Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Speaking in front of a crowd in Sandusky OH with his trademark head microphone and faux-hawk, "Vince" energized those assembled with his testimonial of John McCain.
"John McCain will clean up this economic spill fast. He holds 21 times his weight in water... ya following me camera guy? He'll last for years! He's machine washable and bleachable! He's great for drying pets."
An unnamed high ranking campaign official, speaking off the record, said that McCain was "troubled" by the Obama campaign's 30 minute T.V. infomercial, which garnered over 20 million viewers yesterday. The hiring of a new campaign manager reflects a need to reach out to average voters who are up late watching TV and are gullible.
Infomercial expert Billy Mays says that this move is a super powered epoxy that does it all.
"This new approach is great for home projects big and small. Fill surfaces holes and cracks, instantly seal leaks, repair China, tools and more. Molds to any shape, adheres to most surfaces. No messy mixing needed. Just apply and let dry. Can be painted, sanded or drilled."
John McCain is available for three easy installments of $19.95, but if you order today you get the Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin *FREE*.
Call (703) 418-2008! ORDER NOW!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Interesting to see that the City has finally hired a sustainability coordinator for greening and whatnot around Pittsburgh. That's great and all (we here at the ADB are big supporters of the green movement in general), but we noticed some fundamental problems in this hire:
(1) The Title of Coordinator is poisonous. Imagine you've been given a position, with no staff, no budget, but an objective that absolutely, positively must be met. Being a coordinator means that you don't really report to anyone, but no one actually reports to you. You can't really boss anyone around and can't demand that anyone do anything. Usually, that "anything" is vital to your job. It's a no win situation, but it'll make your boss look good because he's done "something."*
If I had a Guide for Bureaucrats rather than Rules of Bureaucracy, one of the pointers I would give would be "Don't be a coordinator."
(2) People are territorial. By definition, the coordinator position is supposed to tell multiple bureaucrats across multiple departments what to do. People don't like being told what to do to (and the people that are early adopters are going to be few and far between). True, if the coordinator has the support of the mayor in all of her programmatic decisions, it's going to be a lot easier... but really, let's be honest, the mayor is not really going to be taking a really active role in any of this.
(3) Age. Now, there's nothing wrong with young people in City Government; some of my colleagues are very bright, but don't remember things like Duran Duran or "stagflation". That's OK, seriously.** However, there are a lot of people in City government that will go on endlessly about their age and experience and how "we've never done it this way before, so it's obviously bad". To make it worse: a lot of those people are Directors and Deputy Directors. They hate young people and will make Ms. Baxter's job miserable.
(4) $45,347/year is not nearly enough money for putting up with the crap. Seriously.
So, yeah: Good luck.
* By the way, multiple "coordinators" are know as a "commission."
** Unless your name is an anagram of "Shaven Talk Rule"
If you're like me, you're probably scrounging around to come up with a Halloween costume for Friday. And, if you're like me, you're probably trying to find a costume that doesn't leave people baffled, like last year's Thomas Pynchon costume, which only made the neighborhood kids egg you as you passed out candy.
Also, if you're like me, you're waiting with baited breath for the end of the campaign season, so you can get back to watching commercials for movies that have explosions, instead of Presidencies which will cause terrorists to explode you and everyone you love. Although, to be fair, the McCain campaign could only improve by taking on Michael Bay as director.
Our intrepid moles and spies have traveled the length and breadth and depth and heights of this land to examine what candy the current Presidential & Vice-Presidential candidates will be giving out at their houses, you know, in case you want to hop on a plane to go from Delaware to Alaska on Friday and hit all the homes in between.
Barack Obama - The Obama campaign initially considered Snickers or Reese Peanut Butter cups, but ultimately decided those would be off message. In what shows that Sen. Obama is both disciplined and a literalist, Trick-or-Treaters will receive a handful of change... which I suppose you can use to go out and buy real candy.So, to all those trick-or-treaters out there, and try not to accept treats from write-in-candidates.
