Friday, December 31, 2010

They've Taken our Kodachrome Away

An era ends.

Can't I go back there?   Just for a day?   I'll come back.   Honest.

Kodachrome!   Was there anything it couldn't do ...


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How to Keep the Kids In-State After College

Maybe we could try doing things done by the states where people move to.   Like, say, Texas, the state that just gained four congressional seats, the most of any state, while New York lost two.

"Texas spends less per capita on social services than virtually any state."
Nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.


Sunday, December 26, 2010



Saturday, December 25, 2010

For The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth ...


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From all of us at Mustard Street.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Johnson for Mayor

We've been knocking this thought around since last week, and hearing former Mayor Bill Johnson on Bob Smith's WXXI program yesterday solidified the idea.

Johnson represents the best hope for the people of the City to take back their right to pick their next mayor.   A true fusion candidacy, with the former Mayor nominated by the Greens, Republicans, Conservatives and the Independence Party, just might do the trick.

Tom Richards, a capable and otherwise admirable candidate, has tainted his reputation by signing on to Joe Morelle's sleazoid political fix to go around the voters -- and even the majority of Democratic Committee members -- to hand pick the next Mayor.

Bill Johnson would bring back to City Hall not just experience, but an enviable grasp of urban and municipal issues, and a towering intellectual integrity that's inspirational.

He'd be viewed by City voters, we think, as the real Democratic candidate in a Special Election in which the Democratic line on the ballot has been hijacked.

Go for it, Mayor Johnson.

Greens, Republicans, Conservatives and Independence Party Chairs:   you can make this happen.   Reach out to the former Mayor.   Stop Morelle's farce.


As We Told You ...

Here are the details, in today's newspaper, of the police complaint against a local Assemblyman that we mentioned just before the election last month.

Naughty, naughty.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Double Dipping Duffy: "The System Made Me Do It"

Last week we reported how, in a front-page story on elected officials double-dipping by collecting a public pension and a taxpayer-paid salary, the Democrat and Chronicle, like other media outlets reporting on the matter, never mentioned Rochester's most prominent beneficiary of this practice:   Mayor Duffy.

Since then, one media outlet has mustered the integerity to cover the story: Channel 10.

Hizzoner turned in a defensive, comically unpersuasive performance, basically saying, "It's the system's fault, not mine."

It illustrates at least one downside for a politician like Duffy who lives most of public life in a safe harbor of media protection.   Such politicos often don't develop the skills of effective think-on-your-feet repartee.   On the rare occasions they face actual media scrutiny and must offer an explanation, they sound every bit as lame as Duffy, trying to justify himself in the Channel 10 story.   See it below.


Saturday, December 18, 2010



Friday, December 17, 2010

Locking Down the Exits

That great photo of Molly Clifford in the D&C captures the essence of the thing -- back to the wall, staring ahead, hands clasped behind.   Ready for the blindfold and cigarette.

Whatever deal Joe Morelle made with Clifford to get her to back off a bid for the Democratic mayoral nomination will unfold in the months ahead.   The significant thing is that it had to be done.

It tells us that Morelle's presser yesterday was staged as a warning shot, to restive Democratic Committees across the City.   They're unhappy about being denied a Democratic primary, and having their candidate chosen for them.   "We're shutting this thing down," Morelle's telling his committees, "You have nowhere to turn."

"Here's your likely alternative and we've just taken it away."

The message from Morelle to unhappy Democratic committees is clear:   No way out.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

And the Vote is In

So we are going to have a special election to choose our next Mayor. While the Editorial staff at the D&C, where I serve on the editorial board, along with many other leaders in Rochester feel this is the best option, I am growing worried.

Within the past year we have watched as the Democratic leadership in the area has worked hard to take away an elected school board and to institute an appointed body. While this may be the best way to proceed to generate success in the City school district, we as the voters of Rochester should be able to choose it as an option through our right to vote.

Tuesday night City Council voted, 5-4, to proceed with a special election to choose our next Mayor.   A party that has enjoyed complete control of government in Rochester for the better part of 30 years has decided to reduce voter influence even further.

We can all see that Rochester’s elections have been decided in the Democratic primary for years. Now they want to take that away. I am not saying that Tom Richards is not the best guy for the job, in fact I can see many reasons why he would be a great choice for Mayor. But let the choice part happen.

