Sunday, March 16, 2008

That Didn't Take Long

Hours after lamenting that local officials had poorly coordinated their failings with the introduction of my independent Infinonymity, I have been informed that the Ravenstahl administration may have addressed this oversight.

Several reports indicate that city officials attempted to prevent St. Patrick's Day parade participants from displaying signs decrying the recently imposed Allegheny County drink tax. In some cases, I have been told, the censors succeeded.

We need more information before proposing immolation of the offenders, but I have seen persuasive photographic evidence that at least some naughty paraders snuck political signs past any content police dispatched by the boy mayor.

UPDATE: It has been confirmed to my satisfaction that some paraders were required, at the starting line, to remove signs protesting the drink tax. The identity of the censors (and in particular whether they were government agents or, perhaps private "organizers" of the parade), however, has not been established. Censorship of this type -- based on content, because signs plugging candidates were everywhere -- is ugly regardless of its source, but private parties have a much greater right to be discriminatory jackasses than do government actors.

Republican Talking Points (In) Memo(riam)

As the Bush Jr. administration rushed (well, it moved as fast as anyone could while printing $200 billion and toting it to Wall Street) to protect Bear Stearns Cos. from the consequences of swashbuckling mortgage manipulations gone bad this weekend, and after hearing Secretary of the Treasury Paulson proclaim that this government "would do what it takes" to defend Wall Street's titanic banks and brokers, I have been trying to determine which Republican principle(s) this moral hazard-inducing bailout would serve:
  1. limited government
  2. personal accountability ('you're on your own')
  3. fiscal responsibility

Neither an accountant nor a conservative, I am puzzled by the philosophical and political debit-and-credit allocations associated with the extraordinary effort to rescue aggressive (and, until recently, obscenely compensated) broker-dealers. This episode not only doesn't fit into any of the Republicans' ostensible long-term principles, but indeed infringes most of them.

The situation's stickiness is compounded by the chronic "deficits don't matter" irresponsibility of the Bush Jr. administration: The United States has wasted so much money producing quicksand in Iraq, and has so weakened its accounts at the altar of tax-slashing for inheritors (and, to be fair, even the exceptionally wealthy whose income was earned), that the funding for this bailout must be borrowed from foreigners.

I liked Republicans and conservatives much better when they genuinely stood for fiscal responsibility, limited government and, most important, reason-based competence.

Faith-chaste(ned) candidates

Each major candidate for president has a faith-based problem.

Barack Obama is struggling with the fallout of extraorbital, mean-spirited rantings (captured on video, no less, and released by to-be-identified political operatives) of his long-time pastor.

John McCain, who proved his valor at the hands of brutal captors, currently looks silly (to the reality-based community, at least) groveling at the feet of the likes of John ("my fairy tale can beat up your fairy tale") Hagee, Rod ("my fairy tale should nuke your fairy tale") Parsley and the unwitting reprobates of the Council for National Policy ("fairy tales rule -- literally, if we get to call the shots").

Hillary Clinton appears to be severely entangled with the Fellowship, a relationship she and the Fellowship prefer not to illuminate (and not only because the Fellowship claims, for tax purposes, that the boarding house it runs for elected officials in D.C. is a church).

Among the also-rans, Mike Huckabee was a Southern Baptist preacher (imagine the jaw-droppers to have been mined from decades of transcripts from his pulpit?) and Mitt Romney -- well, have you ever researched precisely that which one must believe (or at least claim to believe) in order to be a Mormon?

I am not prepared to derive final conclusions from these circumstances, but I am confident that the majority of Americans that reports to pollsters that it wouldn't consider voting for a non-religious candidate has not considered the issue with requisite care.

Starting with a contentious religious issue was not my plan. A huge local clustermuck (Where's Kevin McClatchy or Tom Murphy when you need 'em?) would have been better point of departure for Infinonymous, the independent venture. But Mayor Ravenstahl apparently is taking the weekend off.