John McCain - Senator McCain initially wanted to give out candy cigarettes, Clark Bars, or Necco Wafers to his guests. His campaign informed him, however, that out of those choices, only Necco Wafers are still being made, and no one really likes those anyway. McCain decided instead to give out cans of Ensure. BONUS: if you're really ambitious, the Senator will be giving out different flavors of Ensure at each of his seven homes.
Joe Biden - Senator Biden, despite the insistence of the campaign, will be giving out Pop Rocks and Cola. Trick-or-Treaters are advised not to consume the two together.
Sarah Palin - In an old throwback, Gov. Palin will be giving out candied apples, a more traditional treat that looks good, is sweet, but hard to bite into. Later you find out that the apple isn't really that tasty, and you're left with an nasty fruit on a stick.
Bob Barr - The Libertarian Candidate will not be giving out candy, but will gladly exchange money or labor for candy. We believe he has Pixie Sticks.
Cynthia McKinney - The Green Party has traditionally given out fair trade, shade grown, organic chocolates to the kids. This year, however, Ms. McKinney is eschewing tradition and giving out pipe wrenches and handfuls of gravel.
Charles O. Baldwin - Mr. Baldwin, as a member of the Constitution Party, does not believe in Halloween. His lights will be turned off and he will not answer the door, even though you know that he's at home.
Ralph Nader - Nobody really goes to Mr. Nader's house anymore. Back in 2000, he said he was giving away a boxed assortment of Swiss chocolates, but when you got home and opened the box, it turned out to be a dog turd. Mr. Nader isn't giving away treats as such this year, although if you happen to be within two blocks of his house, he may jump out and try to force "candy" in to your bag.
Former Congressman Mark Foley - While not a Presidential Candidate, he is forbidden to give out candy and is required to publicly announce this under Megan's Law.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
(Reuters) Arlington VA - Facing an significant cash disadvantage to his opponent, John McCain today took drastic measures to close the gap in the closing days of the 2008 Presidential campaign.
"My friends, today we have forged an arrangement that will bring us victory on November 4th," said Senator McCain to an audience of around 660 supporters in northern Virginia.
"After a night of incantations and a few sacrificed goats, the Dark Lord Satan himself came to me and offered my campaign unlimited financing in exchange for my immortal soul. After consultation with my running mate, we both agreed that this was the right tactic for this campaign.".
Supporter of the McCain campaign were initially taken aback by the move, however reactions from the punditocracy were generally positive.
"This is the kind of an Alpha Male action that this country needs," said Fox News fixture Ann Coulter. "Wimpy arugula eating traitorous Muslims don't even have a soul to sell for America."
The terms of the deal with Satan were not immediately available, but spokesman Richard Cheney said that the press would be given 20 minutes to review the nearly 9,000 pages, probably sometime during the next full moon.
The Evangelical wing of the GOP may not embrace this move by McCain, although it is expected to endear him to the party's backers on Wall Street. Still, representative of Satan say they have received the endorsement of the late Jerry Falwell.
Former Bush administration spokesman Scott McClellan said that the deal may not be a good long term strategy for the campaign. "Well, you see Satan's a tricky guy. He offers you eternal life, but he pulls a fast one on you and you find yourself living forever in Scranton PA. Not sure what Satan has in mind with this one. Chances are, he'll give John McCain a whole lot of money, but make it so Obama gets more."
The Obama campaign released no response to Sen. McCain's announcement.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
(Newswire) Columbus Ohio - In a surprise move, the Ohio GOP has requested that thousands of Scottish-Americans have their registrations changed as they no longer represent the views of Republicans Party.
At a 10 AM press conference, Ohio GOP spokesman Antony Flew stated that the party became concerned with the matter after recently released opinion polls showed that Ohio Scottish-Americans favored Barack Obama over John McCain by a staggering 10 to 1 majority.
