Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Speech Bush Should Give

At Mustard Street we focus on the local scene. But this one's been bouncing around my cranium since last November.

Bush should have given the following speech the day after the election. But it's still not too late.

My fellow Americans. The 2006 elections across the country confirmed what every method of measuring public sentiment had suggested for months: a significant majority of the American people do not support our effort in Iraq.

I can, and have, argued to the best of my ability as to why the cause is right and why we need to see it through. You have told me that you disagree.

You have elected new leadership in Congress, a leadership that won its majority by campaigning against my position on Iraq. I wish you had made a different decision, but that is the decision you made.

I consider it my duty not merely to respect the wish of the American people, but to comply with it.

Accordingly, from this moment forward, my administration will take no action, and make no decision with respect to the war in Iraq without the prior approval of House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid. Further, my administration will initiate no action or decision with respect to the Iraq war, other than to implement actions and decisions agreed on and proposed by Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid.

In short,
in all further matters involving Iraq I yield completely to the new Congressional leadership.

You and I now await their guidance.

God bless you all, and God bless America.

This would have two major effects. First, it would take Bush out of the business of prosecuting a war in opposition to the popular will. We're just not going to succeed under those circumstances. Even if you believe in what Bush is doing and how he's doing it, as last night's Senate vote on troop withdrawal shows, the new Congress isn't going to let him do it. So it's not going to happen.

The other major effect is either good or bad, depending on how dedicated a Democratic or Republican partisan you are: it would get the Iraq monkey off the Republicans' back. In effect, Bush would be telling the Democrats: "You said you're way was better, and you won. Now go do it."

This of course would destroy the Democratic game plan for the next year and a half, which is to let the war drag out and damage the Republicans even more, softening them up further for the 2008 elections. The Iraq war is the most potent thing they have going for them politically now and in the forseeable future.

Bush would snatch it right away if he'd give that speech.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Pittsford Punditry

Like Borat in rut for Pamela Anderson, Monroe County Democrats are obsessed with Pittsford.


Frank Sinatra understood part of it: "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere ...". Which might be true for County Democrats if they could win control in Pittsford.

Then there's the point that Pittsford is the kind of place that Democrats in one sense can't stand. An inconvenient truth of how a community succeeds when Republicans have run it for a really long time. Like other Republican strongholds, it's a place people want to move to. Not away from.

Which brings us to this week's Pittsford Village election.

Judging from their websites in the last few weeks, local Democratic activists were working themselves up over this one. So here at Mustard Street we kept an eye on things to see what all the fuss was about. And did a little research in the meantime.

Two years ago, convinced they'd win the Pittsford seat in the county legislature, Democrats ran a limousine liberal dabbler so clueless he couldn't get the Democrat and Chronicle endorsement (practically a birthright for Democrats in competitive races). Republicans kept a straight face in public, no doubt privately celebrating the diversion of Democratic resources to a race Democrats couldn't win. But the Dem candidate at least campaigned, and had enough sense to suppress his party affiliation and try to seem Republican-like. Between that and a fully funded campaign, Democrats reduced the usual Republican landslide of 60 - 70% to a more conventional landslide of about 55%. Reports are that they were shocked by the loss. No doubt they'll try again with a more realistic candidate.

Fast-forward to this week's election.

A race for 3 seats, with a Democratic campaign run straight from County party headquarters. And another one where word on the street has it that they convinced themselves they'd sweep the board.

So what happened?

  • In a Town carried heavily by Eric Massa, Clinton and Spitzer 4 months ago;
  • In the most Democratic-leaning part of the Town, the Pittsford Village;
  • In the most anti-Republican political environment in decades, courtesy of W;
  • With a fully-funded, professionally-run campaign;
  • With a hard core of motivated, on-call manpower, from a local Nutroots hate group;
  • With a slate of 3 women, running against a slate of 3 men --
A Democrat squeaked through on 1 seat, by 11 votes.

A win is a win. This one even counts as historic. Apparently it's been a hundred years since a Democrat was a trustee in Pittsford Village. (Again -- why is it a place where so many people want to live . . . ).

But how much more in alignment do the planets have to be, or can they be, for Democrats to do better than this in Pittsford?


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Heart and Soul

"A politics that has ripped the heart and soul out of the state's budgets for many years." That's Governor Elliot Spitzer, speaking of the resumption of broadcast advertising by local 1199, the SEIU Health Care Workers Union, opposing his budget proposals for health care spending.

There's a lot more to be said about this in a longer post, but for the moment let's just say that this Governor has been making all the right adversaries since he took office -- SEIU 1199, the teachers union NYSUT, the state Assembly majority, the state Senate majority, Sheldon Silver and Joe Bruno. It means that Spitzer's campaign promise of "reform" was not just a campaign slogan. It's the principal operating policy of his governorship. He has the mandate and the public support to go for it and he's doing just that.

Not yet three months into his term, Spitzer has accomplished more that's of real value to New York residents and taxpayers than George Pataki did in 12 years.

Roll on, Governor Steamroller, roll on.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Our Favorite Feminist

Camille Paglia, a Democrat who these days leans toward John Edwards for president, is nevertheless disappointed in his pulling out of the Fox News-sponsored debate in Nevada. Explaining why, she offers this gem:

What is this morbid obsession that liberals have with Fox? It's as if Democrats, pampered and spoiled by so many decades of the mainstream media trumpeting the liberal agenda, are so shaky in their convictions that they cannot risk an encounter with opposing views. Democrats have ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, the New York Times, Newsweek, Time and 98 percent of American humanities professors to do their bidding. But no, that's not enough -- every spark of dissent has to be extinguished with buckets of bile.
Read her entire column here.


