Monthly Archives: January 2007

“Gonna Fly Now”

Let the record show, we think having 300 people attend one’s evening rally, in this weather, way out east in Highland Park, is pretty impressive, and lends some credibility to one’s boast that “Folks, we all know that this is the people’s campaign.” (P-G, Rich Lord)

It would behoove the Comet at this point to provide some real meat, and for that we refer you to declared mayoral candidate Bill Peduto’s talk with Larry Reichart on KDKA, where the incumbent regime was critiqued thusly:

1. “Our budget … doesn’t get us out of any financial distress.”

2. “Economic development has been slow … our priorities are backwards.

3. “Investment in our neighborhoods has been slow, and people haven’t been brought to the table.”

WPXI adds this nugget:

4. “Peduto said if elected he would reopen the city’s contract with firefighters and consolidate city and county services.”

Now for the fun stuff:

When asked by Larry if Ravenstahl’s age and inexperience are issues, Peduto responded no to age, quipping “I wish I was 26,” but yes to inexperience, citing his own twenty years of experience, and how he got where is with “hard work and determination…”

Pause.

“And discipline.

When in doubt, candidate Peduto seems to have appropriated the words Independant, Responsible, and Experience as his go-to soundbites. We will be tracking how often Peduto gets his IRE aroused.

Throughout today’s coverage, there was also the sense that Peduto’s campaign would be best captured by the slogan, “It’s the Neighborhoods, Stupid!”

Except that would be a clear violation of any “clean campaign” pledges that the candidates might, at some point, be invited to accept.

The brass ring for political analysis goes to Morton Coleman, aide to former Mayor Joseph Barr, and current professor emeritus at Pitt, captured by the Trib’s Jeremy Boren:

“He will be both the reform candidate, and he’ll play the experience card against RavenstahlPeduto is a talented guy, but I think he has an uphill fight.”

Continuing Unfortunateness At MacYapper

John McIntire has been fighting the good fight against the Rush Limbaugh / Fox News / Drudge Report machine for over a decade, and it appears he has finally been corrupted by it.

His latest post includes an open plea for more Ravenstahl dirt from his readers, with the vague suggestion that he’s heard something juicy. He is not asking for criticism of the Ravenstahl budget, of city services, or of development projects. He wants evidence of frat boy behavior, an overload of testosterone, and immaturity.

Also, since he is done misrepresenting the original Ravenstahl incident — remember, his claim that Regan was involved? — he has gone on to misrepresent Ravenstahl’s clear misjudgement in denying that incident, once again backed by just enough “truthiness” to inflate the issue. We believe, as most do, that McIntire’s account of the denial is shamelessly exaggerated and inaccurate.

McIntire has come to the conclusion that in order for the best candidate to win, that candidate needs to have media surrogates doing the campaign’s dirty work: promoting poorly sourced and exaggerated rumors, smearing character, and low name-calling.

He may tell us he’s just engaging in “snarkery,” but that’s what all the Limbaughs and Hannities and Savages of our world do: excuse themselves from fair and civil discourse when it serves their needs.

We believe candidate Bill Peduto when he denies any connection to McIntire’s odious campaign. Johnny Mac’s not doing his man any favors. If he keeps this up, people will have to start asking Mr. Peduto if he condemns McIntire’s ugly, classist rhetoric.

Mr. McIntire, righteous statesmen don’t win the way the charlatans do, by taking the Rush / Fox / Drudge path of dirt and distortion. Real statesmen, like the first President Clinton, win by elevating the debate, while making the issues personally relevant to the voters.

I can sense the good left in you, John McIntire. Let go your anger.

Race and Pittsburgh Football

We don’t have anything profound to say on the matter, so we’ll call this an “open thread.”

We just really wanted an excuse to post this picture of el Rushbo sporting a Big Ben jersey while doing the Heisman, currently above-the-fold on his homepage.

“No.”

D.C. Archbishop Donald Wuerl, formerly our own Bishop Wuerl, is being pressured to withhold communion from Catholic legislators who support abortion rights, reports the P-G’s Ann Rogers. His response:

“You’re talking about a whole different style of pastoral ministry. No.”

This became an issue with John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign, and is on its way once again with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I don’t believe Archbishop Wuerl is doing his job,” says the Rev. Tom Euteneuer, president of Human Life International.

Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, is “appalled that Archbishop Wuerl not only is not going to do anything about this, but has publicly said so.”

NBC’s Christmas edition of Meet the Press featured a “debate” between Archbishop Wuerl and Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the evangelist Billy Graham. The discussion was extremely friendly, and any differences were very subtle. Both agreed abortion is wrong.

Lotz‘s message was essentially: “Christ is flesh,” and, “Only Jesus can save you.”

Wuerl’s message was essentially: “God is love,” and, “We should listen to what Jesus taught.”

Here we go, Pittsburgh, here we go!

On a related note, P-G columnist Ruth Ann Daily today offers some challenging ideas on the shifts underlying abortion politics as science marches onward.

UPDATE: So, we just learned that today is Blog for Choice Day. The theme is “Why Are You Pro-Choice?” I am pro-choice because growing up, my mom told me so. As I progressed through highschool and college, my ladyfans reminded me that it was so. Later, I discovered a sound justification in Roe v Wade:

“This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”

On Kelly: More Bumbling by the FBI

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret who was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan administration. He is presently a columnist at the Post-Gazette, and can be described as a reliably hawkish unilateralist and free-market fundamentalist. As a special feature of the Comet, we will attempt to debunk the dangerous and foolhardy ideas put forth by Pittsburgh’s most prominent ultra-conservative.

In an obvious effort to switch terrain, so as to steer clear of Comet criticism (unlikely), or to avoid the phenomenal crisis-at-hand for which he continues to accrue liability (more likely), Jack Kelly spends this week’s column on the recent history of domestic counterintelligence.