John McCain was sitting down with his copy of the the Columbus Dispatch and saw an article about how "GOP Hibernian-Americans are Flocking to Obama in Record Numbers." McCain was shocked and declared that "No Scotsman would do such a thing." And then, the very next day he sits down to read the same Columbus Dispatch again and this time finds an article about Angus MacDonald, a long time Republican donor, hosting an Obama fundraiser. Mr. McCain came to the conclusion that, "No true Scotsman would do such a thing" and promptly ordered an investigation into activities of "un-Scotsmanlike behavior in the Republican Party."The Ohio GOP has requested that the identified Republican Scottish-Americans have their party registry changed from Republican to Independent. This change, it is expected, would cause mass confusion amongst Obama leaning Republican Scottish Americans in Ohio.
The move comes on the heels of several statements by Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, Radio personality Rush Limbaugh, and McCain spokeperson Nancy Pfotenhauer all of whom spoke at length over the weekend regarding the support True Americans for the Republican Party.
Some from the left have argued that such statements are both a logical fallacy and a divisive, reprehensible mischaracterizations while others from the right have argued that no True American would ever disagree with the Republican Party.
The Ohio GOP had issued arm bands to True Americans, to show members that they are not alone in an America hating America. The Party has also called for "False American" Americans to wear similar identifiable markers such as iPods, eye glasses, or other pieces of flair.
The US Scottish-American Society has roundly condemned the GOP purge request, which was subsequently condemned by the Republican Party as something no "True Scotsman" would do.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
In an email just sent to me by folks that are far more in the loop than I could ever hope to be, the Ravenstahl Administration has apparently decided that the best way to address all personnel matters is to releases them to the media first.
Following the suspension of employees in the Department of Public Works, including the Department Director Guy Costa, which was apparently relayed to the media before the Director, the Mayor is planning another round of layoffs and suspensions, probably to be released by either KDKA Radio or WTAE News.
There's been discussion and some controversy on the 5th Floor of the City Council Building if this is the right way to approach major personnel announcements. Apparently there is a large contingent that believes that the Public Works suspensions shouldn't have been announced to the television media, but rather released as advertisements in the local print media. The New Pittsburgh Courier, according to some in the Mayor's Office actually provides a less expensive advertising rate than its other competitors.
Still, there is a further minority that believes that such advertising in the television or print media is frankly irresponsible and that city employees should be notified of layoffs in the comment sections of local blogs.
The Mayor has blessed a new policy which would require the local television news media to devote 5 minutes of their news programs to listing suspended and fired employees and denouncing them as "enemies of the City of Pittsburgh." Fired employees are to be immediately purged from all records, payrolls, photos, and official documents.
Guy Costa, who is at the heart of this controversy, was unavailable for comment as he was with other members of the Costa clan at a strategic planning meeting on the best way to give Luke Ravenstahl and Yarone Zober the political equivalent of a "swirlie" or perhaps an "upper decker".
More on this as it develops.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
By now, everyone's parsed to death this whole "Joe the Plumber" guy who popped up in Wednesday's debate. Of course we've all found out that this guy may or may not be a plumber, may or may not be licensed to be a plumber, may or may not actually make $250K a year, may or may not have paid his taxes, may or may not be in any position to purchase a plumbing business, may or may not be registered to vote, may or may not be a Republican, may or may not be tangentially related (through marriage) to Charles Keating, and may or may not have been a GOP plant. All we really know is that he looks like Michael Chiklis.
Setting that all aside, it was really fortunate for Senator McCain that Senator Obama had a 6 minute discussion with "Joe the Plumber." Imagine for a second if it hadn't been Joe. Suppose it had been Eric the Plumber, Terrance the Plumber, Darnell the Plumber, Janice the Plumber, or (God help us all) Hussein the Plumber. Imagine how embarrassing that would have been for the McCain campaign: hitching their populist hopes to some guy with the same name as some other guy that we forcibly deposed.
And on the other side of the coin, they should be happy that he was a plumber. What if Joe was an electrician instead (pretty good), a proctologist (icky), a septic repairman (really icky), an actuary (what's the heck is that?), a hairdresser (really gay), or Governor of Alaska (worse than an actuary).
Imagine if Hussein the Septic Repairman had carried on this conversation with Obama. The McCain campaign would have had to abandon the whole faux populism thing and have to jump straight to implying that Obama associates with poop suckers with terrorist sounding names.
