Monday, October 29, 2007

A Look Behind the Contributions

The DeSantis campaign sent us a response to our post titled Cease Donating to DeSantis.

Press Secretary Meghan Jones-Rolla writes:

1) Campaign contributions are regulated. You will know what happens to the donations.

True, but that doesn't stop the money from getting anywhere.

2) Here is a list of everyone Mark donated to with the specifics on the year and amount for the conservative republican candidates.

George W. Bush-1999 - $1,000.00 (He did not donate to his 2004 campaign.)

Yeah. Word.

Rick Santorum -2000 - $400.00 / 2006- $250.00

The number went down instead of up. The Comet feels comfortable that $250.00 is within the envelope of a "token" contribution for a U.S. Senate seat.

Mark has also donated to the following:

Arlen Specter;
Doug Shields;
Valerie McDonald Roberts (Lt. Governor) campaign; and
Mark held a fundraiser for Michael Lamb in 2005 when he was running for mayor.

Senator Specter (R-Pennsylvania) is a moderate who is regularly assailed by his own party as a traitor.

Doug Shields is our very liberal Democratic City Council President (to whom Mr. DeSantis donated $150, not $250, h/t C-P)

We don't know much about Val, but to hear her talk OffQ, she is also quite the liberal Democrat.

Michael Lamb was and continues to be the strong Democratic voice for reform who is not quite so closely aligned with the froo-froo progressives. Throwing a fundraiser for Lamb's 2005 mayoral run, more than anything else, ought to offer a window into Mark's ideology.

Or lack thereof.

We asked the DeSantis campaign if it would consider returning unspent campaign money to those contributors who request it, as Bill Peduto did for some in April. Press Secretary Jones-Rolla offered this response:

I believe that giving the $ back is a little unusual. However, Peduto voluntarily dropped out of the race.

Mark is not dropping out of the race and we still have many bills to pay. In fact, you can expect some new ads from DeSantis this week. We also have an election day party and payroll to meet. I don't know whether there will be any money left and I don't think anyone has thought about what will happen if we do have any money remaining in the account.

43 comments:

  1. What the hell do you mean by posting about a 'strong voice' from Lamb. What a joke.

    Even when he ran for Mayor, and got third, against Bob O'Connor, his standard line was about getting a merger of offices for the selling of dog licenses. That's it.

    Lamb has been, well, a lamb.

    He, like Ravenstahl, is the son of a D politician. Mr. Lamb was a member of the PA Senate.

    Lamb won't rock the boat. Lamb even scolded Tony P for bringing a suit against the existing controller for the employees for the controller's office. He'll take what gets given to him and roll over (the single office dog license sales efforts) without barking.

    Now, back the the special election chatter about the mayor's race.

    DeSantis gave more to Lamb, running against O'Connor in the D party primary than DeSantis gave to Weinroth who ran against O'Connor. Go figure.

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  2. The DeSantis campaign is lying by omission and assuming (correctly and once again) that you won't do basic research. As your favorite needling, pesky anonymous commenter, I decided to take about three minutes and look up DeSantis's state-level contributions on Pennsylvania's campaign finance reporting website.

    For some reason, DeSantis's contributions to Valerie McDonald don't show up -- I suppose we'll just have to take him at his word on that one, unless the McDonald-Roberts campaign was lax in reporting its campaign contributions. But that is neither here nor there.

    What is important are the contributions that do show up. The DeSantis campaign's list, as disseminated by you, does not include several key contributions here. Some county-level stuff shows up, so for instance, since 2000 you'll see $695 to the Allegheny County Republican Committee and $2,400 to Citizens for Democratic Reform, the anti-row office Republican front group that DeSantis formerly headed (these likely show up in the state-level file because they are PACs that make state-level contributions -- direct DeSantis contributions to Republicans at the county level would not show up). He gave $250 to John Pippy (R state senator) and also $250 to Steven Nickol, the Adams/York county Republican who is something of a moneybags in the caucus (with his own leadership PAC), the minority chair of the finance committee, and heads the Subcommittee on Select Issues (basically the think tank for the Republican caucus).

    He has also made donations to people running for statewide office: $250 for Joe Peters, who ran against Jack Wagner for Auditor General, and $500 to Mike Fisher in 2000 (probably for the AG instead of the governor's race). Then he gave $270.06 to Bill Scranton when Scranton ran from the right against Swann in the R gubernatorial primary, and $750 to Swann when Swann was the certain nominee.

    DeSantis is hooked up to Bill Scranton via the Pittsburgh technology millionaire Glenn Meakem, and both Scranton and Meakem were major donors to DeSantis's mayoral run, as has been reported widely in the press.

    Just so everyone understands where Scranton is coming from: he is part of the most far-right faction of the Republican party on core economic issues of taxes, spending, and social programs. There are some differences with the Jeff Piccola/Pat Toomey wing who are also more directly connected to the social reactionaries, but generally their political views are in sync, so for instance, Scranton serves alongside Pat Toomey on the board of the Commonwealth Foundation (the "free-market" statewide think-tank advocating tax cuts, steep cuts in programs, and right-to-work-for-less laws), and Scranton was also a major funder of the election activities of the Club for Growth in 2006.

