Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Events Weekly Features Classifieds Contact

YAK Car Pic of the Day

99 vette pwtr whtfld f copy

Okay, so what’s the first thing you noticed about this 1999 Chevrolet Corvette coupe which is different from most of the newer ‘Vettes you see today on the road? That’s right, it’s actually wearing a front license plate. Most seem to wear the “Corvette” blank on the front bumper (see brochure illustration below) which admittedly looks better, but I suspect is highly illegal in New York state. In 1999 the Corvette, for the first time, came in three body styles: the coupe (with its removable roof panel), the convertible (with its fold-down fabric roof), and the new hardtop — the first fixed-roof Corvette since the ’67 Sting Ray. I passed this light pewter metallic example yesterday in Wheatfield.

Jim Corbran • YouAutoKnow jim@artvoice.com

99 vette pwtr whtfld r copy

1999corvette_05


Investigative Post Event at Burchfield Penney Wednesday

good-night-and-good-luck-803-16x9-largeInvestigative Post is screening Good Night, and Good Luck, the story of legendary TV newsman Edward R. Murrow staring down Sen. Joe McCarthy and the CBS hierarchy, Wednesday at 7pm at the Burchfield Penny Arts Center. After the film, Investigative Post Editor Jim Heaney and Lee Coppola, a former investigative reporter and retired dean of the School of Journalism at St. Bonaventure University, will discuss whether Murrow’s fears, about how television’s powers might be squandered to amuse rather than inform, have come to pass. Admission is $10 and includes an Investigative Post membership.Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.


Why I Am Not Voting For Cuomo

Filed under: State Politics
Tags:

Cuomo

Below are just a few reasons why I am not voting to re-elect Andrew Cuomo as Governor.

1) Open Government - Cuomo promised his administration would be the most open and transparent New York State has ever seen. Several examples show that under Cuomo open government has taken a step backwards:

- Under Cuomo a policy has been implemented whereby emails are automatically destroyed after 90 days. Storage of emails on a state computer servers is not an issue. This policy is a convenient way to hinder pesky reporters from obtaining important information months or years later. Some states require emails to be saved for several years.

- Cuomo and members of his inner circle purposely do not communicate through government email. Cuomo uses Blackberry pin to pin messages to communicate which does not leave a paper trail.

- All Freedom of Information requests to state agencies are now handled by the Governors office where refusing to release information or delaying the release of information for very long periods of time now occur.

- Cuomo dislikes answering questions from reporters and as such his public events are tightly controlled and scripted with little ability for the media to ask him questions. Members of the public are kept at a distance and he rarely interacts with them. Cuomo refused to engage in a debate with his democratic primary opponent Zephyr Teachout and only agreed to one televised debate with his November opponents. There is an arrogance and secretiveness to Cuomo that I find concerning.

2) Cuomo Is Bought and Paid For By Wealthy Special Interests - Since first running for Governor, Cuomo has raised an astonishing $60 million dollars from campaign donors. People donate large sums of money to politicians because they want something in return. Less than 1 percent of Cuomo’s donors gave under $1,000. In the past four years Cuomo has raised more than $22 million dollars from just 331 donors. Cuomo likes to claim that he represents and advocates for average New Yorker’s but average individuals cannot afford to give $1,000 or more to politicians. In fact 80% of Cuomo’s donors gave $10,000 or more to his campaign. 

Money corrupts and Cuomo is the king of raising money.

3) Cuomo Is A Big Supporter of Corporate Welfare - See number 2 above. Politicians need campaign cash from wealthy individuals to survive in office. In exchange for campaign cash, politicians provide grants, and tax breaks that assist wealthy individuals. The example of Extell Development provides an interesting glimpse into how this typically works. Extell had never donated to a political campaign before but gave $100,000 to the Cuomo campaign just days before the company was granted a lucrative tax break for one of their real estate development projects. Several weeks after the tax break a top Extell official donated $100,000 to the New York State Democratic Party.

In 2012 alone, New York State handed out $1.8 billion in tax credits to businesses, a figure that has doubled under Cuomo since 2010, according to a tax reform commission appointed by Governor Cuomo. It is against the New York State Constitution to use public dollars to assist private corporations. Politicians find creative ways around the constitutional restrictions and Cuomo has taken corporate welfare to even greater heights.

