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The Morning Grumpy – 1/9/2012

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

1. The Buffalo Cash Mob was held last Friday and it was an awesome success. Over the course of two hours, Chow Chocolat had about 75-80 people pass through their doors to spend between $10-$20 each. The local chocolatier also received a bevy of earned media coverage with broadcast stories on Channel 4 & 7 with Channel 4 doing a live spot during the 5 & 6PM newscasts. Channel 2 had done a story the previous night and Buffalo Business First was also on hand to cover the celebration of a local small business. Many thanks to all of those who attended this event and I’ll be incorporating some feedback into our plans for the February cash mob.

If you came, let me know what you thought. If you weren’t able to attend, let me know why. Next time, I’m going to encourage our voters to think outside Elmwood and Downtown and branch out into other areas of the city. Perhaps we’ll expand the hours or shorten them up to truly make it a flash cash mob.

Whatever we do for the next event, please continue to support Chow Chocolat and the other fine member businesses of Buffalo First. Reward their investment in our community by investing in them.

2. There has been an exceptional amount of talk by Republican Presidential candidates about pre-emptive war against Iran. Sure, we just ended a land war in Asia, why not get into another one, right? They’re a threat to Israel! They’re islamofascistshomicidebombers! I mean, they hate us for our freedoms!

So, what’s the backstory of Iranian-U.S. relations?  This video might help.

Yeah, it’s our freedoms they hate.

3. In other news from our own burgeoning theocracy in America, 24 states passed 92 restrictions on abortion rights in 2011.

The wave of elections won by Conservatives and Tea Party candidates in states across America in 2010 resulted in a rising tide of right wing theist legislation. No surprise, that.

4. Free ponies for everyone! Zombie preparedness! Time travel research! This is Vermin Supreme and he paid his $1,000 to get on the New Hampshire Presidential Primary ballot. Sure, he wears a boot on his head and seems crazy, but is fully funded time travel research all that different than Newt Gingrich’s proposal to conduct mining operations on the moon?  This is the only guy on a ballot in New Hampshire who makes Rick Santorum seems sane…well, not really.

5. Thursday will mark the second anniversary of the massive earthquake which killed over 300,000 people and nearly destroyed the entirety of Haiti. The Miami Herald reports on the current state of the nation.

While U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and others vowed that the world would help Haiti “build back better,” and $2.38 billion has been spent, Haitians have hardly seen any building at all.

At the time, grand ambitions were voiced for a Haiti rebuilt on modern lines. New housing would replace shantytowns and job-generating industry would be spread out to ease the human crush of Port-au-Prince, the sprawling capital with its 3 million people.

The inability to rebuild is almost as great a tragedy as the earthquake. An eye-opening and discouraging report.

6. Ron Paul, failed ideologue.

Of the 620 bills sponsored by Ron Paul during his long career in the House of Representatives, only four have ever made it to a vote on the House floor and only one of those became an actual law. An analysis by The Washington Post shows that Paul’s success rate of 0.2 percent falls far below that of most legislators, as Paul has chosen to stand up for his personal crusades, rather that build coalitions for more popular, but less ambitious, proposals.

His governing style as President would be a lot like the way Carl Paladino promised to govern, lots of bluster, lots of ideology, little sense of leadership and an inability to compromise and make progress. No thanks.

 7. Super-PACs will decide who becomes President of the United States in 2012. Sure, we still go out and vote, but the SuperPACs will determine the message to the voters which will inform our votes. What’s a SuperPAC, you ask? Oh, let me explain.

The 2010 election marks the rise of a new political committee, dubbed “super PACs,” and officially known as “independent-expenditure only committees,” which can raise unlimited sums from corporations, unions and other groups, as well as individuals. The super PACs were made possible by two judicial decisions. The first was the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commissionwhich held that government may not prohibit unions and corporations from making independent expenditures about politics. Soon after, in v. FEC, the Federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that contributions to groups that only make independent expenditures could not be limited. Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates or political parties and are required to disclose their donors, just like traditional PACs.

Mitt Romney’s SuperPAC played a very large role in his victory in Iowa and each candidate will rely heavily on the unlimited and untraceable monies these groups can spend in the primary and general election. Late last week, Billionaire Sheldon Adelson made a $5MM contribution to Newt Gingrich’s SuperPAC in order to fund the SuperPAC’s campaign activities and advertising on Newt’s behalf. Previously, Adelson would have been subjected to federal campaign contribution maximums, but that’s no longer an issue for a billionaire looking to buy a favorable election result.

Republican SuperPACs have raised a ton of money in this election cycle.

More than 80 percent of giving to Super PACs so far has come from just 58 donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics analysis of the latest data, which covers the first half of 2011. The Republican groups have raised $17.6 million and the Democratic groups $7.6 million. Those numbers will balloon, with American Crossroads, the main Republican Super PAC, aiming to raise $240 million.)

