Friday, July 25, 2008

NY Times Takes Gantt to the Woodshed; Sheds No Tears For Upstate

The New York Times published an editorial yesterday morning sharply critical of Assemblyman David Gantt and his "iron-fisted" control of the Assembly Transportation Committee.

The editorial was complaining about Gantt's blockage of legislation which would allow New York City to install cameras on street poles to catch red light violations. The Times had strong words about Gantt:

"Mr. Gantt is a Democratic assemblyman from Rochester. That’s the Rochester that is 333 miles from Times Square. He has long controlled the State Assembly’s Transportation Committee with an iron fist, micromanaging New York City’s traffic from afar and for bewildering reasons. At one point this year, when journalists asked him why he was blocking a particular city traffic bill, he said: “That’s for me to know and you to find out.” So much for transparency in Albany".

The Times should have called Ralph Esposito and asked him what he thought about Gantt's behavior. Ralph would have told them that sounds like the David Gantt he knows all too well.

There were three things that really struck me about the editorial, though. One is the fact that the Times was so hard on a Democrat. They will probably use this editorial to prove that they are "issue oriented" not "agenda oriented". Yeah, right.

Second, I had to laugh at the suggestion that Sheldon Silver should (or would) do anything about Gantt. The editorial called for Silver to remove Gantt, stating:

"It makes no sense for one upstate legislator to strangle progress — and safety — in New York City. This should be a matter decided by New York’s mayor and City Council. Since it is not, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his Democratic majority should replace committee chairmen like Mr. Gantt who have clearly been there too long. If he won’t, the voters should".

Sheldon Silver doesn't do anything he doesn't want to do. David Gantt is on Silver's team and that's all that counts. Which, relating to my previous post, questions the sincerity of Richard Dollinger's call for "change" in Albany. Can he get Shelly to sign on?

Finally, I was amazed at the fact that the Times' editorial board so openly displayed their disdain for "Upstate". While I can understand their impatience with Gantt, their umbrage at the fact that a legislator from Rochester (which is, apparently, 333 miles from Times Square) could impact the mighty Gotham, was surprisingly blunt. I don't recall any editorials lamenting the fact that 99% of the time NY City legislators force their will on Upstate residents.

Oh well, at least they didn't leave any doubt about how they feel about us hillbilly's.

Dollinger on Lonsberry

Democratic State Senate candidate Richard Dollinger filled in today on Bob Lonsberry's show broadcast by WHAM radio.

I wished I could have listened to all of the show and had time to call in. Dollinger spoke approvingly of Barak Obama and indicated his belief that electing Obama would result in "the change we all need" in Washington.

I would loved to have asked Mr. Dollinger what specific changes he was expecting as a result of an Obama presidency. It would be good to hear someone articulate just what specifically Obama should be reasonably expected to do as President.

Mr. Dollinger also spoke of needed changes in Albany. I guess he hopes to be part of the change. I'd like to know if Mr. Dollinger thinks that we should expect anything new from Sheldon Silver, or if the only change really needed in Albany is a turn to complete Democrat control of State government.

Dollinger spent much of his opening remarks talking about the Hilton Fireman's festival. He lauded the Village of Hilton and the Hilton firemen. He spoke of how vital they were to creating the sense of community in Hilton. I wonder if he has an opinion on local government consolidation? The Democrats in Albany and in the County Legislature and the Democrat & Chronicle editorial page, regularly insist that we have too many local government units, like the Village of Hilton and the Hilton Fire District.

So which is it, Mr. Dollinger? Do you support these entities or do you support consolidation? Or, do you have one view as a candidate but plan to act on a different one if you are elected? Maybe that would explain why you are so supportive of Mr. Obama. Running one way but planning to govern another is right out of Obama's playbook.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

D&C Double Talk on Oil

This morning's editorial in the Democrat & Chronicle really rubbed me the wrong way. It was typical of the D&C's editorial board (and was clearly a Tom Tobin piece) in that it included both a cheap shot at George Bush and hypocrisy on oil prices.

The editorial ostensibly commenting on the President's decision to lift the executive ban on off-shore oil drilling, quickly launched into the obligatory criticism of George Bush. In this case, his order is "too little, too late". For the D&C, there is nothing George Bush can do that gets praise. If there is a story or editorial comment which mentions the President, it contains some criticism. If Bush discovered a cure for cancer, the D&C would find a way to diminish the discovery. I don't know what Tom Tobin will write about once Bush is out.

