Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Midterm 2006 Victims (Part 3)

ROUND FIVE! LIGHTING ROUND! Hands on your buzzer please!


Dick Stevenson needs more stuff on his main page. He's missing a dancing baby and a Denny's menu. Perhaps he needs some background .midi music.


According to Wikipedia.org, a hockenberry is a fruit from the genus rebublicanus staterepresentatatus identified by it's poor web layout and use of frames. Seriously, it's 2006! NO ONE USES FRAMES ANYMORE!


Sean decided that out of all the pictures he could have used for his main page, the one that made him look like John Mark Karr was the one to go with. The creepy pedophile vote is the oft overlooked swing constiuency in PA 16.


As Lisa is the only candidate for this seat (barring a surprise come from behind victory for perrenial write in favorite "I.P. Freeley"), she didn't put much effort into putting together a good webpage. Obviously, her and Todd Hockenberry share the same affinity for frames, although Lisa has shown great taste in going with the black & gold theme. Still, if her campaign wanted to show real yinzer identificiation they should have painted her up in team colors waving a Terrible Towel.


I can only imagine what Dan's surprised about in his main page picture. Perhaps it's that the "Frankel Future" is a vast dystopia of crushing machine rule, in which humans are used as fuel for their nefarious ends. Perhaps he's just seen Ralph Cappy naked.


I already did Shawn back in April, so all I have to say is that the webpage is better this time around, right Linda?


And with that sound, the lightning round is over and the score is 15 to 12.

We'll fill in the players later.

More in Part Four....

Part Four? Seriously? God! I have friggin' work to do!


Monday, October 30, 2006

Midterm 2006 Victims (Part 2)

Before we get into the madness that I know you've all been waiting for, I just wanted to share a couple of observations about these webpages I've been perusing.

A couple of things become immediately apparent once you've look at at enough of them. First, candidates with more money have better webpages. So, the high profile candidates for Governor have some really good websites; third party candidates and candidates for lower offices do not. Second, younger candidates are more likely to have and/or have better webpages. This is obviously a generational thing.

Third, and most important of all, I feel: you must choose your colors carefully. There are really only two choices here: Red or Blue. Red means that you connect with the good old salt-of-the-earth time people, and not those damned heathen commies. Blue means that you connect with the working class and hippies. Chances are you'll want a bit of both.

You can choose White too, but only if you've hired the services of one of those cut rate web designers. Purple is OK, but only as a transition from Red to Blue... otherwise it looks a little "Mark Harris" ifyouknowwhatImean. Green means your a dirty, dirty hippy; yellow means that you are, in fact, color blind. Pink means that you've transcended Mark Harris and moved on to Liberace. Orange indicates that your site is under construction. Gray is reserved for economists turned politicians. I'm not sure what Indigo would mean, but if you know what that color is, you might as well just come out and choose Purple or Pink and stop trying to fool yourself. Choosing Black or Brown is race baiting and is viable only in Tennessee.

Anyway, onto

I must say that Eileen starts out with a distinct advantage by looking like the genetic spawn of Sally Field and Heather Locklear, while Frank looks vaguely like Dennis Hastert's younger brother.

To add insult to injury, a young Frank is pictured on the biography page in a suit that was obviously bought at a morgue firesale. If there are any pictures of Eileen in a suit that would cause America's Next Top Model to cry and abuse a designer, we'll never know. Frank's biggest problem seems to be that he has TOO MANY pictures, especially too many pictures of guys in wifebeater t-shirts.

Well... that and I think that if you read Frank's nearly illegible signature backwards in the mirror it says "So Dark the Con of Man." Despite her good looks (and obvious spunk), Eileen hasn't learned how to fit text onto one screen without scrolling. She's also a little text heavy; no one told her that the Internet is not for reading, but for things like the llama song.

I'm going to call this a DRAW. Both Eileen and Frank have to write "The Internet is not a big truck; it is a series of tubes." 1000 times until their webpages improve.


I imagine a conversation at the Walko headquarters going something like this:
Look, Don. People are pissed about the pay raise. We need a picture for the front page of the website of you looking like a statesman and maybe another picture of you pressing the flesh with constituents. It'll make you look good.
I also imagine a conversation at the Stalter headquarters going something like this:
Billy boy, people are pissed about the pay raise. We need a picture of you for the front page of the website of you looking like a fifth grade science teacher. *FLASH* That'll work. Oh, and can we make the state look slightly askew? Thanks.
This I'll give to Bill: his family is much more attractive and I think that they took the portrait at a bar rather than at Olan Mills. I'm pro-families in bars.

However, Walko has the late Mayor in one of his pictures; I'm pro-late Mayors.

But, in the end Don has more real information on his page and less filler... and it looks less like I designed the site. So the winner for this round is DON WALKO.


