Lord, Try to Read Between The Lines

It’s a busy time, mostly thanks to the last couple of weeks of the school year, so this’ll have to do. 

1. Sometimes, when an upstate politician spits hatred at “downstate”, it’s nothing more than a stealthy way to express anti-Semitism. 

2. Pamela Brown is gone. Now, all the excuses are gone. She was given only 2 years to try and do an almost impossible job, so it follows that Carl’s crew should be given an equal period of time to turn everything around. Never forget that Dr. James Williams, who was given 6 years to accomplish little except strife, was the hand-picked choice of the business elites – M&T Bank’s Robert Wilmers paid for the search that landed him. But yeah, they’ve got it all figured out this time

3. We cut most of the cable cord a few months ago, and in that time I’ve watched entire series such as Peep Show, That Mitchell & Webb Look, and Breaking Bad. As good as Breaking Bad was – and the last few episodes are some of the best television I’ve ever seen – I really miss the Botwin family in Weeds. For some reason, (and I’ll admit that season 7 was just farcical), I really enjoyed watching that show and following that family’s misadventures. I just started Orange is the New Black. So far, so good. 

4. If you have SiriusXM, and you’re anywhere near my age, you should check out 70s on 7 on Sundays, (and all this week, I think), because they’re re-playing Casey Kasem era American Top 40 broadcasts. 

5. Hey, remember how going into Iraq was going to stabilize the Middle East and help Israel out, too? How’s that regime-y change-y thing workin’ out for you?

1. “Liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.” –  Kenneth Adelman, a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, Feb. 13, 2002

2. “The time has come for decisive action to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. … Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally Israel.” – Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., addressing the U.S. Senate, Sept. 12, 2002

3. “If left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.  Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well, effects American security.” – Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., addressing the U.S. Senate, Oct. 10, 2002

4. “It’s a slam dunk case” – CIA Director George Tenet told President Bush about evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Dec. 21, 2002

(About two weeks before the decision to invade Iraq was made, Tenet told Bush that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That statement played a monumental role in leading the U.S. to go to war with Iraq.)

5. “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” –Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when asked about weapons of mass destruction in an ABC News interview, March 30, 2003

(Rumsfeld later said those locations were “suspect sites” and were not unequivocally linked to WMDs.)

6. “The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction, as the core reason.” – Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, during a “Vanity Fair” interview, May 28, 2003

7. “Oh, no, we’re not going to have any casualties.” — Bush, discussing the Iraq war with Christian broadcaster Rev. Pat Robertson, after Robertson told him he should prepare the American people for casualties, March 2003

(Although this statement is disputed – Karl Rove said Bush never said that – Robertson emphatically maintained that Bush said there would be no U.S. casualties in the war. Atotal of 4,486 U.S. service members were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2012.)

8. “My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly, . . . [in] weeks rather than months.” – Vice President Dick Cheney in a “Meet the Press” interview, Sept. 14, 2003

9. “We expected, I expected to find actual usable, chemical or biological weapons after we entered Iraq. But I have to accept, as the months have passed, it seems increasingly clear that at the time of invasion, Saddam did not have stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons ready to deploy.” – British Prime Minister Tony Blair, July 14, 2004

10. “I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.” – Vice President Dick Cheney, on the Iraq insurgency, June 20, 2005

(Withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq did not begin until June 2009.)

11. “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” –President Bush, standing under a “Mission Accomplished” banner duriong a speech on the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier, May 2, 2003

(By May 2007, with U.S. troops still very much involved in Iraq, 55 percent of Americans said they thought the war in Iraq was a mistake.)

12. “Thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership and the sacrifice of brave young Americans. To deny that their sacrifice didn’t make possible the success of the surge in Iraq, I think does a great disservice…the progress has been immense.”  – Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in an interview with CBS July 22, 2008

13. “The capacity of Iraq’s security forces has improved, and Iraq’s leaders have made strides toward political accommodation” – President Barack Obama in a speech at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 27, 2009

14. “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations and we are ending a war not with a final battle but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement,” – President Barack Obama in a speech at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Dec. 14, 2011

What we did was expel all Sunnis, who had been the dominant political force under Saddam’s Ba’athist regime, from governing, and hand power over to a Shia majority that wasn’t at all inclusive, transparent, or ready to govern all of Iraq. When the Sunni ISIS/ISIL forces overran several cities, the Sunni locals whom the Shia government had oppressed for years greeted them as liberators. The Iraqi forces ran away, the government is unable to maintain control of its territory, and what we left is an unstable country boiling over with sectarian resentment and violence. 

