Trump’s infrastructure plans could lead to re-installing Thruway tolls

I grew up in Kaisertown. I watched the Niagara Section of the Thruway built right before my eyes. The Ogden toll barrier was in sight of our front porch.

That toll barrier collected millions of dollars from drivers over a period of more than fifty years. It slowed traffic pouring into the city. What a crazy idea – charging people in a mid-sized metropolitan area a fee to enter the central city.

That barrier, of course had a sister location along the Niagara River, near Breckenridge. That was so that area residents coming into the central city from the north towns could also pay to enter. There was no fee to leave the city.

A few years ago those barriers came down after an aggressive campaign by local political and business leaders. Traffic finally, after more than fifty years, flowed freely into Buffalo. Continue reading

The adults in the Trump administration are morphing into enablers

When the Trump administration was being put together there were a whole lot of questions raised about the competency of certain nominees. In some cases there has already been evidence that those concerns were legitimate.

Take Dr. Ben Carson, for example. Dr. Carson is an eminent brain surgeon, but he was put in charge of Housing and Urban Development. Bad choice. Allowing Carson to pontificate about his philosophy of life – worse choice. Carson recently told the world that poverty is a “state of mind,” suggesting that poor people basically will themselves into being poor. There are some such people, much like there are some billionaires and multi-millionaires who inherited a ton of money but believe that they are self-made rich people. Education, housing, medical care, job opportunities – those are the drivers that affect someone’s ability to make a good life for themselves and their families. Continue reading

A conversation between Pope Francis and Donald Trump

As part of his tour of the Middle East and Europe, Donald Trump met today with Pope Francis at Vatican City. It was the first meeting for the two men.

Politics and Other Stuff was provided with a transcript of the meeting by an unnamed source who has direct knowledge of the meeting and who passed on the information in exchange for anonymity. How I got this before the New York Times and the Washington Post I don’t really know. The meeting took place in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican. Continue reading

The Comey fiasco, leaking classified information and cheerleader-in-chief Chris Collins

When it comes to recognition for supporting all things Donald Trump, both during last year’s campaign and Trump’s first four months in office, it is hard to find a more dedicated, aggressive, or over-exposed advocate than would-be stockbroker and 27th District Congressman Chris Collins. He proudly wears the mantel of cheerleader-in-chief. This has often found Collins twisting himself like a pretzel as he tries to explain what he perceives as the intelligence and foresight of fearless leader. Continue reading

The politics of Trumpcare

When someone is having a really bad losing streak it can be very tempting to exaggerate any positive development, no matter how small. Thus it came to pass last week that House Republicans – at least 217 of them – and Donald Trump celebrated the approval of one of the most despicable pieces of legislation ever to see the light of day, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Continue reading

The Trump effect in special elections

The Donald Trump administration has existed now for nearly 100 days – that arbitrary yet significant milestone attached to every new presidential administration. Beyond the Neil Gorsuch appointment to the Supreme Court, activities have been limited mostly to executive orders, many of them just proposing to study an issue. The only notable legislation that reached Trump’s desk and was signed was a bill that made it easier for people who are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance and are in need of assistance with performing their daily functions to purchase guns. That bill was signed in private. Continue reading

Nuclear options

The country, it seems, is drinking in national and international politics through a fire hose these days. So it’s probably practical, from a commentary point of view, to combine issues wherever possible.

The United States Senate today will vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Given the partisan divide in the country, Gorsuch will only get a few more than the bare minimum number of votes needed for confirmation. Continue reading