    Club for Growth is the far-right organization led by Toomey and involving a tight group of the extremely wealthy, which first gained nationwide notoriety by running the "Volvo-driving, latte-sipping" commercials against Howard Dean in Iowa in 2004. In 2006 it used the pay-raise controversy to take out Specter-style "moderate" Republicans of long standing in the state like Robert Jubelirer and "Chip" Brightbill, who were taken down by Eichelberger and Folmer, respectively, thanks to contributions from the likes of Scranton, Meakem, and Richard Mellon Scaife, who worked hand-in-glove in pushing the far-right electoral advance in the legislature. Folmer and Bob "Won't You Be My Neighbor" Regola (who defeated the state senate's most progressive member, Allan Kukovich, in an anti-abortion, anti-gay campaign in 2004) were the leading sponsors in the State Senate of the TABOR proposal favored by Grover Norquist (and of course the Club for Growth) -- this is a key part of the far-right agenda, which is why DeSantis has copied it directly in his proposals for the City of Pittsburgh.

    The purpose of the DeSantis campaign for mayor is obviously not to win the mayor's race, since that is virtually impossible for a Republican. He will try to gain traction the same way the right gained traction statewide: by playing on pseudo-populist issues of little real policy consequence (the pay raise at the state level, Luke Ravenstahl taking city SUVs to Toby Keith concerts at the city level), but even that will not take him over the electoral top, and that is not the point anyway. Instead, Meakem and Scranton promote one of their own to get some prominent face-time with the media and political exposure -- it puts DeSantis in a position to run for a state legislative seat if he moves out of the city and into a more promising district (in the manner of that other DeSantis funder, Jim Roddey), and even if he doesn't move, it gets DeSantis some credibility with other Republicans in the region as the most "credible" Republican candidate for Pittsburgh mayor in decades, thereby creating a powerful new ally for Scranton in inner-party Republican politics in the western part of the state, where he is weak (his base, as you can no doubt tell from his blue-blood name, is in the northeast) -- all in preparation for a possible comeback gubernatorial run in 2010 (provided of course he can overcome the baggage of his ties to the Maharishi and John Hagelin's transcendental meditation-based "Natural Law Party," not to mention his racially offensive comments about Lynn Swann which were the straw that broke the camel's back of his 2006 campaign).

    To sum up, then -- some fine allies you have there, Mr. Reichbaum and Pittsburgh Pedutobloggers! The only question is: was it the DeSantis campaign that failed to mention DeSantis's contributions to Scrantona and Swann? Or did you deliberately leave it out of your summary of their message to you? Which of you, in other words, is lying deliberately?

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  3. Love your story-line! Money honey that DeSantis doesn't move into a legislative seat or anything else outside the push for mayor. You should be a weatherman or weather chick. Partly cloudy and we might be in for a blizzard...

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  4. Anonymous at 6:39, this is Anonymous at 5:52 and many other times: How about my arguments on DeSantis's well-documented ties to Scranton and Meakem, and through them to the Club for Growth? How is it incredible to argue that this is basically a way for Bill Scranton to build up an inner-party ally in the West in preparation for a gubernatorial run? DeSantis doesn't need to move and build a political career of his own in order to gain traction among local Republicans. He can be plenty influential as a money-man, or person connected to money-men, whether or not he does that. That was one of my points.

    That and the fact that someone -- either the DeSantis campaign or Reichbaum -- deliberately left these facts out of this post . . .

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  5. The e-mail to me provided details of Bush and Santorum contributions -- the ones he is getting attacked for. Then she added, "Mark has also donated to the following..." in naming those others.

    They never claimed to be providing an exhaustive list, but I suppose you could nail them with lying by omission if you'd like. At the same time, they like you know all contributions are public record, so maybe they were just highlighting some specific contributions of which they thought I personally might approve.

    Do I feel taken advantage of? Let's look at the omissions you provided us.

    He gave $2,400 to Citizens for Democratic reform. Most everyone considers row-office reform a GOOD THING; to call it an "the anti-row office Republican front group" sounds a little kool-aidy to me.

    He gave $695 to the Allegheny County Republican Committee. He is a Republican. I think people know that already. Personally, I wish he'd have given more. You know my feelings on one-party government.

    He gave some $250 contributions here and there across the state. Whatever. Nothing rises to the level of alarm suggested in "The Republican Files" attack piece (probably why it wasn't in the "file".)

    You could more easily link Mark DeSantis to Kevin Bacon than Club for Growth; your efforts to make that connection are once again a little kool-aidy.

    Oh, and talk about lies of omission: do the Ravenstahl attack ads mention the AMOUNT of his contributions to Bush 43 and Santorum? Do they mention he DID NOT SUPPORT Bush 43 for his reelection? Do they even make a distinction between his former boss, Bush 41, and his idiot son? You going after anybody at all for "lies of omission" is pretty amusing.

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  6. richmond k. turnerOctober 29, 2007 at 7:39 PM

    DeSantis is also linked with the Free Masons, the Illuminati, and the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo. But I have deliberately hidden my knowledge of these facts because I am a member of super-secret cabal of Roman Catholic bloggers who believe that Jesus's teachings proscribe the eating of string cheese on every third Tuesday of the month.

    DeSantis and I were also both in Skull and Bones, or would have been if we had attended Yale.