Equally annoying was the part of the editorial which contains the standard liberal hypocrisy on gasoline prices and energy policy. Tobin's editorial contains these paragraphs:

"And the history, to be complete, would have to detail how the American consumer time and again took the gas-guzzling path even in the face of global warming and an unhealthy dependency on imports.

There are consequences to inaction of this kind, and America is seeing them now. Presidents don't pump their own gas every morning or shop for products whose prices have spiked in part because of fuel costs. Ordinary Americans do. As always, the pain of poor policy is visited on those who had the least to do with devising it."

This is vintage Tobin and vintage "progressive". Tobin claims to decry high gas prices and the "pain" they cause consumers. Yet, he also criticises those consumers for using too much gasoline. Moreover, he, like most liberals in thrall to the environment lobby, actually supported high gasoline prices as a way of forcing consumers to change their ways.

This is the "big lie" for liberals. For years they supported higher gasoline taxes to raise the price of gasoline to encourage development of alternatives. They apparently did not care about "the pain" those higher prices would cause consumers. Now that consumers (read "voters") are angry about the price of gas, liberals cry crocodile tears about those prices and try to blame others.

Finally, regarding the Democrats argument that drilling now won't help with oil prices now, recent events may already be proving that wrong. The mere discussion about drilling has had an effect on the oil futures market, part of the cause for the downtrend in the price of crude oil.

The editorial is correct about the need for a comprehensive energy policy. But that policy needs to include drilling for and producing oil in the US.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Oil And Politics: Part Two

To my mind, there has been no greater failure on the part of our national government than its failure to enact a viable energy policy. Given the impressive number of failures of our government, that's saying something!

Since the 1970's, we have known that our economy was at risk of being "held hostage" by our dependence on foreign oil supplies. Yet, we have fiddled, Nero-like, as Rome burned.

Who is "to blame"? Well, there's plenty of blame to go around, but its not really relevant anymore. The real issue is what can we do now. Part of the reason for the current inaction in Washington is that desire to "pin the blame" on one side or the other. We need to demand that our so-called leaders stop playing politics and start doing their jobs.

Mortimer Zuckerman, editor of The U.S. News & World Report, has written a very compelling article which appeared in Real Clear Politics. In it, he points out that both reductions in consumption and increases are required. He forcefully opined that its time that a bi-partisan plan be enacted, stating:

"The clear implication for the United States is that the age-old standoff on whether domestic drilling or conservation is the solution is now irrelevant. We must have both."

Zuckerman believes that we should enact serious CAFE standards to reduce consumption of oil, similar to those in Europe. He points out that Congress would have passed such standards in 1990 but for the efforts of Michigan politicians to thwart such action. Had they been enacted we would now be saving 3 million barrels of oil per day.

He also calls for more domestic production and refining capacity. He explains the immediate, as well as longer-term benefits of doing so. Further, he criticised over-zealous environmental advocates, who he believes fail to acknowledge advances in technology which reduce risk of harm to the environment. An example of his views in this regard as to drilling in ANWR:

" This would do no permanent damage to an environment in one of the bleakest, most remote places on this continent—except to inconvenience some caribou that might have to find a different place to mate. We cannot lose over $40 billion a year to serve the caribou."

In conclusion, Zuckerman offered five more steps to take in conjunction with the above-referenced efforts:

"1. Reallocate resources to concentrate funds on providing the necessary R&D support for energy efficiency. We must do this with the real menace of global warming in mind. James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, frames the issue this way: Our biggest worry is not what we put in our cars but what we put in our power plants. He believes that we should stop the use of coal by 2030, except with those power plants that can capture the carbon dioxide.

2. Fix our mass transit system for both freight and passengers. When you consider rail in terms of energy, steel wheels on steel rails are some 10 times as efficient as rubber on roads. A real rail program could probably have the single greatest impact on our oil consumption and on the release of carbon dioxide. A single locomotive run by two men can haul the same amount of freight as 70 modern semitrailer truck rigs with 70 drivers. One passenger train can take 1,000 cars off the road.

3. Raise fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks immediately.

4. Substantially increase the gas tax, offsetting it with other tax cuts to induce people to buy fuel-efficient vehicles.

