What do you do with a budget deficit that was caused, in part, by policies of your own political party holding power in Washington? Create a public relations campaign. Get busy with a power point presentation. Punish constituencies who have opposed you. Or as Irv Weinstein, anchor emeritus of Channel 7, might say: use it as a pretext to attack a hard target such as the county’s public library system that has proven to be too politically popular to succumb to the proverbial budget ax in the past. Joel knows how to get even and he knows how to curry favor with higher ups in his own party, and the strategy is really quite simple: Impersonate Newt Gingrich.

Am I the only person to notice that this latest expression of the repugnance of government is being carried out by a person who has held government positions for his entire adult life? Irony, thy name is Joel.

Of course, Joel more than doubled his IQ in the eyes of The Buffalo News when he began sporting reading glasses. Aside from a prop for the bridge of his nose, it’s difficult to say what he used his new glasses for. Clearly, he wasn’t reading the complaints and warnings concerning the phony budget that he gave to county legislators prior to getting us into to this artificial crisis. Still, that kind of fashion statement is pretty impressive for a guy with an associate’s degree.

Now, it seems clear that, if Joel decides to start using his reading glasses for their original purpose, he may have to hurry. With all of the public libraries closed as a result of his “activism,” Joel might find himself stuck reading the screeds of his own party and actually start believing that he, too, is on a mission from God.

In modern America, the sales tax is similar to the poll tax in medieval times; in the right hands, it can be used as a weapon of repression. Increases in the sales tax are regressive because they have a disproportionate effect on poor people. But we are at war here, and, in times of war, property value is more precious than human life. Therefore, we don’t expect Giambra to roll back the property tax breaks that he created in his first term without a fight.

It’s not likely that there will be a peasants’ rebellion over all this because we don’t realize that we’re all basically a bunch of peasants in the first place. At least, nobody’s admitting to it. The best that we can hope for is that Joel’s latest jihad will elevate him in the GOP to a higher level of incompetence.

Nancy and Sid

In our last issue, we discussed the vicious and negative attack ads of the Nancy Naples campaign. We discussed the fact that, in the presidential campaign, the door appeared wide open for election fraud. Just because John Kerry fell on his sword doesn’t mean that Nancy should back off. After a photo finish to her race with Democrat Brian Higgins, the full court press is on for the recount to send Naples to Washington.

Forget about all that talk of hands reaching across the aisle. If any olive branch had been extended by the Higgins camp, it was most assuredly returned scorched. Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Karl Rove declared his party defeated in its efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, hinting that the majorities that Republicans now enjoy in the Senate and in the House of Representatives are simply not enough. Maybe next time, right?

Who would have suspected that the religious right in the United States was a Stradivarius lying in wait for the hands of such a maestro as Rove?

In light of the losses suffered by the Democratic Party, what about the veiled threats that the Naples campaign made concerning the federal monies that would not be made available to Western New York if voters in this region did not do their part and send a loyal foot soldier of the GOP to the capitol.

Higgins vowed to fight for an increase in the minimum wage. It looks as if that’s probably dead in the water, at least for this term. Maybe we should all cry uncle and try appeasement. After all, what if the Republicans make good on their threats and punish the region voting in a Democrat during a war? Maybe we’re simply not destined to enjoy the sort of “peace in our time” that the Kerry campaign asked its supporters to seek in defeat.

Not Necessarily The News

Much has been made of the fact that a growing number of Americans rely on late-night talk show hosts and so called “fake news” programs hosted by comedians such as Jon Stewart and the reactionary Dennis Miller for their news.

Where does this leave political commentary in the print medium? Satirical political humor with overt bias has long been a form of expression that was left fallow by mainstream dailies, which, in turn, created a vacuum that alternative and college newspaper writers gleefully filled.

Well, what’s old is new again. Where does that leave the new and improved Buffalo News? It leaves our sole local daily newspaper with a void in the all-important political humor programming area, which is like trying to run the Department of Homeland Security without having the ability to scare the be-Jesus out of people.

So, in an attempt to leaven their publication with a bit of humor and wit, they turned to a seasoned staffer, Mary Kunz. Kunz brings a typical middle-aged, Republican, suburban woman’s perspective to the proceedings. Of course, if life is a bowl of cherries, there’s no need to ask what Kunz is doing in the pits, because this is The Buffalo News we’re talking about.

Kunz’s contribution to the Sunday edition’s Off Main Street column was passable in a “bimbo about town” kind of way, but applying this narrative perspective to the inside baseball political humor popularized by people such as Jon Stewart is unintentionally funny. We might be able to laugh with her, if only her views weren’t so uninformed. Instead, we must be content to laugh at her ditzy, epistolary diarrhea, knowing that her pathetic ignorance, especially about local politics, is a state of mind that is shared by the majority of our neighbors. Apparently, the editors at The News are of the opinion that their readers are like the offensive line of the Buffalo Bills, a “mushroom culture,” that is completely in the dark.

Maybe men and women process politics differently, but in the current environment it seems that, if you’re going to identify yourself as a Republican humorist, it would behoove you to play by Rove’s rules and pretend that you’re a character in an Icelandic saga. As such, you should never refrain from pausing to make some sort of sarcastic or ironic comment before running your defenseless opponent through, amidst fountains of spurting blood and the anguished cries of innocent women and children. Stay in character, for Pete’s sake. After all, this is war. Irony, Thy Name is Joel.

What can we say about Joel that we haven’t said already? Two words: arrogance pays. How do you recover from a corruption scandal that permeates your entire administration and philosophy of government? Shrug your shoulders, declare it as “old news,” and go on the offensive.