Monthly Archives: March 2007

Semi-Weekly Jack Kelly Bashing

Jack Kelly is a conservative columnist over at the Post-Gazette, and also the Toledo Blade.

This week he treats us to the movie 300, which is typical, because everyone is talking about 300. David Brooks also had a take on 300 that same Sunday.

Basically, it’s about a war the Greeks almost lost to the Persians, that many say determined world history. It is a fictionalization of one period during this war. Kelly gives a pretty fair summation of the movie, and of the history, before he tells us what to think.

But first, let’s read what syndicated sex advice columnist Dan Savage wrote about 300 last Wednesday:

Homophobic? It’s Ann Coulter on a meth binge.

The Persian army is an armed gay-pride parade, a threat to all things decent and, er, Greek. The king of the Spartans — among the most notorious boy-redacted’s in all of ancient history — dismisses Athenian Greeks as weak-willed “philosophers and boy lovers.” The Persian emperor? An 8-foot-tall black drag queen — mascara, painted-on eyebrows, pink lip-gloss. Emperor RuPaul is positively obsessed with men kneeling in front of him. Why gay up the Persians? So that straight boys in the theater can identify with the Spartan king and his 300 soldiers — all of whom appear to have been recruited from and outfitted by the International Male catalog.

What isn’t up for debate is the film’s politics. The only times the Persian army doesn’t look like a gay-pride parade in hell, it looks like a crowd of madly chanting Islamic militants. And if the Spartan king has to break the Spartan law to defend Spartan freedoms? Well, sometimes a king’s gotta do what a king’s gotta do. Because, as the queen of Sparta points out, freedom isn’t free. And, yes, she uses exactly those words. George Bush is going to redacted in his pants when he sees this movie.

As did Jack Kelly already.

Revelling in the bloodlust of the movie, and relying on our love of well-choreographed action scenes, Jack Kelly somehow asserts that the moral of story is that American liberals do not value their warriors enough. And if America doesn’t value its warriors, it will be defeated by those that do.

His suggestion that we should be more like the terrorists is unfortunate; his claim that American liberals don’t value warriors is balderdash.

He says:

“300” is soaked with the masculine virtues of courage, honor, patriotism and self-sacrifice, and the camaraderie that exists among fighting men who have been through a shared ordeal.

It is at least interesting to debate the celebration of the “masculine” virtues, if we can properly define them. Patriotism seems not to fit.

We need to rediscover these virtues. At once the most preposterous and the most dangerous of contemporary beliefs is “nothing was ever settled by violence.”

We disagree that this naivete is at all common among American liberals, at least very far outside of Code Pink.

Ironically, the story of that ancient war did not end there, as Jack Kelly readily admits. Those Greeks who fought savagely to the bitter end were ultimately defeated. It was years until another leader, one who valued the wisdom strategic withdrawal, eventually trapped the enemy at sea, which typically entails skilled diplomacy

All very like how Americans won the Revolutionary War. Thanks to the FRENCH!!

Last Chance: City Paper

1. Charlie Deitch on new equipment for city police:

The BEAR (an acronym for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response) comfortably transports 12 to 14 police officers, even when they’re clad in full tactical gear. Each side of the armor-plated vehicle features four “gun ports” capable of accommodating sniper rifles or other weapons. A rooftop hatch opens up and forms a rotating turret.

2. Dr. Goddess is black and a woman, and she deplores public transit cuts, and she doesn’t care for Wal-Mart, and she’s for school reform and police reform, and more.

3. Jodi Diperna writes about the Penguins as though they’re the Steelers or something.

Groovy New Links (Fixed!)

The youth movement in Pittsburgh continues apace. The Comet Blogroll welcomes Pittsburgh Hoagie and the Ideas Bucket.

Peaks and Gutters is currently treating us to in-depth and up-to-the-minute analysis on the Parkway Rock Throwers.

Early Returns … yeah.

We reopen the “Our Gladiators” section for Michael Lamb and Doug Shields, candidates for city controller. We hope this section grows to accomodate many more candidates for many more offices.

A Quote from Ravenstahl

One that we think we can believe:

And as far as I’m concerned every employee has the right–I’ve said this from the beginning–has the right to voice their opinion on anything related to city government and I fully support that.

Hat tip to the Busman.