I know it's inappropriate to talk about a candidate like this, but Chelsa Wagner is kinda cute in a Rachel Ray kinda way. I'd totally caucus with that, and fortunately for her, Michael Diven doesn't seem to have a webpage.

More in Part 3. ..


Things Discovered in the Series of Tubes

The Internets have changed the way that politics happens. For example, even five years ago only a handful of people would have seen this video:

Or worse, this video:

Perhaps it was better that way.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Midterm 2006 Victims (Part 1)

As we are rapidly approaching November 7th and I am horribly behind schedule on my midterm madness coverage, I figured I should get on the ball and start pwning the 1337 'net skillz of those that would run for public office.

There are a lot of campaigns in and around Western PA that I want to focus on, so, in order to save some time, we're going to forgo the traditional one-post-per-candidate and skip right into the steel cage of death match.


With that, we'll start at the bottom and work our way up:


If this race was, in fact, a real steel cage of death match, this should be a battle royal. We got ourselves five, count 'em, FIVE candidates for the seat on City Council left vacant by His Lukey-ness. They are, in no particular order, Darlene Harris (D), Joe Lucas (R), Kevin T. Donahue (I), Steven Oberst (I), and Dave Schuilenburg (I).

Notice the use of the word "should". In reality, I could only find one candidate for office that bothered to put up a website. [C'mon folks! If I can do it, so can you.] So, without further adieu:

Those of you that aren't follow the topsy turvey world of City Council District #1, Dave is the Canadian. Seriously: the dude is a terrorist loving, pot smoking, prescription drug importer... or at least that's what Fox News tells me. Now, I could delve into my bag of Cannuck jokes and pull out a couple of gems about maple syrup, hockey, and Labatts... but that would be distasteful, eh? Besides, there are better things to make fun of on Dave's website.

For example, I'm not quite sure how I feel about the "Ask to Meet Dave" page. It sounds really creepy, and the picture on that page does nothing to assuade my fears. In fact, I have this strange feeling that Dave is standing outside my window watching and waiting for me to go to the bathroom. I mean, why else would there be a "Request a Visit" check box at the bottom.

Sadly, Dave's webpage is lacking both photos and endorsements. He promises that they are "Coming soon," but with about a week to go, I'm not expecting much. Of course, I don't expect much from City Council candidates.

But the winner by default in 1st District is DAVE SCHUILENBURG.




Wait... or is it the other way around? Seriously, I'm not even sure that Matt and Mark aren't the same person. I mean, they both have the same awkward picture on the first page of their website. I really can't tell white creepy looking politicians apart anymore.

Matt (or is it Mark's) website seems a bit less busy though; Mark (or is it Matt) just needs a couple of web polls, a list of links, and the current iTunes track, and me'd have a MySpace page: OMG MATT TOTALLY DISSED ME, WTF! and what not. Mark does seem to have an unhealthy persecution complex, and devotes a whole lot of the site to implying that Matt's supporters vandalized his signs. Personally, it's probably terrorist, or the gay mafia, or brown people.

Which are the real reasons why we need a big, deadly, straight wall along the border with Rossyln Farms.

Matt's photos are a bit more upbeat (although it looks like they were taken with a disposable camera) and involve more than just sign destroying.

So, the winner in the 42nd District is MARK SMITH, no, wait, MATT HARRIS... MATT SMITH.

More coming soon in Part II...

Tag(s): , , ,

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gridlock: On the Protection against Faction

There's a part of me that never left the political science department at Bureaucracy University.* This is the part that's still has a soft spot for Montesquieu, Mill, Madison, and other political philosophers that don't begin with "M". This is the part that understands things like separation of powers and dialectical materialism. This is the part that understands, as Mill and Hegel did, that conflict is not necessarily a bad thing, but can result in a form of creative destruction. Most importantly, this is the part that understands the value of gridlock - the complete inability to move a political agenda forward.

In the last six years we've seen what, back in a more politically attuned age, would have caused people to flood into the streets in violent mobs: wars, curtailment of civil liberties, increase of cronyism and nepotism, corruption, and, above all, incompetence at the highest levels. At the same time we have seen complete and total domination of one party at the expense of the other and at the expense of the good of the people that they supposedly represent and govern. I would go so far to suggest that these represent the hallmark of tyranny. And while others may try to make excuses for it, a tyranny of the majority is still tyranny.

In The Federalist Papers, Madison discusses at length the danger of faction. He argues that the remedy to the problem of the most egregious examples of faction, the tyranny of the majority, is a republican form of government with sufficient checks and balances [Federalist #10]. He says, "A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party." The only solution is to mitigate the effects of faction, by a division of the governmental structure into branches and bicameral legislative bodies.

