Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Who is John Galt?

Last night, Mark DeSantis was given the opportunity to lay Fluke Ravenstahl bare. At John Delano's request, DeSantis was asked what he didn't like about Ravenstahl. To keep everything grade-school kosher, he was also asked what he did like. Typically this sort of banal question yields either little insight into a candidate, or throws red meat to political sport. But the answers provided unique insight into an uncommon race.

Desantis didn’t bite… at least not like he could have. He didn’t recount Ravenstahls’ well known gaffes, or his less-than-inspiring tenure as Mayor. DeSantis instead chose to briefly mention Luke’s lack of humility before outlining a very genuine assessment of the Mayor's many (heretofore unknown) positives. In an era of unbounded political hubris, it was an uncommon moment of decency.

Herein lies the biggest difference between the man who is Mayor, and the man who should be. Mark DeSantis stands on a foundation of personal moral clarity. His boundaries are strongly defined; which is why he hasn’t gone dirty in the campaign, and why he found Ravenstahl’s filthy mailer so disgusting. Whereas DeSantis chooses to be above the fray, Luke is win-at-all-cost. Judging by the current Mayor's gratuitous indulgence in the perks of the office, and his slimy campaign tactics, Luke is DeSantis' polar opposite.

DeSantis’ ideology extends far beyond a few compliments and a ‘keep it clean’ campaign. Luke’s last question of the night highlighted this fact, as the Mayor read off the Democratic slate endorsement of his campaign. “If the Governor, the County Exec, a US Senator- if everyone in power endorses me, if they want to work with me and not you” asked the Mayor, “how do you plan on getting anything done?”

DeSantis’ answer was probably the most insightful comment into the nature of this man. “I don’t care what those politicians think of me… I will work hard, and perform, and earn their respect.” The noted lack of Dan Onorato and Ed Rendell’s presence in Luke’s campaign speaks to the truth of that statement; Luke has their backing on paper only. But it also speaks to DeSantis’ rejection of a political culture based on family and party affiliation. ‘I don’t need them to succeed, I need only my ability and willpower. I don’t go to them, they’ll want to come to me. Who is John Galt?’

DeSantis seeks from us an opportunity to be what Pittsburgh rarely has in any level of government; a public servant who is focused on public service. He closed by saying he would be honored to be my mayor. I would be proud to have him.

Postscript [CapitolMAN]: You'd be proud to have DeSantis as mayor, and so would the New Pittsburgh Courier, which just endorsed him.

Joe Hardy Putting the Wood To a New Honey: Danielle Golden

WTAE reports Joe Hardy is dating Danielle Golden, a 22-year old graduate of St. Vincent's College. On her myspace page, Golden says she hails from 'the Dirty D' (Dunbar, Fayette County).

From WTAE:
On her MySpace page, Golden's quote read, "The best things in life are free...the second best are EXPENSIVE."

Her current mood: "exhausted."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

From the 'No Kidding' File: Joe King Says 'No' to DeSantis

Reason number 110,000 to vote Mark DeSantis for mayor: Firefighter union president Joe King doesn't want you to.

King has sent a letter to firefighters urging them not to vote for Mark DeSantis because the challenger may support fiscally responsible measures like streamlining the fire bureau with EMS, closing fire stations, and restructuring the contract to reduce the outrageous overtime guaranteed to firemen.

King is a self-serving jackass. You may recall that a jilted Joe King suggested the reason Tom Murphy landed the endorsement of the firefighters union in 2001 was because he agreed to a sweetheart contract that left residents with a bloated network of fire stations and overpaid employees.

During Sunday's debate on WPXI, DeSantis said he was open to closing fire stations, which was an action recently recommended by an Act 47 report. Naturally, Ravenstahl was noncommittal.

I wonder if we'll hear from DeSantis on whether Ravenstahl 'sold the city dahn the river' to ensure support from King and his untrustworthy minions.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Brian Lamb Gets What He Deserves

Fuck it -- Brian Lamb for president. So-square-he's-cool former Capitol Hill staffer and C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb will receive the country's highest civilian honor (other than a link from the DN), the White House announced today.