5. Pursue alternative energy technologies within the limits of the market."

Victor Davis Hanson also has similar views regarding Washington's failure to address these serious problems. His July 8th "Works And Days" blog post included these paragraphs:

"Worried about Congressional rankings in the single digits, Democratic Senators and Congress people are parading out to news conferences to assure us that “we can’t drill our way out of this energy crisis” (who said we could?), and that what little oil we would find off our coasts (no mention of the natural gas) would “take ten years” and only shave “pennies” off a gallon of gas. Examine the logic: we don’t develop these resources because of the time lag? But isn’t there a time lag in creating a viable electric battery, a hydrogen car, solar and wind farms, a new nuclear plant? And the logic is puerile: we simply freeze and assume a fetal position since the results of our labors are only of long-term use?

As for a “few pennies.” Well, a few pennies here, a few there really do add up. In other words, a million barrels in ANWR, a million off our coasts, a million from tar sands, a million in shale, a million on the continental shelf, a million from conservation and pretty soon we have saved trillions in imported oil costs, and provided the necessary bridge, the critical breathing space for electric cars or flex-fuels, or whatever. No supporter of drilling thinks we are going to return to the days of the gas-powered Yukon and Hummer. But we need to preserve our civilization and not mortgage it to the Arabs, Russians, Iranians, and Venezuelans in the process of going green."

It has been 35 years since the OPEC oil embargo. Can it be that our leaders have failed to take the steps needed to reduce our dependence on foreign oil? It is failure of the greatest magnitude. There is no easy solution now, but its time to start.

There is no reason to believe we will get any relief, at least on the domestic production side, if Obama becomes President. The Democrats are wholly committed to over-zealous environmentalism. Nancy Pelosi was quoted in the New York Times as saying ... "if Democrats relented on drilling, 'then we might as well pack it up and go home'.” Given that view, our only hope is John McCain.

McCain has been almost as bad as the Democrats on domestic production. He only recently came around on off-shore drilling. He needs to move farther and be bolder on this issue. It is perhaps the only issue on which the GOP can have the upper hand over the Dems in the minds of the public.

As things stand now, it is my view that Barack Obama will be elected President. McCain needs something to change that dynamic. $5.00 gasoline may do it. McCain needs to take the position that the price of gasoline and our dependence on foreign oil are threatening our economy, indeed, our very way of life in America. He needs to propose steps similar to those outlined by Zuckerman. Obama and the Democrats are wedded to their enviro-zealot supporters. The average American will welcome the chance to assert American determination to solve this problem and to stop pouring money into our enemies coffers.

I hope McCain is smart enough to seize the opportunity.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Developing Nations Cool To G8 Global Warming Trend

The world leaders at the G8 summit espoused their commitment to cutting global carbon emissions. China and India demurred.

As noted in this Daily Telegraph editorial, the leaders of the G8 appear totally committed to slashing carbon emissions, even though scientists are starting to have second thoughts. Calling their views "cuckoo" the editorial noted:

"If the G8's leaders genuinely wanted to cut carbon emissions by 50 per cent over the next 40 years, this would mean taking steps they haven't even begun to contemplate. It would require such a drastic cut in our energy use and standard of living that their peoples would have risen up in mass revolt long before the target was reached."

Shockingly, George Bush was given the only accolade the editorial had for the summiteers, stating:

"And nothing better shows up the unreality of all this - as President Bush tried to point out in the summit's only flash of honesty - than the fact that China (not represented at the G8, although it now has the world's fourth largest economy) is already putting out more CO2 than anyone else. As it builds two new coal-fired power stations a week, China has no more intention than India of joining the Western economic suicide club."

Just what is the optimum temperature of the Earth, anyway? Are we really sure enough of the science on this to risk crashing the economies of the major Western powers? Its not as though our economy is in such great shape that we could risk an additional setback.

Frankly, most people won't long stand for policies that stunt economic growth and cause energy prices to rise. There have already been signs that Americans are beginning to move away from radical environmentalism.

Not a moment too soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Golisano's Golden Rule

Joe Spector posted the following story on the D&C "Political Scene" Blog:

"Tom Golisano, the billionaire founder of Paychex Inc., is unveiling his new political action committee tomorrow in Albany, called Responsible New York.