So, while the Founders here never contemplated the rise of organized national political parties, the sentiments can be extrapolated just the same: the domination of any one faction needs to be mitigated. Majority faction must be checked in order to secure the rights of the minority. This, however, has not happened: one party, on faction, has now come to dominate all three branches of government. The result is exactly what Madison predicted: the mischiefs of faction.

The point is this folks: gridlock - for lack of a better work - is good.

Gridlock crushes a rampaging majority.

Gridlock slows the trampling of rights.

Gridlock allows compromise and clearer heads to prevail.

Gridlock, that dirty word that politicians rail against, will save this country from the unintended consequences of its own desires.

So on November 7th: vote for America; vote for gridlock.

* Go Fightin' Triplicates!

Tag(s): ,

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The 411 on 311 ($1.99 at 7-11)

[Yesterday's post was deleted by a State Senate clerical error. ]

I'm of mixed mind on the new City-wide 311 information system.

In its technologically advanced format, Ravenstahl's Response Line allows city residents to register non-emergency concerns, ask questions or make comments by dialing 311. Operators will log the concerns, assign them a number for future follow-up and forward them to the appropriate departments for action.

Two years ago, at the height of the city's financial crisis, former mayor Tom Murphy closed the former service center to save money. The late Mayor Bob O'Connor started the process to reopen a service center, and Mr. Ravenstahl continued the project when he took office Sept. 1 after Mr. O'Connor's death.

Mr. Ravenstahl said he isn't concerned that the system will be overwhelmed with calls about unfilled potholes and unpaved streets. He said he wants to know about all of those situations so the city can deal with them in a timely fashion, regardless of the city's tenuous finances.

OK, so on one hand the new 311 system will reduce the calls that I receive from people in the City (and parts of the County) that think I do everything. On the other hand, however, I will now be inundated with calls directed to me by a phone system that thinks that I do everything.

So, of course, I'm concerned, ever if Hizzoner is not.

Now, there's going to be a big difference, of course, between "taking appropriate action" and "solving the problem"... but I doubt that the general public understands that nuance and there's always going to be some level of bureaucratic leakage in getting anything done. We have TPS reports to fill out.

There's also that whole thing about redistributing limited resources across an increasing number of problems. At least when we didn't know about the problems, we didn't have to solve the problems. Now we have to solve the existing problems and the new problems.

But that's just my gripe as a bureaucrat; my gripe as a citizens is that people like me are going to be trying to solve my complaints.

That's scary.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Report: 83% of Americans don't Understand Satire

(Reuters) - Carnegie Mellon University researchers announced the results of their three year, seven and a half month, four day, twelve minute and thirty-three second study of the state of satire in the United States.

Announcing the findings was Dr. Karl Gruber of the Institute for Mathematics, Creative Writing and Public Policy (IMCWAPP) at CMU.

"It is disturbing that in the current climate of fear, unrest, cynicism, irony, pathos, puns, and litotes, currently 83% of Americans cannot recognize satire when compared with actual real life events," said Gruber.

Gruber heads a team of eleven researchers at IMCWAPP, dedicated to finding the disconnect between perceptions and reality.

"It started out as more of anecdotes: stories of people burning copies of A Modest Proposal after finding out that it called for the eating of babies. Then there was the instance in Alabama where, after reading a compendium of the works of Alexander Pope, two Senators put forth a bill mandating 25 yrs to life for Lock Rapists. And of course all the politicians that go on The Colbert Report"

"My colleague Dr. Frank M. Arouet and I set about to test people's responses to satire in a controlled environment. The results were surprising."

According to the study, 83% of all Americans were unable to correctly identify obvious pieces of satire from talk radio. Further, 64% of those that incorrectly identified satire as actual opinion, when solicited, gave money to the supposed cause or were sold T-Shirts with satirical opinions. A further 20% went to rallies on said satirical opinion and, in one instance, a man actually set himself on fire.

"I mean," says Arouet, "I knew people in this country were dumb, but I though 'Blue Collar Comedy' Dumb not 'Dumber than a bag of ball peen hammers' Dumb. Heck, we could have completely made up our research and just asked for more funding."

Gruber and Arouet announced that they will be continuing on their $340 million study from an undisclosed hotel in Aruba, where they will conduct indepth research on the number of salt grains that can fit on the rim of a margarita glass.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Congress Critters

Now, I'm not a fan of Congress Critters generally speaking. In fact, if this blog were a comic book, my arch-nemesis would be Senator Payne or Congressman Destruction or perhaps to a lesser extent Delegate Death, who would only do battle with me in American Samoa, Guam, the US. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.

Delegate Death is not expected to be a big sell when the action figures come out.

