Sun” by Nina Simone

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First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo and Lloyd to Feed #Occupy Buffalo

22 Dec
On Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 5:00 PM, the Lloyd Taco Truck will pull into Niagara Square to give 75 burritos and beverages to the Occupy Buffalo protesters on behalf of First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo. This goodwill activity is being funded as a mission project by the church.

“The Occupy movement is a peaceful movement. This holiday season we aim to share the peace of Christ with all,” said Rev. Dr. Philip S. Gittings, the Interim Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo.

Formed in 1812, First Presbyterian Church is the city’s oldest congregation, and will celebrate its bicentennial during the next year. First Presbyterian Church is part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbytery of Western New York. The congregation consists of approximately 300 active and inactive members. The church’s architecturally significant building on Symphony Circle features Tiffany-designed stained glass windows, two impressive pipe organs, and a 168-foot tall tower which stands as a beacon of hope on the west side of the city.

Lloyd Taco Trucks, Inc. hit the city streets in 2010 as the region’s first taco truck. Their mission is to bring legitimate street food to Buffalo by offering affordable yet incredibly tasty takes on tacos and burritos.


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Typical.

22 Dec

It’s typically Buffalo that we can’t just have one #Occupy group in town, but we have Occupy Buffalo in Niagara Square, and Occupy WNY in Lafayette Square.

We love to needlessly duplicate efforts in almost all things.

Propaganda Minister Luntz

2 Dec

Republican Minister of Propaganda, Frank Luntz, is advising his underlings in the party, and its official organ, <<Fox News>> to modify the language they use in discussing the #Occupy movement. The reason? The Republicans’ unifying theme: fear.

“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and one of the nation’s foremost experts on crafting the perfect political message. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

Luntz, of course, is being too clever with that. #Occupy isn’t opposed to capitalism; it’s opposed to a crony capitalism that’s arisen in this country thanks to the ultra-rich, their Washington lobbyists, and compliant, greedy pols. From Luntz’s drecking points memo:

1. Don’t say ‘capitalism.’

“I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz said. “The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”

Interesting that, for all of their loud attacks against Obama’s brand of Kenyan socialism, the Republican pollster’s focus groups thinks capitalism is “immoral”.

2. Don’t say that the government ‘taxes the rich.’ Instead, tell them that the government ‘takes from the rich.’

“If you talk about raising taxes on the rich,” the public responds favorably, Luntz cautioned. But  “if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no.Taxing, the public will say yes.”

Government takes money from everybody.  It’s the price we pay for a civilized, Western, First-World society.

3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers.’

“They cannot win if the fight is on hardworking taxpayers. We can say we defend the ‘middle class’ and the public will say, I’m not sure about that. But defending ‘hardworking taxpayers’ and Republicans have the advantage.”

And with that, the Republicans acknowledge that they have abandoned the middle class altogether. It’s as if the United States wasn’t the embodiment of the oldest and most established anti-feudal bourgeois revolution(s) in history. (Plural because I’m including the Civil War as the second American bourgeois revolution).

4. Don’t talk about ‘jobs.’ Talk about ‘careers.’

“Everyone in this room talks about ‘jobs,'” Luntz said. “Watch this.”

He then asked everyone to raise their hand if they want a “job.” Few hands went up. Then he asked who wants a “career.” Almost every hand was raised.

“So why are we talking about jobs?”

Because you can’t have a career if you don’t have a job, and right now we have a jobs crisis. Mass layoffs and slow hiring lead to an unemployment malaise and record corporate profits. When those companies start realizing that unemployed people can’t buy their tchotchkes, they’ll find themselves in quite a pickle. The economy trickles up, not down.

5. Don’t say ‘government spending.’ Call it ‘waste.’

“It’s not about ‘government spending.’ It’s about ‘waste.’ That’s what makes people angry.”

Is it waste when those “Me Generation” boomers start whining about the government keeping its grubby hands off their Medicare?

6. Don’t ever say you’re willing to ‘compromise.’

“If you talk about ‘compromise,’ they’ll say you’re selling out. Your side doesn’t want you to ‘compromise.’ What you use in that to replace it with is ‘cooperation.’ It means the same thing. But cooperation means you stick to your principles but still get the job done. Compromise says that you’re selling out those principles.”

Of course not! The Republicans have shown us over the last 2 years that compromise is anathema to them. Why would we have two two-party deliberative legislatures if the Founding Fathers expected there to be “compromise”? That’s un-American treason, for God’s sake!

7. The three most important words you can say to an Occupier: ‘I get it.’

“First off, here are three words for you all: ‘I get it.’ . . . ‘I get that you’re angry. I get that you’ve seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system.”

Then, he instructed, offer Republican solutions to the problem.

That’s what my tween girl says to me when she gets mouthy after getting in trouble. It sounds condescending and rude. Sort of like the contemporary Republican Party.

8. Out: ‘Entrepreneur.’ In: ‘Job creator.’

Use the phrases “small business owners” and “job creators” instead of “entrepreneurs” and “innovators.”

Entrepreneur is a French word. France is communist and permissive.

9. Don’t ever ask anyone to ‘sacrifice.’

“There isn’t an American today in November of 2011 who doesn’t think they’ve already sacrificed. If you tell them you want them to ‘sacrifice,’ they’re going to be be pretty angry at you. You talk about how ‘we’re all in this together.’ We either succeed together or we fail together.”

I don’t know how this jibes with the Republicans going out of their way to screw the middle class, “hardworking Americans of less means than Trump” but I’m sure they have it figured out.

10. Always blame Washington.

Tell them, “You shouldn’t be occupying Wall Street, you should be occupying Washington. You should occupy the White House because it’s the policies over the past few years that have created this problem.”

Actually, no. It’s the policies that have been bought off through lobbying by the wealthy that have created this problem. If Washington had balls, a moral compass, discipline, and a true desire to fix problems rather than just win elections, this would be moot. The solution isn’t to occupy the White House; the solution is to get money out of politics. Want to blame Washington? Blame the Supreme Court.

BONUS:

Don’t say ‘bonus!’

Luntz advised that if they give their employees an income boost during the holiday season, they should never refer to it as a “bonus.” 

“If you give out a bonus at a time of financial hardship, you’re going to make people angry. It’s ‘pay for performance.'”

Semantic newspeak. “Orwellian” doesn’t begin to describe the Luntz-Fox axis.

AV Photo Daily 12/2/11

2 Dec

Occupy Buffalo II

“Occupy Buffalo II” by Flickr user Nykino2011.

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