If Richards is unwilling to primary it out and work to get elected, then that says to me that maybe he is not the man for the job.   Anyone else wanting to be Mayor would need to walk that path.

What I see is a group of people who have enjoyed a cake walk when it comes to getting their own elected in this city, who now are looking to make it even easier for themselves by reducing voter influence in the process.

If this is ok with you, my guess is that you stand to benefit from it. If this does not sit well with you, no matter what party you belong to, then you had better get ready to vote against the Democratic party come November 2nd 2011. If you continue to pull the “D” lever, Please don’t waste anyone’s time protesting and yelling about how your rights are being buried. 2011 is the time to show everyone in Rochester that we will no longer accept this type of behavior.


Double Dipping, In the Bubble of Media Protection

How sweet it must be.

Today's Democrat and Chronicle leads with a story about elected officials "double dipping" -- collecting a state pension while simultaneously collecting a public salary.

It even names names -- some names -- such as David Gantt and other "state lawmakers."

Yet the paper never mentions Rochester's most prominent double dipper:   Mayor Bob Duffy.

The soon-to-be Lieutenant Governor under . . . Andrew Cuomo.   The Andrew Cuomo who campaigned, as Attorney General and as candidate for Governor, against double dipping!

According to the Rochester Business Journal's Book of Lists for 2009, Duffy is the second-highest paid elected official in the Rochester area, with salary as Mayor of $127,600.   That's on top of collecting a state pension of $70,255.   But at the Democrat and Chronicle, that's considered just too impolite -- or perhaps uncivil --to mention.

Per standard operating procedure, the D&C months ago did a one-off story on the Duffy double dip.   One media cycle.   That gives the paper a figleaf excuse that it's "covered" it.   More importantly it allows Duffy, as beneficiary of the D&C's protection to the end, to be able to refer ever thereafter to his double dip as "old news."

The gutter press at work.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

While My Speaker Gently Weeps

Am I the only one who's already bored and a little nauseated by incoming House Speaker John Boehner's crying routine?

A bad visual for the side of light and truth:   Pelosi the steely-eyed ice queen versus Boehner the blubbering wimp.   The Saturday Night Live sketches write themselves.

Cut the waterworks, Johnny.   We hired you to clean up a mess.   Get to it, and do your crying in private.   Let your guitar gently weep, not you.

UPDATE -- 12/16/2010:   See what I mean?


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Bent Logic and Language of Taxation

Brit Hume on Washington's

" . . . unspoken but undeniable premise, that all money earned by American citizens and businesses belongs to the government.   Whatever portion the public is allowed to keep amounts to "spending."   And if you happen to be in an upper-income tax bracket, your untaxed dollars are more than mere spending, they're an outright "gift" from the government.

Such thinking may seem morally and logically upside down to most Americans, but most Americans don't work and live in Washington."
See the whole comment:


Monday, December 13, 2010

Central Part of Obamacare Ruled Unconstitutional

Judge strikes down the mandate for individuals to buy health insurance.


Thank You, Mayor Johnson

. . . for explaining clearly and persuasively why the proposed Special Election for Mayor, that would deny City residents a meaningful choice, is a "totally undemocratic scheme."

The D&C sourly countered the former Mayor's essay with yet another editorial about the matter, on the page opposite.   Pushing the Special Election scheme, that would deny City voters a Democratic primary in circumstances where the Democratic primary is the whole election, the paper deploys once more its clumsy lie:

. . . there's precedent for outsiders to win.   Both Duffy and William Johnson weren't endorsed by the party but won anyway.   In a special election, other candidates besides the party's pick and ones from other parties can run.
No ethics and no shame.   Sure, Duffy and Johnson "weren't endorsed by the party but won anyway."   They won in a Democratic primary!

Fat chance either would have made it in the subsequent general election, running as an independent or minor-party candidate against a Democratic nominee.   Which is the snake-oil argument the D&C wants the public to swallow.

And its just such a Democratic Primary that the very top-drawer, oh-so exclusive Committee to Coronate Tom Richards proposes to bypass.


Saturday, December 11, 2010



Friday, December 10, 2010

This is Your Brain on Drugs

"Youth Arts Center a Step
to Tame Trouble"

-- Democrat and Chronicle headline

It was P.J. O'Rourke, I think, who once did a riff on an old public service TV ad discouraging drug use.   "This is drugs," said the announcer over a visual of a hot frying pan.   "This is your brain on drugs," he concludes, cracking an egg in the pan and watching it fry.