However, if you want to raise your level of ire about the current 109th Congress to a point where blood will shoot out of your eyes and make flames shoot out of the side of your head, take a look at this article in Roling Stone. If you're too lazy to get to even through the first paragraph, here's the second and it pretty much sums up the tone of the rest of the article:

These past six years were more than just the most shameful, corrupt and incompetent period in the history of the American legislative branch. These were the years when the U.S. parliament became a historical punch line, a political obscenity on par with the court of Nero or Caligula -- a stable of thieves and perverts who committed crimes rolling out of bed in the morning and did their very best to turn the mighty American empire into a debt-laden, despotic backwater, a Burkina Faso with cable.
Makes the whole "Do Nothing" 80th Congress look like a regular pillar of legislative excellence.

Tag(s): ,

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Metablogging

Every now and then, I click on the little Sitemeter icon down at the bottom of the page, just to check up on my guests, make sure their drinks are filled, and look at their invitations. I'm always glad when people decide to stop by and take advantage of my eHospitality, but I'm equally curious as to how they actually got here. We're not exactly a Stuckey's on the Infotainment Superhighway.

The vast majority of my guests here come from parts unknown, which means that, frightening as it may seem, people actually have me bookmarked and check me regularly. Shame on you people for encouraging me.

The next largest chunk of visitors are referred by the good folks there on your right. Some of whom are witty, insightful, and more than marginally attractive and Fester.

After that, everyone else is referred here by various search engines, hitting on the terms "Angry," "Drunk," "Bureaucrat", "Angry Drunk," and "Beaurocrat." Most disturbingly of all, however, is that some people are actually searching for the terms "Angry Drunk Bureaucrat", which means that either (a) somebody's looking for me and can't find me or (b) there is significant interest in the field of Angry Drunken Bureaucracy.

It's a growth industry, apparently.

There are, however, some other searches that leave me... well... baffled, curious, and scared. For example:

I can only assume that the person searching on Knoxville Municipal Boundaries, merely got lost and ended up here because at some point I talked about all three concepts.

The link from the Wearing My Polo search led to a post on a business casual Friday, although my hope is that someone thought that I was some sort of expert on male fashion and had pictured me as some ripped demi-god, instead of the short, stocky troll from accounting that I am.

This site, for some reason, is your current #1 Google Search hit for the phrase "The hills are alive with the sound of crap" for reasons I do not wish to explain, nor have the time so to do. It immediately brings to mind visions of Maria Von Trapp at a cholera outbreak.

That's a phrase, by the way, that I'm also sure to be the #1 Google hit.

Some lost first year English major probably typed in the phrase "whan that april with its showres soote - what does this mean" at the 11th hour before a midterm paper was due, hoping for the Cliffs Notes to The Canterbury Tales, but instead got this place. This guy is probably failing and it's my fault.

I'm sure that there is a reasonable explanation and perfectly innocent story behind why a person from the UK reached this site via the search phrase "Berlin Sauna Rules what to wear", but I haven't come up with anything plausible yet. I can only hope that this person found what they were looking for on this site, and didn't end up inappropriately staring at some guy's shwanstucker.

To answer the person who showed up here wondering "What happens on Bastille Day", the answer is "What happens on Bastille Day, stays on Bastille Day... even if it means running backwards away from the Germans because you were laughing at their shwanstuckers in the sauna."

The most frightening search I've found so far has been "how to hurt a bureaucrat." I don't know what this sick, sick person's problem is, but I'll give him the answer anyway: check his blog every day, tell your friends, make sure that they tell their friends. Try to get the blog posted to some national news aggregator and sit back while his server crashes. That'll show him. Trust me.

And finally, I don't know what possessed a visitor to put these terms together. I have no idea what it means or what the visitor was hoping to discover. I don't know if there was a rodent problem, an acorn problem, or something that fell under some obscure pet lemon law. I don't want to think about it too much as it's causing my eyes to twitch and my brain to melt, but apparently, if you search on the phrase "Certified Preowned angry squirrel", you hit this site.

But the worst part is: The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat is only the #3 site for Certified Preowned Angry Squirrels. Here's hoping that this post bumps us to #1.

Stay tuned for more...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

In Mordor where Santorum lies

Saw this over at JP's other place:

LEVITTOWN - Embattled U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said America has avoided a second terrorist attack for five years because the "Eye of Mordor" has instead been drawn to Iraq.

Santorum used the analogy from one of his favorite books, J.R.R. Tolkien's 1950s fantasy classic, "Lord of the Rings," to put an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq into terms any school kid could easily understand.

"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else," Santorum said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth.

"It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S.," he continued. "You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."
I think that Ricky has a point here as there are some stark similarities* between the Lord of the Rings triology and the GWoT/Iraq War:
  • The War is against a faceless, ever present evil;
  • The King resorts to a backdoor draft by remobilizing the Dead;
  • There are a cast of characters that are seemingly useless (you're doing a heck of job Tom Bombadil!);
  • They are being both led by a shifty, untrustworthy being that used to be human-like;
  • Frodo and Sam are sent into Mordor without a clear plan, limited body armor, and no real exit strategy.
Of course there are some key differences as well. First, in the final section of the third book [the part that Peter Jackson fortunately left out of his bladder busting epic] the War of the Ring actually does come home for the Hobbits, despite all attempts by Gandalf to fight them in Mordor so they don't have to fight them in the Shire. Ricky probably shouldn't have skpped this part, by the way.