The award is long overdue. One of our favorite Washington Journal moments ever involved Mr. Lamb calmly reading the stubbornly ignorant messages of Michael Savage supporters after a row erupted between the radio host and the cable channel. Destroying vulgar hacks like Michael Savage is fun. Sometimes they give you a medal for it.

Dear CBS, Thanks for the Mammaries

Two things "The Price is Right" is great for: 1) chasing away the sniffles when you're too sick to go to school, and 2) bringing the mesmeric undulations of ginormous, fabric-warping titties into your living room every morning at 11. Courtesy of the cultural anthropologists over @ College Humor.

Ravenstahl's Spokesman Baghdad Bob Announces Coveted Manic Magazine Endorsement on DVE

Photo taken after Manic Magazine announcement.

Here's your debate coverage:

I forgot to add this ridiculous statement made by Luke regarding his jaunt to NYC with billionaire playboy Ron Burkle during the arena negotations:

"... I am grateful for that relationship and we were able to enhance that relationship that evening."

Does Mrs. Ravenstahl know about his 'relationship' with Mr. Burkle?

Debate tomorrow night at 7 PM on KDKA.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

DeSantis Smashes Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's Face in WPXI Debate

A fresh pot of Fortunes' Viennese roast coffee was the only elixir for the bellicose hangover that would cloud my Sunday morning viewing of Meet the Press.

But I would not see Tim Russert the Potatohead because a sickly David Johnson found this time slot agreeable for a silly debate between Mark DeSantis and Luke Ravenstahl.

Another one of these snoozefests? I’ve had enough. Unless a bikini-clad Julie Bologna is going to moderate this debate I’ll just as well drill an hole in my skull to relieve this pressure.

But this event was hardly the sombrous affair of dustups past. At the debate’s outset, a composed and passionate Mark DeSantis articulately excoriated Mayor Wunderkind for a milquetoast negative campaign flyer that was sent to residents yesterday. While the flyer is not exactly on par with Swift Boating your opponent, it did expose DeSantis’ horrifying Republican allegiance.

Much to my chagrin, DeSantis has chosen to take the high road in this campaign. But calling out Luke for a crummy flyer is as close as we’re going to get DeSantis calling Luke a creep. And Luke’s a creep, folks. His smarmy smirk is no more beguiling than George Bush’s chortle.

I can’t tell you how angry it makes me to think anyone would vote for Luke. He’s a simpleton of dubious intellect. Here are three of Luke’s most memorable malapropisms and platitudes:

“We see more efficiencies continue throughout my tenure.”

“It’s a policy decision that should be followed up on.”

“Zachary is what we work very hard to achieve.”

“The superintendent has a supporter in Luke Ravenstahl.”

Luke is the master of the non-sequitir. He has this insatiable capability to mangle the English language. It would really be quite hideous if it weren’t so funny. At one point during the debate, Johnson asked Luke about his presence at the UPMC golf outing. Instead of showing any humility and moving on, Luke offered a bumbling soliloquy about attending “charitable events.” Only people can be charitable, Luke.

He’s the personification of a sluggish PC that needs to be rebooted.

Simply put, the dude is a dud.

DeSantis oozed passion this morning. He spoke eloquently about coming together as Pittsburghers to make this city great once again. When he suggests we should rise above partisan acrimony, he actually believes it. The only time I can remember DeSantis attacking Luke during the debate was for not showing enough humility. He sounded like a teacher disappointed in his pupil’s behavior.

I tweaked DeSantis’ stiff performance at the WTAE debate, but there’s no doubting his zeal for public policy and public service. He’s the genuine article.

Highlights from the debate:
Good move by Johnson to let the candidates confront each other. DeSantis caught Ravenstahl flat-footed several times, especially when Luke asked him how he could possibly expect to extract a better health care deal for the city. DeSantis has said recently that he’d ask UPMC to provide discounted health-care to city pensioners in lieu of their paltry non-profit contribution to the city’s budget. Luke smugly pointed out that the bid for health care was an open request for proposal, but DeSantis said this wasn’t creative enough. After some back and forth, DeSantis smashed the volley.