Which, honestly, would have upped the level of discourse considerably.
However, Joe the Plumber now joins the joins the ranks of such illustrious person as Catherine the Great, Eric the Red, Smokey the Bear by gaining the middle name "The." Unfortunately for him, now that his middle name is changed, he will be purged from the Ohioan voter roles because of a clerical oversight.
I say it's a win/win.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
For those of you that care, I drew the short straw in the last Presidential Debate Drinking game as I was responsible for the phrase "My Friends". I realized shortly after my 15th shot of Vladimir Vodka (product tagline: WARNING! May cause blindness) that there would be no followup blog posting to the debate.
With the third and, God help us all, final Presidential debate upcoming, I must say that the selection of questions and the format of debate has been a bit... well... stilted.
No, let's not say that. Let's say, downright boring.
Before the previous debate, Old Man McCain said that the gloves were off and he was prepared to take it to his opponent. During the course of the debate, however, he wandered around the stage as if he was searching for the Early Bird Special at Cracker Barrel. Unless Obama was made up of biscuits and gravy with your choice of sides, this did not seem to be a viable strategy.
It would be nice, therefore, to make the debates a bit more punchier. While incorporating something like a steel cage of death, some sort of flaming hoop, or allowing the candidates to come out in masks and capes would be preferable, I doubt that the elderly Senator McCain would be up for any of that.
Plus, having a black guy and anything "flaming" would turn off large segments of them there folk in Central Pennsylvania.
So, baring all that, the only option is to "spice up" the questions to be presented. For example:
* Sen. McCain, of your 8 houses, which one is your favorite.Yeah, I'd TiVo that debate.
*Sen. Obama, you say that you're not a communist, terrorist loving Muslim, but can you provide irrefutable proof that 23% of the country is wrong?
*Sen. McCain, so is your opponent a terrorist or what?
*Sen. Obama, would you agree with Sen. McCain that his wife is, in fact, a "trollup"?
*Sen. McCain, how many of the Founding Fathers did you know personally?
*Sen. Obama, do you think that a "liberal media conspiracy" is behind news reports that say that you're so awesome?
*Sen. McCain, in regards to Governor Palin: what the hell? Seriously, what the hell?
*Sen. Obama, is it true that you people are "gifted"?
*Sen. McCain, can you pinpoint for us the moment that you sold your soul? Did you at least get a good price for it?
*Sen. Obama, how do you respond to the following statement: "Marshmallows! I to be the first to apply and not to be underdone! Break not the community trust!"
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saw this today over at the P-G:
Mr. Ravenstahl promoted Sergei Matveiev to take over the [Bureau of Building Inspection], which has been charged with one of the mayor's key initiatives, cleaning up neighborhood eyesores and improving problem properties. Mr. Matveiev has worked in the department for 4 1/2 years as a building plan examining engineer and has a master's degree in architecture.So, good on Mr. Matveiev; glad to see that the Mayor's Office didn't screw around for months on end with an "Acting" Chief.
Although, I can't see how this position would be an enviable one. With all this political focus on "Redding Up" neighborhoods (not to mention the Mayoral "sweeps" with members of the Press in tow), I can only imagine that this is a heck of a lot of work for the folks in BBI. Considering that the department is widely known to be understaffed and (as indicated by the article) a bit antiquated, I would assume that the Mayor is having a hard time ramming projects through this department. And, of course, Mr. Matveiev is going to have to be the point person, taking calls from Luke at 2 AM, every time Hizzoner notices a pothole.
I wonder how many people in BBI turned down the offer before getting to Mr. Matveiev...
Friday, October 10, 2008
Because I lost a crap load of money yesterday when I got short sold on oranges (and today, I may just bundles more on my Amalgamated Spats stock), I figure that I'd devote some space to the glories of capitalism:
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Saw it first at Bob Mayo's site: Pat Ford cleared by State Ethic's panel. Long and short of it was that a $215 stereo given as a gift to Mr. Ford (and his wife) by a Lamar Executive, was under the $250 reporting limit required by the state.