Second, the Chieftain of the Dúnedain has actual prior military experience, almost 70 years worth. Today, he'd be Bob Dole.

And finally: Sam and Frodo's "friendship" wouldn't be permitted in today's US Army.

Now, if Santorum was a real Tolkien nerd, he would have realized that there are many more stories within the Middle Earth story cycle that are more apropos to the current situation than just the War of the Ring.

For example, Eärnur the last King of Gondor, in his pride, accepted the challenge of the Witch-King, entered Minas Morgul, and was lost.

OK, maybe a better example would be Ar-Pharazôn the twenty-fifth and last King of Númenor. He usurped the throne, assailed Mordor and brought Sauron back to Númenor as a hostage, but Sauron seduced him promising power and eternal life, and persuaded him to sail on and attack Valinor itself. As punishment for this act, the island of Númenor sank beneath the waves of the Great Sea. Only a few of the Faithful of Númenor, including Elendil and Isildur, survived.

But probably the best example from Middle Earth comes from the first age, when Morgoth assailed and destroyed the two trees of Valinor, Telperion and Laurelin, stole the Silmarils, and escaped to Middle Earth. Fëanor swore an oath to recover the Silmarils, and many of the Noldor followed him into exile in pursuit of the jewels. Through a course of bloodshed and betrayal of the Teleri at Alqualondë, Fëanor and his seven sons returned to Middle-earth, and began a war against the Dark Lord which lasted throughout the first age. The lifes of many Deep Elves were lost but, in the end, it was the efforts of a Man that brought the host of the Valar to Middle Earth to utterly defeat the Dark Lord. In the process, however, all of Beleriand was destroyed.

Of course, Ricky probably skipped all that because of all that Man on Elf sex.


P.S. I wrote post prior to seeing this. Great minds and all that.

Tag(s): ,

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Test of the Emergency Cynic System

This is a test of the Emergency Cynic System. This is only a test.

Does anyone else find it odd that after so much hoopla over an administration that was supposed to bring "diversity" to City Government, it took O'Connor's successor to name an African-American as police chief?

Not to say that Mr. Harper isn't an exemplary candidate for this office, but this appointment wouldn't happen to have anything to do with shoring up support for Luke's 2007 run for mayor, now would it?
This has been a test of the Emergency Cynic System. The blogger on this page in voluntary cooperation with federal, state and local authorities has developed this system to keep you informed in the event of cynical ploys. If this had been an actual cynical ploy, the posting you just read would have been followed by official information, news or instructions.

This was only a test.

Tag(s): Cynicism

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

An Open Letter to Client #300

Dear Client #300:

In regards to your complaint letter of earlier this week, we at The Bureaucracy believe that we can correct the situation that you described in one of two ways.

The first option involves unicorns that fart magical rainbows and elves that grant our every wish. With gentle cajoling and some kind words, we may be able to build a fairy workshop that creates miracles. Then, if we go down to the wishing pond and give three coins to the mystical Mr. Tuggles, he'll be able to give us the pixie dust necessary to power the fair workshop.

The second option involves you correcting this situation on your own, yourself.

Bear with me as I explain something to you, as I'm sure you're all ready with a rainbow farting unicorn, and pay attention, because this concerns you:


Whatever it is you're asking me to do, I don't do that and I am not responsible for it in any sense. In fact, your complaint falls into no job category anywhere in The Bureaucracy and possibly no where within the Government(s) of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. What you have described is a situation between you and someone else, not the Government and certainly not me. If you have a problem with this person, you need act like a responsible adult and talk face to face with this other human being. Don't get me involved; it is not my job.

When you asked in your letter, "What are you going to do about this?" I have a very good answer, but I'm afraid that it is physically impossible for you, as you seem to already have your head crammed firmly up that orifice. So, I'm going to fall back on an old chestnut instead and say "Nothing."

If you have any other problems, please feel free to throw yourself under a bus and do us all a favor.


The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat

Tag(s): Rant

Monday, October 16, 2006

SETI Discovers Intelligent Life on City Council

(AP) - The SETI Organization has announced today that it has detected several signals from 414 Grant Street which seem to indicate the possibility of intelligent life on Pittsburgh City Council. SETI, which was founded 22 years ago to conduct scientific research and educational projects relevant to the origin, nature, prevalence, and distribution of life in the universe, recently has recently turned its attention to less obvious places in the universe where intelligence could exist.

Speaking from the organization's headquarters in Mountain View California, CEO Thomas Pierson released the news with obvious excitement.

