Saturday, September 30, 2006

Retroactive Immunity

Saw this little video on CNN that's also been floating around teh internets and, frankly, it (a) pissed the hell out of me, (b) scared the fuck out of me, and (c) caused me to break several objects that were at hand.

I can't begin to describe the wrongness with this administration, so I'll let you all do it for yourself. Otherwise, I'll just descend into a profanity laden, mouth-foaming rant.

It really angers me, though.

Tag(s): ,

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rule #23

When you read the Old Testament, you watch the Lord moving from the sublime ("I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me." [Exodus 20:2-3]) to the prosaic ("Do not put on a garment woven with two different kinds of thread." [Leviticus 19:19]). God obviously the same editor as me.

Not that I'm comparing myself to God... well, OK, maybe in terms of rule ordering... but that's it. Nothing to do with divinity, infallibility, or anything like that. Not at all. I wouldn't dream of it. Seriously.


Rule #23: Always sign in blue.

OK, I promise that the next post will be less blasphemous by at least 10%.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

National Intellegence Estimate

We here at The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat have secret agents working at every level of Government, passing us vital bits of information which we can use for fun, profit, and sexual satisfaction.  Our super secret mole in the NSA [Bob Jenkins 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring MD, (301) 713-3249, Employee ID: 4815162342, Wife Jill and daughters Karen and Susie, Blood type O-] has recently smuggled us a portion of the unreleased classified bit of the controversial National Intelligence Estimate that's been causing all this hubbub.  Here are some highlights:

  • Not only does it call the Iraq situation a "dismal failure" and "a haven for terrorists", it also gives the Hotel del Sol in Bagdad's Green Zone two stars and complains about the "frequent air raid sirens interrupting karaoke night";
  • While the Iraq situation has become a recruitment tool for terrorists, it should be noted that they draw you in with their attractive offers of working from home all while being your own boss, only to be stuffing envelops filled with anthrax.  In that way, it is slightly better than Amway. 
  • Islamofacism is spreading across the globe; Zenfacism IS.
  • The Patriots are totally overrated.
  • The best vending machine candy at Langley is on the third floor near the director's office.
  • Troop strength and morale in Afghanistan is being undermined by (1) focus on the war in Iraq, (2) inability to secure effective cooperation from local and national leaders, (3) the rise of the opium trade, and (4) insufficient patriotism from Democrats.
  • Rick Santorum lives in Virginia. 
  • Outside of Iraq, Somalia and Yemen are opening up as fronts on the war on terror.  Inside of Iraq, it's too dark to read...  because there's no electricity.
  • Shi'ites and Sunnis would do a lot better if they just accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
  • A sure way for an undercover agent to blow his cover in Iraq is to wish people "a bitchin' Ramadan".
  • Daniel Craig is going to suck ass as James Bond. 
That's all I managed to get through.  The whole report is kinda long, and rather boring... and there are graphs and numbers.  Actually, truth be told, I didn't even read it.  I'm just going to assume that it says what I think it says.  That's a good strategery, right?

P.S. Dear Mrs. Jenkins, I regret to inform you that your husband valiantly gave his life in the name of satire.  Bill will never be forgotten. 

Tag(s): ,

Monday, September 25, 2006

And now a word from Arnold the Pig

Is it wrong that when I read this headline in the P-G:

Councilman wants to preserve 407 green acres in city

Thought about this:

...and wanted to swap Eva Gabor's head for Jim Motznik's?
Is that normal?

Tag(s): ,

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Rule #22

Just a brief Rule as I am currently deeply engrossed in The Economist article on Pittsburgh that Mike Madison has up on his site. For reference, Mike is including the important stuff, but has (thank goodness) left out the part about "Border Guard Bob". Fortunately for me, my subscription to this noble periodical ends next week.

