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Do the right thing: Paterson should, Collins did

   The cock-eyed optimists in The Buffalo News Opinion corner today hope for a good outcome in the tax disputed between the State of New York and the Seneca Nation, and praise the Erie County decision to restore funding for child care subsidies:

- Negotiate with Senecas - Buffalo News Editorial
   The law and justice are on the side of Gov. David A. Paterson’s plan to start collecting state taxes on tobacco products sold by the state’s Native American nations.
   That doesn’t mean the governor won’t have to be very careful in the way he follows through with that pledge.
   [State lawyers win another round in cigarette tax battle - Buffalo News
   Paterson said last week that he had been warned by his own State Police that “violence and death” could be the result of any effort to go against the Seneca and Oneida nations’ long-standing and heartfelt Daveandmike opposition to collecting or paying state taxes. Previous pledges to collect the taxes have been met with demonstrations and confrontations, and have resulted in state officials giving up. ...
   If the governor can keep a cool head—ignore the intemperate advice from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to “put on his cowboy hat” and stand up to the Indians —he might be able to work something out.
   And, like it or not, the Senecas are not only within but part of a larger community. Paterson might gently remind the native leaders that, despite their protestations of independence, their tribal members are not so divorced from New York State. They do, after all, avail themselves of everything from education and welfare to police protection and access to public infrastructure that are funded by, yes, state taxes.
   The fairness the Native nations seeks should reflect that fact.
   Related views:
- Statement From Seneca Nation of Indians President Barry E. Snyder Sr - PR Newswire 
- Time to kick butts - New York Daily News Editorial
- Saddle up, Dave - New York Post Editorial
- State must be firm on Indian tobacco tax - Utica Observer-Dispatch Editorial   
- The benefits of tobacco taxes - Mary Cushman/Burlington [Vt.] Free Press
- Stop high taxes on cigarettes - Andrew Harris/Wellsville Daily Reporter 

   And:
- More families will get help - Buffalo News Editorial
   County Executive Chris Collins has done the right thing in restoring some child care subsidies as Albany promises $6 million more in additional aid in the state’s current budget year. ...
   [More families eligible for subsidies - Buffalo News 8/24/10
   It was a hard pill to swallow for many families, which had to figure out how to balance child care and low-wage jobs. The cost of unsubsidized child care made a trip back to the welfare rolls likely, if not a rush on Medicaid and food stamps and any number of other tax-supported programs. ...
  This latest development cannot be attributed to any moral or policy epiphany. It’s simply a matter of finance. But making more working families eligible for child care subsidies is the right thing to do.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Rethinking the mosque

   As Frank Rich points out, it is not a mosque, and it is not at Ground Zero. But lots of people have things to say about the Ground Zero mosque.

- Rethink the mosque - Buffalo News Editorial
... President Obama seems to be on the same side as the people. He picked the celebration of Ramadan Adamislamophobia to say it is the right of Muslims to build there, but later added fuel to an already blazing debate by refusing to say whether or not he thinks it is the right thing to do. That at least mirrors public sentiment; a Siena Poll released Wednesday indicated more and more people are following the issue, and that while most oppose the project (63 percent to 27 percent) most also think the developers have a constitutional right to build it (64 percent to 28 percent).
   We believe, too, that Muslims have the right to build the mosque -- but that it is not the right thing to do.

- Rush to condemn mosque leads nowhere - Douglas Turner/The Buffalo News
   Thanks to Obama, this is now a controversy that has no happy ending. If it is built at 51 Park Place, soft words about First Amendment religious freedom will be like ashes in the mouths of many who lost loved ones on 9/11.
   If it is moved or not built, America’s Muslim friends here and overseas will forever wonder if the controversy wasn’t another example of America’s storied history of righteous racial and religious bigotry.

 - Taking Bin Laden’s Side - Nicholas Kristof/The New York Times 
   ... the proposed community center is not just an issue on which Sarah Palin and Osama bin Laden agree. It is also one in which opponents of the center are playing into the hands of Al Qaeda.

- How Fox Betrayed Petraeus - Frank Rich/The New York Times
   Here’s what’s been lost in all the screaming. The prime movers in the campaign against the “ground zero mosque” just happen to be among the last cheerleaders for America’s nine-year war in Afghanistan. The wrecking ball they’re wielding is not merely pounding Park51, as the project is known, but is demolishing America’s already frail support for that war, which is dedicated to nation-building in a nation whose most conspicuous asset besides opium is actual mosques.