My favorite is the “Restore Our Future” SuperPAC which supports Mitt Romney.

Founded by former aides to Mitt Romney, this group is expected to maintain the minimum legal distance between itself and Romney’s official campaign. Romney himself even spoke at a Manhattan fundraiser for the group, though — apparently for legal reasons — he left the room before an explicit appeal for money was made, the Times reported.

America, f*ck yeah!

Fact Of The Day: In 2011, it costs 2.41 cents to make a Penny and 11.18 cents to make a Nickel.

Quote Of The Day: “What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof. ” – Christopher Hitchens

Song Of The Day: “Little Fat Baby” by Sparklehorse


Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

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

  • Jesse

    An interesting theory – number of bills passed = … something. Effectiveness at playing the Washington game, I guess? I’m not sure it means anything.

    An alternate reasoning could be that Dr Paul has been consistent in his message for decades. While he stood quite alone for many of those years, now he is the progenitor of the Tea Party movement, at least 20% of Republicans (and unknown percentages of independents and anti-war Democrats) would vote for him for President. Looking at it that way (you know, the non-snarky way) it appears that a not-insignificant portion of the country is headed in his direction.

    One could also suggest that there are 434 other Congressfolks, and if 1 of them decides it’s more important to put out a message consistent with an ideology, to try and convince people of the rightness of his positions, it’s not that big a deal.

    Given the particular ideology of this individual Congressman, it even makes a bit of sense: The trouble that many of us see is that a little horse-trading here, a little quid-pro-quo there and suddenly there’s a budget with 12 frigging zeroes at the end. We’ve had quite enough of the “coalition” style never-cut-anything budgets, thanks.

    • So, your counter is that Ron is more ideologically pure than these other “horse trading” congressmen who are willing to for, big spending coalitions? Is that it? Is that your story?

      Interesting, because since 1999, federal spending Paul’s district has quadrupled since 1999 to more than $4 billion, making Texas’ 14th congressional district one of the highest per-capita federal spenders in the country. With $14,707 spent per resident annually.

  • Alan Bedenko

    Haiti is one of those exceptional situations where the democratic process needs to be held at bay through a state of emergency and executive fiat. The trick is finding a temporary, all-powerful entity that is also benevolent.

    The recent decisions by the Supreme Court have, to my mind, effectively legalized bribery. Using the same logic as the holding in Citizen’s United, prohibiting the bribery of elected officials and candidates is violative of the prospective briber’s almost-total 1st Amendment right to political speech.

    Zakaria explained yesterday on CNN how Iran is in an economic, political, and social upheaval, which is playing a large part in its foreign policy. Should Iran shut off the Straits of Hormuz, it would be (a) an act of war; and (b) plunge Iran’s economy (much less the world’s) into an instant, chaotic depressive spiral. I’m not one to excuse the contemporary behavior of a regime on the past – that’s the regime’s mind trick. Instead, Iran shows just how disastrousa theocratic super-government would be over a relatively advanced civil society. And then consider that this is precisely what Santorum seeks for the United States, and he’s doing quite well in the Republican primaries, thank you very much.

  • Jesse

    Ooooo ZING! Ask a bunch of questions? Add more? More question marks?

    It was an alternate reading of your anti-Dr Paul story. It has nothing whatsoever to do with his being more “pure”, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. It means exactly what I wrote: He hasn’t changed his positions in decades, and people (20% +/-) are now starting to agree with him. You can call that abject failure if you like, but I think it’s pretty weak.

    Your silly zinger link even explains the answer to your tangential attack: “If they are going to allot the money, I have a responsibility to represent my people.” What is the alternative? Not to spend it? Throw it back? Flip the bird at DC? Go 3rd party (again)? Why do you hate black people, Chris?

    Your link to TP links to MJ, and there’s not a single source nor citation that I can see. I’d like to compare that area of TX to other areas. I’d like to confirm that $14k value myself. It’s a shame MJ doesn’t think enough of it’s “research” to provide links to the originating data.

    • Alan Bedenko

      So, while Ron Paul’s microscopic legislative achievement is due to him being ultra-principled, he is not so principled as to reject federal spending in his district. Understood.

  • Vermin Supreme was kickin’ around Boston even when I was an undergrad there in the early 90’s; somewhere I have an original campaign pamphlet of his I should scan for your pleasure. Glad he’s still on it.

  • Cory

    I love the Sparklehorse song!

  • Jesse

    You’d think a lawyer could read more better and stuff: Never said he was ‘ultra-principled’. That’s you sticking your own bias in there where the sun don’t shine.

    • Alan Bedenko

      I never said you called him ultra-principled; hence the lack of quotation marks. You said he hadn’t changed his positions in decades. Seems pretty principled. Maybe even ultra-principled.

  • Jim

    So the Dems don’t have SuperPACS of their own? Or they do, but you think it’s ok?

    A pox on both their PACS.