Monday, December 17, 2007

Voice Of The Establishment

Here are a couple of excerpts from yesterday's Jack Kelly column in the Pittsburgh Psychosis-Gazette, regarding the most recent Republican presidential candidates debate:

-- Even libertarian fruitcake Ron Paul seemed to be on his meds. -- The "debate" also was marred by the puzzling presence of Alan Keyes, who demonstrated yet again that he belongs in a straitjacket, not public office.
Alan Keyes was the candidate for whom I enthusiastically voted back in 1996, and for whom I would have voted again in 2000 if his name had been on the ballot in Pennsylvania. He was a steadfast constitutionalist far and above his opponents in those two races. Ron Paul is the politician who made me aware of libertarianism and constitutionalism back in the late 1980s, and is the candidate for whom I would vote if the election were held today.

Jack Kelly is the PG's token "conservative" editorial columnist. I prefer to think of him as the voice of the nominally conservative establishment, much in the same way as the rest of the PG writers represent the liberal establishment. In short, he is a tool.

By dismissing Paul as a 'fruitcake" and implying that Keyes is clinically insane, Jack Kelly loses any credibility he once had in my eyes. Ron Paul and Alan Keyes are closer to the conservative ideal than any of the other candidates in this race. Both men have their flaws, and they do sound crazy to establishment observers.

That is fine. In a room full of lunatics, the sane man always seems like the crazy one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Genealogical Alchemy

My main hobby is genealogy. That's why I am not a very active blogger.

To give you an idea of what an avid genealogist I am, I have an extensive family tree database, going back as far as the 1450s in some places, and branching out to distant cousins all over the world. Between ancestors, in-laws, and relatives near and far, I have over 22,000 names in my file.

Every now and then, I will do a Google search on one of the more obscure names to see if I can glean more information on my very extended family. One such name came up in news and blog searches, and it looked very interesting.

So I read (and watched) the news story. And I read blog commentary. It was bad news, if true, and it certainly looks like it is true.

Naturally, I checked to see if he is related to me. His surname is not a common one. However, I did not locate him in my family tree. I promptly put my mad research skillz to work on the Internet, and in just over an hour I was able to confirm that he is, in fact, my fourth cousin. (No times removed.) This means that we share a set of great-great-great-grandparents. No surprise, then, that I had never heard of him before this news broke.

If he were more closely related, I would definitely freak out. As it is, I just files things like this into the virtual scrapbook and say, "Now how about that!" Still, as a relative, I have to hope that there is another reason that he was trying to import and illegal substance. I did not know that such a thing as red phosphorus existed until I read this story. A part of me wants to believe that red phosphorus is an essential ingredient for making gold in an alchemy lab. If that were so, and my distant cousin were successful, I would make sure that we would not remain distant for long.

Welcome To the 21st Century, Charlie Brown

As the father of five children between the ages of 12 and 1, I am more familiar with children's television programming than I have been since I was an adolescent. (I fondly recall watching Inspector Gadget and He-Man while doing Algebra homework after school, then discussing the episodes with the guys in my College Boards class the following days. But I digress.) My kids are most interested in the newer cartoons (go figure!) that appear first-run on Cartoon Network, Toon Disney, and the other cable kid's channels. Not surprisingly, today's cartoons are very different from the ones that I watched as a kid. Poop and fart jokes are mandatory these days, it would seem -- kind of like how sex and/or nudity, visual or implied, must be a part of grown-ups' movies these days. Plus, the action shows are faster and more furious that anything I watched back in the old days.

The only old cartoon that my kids get into is Scooby-Doo. That dog has a certain timeless quality, despite the fact that he hangs out with a "gang" that includes a 1960s beatnik and a 1980s preppy in an ascot. And he has managed to keep up with the times by appearing as a CGI character in two live-action movies -- with plenty of fart jokes.

When I checked out last night's TV listings, I was overjoyed to see that there was a new Peanuts Christmas-themed special on ABC last night. (Actually, it is four years old but I had never heard of it until yesterday, so it is new to me.) At last! A classic style cartoon featuring classic characters in classic situations! Or so I thought. Everything has to grow up sometime -- or, in the case of Peanuts, keep up with the times without going overboard.

The special, entitles "I Want A Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown", focuses on Rerun Van Pelt, the baby brother of Lucy and Linus. Rerun is one of the better things that happened to the strip during the last several years of Charles Schulz's life. Babies are always cute, and Schulz used Rerun as a sort of "commentary" character who saw the world from the perspective of the back seat of his mother's bicycle. He might have looked virtually indistinguishable from Linus, but he was certainly not a rerun of Linus's character. Rerun kept Peanuts fresh for years after the strip seemed otherwise to have run its course.

Another late comer to the cast, Snoopy's brother Spike, had just the opposite impact on the strip. He was never an interesting character, he looked like a ridiculous parody of Snoopy with his hat and mustache, and he ruined every Sunday strip he appeared in with his boring and unfunny letters to Snoopy from the desert. The only way I would have enjoyed a Spike strip is if it had ended with his carcass drying in the hot Arizona sun after being picked apart by vultures.

Mercifully, Spike's role in I Want A Dog... is brief and makes him look like the reject that he is.

The rest of the characters were their old familiar selves. Snoopy hasn't turned into Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. I think. (For all I know, his "quacking" vocalizations might be about poop.) Lucy is crabby, Linus has his thumb and blanket obsession, Schroeder still has to put up with Lucy's infatuation with him, etc, etc. There wasn't much to date this cartoon as a product of the 21st century.

But what there was, was big -- and predictable.

Rerun is no longer a baby. He is approximately five years old and attends Kindergarten. He has a friendly interest -- not romantic, mind you, but friendly -- in a cute girl who sits next to him at school. I had a similar type of experience when I was his age. There was a girl named Sherry in my kindergarten class. We became friends during activity time, usually playing house, which was kind of boring when the other boys were on the other side of the room riding the fun wooden trucks. I hadn't quite gotten into the whole make-believe aspect of playtime, because I was earnestly stunned when Sherry told me that we were already married. You are supposed to go to church and exchange vows with your bride. Marriage is serious business. It's not something to play around with. But she aggressively insisted that we were married, and that was that. I decided that if she said so, it must be so. I never told my mother, even though I knew I should -- but how do you break that kind of news to your mother at such a young age? Eventually, the school year ended and so did my pretend marriage. I never met Sherry again, although I think I walked past her on the street about four years later.

No big deal, right? That was 1973. Thirty years later, in 2003, a cartoon character named Rerun is having a deep, thoughtful Peanuts-style conversation with a Kindergarten classmate. At one point, he suggests that they take a trip to Paris together. He doesn't know why, really -- it's just something that people (adults!) do. He doesn't understand the romantic allure of visiting Paris, or how much such a trip would cost, or even where Paris is located. The next day, he is mysteriously called to go to the Principal's office. I had a bad feeling about this. "Don't tell me that a baby Peanuts character is going to get hauled in for sexual harassment!", I thought to myself. Sure enough, in the words of the Principal, "WAH-WAH-WAH, WAH-WAH". Or, as Rerun echoed, "Harassment????"

Oh yes! In the year AD 2003, Peanuts went THERE! But that was alright. Do you know why? I'll tell you:

  • The makers of this long-running series of animated television specials showed that they are not afraid of keeping up with the times.
  • They treated the charge of harassment as the idiocy that it is, rather than turning Peanuts into a lame Afterschool Special about feelings and consequences.
  • Rerun's suspension started the day before Christmas vacation, meaning that he got an extra half-day off. Nuts to you, mother of the girl who called the school to complain!
  • The Principal violated Rerun's civil rights by punishing him without making him fully aware of the charges against him. Nice way to teach a kid a civics lesson, Mr. WAH-WAH.
It was a scene that could have gone so wrong, yet they handled it so well. If that sequence imparted any lesson to the young viewers, it's this: Adults can be total jerks sometimes. And I should know. I am one. (An adult, I mean.)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Tin Man Cameth And Wenteth

My wife, children, and I spent the last three evenings watching Tin Man on the SciFi channel. If you are not familiar with this new miniseries, it is a riff on the Wizard of Oz story. This production is "oddly familiar, disturbingly different", to borrow a phrase. All of the familiar elements are there: Girl from Kansas is transported to a mystical land where she makes friends with three rejects who aid her in a quest to find some mysterious dude with a curtain fetish; meanwhile, an evil woman tries to confound the girl and her friends by using magic and creepy flying mammals.