- Protests, Rhetoric Feed Jihadists' Fire - Jonathan Weisman/The Wall Street Journal
   Islamic radicals are seizing on protests against a planned Islamic community center near Manhattan's Ground Zero and anti-Muslim rhetoric elsewhere as a propaganda opportunity and are stepping up anti-U.S. chatter and threats on their websites.

- For Imam in Muslim Center Furor, a Hard Balancing Act - Anne Barnard/The New York Times
   “To stereotype him as an extremist is just nuts,” said the Very Rev. James P. Morton, the longtime dean of the Church of St. John the Divine, in Manhattan, who has known the family for decades.

- Moral myopia at Ground Zero - Charles Krauthammer/The Washington Post
   Ground Zero is the site of the most lethal attack of that worldwide movement, which consists entirely of Muslims, acts in the name of Islam and is deeply embedded within the Islamic world. These are regrettable facts, but facts they are. And that is why putting up a monument to Islam in this place is not just insensitive but provocative.

- Sensitivities Don't Override the Constitution - Michael Kinsley/The Atlantic Wire
   It is like telling blacks or Jews that they have every right to move into the neighborhood, but wouldn't they really be happier in some other neighborhood, not too far away, where the neighbors' sensistivities won't be offended?

- Mosque Demagoguery Is Bipartisan - Rep. Ron Paul/AntiWar.com
   In my opinion, it has come from the neoconservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.
   They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for ill-conceived preventative wars. A select quote from soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq expressing concern over the mosque is pure propaganda and an affront to their bravery and sacrifice.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

More mosque musings

- Mau-Mauing the Mosque - Christopher Hitchens/Slate
   The dispute over the construction of an Islamic center at "Ground Zero" in Lower Manhattan has now sunk to a level of stupidity that really does shame the memory and the victims of that terrible day in September 2001. One might think that a mosque or madrassa was being proposed in the place of the fallen towers themselves or atop the atomized ingredients of what was once a mass grave. (In point of fact, the best we have been able to do with the actual site, after almost a decade, is to create a huge, noisy, and dirty pit with almost no visible architectural progress. Perhaps resentment at the relative speed of the proposed Cordoba House is a subconscious by-product of embarrassment at this local and national disgrace.)

- As The GOP Descends Into Rank Demagoguery - Andrew Sullivan/The Atlantic
   What we're seeing is, to my mind, ominous. It's increasingly clear that the debt hangover of the last Adamgroundzero decade, combined with the financial crisis and the full and growing impact of China and India on global labor markets may well mean a long, grim, endless employment recession. At the same time, we have an opposition party that believes in torture, pre-emptive war, Greater Israel, and the stigmatization of Muslim-Americans. We have a party that not only has no serious solutions to any of our current problems (what climate change?) but wants to ratchet up the war on Jihadist terror in such a way that will embolden the Islamists, give our enemies a fantastic p.r. gift, conflate all Muslims as potential terrorists and elect a half-term former governor on the basis of her proud ignorance. And then what? Over to you, Mr Netanyahu. A global religious war is on - and coming to your neighborhood soon.

- Sheikh Your Newtie - William Saletan/Slate
   In the years since 9/11, Osama Bin Laden has issued more than 20 audio and video statements to spread his view of the conflict between the United States and al-Qaida. According to his worldview, the United States represents Christianity, al-Qaida represents Muslims, Christians won't protect Muslims, the West hates mosques, peaceful coexistence is a fraud, and the "war on terrorism" is really a war on Islam. By spreading this message, Bin Laden works to turn Muslims against the United States and rally them to al-Qaida.
   Now Bin Laden has an ally in this propaganda campaign: Newt Gingrich.

- Broadway and the Mosque - Thomas Friedman/The New York Times
   There are several reasons why I don’t object to a mosque being built near the World Trade Center site, but the key reason is my affection for Broadway show tunes.

- Why I'm returning an award to the ADL - Fareed Zakaria/Newsweek
   We should be encouraging groups like the one behind this project, not demonizing them. Were this mosque being built in a foreign city, chances are that the U.S. government would be funding it. 

- A Muslim Questions the Mosque - Asra Q. Nomani/The Daily Beast
   The Tea Party activists actually express the sentiments of Muslims such as myself who believe we have a serious problem inside our Muslim communities.

- Investment opportunity: My Ground Zero Islamic Gay Bar - Greg Gutfeld/Big Hollywood
   I hope that the mosque owners will be as open to the bar as I am to the new mosque. After all, the belief driving them to open up their center near Ground Zero, is no different than mine.
   My place, however, will have better music.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News 

Hey, we made The Times

   The other day I was on about former New York City Mayor Ed Koch visiting us at The Buffalo News.