“If you think an RFP process is creative you need to think again.”

After DeSantis cited his agreement with Dan Onorato on regionalism for the umpteenth time in this campaign, Ravenstahl said "I just want to point out that Dan Onorato is endorsing me in this campaign."

DeSantis cheerfully replied that he didn't mean to imply Onorato was endorsing his candidacy, but he could understand why Luke could be confused, given all the endorsements he's been receiving. [In case you missed it, the PG endorsed DeSantis.]

It’s really Luke who should have no chance in this election. He’s a 27-year old parochial yunzer running against a professional businessman with sound policy ideas. But alas, this is Pittsburgh. Home to 70 years of one-party rule, blatant corruption, crumbling infrastructure, and approximately 200,000 parochial yunzers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Porn: "Meet the New Boss ..." Edition

South America pumps out hot broads faster than it can print worthless money, and Argentina is no exception. So it's little surprise, then, that one of them, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, will probably win her country's presidential contest, slated for this Sunday.

Kirchner is the current first lady/crime partner of socialistic strong man President Nestor Kirchner. Her husband's economic program of ignoring the country's crushing debt, driving out foreign investment, and cozying up to tinhorn dictator Hugo Chavez seems to be paying off: Argentina enjoyed eight percent growth last year, making it the economic envy of most of the continent. That, and she's hot and charismatic enough to make voters forget about the roving drug militias which control their cities.

The DN would like to wish Mrs. Kirchner best of luck in this weekend's show election. Yet we earnestly pray that one day Argentinian politics will emerge from its current condition of dynastic succession and enter into the sunlight of truly democratic participation. Nobody likes a rigged system in which two people, or two families, control a country indefinitely -- except of course Americans. Viva la similarity!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My-family-hates-me Man

Sometimes, the conventional wisdom is correct: New Yorkers, specifically liberal New Yorkers, can be really, really annoying.

Take for instance "No Impact Man." No, that's not Fred Thompson's nickname on the campaign trail: actually, it's the alter ego of Colin Beavan, environmentalist, father, and sustainable husband. Beavan is a writer living in the city and has been documenting his war on heat-trapping emissions and disposable Dixie cups since earlier this year, has made numerous media appearances, keeps an updated blog, has a film in the works, and was contracted to write a book describing this participatory thought experiment -- simultaneously guaranteeing both a national bestseller and the clear-cutting of thousands of acres of South American forestland.

The DN applauds Beavan's noble endeavor; we could all stand to use a bit less and conserve a little more. But, really, with a kid and everything? And a young one at that. Sure, we'd like to drive around town in a CO2-free dumpcart too, but not at the risk of our child hating us because we forced them to avoid toilet paper and shut off the lights at 7:30. Hasn't this cat watched E!'s True Hollywood Story? Kids with cool parents turn out the exact opposite. No Impact Man, in this case, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Your monkish asceticism makes Osama bin Laden like look Liberace. There's got to be a middle way, otherwise you risk raising both an adult film star and a Republican in the same person. And Mary Carey's so California recall election 2003.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady

DeWeese's Habay Wave

Tom Corbett's 'Politically Inspired Witch Hunt,' which turned up 20 boxes of Democratic political research paid for by taxpayer dollars, is now sniffing through Republican filing cabinets. At risk, sez the PG, are John Perzel, Sam Smith, and other Republican leadership. In Harrisburg, impropriety knows no bounds, but don't be surprised if only a few GOP heads roll.

The House Democrats are the target of the inquiry because they spent a whopping $1.9M in bonuses, twice as much as both Senate caucuses and the House GOP combined. It may be that the GOP was given the opportunity to shield itself from all but the most egregious wrongdoing; but it may also be that DeWeese is the king-shit dirtbag of Hubris in Harrisburg.

Part of being politically savvy is avoiding impropriety... not only because its wrong, but because it arms your enemies. DeWeese speaks like a foppish parody of a Machiavellian genius, but a fop is no substitute for the real deal. Say hi to Jeff Habay on your way to hell, Billy boy.