The variations on the familiar characters are striking: the Tin Man of the title is not a creature made of metal, but a former cop who used to wear a badge of tin; the scarecrow is replaced by a man who had half of his brain removed, and a zipper stuck on top of his head; the Cowardly Lion is part of a race of timid hairy people who have strong psychic powers; and the girl, D.G., is actually a descendant of Dorothy Gale from the original story. Instead of being raised by an aunt and uncle, D.G. is raised in Kansas by a couple of Cylon skin jobs (or a reasonable facsimile thereof).

What else? Let's see...the wicked witch character uses demonic possession to take over the body of D.G.'s sister; and at one time, she also killed D.G. Yeah, this is heavy. There were six hours to fill. I'm not going to go through the rest of the details.

My wife liked it (she reads books about this kind of stuff all the time), and the kids were not too freaked out by it, though there were some scenes scary enough to make a girl cover her eyes. I thought it was okay. It could have been worse; it definitely could have been better. But I found it watchable. Others did not; those who could changed the channel, while those who could not suffered through.

There was one reason for Tin Man's watchability: Zooey Deschanel. I find her to be one of the most appealing actresses in Hollywood these days, mainly because she seems so real. She's beautiful without being phony; she's the kind of girl you could take home to meet your mother (and who would take you home to meet her mom); and, unless her career takes a downturn, it's doubtful that you will ever see her show up in the Superficial. Plus, she has a really great voice. She made an impression on me the first time I saw this scene:


It wasn't the implied nudity that got me -- it was the sound of the girl singing. Wonderful! She even sings a bit in Tin Man, though under rather more adverse conditions. I like the long, dark haired Zooey better than the blond Zooey, too. Beautiful! Since I'm forty years old, I can start sounding like an old man now: If I were ten years younger, I would so want to marry her.

Yes, I would say that it was worth sitting through six hours of fair-to-middling television to watch her.

Video Debate

Learned Foot gives us a good reason NOT to vote for Ron Paul, and an equally good reason to consider voting FOR Ron Paul.

Strangely, neither reason has much to do with politics.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

On Second Thought...

Perhaps I was a bit hasty in my last post, in which I implied that I was switching my vote from Ron Paul to Mike Huckabee based on the coveted Ric Flair endorsement. I forgot about this guy:

I was on board with Val Venis many years ago, after I read on the Internet that he spent an hour lecturing some fan on why Alan Keyes should be President of the United States. I was a Keyes man back in 1996 and 2000. What a revelation! I would have thought that a porn star wrestler would have thrust his firm support behind Bill Clinton. More fool me.

Monday, December 03, 2007

It's Not Too Late To Change My Mind

My loyal readers know from my posts over the last couple of months that I am a lukewarm Ron Paul supporter in the upcoming Republican presidential primary. That may change, however.




Can I call myself a Ric Flair Republican? I just may be that.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A More Likely Army?

My father, a World War II veteran who passed away many years ago, sometimes opined that the Army should put old men on the front lines rather than young men. He reasoned that the old men, with their weak knees and pot bellies, would be less capable of running away from a fight, and thus have no choice but to stay and fight to the bitter end. (I suspect he may have been looking in the mirror when he came up with that idea.)

As a former young soldier who was, by that time, a few years past age fifty, he gave me no cause to doubt his reasoning.

He is not the only one who has felt that way. Old Man, the senior correspondent at Too Much Liberty, recently posted a more detailed argument in favor of deploying the elderly. If I could share that post with my dad today, I am sure that he would agree with every tongue-in-cheek word of it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Right Man At The Wrong Time?

Man, I love it when another blogger says exactly what I'm thinking, but expresses it so much better than I can. Monkey Ben at Infinite Monkeys reeled me in by mentioning Ron Paul and Ronnie James Dio in the first sentence:

I'm a Ron Paul fan, in much the same way I'm a Ronnie James Dio fan. I'll buy the t-shirts, sure. I even like the message, more or less. But the idea that either man could actually be elected president of these United States is amusing enough, though not really... er, real.
It has been far too long since we had a President named Ronald, and I am all in favor of electing another one. President Dio (or President Padavona, to use his family name) would be extremely cool, but that's about it. "Governor Jesse Ventura" sounded cool, but after he had a chance to govern for a while, I felt relieved that I was not one of his constituents. Jesse governed as a leftist, and so would Dio.

Ron Paul, on the other hand, is an experienced politician. He ran for President as a Libertarian in 1988 and came in third behind Bush41 and Michael Dukakis. It was my first presidential election and I didn't pay much mind to third party, slim chance, or protest candidates. By the time 1992 rolled around, I was very aware of libertarianism. For a brief time, I subscribed to Liberty magazine. I did not vote for any Libertarian Party candidates, but I was aware that there were alternatives to the big media candidates. Even though he switched back to the Republican Party, Ron Paul held fast to his constitutional libertarian, pro-life stance. Aside from Alan Keyes, there have not been any Republican candidates who impressed me as much. I have essentially waited twenty years to vote for Ron Paul.

Now that he is running again -- FINALLY -- I am starting to have my doubts. Monkey Ben expresses my sentiment perfectly:
I don't think Paul is an anti-Semite, a neo-Nazi, or even an isolationist as such. I do think he's wrong about the war and about Congress's authorization of it. But I think he's pretty much right about spending, about the size and scope of government, and about the Constitution. And unlike certain radio hosts, I think he's essentially right about letters of marque and reprisal.

Does Paul's candidacy appeal to some unsavory citizens? No doubt. But that in itself is no disqualification. Paul's beliefs, however eccentric they may seem to the media, are wholly legitimate. Such beliefs, indeed, deserve a voice in America's government. Just not the executive branch.

What disqualifies Paul from the presidency is his demeanor. He's a whiner. Any man who is going to take a stand for the Constitution needs to be strong. Paul sounds like a 98-pound weakling. He sounds like a trekker. He is a sandwich-board bearing madman, predicting the demise of the Republic.

The other day, I attended a gathering of political animals who tend strongly conservative. There were quite a few Ron Paul buttons in evidence. When someone asked the attendees if we were planning to vote for Ron Paul, most of us answered in the affirmative. I half expected to hear an outpouring of support for Giuliani -- but then I remembered that these were serious conservatives, and thus not likely to be swayed by media impressions of the candidates. Like Monkey Ben said, these people feel that Ron Paul is wrong on the war but right on damn near everything else.

Unlike Monkey Ben, those conservatives feel than Ron Paul has a serious chance of winning, and should be taken seriously. Ben makes a very strong counterpoint in his concluding statement:
It's one thing to be right. It's another thing to govern. And it's another thing to be a statesman. Paul has his place. It's in Congress, not in the White House.
435 Ron Pauls in the House of Representatives would be worth more than 435 times as much as one Ron Paul in the White House. He still gets my vote in 2008, though -- not one single candidate other than Paul strikes me as anything less than a media invention. If we are going to make big changes in this country, we might as well start with the one Ron Paul that we have.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Google My Backside!

I really should have been paying better attention when I read that Google added a "street view" option to its map search last month. In fact, I should have been paying better attention several weeks earlier.