    It's these super-secret societies that control everything. Bram doesn't want you to know this because he's also a member of his own super-secret group of conspiracists.

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  7. Richmond: This is not a "conspiracy theory," you dolt. DeSantis's contributions to Scranton, and his clear connections to Scranton and Meakem (who are two of the main financiers of his mayoral campaign) are a matter of easily-accessible public record and a matter that has been reported in the newspapers. Scranton's further connections to the Club for Growth are also well-documented, as is the Club for Growth's role in trying to push the Republican caucus in the legislature to the right.

    If it's a "conspiracy theory" to suggest that very wealthy men spend a lot of money to influence the political process in a way that will ultimately bring them tax cuts, then I guess I'm a conspiracy theorist. But you can't discredit this out-in-the-open stuff simply by labeling it a conspiracy theory and comparing it to nonsense about the Freemasons. I rather suspect that you're barely even capable of reading what I wrote.

    You don't get to slag me off because bloggers like you are too lazy to look up these easily-accessible facts, either.

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  8. Mr. Empire-Tree: As with all sane people, I don't give two shits about the row offices, but the row offices were a key political issue for the Republicans here, and CDR was a Republican front group, whether you think the Republicans had a point there or not.

    A $250 contribution "here and there" is actually no small change for most people, I must remind you, but you're wrong if you think this doesn't illuminate DeSantis's political connections. He must know Meakem from social circles and because both of them made their money in the tech sector. Meakem, in turn, is arguably Scranton's biggest backer in this half of the state. DeSantis's own donation to Scranton has been repaid manifold with Scranton's huge donation to DeSantis's mayoral campaign. Why do you think he gives a hoot about a big mayoral race on the other side of the state, unless he is looking towards building a political base for himself here? Why else would he be such a huge donor while other big Republicans statewide are not?

    Scranton views the Club for Growth in the same way, as a possible ally in his ambitions. Obviously the Club regulars would prefer someone like Toomey himself as a standard-bearer, but he shares their far-right positions on taxes, social programs, and unions. If you doubt Scranton's connections to the Club for Growth, then you have not even read the Tribune-Review story I cited above, and the Trib is as good a source as any for inside reporting on Republican politics, so long as you keep in mind that it is also a vehicle for Scaife's personal vendettas. In helping to sink Jubelirer, Scranton deliberately cast his lot in with the "angry" far right in an attempt to get himself some populist cachet, while also furthering the goals that he and Toomey share: they ultimately want TABOR and right-to-work-for-less in this state. And above all, Scranton sees a way for himself to build a base for a gubernatorial campaign.

    The connections between DeSantis and Scranton (likely through Meakem) are unmistakable and undeniable, not a product of "kool-aid" (whoevers Kool-Aid you're referring to, anyway). The connections between Scranton and the Club for Growth far right of the Republican party are also undeniable for reasons I have discussed above.

    As for you, you are at least honest in saying that the DeSantis campaign played you, and that you don't mind, because you're more interested in disseminating their propaganda than the whole truth -- and that further, you want to see more power for the Republicans in the region, on the grounds that we need to undermine "one-party" government.

    I can think of about a dozen analogies and popular sayings that characterize your confused politics, including one about the Devil and Beelzebub. You see, the thing is, I don't give two shits about Ravenstahl, and I'm not interested in carrying water for him or for the main core of the Democratic Party in this city. Ravenstahl's administration, like just about every big-city administration, is accountable to and even controlled by the local "growth coalition" of developers and other rent-seeking real estate elites, and that is reflected in his campaign contributions from developers, which are par for the course for any mayor. But if there is any hope to further the interests of the people in the context of that mess, it is not by supporting an even worse group of very wealthy men who want to move local governance in an even more ideologically pro-capitalist direction.

    If you don't like the current mayor -- and I don't blame you -- then you had plenty of choices in this election. You could do that "hold your nose" routine that you pretend to understand when it comes to Federal elections, and vote for Ravenstahl to send the strongest possible rebuff to the DeSantis power-play from the wealthy far right. You could have found someone to mount a serious primary challenge from the left (not from the right as Peduto tried to do). You could have sat out this general election. You could even cast a protest vote for the Troskyite. Instead, you have chosen to support the Republican, and have attempted to deny or excuse the heaping piles of evidence that he is indeed a Republican for all the typical reasons you'd expect from a very wealthy man. If you still consider yourself a "progressive," there are only two possible explanations for your behavior: either you are incredibly confused and naive, or you are a traitor.

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  9. First of all, I don't feel I got "played." They know this is a blog and that there are comments, and any falsehoods would be quickly discovered. Thank you for that, and our readers can now draw their own conclusions - about Mark's e-mail to me, and Luke's negative ads to everybody.

    2nd of all, do I consider myself a "progressive"? Ptooey! Liberal, if you please.

    3rdly, your analysis sets aside one thing. I don't think we have two years to play around. I fear for the city under Ravenstahl's stewardship. I do not think he is a competent manager. I would not trust him in a crisis. I do not trust him to manage developments that will take ANOTHER 50 years to erase. I trust him far less to stand up to yinzoconservative business interests than the Republican challenger. I really do. And I absolutely believe we must get aggressive already on governmental collaboration and consolidation. We need to bring this government run by-the-employees, for-the-employees, under control, which Luke is constitutionally incapable of exerting.