   This morning's New York Times has an interesting story about Ed's Excellent Adventure Upstate. It is Kochsnewcampaig-56165-001 more about the colorful politician than it is about Upstate. Or even about Koch's cause.

- Koch, at 85, Wages a New Campaign - Javier C. Hernandez/The New York Times
   BUFFALO — Edward I. Koch, 85 years old, thirsty for a Dairy Queen milkshake and ready for a nap, was fuming.
   “Throw the bums out!” Mr. Koch, the former mayor of New York City, shouted from the steps of a city hall 400 miles from his Greenwich Village home. ...
   Leaving The Buffalo News, he suggested a visit to the Erie Canal. When an aide motioned in the general direction of the famous waterway, Mr. Koch declared, “I’ve seen the Erie Canal, and now we can go back to the hotel.”

      A companion slide show has a photo of Koch meeting with The Buffalo News Editorial Board. But, in case you were wondering, the other people in the photo are not Buffalo News folks. They are part of Koch's posse. We're all much better looking. But, no, nobody has fixed those clocks for a long time.

   Related:
- Koch’s new campaign delineates ‘heroes,’ ‘enemies’ of state reform - Robert J. McCarthy/The Buffalo News
- Calling out the enemy - Bob McCarthy/The Buffalo News
   [Yes. He's Robert J. McCarthy on the news pages, and Bob McCarthy in the Viewpoints section. Friendlier that way.]
- Make Albany reform campaign even more visible - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial
   Former Gov. Mario Cuomo and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani must do more than sign on as campaign trustees. Just as former Presidents George G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton teamed up to raise millions after the tsunami, a Koch, Giuliani and Cuomo team could do likewise.

   Hey. I didn't know that other photographer was from The N.Y. Times. You can't let him in here. He'll see everything! He'll see the Big Board!   

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
[Photo of Ed Koch in Buffalo by Derek Gee/The Buffalo News]

It's a jungle out there...

   Oh, brave new world, that has such awful, racist, sexist, violent, sniping creatures in it.

- End of anonymous commenting stirs debate - Margaret Sullivan/The Buffalo News
   A few weeks ago, I wrote about The News' plans to change our policy on readers' online comments. The gist is this: Beginning Aug. 2, we will no longer post anonymous comments. If you want to comment in TheLogo-comments News — both in print and online — you'll have to give us your real name and hometown.
   Since then, the response has come fast and furious. The New York Times, CNN, the Boston Globe and Canada's CBC radio network have covered the decision, which seems to be the first of its kind for a metropolitan daily paper in the United States. ...
   The move has touched off the hot topic of anonymous Web flaming.
   Plenty of criticism has come our way — and some kudos, as well.
   The naysayers (many of whom, interestingly, prefer to remain anonymous) are blasting us for what they see as noxious free-speech violations and an effort to protect our evil political agenda. The Internet, as they see it, is a place where anything goes. Limiting that is a sin against free expression.
   The supporters, by contrast, are relieved that the astonishingly hateful and venomous commentary on news stories ("It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots," writes Gene Weingarten in a column that ran today) will likely be restrained once people have to identify themselves. They are hoping for a measure of civility, without the loss of wide-ranging discussion and diverse viewpoints....
   Those who are working on the project here recognize that there will be some bumps along the way. We also know that, like so many ventures on the Internet, this one is something of an experiment. We've tried the other way, living in the anonymous Wild West world, for more than a year, and are ready for something else.

 - Policing the Web’s Lurid Precincts - Brad Stone/The New York Times
   Ricky Bess spends eight hours a day in front of a computer near Orlando, Fla., viewing some of the worst depravities harbored on the Internet. He has seen photographs of graphic gang killings, animal abuse and twisted forms of pornography. One recent sighting was a photo of two teenage boys gleefully pointing guns at another boy, who is crying. ...
   David Graham, president of Telecommunications On Demand, the company near Orlando where Mr. Bess works, compared the reviewers to “combat veterans, completely desensitized to all kinds of imagery.” The company’s roughly 50 workers view a combined average of 20 million photos a week.

- Judge orders Lynchburg newspaper to divulge poster’s ID - Danville Register Bee

   Speaking of the Wild West:

Continue reading "It's a jungle out there..." »

Injured: On the road. On the job.

   A black and blue theme to today's Buffalo News editorials.
   The state needs to require a new way of looking as street and highway design. The city of Buffalo needs to get a handle on the number of police officers and firefighters who are on injury pay.