This morning, a co-worker walks into the room and talks about how he looked at a Google street view and saw his car parked at a friend's house during a party. He had also looked up his own house and was disappointed NOT to see himself mowing the lawn. Now think about this excerpt from the P-G article linked above:

Street View is not, as some might fear, real-time video. Pulling up a view of Downtown will not show people walking down Smithfield Street -- the "Simpsons" episode in which Marge Simpson accidentally spies a naked Homer on a hammock got it wrong.

Instead, the images are huge collections of photos taken by people driving about in standard vehicles "equipped with imaging technology that gathers 3D geometric data," said spokeswoman Kat Malinkowski.

Still, issues of privacy and security have been raised since the May debut of the service. In Miami, Google's cameras photographed a man receiving a ticket from the police, and in San Francisco, cameras captured a shot of a man scaling a locked gate.

Well...I looked up my address using street view and DANG! It's my butt, right there on the Internet! A fully clothed butt, to be sure, but me from a posterior POV nevertheless. My co-worker was rather amused to see that I had attained the heights that had eluded him during his own street view search:

They shot me mowing the lawn.

Or, to put it more accurately, they took my picture using the weed whacker to do some edging on the walk. There I am, back to the camera, weed whacker aimed at the edge of the lawn, grass clippings all over the place. If they had shot me with anything more severe than a camera, I'd be dead now. Completely oblivious was I to the act of photography.

The circumstances are all the more remarkable because I'm not the kind of guy who makes a big deal about his yard. I get out there and hack away no more than half a dozen times per year, which makes such a scene extremely rare.

Not a bad pic, all in all, especially since, to my amazement, my ass did not look fat. My upper back looked quite wide and sturdy. I am quite pleased with that.

Yes, that Google photographer managed to snap me from a weird angle without making me look bad. And with all of my clothes on, to boot.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

You Losers Are A Swell Bunch Of Guys

Perhaps it is simply a matter of seeing things from my own right-of-center suburban perspective, but it seems like the only time a Post-Gazette editorial says anything nice about Republicans is when they lose.

Sloppy

I should not blog when I'm in a hurry. Yesterday I said that I didn't vote for any winners because my side didn't have any, or enough, competition. How could I forget this one?

Pittsburgh lawyer Christine Donohue, a Democrat, led the pack of six candidates with 19 percent of the vote. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Cheryl Lynn Allen and Pittsburgh attorney Jackie Shogan, both Republicans, each took 17 percent of the vote. All won 10-year terms.
Of course I voted for Judge Allen and Jackie Shogan. I still feel like a loser, but at least I'm not a perfect loser.

Then again, I never claimed to be perfect anyway.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sweep!

Holy hell! I was right! None of the candidates for whom I voted won their races! (Okay, so I did push the button for one judge who won, but that was because I ran out of relatives to write in, so that one doesn't count. My blog, I make the rules.)

As near as I can tell, I received three votes for the District 12 County Council seat. There were 86 write-in votes cast, which means that I may have fared worse than Mickey Mouse. A concession speech at this point will be irrelevant.

About as irrelevant as everything else about my existence, politically, in this neighborhood.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's A Celebration

Congratulations to Learned Foot (et alia) on a successful three years of blogging. KAR was one of many blogs that inspired me to pick up the hobby almost three years ago. KAR had only been in existence for about two months when I signed up with Blogger, but I could tell it was already something special.

Answers To Questions

Recently a couple of questions led people to this blog via Google searches. Here are my answers:

  1. I don't know.
  2. You put loads of money into both of them and get little satisfaction in return? Just a guess.
Go ahead, Google, ask me anything.

Hooma Gunna Vote Fer?

Happy Election Day, everybody!

Be sure to wish everyone you see a Happy Election Day today -- at least until the votes are counted. Wishing everyone a Happy Election Day after the results are in could earn you a punch in the nose from roughly half the people you meet. Based on the lack of opposition in certain key races, and the Democrat voter advantage in my area, I should not be looking forward to a Happy Election Night. However, since I relish my role as a spectator, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the proverbial fireworks, no matter what happens.

With that in mind, here are my non-endorsements for this election:

  • I don't live in the city, but the Pittsburgh mayoral race is the talk of the region. Mark DeSantis has an uphill struggle despite the burgeoning anti-Luke Ravenstahl sentiment. I'd like to see DeSantis win, but considering how much he has been making Ravenstahl squirm these past few weeks, I'd be satisfied if he received at least 40% of the vote.
  • Do I vote for Chuck McCullough for Allegheny County Council-At-Large? My conscience is sitting this one out. It's nice to have one almost guaranteed Republican official elected representing the whole county. However, a third party candidate named David Tessitor is making a good run for the seat as well. I will consider him. My mind is not yet made up, though I am leaning ever so slightly towards McCullough just so there can be a Republican to balance out John DeFazio, who is assumed by all to be a shoo-in.
  • Have I ever mentioned that my earliest John DeFazio memory is watching him miss a leapfrog, thereby mashing his balls into the rock-hard skull of Special Delivery Jones during a wrestling match at the Civic Arena back in 1978? DeFazio lost the match on a technicality because he was "unable to continue". This is why wrestling is more interesting than politics. Politics would not be so boring if more politicians got their balls mashed in public. I'm sure everyone knows of at least one politician who deserves a good ball mashing.
  • Back to the subject at hand: There is a Sheriff's race to fill the unexpired term of disgraced former incumbent Pete DeFazio. Bill Mullen came to the office late in the game, and was untainted by the shenanigans that had gone on during the service of his predecessors. He may be an okay guy, but there is token Republican opposition in the form of Ed Kress, so at least I don't have to worry about coming up with someone to write in.
  • Saddam Hussein, in his last election before being deposed, won 100% of the vote. That should never happen in America, not even at the lowest level. Democrat Dan Onorato will coast to victory, which means that I have about eight hours to think of a name to write in. Perhaps Mark Rauterkus? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • There are three more county offices in which incumbent Democrats have no opposition. Fortunately I have a big family, so three of my kids are going to receive votes for Controller, Treasurer, and District Attorney.
  • Did I mention that I am running for County Council District 12? Well, I am, if you consider the fact that I have told a couple of locals to write me in just so the unopposed Democrat doesn't get to enjoy a Saddam-style victory "running" for office. (In the tradition of Rauterkus, let's call it "standing" rather than "running". It's not like I'm actively trying to get elected.) So if you live in District 12, vote for ME!
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court race sees two Democrats and two Republicans vying for two seats. Party lines again.
  • Pennsylvania Superior Court is a "vote for not more than three" race, and there are three Republicans running. Allen, Bratton, Shogan. Each name has two syllables and ends with "N". Very easy to remember.
  • There are some judges up for retention. Unless I know something very specific about a judge, I generally vote "no" for each one, just to keep things moving. It's not the House of Lords, after all.
  • There is a school board race in my area. Again, unopposed Democrats. I will vote for my wife. She's a Democrat, so no one can accuse me of blindly pulling the lever (or pushing the button, now) for only one party. Plus, she hates the school district, so it annoys her that I vote for her, as if she actually had a chance to win. The joke's on her!
  • My borough, as always, had a heated race in the Democrat primary. The anti-incumbent faction won, and is opposed by a unified Republican ticket. It was a friendly race until three days ago, when the Democrats circulated a nasty attack ad about one of the Republican candidates. Bad timing. One of the Democrats came to our porch to talk up his campaign the next day. He had some good ideas, and seemed like a really nice guy. I might have considered voting for him if not for the sudden turn that his campaign took. I am voting straight Republican here.
I think that's everything. I will be shocked if anyone I vote for actually wins. We'll see in a few hours.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I'm Mayor Of Pittsburgh, And I Have No Responsibilities

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl makes me happy.

He makes me happy for two reasons.

He makes me happy that I am a Republican.

And he makes me happy that I don't live in the city.

