Sunday, August 21, 2005



Next WNY Coalition for Progress
General Membership Meeting
Monday, August 22, 2005
7:00 PM

Eggertsville Snyder Branch Library
4622 Main St.
Snyder, New York

On the Agenda:
Discuss working group leadership issues;
Review recent press coverage of Bass Pro Report;
Review upcoming Coalition Events.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Washington Post - What Democrats Should be Saying

Here is an interesting piece in today's Washington Post that I thought our readers might like to see. Please offer your comments - pro or con, to the writer's premise.
What Democrats Should Be Saying

Washington Post
By David Ignatius
Friday, August 19, 2005
Page A21

This should be the Democrats' moment: The Bush administration is caught in an increasingly unpopular war; its plan to revamp Social Security is fading into oblivion; its deputy chief of staff is facing a grand jury probe. Though the Republicans control both houses of Congress as well as the White House, they seem to be suffering from political and intellectual exhaustion. They are better at slash-and-burn campaigning than governing.

So where are the Democrats amid this GOP disarray? Frankly, they are nowhere. They are failing utterly in the role of an opposition party, which is to provide a coherent alternative account of how the nation might solve its problems. Rather than lead a responsible examination of America's strategy for Iraq, they have handed off the debate to a distraught mother who is grieving for her lost son. Rather than address the nation's long-term fiscal problems, they have decided to play politics and let President Bush squirm on the hook of his unpopular plan to create private Social Security accounts.

Because they lack coherent plans for how to govern the country, the Democrats have become captive of the most shrill voices in the party, who seem motivated these days mainly by visceral dislike of George W. Bush. Sorry, folks, but loathing is not a strategy -- especially when much of the country finds the object of your loathing a likable guy.

The Democrats' problem is partly a lack of strong leadership. Its main spokesman on foreign policy has become Sen. Joseph Biden, a man who -- how to put this politely? -- seems more impressed with the force of his own intellect than an objective evaluation would warrant. Listening to Biden, you sense how hungry he is to be president, but you have little idea what he would do, other than talk . . . and talk.

The same failing is evident among Democratic spokesmen on economic issues. Name a tough problem -- such as energy independence or reform of Medicare and Social Security -- and the Democrats are ducking the hard choices. That may be understandable as a short-term political strategy: Why screw up your chances in the 2006 congressional elections by telling people they must make sacrifices? But this approach keeps the Democrats part of politics-as-usual, a game the GOP plays better.

Howard Dean is a breath of air as chairman of the Democratic National Committee -- but unfortunately a lot of it is hot air. Dean is admirably combative, and in that he reflects a party that is tired of being mauled by Karl Rove's divisive campaigning. The problem with Dean is that, like his party, he doesn't have much to say about solving problems. Pressed about Iraq last Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation," Dean passed the buck: "What we need is a plan from the president of the United States." Rather than condemn a NARAL Pro-Choice America ad against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge John G. Roberts that was so outrageous it was pulled from the air, Dean averred: "I'm not even going to get into that."

Today's Democrats have trouble expressing the most basic theme of American politics: "We, the people." Rather than a governing party with a clear ideology, they are a collection of interest groups. For a simple demonstration, go to the DNC's Web site and pull down the menu for "People." What you will find is the following shopping list: "African American, Asian Amer./Pacific Islanders, Disability Community, Farmers and Ranchers, Hispanics, GLBT (Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender) Community, Native Americans, Religious Communities, Seniors & Retirees, Small Business Community, Union Members & Families, Veterans & Military Families, Women, Young People & Students." That's most of the threads in the national quilt, but disassembled.

What can the Democrats do to seize the opportunities of the moment? I suggest they take a leaf from Newt Gingrich's GOP playbook and develop a new "Contract With America." The Democrats should put together a clear and coherent list of measures they would implement if they could regain control of Congress and the White House. If the Democrats are serious, some of these measures -- dealing with economics and energy -- will be unpopular because they will call for sacrifice. But precisely for that reason, they will show that the Democrats can transcend interest-group America and unite the country.

America doesn't need more of the angry, embittered shouting matches that take place on talk radio and in the blogosphere. It needs a real opposition party that will lay out new strategies: How to withdraw from Iraq without creating even more instability? How to engage a world that mistrusts and often hates America? How to rebuild global institutions and contain Islamic extremism? How to put the U.S. economy back into balance? A Democratic Party that could begin to answer these questions would deserve a chance to govern.

Mayoral Debate 8/23 at 7pm at Hamlin House

It's being put on by Revitalize Buffalo, the New Millenium Group, the Buffalo Jaycees, and Buffalo 2032. Channel 2 did a preview piece, available here.

Stef Mychailiw is moderating the debate, which will take place at Hamlin House next Tuesday at 7pm.

As Amy mentions in the piece, we've had 2 mayors in 26 years, and change is inevitable and imminent. Change of faces, that is. Will there be a change in leadership? A change for the better? A change to lurch Buffalo into the 21st century and on a path to prosperity and growth?

As Deborah Lynn Williams says in Stef's piece, "You have to pay to play, and the currency is participation."

Say something & say it loudly.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Partnership's Report

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership has issued a report on streamlining the County's business and budget.