P.J. noted the brain was about the last bodily organ an audience of potential drug users would worry about and suggested another analogy to connect with the target group more directly.

I thought of this while reading yesterday's hilarious news report of a planned "Youth Arts Center" for downtown Rochester.   It's proposed as a means of taming stabbings, weapons possession, fights and unspecified "disruptions" associated with "hundreds of . . . teens every morning and afternoon during the school year" at their "loitering spot," the Liberty Pole.

Of course!   (Said I, slapping myself upside the head.)  How better to relieve the "massive daily police effort to quell disturbances" than with an arts center.

Why didn't we think of this before?   The flick-knife armed lion shall lie down with the disruptive lamb:

"Let's not argue with each other.   Let's go do some arts and crafts."

"Why bust a cap up this guy when I can do ceramics?"

"Decisions, decisions:   manslaughter or macramé?"
Let's hope the planned arts center helps enrich the lives of some kids.   More power to its backers for trying.   But it's the kids who aren't causing the problems who will be visiting an arts center.   The good kids, not the bad ones.   Not the stabbers, weapons possessors, fighters or disrupters.

And since the good kids have to be the overwhelming majority of the kids we're talking about, a facility that accomodates only 20 - 25 is off to a modest start.

The important thing is that it is a start, and for a good purpose.   Why its promoters had to taint a worthy project, inviting ridicule by claiming it will reduce crime, is a mystery.

However, for sheer comic extravagance, Rochester Downtown Development Corporation President Heidi Zimmer-Meyer upstaged everybody.
Urban youth are part of downtown’s vitality,” said Zimmer-Meyer, “and their energy helps create the dynamism that has attracted more than $739 million in downtown investment this year."
Of course! (Again slapping myself on the forehead.)   I was blind, but now I see.

That's why the little old ladies from Penfield and all those other places wouldn't go shopping downtown for the past four decades:   there just weren't enough urban youth hanging out on the street!

Just not enough of that vitality to draw them in from the suburbs, or to have kept them from leaving the City in the first place!

It must have been all that "vitality," driving the "massive daily police effort to quell disturbances," that got PaeTec to commit to downtown!   (At least for now.)

Can Ms. Zimmer-Meyer find one downtown business owner who will say that large crowds of kids loitering on the street, fighting and worse, helps his or her business?

Can she identify a single investor who's put money into downtown because of, not in spite of, this problem?   (We'll call it a problem because the people promoting the arts center call it a problem, for which they're furnishing part of a solution.)

Perhaps she can bring out developers of the high-end lofts in the vicinity, to say that crowds of kids on the street are moving those loft sales.

All this from the head of a leading downtown development agency?   How a competent person responsible for her own actions could make such a statement tests one's understanding.   Perhaps a quiet word of counseling is in order.

Watch, Heidi:   "This is drugs . . . "


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Racist Hate Speech

. . . from House Democratic Caucus

Roll Call reports:

The frustration with President Barack Obama over his tax cut compromise was palpable and even profane at Thursday’s House Democratic Caucus meeting.

One unidentified lawmaker went so far as to mutter “f- - - the president” . . .
When will the incivility stop?


A Progressive Response: Civil Disobedience

Defy the Bush Tax Cuts

On Monday the American Left experienced what Republicans went through in August 1990.   That's when President Bush the First caved in to Democrats and abandoned his "read my lips -- no new taxes" pledge.   It split apart the Reagan coalition, created a primary challenge, gave rise to the Ross Perot candidacy and got Clinton elected in 1992.   Rank-and-file Republicans just had to take it.

Unlike those earlier partisans, today's American Left can fight back boldly.

Hate the Bush tax cuts?   Fight back -- pay your taxes at the pre-Bush rates.

This goes especially for lefty multimillionaires who asked Obama to raise taxes, like Soros, Buffet, Gates, John Kerry, and angry white millionaire liberal pundits like Frank Rich and Paul Krugman.   All the members of the "Let us play with our millions while we prevent you from getting to where we are" club.