"If confirmed, this would mark the first evidence that intelligence can exist within local government. This is a remarkable day for both the natural and political science communities."

On September 14, 2006, Frankin University Professor W. H. Effman turned the radio antenae of the "Big Ear" Observatory towards a small patch of space between Fourth and Forbes Avenues on Grant Street. The signal that was received was so strong and, most surprisingly, so lucid that Effman immediately saw that it could not have been caused by normal politicians.

"Even if it were intelligent beings sending a signal, they'd do it far more than once," Effman says. "So we looked for it again 50 times and every time we came up with the same reading. At this point we were sure it wasn't just errant an signal that simply got reflected off the Regional Enterprise Tower. We immediately contacted Tom [Pierson] to tell him the good news."

Effman's discovery of a narrow bank burst of intelligence
from Grant Street may make us rethink our relationship
to Pittsburgh City Council

Pierson was elated at the discovery. "I was expecting to see the usual background noise of bloviations, accusations, and pandering... none of which actually indicate critical thinking... but was shocked when I actually heard a critical and well reasoned discussion on the ability to maintain adequate infrastructure in the face of regional cluster development needs and how it impacts citizens at or below the poverty level. I'm not embarassed to say that I was giddy."

The SETI organization cautioned that more studies will need to be done, but the eventual hope is that someday the people of the City of Pittsburgh will at last be able to communicate with intelligent City Council people.

Tag(s): ,

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Post You Can't Refuse

Despite the best efforts of Virgil 'The Turk' Sollozzo with the backing of Barzini and Tattaglia, they hit me with five shots and mountains of needless of paperwork, but I'm still alive. Well that's bad luck for you.

Actually, the parallel between the mob hit and the events of last week in City Government aren't too far off the mark with Dennis "The Enforcer" Regan getting whacked upon the orders of Don Luke "Lucky" Ravenstahl. Now, setting aside the metaphor for a second, this creates an interesting situation for the current administration and is either a signal that the new Mayor is really smart or really dumb.

First, the smart bit: Luke is obviously going to run next November (more on this in a second) so he's going to need to create an administration and policies of his own to run on. While adherence to the previous O'Connor policies can serve for the transition period, eventually Luke is going to have to look like "his own man," or as Pete Flaherty said "nobody's boy." Distancing himself from Regan, a guy who was seen by many as nothing more than a nepotistic unqualified shill, will help to advance this perception of independence from the nastier points of the previous administration and mend fences with those that weren't in the good graces of Bob in the hopes of garnering a broader basis of support.

Then there is a dumb bit, however: from a pragmatic standpoint alienating the smokefilled-backroom boys of Bobby O' is going to also alienate their deep pockets. Despite his politically connected family, Ravenstahl's political cache is relatively small and his war chest is undeveloped. I cannot imagine that O'Connor's war chest was fully expended last year and I think it safe to assume that there is several thousand (potentially hundreds of thousands of) dollars that could be directed to a "Bobby O'" approved candidate. If anyone had access to this money, it would be Regan.

So, on to that issue. First, I must say that I was surprised that the board ruled the way that it did, given the representation of old school people with names like "Onorato" and "DeFazio". It sounded like a lock that they would put the election off until 2009, but there you go. Actually, I was more surprised that they didn't mandate that a Costa be mayor.

Anyway, Maria had posted a handful of people that would probably run in the May primary. Out of all of them Peduto and Lamb have the already established infrastructure for running a city-wide campaign and seem to be odds on favorites to throw their hats in the ring. Ravenstahl has already said that he's in, and he may have the advantage of the remnants of the defunct O'Connor machine (or, as I said above, he could either blow it or create his own base).

I don't think that Ferlo will run; I'm with Fester on this.

And then there's Ben Woods. All I can say is that if Ben Woods runs, at least the Trib won't be resorting to hyperbole when they call him "criminal."

Don't really know the intentions or have any feelings on Fitzgerald, or Frankel. The thought of Caliguiri running is disturbing; I'm not big on the scions of politicians using name recognition to advance in political office. Maybe it's just me.

Maria leaves off Auditor General and former City Councilman Jack Wagner who, back in the day, seemed to covet the job of Mayor. He's probably as good of a candidate as any with widespread voter recognition.

All that aside, the thought of another mayoral race in... oy... five and a half months makes me a little nauseous, partially because I ate some month old chicken salad that was hiding in the back of the fridge, but mostly because we all in local government were just beginning to get used to the O'Connor administration when it became the Ravenstahl administration

Change is a bitch, especially for Bureaucrats who thrive on constancy and regulation. To bring in a fourth Mayor in 780 days is going to really mess up my priorities and files.

