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.