Of course, Mr. Ford's lawyer sees this as an absolution of all of his client's sins:
Today we reach the same conclusion that should have been apparent from the outset, and point out that a purely political process was perpetrated under the guise of an ethics review. It is a shame that months of state resources were wasted in a failed attempt to destroy the reputation of Pat Ford with an obviously false ethics charge. Except, Bob's transcript of the letter doesn't quite go so far to provide Pat with full absolution of all of his misdeeds:
Our review of this matter only relates to the above noted issue and does not constitute a determination as to any other course of conduct.So, while this matter may be settled, it doesn't mean that Mr. Ford is a pinnacle of moral turpitude. Indeed, there are other items still floating around that remain unresolved and that many around these here parts would like some closure on:
*Perhaps the gift may have not risen to the legal standard necessary for a full inquiry, but certainly the irregular approval procedure by which the billboard that started this whole kerfuffle arose still remains in question;I say that with these matters left unresolved and until he provides sufficient, acceptable answers to these outstanding issues, Pat Ford is still guilty of something.
*As recently as this week, there are questions about a political friend of Mr. Ford receiving favorable loan terms from the URA.
*Mr. Ford has said there was a culture of corruption around the Mayor's Office, an allegation that may or may not be under investigation by the U.S. Attorney.
*There were strained relations and traded accusations between Mr. Ford and the head of the Housing Authority. This matter has also not been resolved.
*Mr. Ford is bald. He has yet to explain the disappearance of his hair.
*Mr. Ford cannot explain why his name is an anagram of "Pro-dick fart" or even what a "Dick Fart" is.
*Mr. Ford cannot explain why he is in possession of a piece legendary airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper's parachute.
*Mr. Ford cannot explain his whereabouts on November 22, 1963.
*Mr. Ford has been unable to present an authentic birth certificate that proves that he is a Unite States Citizen.
*Mr. Ford refuses to explain why, on a recent visit to Iraq, he would not meet with wounded troops unless there were cameras present.
*Mr. Ford refuses to comment on his ties with the Illuminati and the late Colonel Sanders.
*Mr. Ford has yet to publicly confirm or deny that he no longer beats his wife.
And dammit all if we aren't going to figure out what that is...
Monday, October 06, 2008
I found this in my inbox this morning:
Dear Mr. Drunk Bureaucrat: I may consider moving my money out of stocks and t-bills and to a secure location under my mattress.
I am the Finance Minister of a very Large first world nation. I want to invest in your country and I am writting to seek your assistance in starting a business investment in your country and execute a business investment under your management. If you can assist me in receiving my money and investing it in your country e-mail me with your telephone number so I can explain to you more better and give you further information. My E-mail is - firstname.lastname@example.org
Like most Steelers fans in Pittsburgh, I always turn down the TV sound and turn up Bill & Tunch on the radio. Of course, this saves us from not only the mindless prattling of the network announcers, but also the insipidness of the television commercials.
Of course, for the network market gurus, this means that only half the commercial's impact is made on the audience.
Now, consider if you were the Obama campaign and you wanted to target several hundred thousand potential voters in Southwestern PA. The obvious place to run a campaign ad would be during a Steelers game... but then you have to overcome the problem that I outlined above.
So, I wonder if it was a coincidence or very clever planning that caused the Obama campaign to run an ad ("Prescription Ad") in which most of the message can be gleaned from the text on the screen. If it was clever planning, it was very clever planning, as it allowed the message to get across without needing viewers to switch over from Craig Wolfley's amusing sideline anecdotes.
If it was a coincidence, well, it was certainly something I'd never noticed before.
Friday, October 03, 2008
John McCain's Cunning Stunt was obviously boning up for the debate all week, showing that she was a shining wit. I almost expected her to rattle off a list of Supreme Court Cases just to show them folk in the lie'bral media.
In that spirit:
For those of you, like me, who've lost most of your life savings in the stock market and are not trying to figure out how to stretch your budget or decide if the cat's food or the dog's food is best to serve for Sunday dinner, we present:
For the record, dog food goes well with a dry red wine.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Let me start out by saying that I'm deliberately avoiding live blogging this event because (a) I genuinely like to hear what the candidates have to say and (b) the computer gets in the way of throwing things at the TV screen.
