What Jenny Sanford Should Have Said

June 25, 2009

Well, yet another politician whose brains are in his pants.

It is one thing to preach about the sanctity of marriage, wholly another to practice that sanctity.  My husband, like so many other politicians, lives in a world where egos are stroked at every turn and power is more addictive than cocaine.  He obviously felt that he needed more stroking than I could give him.  The sense of entitlement that comes with political office carried over into the rest of his life, and he failed to keep them separate.

I’m sure his biggest regret is getting caught.

If I were a bit less civil my first reaction would be to Bobbetize him.  Instead, for the sake of our children, I will try to work through this.  But you can bet that he’ll be cut off for a long, long time, maybe for good.  I may love him, but he’s a jerk and like so many other jerks, could not keep a commitment he promised to keep, twenty years ago.

Going forward, Mark’s words will be repeated in the press; but they are just words.  I and others will from now on be vigilant of his actions, and the effect that every one of those actions will have on regaining his trust.

That will take a long time, probably longer than one election cycle.  This is something you too should consider the next time you vote for governor.

Society tends to reflect the morals of its leaders.  Those who decry the loss of family values and the failures of society – especially those in office – should look no further than themselves as the starting point for re-establishment of those values.  This post is not really about Mark Sanford’s failure or the failures of those other high-ranking politicians – God knows they’re only human – it is about the failure of government to adhere to tough ethical standards that have teeth, that hold politicians accountable for immoral or unethical behavior.  Instead, we find ourselves all but disregarding any political rhetoric because the person behind that rhetoric has no credibility.  We are more likely to do as he does – and not do what he says.  We’ll follow our leaders all the way down that amoral pit.

This all leads to the fiasco that is New York State government, a government that has established new lows in ethics, where a political official currently under investigation for fraudulent campaign tactics is one heartbeat removed from the Governor’s mansion.  Whose Legislative Ethics Commission in its 20-year existence has never filed a notice of wrongdoing and whose findings are specifically exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information Law.  Whose Senate is so beholden to the Party that not only can they not conduct the people’s business, they can’t even find cordiality in the same room.

Many of these politicians will be re-elected to office.  They are doing nothing that the majority of Americans have not come to expect of them.  The real failure of our society is our own unwillingness to hold these guys accountable for the very societal standards demanded of us.

It’s been interesting to watch the slow disintegration of my state government and the short-lived furor over national political figures who have strayed.  We’ve been on this slippery slope for a while, and we’ve got only a short distance to go, I hope, before it becomes so revolting that society revolts against the system.


“Let’s Just Go Home”

June 17, 2009

Today’s State Senate quote is courtesy of Senator John Sampson (R, Brooklyn); here’s the link to the whole story.

The rest of the New York population gave up on the State Senate (and the rest of State government) long ago, so it’s not really news that Senators are giving up on themselves.  My advice echoes Senator Sampson’s:  Go home.

I’ll add:  Don’t come back.

I chuckle at the suddenly used and in vogue phrase “the work of the people.”  The Senate long ago stopped doing the work of the people and have been party automatons ever since.  Like robots, they don’t take accountability and don’t do anything they’re not programmed to do.  It is clear that these guys are merely puppets whose balls are being squeezed strings are being pulled by other, more powerful men.

Some court case years ago ruled out the possibility of withholding Senate paychecks (regardless of what Sampson says) over a debacle like this; that’s okay, the pay is a just a zit on skin raked with raging melanoma.  I just hope that we voters remember this past week the next time these half-wits come up for re-election.

Elephant Spokesmen

May 13, 2009

Elephant and Donkey

The most vocal talking heads of the Grand Old Party are Dick Cheney, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh????

That can’t be a very good way to grow the Republican base to a size that can take on the Democrats, and could be disastrous for the Republicans for many elections to come.  A silent Colin Powell and an Eric Cantor who seems afraid to use the word “Republican” might be more statesmanlike choices around which to circle the wagons, but they are either unwilling or unable to take those leadership reins away from the attack dogs.

Maybe Cheney, Limbaugh and Beck are actually liberal-leaning strategists who realize that an adversarial right-wing Republican line that eschews moderates will only expand the Democratic Party’s grip on government.  Maybe that’s the strategy.  It’s certainly one that I can at least rationalize; because when you’re the minority, ostracizing your own and potential party members does not seem to be a reasonable approach to winning more friends.

We are now living the results of almost 8 years of single party dominance.  It stands to reason that 8 more years of a single dominant party will not lead to the rational compromises required to strike the balance that defines good governance.  A single dominant party is also likely to hand even more power to the unelected party bosses; witness, with rare exception, Erie County and the city of Buffalo’s election choices.

Yesterday I participated in a webinar sponsored by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, in which Trent Lott was the guest speaker.  The webinar was supposed to be on the effects of the new stimulus package but it only superficially covered that topic, wandered into several others and generally did not stray very much out of the wading pool.  Former Senator Lott mentioned the Republican Party’s poor election showing and stated that the Party needed to have a clear voice on the issues of interest to the American people.

So I got to ask Trent Lott a very simple question:  What, in his opinion, is the clear voice that the Republican Party needs to vocalize?  He sidestepped the question entirely, choosing to answer with “The GOP needs to think about the words they choose”.