Hill District Vision

Great column by Bill Steigerlwald in yesterday’s Tribune-Review. Money excerpt:

Think wanton variety — apartments, townhouses and multiple-family homes. Don’t think tall. Think thick. Think Big Apple three-story brownstones. Think the South Side, not the Hill’s suburb-like Crawford Village, which she calls “admirable” but not nearly dense enough.

You’ll just have to read it to find out who “she” is.

Jim Ferlo On City Finances

State senator Jim Ferlo has been variously described as Luke Ravenstahl’s friend, political ally, and sponsor. Buried within a horse race article — or um, lack-of-a-horse race article — by the P-G’s Rich Lord:

The toughest issues before [Ravenstahl] may be the size of the Fire Bureau, a looming pension crisis, and revenue problems, said Mr. Ferlo, a former City Council president.

“Given the financial health of the city,” he said, “there is a need for some consolidation in the Fire Bureau. It’s going to have to be on his watch over the next couple of years.”

That could mean confrontation with a politically powerful union with a heroic aura.

That could be described as a well-established position that the two men share … or a little advice from the state senator to the young mayor … or a stern warning.

Question for our progressive readers — before Jim Ferlo became so closely aligned with Ravenstahl, you all just loved this cat, right?

Act 47: Still a Story

Act 47, the state law that offers a lifeline to Pennsylvania’s financially distressed cities, is merely “triage” for a gravely ill Pittsburgh. That’s the conclusion of one of a trio of reports released yesterday, assessing the health of Pennsylvania, its biggest cities and its outlying rural areas.

The Brookings Insititution, the Pennyslvania Economy League, and Penn State University issued the caustic reports, according to Bill Toland at the P-G.

More ominous still:

“Very few municipalities that enter Act 47 leave it,” [Mark Muro of Brookings] said. Of the 22 cities and communities that have entered Act 47 “distressed status,” only five have exited, and none of those is in particularly good shape.

The report offers few or no solutions.

But wait. The Pennsylvania Economy League is part of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. Where have we heard that before?

From an economic development perspective, Ravenstahl is completely beholden to the imperatives of the Allegheny Conference. Old Pittsburgh. Could Peduto have been effective with the AC still trying to wield so much power? The AC and old-style Pittsburgh business is the issue these days, not the identity of the Mayor.

THIS was the upshot of Mike Madison’s brief Withdrawal 2007 coverage over at Pittsblog. What say you, professor? Is this a bunch of backward-thinking, glass-half-empty, unfair criticism of a decent financial strategy?

Editorial: Where Do We Go Now?

What impact will Bill Peduto’s withdrawal (pththb!) have on the blurghosphere at large?

No worries, mate.

If you keep score, well, I guess the burghosphere is oh-for-two. And it does … pause for a for a day or two, when things don’t go exactly as envisaged.

Call it “time to process.”

The one descriptive term we keep hearing in spades is evolution. We are evolving quickly. We are evolving in an interesting fashion. Those are good things. They are courtesy, no doubt, of the special blessings of Pittsburgh. Optimism remains the order of the day.

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Everything you read in the Comet post Capitulation 2007 is complete bunk.

We have come to some agreement that Bill Peduto (pththbt!) looked into the burghosphere (precocious east end knowledge worker that he is) and became aghast at what he saw.

He questioned his strategy, and perhaps his allies. He rebelled.

We have yet to see the new movie 300, but we have heard about it. We were doing that to Team Ravenstahl. Not just for being young, or even simple, but for outright sins, monstrous things, crimes of passion, crimes of violence, crimes of malice! Come on, now. What was anyone to make of this?

When Bill Peduto (pththb!) spoke of division, we feel he was speaking from the heart.

Cooling off. Yes. That would be nice.

“Give the kid a chance” has a lot of wisdom.

Or it’s fantastic political kungfu. Whatever.

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Reentry into the general election as an independant candidate that is, pulling a Caliguiri, or perhaps a Lieberman was ruled “in” as a possibility, at least until it gets before a judge. A great big hat tip to Jon Delano for that.

So to Bill Peduto … ahem.

If we may.

Don’t worry about us bloggers, Bill Peduto! Don’t sweat the small stuff! Don’t sweat this nonsense! We’re just bunch of crazy idiots! That’s us, jerk-ass Homer!