Here it is (pdf format) for your review & comment.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Informal Pearl Street meetup on 9/15

The Coalition will be holding an informal get-together/meetup at the Pearl Street on September 15th.

What we need is a name for it, so I've set up a poll at this link on the Coalition's bulletin board.

Vote for a name, or leave a new suggestion as a post.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Next WNY Coalition for Progress Meeting - 8-22-05

Next WNY Coalition for Progress General Membership Meeting

Monday, August 22, 2005
7:00 PM

Eggertsville Snyder Branch Library
4622 Main St.
Snyder, New York

On the Agenda:

Discuss working group leadership issues;
Review recent press coverage of Bass Pro Report;
Review upcoming Coalition Events.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Free Buffalo on Bass Pro

Jim Ostrowski's Free Buffalo has issued a "rebuttal" of sorts to the WNY Coalition for Progress' Bass Pro report.

It is important to note that Free Buffalo has only one officer and one director - Jim Ostrowski. His rebuttal was not shown to anyone in advance, nor is it a document that was vetted by the membership of Free Buffalo. Free Buffalo has no board of directors to approve such a document.

In addition, Ostrowski's "news alert" consists of little more than rumor, innuendo, assumptions, and recklessly false accusations against the coalition, its motives, its membership, its connections to political parties and entities, and the authors of the Bass Pro report.

It is disappointing that the self-proclaimed head of the Erie County "tax revolt" can do little more than call others names.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Next Media & Communications Working Group Meeting

Next Media and Communications Working Group Meeting:

Thursday, August 18th,7 pm at
Cafe Allegro
1374 Hertel Ave.
Buffalo, New Y ork

BBC - Food Crisis "Runs Across Africa"

Here is a news item that is not necessarily on local media but everyone should know about it..
Food crisis 'runs across Africa'
By Mark Doyle BBC News world affairs correspondent

August 10, 2005

With attention on food shortages in Niger, aid agencies say a vast "hunger belt" is stretching across Africa. People across Africa are affected, from Niger in central Africa to Somalia on the Indian Ocean seaboard. Latest reports from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network say over 20m people are at risk from food shortages.

The broad cross-section of international aid agencies says that urgent action is required in seven countries across Africa. The dramatic TV pictures from Niger may have pricked the conscience of some donor countries, but a broader look at the continent shows much wider need. The Famine Early Warning network, made up of a variety of aid agencies including the aid arm of the US government, USAid, says no fewer than seven African states are facing food emergencies.
These are mostly on the fringes of the Sahara desert and stretch from Niger, through Chad and Sudan, to Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.

Rain crucial
One factor unites most of the people at risk across Africa. They rely overwhelmingly on rain-fed or flood-plain agriculture rather than having access to irrigated fields. When rains are erratic or fail it is a disaster. It is also no co-incidence that most of the worst affected countries are on the edge of the Sahara. The desert is advancing and soils across the region are being eroded. The only long term answer to this situation, aid workers say, is massive investment including the productive harnessing of rivers like the Niger and the Nile.

This massive investment, they say, will need to be guaranteed over many years. The picture is mixed within the countries affected. The largest number of people at risk in a single state, for example, is in Ethiopia, where some 10m people are said to be facing food shortages. But in some parts of Ethiopia an ambitious government plan to provide a safety net for poor people is beginning to bear fruit.

War and peace
Within Sudan, it is the south of the country that is most at risk. The end of the war in the south has paradoxically made the situation more difficult, with refugees returning home putting land under pressure. The seventh country facing a food emergency, according to the Famine Early Warning network, is Zimbabwe, where the situation is more complex than the water shortages and lack of irrigation that characterise the other affected states. Aid workers say the recent clearances of urban dwellers have created pressure on rural land as townspeople are forced to settle elsewhere.

The slum clearances came on top of the problems caused by President Robert Mugabe's land reforms. And these illustrate another side of the complex agricultural problems facing Africa.
Giving mechanised, irrigated farms to subsistence farmers will not necessarily improve food security, because they, too, are dependent on rainfall if the farmers who have taken them over do not have the money to maintain the irrigation systems.

Story from BBC NEWS

Published: 2005/08/10 12:15:33 GMT© BBC MMV

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

From Cliff Parks

Our friends with the WNY Progress Report Radio Show have a blog of their own: Here is the latest entry from our good friend Cliff Parks:

Odds and Sods
August 2nd, 2005

Many thanks for Representative Brian Higgins for doing the show today. It was fun.

Serious question: how do you actually teach intelligent design? I mean, if the gist of it is “the theory of intelligent design says life on earth is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying that a higher power must have had a hand in creation,” what else is there to teach? And how do you grade kids on this stuff? What’s on the exam?

The Higher Power responsible for life on Earth is:

a) Vishnu
b) Yoda
c) God
d) Logic
e) Magrathean subcontractors hired by otherdimensional super-smart mice

Clearly somebody has to help me here.

Behold, more electoral excitment in OHIO! I will reserve judgment of course until the facts are in.

Apparently helping install a President and getting a seat on the Supreme Court is pro bono.

And last but not least, I’m with today’s caller Anne about the need for a stiff upper lip in the face of apparent inevitable doom, and so if the Christian Science Monitor. I too am damn tired of this AGE OF FEAR…