It is as if we killed Tito and let one of the 6 constituent ethnicities or religions in the ex-Yugoslavia be a victor and oppress the other 5, and expect a good result. We all know what happened organically in Yugoslavia between Tito’s 1980 death and the 1990s. 

The Iraq war cost America about $1 trillion, when all is said & done. Just think of what we could have bought here at home for that sum of money. Fund health care? Better schools? Student loan relief? Tax rebate to everyone? It’s mind-boggling what we’ll willingly pay for with very little argument. Over 3,500 lives lost to set up a dysfunctional Shia government about to be overthrown by a ruthless hipster Taliban. 

Too many Americans have already died to “liberate” a country under false pretenses. Too much American treasure has been squandered to accomplish the same thing. Let the Iranians go after ISIS. Say what you want about Iran, but they have a functioning government that is interested in self-preservation, and is therefore someone with whom we can deal, as compared with the feckless Iraqi “government” or the Sunni jihadists overrunning Iraq and Syria in a power vacuum left after a Ba’athist dictatorship was overrun or weakened.  Heckuva job, ‘mrrka. 


  • 1) We would be better off without downstate. The far right is attempting secession in Maryland and Colorado. Sound and fury and nothing more but if they succeed, it is worth considering.
    2) Regarding schools: Socioeconomic status of the student population is the single biggest predictor of success. The mess will continue. They are rearranging the deck chairs and providing comic relief. The elite will still find their way to City Honors or a private school. Most of the rest, other than first generation immigrants from places like Bhutan and Somalia and those who get into charter schools that can choose their population, will struggle. But hey, we can get boob jobs so it’s all good.
    3) Cut the cord as well. SOA was fun but frustrating — why can’t anyone hit anything they shoot at? Why does no one ever use basic self defense to take a gun from a bad guy? Working through Breaking Bad and the new season of Orange is the New Black. Also re-watching Louie. He is genius.
    4) I can’t remember the last military intervention that was worthwhile. Frack everywhere and build that pipeline through Canada.

    • “Socioeconomic status of the student population is the single biggest predictor of success” bingo, I have pointed that out several times, a very inconvenient truth that few seem willing to acknowledge. The only way to “fix” schools is to fix poverty, a very heavy lift. Most Americans seem content to blame teachers, administrators, superintendents, poor people that don’t “value” education, or anything else that distracts attention from the real problem.

      • Exactly because if you pull those poverty stricken students grades out of the equation…..the US over all grades in science and math are right up there with the rest of the civilized nations….we need to fix the poverty situation that these kids are tethered to… On another note…The idea that the right is pushing the likes of Paul (I misplaced that billion dollars in cash) Wolfowicz, along with the other war criminals ie Cheney, Rumsfield etc to criticize the president and blame him for all of the worlds ills is actually laughable

        • The same is true in the Buffalo schools, pull the poorest out of the equation and middle class city kids perform at the same level as their suburban peers. Kind of throws a monkey wrench into the whole “city schools are failing” argument. It is not city schools that are failing, it is our economic system and segregation by class that is failing us.

    • Downstate supplies around 70% of the NYS tax base. We as upstators are the “moochers”, with our vast highway system and abundance of state offices due to our non concentrated population. I’m not saying a separate WNY couldn’t survive, however, we wouldn’t be “better off”.

  • Re: your #5. Excellent summary of the statements by the malfeasant recalcitrants who oddly enough, are still being quoted and sought after to impart their “wisdom.” I found your parallel to Tito’s Yugoslavia brilliant.

  • Wilmers and Carl have plenty in common. A love of charter schools and hatred of unions. The shared notion that privatizing public schools and redirecting billions into the pockets of billionaires and away from classrooms. This is a Wilmers friendly board of ed.