The whole hasty election thing reminds me of the Roman Empire in 69 C.E. when, following the forced suicide of emperor Nero, there was civil war and a quick succession of four emperors Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian. Sort of like how the City of Pittsburgh used to be organized... how they based it on the old Roman legions. It was like the Roman Empire. And when a plot against the Emperor failed -- the planners were always given a chance to let their families keep their fortunes. But only the rich guys; The little guys - they got knocked off and all their estates went to the Emperors. Unless they went home and uh, killed themselves - then nothing happened. And their families - their families were taken care of.

Otherwise, they got whacked.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On the Next Episode of the City of Pittsburgh...

On the Next Episode of the City of Pittsburgh...

Luke tells Dennis he's the new Director of Public Safety. Meanwhile, Bill and Doug plot against the Mayor and call Rich over at the Post-Gazette with incriminating evidence. Catherine drops a bombshell in front of Council, alleging that Dennis fixed Marlene's Brother's charges of Incompetency, Conduct Unbecoming an Officer, Neglect of Duty and Obedience to Orders and Laws. Jim and Doug almost come to blows in City Hall, over Catherine's charges. Sensing the tide turning, Luke withdraws the nomination just in time only to find out that his half sister's father's business parter is really the identical twin of his own long lost college roomate. Yarone, in his final, desperate moments, reveals himself not to be the Chief of Staff after all, but rather a clone of Bob O'Connor.
Tune in next week for another exciting episode of As the City Turns All My Politicians One City to Govern... Bah! I'll come up with something later.

Here and here are some snarky comments about the story thus far.

If anyone from Hollywood is reading this, by the way, City of Pittsburgh Politics would make for a great theme for a new sitcom. Think The West Wing meets The Office. Or perhaps, a more realistic version of Spin City.*

However, this is probably just the prologue to the bigger story. Obviously Peduto is not falling in line with the wishes of the Mayor's Office, nor was that to be expected. It seems, however, that both Sheilds and Bodack are slightly wavering on their allegiances. Elections are coming up in a couple of months for a handful of Council Seats and, should Ravenstahl policies run counter to District interests, more could head for the lifeboats. With a whole bunch of unelected people running the show, it seems that, should he wish to run for the office in 2007 or 2009, either Luke is going to have to cozy up to people outside this tiny clique or be seen a merely a puppet mayor beholden to these men behind the curtain. Luke will have to try to appeal to people outside of his base if he is serious about retaining the Mayor's Office. With no mandate, however, Luke lacks the political capital to enact anything other than what was already laid out by O'Connor. Can the obvious potential candidates for the Mayor's Office make political hay out of this? Tune in tomorrow for another exciting episode of The Old and the Connected.

Yeah, that one works.

*Seriously folks, almost no one in Pittsburgh Government is nearly as attractive as Michael J. Fox, Barry Bostwick, or even Alan Ruck. Well... maybe me.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Pittsburgh National Bank

Those of you old timers may remember when PNC Bank was plain ol' Pittsburgh National Bank instead of the lumbering juggernaut that you see today on the Fortune 500 list. I remember my local branch vividly, but now there's over 800 branches all up and down the east coast.

"Pittsburgh" indeed.

And, of course, following the recent acquisitions of United National Bancorp and Riggs National Bank, you have the just announced acquisition of Mercantile Bankshares Corp, which make PNC even larger.

But consider this: PNC is a big bank for around here, but it is still a regional bank and is not a major player in the world of international finance. All indicators show, however, that PNC is trying to make a move into "the big leagues" of banking. There are two options should PNC continue this course of action: keep gobbling up smaller banks, making PNC bigger OR be gobbled up by an even larger multinational.

Just a hunch, but we could see some massive layoffs around here should PNC readjust their core business functions or eliminate redundancies.


Sunday, October 08, 2006


I saw this and my first reaction was to soil myself.

Anyway, consider this:

The US invaded a hostile country known not to have nuclear weapons;
Is currently rattling sabres with another one that just wants them;
And has allowed a third to actually develop and test them.

Does anyone else see something fundamentally wrong with our policies, or is it me?

I'm off to change my armour and hide in the cellar.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Dennis Regan Calls for Calm Over Sienna Miller Comment

(AP) - The Director of Operations and newly appointed Director of Public Safety for the City of Pittsburgh, has called for calm and has condemned the internet related violence following the release of a comment made by a semi-famous actress in an interview in Rolling Stone Magazine.

Dennis Regan made the announcement following a full day of flamewars on the Pittsburgh blogosphere. Regan encouraged all parties to put aside their differences and work towards "a peaceful resolution to this conflict."

"The Mayor is deeply concerned about the virtual violence and wishes to protect all n00bs, and stem the loss of virtual property and virtual life."

The violence that has swept across parts of the Pittsburgh Blogosphere has come in response to the publication in Rolling Stone Magazine of a quote by actress Sienna Miller calling the city "Shitsburgh". The statement was later retracted by a publicist, but not before several prominent blogs were sent up in flames. Four bloggers are confirmed dead, and several are missing, including Tunesmith.

