Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Let's Get This Out of the Way Real Quick



As of post time, this tightly edited, borderline doctored video of Doug Shields questioning city personnel director Barbara Trant (above) has been viewed 318 times.

Somehow the City Paper staff named it one of the Top Five Pittsburgh Viral Videos of 2008, despite the fact that a video of even greater civic import, presented far more even-handedly, has been viewed a whopping 1,345 times!!

Be that as it may, I think the CP #4 Viral Video does tell us something of importance: that Doug Shields tells it like it is, and there's often no mystery as to where Doug Shields stands. That would be nice for a change in the city's number one official.

Sure you can flag him for yelling at a woman or for failing to maintain a courtly demeanor on that occasion -- but given the choice I'd prefer leaders capable of getting the truth across to the public, particularly on matters that will help move city government forward. Pittsburgh might never have funded that Equity Study if it weren't for Doug's tirade -- not that we know that it's being followed-through upon even now.

I mention this to illustrate a general point. It is a tactic of machine candidates to repeat certain things about their opponents (I speak not only of city-wide races) again and again and again until it sounds true.

This person can't win.

This person is mentally unfit.

You'll never believe what this person did once when you weren't there.

This person can never raise the money.

This person never makes it out of his or her own neighborhood.

This person is tied to that person.

And again and again and again, until like a POW, you submit to the brainwashing: This person can't win. This person isn't going to win. This person can't win.

Know the signs, Pittsburgh. Gird yourselves against the pre-endorsement whisper campaigns. Gossip to your heart's content, but in the end judge your candidates based on what you feel and know to be true.

If there's a legitimate issue with Doug Shields, it's this:

The problem is that each time something is dangled in front of Doug for his personal benefit (e.g. the promise of the machine endorsement or council presidency), he completely loses his mind and dives into shark infested waters head first, abandoning his sense of what's right.
Anonymous, on the Burgh Report, about Councilman Shields (Comet, 5/26/07)

Personally, I think it's high time we let Mr. Shields off his parole on this charge. As I've printed in this space before, and as has been demonstrated on a multitude of occasions over the past two years, Doug Shields is flat-out awesome and Pittsburgh is fortunate to have him as a servant.

Would he make a good choice for mayor? That's the sort of thing only campaigns can tell us.

37 comments:

  1. Bram: Do you have any real political experience or expertise other than writing this semi-literate blog? You really have no clue what you are talking about do you? Doug Shields is a bad, bad, bad, person....and your complete ignorance of that fact makes you unfit to blog...at least not without prefacing everything you write with the phrase.."I don't know shit, but..."

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  2. LOL, Anon 12:32, I appreciate the spirit of your objection, but how did he get to be the Council's unanimous choice in 01/2008 for Council President, then? On the first ballot?

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  3. A couple of the times I have seen Doug Shields on the televised City Council proceedings, he struck me as very, very pedantic (and yes, there is a certain pot calling kettle here). I realize that is hardly the sum of the man, though, so I would be interested in what he had to say in a campaign (especially because I have such a negative view of Mr. Ravenstahl). I can’t tell you anything Mr. Shields has done, but maybe he would let us all know if he runs for Mayor. Obviously Mr. Shields would have to get around opinions like those of the anonymous 12:32. By the way, I majored in political science and economics at an obscure liberal arts college (Oberlin) twenty five years ago, and back then I got around six months of federal level internship experience, in case an *anonymous* commenter wants to question my credentials.

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  4. political science and economics at an obscure liberal arts college (Oberlin) twenty five years ago, and back then I got around six months of federal level internship experience

    A 25 year old pol sci degree and a 6 month stint as a coffee boy are not "credentials" Ed. They are more like glossed over line items on your resume.

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  5. And what do you bring to the table, anon 1:19?

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  6. Bram, could you please answer this question:

    Do you have any real political experience or expertise other than writing this semi-literate blog?

    inquiring minds want to know what qualifies you to speak as an authority on any of this?

    (I'm not either of the previous anonymouses)

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  7. I'd prefer a few years as a paralegal, teacher, interior designer, administrative assistant, public works laborer or a reverend, but I'm not the flaming anon poster...

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  8. To various Anons.

    I don't think it takes anything more an a basic awareness of your surroundings to notice how the machine operates.

    Also, if you think-up some sort of a name (it is the internet, it can be fake), it is easier for everyone else.

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  9. "And what do you bring to the table, anon 1:19?"

    The painfully obvious?

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  10. You know, two hundred years ago it was "painfully obvious" that black men and women should be owned by white men and women, in one part of this country. It was "painfully obvious" in another part of the country that this was *not* true.

    One anonyous commenter questioned Bram's credentials in terms of political experience or expertise. Bram laughed at that and made a "painfully obvious point". I quipped that I had some experience and promptly had it thrown back in my face by an anonymous commenter. So I asked the logical question of what experience the anonymous commenter has, and again I had it thrown back in my face: "the painfully obvious". That is not an answer, it is a claim that I am wrong with out any evidence to back it up. And that anon 3:04 chooses to comment as anonymous makes it totally absurd.

    If you can point to a particular Shields episode that indicates he is unfit to be Mayor, bring it up. If you don't think Bram writes a good blog, then go read The New York Times or Braden. But if you don't like Bram's writing, it isn't going to get any better if he tells you he has a doctorate from Oxford.

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  11. I made it through nearly the entire post without gagging, until I read "Doug Shields is "flat-out awesome ..."

    What do you think a mayoral campaign is going to tell about Doug that we don't already know? And don't forget, he's already run two campaigns on his own--council and controller--not to mention his deep involvement in O'Connor's three mayoral campaigns.