I’ll get you next time, Kelly. Next time!!!

Seriously, this week’s offering exposes the flaw in promising to fully critique a Jack Kelly column on the same day it was published, every week. Lacking extensive knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center plot, we would have to research these events and the four books he cites by Peter Lance and Bill Gertz. Well played, Mr. Kelly. No longer will the Comet promise same-day debunkery, but rest assured it will always arrive in its own sweet time. You’ll just have to stay tuned like everybody else.

We will say those books don’t look like serious works of scholarship, but rather like pulp on O.J. Simpson or Natalee Holloway. But you can’t judge a book by its cover; maybe the liberal publisher is to blame. Meanwhile, we highlight today’s upshot:

The revelations in Mr. Gertz’s book make it all the more urgent that responsibility for domestic counterintelligence be removed from the FBI and placed in competent hands.

We sure hope Kelly’s not talking about the Pentagon. The culture of the military, though admirable in many ways, is not at all suited to navigate the actors and associations of the domestic theater, and possesses nowhere near the requisite institutional transparency.

If he means the CIA, (didn’t we consolidate these?) it’s not as though they’ve been a bumble-free, bullet-proof, slam-dunk of an operation. Maybe that’s why he declined to name his alternative intelligence outift. As someone in Jack Kelly’s own party once said, “Criticism alone is not a strategy.”

Maybe same-day debunkification is possible after all! But no more promises.

Preservation Pittsburgh Defends Ramparts

We’ve been hearing about this new advocacy group Preservation Pittsburgh for a while now, and we’ve been wondering when they were going to get around to Fort Pitt.

A P-G piece has Preservation Pittsburgh offering to mediate between the Fort Pitt Preservation Society, on the one side; and on the other (inhale) the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Riverlife Task Force, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

We wish them luck, but that equation seems way out of balance.

The Comet had intended to only hyperlink the Good Guys, but heck, with the right application of pressure, any one of these parties could come ’round. So here goes:

The P.A. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources

The Riverlife Task Force

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development

Give ’em what-for! I mean — be eloquent and respectful!

McIntiregate: Epilogue

WPXI’s Rick Earle: You weren’t involved in an altercation with the police officer?

Mayor Ravensthal: Absolut

Earle: You categorically deny that?

Ravenstahl: Absolutely not.

That’s it. Once the fiery meteor of McIntire’s story entered our atmo-sphere, most of it burned up in a harmless spectacle. The above sniplet from a 3-month old investigative report is all that remained, solid to the core, striking young Luke in the tuchus.

The Comet transcript is in agreement with the one over at TPJs, if you allow their edit of the confusing double-negative in the Mayor’s clear denial, and if you allow our emphasis on “categorically” as appropriate. Now then:

1. Some people will view Ravenstahl as a liar, who can never again be trusted with public business.

2. Some people will forgive the lie as a miscalculation, intended to cover-up a meaningless but embarrassing personal incident, which could too easily be exaggerated and lampooned by unscrupulous political enemies.

3. There is no reason to believe that the group represented by #1 will reach anything like critical mass.

4. If your political fortunes are tied directly to either Peduto or Ravenstahl, your brain will make you believe either #1 or #2, respectively, and that anyone who reaches the other conclusion must be stupid or insincere.

MOVING FORWARD:

The good news for Bill is that people are paying attention. His challenge now is that he has to be for something — he has to be for something popular — and he has to be for something popular that Ravenstahl is against.

That’s easier said than done. It is Ravenstahl’s job to support things that are popular. But it is not impossible.

The kerchief drops tomorrow.

Are You Ready For Some Football?

My very earliest memories of reading a newspaper are of reading the Post-Gazette’s Gene Collier. Yesterday’s column “New Orleans is the story, not the Saints” reminded me of my good fortune.

In fact, just browse through the recent history of Collier’s prose here. A tasty beverage for the first Comet reader who can identify “the kind of player who wants his arm down the dolphin’s throat when the game is on the line.”

T.G.I.F.

Saturday is the blogging sabbath, at least at the Comet. Please make a note of it. Check back Sunday evening for our weekly Jack Kelly counter-column, and stay tuned for more coverage you can count on!

The Rendell Rx

It’s hard to blog about “Prescription Pennsylvania.” Not even Rauterkus has tried yet, and that guy’s a machine.

Randy Bish, Tribune-Review

Our analysis may be colored by yesterday’s P-G Perspectives piece by Ryan Talbot on the 2003 Pennsylvania Wilds Initiative, with the goal “to enhance the visitor experiences in this region, while protecting and conserving these treasured natural resources.”

Talbot went on to criticize the extensive oil and gas drilling in the Allegheny National Forest, and the 800 mile ATV trail loop through protected lands, enabled by that initiative.

We are reminded of a clip from the great documentary Who Killed The Electric Car. Paraphrased: “It’s an old story. Play public-interest the music. Give industry the action.”

Of the 47 separate provisions of Governor Rendell’s package, very few (just one?) deal with providing more, or lower-cost, health insurance. A lot will hinge on when, how, and where the Governor flexes his political muscle.

KDKA’s Larry Reichart cited a Trib story by Brad Bumsted and Debra Erdley that tells us 7 of the 16 contributors to Rendell’s inaugural were from corporate health or insurance lobbies. Even Sen. Jane Orie (R-North Hills) had to tell Larry, “It concerns me … it does put up a red flag.”

No doubt some aspects of the plan are worthwhile; we are especially stoked about the smoking ban. Yet the Comet fears this may be a way for business and politicians to “settle” the health issue only in the minds of Pennsylvanians, kicking the can down the road, until the federal government gets serious about a modern, single-payer health care system.