Progressives can respond to Obama's cave-in with civil disobedience, and make the ultimate statement of principled progressive dissent:   pay your taxes at the Clinton tax rates.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Deceptive Posturing on the Tax Deal

First:   There's been no income tax "giveaway" to "the wealthy" or to anybody else.

  Obama's Tax Deal doesn't cut any income tax rates.   It just doesn't raise them.

  And you can't "give away" to anybody something that already belongs to them.   Your income is yours, not the government's.   You just have to pay some tax on it.
Secondly:   No.   Avoiding a tax increase doesn't make the deficit worse.
Because if the Left had its way, government would spend the money anyway.

Katrina vanden Heuvel in yesterday's Washington Post:
The $60 billion each year in Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans could pay for universal preschool for America's children, or tuition and board for half of America's college students.
Nice things to do.   But spending in that way the money gained through a big tax hike does nothing to reduce the deficit.


ECCLESIASTICAL SHOCK: Mainstream Religious Leader, other than Pope, Says Something Sensible

Not only that, but it's the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the totally hip, totally swinging, trendier-than-thou Anglican church.

"The weary annual attempts by right-thinking people in Britain to ban or discourage Nativity plays or public carol-singing out of sensitivity to the supposed tender consciences of other religions fail to notice that most people of other religions and cultures both love the story and respect the message. . . . Christmas is one of the great European exports."

"His remarks come just days after his predecessor, Lord Carey, condemned the attempt to 'airbrush' the Christian faith 'out of the picture' at Christmas."

Full article.
The End Times are truly upon us.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's Ours is Ours; What's Yours is Up for Grabs -- Latest Chapter

Recently we observed how, when local Democratic-controlled public bodies are empowered to make a decision, no one questions their authority to do so.   However, when Republican-controlled institutions are so empowered, our local chapter of the Democratic-Media Complex insists that such power be shared, or given away.

Now, still stinging from the failure of Democrats to win control of the Monroe County Legislature in 2009, the Democrat and Chronicle has begun the campaign to flip control of the Lej to its side by other means.   Specifically, by tampering with the redistricting process.

Every ten years the County Legislature appoints a District Revision Commission to recommend new County legislative district lines based on the most recent U.S. Census.

Thanksgiving weekend the paper ran pieces on consecutive days, calling on the Legislature's majority Republicans essentially to turn over their authority to appoint the District Revision Comission to "independent" outsiders.   In Saturday's paper the president of the dependably liberal League of Women Voters called on the Legislature's majority to make sure such a panel amply represents all "political communities of interest," among other recommendations that added up to this:   Republicans shouldn't get to decide.

The next day's lead editorial called for outsiders, not lawmakers, to draw new district lines.   Minority Democrats in the County Legislature recently proposed just such a change in the process.

Had local Democrats picked up the one seat they needed to take control of the County Legislature in 2009, they wouldn't be going anywhere near a proposal to change the redistricting process, which would have been in their hands.   Nor would the Democrat and Chronicle, or a dedicatedly liberal group like the League of Women Voters.

It reveals the essential fairness of the current redistricting process that, in 2009, local Democrats were just a single seat away from winning control in that year's election.   After the 2009 election the party split was 15 - 14, as it had been for two years previously.   Except for a core of monolithically Democratic districts in the City, all districts in the County Legislature are competitive.

Contrast that with the New York State Assembly, where Democrats, who control Assembly redistricting, currently hold 107 seats to the Republicans' 42.   Now, there's a place to start redistricting reform.

No majority party in any legislature in America, at any level, voluntarily relinquishes the power to redistrict.   Nor will our County Legislature's majority Republicans.

The Democratic Minority and its collaborators at the D&C know this.   Nevertheless, they'll drumbeat the idea repeatedly between now and next November, when all 29 seats in the County Legislature are up for election.   Their goal is simply to try to put the Legislature's Republicans on the defensive, and to that extent, at least, they'll succeed.

This issue lends itself nicely to several inventive ways for the Republicans to go successfully on the offensive, turning it back around on the opposition and making the legislature's Democrats wish they had never brought up the subject of changing the method of redistricting.

That, of course, won't happen.   Our County Legislature's Republicans are long on public policy smarts, but diffident when it comes to speaking up for their own side.   At least that seems to have been the pattern ever since they remained silent while Democrats walked all over them in the debate over appointment of the Public Defender a few years ago.   In fairness, this approach hasn't hurt them in elections, where they've triumphed resoundingly the last few times out.