- Make roads safer - Buffalo News Editorial
   A high number of pedestrians and bicyclists are being struck by automobiles while navigating dangerous crossings both in Erie County and throughout New York State, and the AARP is trying to pushBikelane through practical legislation at the state level that will lay the groundwork for common-sense infrastructure on projects going forward.
   All that is now needed is some common sense from the Assembly.
   "Complete Streets" legislation (S. 5711-B), sponsored by Senate Transportation Chairman Martin Malave Dilan, D-Brooklyn, recently passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, 57-4. The bill would provide an innovative and comprehensive approach to the way the state designs its roads. The approach would accommodate vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, people with disabilities and public transportation users -- in other words, the entire public.
   Here's where the issue takes a wrong turn.
   A companion bill in the Assembly was amended by its sponsor, David Gantt of Rochester, who heads the Assembly Transportation Committee, to eliminate the majority of the roads covered in New York State. This is an unacceptable outcome to AARP and many other groups that support the "Complete Streets" legislation. Under the amendment, the bill pertains only to roads overseen by the Department of Transportation, thus eliminating the majority of roads in the state of New York.

Continue reading "Injured: On the road. On the job." »

Comments that get people in more trouble

   In case you were wondering just what it takes to get a four-star general fired, here it is:

- The Runaway General - Michael Hastings/Rolling Stone
  "How'd I get screwed into going to this dinner?" demands Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It's a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite LADY-GAGA-ROLLING-STONE at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris. He's in France to sell his new war strategy to our NATO allies – to keep up the fiction, in essence, that we actually have allies. Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States. Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany's president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. McChrystal is in Paris to keep the French, who have lost more than 40 soldiers in Afghanistan, from going all wobbly on him.
   "The dinner comes with the position, sir," says his chief of staff, Col. Charlie Flynn.
   McChrystal turns sharply in his chair.
   "Hey, Charlie," he asks, "does this come with the position?"
   McChrystal gives him the middle finger.

   And here is just a sampling of the pixels that have been spilled on the story about the story:

Continue reading "Comments that get people in more trouble" »

Comments that get people in trouble

   As of about 1:30 Tuesday afternoon, the score was News Editor 489, Hack Writer 0. Comments, that is.
   From the Sunday Viewpoints section:

- Seeking a return to civility in online comments - Margaret Sullivan/The Buffalo News
   Some editors were sitting in a news meeting one morning not long ago, bemoaning the often outrageous,Sullivan_margaret intolerant and hateful online “comments” attached to stories on The News Web site, when News Business Editor Grove Potter uttered a simple but eloquent truth:
   “Let’s face it,” he said. “We’ve created a class of anonymous flamethrowers.”
   He’s right. We have. And shortly, we’re about to change that dramatically
.
   Related:
- It’s time for news sites to stop allowing anonymous online comments - Rem Rieder/American Journalism Review
   Comments sections are often packed with profanity and vicious personal attacks. The opportunity to launch brutal assaults from the safety of a computer without attaching a name does wonders for the bravery levels of the angry.
-
 The anonymous back-stabbing of Internet message boards - Leonard Pitts/Miami Herald/Seattle Times
  It must have seemed like a great idea at the time.
- Anonymous comments part of online life - Michael Silence/The Knoxville News Sentinel
  The sanctimonious, high-brow bloviating by some Ivory Tower types is getting old - like half a decade old.
   On the heals of recently discovering the Internet (sarcasm intended), some are now hyperventilating about anonymous online comments.
   Hello? What do you think has been happening on talk radio for, oh, decades?
 
- Inside the mind of the anonymous online poster - Neil Swidey/The Boston Globe
   News websites from across the country struggle to maintain civility in their online comments forums. But given their anonymous nature and anything-goes ethos, these forums can sometimes feel as ungovernable as the tribal lands of Pakistan
  

Continue reading "Comments that get people in trouble" »

Reading the tea party leaves

   Leading off today's Buffalo News Opinion section:

- More change - Buffalo News Editorial
   Like the frustrated customer at the office vending machine, the American voter keeps punching the Votingbooth button marked "change." Unlike that unhappy consumer, the U.S. electorate isn't exactly sure what it expects — or wants — to see falling into the dish.
   The risk is that, in different states and congressional districts, change will have such a different meaning that the Congress that assembles next January will be even more riven by partisan and ideological divisions than the one we have now. It will become that much more important, then, for the
grown-ups who run Congress and the White House to show real leadership, working together when they can, moving alone when they must, but never seeking to destroy the other party or faction just for the sake of it.
   Yeah. Right.
   And:
- Voting for kids - Buffalo News Editorial
   Perhaps the most interesting outcome from the recent near-unanimous school budget approvals in Erie and Niagara counties was the sheer number of people who turned out, not necessarily to vote down budgets, but to vote out incumbents.

