Tag Archives: taibbi

The Morning Grumpy – 2/24/2012

24 Feb

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


1. The cash mob idea that started here in Buffalo made it on to Public Radio International yesterday, spent the day at the top of Reddit.com and was seen by about 5MM web readers. So, a good day for the idea as it continues its organic growth throughout the world. Yes, the world.

Meanwhile, back in Buffalo, we hosted our seventh cash mob and it was a tremendous success. The event was held between 5-7PM last night at Thin Ice on Elmwood and was attended by over 100 people. At the conclusion of the night, the store owner reported 10x her typical sales and that money not only went to support her store, but also the local artists who stock her shelves. Due to the way we organize the event, the staff was able to spend time with these new customers, build a relationship and hopefully build repeat business. Afterwards, many of the attendees crossed the street and enjoyed dinner and drinks at The Acropolis and stopped by Chow Chocolat for some dessert. A very successful night.

In the next week or so, I’ll have some exciting news about the establishment of several suburban cash mobs in WNY as well as some new partnerships. Each time we host this event, it’s surprising to see how many people respond enthusiastically and support our courageous local entrepreneurs. Thank you for your support!

2. As usual, Matt Taibbi nails it. His take on the Republican debate on Wednesday night and the overall orthodoxy of the current party.

This is the last stage in any paranoid illness. You start by suspecting that somebody out there is out to get you; in the end, you’re sure that even the people who love you the most under your own roof, your own doctors, your parents, your wife and your children, they’re in on the plot. To quote Matt Damon in the almost-underrated spy film The Good Shepherd, they became convinced that there’s “a stranger in the house.”

This is where the Republican Party is now. They’ve run out of foreign enemies to point fingers at. They’ve already maxed out the rhetoric against us orgiastic, anarchy-loving pansexual liberal terrorists. The only possible remaining explanation for their troubles is that their own leaders have failed them. There is a stranger in the house!

And, boy oh boy, is it fun to watch.

3. Paul Tsouflidis, owner of The Acropolis restaurant has been using his personal blog to blast opponents of his restaurant expansion plans and take members of the Buffalo Common Council to task.

Mr. Locurto, you have been lobbied by a very few people to vote against a bar on the second floor and shame on you for that.  I have 1000 signatures of people supporting Acropolis.  I have gone to great lengths to convert many of the opposition into supporters.  The EVA even changed their tune when (EVA Executive Director) Justin (Azzarella) came into the council chambers and stated on public record that the EVA isn’t opposed to the bar upstairs, the 2nd floor patio, or a music license.  But that isn’t enough for you. 

In the end, my councilman and his protege Brad Hamm has been playing dirty politics with me and I will expose this because I already know I lost my dream restaurant with his decision.  I lost a lot but I didn’t lose everything.  What you lost Mike is a financial supporter, a voter, and hundreds upon hundreds of voters who will never put trust in you with their vote again.

I’m writing a larger story on this issue, but you can read his blog for some backstory.

Fact Of The Day: Apple computer co-founder Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco on this day in 1955.

Quote Of The Day: “It would be almost unbelievable, if history did not record the tragic fact, that men have gone to war and cut each other’s throats because they could not agree as to what was to become of them after their throats were cut.” – Walter P. Stacy

Cartoon Of The Day: “Dog Gone South” – Chuck Jones

Video Of The Day: Lollipop – The Rockafire Explosion Band

Song Of The Day: “Dead Sound” – The Raveonettes

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

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

The Morning Grumpy – November 23rd

23 Nov

I have a voracious appetite for internet memes, video, podcasts, news, and analysis. Each morning I’ll share several links that you can consume during your “morning grumpy”.

1. The internet moves pretty fast. On Monday night, Fox News blonde-of-record, Megyn Kelly sat in on the Bill O’Reilly Condescension Hour to discuss the pepper spraying of peaceful protesters at UC Davis this past weekend. Here’s what she had to say:

As legend has it, Helen of Troy’s face launched a thousand ships and as the Internet legend now goes, Megyn Kelly dismissively saying that pepper spray “Is a food product, essentially” has launched a thousand memes. Here’s a few of our favorites:

2. On the flip side, Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone discusses the UC Davis incident, which should serve as a rally point in the continued evolution and growth of the Occupy movement.

What happened at UC Davis was the inevitable result of our failure to make sure our government stayed in the business of defending our principles. When we stopped insisting on that relationship with our government, they became something separate from us.

And we are stuck now with this fundamental conflict, whereby most of us are insisting that the law should apply equally to everyone, while the people running this country for years now have been operating according to the completely opposite principle that different people have different rights, and who deserves what protections is a completely subjective matter, determined by those in power, on a case-by-case basis.

3. David Frum seems to have unwittingly moved into the roomy business class section of American politics known as the “sensible middle” where you’ll also find such luminaries as Andrew Sullivan and Jon Huntsman. Ten years ago, they were  right wing republicans. Now? Even though their politics have barely changed, their party has moved so far to the fringe that they are now seen as “centrists”.  Like Sullivan, Frum is troubled by this ideological shift and believes that the Conservative movement has lost touch with reality.

Extremism and conflict make for bad politics but great TV. Over the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment. An industry has grown up to serve that segment—and its stars have become the true thought leaders of the conservative world. The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much. As a tool of political mobilization, it backfires, by inciting followers to the point at which they force leaders into confrontations where everybody loses, like the summertime showdown over the debt ceiling.

But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics.

Until the republican pendulum swings back from the fringe, our politics will be paralyzed. I’d postulate that one of the worst things that could happen would be for Romney or Huntsman to win the republican presidential nomination in 2012. Either candidate would most likely lose in the general election as they will struggle to motivate their red meat starved base. The result? A demand by the base to become more dogmatic in future elections (see 2008, after Obama won), resulting in even greater conservative obstinacy until 2016.

The base demands a right wing talk radio/Fox News candidate in 2012. If they get what they want and lose, the Republicans may be forced to consider a return to moderation or at least reason and sensibility. As Mondale’s failure in 1984 ultimately begat Clinton’s third way politics in the 1990’s, so will a Bachmann/Cain/Gingrich/Perry general election failure in 2012 bring us a Jon Huntsman in 2016.

4. Paul Krugman believes the optimal marginal tax rate for top earners is 70%

In the first part of the paper, (the authors) analyze the optimal tax rate on top earners. And they argue that this should be the rate that maximizes the revenue collected from these top earners — full stop. Why? Because if you’re trying to maximize any sort of aggregate welfare measure, it’s clear that a marginal dollar of income makes very little difference to the welfare of the wealthy, as compared with the difference it makes to the welfare of the poor and middle class. So to a first approximation policy should soak the rich for the maximum amount — not out of envy or a desire to punish, but simply to raise as much money as possible for other purposes.

Using parameters based on the literature, the research suggests that the optimal tax rate on the highest earners is in the vicinity of 70%.

I read Krugman’s analysis, the abstract of the original research and dug into some of the data models, but let’s be honest, much of it is too complex for someone who is not learned in economics. It’s interesting and should be a valuable addition to our national discussion on progressive tax policy and government spending. However, I wonder how many Americans hear “top marginal tax rate of 70%” and think a person’s entire income is taxed at 70%. Probably a lot. Then, I get sad.

5. How do we defend the Earth from asteroids? I’m glad you asked! This delightfully nerdy and humorous presentation from TEDx Boulder gives you the details. As an engineer and geek, I found this fascinating.

Quote Of The Day: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” — John F. Kennedy

Song Of The Day: “Where Were You?” – The Mekons