Anyway, on to Rule #22:

Rule #22: The Budget will always be wrong.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

September 19th Analysis of the 9th Council District Controvery

Ahoy! There be storms a brewin' on the SS. 9th Councilmatic District. Hoist to the missen-mast, weigh anchor to the port side, and ready the six pounders. Six gallons of grog to the scurvy dog that brings me the head of the scallywag.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Fun with City Budgets

If you are like me, you spend this time of year waiting for the unveiling of the City Budget like a child waiting for Saint Nicholas and presents on Christmas Eve. Alternatively, if you're like me, you spend this time of year waiting for the unveiling of the City Budget like a child waiting for Knecht Ruprecht and severe beatings on Christmas Eve. The waiting is the same but the outcome is very, very different. So, this article in the P-G today got me giddy:

The city's 2007 budget is due to state overseers on Thursday. Mr. Ravenstahl has said he'll make that deadline and put his stamp on the spending plan while embracing the late Mayor Bob O'Connor's agenda of cleaner, safer streets.

It could be a defining moment for a politician who is a blank slate for most Pittsburghers, and who may face voters as early as next year.

"It is important, and we're prepared to submit that budget on Thursday," said the mayor, who took office Sept. 1. He promised some "wrinkles" that "are important to me" and would differentiate his approach from Mr. O'Connor's.

Look at me: goosebumps!

In order to avoid last year's embarrassment of rushing down to the City-County Building to see what the budget elves have left for me (only to find a very angry Ellen McClean under the tree instead), I came up with a different plan of attack. With an admixture of sleuthing, dumpster diving, and bribing a very drunk Paul Leger who was on his front lawn chasing away imaginary bats, I managed to find a very crude, preliminary budget written on the back of an Eat n' Park children's menu.

So, without further adieu, here are the highlights of what I discovered:

The Ravenstahl Administration is proposing a series of sweeping new taxes in order to meet the requirements of the Act 47 board including a "mullet tax" on people with business up front and partying in the back.

The department of Finance is also estimating revenue from the Casino at "eleventy zillion, bagillion dollars," although with a note that they may be overestimating the amount slightly.

Luke's biggest proposal is reverting back to the land/building split which will, in the short run, reduce the overall tax revenue but in the long run increase the value... [snicker].... of the... [snicker].... [snicker]... BWHAHAHA! No, no seriously... another bagillion dollars in revenue from slots.

Finally, the administration is proposing selling off the City's portfolio of delinquent tax liens to some guy from Nigeria for about $30,000,000.

I found more details on the Expense side of the budget, and I'm suspicious that there are some shenanigans going on. Take a look at the following expenses I found:
Caramel Corn..................... $10,000
Jazzercise...................... $15,000
Hookers.......................... $1,000
Blow............................. $3,000
Levitating Tables................$10,000
One Million Dollars...........$2,000,000
Pony............................ $50,000
Pony Maintenance............... $100,000
Pony Food....................... $10,000

Dead Pony Removal................ $7,500
Dick Skrinjar Food.............. $10,000

This one which looks like it's penciled in Ravenstahl's own hand writing says
I pwn3d joo sux0rs............ $5,000,000
And last but not least:
Buyback Nigerian Liens.......$32,000,000

By my calculations, we should end up with a surplus of about ten zillion bagillion dollars.... plus or minus 9.9999 zillion bagillion dollars, or so.

Oh the Things You [Think You] See When You're Downtown!

I'll be the first to admit that my eyesight isn't so good, especially after that incident at Mimir's well, but did I see our li'l Bonnie Prince Lucky walking around at 3rd and Wood with a camera crew and Julie Chen from CBS's The Early Show?  Or was it Connie Chung? Or was it just a back to school interview with Point Park University Students? 
Like I said, my eyesight ain't so good.  Anybody got anything on this?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

An Open Letter to Client #350

Dear Client #350,

Because of the nature of my business at The Bureaucracy, I am prohibited from expressing a serious opinion on a variety of items. Under the terms of government service, I am supposed to be above reproach and, except as authorized by statute or regulation, with complete impartiality and with preferential treatment for none. This, indeed becomes an issue in more difficult and professionally trying times. There comes a time, however, when the nature of reality compels oneself to express a sentiment beyond the common niceties of society.

So, let me break down conventions and declare that, you, sir, are an asshole.

No, that would be impolitic and impolite and invites both hurt feeling and lawsuits, so let me rephrase that:

You sir, SEEM to be an asshole.