   Related:
- Big lessons of primaries: What the heck were they? - Liz Sidoti/AP/Buffalo News
   Dazed and confused. The biggest primary night of the season left the two parties struggling Wednesday to figure out their next steps in an increasingly volatile election year. House Republicans tried to explain their costly defeat in a special election in Pennsylvania, a contest they had hoped would launch them toward big gains in November's midterm elections. President Barack Obama failed for a fifth time to push Democratic choices to victory, a troubling sign for the White House.
   Despite the White House support, Sen. Blanche Lincoln was forced into a runoff with union-backed Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in Arkansas and is clinging to her political life. Arlen Specter saw his long Senate career end altogether with Joe Sestak's nomination in Pennsylvania.
   Tea party activists scored a big victory in Kentucky, rejecting Senate Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell's hand-picked GOP nominee - Trey Grayson - for the state's other Senate seat in favor of political upstart Rand Paul.

- The Ad That Did Specter In - Benjamin Sarlin/The Daily Beast

The Story of an Angry Voter - David Brooks/The New York Times
   But these days, the political center is a feckless shell. It has no governing philosophy. Its paragons seem from the outside opportunistic, like Arlen Specter, or caught in some wishy-washy middle, like Blanche Lincoln. The right and left have organized, but the center hasn’t bothered to. The right and left have media outlets and think tanks, but the centrists are content to complain about polarization and go home. By their genteel passivity, moderates have ceded power to the extremes.
-
A smorgasbord, not a tea party - E.J. Dionne/Washington Post/Buffalo News
   In Arizona—nobody’s idea of a liberal state—voters supported a temporary increase in the sales tax from 5.6 to 6.6 cents on the dollar. This, coupled with a large tax increase on businesses and high-income earners endorsed by voters in Oregon earlier this year, suggests a pragmatic electorate that is far less reflexively opposed to taxes or government than tea party cheerleaders would have us believe.
- Target: The federal government - David Broder/Washington Post/Buffalo News
   But mainly it was a mainstream reaction against the centralization of power in the capital, a combination of bank bailouts, health care guarantees and all the other ways in which Washington has found reasons— or excuses—to intervene and to spend money it does not have.
-
The voters have spoken - Johnstown [Penn.] Tribune-Democrat Editorial
   In the end, voters in the 12th Congressional District were less concerned about bringing down Washington than about lifting up western Pennsylvania. By a solid margin, voters chose Democrat Mark Critz over Republican Tim Burns in the special election Tuesday to succeed the late John P. Murtha.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

No hablo ingles. Don't know much about history.

   Also in Opinion:

- School fails students - Buffalo News Editorial
   A hundred years ago, immigrant workers and their families would, over the course of time, obtain proficiency in the language of their newly adopted home country. Today, immigrant demographics have changed dramatically and so have the challenges in educating new arrivals who need to be up to speed much more quickly to qualify for higher-paying jobs that are heavy on English-language skills. 
  Buffalo schools are failing in their requirement to provide that education, according to a harshly critical report by the Council of Great City Schools. A wide gap between planning and implementation is leaving these students in the lurch. The district needs to plug those holes and, just as important, ensure that other well-conceived programs aren’t also failing at the classroom level.

- Sometimes, history hurts - Leonard Pitts/Miami Herald/Buffalo News
   History is not a Hallmark card. Sometimes, history breaks your heart. ...
   Gov. Jan Brewer just signed a law restricting ethnic studies courses in public schools. Having apparently Pitts_leonard decided she had not done enough to peeve Latino voters by signing a Draconian immigration bill a few days back, the governor went after a Mexican-American studies program in Tucson. But the prohibitions in the new law seem to say more about the mind-set of the governor than about any danger posed by ethnic studies. ...
   The problem with that reasoning is obvious: America is everyone else, a nation composed of other nations, a culture made of other cultures, a history built of other histories. And yes, sometimes, those histories will be hard to hear. But silence does not make a hard story go away. Silence only makes it fester, grow and, sometimes, explode. ...
   Granted, the challenge of incorporating those stories into the larger American story is daunting. The governor seems to fear what kind of nation we’ll be if we accept that challenge.
 I fear what kind we’ll be if we don’t.

   You knew this was coming:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

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