  • Usually when an upstate politician “spits hatred at downstate”, it’s a less-than-stealthy way to express disdain for Democrats.
    Now that Pamela Brown is gone, let’s see if the hacks on the Board re-people the Superintendent’s office with another hack.
    It just may turn out that the problem lies not in certain members’ “love of charter schools and hatred of unions”, but in the nonstop and remedy-proof hackerama that has been the Board, the BTF, and District.
    Why is it that the District can spend on each student an amount in excess of the annual Buff Sem or Nichols tuition, and come up with the laughable and shameful results they do?
    A radical proposal: If the best candidate who emerges from the next search just happens to be white, or male, perhaps the Board should hire that guy instead of someone who meets their habitually irrelevant criteria.

    • Buffalo does not spend more than Nichols, Buffalo’s spend is $19,725 per student (2014). Nichols is about $31,000 per student. From the Nichols website- Tuition ($21,175) covers only 70% of the cost, the Nichols Fund (from tax deductible donations) cover the other 30%.

      • Well, you’ve analyzed one half the matter — but apparently (and understandably) don’t want to talk about the other half. Namely, what Buffalo Public schools cost.
        The City of Buffalo will spend $917 million in 2014-15 to educate 30,000 students. Using arithmetic that even BTF members are capable of teaching, that comes to $30,566.67 per student. I guess you must’ve got your numbers from Phil Rumore, who spouts such risible stuff in his sleep.
        And note–Nichols’ top rate covers 10th-12th grade students only, and includes a hot lunch every day. My BPS numbers cover K-12. Middle school tuition is $19,725.

        • I seldom agree with anything you have to say but in this case your disdain for Phil Rumore seems right on. As a guy outside looking in, I’ve seen superintendents come and go, board members come and go. The only constant is the teachers union. It seems as though Buffalo teachers get in line pretty quickly behind this guy. to the detriment of the district. Get rid of this guy, let teachers think for themselves and maybe things will change.

        • I am quite certain Nichols has overhead that is not part of the equation as well. Also, Nichols does not pay for transportation, a big ticket fot the BPS.
          As for my “numbers” I got them from that left wing liberal rag Business First. Using my accurate number or your estimated number Buffalo still does not spend more than Nichols as you claimed.

    • Because those figures are inflated to include charter schools among other expenses that the people who love to quote them are very careful to avoid mentioning. Let’s cut right to it : send all the kids to Nichols and Sem and Park. And watch the sparks fly as Dre and his mama put the Prefect of Disciplne in a headlock cause someone told him he couldn’t sing his ASAP Rocky songs in Math class. Gimme and effing break with your numbers.

      • An aptly chosen nom-de-blog, “Jerkwagon”. Sorry to disappoint you, but Nichols has no “prefect of discipline” — or anything resembling same.
        Your BTF buddies hate charter schools for two reasons: they do a better job for way less per student; and their teachers aren’t forced to contribute to Rumore’s war-chest.
        Also, I’m not advocating sending your gang-bangers en masse to Nichols or Sem or Park. I’m just commenting on the shameful results the government union schools are permitted to get away with for what they spend.

        • Mr Hamlin check out the state test results for the Buffalo charter schools….they are very easy to find…..they are right down there at the bottom of the list along with the BPS…..

  • Mr. Bedenko,

    Did you just include Hillary with all of the
    Republican bogeymen of the past 15 years? Congrats! is this the new you?
    I am used to the typical pandering to the power AB.

    As much as
    you did castigate the president also, it is important to note that from
    the inception of Barry’s presidency, he has aggressively backed
    extremist Sunni Islam, from the Islamic Brotherhood, to the rebels in
    Libya (Al Qaeda) and the subsequent and illegal secret war where Hillary
    and Barry through the CIA extended their support against the Shia,
    Assad regime. The result of this bone headed foreign policy is the
    present “ISIS CRISIS”. I think, if we are to respect the “new you”, you
    should give Barry much more credit for the creation of ISIS. Congrats
    again. I kinda like the new Bedenko.

  • Let us not forget the treasonous outing of an undercover CIA operative all because her husband nosed around and concluded….yellowcake? What yellowcake?

  • Darth Cheney assured us that Iraqi Oil would pay for that war.

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