If he is representative of what Pittsburgh looks for in leadership, then Pittsburgh doesn't care much about having a leader. And why should it? The Mayor of Pittsburgh is irrelevant. From Democrat Ravenstahl's most recent debate with Republican challenger Mark DeSantis:

Mr. DeSantis, 48, describing himself as "a moderate, John Heinz Republican," asked voters to "take a risk" in electing the first Republican mayor in Pittsburgh in generations. He also said he expected to have Democrats working in his administration "because, after all, most of the city residents are Democrats."

"The key is, I'm going to find the most talented people I possibly can," he said. "I'm going to bring forward ideas that work. I'm not going to worry about what philosophy they derive from or whether they're Republican or Democratic solutions. I'm going to worry about whether these solutions work."

Mr. Ravenstahl, 27, echoing points his campaign has made in recent mailings, countered that Mr. DeSantis, as a Republican, has supported candidates and administrations that have hurt Pittsburgh.

"The policies of Rick Santorum and George Bush aren't in line with the Democratic voters of Pittsburgh," Mr. Ravenstahl said. "We see where the federal government has left urban America."

"Here we are talking about George Bush again," Mr. DeSantis said. "You continue to talk about President Bush when you don't have anything to say. ... We should focus on [Pittsburgh] and not worry about what is happening in Washington."

"I'm very concerned about what's happening in Washington," Mr. Ravenstahl responded. "And I think my opponent should, too."

"Then you should go work there," Mr. DeSantis shot back. "I'm concerned about what's happening in Pittsburgh."

If I were a betting man, I would lay odds that Ravenstahl has a clear path to victory just because of Pittsburgh's political makeup. That's not good enough for him. He sounds desperate for someone who should be taking it easy. He sounds like he's trying to tell us that 27 is the new "terrible twos". He's not making any sense.

Luke Ravenstahl essentially admitted that he is running against George Bush and Rick Santorum. Mark DeSantis is embracing reality and making concessions to the status quo. Ravenstahl is shedding any facade of responsibility and pointing fingers at anyone but himself.

Leadership? Responsibility? Is my city a mess? It's all Bush's fault. Now stop bugging me, I have to use some of George Bush's money to take my pals to see Toby Keith!

As Ravenstahl has laid down the gauntlet of guilt-by-association, consider this: Toby Keith hangs out with Ted Nugent. Ted ain't no "progressive". Does this mean that Luke Ravenstahl isn't in line with the Democratic voters of Pittsburgh? The question must be asked.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Royal Non-Sequitur

The British press has been abuzz lately over a blackmail scandal involving a member of the royal family who (allegedly) does drugs. Oh, and he also (allegedly) does guys, too. Somehow this is supposed to make the Queen look bad -- at least that's the impression one gets from perusing the UK media. Said media, by the way, is unable to identify the target of the blackmail for legal reasons.

The rest of the world is not under the same restrictions. So now we know who the royal is. The whole drugs and sex aspect of the blackmail attempt wouldn't be that big of a deal if the Viscount did not already have a Viscountess and two little Viscountlings. Just take a look at some of the family photos at this site. They look mighty happy in all of the pictures. The kids are cute, of course, and the Viscountess is a beautiful woman.

Why in God's name would a man married to her even think about seeking physical stimulation from other quarters? It does not compute. Perhaps you could chalk it up to royal privilege, but if such privileges existed, why bother setting yourself up for blackmail, or even getting married in the first place?

I'd offer to console the Viscountess myself, but unfortunately for her I'm already married.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Now This Is More Like It

Unlike the Ed Rendell-themed Googler in the previous post, this guy is a well-grounded, normal individual.

Oh, if I did have that sort of information on here, I would be the most popular blogger on the Internet.

If you look at the Google image search for the same terms, the first thing that comes up is a picture of Bugs Bunny marrying Elmer Fudd. Welcome to the 21st Century.

Someone Really Has It In For The Governor

Someone on the Internet is searching for something that no one else even thinks about thinking about.

My curiosity is piqued. Not about the subject of the search, but about the searcher. How sick and obsessed do you have to be in order to go through at least eleven pages of search hits on that particular string of terms?

If I were a shrink, I'd be seeing dollar signs before my eyes.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Is That A Wand In Your Robe, Or Are You Just Harry To See Me?

So, Joanne lets the cat out of the closet!

Billy & Mandy fans wonder if Albus will follow in the footsteps of Toadblatt and marry the Squid...er, I mean the Sorting Hat.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

These People Need To Do Their Homework

The local flap over radio station WDUQ's refusal to accept advertising from Planned Parenthood is, in my eyes, little more than a tempest in a teapot. I don't see eye to eye with either side, so I don't really have a horse in this race. After reading the Moron Mail in this morning's Psychosis-Gazette, I can't help thinking that those who are advocating the cause of Planned Parenthood don't quite understand that WDUQ is not your typical NPR radio station. Take this chap from Shadyside, for instance:

As a past contributor to WDUQ, I had no idea that my contribution was supporting a mouthpiece of the Roman Catholic Church ("WDUQ Pulls Planned Parenthood Spots," Oct. 13). Never again.

The next time WDUQ asks for my support, I will suggest it ask the pope. As a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood's mission, I have to assume my contribution would not be welcome anyway.

"Mouthpiece" isn't exactly the right word. Hours upon hours of jazz music doesn't exactly equate to preaching Roman Catholic theology. Presumably this guy knows that the DUQ in WDUQ stand for DUQuesne University. He need look no farther than Duquesne's web site for the mission statement:
Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit is a Catholic University, founded by members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, the Spiritans, and sustained through a partnership of laity and religious.
So WDUQ is a radio station loosely affiliated with a Catholic institution of higher learning. And people are surprised about the decision not to take the Planned Parenthood money, when the goals of the latter are decidedly not in harmony with the mission of the former? Know where your money is going before you pony up, fella.

Then there's an outraged chick from Lawrenceville who says something outrageously funny:
If we cannot support WDUQ without "supporting" Duquesne University and the Roman Catholic Church, many of us will choose to support other, less partisan NPR stations.
"Less partisan NPR stations"??? Nationalsocialist Public Radio is incapable of being "less partisan" anywhere. No matter what NPR station you listen to, you're hearing hyperpartisan propaganda. As I said above, the university's Catholic mission doesn't have a huge impact on the programming. Any time I have tuned in to WDUQ, it's either monotonous jazz or the sleep-inducing tones of NPR's lefty talkers.

Get a friggin' clue, people.

Monday, October 15, 2007

GEICO

I eagerly anticipate the commercial where the Caveman meets the Gecko, and bites his little green head off.

Whither Earth?

The third season of the reborn Doctor Who on the SciFi Channel ended a couple of weeks ago, so I'm getting a little lonely on Friday nights. I'm looking forward to the return of Battlestar Galactica. After last season's dynamic finish, which answered some big questions but put forth some new posers, fans have had a hard time waiting to see what happens next.

It looks intense:



That's just what we need to whet our appetites!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Setting The Record Straight

A note of rebuttal and clarification from my local Representative, Congressman Tim Murphy, saw publication in this morning's Psychosis-Gazette:

The letter claiming my office placed fliers on cars in the writer's church parking lot is flat out false ("Murphy Church Fliers," Sept. 26). While reaching out in various ways to my constituents is of the utmost importance to me, my office does so only through legitimate means of communication.

My office knows and respects the nonprofit, tax-exempt status of churches and would never put them at risk. MoveOn.org and other political organizations, which are the true source of these fliers, have purposely chosen to ignore the risks they pose to our local churches.

I would hope the Post-Gazette would independently verify such claims before publishing accusatory letters in the future.