    Is Mr. Meacham trying to build a power base to run for governor? If so, he'll be sorely disappointed. I give Pittsburghers enough credit to vote Mark for one set of reasons, and then turn out massively for Dan for another.

    It's people like you, Mr. Anonymous, who are blinded by the bright lights of the macro-level battle, who have ushered in the deterioration of our city on the meaningful micro-level. You want to fight for the people? Then fight with them down in the streets, day-in and day-out, instead of whipping them into a demagogic frenzy every four years or so.

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  10. I'd agree with you, mate, but I know that my overlords from the Club for Growth are monitoring my blog comments, and they have my wife and children held hostage until after the mayoral election. They're everywhere, they see everything, and I musn't do anything to anger them.

    Look, you have your facts all lined up in a nice little row and all, but your conclusions stray way, way, way into tin-foil-hat land. I've never run for office, and I don't have a great deal of money, but I've given a few dimes here and there to candidates on both sides of the aisle.

    But now I wish I had never done so. I have two reasons for regretting my contribution. First of all, every last D and R running for office within rougly 8,000 miles of my home now has me in their databases as a contributor, and I get pestered to an ungodly degree to give money to them. If only they would send their pleas on softer stock, I would never need to purchase toilet paper again.

    But the other reason that I wish I had never donated to any candidates is that I have become fodder for folks like yourself, who troll through these contributions in a despearate attempt to find connections that are, in all likelihood, simply not there.

    The fact that I gave money to some politician at some point doesn't really say all that much about how well I'm connected to him. You can probably find my name somewhere on DeSantis's list this time around, but the only words that I've exchanged with him were an apology when my 3-year-old was bothering him a few minutes before his campaign kick-off event.

    You can also find me on the contributor's list for candidates who I knew simply wouldn't leave me alone until I threw a check their way. Pehaps it was wrong to do that, since I didn't always agree with what they stood for, but it was worth it to me to end the phone calls and (I was younger then) I simply didn't have the stones to tell them to pack sand.

    But in any event, my contribution record simply doesn't say jack about my political views, or even who I voted for once I got into the booth in November.

    A $250 contribution here and there is not going to make any politician -- especially those seeking statewide office, who need truckloads of money -- become anyone's friend. Heck, on the national level that wouldn't even get you a picture taken with the candidate. To portray Mark DeSantis as the key to some vast right-wing, Club For Growth conspiracy is just laughable, especially based on such weak evidence as a couple of campaign contributions.

    Oh, and thanks for suggesting that I'm "barely even capable of reading what [you] wrote." In fact, I had a rather easy time -- at least with the single-syllable words -- and I had my first grader come upstairs and help me with the longer ones. He had the same impression as I did, which is that your conclusions are vastly unsupported by the available facts.

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  11. I finally used that database, and it appears Luke never contributed to ANYBODY except the ACDC. That fact alone should tell you something.

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  12. Mr. Reichbaum: I'm suggesting that Scranton is setting himself up for a gubernatorial run, not Meakem; I don't think Meakem has political ambitions of his own. That's a small point, though.

    No matter how much you think you can divorce the micro- from the macro- level, big-money men like Bill Scranton, Glenn Meakem, and Richard Mellon Scaife do not do that. Those bastards play for keeps, and to the extent that we do not, the little folk get screwed.

    Further, the problems of the City of Pittsburgh are not "micro" problems. They are inextricably linked with macro-level policies. For a hundred years this city was the capital of Appalachia, pulling in the products of the extractive industries in the hinterland and smelting them in the Mon Valley, building the industrial base of the entire world and making a few people very rich in the process. Then, thirty years ago, the greedy bastards packed up and left, and they left this city to rot.

    We have a dwindling population in the city proper, but during the day the city is still large and expected to pay for services for people who do not live within its city limits. We have a legislature where the Ds just barely hold the house but where the balance of power still rests mostly with suburban and rural politicians -- heavily Republican -- who hate cities and the people in them. That's why we have had no real funding for mass transit, and why the legislature is in the pocket of the highway lobby instead. It's why we have a battle every year where the Republicans want to cut Medicaid. And its why suburban nitwits like Jane Orie can run roughshod over urban people, seeking to draw a line around the privileged enclaves they represent to keep them from having to pay one dime for the services they consume when they're working in the city they hate.

    Ravenstahl's modus operandi in this atmosphere is to muddle through, and that is not enough, but it is what most mayors do. DeSantis's intent, by contrast, is to agree strongly with the Jane Ories of the world that what we need is more belt-tightening, more cuts in services for the people who live in cities, calls for arbitrary reductions in the city workforce (where? which services to city residents would he cut?) and cuts in spending written into the home rule charter so that city services have to compete with one another to stay funded. And he wants the city to take revenue streams that would be otherwise available to it to fund needed services, and instead apply those to pay for things that the state should be obligated to pay for anyway -- e.g., his proposal to use casino revenues to shore up the pension fund despite the state's responsibilities to help distressed municipal pension funds under Act 205.

    You and your co-thinkers like Richmond of Delaware County echo the platitudes DeSantis utters that are balm to the suburban soul, the stuff about how Pittsburgh "got itself" into this mess and now has to bail itself out. Basically the same attitude that Bush took to New Orleans.