Besides, no matter what happens tonight, both sides are going to claim victory, short of Sarah Palin drooling all over herself or Joe Biden leaping over the podium to strangle Sarah Palin while claiming that the capital of Georgia is the letter "3".
This, by the way, is one of the less disturbing examples of a literary genre known as "political slash fiction.". Those of you that may be curious about this particular genre but have delicate constitutions should refrain from Googling the phrase "Dick Cheney & Dick Armey."
Anywho... for those of you that are into gambling, I thought I'd lay down some odds on tonight's event:
* Joe Biden "wins the opening handshake" (i.e. gets closer to Palin's lectern when he comes out): 4:3
* Sarah Palin tells the "Bridge to Nowhere" anecdote: 10:1
* Palin repeats the question back to the moderator, throws in some buzzwords, and answers a completely different question: Even
* Biden uses up all of his allotted time by the end of the first two questions: 4:1
* Moderator Gwen Ifill is replaced by Tom Brokaw: 100:1
* Ifill is replaced by Bill O'Reilly: 10,000:1
* Bigfoot is discovered backstage: 1,000,000:1
* Ifill is replaced by Bigfoot: 10,001:1
* Palin confuses Austria with Australia: 500:1
* Biden begins drinking on camera: 200:1
* Tina Fey is substituted for Palin: 50:1
* A muppet is substituted for Palin: 100:1
* Biden decides to break out his classic "Rapin' Joe" character: 75:1
* Palin is disappointed to find out that there's no swimsuit competition: 500:1
* So is Biden: 5,000:1
* Biden lays verbal smackdown: 100:1
* Palin lays verbal smackdown: 1000:1
* Levi "Kevin Federline" Johnston is awkwardly brought up at the end of the debate: 5:1
* Levi tries to make a run for it: 250:1
Please place your final bets folks. Last call...
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
With all the brouhaha surrounding the LED billboard contract, a URA parking contract, a PWSA consulting contract and several other contracts that Mary Beth Buchanan has not retrieved from the man sized safe in Yarone Zober's office, it seems inevitable that the Ravenstahl administration would announce that the Mayor's Office is undertaking a sweeping revision to the criteria for awarding contracts.
And by "sweeping revision" they, of course, mean "not changing anything, but we needed a press conference."
Perhaps that's unfair; anything can be improved, I suppose. So here are some suggestions from the folks that will be implementing the changes:
(1) Post all Requests for Proposals and Invitations to Bid online. Of course, no one actually looks at anything online, so you're going to actually have to add some sort of content to draw people to the site. I'm thinking pictures of cats or porn.
(2) Post all contracts over a certain amount online. In order to make the contracts more interesting, however, hide suduko games, word searches, or geocaching locations in the online versions. Or, perhaps turn them into online mad-libs.
The mandatory [NOUN] fee will be [VERB] on a [ADJECTIVE] basis, with each [NOUN] period expiring at the end of each Quarterly Period during the [NOUN]I'm picking "fart," "fart," "farting," "fart," and "spatula."
(3) Mandate that no one who knows anyone in the City of Pittsburgh be allowed to bid on or respond to any contracts. This will become increasingly difficult for winning bidders who will have to interact with City employees in full encounter suits... or not show up at all.
(4) Or at least mandate that Jim Ferlo turn over his Rolodex and prohibit anyone therein, their relatives, friends, college roommates, landlords, or dominatrices from being awarded a contract.
(5) Develop a complex formula taking the lowest bid, and weighting it by (1) experience of the vendor, (2) minority and women participation, (3) local business participation, (4) and public purpose. Rank each submission in order and throw them off of Mount Washington. The one that goes furthest is selected.
(6) Ask Luke Ravenstahl what he thinks. Do the opposite.
(7) Do everything in-house. This will needlessly increase the size and decrease the efficiency of City Government, probably resulting in thousands of employees hanging out, doing nothing, making clumsy power moves, and generally waiting around until retirement or death.
So that'll be a change right there.