U.S. REP. TIM MURPHY
Washington, D.C.
The September 26 piece of Moron Mail (thank you, Learned Foot) to which the Congressman refers had this to say:
A couple of weeks ago, fliers from Tim Murphy were found on my car after church! My wife was so upset by this "unethical" behavior that she wrote a letter to the PG. But her letter wasn't published; [a suburban Republican committeewoman]'s was. I thought the PG was the liberal newspaper in town.
A few things:
  • Tim Murphy is WRONG. Wrong to expect a rag like the Psychosis-Gazette to engage in an exercise like fact-checking, which would easily confound the editorial board's goal of putting a left-wing slant on everything it publishes.
  • The 9/26 letter writer really must be goofier than a roomful of greased rubber balls if he thinks that a Congressman would waste his resources propagandizing churchgoers with unsolicited fliers on a Sunday morning. This is pretty typical of how Democrats perceive Republicans, in my experience. It's been 35 years since Nixon last won an election, yet they still think in terms of "dirty tricks".
  • He implies that the P-G letters page editors displayed some kind of right-wing bias in publishing a Republican's letter instead of his wife's. I admit, I am a little shocked as well. The P-G's selection of letters is almost as biased to the left as it's editorials. If you ever see a letter written from a conservative or right point of view, the paper published it for one of two reasons: either it's from some significant Republican party figure, like a Congressman or a committee person, who figures prominently in the news already; or it's from someone expressing an opinion on a hot-button topic that is sure to bring the moonbats out of their caves, thereby leading to several days' worth of letters refuting the conservative correspondent's position, and pointing out how stupid, evil, or misguided the fellow is. Sneaky devils, those P-G editorialists.
  • This would not be the first time that MoveOn.org or similar organizations have tried to defraud people using Tim Murphy's name as a cover. In 2006, an election year, voters in the 18th district received calls informing them about the terrible, horrible things that Murphy has allegedly done. Caller ID indicated that the calls emanated from the Congressman's office. Needless to say, his staff was surprised to receive calls from voters who wondered why his own office would do something so strange. Since that time, the House has passed legislation to prevent that sort of thing from happening. The bill was Murphy's, but no one, politician or otherwise, can reasonably support the fraudulent misuse of technology that the anti-Murphy people perpetrated.
And so, the lunatics had to hang up the phone and head out into the church parking lots. Don't expect to hear about it on the P-G's front page, though.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Line 'Em Up, We'll Knock 'Em Down

The race for Congress in the Pennsylvania 18th district is really heating up -- or getting even more boring, depending on how you look at it. Yet another candidate who will never receive my vote has declared her candidacy. So far, the Democrats have a fishmonger, a legacy candidate, a cipher, and a bitch vying to run against Tim Murphy. (There's an Allegheny County row officer looking for new work, but he hasn't declared yet, so we'll ignore him for now.)

The newly declared bitch candidate is best known for conducting a one-woman war against Rick Santorum over the infamous residency issue. If you recall, Rick purchased a house in Penn Hills as his primary residence, but spent most of his time living in another house in Virginia so he would be closer to work. (For the geographically ignorant, Virginia is across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., where Rick Santorum was employed as a United States Senator.) Not only did he want to have a home close to work, but he wanted to be close to his family. Where he went, so did his family; thus the reason that he purchased a second home in Virginia rather than renting an apartment as many federal officeholders do.

There were a couple of issues at work here. One was the question of Santorum's primary residence: If he and his family spent most of their time in Virginia, and rarely set foot in the Penn Hills house, was he actually representing the state in which he lived? This was a valid question, because he won his first campaign for Congress in 1990 by running against an incumbent on this very issue. Most Democrats and even a lot of Republicans had a big problem with Santorum's ostensible Virginia residency in 2006.

The other big issue became the pet cause of the aforementioned bitch candidate. Rather than sending their kids to the local public school, or to a private institution, the Santorums chose to educate their kids through an online cyber charter school. Home cyber-schooling is a great option to have. My kids have been in cyber school for the last couple of years. It combines the best aspects of the public school system (there is a certified educator who oversees each grade level) with the freedom of homeschooling. Parents take a more active interest in their children's education, instead of leaving them in the hands of total strangers five days per week.

In the case of the Santorums, cyber schooling allowed the children to proceed with their studies while staying at the Virginia residence, hence the public outcry. Cyber schools are public schools, and receive funding from local school district taxes. Each child who studies online takes money away from the brick & mortar schools. The local Dems raised a fuss: if the Santorums aren't living in Penn Hills, then they should not avail themselves -- indirectly -- of local funds to educate their kids online. Eventually, it was dealt with; the state paid for whatever cyber school tuition Penn Hills refused to support, and the Santorums switched over to regular homeschooling. The matter was closed -- but some fallout lingered.

Now, while I don't entirely disagree with the people who protested the residency and school funding issues, I have a big problem with the fact that the Penn Hills Dems were motivated to use these issues against the Santorum family for political as well as personal reasons. The school board is controlled by Democrats. A leading board member is also head of the local Democrat party organization. These Dems hate Rick Santorum. They hate anything smacking of school choice, even if it's a public school option. Why not make an example of Rick Santorum over it? I'm sure there must be other parents who travel and have to take their children's cyber education on the road with them for long periods of time. Why not seek out and go after some of them, too?

You wouldn't see it reported this way in the paper, but it was pretty obvious that the bitch lady was trying very hard not only to take down Rick Santorum but also to discredit public school alternatives. She succeeded in doing the former; as for the latter, that's another matter. The public flap over the cyber schooling made more parents aware of it than if no one had stepped forward to make an issue out of it. My family might not have considered this alternative if it hadn't been for the publicity it received in Penn Hills. No such thing as bad publicity, after all.

Speaking of which, the extended controversy put the bitch lady in the news both locally and nationally, including the dreaded Fox News. She is famous, and not just for fifteen minutes. I saw one picture of her in the paper a couple of years ago; she looked nice and pretty, but when you heard what she had to say, all that sweetness turned sour. Not content with bringing down one of the top Republican senators in the country, she wants to move up in the world by running for Congress. I can't help wondering what kind of shit she is going to bring up to hold against Tim Murphy, assuming she gets past the four or five other Dems in the primary. She likes personal attacks, so if nothing else, she will make the race more entertaining than the one last year.

As for what's wrong with her, she is quoted in the Psychosis-Gazette article (linked at the top of this post) as saying, "We're not getting the federal funds that we deserve". Cripes. Does every Democrat running for Congress in this neck of the woods have to come on like John Murtha? I'd like to know exactly what she wants federal funds for. Or, more to the point, what she wants money stolen by the federal government from private citizens for. Vote for me, and I'll come back from Washington with buckets full of money!

Another quote from her: "I believe that I can make a difference because I am middle class, I'm a working person and I know what working people need." It pisses me off when someone uses this kind of rhetoric to bullshit their way into the public trust. Let's analyze. She has a belief. This tells voters that she isn't lecturing to them. That's a good way to start; most politicians do that. Next, she can make a difference. Of course she can -- she belongs to a different party than the sitting Congressman. Meaningless. That brings us to the "because": She's middle class. So am I. It doesn't mean I relate to her in any way, shape or form. Hell, she's probably better off than I am. Then, she's a working person. So am I. I spend 37.5 hours per week at my job, where I do paperwork, data entry, tinkering and other manual labor. What does she do? The only thing we know about her "work" is that she's a school director, which is a part time job that requires you to spend a lot of time sitting down talking. But that's irrelevant, because she knows "what working people need". I call bullshit on that as well. Nobody knows what I need. She certainly doesn't. Sometimes I don't even know what I need. A true representative should listen to the voters, not tell them that she already knows what they need. In just two sentences, she has effectively convinced me that voting for her would be a terrible, terrible idea.

She's the kind of Democrat that makes me glad to be a registered Republican.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Senator? We Have a Senator?

I listen to Rush Limbaugh, at most, about half a dozen times a year. Back in the early 1990s I listened to him every day and also stayed up late to watch his TV show. At the time, Rush was the only big time alternative media available. In the 21st century, I have a vast selection of information sources, both mainstream and alternative, at my disposal, primarily via the Internet but also through dozens of cable channels. Add to that the fact that I now have a day job rather than an off-hours retail job, and I don't follow what Rush has to say about much of anything. The only time I hear anything that Rush says is when a bunch of clueless idiots have a nationwide hissy fit about some supposedly controversial comment that he has made.