But the opposition will try, so we may expect the Democrats and the D&C to get some traction out of this issue over the next eleven months.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Where are the Republicans?

Special election or appointment leading to a general in the fall of Nov 2011 is the elephant (no pun intended) in the room in Rochester right now.

Everywhere I go I hear people ask “Where are the Republicans on this?” “It is about time that the Republicans do something in the city.”   To this I almost always reply, Where are you?

Where are you during campaign season when candidates are out door knocking?   Where are you when it is time to talk to neighbors about what candidates you are supporting?   Are you even bothering to get out and support a candidate?

Most of the time the answers to my questions are met with blank stares.   So my challenge to anyone who cares about what is going on in the city right now is to get involved.   Stop sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone to show up and change the situation.   Get out and make sure that it is happening by getting involved in a campaign or candidate that you feel best represents you.

And to all of the Democrats in the city:   if City Council opts for a Special election and you aren’t happy about it, send a message to your party that you aren’t going to blindly walk in and pull their lever any longer.   If you don’t, please don’t waste everyone’s time jumping up and down and yelling about how your vote was stolen.

So to the question of "where are the Republicans?," I ask again:   Where are you?


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shame on President Seligman

... President of the University of Rochester, for repeating in this morning's newspaper the falsehood-by-half-truth that choosing a Mayor by Special Election will give voters a meaningful chance to vote:

"Is a special election undemocratic?   Far from it.   Every registered voter can vote. Any party can nominate a candidate.   Write in candidates are permissible."
Sure they'll get to vote -- in a meaningless election.

Who gets the Democratic nomination in Rochester wins the election.   So the real election is the Democratic primary -- if there is one.   Which there won't be under the Special Election scenario.

A straightforward reality that can be grasped by any schoolboy, let alone a college President.

Shame on Seligman for promoting this shabby deception.

He should be feeling most un-selig about it.


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Coward's Way Out

So Tom Richards is willing to serve as Mayor of Rochester -- but only if he's spared the inconvenience of a real election!

His announcement yesterday was cleverly timed to try to interrupt the growing momentum among City Democratic committees toward an appointment now, followed by a General Election in November.   That would permit a Democratic primary in September, in which Democratic voters select their party's nominee.

Richards wants, instead, to go the route of a Special Election in the Spring, which precludes a Democratic primary.   Democratic voters and committees would have no say in choosing their party's nominee.   The nominee would be chosen behind closed doors and presented to them without choice.   In the monolithically Democratic City, the Democratic nomination is tantamount to election.

Not a bad deal for Richards, a guy who only registered as a Democrat a few weeks ago!

We've only ever heard good things about Tom Richards, and up to now have thought of him as a real mensch.   But why is he afraid of the voters?

Richards would be starting off on the wrong foot if he continues to insist on the Special Election.   While claiming his motivation is to avoid "politics," what he's doing is conniving with backroom Democratic elites in order to cut out Democratic voters; asking to be appointed Mayor without campaigning or earning it through the electoral process.

"I am committed to this City," said would-be Mayor Richards yesterday, before he went on to say, in effect, that unless he's handed the office without working for it, he's not so committed after all.

He'll only be mayor, he said, if it's through the Special Election, not if it's through the General Election that gives Democratic voters the say in who's going to be their candidate.

A perfect "Let them eat cake" declaration.

Richards has the Party's elites behind him, including the party's press organ, the Democrat and Chronicle.   On the other side are 7 of the 10 Democratic committees in the City and the Rochester Labor Council.   All support the General Election scenario.

If the Democratic elites bypass their party's voters, who knows?   Maybe the City Republicans will be smart enough to nominate Molly Clifford.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hanukkah!


Well, Maybe If You're an Editor at the Democrat and Chronicle ...

North Korea attacks the South ... a tense run-up to Congress's lame-duck session ... a cliffhanger local Congressional election on the verge of resolution ... implications for special session of State Legislature ... controversy over airport body scanners ... there's a scout troop short a child, Krushchev's due at Idlewild   --   and here's November 23rd's top headline in what passes for a newspaper in Rochester.

Quick -- somebody call the Pulitzer Committee!


Thanks to Balloon Juice for the link!   Plenty of comments from readers sounding off about the wretched quality of Gannett.