I don't know what exactly it was. Perhaps it was the fact that I supported your work and gave you an equal chance, even though my colleagues cautioned me against it, only to have you stab me in the back.

Or, maybe it was the way that you threatened to go over my head to my boss, my boss's boss, and my boss's boss's boss and condemn me for, ironically, following the rules and, more importantly, the Law.

Or perhaps it was the way that you have tried to bully and threaten me in order to get your way, even though what you are demanding is both unethical and illegal.

No, it was definitely the way that you insulted me personally and professionally, impugning my integrity, not just as a human being but as a bureaucrat.

Still, the jokes on you: I've documented everything. Despite your outlandish claims, I have followed every rule, regulation, and law pertinent to my profession and I have followed through in sending every decision to the great bureaucratic archive in my desk. Everything that I have done has been completely above the board and on level. Besides, I know the horrible, awful things that you tried to do to The Bureaucracy in the past; the people may change, but the memories remain. Should you try anything and besmirch my record, I have paperwork to support my decisions up the asshole.

Which brings me back to you, asshole.

You are a festering taint stain on the underwear of humanity. You are a horrible excuse for a human being, who chooses to substitute his on perverted version of reality for real reality. You are emotionally and intellectually inferior to most people on the planet, with the possible exception of the people that cancelled Arrested Development. If you substituted your face and your ass, I doubt that people would now the difference. I would beat you about the head until you suffered from permanent brain damage, but I doubt that anyone would know the difference. You are delusional, obstinate, and, frankly, a poor excuse for a human being. You are the best reason I have heard why abortion should continue to be legal in this country. I wish a pox on your children, your children's children, and your children's children's children's children.

You'll notice that I left our your children's children's children, mostly because I want to give them a false sense of security as they slowly go mad from, let's say... Syphilis.

So, if you could please, quickly die and burn in hell, I would be most appreciative.

In sum: get bent asshole.


The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Green Economic Development

As a follow up to the post here, I wanted to address the very real possibility of a functional "green" economic development policy being... erm... developed. Indeed, with the fifth anniversary of September 11th already in the past, it becomes obvious that our dependence on foreign sources of energy is a hindrance to our anti-terrorism policies. This alone should be a motivating factor in embracing a total energy efficiency policy.

The City of Pittsburgh has some significant opportunities in this arena, including, but not limited to, the presence of several professional organizations, the availability of urban infill development, and the capacity for innovation. The question is, however, given all of that, how exactly should we pursue a policy that makes us more "green", thereby reducing our reliance on foreign energy?

A couple of broad (really broad... broad like the ocean broad) recommendations from somebody that is blitz out of her mind on Victory Hops Ale:

(1) Across all City departments, establish a clear energy and "green" policy for internal and operational purposes;
(2) Across all City departments, establish a clear energy and "green" policy for external and contractual purposes;
(3) Establish market driven incentives to further and enhance goals 1 and 2.

Seems simple enough, eh? But when you get down to the nitty-gritty details, you can see that, at least in the short run, you're going to have some significant trade offs to make and some significant policy choices that may drive off those that are more attuned to the short term bottom line (rather than the long term outcomes).

Still, with some competitive advantages at hand, it seems silly for the City not to build on something like this.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2001

I would be amis if I didn't at least address today's five year anniversary, at least in passing. The event, I've been told, is one of the most important in the history of this country. In the previous, analog version of this blog, I had this first person account, five years ago:

The absolute horror of these incidents are unmeasurable, not just from the human tragedy or the size of the tragedy, but from the terror involved.

We are scared...

There is a surreal horror to the whole thing...
Now, I'm a big fan of history; I believe that it's what got us where we are today. I also believe (and this was drummed into me from 10th grade) that things like battles and wars are incidental to history. The battle is not as important as how it affects the war; the war is not as important as what led up to it or follow it. Saratoga was important, but only because it was incidental to the creation of the United States and what followed. Gettysburg was important, but only because it advanced the cause of the North. What was more important was how we got to these places. Battles and Wars are just extra-juridical expressions of an idea; it is the idea compelled the battle and the counterreaction thereto that are more important.