Only please rest assured that everybody in the city — and we really, truly mean everybody — hopes you “pull a Caliguiri“. Everybody.

Choice and debate are hard to come by, even in a democracy. You offered us that opportunity, Bill Peduto (pththb!), and then you snatched it back. We’re pretty sure you robbed it from Michael Lamb to begin with.

So run.

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To Luke Ravenstahl,

We have a great many “I Like Luke” stickers. We have them decorating our kitchen, our car, our computer.

We like Luke. We like Luke’s people, from what we’ve seen.

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The burghosphere will again break up and part ways, somewhat. The BURGH REPORT will likely tell us the score every day. The Admiral will be there to guide us in fey waters and through windy, windy winds. 2 Political Junkies will be blogging live from the Very Green Zone.

The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat will be all that, and so much more. Pittsblog will represent for the cupcakes. Matt H, for the O’Connors. Newbies will multiply. Smitty will tell ghost stories. PittGirl will keep us all freaking enthralled.

The Comet expects to stick around. We expect to return to a lot of historical preservation, a lot of race relations, a little macroeconomics and whatever.

We are entertained and bedazzled by this drama that is Pittsburgh, this city on the eternal, spectral brink. We have a very, very good feeling.

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Good news today!

The Oak Hill Development has settled amicably, and to every one’s apparent relief. (Rich Lord, P-G)

Some Port Authority transit cuts have been restored. (P-G by itself — Grata must be on vacation.)

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We hope to have some interviews up next week. Join us for the re-evolution, or whatever.

Look alive, Pittsburgh!

Capitulation 2007

1. The stated reason for Councilman Bill Peduto’s early withdrawal from the race for mayor is complete bunk.

Conflict is the essence of democratic politics, and of social evolution. The petty scandals he bemoans all reflect issues of substance, and issues we plainly ought to be addressing. Rick Earle’s indignation is righteous, not sensational. Bill Peduto is not such a pious neophyte that this can’t be clear to him.

2. The theory of a tactical Bill Peduto withdrawal for the purposes of later reengaging as an Independant is complete bunk.

Peduto’s ties with national Democratic movements run too deep, and he is too young to risk it all on such a maneuver. In addition, he must have anticipated the backlash of disillusionment as evidenced in the P-G editorial, not to mention the People’s Republic and the Lesbian Correspondents. He knows that trust won’t return easily.

3. The theory of a mere surrender to the inevitable is not likely.

Yes, Peduto had a short time to make up a lot of ground, and he had scarce campaign funds to make it happen. On any other day, surrender would have been a no-brainer.

But on the very day the entire media was suffering a mass hysterical negative reappraisal of Luke Ravenstahl? Like a few of them wouldn’t have been suddenly inclined to feature long, favorable examinations of wonkish Peduto policy? If he had been intending surrender, certainly the Ravenstahl firestorm would have given him pause at least through Monday.

4. Bill Peduto might have withdrawn for reasons elsewhere … elusive.

Maybe something arose with his family, or his personal life. Maybe he really does have a kind of depression or anxiety, that manifests itself in lackluster campaigning, so he’s sparing himself further trauma. Maybe he’s coming down with strep throat again.

Maybe someone made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. The Comet is loathe to engage in such wild-eyed speculation — but we’re running out of bullet-points.

5. Bill Peduto might have gotten sick of this city and is preparing to seek other opportunities.

This is the last thing we can think of. His frustration seems real enough — with the local Democratic committee, with the media, with the “machine.” Maybe he sees an opportunity opening up in Congress, or in the state legislature. Maybe he’s going to hook up with a presidential or senatorial candidate, and go back to behind-the-curtain politics.

6. We’ll never know just what caused Bill Peduto to switch off the Rocky soundtrack, and break out the violins.

We’ll never know how the Bob O’Connor administration would have turned out.

And we’ll never know how a Bill Peduto administration might turn out. Ever.

Was It Something We Said?

We are listening to the raw footage of the press conference in which Councilman Bill Peduto is withdrawing from the May 15th Democratic primary election for mayor.

It is strange to hear the mainstream press today mourning his loss. It is strange this all happened today.

Listening to the rough cut, there are definitely some context clues which seem to indicate that a run as an Independent candidate in November is not at all out of the question.

Full analysis to come.