    Believe me, I am quite ready to have a fight with anyone who stands in the way of justice for distressed urban communities like ours. But think back to the fight that the neighborhoods had with Murphy over the closings of pools and rec centers a few summers back, and think of how much more difficult the budget fight would be each year if DeSantis's proposed TABOR were in place, and if we had a mayor who went along wholeheartedly with everything that Jane Orie and those other turds wanted.

    Some of us are indeed interested in fighting alongside the people -- but if you're supporting DeSantis, then you are picking the wrong fights in my book.

    I welcome your self-identification as as liberal -- it certainly fits. And it reminds me of a Phil Ochs song.

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  13. Love me, love me, love me.
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=8ZzUI27ICkM

    So you're running against Jane Orie. Probably a good bet. I hope this exchange didn't help you too much.

    All I can say is, the Democrats finally achieved some success once they got serious about common-sense belt-tightening, and once they slaughtered a few sacred cows. Here's hoping that either way, 2009 brings the same things locally.

    Personally, I think my route stands a better chance of getting us there. It'll be much more fun.

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  14. Richmond: Meakem's connection to Scranton is not merely financial (if you can use the word "merely" when it comes to sums of the size we're talking about); he was Scranton's campaign chairman in the 2006 primary (where Scranton dropped out).

    Meakem has given $10,000 to DeSantis, making him one of the top four donors to his mayoral campaign (he gave twice as much as Jim Roddey). And Tim McNulty of the Post-Gazette reports that most of DeSantis's $85,000 in in-kind contributions comes from Bill Scranton's PAC, GROW PA, "which is providing consulting and staffing to the Republican campaign."

    All of this is not on the same level as the money you have occasionally dropped on politicians "of both parties." It is indicative of a strategic alliance that is fundamental in character. Once again, Meakem is Scranton's main financier in the western half of the state, and he is trying to build up allies for Scranton out here in preparation for the intra-party battles of 2010 for the nomination. This does not take a genius to figure out.

    Scranton is going to need all the help he can get, because he has a lot of baggage that does not sit well with the Republican wingnut rank-and-file -- mostly his flirtations with pseudo-eastern "spirituality" emanating from the general direction of the Maharishi.

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  15. Bram: "Common-sense belt-tightening," indeed. Your "common sense" is the kind Gramsci talked about.

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  16. You know, Desantis could be the largest contributor to Bealzabub himself and support shopping at the Gap, and I would still vote for him over Ravenstahl because what ever he does I don't think he will drive the city into ruination like a drunken frat boy behind the wheel of the candy red sports car his daddy just bought him or keep the wrinkled old-boy political machine alive against all odds. I don't want to vote for a Republican, but dammit, I wont vote for Luke regardless of my alternate options. (I will however for once post anonymously because I have no delusions that Luke wont somehow pull this one out of the toilet and try to exact revenge on anyone who he feels tried to poop on his party. Just think of me as Jane Doe.)

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  17. Anonymous at 10:37: Are you saying that you work for a local Democratic politician and don't want to get your boss in trouble for not supporting the nominee?

    I do get that you're also saying you don't care about issues or about the deep connections of DeSantis with the moneybags of the ultra-right. Instead, you care about bullshit like the fact that Ravenstahl is a "frat boy."

    Once again, you have options in this election if you don't want to "hold your nose" and vote for Ravenstahl. You can sit it out, or you can cast a protest vote for the Trot. Instead, you choose to support the Republican. Why is that?

    For my own part, I am glad to see that my interventions in the "Burghosphere" have had something of an effect. Before, the Peduto-heads were running around saying that Mark DeSantis was the "real Democrat" in the race, kidding themselves that he was running from Ravenstahl's left. Now I have the smarter among you, like Reichbaum and "Richmond K. Turner," admitting that you support DeSantis for right-wing reasons instead of left-wing ones: you're in favor of "belt-tightening" for the city and caving in to any and all racist suburban demands. The less swift among you (Mike of "Bag of Health and Politics") may still claim that DeSantis is the "progressive," but now that I've started talking about issues -- no matter how much you're irritated by my belligerence -- it's become hard for you to ignore. And you've shown your true colors: namely, that the bulk of the followers of Bill Peduto are supporting Mark DeSantis because their real allegiances are to the anti-labor, Clintonoid right wing of the Democratic Party, who have more in common with the Republicans than they do with the Democratic base.

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  18. These may be some of the longest comments ever written!

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  19. anonymous 11:07 said-

    "Now I have the smarter among you, like Reichbaum and "Richmond K. Turner," admitting that you support DeSantis for right-wing reasons instead of left-wing ones: you're in favor of "belt-tightening" for the city and caving in to any and all racist suburban demands."

    I hope nobody reads this and thinks that is what happened up there. I don't know how to begin. Let's just I believe in looking for government savings where appropriate, and not for enriching my friends at the people's expense. If you want to make that "right-wing", go ahead and try to nail me to a cross.

    And tell me more about streamlining the permitting process and Mr. Rogers and Mr. Edelstein before you call me a racist Republican.

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  20. Mark DeSantis is pro-choice. Luke Ravenstahl is not. Who sounds more progressive to you?