4) Cuomo Has Flawed Personality and Leadership Skills - Cuomo is an old school manager who believes that micro managing and bullying through a closed circle of associates is the way to get things done. According too many people Cuomo is a strange paranoid bully which are not good leadership qualities. Some interesting quotes sum it up:

- “He is so unbelievably involved in almost everything,” said an Albany insider of Mr. Cuomo. “On one level, it’s very impressive because he’s a machine in the way he works. But it’s also completely paralyzing and debilitating because [agencies] can’t go to the bathroom without him giving the go-ahead.”

- “There’s this pathological need on the second floor for exact control — control at a level that’s not really achievable, and not even healthy, over the long-term,” the aide argued.

- Mr. Cuomo’s desire to shape public perception sometimes means injecting his staff into otherwise mundane departmental actions. A former chief engineer in the Transportation Department said the agency had to run press releases on highway-lane closures through the second floor.

- Critics see a darker side to the governor’s approach. “His style is to bully and intimidate,” said one longtime state official. “He does it because he can and it’s tough to fight back because he has the governor’s mantle. . . . It’s the mindset that if you don’t go with us, we are going to get you.”

- Cuomo is also known for making nighttime off-record calls to members of the media to quibble with unflattering stories about him. New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters described this habit as part of a “pattern of intimidation”

- “The sense was that he didn’t trust anyone. I never took it personally, because I realized he didn’t trust anybody, except a very small group of advisers around him,” said Robert Hernan, a former assistant attorney general in the environmental protection bureau who was a trial lawyer for the state in the Love Canal toxic-waste case in the late 1980s. “I have served under five attorneys general, and I never encountered that kind of micromanagement and lack of trust in the staff attorneys.”

- “… he has … alienated subordinates, who call his demands unrealistic, his approach overbearing and his intolerance for disagreement dispiriting.”

Some people view the above traits as being a tough leader, I don’t see it that way. Cuomo is a toxic person obsessed with his image and the thought of higher office. Cuomo in many ways is a typical phony politician. I am tired of politics as usual. These are just my opinions and many will certainly disagree. 


This Modern World: Other Dangerous Epidemics in America

TMW_blog


Guns, Ebola, Torture, and a Sour Weppner

Image Credit: WBFO.org

At long last, Kathy Weppner got her debate against Brian Higgins yesterday. The candidates vying to represent NY-26 in Congress faced off in front of an audience of about 1,000 students and faculty at St. Joe’s. The debate was moderated by the AP Government teacher, and students selected and asked the questions. 

Here’s what Brian Higgins tweeted after the debate: 

And here is what Kathy Weppner tweeted about it:

 

So, the shorter version is Brian Higgins thanking St. Joe’s and its AP Government class, teacher, and students for a lively and fun debate, versus Kathy Weppner denigrating the kids and their questions, just one step away from accusing them of perhaps conspiring with Higgins’ campaign because she had to face tough questions. 

Also, Higgins accused Weppner of missing two recent candidate fora – not three. She skipped the Good Government Club and the Association of Retired Federal Employees events in the last few weeks. She was invited to them both. For someone who’s spent the last few weeks whining about how the League of Women Voters has conspired with Brian Higgins to support only Demoncrats, you’d expect her to attend everything offered to her. 

The Weppner campaign has been one of the best campaigns ever to be run in western New York, but not for the reasons you think. I don’t objectively mean it was “good” or the “best”; instead, it’s the best insofar as it has enabled regular people to hear and consider things that are usually kept in the deepest basements of AM hate radio. It’s rare that malicious and false right-wing misinformation sees the sunlight, and when it’s taken even a millimeter outside of its typical venues, it’s revealed to be so false and dumb that regular people simply dismiss it as “crazy”.  For instance, 

Yesterday, Brad Riter and I recorded an hourlong podcast where we set out to dissect yesterday’s debate. There’s so much there, we only made it through about 15 minutes’ worth.  You can listen to the podcast here

You can listen to the entire debate here, at WBFO’s site. Did you catch how Weppner whined about how Higgins conspired with WBEN to let the entire debate audio to be shared online? Weppner evidently didn’t read the rules, because the prohibition on recording and re-use of the debate was only as to the campaigns themselves – there were myriad cameras and microphones present, and the rules were quite clear that media could share their recordings. Indeed, after spending so many weeks whining about the lack of debates, you’d reckon that Weppner would scream bloody murder if the debate wasn’t shared with voters, right? 