Naturally, the loons take it completely out of context and convince half the country that Rush needs to make amends for saying something that neither said nor implied. This cheeses me big time. I'm not sure which is more outrageous: The fact that these creeps openly belie someone's words, or that they can convince the vast herd of sheep into believing it without showing accurate proof.

The worst part of this made-up controversy is the letter signed by forty-one United States Senators demanding an apology from Rush Limbaugh. All of them are Democrats, but not all Democrats signed the letter, which makes me believe that there may yet be hope for some of the folks on the other side of the fencepost. I shall reserve my anger for the 41 individuals who affixed their names to the noxious epistle.

In particular I shall feel scorn, revulsion, and maybe a modicum of outright hatred for the one name on the list that hits close to home: The Junior Senator from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, one Robert Casey, Jr. I still do not know what this guy is doing in the U.S. Senate. He's at his best when he's keeping quiet. (By contrast, his predecessor, Rick Santorum, lost because he did not keep quiet enough.) When Bob Casey does say something, I feel like I need to do a Google search to see if someone like Hitlery Clinton made a similar or identical statement the previous day. What does Casey really feel about the "phony soldiers" controversy? As of the time of this post, there is nothing on his Press Releases page about it. I suspect that signing the Limbaugh letter is his way of going along to get along. Does anyone really believe that Casey listened to the full segment of the Limbaugh show so that he could craft an informed opinion? Or that he bothered to read a transcript of what Rush said? I doubt it.

Casey's sycophancy aside, at least he's being his usual quiet self otherwise. Harry Reid and Tom Harkin, on the other hand, make me want to go out and buy a punching bag. POW!

Great New Blog! ...Maybe

Admiral Richmond K. Turner (deceased), late of The People's Republic of Pittsburgh, and more recently contributor to The Burgh Report, has completed his long-expected move to Philadelphia. I had wondered, back when he announced that he was leaving town, whether he was going to continue blogging after taking up residence across the state. It sure looks that way: He has gone ahead and created The People's Republic of Philadelphia. There's no content yet, but it takes a while for a new resident to become acclimated to the surroundings.

I am looking forward to reading what the Admiral has to say about Philly. His independent, clear-thinking views sparked my interest in Pittsburgh politics more than any other local blog. I do not doubt that he could do the same in Philadelphia.

Anxiously awaiting his first post...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Album Review: Ted Nugent's "Love Grenade"

He's back!

Actually, he never went away, but Ted Nugent has just released his first album of new material in five years. For people who know Nuge first and foremost as a rock star, that's the only thing that counts. I've seen his shows on the Outdoor Channel and on VH1, and I've heard the news stories about one outrageous quote after another. That's all well and good, and I agree with much of what he has to say, but what we want to hear from him is some good R&B based heavy rock guitar.

The new album, "Love Grenade", does not disappoint. Age has not slowed down this man who has been performing just a little longer than I have been alive. The title track, which opens the album, comes out charging and kicks you in the balls. The man knows how to pick an opener, I tell you. This song deserves airplay. I can't get the closing chorus ("sex shrapnel, sex shrapnel") out of my head. If you survive this song, you're hooked. You can't turn off the album until the end.

The second track, "Still Raising Hell", digs the hook in deeper. Abandoning the sexual metaphor of "Love Grenade", this barn burner oozes attitude. Great track.

Next up is "Funk U", a funny little ditty that abandons some of the energy of the first two tracks in favor of a bit of playfulness. "Funk U" best translates as an update of the classic "school of hard knocks" cliche. It's loaded with juvenile wordplay, but that's okay. Ted Nugent wouldn't be nearly as entertaining if he went around acting all serious and grown-up all the time. He wouldn't be Ted Nugent!

"Girl Scout Cookies" is a solid hard rocker, but if you're expecting more sexual metaphor as only the Nuge can do it, forget it. I listened to this song about half a dozen times before I decided that this song is actually about the baked goods referred to in the song's title. A clever swerve on Ted's part.

Then we have "Journey To the Center of the Mind", a song that Ted Nugent composed and performed as a member of the Amboy Dukes about forty years ago. The original continues to get frequent airplay on Classic Rock radio, and has popped up from time to time in Ted's live sets. This remake lacks some elements of the original -- no keyboards, for instance -- and is more of a hard rocker than a psychedelic hippie trip. It's not the best song on the album. In fact, it seems a little out of place here. But it's a good tune.

The changing themes of sexual metaphor, attitude, playfulness, cookies and nostalgia give way to four tracks dealing with the half of Ted's life that exists outside of rock music: the spirit of the great outdoors. Ted pays tribute to some inspirational historical figures in "Geronimo and Me", once more placing himself on the side of the Indians against the Cowboys. The chorus is catchy, and the lyrics have a dose of attitude. "Geronimo" segues into instrumental "Eaglebrother", which nearly encourages the listener to grab a set of tom-toms and pound along. Following is "Spirit of the Buffalo", Ted's paean to the majestic beast that once dominated much of the North American continent. Keep those tom-toms handy; you'll need them when the infectious chorus grabs hold of you. "Aborigine" is a declaration of independence. This is not the independence of the American nation; this is about Ted getting close to man's primal state -- again.

No 21st century Ted Nugent album would be complete without a blatant political statement. A declaration of independence in its own right, "Stand" was originally released during the 2004 presidential campaign, making references to lefty politics in general and Democrat nominee John Kerry in particular. The 2007 version eliminates the Kerry references and goes after leftism in general. Mentions of Ted Kennedy and Al Sharpton are retained from the original, because some political memes are timeless. Putting aside the lyrical content, this song just rocks.

"Broadside" just dares you. That's it. It just DARES you. It's also the closest thing to "progressive" music on the disc. Not out of place, but it lacks something.

I thought I was going to hate a track titled "Bridge Over Troubled Daughters", until I heard it. I sighed with relief upon learning that it has nothing to do with Simon & Garfunkel. It's close to filler material, a good sign that the album should be winding down soon.

Finally, "Lay With Me" hearkens back to Ted's blues influences. It's easily the slowest song on the album, but no less heavy than the rest. To me, this is the weakest track on the disc because of the style...all blues songs sound alike to me. The only redeeming quality is that it eases the listener into a state of calmness. It winds you down from a hard and heavy set of rockers.

Overall, I'd say 8.5 out of 10. I hope I have Ted's energy when I'm 58. Heck, I hope I have his energy when I'm 38, and that was two years ago!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When The Heart Rules The Vocal Chords

If you've been reading this blog for at least a month, then you know I greatly admire Ronnie James Dio's musical talents.

And if you've been reading this for eighteen months, you know that I have little regard for the no-talent dirtbag known as Pink.

It was disappointing, though not really surprising, to read this in a recently published interview:

The first song you wrote with Black Sabbath was "Children of the Sea," which deals with ecological awareness. Do you ever interject any commentary about current environmental issues when introducing that song live?

It's not my job to be a politician, to chastise the audience or the world. My job is to be a singer and a performer. There are times that you write something that means something to you, that has a political agenda that you need to cleanse your soul with. And when I wrote that song [in 1980], I thought I could make a difference: If you're important enough for them to buy your product, you're probably important enough for them to listen to and respect. I learned after doing "Children of the Sea" that nobody gave a damn, so I stopped doing that. I think that Pink song "Dear Mr. President" is one of the coolest things I've ever heard, absolutely brilliant, but I'm not in the game of making those kinds of statements. I'll leave that to Pink, and maybe Tim Robbins, if he put out an album.

Good thing he knows his audience. There are a lot more right-leaning, conservative types who listen to his kind of music than you might expect. We can ignore the politics of our favorite performers as long as they don't go on harping about it. We recognize talent when we hear it.