Golisano, the three-time gubernatorial candidate, is expected to announce that he will put $1 million into races where he thinks the incumbent hasn't been doing a good job. He is already set to put his money into backing three Senate Democratic candidates; "Baby" Joe Mesi, who is running for a seat being vacated by Sen. Mary Lou Rath, R-Amherst, Erie County; Kathy Konst, who is expected to run against Sen. Dale Volker, R-Depew, Erie County; and Richard Dollinger, who is running against Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece.

He is also said to be considering backing Democrat David Nachbar, a millionaire in his own right, in Nachbar's quest to unseat Republican Sen. James Alesi, R-Perinton."

What is most apparent to me about Tom Golisano is his ego.

He has apparently decided to use his money to deliver the NY State Senate (and thus, complete control in Albany) to the Democrats. Maybe the Senate will be called the "Golisano State Senate", since he usually needs to have his name attached to the things he supports financially.

Meanwhile, where is the criticism of abuse of wealth by a "fat-cat"? I have read many rants in the D&C against rich power brokers when those benefited by such largess were Republicans. There was a feeble effort at criticism of money in politics in this editorial, in yesterday's D&C, but it only mentioned Golisano in passing.

It appears that the criticism from Mr. Tobin and the D&C is muted if the money goes to pols they support.

Make Mine Rare

Based upon the details in this editorial from the Democrat & Chronicle, I'd say that Denver steakhouse owners should be prepared for some booming business during the Democrat convention in August.

The D&C reported that the Dems efforts to have a "green" convention include stipulations that food for 40,000 be "locally grown and organic" and another that "each plate must be 50 percent fruits and vegetables". In addition, "caterers must provide food in at least three of the following colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple and white".

When those Democrat delegates get out of the Convention Hall, they are going to be hungry. I'm betting the color they'll be looking for is "pink"..... in the center of their porterhouse.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

More From Hanson

OK, OK, I know I'm always pushing Victor Davis Hanson on you. But you have to read this essay by VDH from the National Review Online (courtesy of Real Clear Politics).

This piece is basically his Fourth of July reminder that we live in America, not simply the greatest country on Earth, but the greatest country in the entire history of the planet!

Not only do I agree with Hanson, but he backs up his opinions with factual, historical arguments. I only wish some of the whiners out there would read stuff like this and be embarrassed for themselves. Maybe if they stopped looking for someone to solve all of their problems, they might realize that we have it pretty good in America.

Moreover, I wish we had a couple of members of Congress who would stop playing partisan politics and take the steps Hanson writes about, which could correct the problems we do have. It might be nice, for example, if we had fewer Congressional hearings on steroid use in baseball and more work on real issues.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Proud to be an American

Today is the 232nd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

When I think about the Founding Fathers, I always end up focused on the last line of the Declaration which states:

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor".

Many of them gave their lives and fortunes to the cause. I thank them for it. I often wonder where the likes of the Founders are today. Maybe some of them are in Iraq. Please look at this PowerLine post, which describes the largest single re-enlistment ceremony in the history of the US military.

PowerLine quotes General David Petraeus on the event: “ [It is] impossible to calculate the value of what you are giving to our country . . . For no bonus, no matter the size, can adequately compensate you for the contribution each of you makes as a custodian of our nation’s defenses.”

Thank God for those brave men and women. Apparently God still does bless America.

I wonder if this kind of event makes Michele Obama proud of America? I know it makes be proud and thankful to live here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Obama: A "Different Kind of Politician"?

Barak Obama and his supporters have tried very hard to portray him as a different (read: better) kind of politician.

I have seen little evidence to support such a view. He seems to do the things every other politician does, like speak in vague terms, tell people what they want to hear, allow surrogates to attack political opponents, etc. The only real difference seems to be the degree to which the liberal media protects him. For example, after Wesley Clark attacked John McCain's military experience, Obama gave a speech on patriotism. The media reported that Obama had rejected Clark's criticism. In fact, he never mentioned Clark or McCain. But the media felt the need to shield Obama from any fallout from Clark's nasty remarks.

If you want to know more about the real Obama, you have to read other sources, like V. D. Hanson, Micle Malkin, or PowerLine. There is some very interesting commentary in this PowerLine post.

It could just be me but I think Obama is old school.

Brooks Recommends Reilich

County Executive Maggie Brooks made a smart choice with her recommendation to have Assemblyman William Reilich replace Steve Minarik as Monroe County GOP Chairman.