In terms of substance, the student-led, teacher-moderated debate touched on several issues, none of which are trivial. More importantly, they were things that the students themselves deemed interesting. The first question dealt with the apparent epidemic of school shootings – a uniquely American problem. Weppner’s response to this question was typical right-wing pablum; more guns will lead to a more polite society. Weppner said things about how only “good” people with guns – like she – can protect society from bad people with guns, as if there were no other alternatives. Higgins affirmed people’s 2nd Amendment rights, but added, 

Good people should be able to carry guns but the framers of the Constitution could not have imagined this kind of hell,” Higgins said. “If you are a good guy with a gun then what’s wrong with reasonable background checks? What’s wrong with reasonable gun control?

The Weppner plan can be summarized thusly: 

Weppner came out in support of a travel ban from West African countries, while Higgins said we should follow the lead of medical professionals, and not politicians, on these sorts of issues. Weppner said, 

The CDC has spent 6% of its $3 billion over the last few years on silly studies instead of on infectious diseases. We’ve been squandering the money that we do have. So I believe, yes, there should be a quarantine. They’re quarantining our soldiers in Germany for 21 days. 

According to Weppner, if the CDC spent 6% of $3 billion on “silly studies”, then that still leaves 94% to study and prevent infectious diseases. However, typically, she’s got her facts wrong. She seems to be parroting a Politico article penned by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who claims

Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent—$180 million—of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity.

By contrast, the CDC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement Funding, which helps municipalities deal with outbreaks of disease, has decreased dramatically in the last decade. The CDC’s overall 2015 budget is not, incidentally, $3 billion, but almost $7 billion. That also represents a decrease of 3.5% over FY 2014, and you can see specifically what the administration sought, and what the tea party Congress granted

Weppner got two applause lines – the first when she said that marijuana “kills ambition” and leads kids to sit on the couch, watching TV, and eat Doritos. Not shockingly, teenage kids love the idea of sitting on the couch, watching TV, and eating Doritos, and cheered. Weppner also rejected medical marijuana, claiming,

If there are medicinal purposes that medical marijuana can be used for then we need to study it. We wouldn’t put a medicine on the market without studying it. If there are properties that help seizure disorders then we need to study what properties those are and put it into a little inhaler.  We can’t open pot stores. We need clear thinking young people to attack the problems we have. Not people that are going to sit back with a bag of Doritos and watch television.

Even Channel 2’s Michael Wooten pointed out on last night’s news that Weppner is lying about medical marijuana not having been studied. It’s been studied plenty, and shown to be effective in treating nausea in chemotherapy patients, glaucoma, chronic pain, seizures, and other maladies. UC San Diego has an entire department devoted to the study of medicinal uses for marijuana, a plant that grows in nature

The mic drop moment, though, came when the candidates were asked about the use of torture in interrogation of enemy combatants and terrorists. Weppner claimed, 

I don’t think sleep deprivation or waterboarding is something, if we are going to get valuable information that can save lives, is a horrible thing. I really don’t.

The notion that torture generates valuable information is categorically, scientifically false. While Weppner shocked the Catholic schoolboys with her pro-torture position, Higgins’ one-sentence response resulted in huge applause, prompting Weppner to whine about it later on Twitter (seen above). 

Torture should not be tolerated in any context in any part of the world.

The candidates’ reactions on Twitter aren’t an accident – Higgins’ performance was competent, relevant, and rational. Weppner’s was defensive, offensive, and bizarre. This is the shorthand to describe both candidates and their campaigns, overall. 

You think I hate Weppner or her right-wing followers? I don’t. I feel sorry for them, frankly, because it must really suck walking through life being angry and afraid of everything, always. I hate people who commit crimes and hurt others, I don’t hate people who think differently from me, however misguided I think they are. Part of what I do through this blog is highlight thoughts, ideas, words, and deeds that I believe to be ugly or nice – dangerous or helpful – reactionary or progressive. I pay attention to what my ideological opponents have to say because I refuse to formulate my opinions in a left-wing echo chamber. I read and listen to lots of points of view from lots of sources – so if I see, for instance, that the local AM talk radio station leaves a comment up for over an hour, which calls for the extermination of all Muslims on Earth, I feel it’s my duty as a normal human being to call that to the station’s attention.  It’s not only Nazi thinking, it’s violative of that station’s Facebook terms of service, “… will not tolerate racist, homophobic, sexist or abusive comments”. 

