Category Archives: Latest News

Syracuse China

I really only have one thought about Syracuse China closing (my grandfather worked there until the late ’60s): We’re running out of things to be taken away from us. Pretty soon we’re going to reach a point where there is nothing else they can close and no more jobs to take away. There’s a certain relief in that, perverse though it may be…

Well, two thoughts: Does Libbey also own the name “Onondaga Pottery”?

Power is perishable

This item in today’s New York Times has NYC’s power brokers wondering why there are more “leaders” who have less ability to get things done.

Power broker, a title attributed to Theodore H. White, chronicler of presidential campaigns, had been replaced by what he dubbed “constellations of satrapies” — shifting coalitions dependent on process brokers skilled at navigating bureaucracy.

An old power broker observes:

“A whole generation has been brought up believing that leadership is out of place and in bad taste, that you have to find out what your people think first and that you can’t take a chance. If I wanted to do something today and was promised 10 people to make it happen, who would I pick? I’d be hard pressed. Because when you say, ‘What is power?’ one question is, ‘Is there power?’ ”

About 15 years ago a book (The United States of Ambition) was written by Alan Ehrenhalt, editor of Governing, that asked the same question. One of the chapters dealt with the Elefante machine of Utica and demonstrated that, even though it was corrupt, there was an efficient and functioning power structure in Utica at that time. Ehrenhalt moves on to presidential politics and concludes that power can disappear, or at least, fall through tiny cracks and evaporate. Or (taking Ehrenhalt’s conclusion further) perhaps it can pool somewhere hidden and be discovered by new strongmen.

Something for Malcolm Smith to consider as he brokers “power-sharing” deals. How much power remains to be parceled out? And does he really want to leave Upstaters at loose ends, with no illusion of being part of the network of ‘satrapies’?

Other people’s blogs: Canadian crackup edition

You know us ugly Americans — we’re so centered on our own problems that few of us have noticed that there is weird stuff going down in Ottawa.

In Java, Literally asks: What’s going on, eh?

See also Phil’s take at Still Racing in the Street.

Alan Gen X at 40 is providing daily coverage of PM Stephen Harper’s shutdown of Parliament.

(By the way, Alan has commented repeatedly on the shockingly bad video made by Quebec politician Stephane Dion the other day; you can view it here.)

We often think of Canada having an English-Francophone problem, but less discussed in the U.S. is Canada’s East-West divide. These events have a lot to do with that.


The economy. Plant closings and job losses are some of the bigger signs that all is not well, but what about the little signs?

  • Saturday post-Black Friday shopping: A normal, slightly busy day. Hardly anyone was in Target, but you couldn’t get near the registers at Michael’s. (Are people making Christmas gifts instead of buying?)
  • Automobile Row: Most dealerships are still open, but the car transporter trucks — which used to be parked on the side of West Genesee Street a few days a week — are nowhere to be seen.
  • Parking ticketing growing more aggressive (as at Ra-Lin’s).

Do you notice any little signs of change in the air?

What economic collapse may look like in Soviet CNY

This lengthy but very readable article presents a comparison of two empires collapsing: the Soviet Union and the United States of America.

The Soviet Union achieved a higher level of collapse-preparedness through sheer negligence and poor economic performance. So can we, if we (don’t) try.

Which of these two reminds you most of CNY and Upstate New York?

Bumping up to add: This post was linked to at Politicker, but with a somewhat incomplete and misleading description. I’m not comparing CNY to Soviet Russia for the sake of comparing CNY to Soviet Russia, as in “Ha ha, look how derelict CNY is.” The point of the article I’ve linked to is that any place that resembles Soviet Russia may be better equipped to handle a “collapse” than, say, someplace more prosperous — like Atlanta or NYC, although I dare say NYC is better off than Atlanta. (Whatever “collapse” means. The author of the article describes scenarios).