Councilman Motzdick to Pittsburghers: 'Don't Take Me Seriously'

After Monday's debate performance I thought the Ravenstahl campaign had finally gotten its act together. Mayor Wunderkind's dear buddy, Jim Motznik, didn't get the memo.

Pull on shit-waders because Councilman Jim Motzdick (D-Douchebag Heights) is running his mouth again.

From the PG's Early Returns blog:

"Anyone working for the city needs to be a city resident, period," said Councilman Jim Motznik at a City Council meeting today. "A GOP candidate will promise anything to get the endorsements that he thinks are needed."

He also noted that Pittsburgh's police residency requirement is enshrined in state law (as is the parking tax cut he tried to overturn ). "How can you take someone serious who's going to promise something that he has no control over?" he asked.


Mr. Motznik even claimed, approvingly, that there's a "petition" circulating in the zone stations urging support of Mr. Ravenstahl. We at Early Returns suppose that he will promptly report those officers to the city's Ethics Hearing Board, since, as the city's Ethics Handbook notes, all "city employees are prohibited from engaging in political activity during work hours and at all times in City offices."

Is Motzdick as dumb as he looks?

I recently read some Internets speculation that Motzdick engineered council's bill that maintained the parking tax at 45% despite ICA rules requiring it to drop to 40%, only to have Luke veto the bill and appear fiscally responsible. After reading these remarks, I sincerely doubt that.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"What Will You Do the Next Time Porn Strikes?"

Answer: Severely overreact and demolish private property. Via our insane new friends over at GodTube, home of "Funny Church Moments" and a unitary vision of life.

Ravenstahl - DeSantis Debate Update: Us V. Them

As expected, today's debate remix starts with the body blows endured by Mark DeSantis over the FOP endorsement.

The Trib lead [David Brown reporting]: Democratic Mayor Luke Ravenstahl accused Republican challenger Mark DeSantis of "selling the city down the river" by agreeing to positions backed by Pittsburgh's police union -- implying that's how DeSantis got the union's endorsement.

Post-Gazaette lead [Dan Majors]:
Pittsburgh's mayoral candidates last night sparred over the longtime residency requirement for city employees and whether Republican challenger Mark DeSantis "sold the city down the river" to get the endorsement of the police union.

"I stood up to the [Fraternal Order of Police], and my opponent was unwilling to stand up to the FOP and rather caved in to their demands," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said during an hour-long debate sponsored and televised by WTAE-TV.


Both stories focus on the residency requirement, which I believe is a non-win proposition for the challenger. The PG's Majors points out that three of the dozen questions dealt with Luke's ethical lapses.

Neither reporter mentioned the exchange about Mayor Wunderkind's ICA-mandated budget projection report, which shows an operational deficit in years four and five.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Luke Ravenstahl Outperforms DeSantis in Pittsburgh Mayor Debate

I have terrible news to report, Dear Reader.

Mayor Luke "the Fluke" Ravenstahl will inadequately rule Pittsburgh for the next two years. During this evening's debate on WTAE [live-blogged by Bram at the Comet], Mayor Wunderkind exuded charm and confidence. He actually came across as likable and knowledgeable. He flashed a ready smile and gave butter-smooth answers for the silver-platter questions posed by moderator Sally Wiggins.

Although DeSantis was prepared for questions about his FOP endorsement, Republican affiliation, and half-baked plan to reduce city spending, he looked nervous. He made no prolonged eye contact with the cameras. He spoke with a stale delivery that betrayed his message of "courage" and enthusiasm for the city's future. I can't recall DeSantis grinning at all.

DeSantis' campaign has failed to adequately defend his FOP endorsement. The only way he can repair the damage is to get the policeman's union to state publicly that DeSantis did not promise to waive the residency requirement. At the debate, DeSantis said he believed that the residency requirement precludes the city from hiring the most talented employees. That's a reasonable position, and he may be right.

But city residents won't be happy if their policemen are living outside the borders. And Ravenstahl gave the taxpayers a crisp, red-meat rebuttal.

"To suggest that we can't find talented people inside the city, that's a slap in the face to city residents."