High Ranking Judge Rufus Peckham called for the crucifixion of the Mysteries of Pittsburgh star and an agitator known only as "PittGirl" burned the actress in effigy. An unknown poster known only as "Anonymous" stripped naked and set himself on fire chanting "Death to Sienna!"

More Angry bloggers gathered at Pittsburgh Bloggers and launched Molotov cocktails through the virtual windows of RollingStone.com and burned copies of Ms. Miller's other movie, Alfie, which starred former lover Jude Law.

Mr. Law was busy with Ms. Miller's staff, and was unavailable for comment.

Tonight, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review remain engulfed in flames in retaliation for printing the comments.

Regan blamed the violence on "radical extremists and fanatics" who are "adding fuel to the flames in order to push forward their own agendas," many using high-tech means -- like text messaging -- to spread false information before the City can respond to the crisis.

He warned that the situation could get worse if not stopped now.

"We are facing a growing Pittsburgh Blog crisis that has the potential to escalate beyond the control of government and other authorities," Regan told reporters in a news conference.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

So Billy, do you like Gladiator Movies?

I wanted to avoid talking too much about the current Mark Foley (R-Eally Creepy) scandal, but it's like watching an accident on the highway, and you just have to rubberneck and gawk. Or, alternatively, it's drawing me like a moth to a flame... or a Freeper/Moonbat to a flamewar, take your pick of metaphor.

But, before I rip into the meaty goodness* that is this scandal, I thought I'd take the opportunity to lay out my personal biases:

First, and this is evident to anyone who reads this blog thing on a regular basis, I have a (shall we say) "left of center" bias. I hope this does not come as a shock to anyone who believes the internet to be full of non-partisan bliss and rainbow farting unicorns. Or anyone from Wampum.

Second, I work for The Government and Grover Norquist and his ilk want to drown me in a bathtub. Needless to say, I am not a Republican.

Third, my family is a product of the Democratic machine in the City of Pittsburgh. My great-grandmother would rise out of her grave and strangle me should I go "the other way."

OK, that's full disclosure. Let's move on.

NOW, I can't say that the Foley debacle doesn't fill me with some giddy pleasure. I'm not proud of this, I just enjoy seeing hypocrisy exposed.

Second, OK, for starters pedophilia is bad. Really bad. Really, really, really, bad. Go over to 2 Political Junkies, if you haven't already, and look at this clip. Now, while I appreciate the verbal smackdown by the Democratic operative, it would not be the tact I would have chosen. If I was on the hot seat, my only response would have been "At least the Democrats you've listed aren't pedophiles. Or have covered up for pedophiles. Are you suggesting, ma'am, that somehow the corruption of minors with the intent of committing devious acts is somehow equal to, say, regular corruption? And, if so, are you suggesting that pedophilia isn't so bad, by comparison? Ma'am, are you on the payroll of NAMBLA?"

Of course, his response was good too, and I'm not at all disappointed.

Third, I'd like to repeat the Nixonian maxim: "It's not the crime that gets you; it's the coverup."

Fourth, at this point, the Democratic strategy is clear: the leadership of the Republican party in the House of Representatives knowingly supported and enabled a pedophile through their actions and inactions. If you are thinking of voting Republican, do you think that you can, in good conscience, vote for a Republican knowing that the current, corrupt leadership will remain in power?

Fifth, the Democrats don't even have to convince Republicans to vote for them; they just have to convince Republicans that they should stay home on November 7th. Marginal goals.

But, of course, this is all from a Bureaucrat, not a Politician. Alas, I'm incorruptible.**

*Which is, I'm sure, what Rep. Foley called the Senate pages.
**At least until a better offer comes around.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam

Like the Hudson River, I have a lot of junk in my head. Every now and then it has to come out in strange and disturbing ways. Here goes:

With today's appointment of Yarone Zober to the URA board, the Ferlo household now holds 40% of the votes on that board. Might as well hold board meetings in the kitchen.

If you haven't already, read the excerpt from the Colin Powell biography in the Washington Post. The damned thing reads like a friggin' Shakespearean Tragedy... only with fewer men dressed up as women. (Jeff Gannon excluded).

Pittsburgh is ripe with job opportunities in law enforcement, both at the City and the County level. Post your resume today at Monster.com. Qualified applicants should have 20+ years of law enforcement experience, a shady background, and distinguishable features.

It's only October and I'm already sick of the midterm elections.

The Mark Foley (R - Eally Creepy) case continues to expand. Remember the old Nixonian maxim: it's not the crime that gets you, it's the coverup. No word on whether anyone else in the GOP caucus likes gladiator movies.

I think that's it for now. More later as my head accumulates more junk.

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