When virtually every American is decrying the economy, jobs and health care (note:  abortion and immigration aren”t even on the radar), it is clear that the Republican Party needs to put together a platform and a single voice that elevates those very issues, and needs to do so in a manner that is critical but constructive rather than adversarial to those in control.

1,000,000 Would-be Terrorists

May 8, 2009

The ACLU estimates that there are now over one million names on the nation’s terrorist watch list.  The Inspector General’s estimates are closer to 1.1 million identities.  Many names are duplicates and many are wrong with no systematic way of removing them.  35% of the domestic entries have no known link to terrorist activities.  Hundreds of thousands of foreign citizens were put on the list because they are from Iraq and Afghanistan. The watch list data is significantly peppered by inconsistencies in the way that names were added or not added (“nominated” in IG parlance) to the list.  New information regarding names on the list, either to bolster or eliminate suspicion, was mishandled two-thirds of the time.  The incredibly slow removal of names from the list is in directly violation of policy and has led to problems at border crossings and airport security lines, both in stopping ordinary people with no ties to terrorism from traveling while letting other suspicious individuals through.

I found this report startling for two very different reasons:

  • That any list of this size (and growing at upwards of 20,000 entries per month) could be considered useful to agencies trying to use it as a screening filter is absurd.  Anyone who works with large databases recognizes that data accuracy is paramount, and even small errors have great consequences.  An untrusted list is an ineffective list.
  • That this list could be grown so quickly to so many is about as Kafkaesque as it gets.

The terrorist watch list is a great example of what happens where paranoia is substituted for rational thought.  The creation of the list and the accumulation of names ranks right up there with the McCarthy communists and Nixon’s enemies. I look back with a historical perspective and am embarrassed by how our government ran itself at the height of the cold war and during the Watergate scandal; twenty years from now the Bush Administration’s creation of the terrorist watch list will end up on the list of historical embarrassments as well.

Carl Paladino, Speaker and Writer

March 2, 2009


Love him or hate him, Carl Paladino is one colorful character.  He was the guest of honor and Executive of the Year at the Buffalo Niagara Sales and Marketing Executives (BNSME) gala on Monday night.  Carl pulled no punches.

Paladino is calling for revolution.  I don’t think I have the backbone to follow him, or maybe it’s just that I don’t think it will do any good – Buffalo and Albany are just too corrupt to be influenced by whiny voters.  It would take balls – lots of them – to foment any real change.  Or maybe I’m just to busy trying to survive, and can’t find the time to take on New York State government.

Quick story:  The Albany Legislative complex is built like a fortress.  It is massive, surrounded by high walls and not pedestrian friendly.  100,000 protesters could show up (they’d have to walk – not enough nearby parking), break into the main entrance…and they would barely be noticed in the cavernous underground mall.  Dispersed throughout the complex they would not raise the people density enough to be taken seriously.  I’m sure the Capitol was built this way, for that reason.

Anyway, Palidino lit into every politician, by name, that has eaten from the public trough for all these years.  He blasted, just blasted, the Buffalo News and Margaret Sullivan’s leadership of it.  He vilified James Williams, Phil Rumore, the Buffalo Board of Education and the 800 million dollar school system they are supposed to be running.  He spat venom at labor unions, Buffalo city government and especially Albany.

How angry was he?

Prior to his speech – and in order to set the tone of what was to come – a letter that he wrote to Margaret Sullivan of the Buffalo News back in January was distributed to the dinner guests.  It starts like this:

Here’s my two cents on the News.  It’s a monopolistic predator imposing its liberal views and superficial journalism on a community seeking to pull itself out of fifty years of decline as a result of impotent public and private sector leadership.  As the only show in town during most of that time, it became lame and lazy serving up assenine [sic] slop without any guilt for failing to mobilize the community with objective, call to arms journalism.  You’ve been in a box so long that you have no idea how to get out of it.  Your subscriptions are falling and you are frustrated.  You have no follow through and you wonder why you can’t hit the ball.

There’s lots more (after the jump)

Read the rest of this entry »

Downtown Buffalo, 2 PM

January 28, 2009

I didn’t have my camera with me but if I did I would have photographic evidence that the city’s new plan for plowing city streets during inclement weather does not include city streets.

It was clear that none of the east-west side streets downtown had been plowed at all and that the north-south thoroughfares maybe got plowed once.  It was a mess.

And today’s snow has been persistent, but not heavy.

At what point will we no longer accept failure as the only option from our local governments?

The President’s Last Speech

January 15, 2009

One statement from President Bush’s speech tonight struck a chord with me:

“So around the world, America is promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity.”

So long as waterboarding, and perhaps other forms of persuasion are not construed as denying human liberty, human rights and human dignity then I guess the President and I are in agreement.  But if we believe that these interrogation tactics are construed as debasing basic human rights, then we have a problem.

And it’s a big problem.  It’s doublespeak.  It’s the Nixonian approach to being above the law simply by saying so.

My respect for President Bush dropped as the folly of the Iraq war dragged on and plummeted after the Katrina debacle, but I lost the last of it when he and his team used semantics and wordplay to justify the use of waterboarding while simultaneously declaring that the United States does not torture.  And yet just a few hours after even more damning reports that indeed, we do torture, our President looked us straight in the eye to speak about America and human dignity in the same sentence.

I felt relieved after the speech ended, relieved because it is the last one President Bush will give as Commander in Chief.