Smash your face, DeSantis.

The FOP endorsement might just be more trouble than its worth for the DeSantis campaign. Despite his protests to the contrary, it smacks of the kind of horse-trading DeSantis has been railing against.

I think Ravenstahl wins on the issue of consolidation, too. Whatever the reasons for the city's pecuniary problems, city residents are just as frightened of losing control to a county executive as suburbanites are of assuming the city's crippling finances. Quote DeSantis: "I hope I'm the last mayor of the city of Pittsburgh." Yeah. that ought to play real well in Carrick.

Ravenstahl showed he has no idea how to attract businesses to the city. He talked about cranes and downtown construction as signs of growth, either slyly or willfully ignorant of the 0% job growth and high commercial vacancy, both of which were cited by DeSantis.

The only moment DeSantis came across as humanly comfortable was when he retold the story of learning about Senator John Heinz's death and its affect on his career path. [Disclosure: I watched the debate at Cappy's with the DeSantis crowd]. Everyone, including the uninterested barflies, stopped and listened to his answer.

Much better than Luke's answer: my brother was in a car crash nine years ago.

Despite Luke's proclivity for obfuscation and replies that can be paraphrased as "hey, I didn't cause this mess. I just became mayor because the old charming guy died", Ravenstahl wins. Neither Bob Mayo nor Jeremy Boren, both indubitable if not unspoken adversaries of Raventsahl, failed to unnerve Hizzoner.

And with little time remaining, I hereby crown Mayor Wunderkind King Shit of Fuck Mountain for two more years.

It's Pronounced Car-NAY-Gee, Not CAR-ni-gee

The NY Times, obviously feeling guilty after shoddy reporting of Mayor Luke "the Fluke" Ravenstahl three weeks ago, has a charming story about Andrew Carnegie's largess in today's Travel section.

Frankly, there's nothing new or intriguing in this article. Read it anyway.

Friday, October 19, 2007

DeSantis Hits Cable With Commercials

The DeSantis campaign hits the cablewaves with these two 30-second spots. In an email to supporters, DeSantis' campaign says the commercials will run for one week beginning this weekend on CNN, Fox News, ESPN, BET, AMC, Lifetime, the Family Channel, and several other cable stations.

The big news here is that the campaign is not on broadcast television. To win this race, DeSantis has to make a showing with the FDR Democrats. He simply can't win on the strength of the East End. Unfortunately, he's not going to reach Strawberry Way with an ad on BET.

As revealed by John Delano last week, one commercial has DeSantis waxing romantic about Davy Lawrence and Dick Caliguri [See it here on the Tubes]. I like the theme: give DeSantis - and Pittsburgh - a chance. But DeSantis comes across as a humorless bureaucrat. Every city wants their mayor to exude confidence and charisma. I don't see it with this spot.

The second spot is a clever montage. In this 30-second ad, a diverse group of Pittsburghers endorse DeSantis as the responsible, thinking man's candidate. I hope these are real Pittsburghers, but the absence of name and neighborhood attributions makes me think otherwise. Nice graphics work as well.

For those of us who cannot stomach Mayor Wunderkind for another two years, let's hope DeSantis' campaign is holding back for a broadcast spot.

The video is up. Here's a link to the second ad.

Take the A (Hole) Train

You think your morning commute sucks? Try riding to work with John Clifford, ex-cop and LIRR schoolmarm. Clifford has been arrested ten times for accosting fellow travelers who break rules of courtesy and public etiquette.

My personal favorite anecdote [from the NY Post]: "Four hefty girls get on and yap, yap, yap," he recalled. Then one woman nudged him, causing him to spill coffee on his pants. Clifford returned the favor by pouring coffee on her pants. She poured the cup of joe on him again, so he answered by dumping the contents of his cup on her head.

From Gov't Issue: If a parboiled Irishman in cheap dockers ever interrupts my commute he's getting thrown from the train faster than Mama.