What's disappointing is Ronnie's admiration for the dumbest song of all time, performed by the dumbest singer of all time. It's fine if he likes music from genres outside of hard rock/heavy metal; everyone should sample a variety of styles. You won't suddenly stop being a metal head if you listen to a little bit of disco or country. But to call Pink's aural excrement "brilliant" and cool is beyond the pale.

The short guy needs his ears flushed, or something. Still -- as long as he keeps pumping out the devil music, I'll keep buying his stuff. I just won't take any of his recommendations!

Holding Hands With Hitler

When I first heard that Ahmadinejad was invited to speak at Columbia University, I was dismayed. I've been around institutions of higher learning long enough to know that colleges and universities attract the fringe, the kook, the radical, and even the homicidal. The president of Iran is all of those, and more.

What, then, was the president of Columbia University? An appeaser? A revolutionary? An islamist sympathizer? Based on what he said at Ahmadinejad's appearance, he's much more clever than his critics seem to think he is. Basically, he called his guest an asshole, a dickhead, a lying scumbag, and a piece of shit, though he couched the sentiment in gentler but no less obvious language. Great. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Get it out in the open. Let everyone hear what Ahmadinejad himself say what he thinks, and respond from there.

Mind you, if Ahmadinejad has shown up on my turf, I would have used more explicit language in introducing him. Plus, I would have kicked him in the nuts, gouged his eyes out, chopped my backhand into his throat, and while he lay on the ground writhing in agony, I would pour gravy on the front of his pants and sic a hungry dog on him. Of course, I'm not in charge of a university. I also don't believe in polite and tactful behavior in the face of an enemy. That's unmanly.

In short, I admire the way that the Columbian president handled things, though I would have dealt more harshly with the situation than he did.

The hive mind at the increasingly more and more demented Pittsburgh Psychosis-Gazette sees things differently. The PG thinks that the host's behavior was "boorish", and implied that inviting Ahmadinejad was little more than a publicity stunt. Well, of course. If there is conflict between an American and someone who wants to kill Americans, naturally the journalistic hive mind favors the latter. If you have any doubts about that, consider this passage from the editorial:

Mr. Ahmadinejad at least gets credit for facing the lions. It is difficult to imagine President Bush making a comparable visit to Tehran. Mr. Bollinger on Monday did not meet the standards of a president of an important U.S. university.
That's not to the credit of Ahmadinejad. It's to the credit of the United States, and to Western Civilization. It doesn't make the Iranian president a better person; it makes America a better country.

I swear, if the PG hive mind had been operating in 1938, they would have been lining up to suck off Hitler.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Like Him Because He Reminds Me Of Me

Yesterday afternoon I had to come home from work early and caught a few minutes of the replay of the President's morning press conference on C-Span. I rather liked this bit, from the end of the appearance:

Q What is your reaction to the MoveOn.org ad that mocked General Petraeus as General "Betrayus," and said that he cooked the books on Iraq? And secondly, would you like to see Democrats, including presidential candidates, repudiate that ad?

THE PRESIDENT: I thought the ad was disgusting. I felt like the ad was an attack not only on General Petraeus, but on the U.S. military. And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat Party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad. And that leads me to come to this conclusion: that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like MoveOn.org -- or more afraid of irritating them than they are of irritating the United States military. That was a sorry deal. It's one thing to attack me; it's another thing to attack somebody like General Petraeus.

First, this is from the official transcript at the White House web site. It's been "cleaned up" a bit, by which I mean not that swear words were taken out -- how cool would that be if the President cussed throughout the press conference? -- but that it does not convey all of the hesitation, pauses, and stammering. Anyone who is familiar with the President's public speaking style expects this to happen. I say this not to criticize, but to point out that I wouldn't sound nearly as good if I were in his position. You shouldn't have to be an excellent public speaker in order to hold a position of high authority, though it does help. I just know that I don't plan on speaking in public anytime soon.

Next, I love the way that he says "Democrat Party" instead of "Democratic Party". It pisses off the idiots who pass for viable political opposition these days. They see it as an insult on the level of a racial slur -- which may be accurate, since I am convinced that Democrats belong to a different species than I do. That just makes me want to hear the President use it every day. The left, with its tendency to over-analyze and misinterpret anything a Republican says, goes absolutely bonkers over it. That's why I love it. Because even their men get a PMS attack over it. Democrat Party, Democrat Party, Democrat Party.

(Good old-fashioned "commie" works well, too, but I doubt you'll be hearing that from GWB anytime soon.)

The questioner used one of the stupidest metaphors I have ever heard: "cooked the books". I first heard this when Bill Clinton took office in 1993 and someone -- possibly Leon Panetta -- cried that the Bush (41) administration "cooked the books". At first, I had no idea what they were talking about. It sounded like they were accusing the Republicans of burning literature. Then I wondered if it had something to do with cookbooks, since they White House has its own chef and cooking staff. It made no sense then, and it makes no sense now. It's just as stupid as a term used by my high school Physics teacher: "You fudged your figures". Just say what you mean, damn it!

Finally, I was pleased to hear the President address the topic of MoveOn.org directly, and also to berate the Democrat Party leaders for wimping out in the face of the "progressive" Left. It shows that he's gotten way past that whole "I'm a uniter, not a divided" nonsense. The Left should not be pandered to; it should be marginalized and rendered irrelevant. It's like conducting the War On Terror: You don't coddle and make nice with the people who want to get rid of you. You meet them and defeat them.

Yep, the Democrat and the terrorist: two peas in a pod.

The 2008 Election Campaign Smells Fishy Already

Here's a story from last weekend that I missed about goings-on in my Congressional district:

Dan Wholey, an owner of the Strip District seafood emporium, has announced his candidacy for the congressional seat held by Upper St. Clair Republican Tim Murphy.

Mr. Wholey, 48, also of Upper St. Clair, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the sprawling 18th Congressional District, which has been described as looking like a "sloppily tied bow tie, with Pittsburgh's southern suburbs where the knot would be." Starting from the Ohio border in Washington County in the west, the district takes in a small piece of Beaver County, then swoops under the city of Pittsburgh before taking in much of Westmoreland County in the east.

The guy who runs Wholey's is a commie and wants to run for Congress? I ain't eatin' his fish no more.
Mr. Murphy is now in his third term. Mr. Wholey joins Brien Wall, also of Upper St. Clair, and Beth Hafer, daughter of former state auditor general Barbara Hafer, as candidates for the Democratic nomination.
Brien who? Is he the MoveOn.org candidate? Or is that one of the other two? I heard Tim give a talk in my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago and he devoted quite a bit of time to explaining the smear campaign that MoveOn.org has been conducting against him, and how none of this makes the news because exposing the activities of such an organization does not fit in with the local media's goals of establishing and maintaining the power of the Democrat Party in the region. Heck, all three are probably getting money from George Soros for this run.
"I'm running because the people of southwest Pennsylvania deserve better representation,'' Mr. Wholey said.
Now we need better seafood. His product has been tainted with the stain of left-wing politics.
"Big Oil'' and large pharmaceutical companies have too much influence in Washington, he said.
Down with Big Oil! Up with Big Fish!
"Why does Medicare and Medicaid have to pay top dollar for prescriptions'' when the "same medication in the same bottle from the same factory'' can be purchased for less in Canada, he asked.
Because government has buggered its way into the health care system that, while we do not have a socialist system, we've eliminated the free market aspects of it. Don't expect a Congressman Wholey to do anything less than to continue tampering with health care and making it even worse.
He is anti-abortion, but believes that top issues in this campaign will be immigration and the war in Iraq. Our borders need to be more secure, he said, but "legal immigration creates diversity and success stories.''
Okay, so he's right on abortion and immigration. But what about the Iraq issue?
He advocates a "much larger withdrawal" of troops from Iraq in the next few months than President Bush has proposed, but did not specify a number.
Terrorists love it when an American Democrat politician smiles and waves at them across the seas and oceans. At least he's not offering specifics...yet.
He has never held political office, but said he is not afraid to knock on doors. As a teenager, he delivered fish door-to-door in Mt. Lebanon.
I think I have a package of Wholey fish in my basement freezer that I haven't touched in about four years. I may just let it thaw a little, then bring it to the door if he drops by, smack him on the cheek with it, and declare, "Your fish stinks and so do you!" He's probably used to it, though, it so it wouldn't have much impact.