The real hatred comes from those who shut down dissent, and get called out in other venues. The real hatred comes from those who are utterly allergic to scrutiny or criticism of any kind. The real hatred comes from people who cower in their echo chambers, treating as unpatriotic or insane anyone who dares to disagree. The real hatred comes when the local news radio station blocks you on Twitter, because you pointed out that maybe “all Muslims need to be exterminated” doesn’t belong on their Facebook page. 

Election Day is next Tuesday. The tea party point of view is out in the sunlight for all to see. Reject it. 


AV Photo Daily

Filed under: Photo of the Day
Tags:
items in Buffalopundit: AV Photo Daily More in Buffalopundit: AV Photo Daily pool
www.flickr.com


YAK Car Pic of the Day

80 tbird blk ton r copy

jc yak ny 75-85After seeing an online price of $350 per pair for taillight lenses, it’s no wonder this 1980 Ford Thunderbird is making a go of it with red tape. Yikes! And that’s if you can even find a pair. The ’80 ‘Bird is also know (for obvious reasons) as the Square Bird, a moniker used much more affectionately (at least, as time goes on) for the ’58-’60 models which succeeded the popular two-seaters of ’55-’57. This black example with the optional Exterior Decor Group, looking great but for that red tape, was seen yesterday in Tonawanda.

Jim Corbran • YouAutoKnow jim@artvoice.com

80 tbird blk ton f copy


Strange Times In Bills Country

Filed under: Uncategorized

 

Well, this is weird.

Buffalo’s 43-23 mockery of the New York Jets on Sunday puts the Bills in the best position they have occupied midway through a season since 2002 — with a 5-3 record and on a winning streak.

OK. It’s a two-game winning streak. And the Jets are clearly not very good at playing football.

But it certainly beats the alternative. Outscoring an opponent that turns the ball over six times and imagines that it possesses the power of invisibility may not have a lot of predictive value, but it does set the 2014 Bills apart from the 14 also-rans that came before.

All of which causes a great deal of confusion here at the We Want Marangi offices. This is the point in the season where discussion of the local football team usually starts to involve firing the coach and/or general manager, benching the quarterback or figuring out which college players might be available when Buffalo makes its first pick in the following spring’s draft.

Some fans seem similarly bewildered, judging from such forums for rational, contemplative discussion as radio talk shows and Twitter, where Buffalo’s highest single-game point total in four years and Kyle Orton’s second four-touchdown passing performance ever provide the intellectual foundation for arguing that offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett should be fired immediately.

One caller to WGR 550 on Monday afternoon went a step farther, making the case that the Bills should fire head coach Doug Marrone, apparently to ensure that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz — who managed to compile a 29-52 overall record in Detroit despite having Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh at his disposal — is not snatched up for the top job somewhere else.

Or something.

Again, these are strange times, so it’s understandable if everyone is a little off-kilter at the moment.

So let’s just make fun of the Jets for a while.

It seems worth asking, given his previous trouble keeping his schedule straight: Geno Smith did know there was a game Sunday, right?

The next quarterback selected after E.J. Manuel in the 2013 NFL Draft looked like someone whom the Jets kidnapped and forced into a uniform and onto the field. On his first throw of the day, Smith misfired on a quick slant to Eric Decker. It may have been his best play of the day.

Two of Smith’s three interceptions were badly overthrown. On the other, he either somehow did not see Preston Brown between him and his presumed target, tight end Jeff Cumberland, or convinced himself that the Buffalo linebacker would fall down, or perhaps mysteriously disappear, before the ball arrived.

Smith’s 10-minute cameo, during which he completed two of his eight passes to his teammates and three to the Bills, produced a 0.0 quarterback rating, guaranteeing him at least a share of an NFL standard that can never be taken away from him.

It says quite a bit about the Jets that Smith’s meltdown was not the most embarrassing thing to happen to them on Sunday. That would be the kickoff immediately following Dan Carpenter’s second field goal, which put Buffalo ahead 27-17 with 6:29 gone in the third quarter.

It would be easy to rip the Jets for trying a gimmick that relied completely on T.J. Graham making himself invisible, but let’s be fair — he did pull it off quite regularly during his time in Buffalo.