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  21. Richmond: When all else fails, go for the abortion thing, huh? Well guess what, dude? Dickie Scaife is pro-choice, too: he and his former wife Ritchie supported Planned Parenthood for old-fashioned patrician Malthusian reasons. There's no excuse for Ravenstahl's backwardness on this issue, but it is not the only test of what's "progressive." I have presented a mountain of evidence of DeSantis's right-wing connections, so you just had to fall back on this old stand-by -- unfortunately for you, it just doesn't cut it. You've lost the argument.

    But if you want to think that you and Scaife are allied in a progressive cause to save women's rights, be my guest. Everyone is entitled to lead a rich fantasy life if they want.

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  22. You are right Admiral... Our society should embrace politicians that endorse the killing of unborn children.

    Personaly I believe in freedom of religion. And I would never push my religous beliefs on anyone.

    However I see Luke bashed because of his religous beliefs all the time. And that disturbs me.

    I am begining to think that your anti-catholic comments are more than just satire.

    It is funny that the Admiral disappeared for months, and now 2 weeks before the election he is back..

    I have very little desire to know anything more about the bloggers out there. But I can't figure you out admiral. I assume you label yourselve "progressive" by that last remark.

    What is funny is DeSantis may not be some right winged lunatic. However for a self described moderate he still shows too much loyalty to the republican machine that he worked for in Washington DC.

    It is time for change in Pittsburgh but Mr. DeSantis lacks the bipartisan spirit that is needed to accomplish his lofty goals.

    Jim Roddey had the reigns of County government and FAILED miserably to do anything more than privatize human services at the expense of clients, and taxpayers. While his friends and business associates made money off the privatization.

    I expect nothing less would occur if Luke would drown in a beer bong incident and somehow DeSantis won this election next week.

    Just because Mr.DeSantis is the president of a high tech firm - and not a steel mill. Doesn't make him any better than the robber barons of Pittsburgh' Industrial Era.

    Mr. DeSantis our region needs good paying jobs. How do you plan on bringing these jobs to the burgh?

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  23. Just to clear some things up:

    First, I have not "suddenly" or "just" returned to blogging. I took precisely six weeks off to move my family across the state, take a week's vacation to the mountains, settle the kids into new schools, get started in at my new job, and unpack roughly 8,000 carboard boxes (I'm still working on that last one). I returned to blogging a month ago, at the end of September.

    Yes, the coming election is certainly a big reason why I'm still writing about Pittsburgh politics from the outskits of Philly. I've already seen a few comments about how I should shut up now that I am no longer a city resident. But first of all, I still own property there (I'm hoping that it will sell someday) and secondly, Pittsburgh will always, always, always feel like "home" to me. The place gets in your blood, and you just can't walk away from it. I still care about it.

    Am I "progressive"? Hell if I know. "Progressive" is one of those words that gets thrown around an awful lot, kind of like "fascist" does. Looking up the word in the dictionary isn't all that useful, because the official definition doesn't usually seem to match the context in which it's being applied.

    But I do know that I am defintely a "Catholic 4 Life". I'm not sure how to square my Catholic beliefs with my feelings on abortion, which are -- I can't think of the right word to describe them -- rather squishy. I tend to piss BOTH sides of the debate off whenever I discuss them, so I'm not going to say anything more about them. But if you check out my blog postings over at the old People's Republic site, you'll be sure to run into a few of them.

    I'm not delighted with either candidate's stances on abortion, but I am mired in a position that doesn't respond well to either side of the argument. I doubt that I will ever encounter any American politican whose views match mine on the subject, and I'm cool with that. Abortion is just one issue among many, and in any case a city mayor has little impact on it.

    So there you go, folks. I'm neither a "real Pittsburgher" anymore nor (I'm sure my Catholic friend will assert) a "real Catholic".

    But this much is very clear to me. The one city that I love on this earth more than any other is Pittsburgh. And Pittsburgh will be enormously better off with Mark DeSantis as it's mayor.

    The odds of that happening aren't all that great. But we should all thank our lucky stars that Dr. DeSantis has -- at the very least -- forced us to have some discussion of the issues prior to corronating our boy king in January.

    Where would we be without him in this race? Stuck with a mayor whose only constested election was in a city council primary four years ago? Let's see, 1/9th of the city times 5/6ths of the registered voters times a 35% turnout leaves us with just a few thousand people who ever voted for the city's mayor.

    That is certainly no way to run a railroad.

    Maybe the other thing that is truly strange about my political stances is that I really don't -- can't is a better word -- give a crap about party affiliation. I tried to be a Republican during my Navy days, but that faded, especially -- for a number of obvious reasons -- during the last eight years or so. I tried to be a Democrat for a while, too.

    But both parties have proven themselves capable of screwing the pooch once they get entrenched in power. At least on the national level and even the state level, this complacency usually leads to the offending party getting booted out by the voters.

    But that hasn't happened in Pittsburgh for two solid generations now. And it desperately needs to happen, for everyone's sake.

    Nothing would help the Democratic Party in Pittsburgh more than losing this election. They have become grossly complacent and have been screwing the pooch for years on end. The only way to stop it is to hit them over the head with our disgust over they pooch-screwing.

    Electing DeSantis will do that. Electing Ravenstahl will not.