I am very glad that my grocer carries other brands of fish to choose from.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hey Baby, I Saw Your Picture In The Paper

It seems that the Pittsburgh Psychosis-Gazette is running singles ads in the form of articles now. The common thread among the desperate singles seems to be "Pittsburgh sucks!" It starts out well, with a couple of beautiful women who shouldn't have any problem attracting any man. Inexplicable. Further down, there are a couple of guys, another reasonably attractive chick, and a beefy lesbian. What does she have to say?

Why isn't the Pittsburgh-area a good place for singles? "I am gay and I think this city is so Republican and archaic it's terrible to meet people."
Well, I am a Republican and I think this city is so gay. It's all a matter of perspective, I suppose. The use of "Republican" as a pejorative is mildly amusing. This city hasn't been Republican in any sense since the early 1930s. Either this lez is a complete ignoramus, or she's being goofy on purpose.

A legal secretary compares our area unfavorably to our nation's capitol:
Worst Pittsburgh dating hang-up: Pittsburgh isn't quite as diverse as D.C. and has poor public transportation.
By using the word "diverse" in the context of The Dating Scene, this chick reveals herself to be sexually adventurous. In D.C., she can make out with people from all over the world, such as immigrant cabbies (apparently a Washington bonus). Here, she gets stuck with the local yokels. The solution is simple: The federal government needs to move to Pittsburgh so she can get a date. Voila! Problem solved.

Another cutie who spend some time in the District of Columbia has a valid complaint:
Worst Pittsburgh dating hang-up: Men don't approach women anymore. "I can't seem to find a man who understands the concept of picking me up at the door, taking me to dinner, a concert, or a museum. I would love to have a date who doesn't call me and say, 'Meet me at Bar Louie around 10.' "
It's called the sexual revolution, hon. As we've grown more open about sexual matters, we've also introduced equality onto the playing field. We can't pick you up anymore. We can't let you pick us up, either. We have to meet on neutral ground. It would be better if men still had a full set of testicles instead of trying to share a common ball sack with a woman. Keep looking.

The most heartbreaking person in the article is a beautiful 49 year old woman who can't meet a man to save her life. She's gorgeous, but comes off sounding desperate. Everyone is either too young, or too old, for her. I almost wish I was around 50 and single just so I could get her out of this fix. But I'm neither, so I can't.

The single man whose perspective closes the article hits the nail on the head:
Worst Pittsburgh dating hang-up: "When someone says they're not finding the right kind of people that's because we're all spoiled. People are used to immediate gratification and if we don't get it, we go home and watch the Steelers. ... If we found the right person right away, it would be too easy and we'd think something was wrong with them."
That's exactly why it took me so long to meet "the right person" (a.k.a. my wife). I didn't have the patience to get to know someone, and if I thought we clicked, it didn't take long for things to click back off (usually a few minutes). When we were courting, my wife-to-be thought that my greatest virtue was patience. For once, I did it right. I didn't try to rush things. My...lack of effort, shall we say, paid off. I found what I was looking for just by letting nature take its course.

And I hope these desperate Pittsburgh singles find what they are looking for.

How Dumb Is Dumb?

How dumb to you have to be to try to hold up a gun shop?

As dumb as this guy, apparently. Be sure to read the unusually fair and balanced article in the Psychosis-Gazette, though I expect an editorial by the end of the week condemning the shop owner for threatening the livelihood of the poor innocent criminal.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Giuliani Man Can Cause He Mixes It With Love

Rudy Giuliani visited Sarris Candies in Canonsburg yesterday. This is kind of cool. Sarris makes the best chocolate in this region. My family's Christmas stockings and Easter baskets are full of Sarris chocolate balls, bunnies, Santas, and whatever other milk chocolate shape appeals to the recipient of this chocolatey delight. It just wouldn't be a holiday without Sarris milk chocolate. My first memory of visiting Sarris -- heck, my ONLY memory of visiting Sarris -- goes back to when I was a child. I was either with a group of Cub Scouts or with other kids from the neighborhood, and I remember being fascinated with what I saw. More chocolate in one place than I could ever have imagined! I have not been back since, and it's probably a good thing. I'd have to sell my children into slavery just to be able to afford all of the chocolate I'd be buying. Or they might sell me so they could buy all the chocolate. We have to satisfy ourselves with taking our pick of what ends up on the Sarris display at the local supermarket. Wait --

Oh yes, Giuliani. I had meant to talk about Giuliani. Well, visiting a well- known and well-loved establishment like Sarris is a smart move on the part of Team Giuliani. Someone on his crew really did their homework with this. An undecided voter who loves chocolate can be easily swayed by something as simple as Rudy's visit to Sarris. As of yesterday, "I love chocolate" may well translate into "I love Giuliani!" Giuliani's insistence on paying rather than accepting the proprietor's offer of candy as a gift was good, too. I don't doubt that it was sincere rather than politically motivated. It was nice of the proprietor, but this isn't the United Kingdom and Rudy's not the king. He has to pay just like everyone else. I respect that.

Getting a little deeper into the politics aspect of the Psychosis-Gazette article linked at the beginning of this post, Giuliani claimed that he has a better chance of winning Pennsylvania than any other Republican candidate. This, I regret to say, may be true. This is a state where Arlen Freakin' Specter defeated a solid conservative Republican in the 2004 primary election, then went on to decisively win re-election to the US Senate in spite of a viable conservative third-party candidate on the ballot. (The less said about Rick Santorum's defeat at the hands of that Casey dweeb, the better.) A moderate-to-liberal Republican like Giuliani does stand a good chance of taking Pennsylvania in 2008. We'll see.

Meanwhile, take a look at the photo accompanying the article on the PG Now web site. First, hubba hubba! Talk about a sweet piece of candy! It'd be worth visiting the shop to see if she looks a good in person as she does in the picture. Second, notice her body language and facial expression. Either she doesn't like Giuliani to begin with, or she's getting impatient waiting for him to make a selection, or he's doing something else to really irritate her. My guess is that it's the latter, and here's why:

Having worked in retail for 10.5 years, I spent a good bit of time behind the cash register. I had to be vigilant about protecting the money that was entrusted to me for a 2 hour shift. Because of this, I would get a little annoyed when people touched my cash register in a familiar manner. Rather than asking to borrow a stapler or a pen, or whatever was on or near the front end of the register, some people would just reach around and grab what they wanted. This was cheesy, and potentially sleazy. By reaching around to the front of the register, they could accidentally bump the keyboard and throw the whole transaction into tilt mode, to put it in pinball terms. and, instead of being a couple of feet away from an open cash drawer, they got their fingers just a couple of inches from the open cash drawer. At that range, they might as well have just dipped in and pulled out a few ten dollar bills. As a guardian of my employer's monetary holdings, I felt personally threatened by that sort of behavior.

Back to the photo, look what Rudy is doing. He's using the cash register as a leaning post. Why would anyone who knows the purpose and function of a cash register lean on it like that? Those machines are not indestructible. In fact, they have become less durable over the years. Leaning on a cash register the Giuliani way can break it. One little *crack*, and that lady is going to be handwriting receipts all day. Anyone who has worked as a cashier should be able to sympathize.

With one photo op, Rudy Giuliani is gaining the chocolate lovers' vote at the expense of the retail cashiers' vote, and I don't believe it is worth it.