The humiliation did not end Sunday. John Izdik, New York’s general manager, went on and on about something or other for 19 minutes during a Monday press conference, delivering a State of the Jets Address that inspired Dom Cosentino of nj.com to put together a list of shorter speeches, including the first inaugural addresses delivered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, as well as the Gettysburg Address.

Before he took questions at his midseason State of the Jets press conference on Monday, general manager John Idzik spoke. And spoke and spoke and spoke. For all anyone knows, he still might be talking to somebody, somewhere.

Izdik’s ramblings inspired a far less conciliatory monologue from noted radio ranter Mike Francesca, who appears ready to bite someone at several points during his seven-minute tirade.

OK. That felt more familiar. So back to the Bills.

What does actively participating in the Jets’ self-immolation really mean for Buffalo?

Quite a bit, starting with the standings.

The Bills have gotten to 5-3 on three previous occasions during their post-playoff era, but were already backsliding by the time they reached that modest achievement in 2008 and ’11.

Trent Edwards and the ’08 Bills reached 5-3 with a 26-17 home loss to the Jets, their second of four in a row and eight of their last 10. Getting ripped 27-11 at home, also by the Jets, launched Ryan Fitzpatrick and friends on a seven-game skid that wiped out any good that had been accomplished during a hot start to the ’11 season.

You have to go back to Drew Bledsoe’s first season in Buffalo, when the Bills topped Detroit 24-17 to win their third straight and pull within a half-game of New England for the division lead, to find a campaign that offered this much cause for optimism at the halfway point.

Of course, the good feelings of 2002 ended the following week in New England, where the Brady-Belichick Patriots delivered the first of what would become annual reality checks for the Bills, who ultimately reversed their first-half record to finish 8-8.

These Bills face their first serious test of the season’s second half when they return from this weekend’s bye to host Kansas City. The Chiefs have won four of five, including a 41-14 walloping of the Patriots and a 23-20 win at San Diego to get to 4-3.

After that, Buffalo travels to Miami (also presently 4-3) for a Thursday nighter before hosting the Jets  (1-7) and Browns (4-3) to close out November.

December is even tougher, with road games at Denver (6-1) and New England (6-2) bookending visits from Green Bay (4-3) and Oakland (0-7).

Pasting the Jets so thoroughly sends Buffalo into that run of six decent-or-better foes in eight weeks with a boost in a few key areas:

— Orton’s performance — 23.8 yards per completion, four touchdowns (he should really be credited with 4.95 touchdown throws, as he was in no way responsible for the timing of Sammy Watkins’ pre-goal-line celebration) and a 142.8 quarterback rating — eliminates any doubt that Doug Marrone made the right move by swapping him for Manuel a month ago. At least for the moment.

His turnovers against Detroit and Minnesota made the late dramatics necessary, and they pretty well squelched any chance the Bills had to take control against New England.

In New Jersey, though, Orton made the required throws and, just as significantly, made it through the afternoon without throwing or fumbling the ball away.

Getting sacked 17 times in four starts is a problem, one attributable to both offensive line woes and Orton’s complete lack of mobility.

— Orton’s feet are not going to suddenly get quicker, but his protection almost has to get better. Offensive lines, no matter how untalented, usually get better given both continuity and time. Kraig Urbik’s return to the starting front and the extra week off should help there, if there is something to Marrone’s background in that area.

Any improvement up front would help the short-handed ground game. I’m not sure what anyone was expecting from a pair of career backups in their first game replacing the injured C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, but hammering away at the Jets showed the coaching staff’s confidence in both the Boobie Dixon/Bryce Brown combo and their blocking.

Given how well the defense has played all season, save the second half against New England and third downs against San Diego, a persistent, if not terribly productive, running attack may be all Buffalo needs.

— Six turnovers and four sacks would have been a good month’s work for some of the Jauron/Gailey defenses, Putting a floundering opponent away after letting the battered Lions and pitiful Vikings hang around is another step forward,which should help when Buffalo starts facing actual NFL offenses again.

Looking at the rest of the schedule, it is no stretch to imagine the Bills finding a way to lose all of them, or continuing to improve and winning every one (OK, beating the Broncos and Patriots on the road might be a little bit of a stretch).

A 3-1 November is a realistic hope and would send Buffalo into the season’s final month with more than a mathematical chance at finally ending a postseason drought approaching a decade-and-a-half.

Now that would really be weird.




Older Posts »