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  24. Great comments by the guy giving the facts on the $$

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  25. So which would Jane Orie prefer? A democrat Mayor who muddles his way into continuous state oversight for the next ten years, or a republican Mayor who muddles his way into financial solvency for the city, getting us out of Act 47? Hmmm.
    So Bill Scranton and Glen Meakem get a toe hold in Western Pennsylvania with a DeSantis loss? Because Scaife and the people out in Greensburg were not enough, but a high profile *loss* will energize a base and turn Pittsburghers into mindless zombies for the Club of Growth?
    DeSantis is not going to win because he has no African-American strategy, and possibly antagonized the African-American vote by calling for Nate Harper to step down. And long time democrats will vote robotically. But make no mistake, belt-tightening is coming anyway. It will be shoved down our throats, and the little guys will suffer greatly. You tell us we had other options besides DeSantis in this election. We tried, long before anyone had heard of DeSantis. But the city democrats are bent on self-destruction. We’ll be here too, after the election, watching Luke nailing our coffins. Maybe anonymous can become Luke’s advisor, if (s)he could step out of the shadows long enough to stop whispering insinuations and insults.

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  26. fru fru my ass. im a badass progressive.

    -agent asshole-

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  27. This is by far the coolest posting chain I have ever read.

    DeSantis is a Republican and a businessman.

    As a Republican and businessman:
    Club for Growth = GOOD
    Successful Entrepreneurs = GOOD
    Scranton = GOOD

    Backing the things you believe in = GOOD

    So I don't understand the conspiracy here - if you do not agree with the pro growth, pro business agenda then make the argument for higher taxes and less growth.

    Although I do not find it a compelling argument some people do.

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  28. "You know, Desantis could be the largest contributor to Bealzabub himself and support shopping at the Gap, and I would still vote for him over Ravenstahl because what ever he does I don't think he will drive the city into ruination like a drunken frat boy behind the wheel of the candy red sports car his daddy just bought him or keep the wrinkled old-boy political machine alive against all odds."


    Wow! I hope everyone realizes that it takes more than a year to "drive a city in to ruination" on the other hand it is probably going to take ten + years to bring the city out of "ruination" no matter who is mayor. I would rather have a democrat than a republican. Im rather confident that there will be a new mayor in two years no matter who wins this one

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  29. Mr. Jason Wilburn: I notice that you gave $100 to Bill Scranton, too. Once again, no one is suggesting a "conspiracy"; the political allegiances of DeSantis's backers are right out in the open.

    Yes, there are gradations of difference between Scranton and the Toomey/Piccola wing of the far right. But the fact is that Scranton has allied himself openly with these people in his attempt to become governor. Funding the far-right opposition to entrenched Specterite "moderate" Republicans like Jubelirer and Brightbill was not something to be done lightly: it was a power-play in inner-party Republican politics. If you're conversant with that world, that's certainly interesting if you can provide more details, but it is obvious that Scranton is making a play for Club for Growth support, even if he is not of them.

    I won't bother with your cartoonish Lafferite ideas about "less taxes means more growth, more taxes means less growth." That is not even remotely like how the real world works. In the real world, discussions about taxes and spending are always and exclusively about who pays and who benefits, not about the aggregate amount of "how much." The right's view of economics thrives on mystification, because it is a con job intended to help rich people get one over on the people who are getting screwed. Too often, it works.

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  30. The anonymous who keeps going on and on about some kind of conspiracy involving the republicans who DeSantis has donated to is 100% COMPLETELY missing the point. You are just trying to distract people from the fact that Ravenstahl has no plans or new ideas to fix the city. I was a big supporter of his, but it's become abundantly clear that he is not going to change anything. And make no mistake, the city is in big trouble.

    One party rule has been devastasting simply because there is no incentive for reform. DeSantis has great ideas and plans that must be given a chance. Ravenstahl is just more of the same. Anonymous/Luke Ravenstahl minion: you are part of the problem, not the solution. Shut up and get out of the way.

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  31. Anonymous:

    Thank you for wasting your time looking up my contribution history all you had to do was ask. Since I am a real person who posts without hiding who I am you were able to look it up.

    Did you miss my contributions to DeSantis, Rendell, Peduto, and others?

    Anyways I wasn't responding to your post. Just the conversation in general. Anonymous postings carry no weight with me.

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  32. Anonymous at 2:19: If you're going to post on the Internet, you ought to be at least a little self-conscious about your illiteracy. For the tenth time, DeSantis's connections to Bill Scranton and Glenn Meakem, and Scranton's support for the Club for Growth are not some odd "conspiracy theory," they are a well-documented matter of public record. I have cited numerous sources that are unimpeachable on this matter.

    As for Jason's complaints about anonymity, let him deal with the facts at hand, no matter who points them out.

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  33. No complaints

    The facts are GOOD.

    I like the fact DeSantis is tightly tied to Scranton and the club for growth.

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  34. Oh yea and since people seem interested I have also donated to the club for growth.

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  35. Anonymous 2:59: I am literate but you appear to be willfully ignorant. Let me repeat for you since you appear to not have understood what I was saying: I DO NOT CARE WHO HE DONATED TO! IT DOES NOT MATTER! You only seem to care about trying to imply some sort of impropriety exists. All you are doing is distracting people from the issues that matter. And all I care about is who will best fix Pittsburgh's problems, which need fixing right NOW.

    I apologize for calling your well documented results "some kind of conspiracy theory." Feel better? But you are still completely missing the point.