Reilich has the skills, experience and personality to carry off what will be a difficult job. As I previously noted, there could have been a perception that Minarik's replacement would be a Brooks' surrogate. By choosing Reilich, Maggie has picked someone who is an ally, but who has had an independent political base and who can credibly claim independence from manipulation.

Bill Reilich is a great guy and is one of those rare politicians who have virtually no enemies. I have heard very few negative comments about Bill over the years. Bill represented part of Gates when he was first elected to the Monroe County Legislature and he always worked very hard for us. His personality and style are clearly suited for the current political atmosphere.

My personal regrets and concerns about Minarik's departure still remain. Steve left very big shoes to fill. But kudos to Maggie Brooks for nominating a person who could quell most of those concerns. This choice is sure to be met with widespread support in the county GOP. I am sure that virtually all GOP party leaders will look forward to working with Bill, as do I.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Oil And Politics

Its beginning to look like the Republican Party may have latched onto a winning argument with the "Drill Here, Drill Now" campaign. A front page story in today's Democrat & Chronicle reported on a poll showing that growing numbers of Americans now perceive increasing domestic oil production as being more important than environmental concerns.

So the GOP has the right message, but do they have the right messenger? John McCain is a global warming supporter who still thinks ANWR should be off limits to drilling. He has recently softened his views on off-shore drilling and, I suppose, an abrupt about-face on ANWR would be met with charges of "flip-flopping" by the Democrats.

Still, McCain needs to come up with a plausible domestic production agenda. The GOP is clearly on the right side of this issue (and has been for 25 years). This is the one issue that could "stanch the bleeding" with respect to Republican losses of seats in Congress. McCain is, for good or ill, the GOP standard bearer. His take on "Drill Here, Drill Now" will be the one that the GOP will have to live with.

My next post will deal with the incomprehensible failure of Congress to enact a serious energy program which combines conservation, increased production and development of new energy resources.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hanson On The Mark

When I read Victor Davis Hanson's blog posts, articles and books, I almost want to give up blogging. He has usually already written what I am thinking, but in a much more eloquent way.

Here's a link to Hanson's blog. Scroll through it. He is right on the mark about Obama and the Democrat/Liberal elites who are about to gain control of our country. Take a few minutes and read some of his stuff. VDH is the master!

Don't Spend It All In One Place

My wife and I received our "stimulus check" yesterday. It was a whopping $31.30. I have been trying to figure out how I could use it in a way that would best stimulate the sluggish US economy.

The really funny thing about the check was the letter explaining how the amount was arrived at. First, we qualified for $1,200.00 as taxpayers filing jointly. Then we added $600.00 for our dependent children. Great, we were up to $1,800.00! I was ready to start stimulating!

Not so fast said the IRS. It seems that because of our vast, Trump-like income, there was a deduction of $1,768.70. Apparently Uncle Sam thought my last name was Golisano, not DiCaro.

The final irony was the last paragraph which pointed out that low-income Americans, even if they had paid no taxes, would receive $300.00 - $600.00. So, if you were like me and had paid too much in taxes, you got little or no rebate; if you paid no tax, you got a $300.00 - $600.00 check!

You gotta love Congress!

Surrender By Any Other Name

Today the expressions of joy over the demise of the ogre Steve Minarik continued unabated.

In a "Speaking Out" piece in the Democrat & Chronicle, Ed Pettinella, Chairman of the Rochester Business Alliance wrote of his pleasure at the notion that with Minarik out of the way, great success was around the corner due to the incipient collaboration between the GOP and Dems. I know Ed is a really smart guy and crafty businessman, but he's way off the mark here.

Minarik's end is the beginning of the end for Republican control of Monroe County. And, for all of you too young or idealistic to remember or know what its like to live in a Democrat controlled jurisdiction: get ready! You are soon to see what happens when the "progressives" get the chance to "do good" for all those "in need". All of the "good" they do will be at the expense of productive forces in the community.

Meanwhile, Ed, Maggie, don't hold your breath waiting for the Democrats to work with you to bring about Nirvana. Their goal will be to collaborate with you to get what they want; control of the County government.

Oh, and one last question, when did "collaboration" become a good thing? Isn't that what the Vichy French did with the Nazis? At least come up with a better term for what you're doing. Why not use "surrender"?