So too is September 11th: what is important is what brought us to that point and what we did afterwards. And so we must ask ourselves: at the anniversary of this crux of history, how did we get there and how did that affect where we are now?

I think this is a question that will only be answered with more than five years of hindsight.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The ADB's Tribute to Bob O'Connor

For those of you that still aren't nostalgic for the O'Connor Administration, the staff at The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat delves into the archives and takes a look back at some of their posts about Bob:

February 17, 2005 - Bob O'Connor
February 28, 2005 - Victim #2
March 15, 2005 - Activate the Way-Back Machine
April 28, 2005 - An O'Connor Apologist?
November 8, 2005 - Final Thoughts on the 2005 Pittsburgh General Election
November 13, 2005 - Memo to Bob O'Connor
January 3, 2006 - It's Morning in Pittsburgh
March 14, 2006 - Reddin' Up this Post
April 27, 2006 - Bobby O's First 114 Days in Office
June 21, 2006 - Bobby O' on the World Wide "Redd"
July 17, 2006 - Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
July 27, 2006 - Thursday Morning Massacre at City Hall
August 28, 2006 - Mayor O'Connor: Great Mayor or Greatest Ever?
September 2, 2006 - A Bureaucrat's Eulogy for Bob
If we could put it to a snarky but shmaltzy music video, we probably would.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sprout Fund Idea Roundup

I got a very irate email from the folks over at the Sprout Fund, threatening to beat me up if I plugged their Idea Round Up.

They later called back and threatened not to beat me up if I didn't plug their Idea Round Up.

About a half an hour later they called again and threatened to beat me up, if I didn't plug their Idea Round Up. This final threat got my attention.

Click on the picture for more details (maybe).

They inform me that there will be punch and pie.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam (O'Connor Edition)

Just a couple of random thoughts from the last couple days that have gotten lost in the mayhem:

On Friday, if you were like me (alone, cranky, drunk and checking out Wikipedia), you would have noticed that the List of Mayors of Pittsburgh was updated at, around or before 10:00 PM, just around the time the local news media came out the story. This is more proof that the Internet is not a big truck.

I was shocked as anyone that The Guy that Won't Shut up beat out the Gas Thief for City Council President. My money was on the Ditch Digger (no, not that one, the OTHER Ditch Digger).

I'm not going to lie and say that I don't have an interest in seeing Luke Ravenstahl in the mayor's office for three years, even with all the controversy surrounding this decision. Frankly, I had just settled into a nice rhythm after 8 months of change; it would be nice to actually try to get things done for a few more months rather than do another about-face.

Speaking of that controversy, I'm predicting six different possible sources of a lawsuit: (1) Someone who wants to run for the office (*cough* Peduto, *cough* Lamb), (2) City Council, (3) The Allegheny County Democratic Committee, (4) the Green, Libertarian, Republican, or other third party, (5) assorted whackos, or (6 and most brilliantly of all) Luke Ravenstahl, who's looking to solidify the legality of this regime change.

Three months. That's how long I give it before the remnants of the O'Connor administration are purged by Bonnie Prince Lucky. First on the chopping block: Dennis Regan.

Why do I feel like Medici Florence of the 14th Century had less intrigue than the City County Building has right about now?

OK, that's the sum contents of my brain right now. Time to drive the rest of it out with Bourbon and Pez.

Labor Day Parade Observations

I'm not really big on parades, but for some reason I found myself standing on the Boulevard of the Allies at 10:30 AM this morning. So, some observations:

