Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for April 28th, 2011

Managing not to name names…

Posted by Charles II on April 28, 2011

There are some stories that make me want to pistol whip the reporter. Nicholas Confessore of the NYT reports that there is enormous waste in the NY State budget:

  • A million square feet of office space standing vacant while state agencies were signing leases as recently as December!
  • Millions spent to operate 850 toll free numbers, some of which have not been dialed in months!
  • Servers are at half capacity, but divisions that need servers buy them!
  • There’s no inventory for real estate!
  • They buy prisoners kosher hot dogs!
  • Many other lurid but meaningless details!
  • Well, ok. Wasting money is bad. But as we parse through the story, we discover that the grand total of this alleged waste is…1% of the state budget. Most businesses would be thrilled to discover that that is the extent of their waste.

    The story provides no context for a lot of the lurid details. For example, is Confessore proposing that Jewish (and Muslim) prisoners be forced to eat pork as part of their punishment? Are the numbers that haven’t been dialed in months, numbers where people can report financial fraud and could therefore save millions at the cost of thousands? How many square feet of office space is there? These are facts that one shouldn’t have to pistol whip reporters to get them to include them in their stories.

    The only unambiguously serious point that I found in Confessore’s article is that data centers which are supposed to provide redundancy are located within a few miles of one another, meaning that a disaster could threaten the integrity of NY State’s data. That’s worth worrying about.

    And, as we parse through the story, we discover that no context is provided for exactly who was in charge during the past years, when all this vast amount (1%) of waste developed. From 1995-2006, the governor was Republican George Pataki. Elliott Spitzer was in charge for slightly over a year when he was forced out for the specious reason that he had used the services of a prostitute, something that one can bet that half the men in the legislature have done as well. This put the inept David Paterson in charge for slightly over 2 years.

    Furthermore–and this is a key point– the landlord for much of New York’s governmental real estate is Carl Paladino, a reactionary Tea Party figure whose crony insider relationships with Republicans in Albany enriched him at taxpayer expense. Not that one can blame the Republicans entirely for Paladino– he was a Democrat until it became inconvenient.

    The state senate was Republican for many years until 2009. The Assembly has been more evenly divided, but Republicans had control for many, many of the relevant years.

    So, you’ll get no argument from me that both parties have been derelict in oversight, but it strikes me that one cannot understand the story of inefficiency without naming some names, most of which would be Republican. I would not call 1% inefficiency a big story, but in times of tight budgets, it’s the kind of thing that raises resentments. Cuomo, I would say, is–with Confessore’s assistance– grandstanding, but maybe reforms will keep a few more widows and orphans off the streets. But for the life of me I cannot understand how the NY Times can write a story about “waste, fraud, and abuse” without naming the names of people who could have done something, and didn’t.

    As the story is written, it simply feeds into the atmosphere of Neroism that afflicts our national scene. It is an abuse of the power of the media.

    Posted in 'starving the beast', abuse of power, media, Media machine | 1 Comment »

    The Fight of the Century

    Posted by Charles II on April 28, 2011

    via Ritholtz.

    Alas, it does not provide a real conclusion nor get into the real issues. Instead, it’s mostly a grudge match as airbrushed by the losers. But the music is catchy and the visuals amusing. So let us amuse ourselves to death.

    Posted in economy | Comments Off on The Fight of the Century

    Support the Fourth Amendment

    Posted by Charles II on April 28, 2011

    From Cornell Law:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Thomas Tamm, who acted to defend the Fourth Amendment, had his home invaded with agents with drawn weapons, had his phone tapped and his e-mail read, and was subjected to investigation for four years, at which time the government concluded that he had behaved entirely legally in telling the New York Times of criminal–i.e., illegal– wiretaps by the Bush Administration. The Holder Justice Department, rather than drop the harassment promptly and with an apology–and recompense– waited over a year and has issued neither an apology nor helped Tamm with his enormous legal bills.

    Support the Fourth Amendment. Help Thomas Tamm:

    [Edit, 5/2/11Thomas Tamm Legal Defense Fund
    Bank of Georgetown
    5236 44th Street
    Washington, DC 20015

    I understand that this account has been closed. I am seeking updated information].

    Posted in BushCo malfeasance, Department of Injustice, heroes, NSA eavesdropping | 2 Comments »

    Send Robert Erickson to Netroots Nation 11!

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 28, 2011

    All you have to do is to vote for him here: http://www.democracyforamerica.com/netroots_nation_scholarships/1358-robert-erickson

    Who is Robert Erickson? He’s the guy that, in between pranking Tea Party gatherings, came up with the most visually memorable political action in Minnesota last year — the penny dump that kept Tom Emmer out of the Governor’s Mansion.

    What is Netroots Nation 11? It’s the 2011 gathering of progressive activists from all over America — and from much of the rest of the world as well — and it’s being held in Minneapolis this year. Or, as the folks behind Netroots Nation say:

    Netroots Nation amplifies progressive voices by providing an online and in-person campus for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate. Through our annual convention and a series of regional salons held throughout the year, we strengthen our community, inspire action and serve as an incubator for ideas that challenge the status quo and ultimately affect change in the public sphere.

    Why Robert Erickson should go: See above.

    Why you should go: You might bump into Al Gore, or hear from Nancy Pelosi, You will get to see and hear Russ Feingold, learn about how the right-wingers “work the refs” of the media to spin things their way (and how we can fight back), find out how progressives rallied in Wisconsin, and why the nuts-and-bolts of politics matter. All this in a four-day weekend.

    Hell, you might even see me. Though I’d never tell.

    (Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

    Posted in Minnesota | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

     
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