Water Authority Perks

Over at the Water Buffalo Press there's a pretty insightful take on last night's action by the Monroe County Legislature to approve a Maggie Brooks proposal to freeze -- as the D&C styled it -- benefits for Water Authority Board members.

This observer thinks Water Buffalo is too harsh on Brooks. After all, she didn't
have to propose anything. In the weeks since the D&C story appeared about perks paid to the water board, County Democrats have proposed nothing whatsoever, and you'd think they would have hopped to it, if only for political points to be scored.

However, that doesn't detract from the overall thoughtfulness of the Water Buffalo piece. Its analysis is much more subtle than its title; so read on.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Democrats Write Off County Legislature?

Recent news of Democratic County Legislator Carla Palumbo's bid for a City Council seat may tell us about more than just her interest in succeeding soon-to-retire Bob Stevenson. Would Palumbo, now Minority Leader, be leaving the Legislature if Monroe Democratic leaders thought they had a chance to take control of the body in this year's elections?

A takeover by Democrats would make Palumbo, by all accounts smart and capable, the next Majority Leader. With a County administration in the Republican hands of Executive Maggie Brooks, it would make Palumbo the leading Democratic spokesperson in Monroe County, as the Legislature's counterpoint to Brooks. More significantly, it would make her a leading power in the Monroe County Democratic Party, as the person who could force the hugely popular Brooks to come to terms with Democrats in order to get anything done. And, of course, the person who could use the power of the majority to make life as miserable for Brooks as County Democrats would like to make it, wearing away at her popularity as much as possible over the coming four years.

Palumbo's going to give up that kind of influence and public profile to become a rookie member of City Council? Of course not.

More likely she's had a heart-to-heart with Democratic Party leaders and the consensus is: we're not taking the Legislature this year.

So Palumbo gives up nothing. She trades a frustrating life in the minority for a life on the City Council majority (or whatever you call it when only one party's represented -- a totality?) with the opportunity to get things done and work with a Mayor she's politically close to.

A savvy move by a respected player. And one that tells us that, after the fall election, the County Legislature stays in Republican hands. At least that's what Democrats think.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Legislator Blows Whistle on Teachers' Union

Monroe County Legislator Carrie Andrews, an employee of the New York State United Teachers union (NYSUT), has blown the whistle on the union's unfair treatment of its women employees.

In an op-ed piece appearing in Monday's Democrat and Chronicle, Andrews reveals:

I may have to decide to give up years of service at work, promotion possibilities and an increased pension if I choose to take time off to raise a child.
How typical of an entrenched and arrogant political force like NYSUT to preach publicly about workers' rights and equality, while discriminating against its own female employees.

Andrews' courageous stand against her employer, the most powerful lobby in New York State, was part of an opinion piece calling for more racial diversity in the County legislature.

Coming from Andrews, this strikes some of us as odd. She took her seat in the County Legislature in 2005 by primarying, and beating, African-American candidate George Moses, the designated Democratic nominee. Apparently, Andrews' support for a more racially diverse legislative body takes a seat in the back of the bus, behind her personal ambition.

Say one thing, do another. Maybe Andrews and her employer have more in common than she realizes.

Andrews offered a further revelation of deplorable working conditions for NYSUT's own
I have experienced sitting in a business meeting knowing full well that the person I'm working with is more interested in sneaking glances down my blouse than listening to what I was saying.
Russ Meyer is unavailable for comment.


Sunday, March 4, 2007

Hack in the Saddle Again

Reactions ran from surprised to bemused when Joe Morelle quit as Monroe County Democratic Chairman during his unsuccessful bid for State Comptroller. Surprised, because it seemed unnecessary -- so now it's a disgrace to chair a political party? Wouldn't most people view it as an expression of confidence in a person by his peers?

Bemused, because no one's mistaken Joe for a non-partisan since about the seventh grade (least of all the people who thought he'd be a good choice for party chair). Quite the opposite. Did he really think anyone would see him as less of a partisan figure the day after he resigned his chairmanship than the day before? It was a transparently opportunistic move in an effort to get what he happened to want at that moment -- the Comptroller's office. Even so, most of us were willing to cut him some slack. Against big odds, he had to give it his best shot. If he thought a situational metamorphosis into someone who's above the partisan fray might work -- hey, a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.

But it looks like Little Joe is back in the saddle again. Saturday's news of his return as Monroe County Democratic Chairman takes Morelle's metamorphosis to its final stage, of full-fledged political hack.

Morelle to Monroe: "I didn't make Comptroller, so I can stop faking it now. And I figure you're too stupid to notice."

Not all of us, Joe.


Saturday, March 3, 2007

State of Denial

RochesterPundit has an excellent take on recent front page coverage in our Newspaper of Record, about benefits received by directors of the Monroe County Water Authority. Most telling was this observation:

Buried in two pages of moralizing and misinformation are the following critical facts: (1) "the benefits available to the Water Authority board are comparable to those of other water authorities in the state;" and (2) Monroe County's rates are "among the lowest in the Northeast."

In other words, the current board members are paid commensurate with their position and have done a good job at keeping rates low.
Read the whole thing here.