  1. The best place to sit during the Labor Day parade if you want candy is up on Sixth Avenue. By the time that the parade gets to the Boulevard, everyone's out.
  2. The parade was headed by a large black banner "In memory of Mayor Bob O'Connor"; banner holders of note included Judy O'Connor, Bishop Bradley, Ed Rendell, Luke Ravenstahl, and Bob Casey. Conspicuously absent was Jim Ferlo, who followed a bit behind in his own car.
  3. Jim Motznik walked with the Boilermakers; Bill Peduto walked on his own.
  4. Michael Lamb walked, unsurprisingly, alone. I always feel bad for him when I see him alone. We need to get him an intern just so he doesn't look so lonely in public.
  5. The respectful pauses and silence in front of the City County Building where the late Mayor was lying in state was appropriate, although the few marching bands that were in the parade were robbed of some of the best accoustics on the route.
  6. The SEIU seemed to be the only union that was enjoying itself.
  7. I don't know what it means when there are more people IN the parade than WATCHING the parade. It's either that the strength of the unions in the City of Pittsburgh is so great that there's no one left to watch, or no one cares.
  8. I seem to oddly drawn to the bagpipers in parades, but keep in mind I am also drawn towards sticking my tongue into fans.
  9. I noticed that you couldn't turn around without not seeing a Santorum sign. Can't imagine why that might be...
And the fall campaign season is off to a roaring start! This should be fun.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Bureaucrat's Eulogy for Bob

Let me start off by saying that I didn't know Bob O'Connor personally. When you work in a large bureaucratic structure, the help doesn't get a lot of face time with the Lord of the Manor. In my years during the previous administration, I believe that I had exactly two contacts with Tom Murphy and I can't say that I made much of an impression on him either time. We bureaucrats are supposed to sit in the back and make these people look good, or at least like less of the idiots that they can be.

I believe that I actually was in the same room with him a handful of times. The one that sticks with me most is a seemingly random encounter at Coffee Tree Roasters, where he walks in and starts shootin' the breeze with a couple tables of patrons, and working the room. Even though this was back when he was employed by the Governor, there was a real recognition from those sipping their coffee that this was a Big Man of Pittsburgh.

And yet, he was really, really short; I almost literally ran into him coming out of the Steel Building, and couldn't believe how tiny this man with great hair was. I suppose he exuded more than his stature.

I didn't really have much of a chance to make Bob look good as part of my duties. This hits at the nub of the tragedy of Bob's death: three tries at Mayor, ten years campaigning, and only 8 months as Mayor. Poor guy didn't even have a chance to enjoy it.

Still, Bob won't be remembered as a great mayor of Pittsburgh, but he will be remembered as a great guy. His real gift, as many have been remarking, was his touch with Pittsburghers. I'll remember the thousands that poured into the City County building to partake in the yinzer food and possibly line up for a handshake with the Mayor. I'll remember the Redd-up drive, not for it's spine chilling use of Pittsburghese, but for the passion that he brought to it. And, of course, everyone will remember the Cookie Cruise, even if, like me, you never got to go. He was one of us; a true Son of Pittsburgh.

John Donne's Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, no. 17 reminds us:

If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory
were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or
of thine own were: any man's death diminishes
me, because I am involved in mankind...
And Pittsburgh is diminished for having lost Bob.

Thanks Boss.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Thanks Boss

Bob O'Connor 1944-2006

[More here from me, and here from others.]


By the time you finish reading this post, Mayor Bob O'Connor may be dead, so I will be brief.  I need one of those Wikipedia graphics about "current events may change rapidly". 
Here are some scenarios that could play out in the near future:
  1. Luke Ravenstahl, as Council President, is sworn in as Mayor;
  2. OK, a 2/3rds vote of City Council (once they return to session... which just happened as I was writing this post) could oust Luke as President of Council.  This would mean that 8 people could jockey for position as President of Council [I'm throwing out Twanda Carlisle from consideration here], and it could be anyone's game. 
  3. Alternatively, Mr. Ravenstahl could decline (highly unlikely as he's been holding a vigil in the City County building, the papers have been prepared, and there's an emergency judge on standby).  This would also throw it back to Council, with 7 people jockeying for position.  
  4. (3 a.) If they can't reach resolution amongst themselves (unlikely again), according to the City Home Rule Charter , they could conceivably throw open the nominations to pretty much anyone, including yours truly and Chuck Norris... assuming that Mr. Norris takes up residency in the City of Pittsburgh.
  5. Assuming that 2-4 do not happen... and only people who bet everything on Green at the roulette table would assume that it's a possibility... we'd be left with a whole administration now in the hands of Mr. Ravenstahl, who may hire, fire, and otherwise reassign pretty much everyone.  

But again we should be focusing on the Mayor, so our best wishes, hopes, and prayers go out to Bob and his Family.