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  36. mike c.: At least Jason has come right out and said that he likes the far-right agenda of the Club for Growth that DeSantis is tied into through Scranton and Meakem. And once again, if you actually read what I've been writing here, you would know that it is much more than a matter of who DeSantis has donated to.

    To recap the basics: Meakem is one of DeSantis's four largest donors. Meakem, in turn, was the campaign chair for Scranton's gubernatorial campaign. Scranton's PAC is DeSantis's largest in-kind donor -- indeed, largest donor of any kind -- because it is Scranton's people who are running DeSantis's campaign. All of this has been reported in the press, so if you want to dispute it, your argument is with the facts more than with me.

    Obviously the DeSantis campaign is an attempt by Scranton and Meakem to gain power in the local Republican party by running the "most credible Republican candidate for Pittsburgh mayor in a generation." It is intended to get Scranton some traction in the western part of the state where he is weak. And finally, Scranton is not a "moderate" Republican even in the Specter mould -- he is a heavy financial supporter of the Club for Growth.

    So on purely political questions, unless you are a supporter of the right-wing agenda so well-exemplified by George Bush these last six years, it is you who have something to apologize for, and not me. Not once have I made excuses for Ravenstahl. As I've said numerous times, you have options in this election if you do not want to "hold your nose" and vote for Ravenstahl. You can sit it out, or you can cast a protest vote for the Trotskyite. Instead, you have chosen to support the Republican. That makes you a traitor.

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  37. I once was just about to donate to the Club for Growth, until I found out that it had nothing to do with curing baldness. From looking at Mark DeSantis's hairline, it seems possible that he hasn't figured this out yet.

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  38. Anonymous 3:35: To recap the basics: I don't care about any of that. Post it as many times as you want. I take back my apology. You are a conspiracy theorist, and there's no point having a rational debate with you.

    Have a nice day.

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  39. Since I like facts.

    "so well-exemplified by George Bush these last six years"

    lets get something very straight. I do not, nor does the club for growth support the current administration's big government ways. The Bush administration is worse than a democratic one that feels they know how I should live my life.

    And a previous posting noted that DeSantis did not support Bush's 2nd run.

    Most of the people I know in the circles we are discussing sat out 04 from a campaign standpoint.

    Now I am with Mike C and I am done as well.

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  40. mike c.: Your display of illiteracy continues. You did not read my last post's main point, which is that you had options in this election besides holding your nose to vote for Ravenstahl. You could have sat it out or cast a protest vote -- instead, you support the Republican.

    There is nothing in anything I've written that is a "conspiracy theory." DeSantis's connections to Scranton, Meakem, and Club for Growth -- all of which have been reported in the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review -- are a matter of consequence because they show what he really thinks about policy. He is part of the pro-business far right of the Republican Party.

    The reason none of this matters to you is because the facts don't matter to you. They are a distraction from what really matters: how you feel in your gut. Lately, on this blog, Bram Reichbaum's correspondents have put this kind of vapidity on prominent display with their fetishistic descriptions of DeSantis's geek glasses. While you all think you're smarter than the average "yinzer" you hold in contempt, your own politics are perfectly in sync with the superficial celebrity culture that inflects our electoral politics.

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  41. I think what we are missing here is that there is a correct place for taxes to be, and there is a correct size for government.

    The Club for Growth always wants taxes lower and government smaller, on the general principle of Don't Take My Money (and Don't Regulate Me.)

    The Club for Sleaze on the other hand always wants government larger and contracts bigger, and needs revenues high enough to accommodate that slow growth, on the general principle of My Friends Need Jobs to Keep Them Happy (and My Enemies Need Jobs to Keep Them Quiet.)

    I'm just saying the Club for Sleaze has been doing better in this region, is all. But I'm not in either club. I want taxes and government in the right places.

    [Also ... Mr. Anonymous ... "traitor"? really?]

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  42. Anonymous - I know I said I was through, but I had to comment on one thing you said in your penultimate pontification (not illiterate, I can use big words too). Democrats often call Republicans closeminded. I find it telling that you would call someone advocating the possibility of voting for a Republican (and a John Heinz Republican at that) to be a traitor. That in my opinion is the definition of closeminded. If you really "make no excuses for Mr. Ravenstahl", then it seems you are simply blindly putting party loyalty ahead of what is best for the city. And that's just not right.

    And I'm out.

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  43. buried deep in a bunch of irrelevant drive, "anonymous" said:

    "Wow! I hope everyone realizes that it takes more than a year to 'drive a city in to ruination' on the other hand it is probably going to take ten + years to bring the city out of 'ruination' no matter who is mayor. I would rather have a democrat than a republican."

    you are right...it takes longer than one year to "drive a city into ruination".

    you do realize that the local democratic machine has been running this city (without any significant opposition) for much longer than one year, though, right?

    so, while it has taken them much longer than one year, it is, without a doubt, the local democratic machine that has presided over the "ruination" of pittsburgh.

    in spite of this, though, you would rather elect a product of that machine, rather someone who is not a part of that machine, try to salvage the situation?

    um, yeah...that makes about as much sense as electing dick cheney to try to undo the damage done by g.w.

    (btw, the party-line politicing you are promoting is destroying this country. stop voting for parties. start voting for individuals.)

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