Frankly, I like this chap. I'm too passive-aggressive to do anything remotely opprobrious to another human being, but this guy's the genuine article. No more public cell phone chatter. Shut the hell up, America.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Logic Gaps

The City of Pittsburgh is broke. Wow, headline there, eh? Funny thing, it hadn't been a topic of conversation during the debates until now. The Trib, which unlike its cross-river rival actually reported on the debate, featured the DeSantis - OpieBot exchange.

'The city is a fiscal basket case,' (DeSantis) said. 'We have more debt per capita than any city in the country .... The sad fact is we're facing the prospect of bankruptcy. The facts are there. We have over $900 million in bonded debt. One-quarter of the city budget simply goes to pay the interest on that debt."
BoyOpie originally responded, "F**k yeah, we're rich, Bitch. But when faced with DeSantis' sobering statistics responded a bit more cogently:
F**k you punk, I mean, that's not FAIR, I inherited the problem. I mean... (insert vague promise of long-term solutions). I mean... C'mon, he's pickin on Me!'
Hmm, inherited a problem? Gee, my crystal ball shows a 'Budget Deficit' press conference 2 months after the election. While it's true that Opie did inherit the budget deficit from the spendthrift Murphy era, ya gotta fight with the Army you have, Opie. Unfortunately, Opie's solutions sounded curiously Rumsfeldian... a mixture of blind optimism and a stay the course mantra. DeSantis went on to ask OpieBot how many of the Act 47 recommendations he had, or intended to, put into place. Opie's short answer: None.

Like any good Republican, DeSantis follows the money. He has a basket of answers, most of which are fact-checked and researched. Unfortunately, good ideas don't win elections in this town. Say hi to Peduto and Lamb on your way down.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pointless Update: Did We Mention She's Hot?

Pia Haraldsen, annoying reporter for unfunny foreign comedy program, we hate to see you go ... but we love watching you leave.

Quisling's Q & A

A Norwegian fake-news show sits down with New York City Councilman James Oddo. A windswept Aryan asks several absurd questions of Oddo. The councilman then responds with the Italian-American version of comedic appreciation: threats of physical violence accompanied by loud screaming. Don't let that door hit ya on the way out, 'wegie scum!

Drink Tax has Onorato all Wet

County executive Dan Onorato poked the bear. In his 2008 budget, Onorato wants to raise money for the Port Authority by taxing the people who can least afford it - the alcoholics. A ten percent drink tax coupled with $2 a day car rental tax would raise the $30 million needed for the maligned transit system.

The four Republican county councilpersons will vote against the levies. Democrats, who make up two-thirds of the fifteen-person body, gave tepid support to the budget, according to Ann Besler at the Post-Gazette. Write your councilperson.

Onorato also pissed off transit union president Pat McMahon when he suggested that union employees should contribute as much to their health care as management. Union members pay one percent of wages while nonunion employees pay two percent, a figure scheduled to increase to three percent July 1.

Like many American employers, the Port Authority's budget is subsumed with health care for employees and retirees. How about this outrageous nugget:

Mr. Bland said the far larger, Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority pays about $8 million a year for retiree health care premiums, compared with about $30 million at the Port Authority, although SEPTA has three times as many retirees.

At SEPTA, the normal retirement age is 62, although employees can retire at 55 with 30 years of service. In November 2005, the authority raised its retirement age to 55 with 25 years of service after well more than 1,000 employees -- some in their late 40s -- had already walked out the door with full pensions and health care coverage. The normal retirement age for county employees is 62.

At least Onorato is tying the employment roll to the county's population. His 2008 budget would eliminate 200 employees through attrition and retirement.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kangaroo Krossing

If you think this is bad, you should see the wombat:

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Have Gun -- Will Tummel

Meet Brasco the Liberty Bear. He's the Jewish, gun-loving mascot for the inexplicable "Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership." Also, he looks eerily similar to subway gunman Bernie Goetz for some reason.

Brasco even has an insane children's pamphlet complete with demented rants against the United Nations and the Japanese (what?). Check it out here.

Like what you see? Then amuse yourself with the organization's range targets while we place Goldilocks in the witness-protection program.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Writing and its Consequences, Part II

Ayaan Hirsi Ali lives life with a security detail. She isn't a Monarch of some forgotten island, or a starlet fending off paparazzi. She is an intellectual, a writer living under protection, in the Democratic West. She has opinions, particularly about Islam, that make her a bit unpopular with cultural relativists and a certain bearded sword-wielding demographic. As such, goons provided at the expense of the Netherlands ensure goons provided at the expense of Muslim extremists don't whack Ms Ali. The Dutch seek to cut funding for Hirsi-Ali's security detail, leaving 5'3" 125lb former Dutch Parlimentarian to contend with the Bedouin death-squads alone. Cost aside, they haven't the appetite for Ms. Hirsi-Ali's 'shrill' condemnations of Islam.

Of interest to today's DN, the particulars of Ms. Hirsi-Ali's 'shrill' broadsides on the Muslim faith. Ms Hirsi-Ali contends that Islam shouldn't beat women, shouldn't categorically dehumanize or devalue women, and shouldn't barbarically circumcise pre-teen girls with chards of glass or, lacking any other sharp implement from a dumpster, the lid of a tin can. If her grotesque Western smugness didn't set you off there, then this should fry all your sensitivity sensors. She frequently suggests that western Democracy, rooted in equality and the Enlightenment, is better than a life of slavery and subjugation offered by Islam.

A convert's passion is often mistaken for a lack of intellectual depth; but this is not always so. The rigor of a true conversion, the painful betrayal by one's former beliefs and ultimate rejection of those beliefs for an alternative faith, scars for life. Such growth requires strength, intelligence and insight; the roots that ultimately take hold are as deep as the pain. Hirsi-Ali 's criticisms, like those of Salman Rushdie, are deadly not only because she dared criticise her former faith, but because her critique was so personal, so thorough, and so damningly accurate. It should be our honor to defend her in whatever manner she requires. Afterall, her critique was not specious or capricious. Rather, we hold the truths Hirsi-Ali speaks be self evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, including but not limited to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. No tin can lids, no beatings, just the Freedom to live one's life.

May the fervent convert forgive us our squeamishness, our fear, and our lapsed faith.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Writing and Its Consequences

Hitchens recalls an earnest young enlistee and confronts the depressing knowledge that his own words have contributed to another human being's death. An honorable man's honesty.

More Local Music: Strangeway

If you are a grunge rock fan, you will probably slick this slick Pittsburgh band, Strangeway. It's a hard-edged act, with unusually talented musicians. There's definitely more Strangeway music on my playlist than The Clarks, though I still think my favorite local band has got to be Rusted Root.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

PA Gaming Control Board Burns Clairton to Ground

Clairton, a small town on the Mon River, fell to forces allied with the PA Gaming Control Board at 3:45PM EST today. Sources say PGCB sacked Clairton with murderous fury, meeting little resistance from the mostly aged and impoverished population. Clairton's economy, once characterized by fiery hearths and teeming streets, has shrunk to little more than Social Security, stale doughnuts and coffee. Several storefronts, offering breakfast fare and number writing, remain open in defiance of widespread abandonment. It is these final vestiges of economic vitality targeted by the pillaging Junta.

At noon, the City's defenses withered. By 3, billows of smoke cloaked St. Clair Avenue. One PGCB officer gleefully dumped gasoline all over Margie's Doughnuts and Coffee, one of the few remaining storefronts along Clairton's main thoroughfare. "Forty years of work here in the making," he chortled as he struck a match. "State's been killin this place off one street at a time since HUD crammed the Projects down Clairton's throat in '65. I'm just proud to be doin' my part." Another PGCB officer had the elderly proprietor cum criminal Margie face-down on the pavement as flames engulfed her store. "Gambling is illegal and immoral," he screamed as he ground Margies face into the sidewalk. "Gambling revenues go to horse racing or Billy DeWeese's political slush fund, not to thugs like you!"

Allegheny County promises dozens more such raids in the future, promising to squeeze the last drops of life from small towns like Clairton into Don Barden's palatial casino on the North Shore, and the Meadowlands in economically distraught North Strabane. With the last 12 or so storefronts left on St. Clair Avenue reduced to cinders, its clear they mean business.

BREAKING NEWS: Ravenstahl hasn't F**ked up in last ten hours

PITTSBURGH (AP) - It's been over ten hours since Mayor Wunderkind last screwed up. Political observers expressed amazement that Ravenstahl hadn't managed to offend a minority group, misuse city property, or violate the city's ethics code since Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Ravenstahl had a banner day when he stepped on his own dick twice. At a morning women's issues forum, he petulantly asked the host to remove his opponent, Mark DeSantis, from the audience. Later in the day, he had to answer questions about his use of a police surveillance vehicle, which had been paid for with Homeland Security funds. Ravenstahl and his entourage took the GMC Yukon to a Toby Keith concert in August.

Political observer Joe Sabino Mistick likens this lull in Hizzoner's public gaffes to the calm before a hurricane.

"Give it another day," said Mistick. "He's probably just hiding low and planning his next fuck-up."

Ravenstahl defends use of police SUV: 'The Denali was in the shop'

Boy-Mayor Luke Ravenstahl drove a police SUV - paid for with Homeland Security funds - to a Toby Keith concert.

I'm not sure which is worse; the mayor's wanton use of city property for tailgating or the fact that the Hizzoner likes Toby Keith.

Yes, I'll be here all weekend folks!

If this were a serious town - with an attuned citizenry and a relentless press - Ravenstahl's electability would be seriously compromised. Lucky for Mayor Wunderkind he's big-timing it in Pittsburgh. When his blind defenders call into KDKA or write into the PG, they defend his youthful transgressions with the "leave the kid alone!" defense.

Yo, Pittsburgh. He's mayor of a $400 million business of which you are a shareholder.

Ravenstahl is in dire need of political handlers. No self-respecting campaign manager would permit his candidate to gallivant around town, especially when there's a whiff of impropriety in his actions. And when Boy-Mayor (or his entourage) asked his Republican opponent Mark DeSantis to leave the room during an address to the Executive Women's Council, Boy-Mayor looked petty and churlish, not to mention frightened.


Now that US District Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan is investigating Boy-Mayor's use of a police surveillance vehicle for tailgating, this story won't be going away any time soon.


With the Keith-Gate story, Rich Lord finally scoops the Trib's Jeremy Boren [Trib coverage of Keithgate here]. Perhaps the Burghosphere - and ultimately, the city - will reap the harvest of an old-fashioned newspaper war?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


The papes here in New York have been pretty busy since Sunday demonstrating their ability to show Mets fans in various states of dejection and helplessness. Needless to say, for this Yankees supporter, it's been great fun to observe. Here now, some of the better images of crushing defeat:

Monday, October 01, 2007

America's Shame

What's up, U-S-of-A? Your dollar is weaker than the current field of Republican presidential candidates. (Bwa-zing!) Your economy is slower than a South Carolinian beauty-pageant contestant. Add to this inflationary fears, a less-than-stellar jobs report, and rising prices for imports, and you have all the makings of a market mini-shock.

Now we learn that Canada -- Canada! -- is cruising along economically, the euro is doing great, and investors are begging off U.S. bonds. When the pretend countries start to get this uppity, you know things are going poorly for us. Hey, China, about our debt-payment plan: Do you accept boogers and Camel cash?

Gum Fight

What's that? Write a post about chewing gum? Mmm ... okay!

Like most compulsive smokers and crash-dieting health zealots, the editorial staff of The Darn News loves gum for its stress-reducing and appetite-suppressing qualities, among other things. But which brand of ground chicle is best for that sudden work craving, and which deserves to be stuck under the nearest bar stool?

Now New York Magazine -- a glossy events calendar featuring interviews with undistinguished elitists -- has attempted to settle the chewing-gum wars once and for all. We're right there with you in the mint and fruit categories (Wrigley's and Adams Sour Cherry), New York, but Bazooka Joe as the bubblegum winner?! Repeat after us, citified liberals: BIG LEAGUE-EFFING CHEW. Now, if you'll excuse us, the DN has to get back to blogging and chewing gum at the same time and watching our bodies slowly decay.