    Man, do I miss the Burgh Report.

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  12. Ed, it's interesting that you'd refer to Shields as pedantic in Council Chambers, because that is how I would describe Dowd. Such that, Dowd > Peduto > Shields, when I stack them up to the term. I would label Dowd the Bureaucrat's Bureaucrat. I don't know shit, but it seems to me that he loves the Muni-Code process; debating ad nauseum about the language of bills presented, and such.

    Point taken MH, I was the poster at 2:50 for those keeping score.

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  13. Anon of 2:27 demanded:

    "inquiring minds want to know what qualifies you to speak as an authority on any of this?"

    I am an American. I require something different?

    (For the record, I do possess a degree in some things, but much like Anon of 1:19 I don't think that alone should necessarily impress anyone. If inquiring minds really want to know stuff, I'm sure somebody in the MSM or the blog-o-sphere will pick up the slack. Mwa hah.)

    N'at - I don't love condescension, but on the list of what it takes to be Mayor of Pittsburgh a personality quirk like that ranks pretty low for me. All things being equal, I'd rather err on the side of somebody that knows their stuff and can't help but let you be aware of it.

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  14. N'AT, I haven't seen Dowd speak on the Council show, but I have heard mention of what you say. My impression of Shields was of someone who wanted to use big words just to impress, not to convey a more clear meaning. If, as you say, Dowd is delving into the minutiae of the muni-code process and the language of bills; well, on the one hand it is good to be precise, but on the other hand sometimes it is better just to get things done. My impression is that Dowd has gotten a reputation, among progressive voters, of someone who at least occasionally if not often argues over split hairs. He would have more ground then a lot of candidates to make up. So I don’t yet take him seriously as a Mayoral candidate. FWIW.

    I believe Shields has some passionate supporters as well as some passionate detractors. I also believe he has the city wide name recognition to get Democrats votes. However, I don’t think he can obtain the ACDC endorsement. I think that will make the difference. FWIW.

    I would like to see the three of them debate.

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  15. Ed Heath said: "My impression is that Dowd has gotten a reputation, among progressive voters, of someone who at least occasionally if not often argues over split hairs."

    I'll toss this in. I definitely had the same irritating impression of Dr. Dowd at one time, Ed, but I've lived to see some of those "split hairs" turn out to make real differences. Plus, I think he's worked on his talk-game. Remember Obama had the same knock against him at one time.

    I'd like to see the four of them debate.

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  16. Watching a whole debate sounds like too much trouble just to pick a mayor. I always vote against whoever has the Dem endorsement. I figure that, A) the city/county/school district is clearly not run very well and that B) nearly everybody running these is endorsed by the local Dem committee.

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  17. Dowd will never win. He sold Schenley down the river in one of his last votes on the School Board - and in the process screwed the people who put him there.

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  18. "So I asked the logical question of what experience the anonymous commenter has"

    No, you asked what I bring to the table.

    I answered.

    If you want to know about my experience that's easy - I will not tell you. I don't give out personal details about myself on the internet.

    "But if you don't like Bram's writing, it isn't going to get any better if he tells you he has a doctorate from Oxford."

    And yours is not getting better by your pompous bragging. Cream? Sugar?

    I miss the burgh report also. It seems that there are only 2 real blogs left - This blog and Matt's. This is the best one by far as Matt is a complete wacko. I only read his blog to laugh at his misc ramblings.

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  19. If you don't like the comments Ed then hang out at your own blog. Because you don't have to deal with so many over there.

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  20. Dowd will never win. He sold Schenley down the river in one of his last votes on the School Board

    Sold down the river? referencing slave trade? really?

    The Pittsburgh Public schools are terrible. As long as the continue with the status quo, you will continue to see families (see: tax base) Exit stage left

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  21. So Anon, 10:09, you are going to split hairs and say that when other anon commenters were asking what "real political experience and expertise" Bram has, I was asking some nebulous "what do you dring to the table?" question and did *not* mean experience. By the way, I don't see you attacking that first anon commenter for asking Bram to give out details about his background over the internet. I guess hypocrisy comes easy when you comment anonymously. And I am curious, my description of my experience was characterized as “glossed over line items on your resume”, yet now you say I engaged in “pompous bragging”.

    And I don’t know if Anon 12:18am is the same Anon or not, but, no, I don’t get a lot of comments on my blog. I also don’t post everyday. I have noticed a correlation. I have also noticed a lot of blogs don’t get comments. I notice that Bram didn’t used to get a lot of comments, but obviously they have picked up since the demise of the Burgh Report. I guess a “real blog” is one that wins the popularity contest.

    Seriously, do you think that commenting anonymously is a license to be rude and insulting to others?

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  22. Anon of 10:09 - Thanks. For the record, not a morning has gone by when I haven't reflexively tried to check the Burgh Report.

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  23. Ed wrote: "I believe Shields has some passionate supporters as well as some passionate detractors."

    I'm learning that this is true (Shields certainly attracts alot of venom from 414 Grant street), but I still find it surpising. I'm in his district and I don't know anybody with very strong feelings (either way) about Shields.

    Peduto is the only active local politician with strong support among those I know. Shields (or Dowd) would just be an opporunity to vote against Ravenstahl.

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  24. I was asking some nebulous "what do you dring to the table?" question and did *not* mean experience.

    Ask what you mean.

    By the way, I don't see you attacking that first anon commenter for asking Bram to give out details about his background over the internet.

    I am not attacking anyone.

    I guess hypocrisy comes easy when you comment anonymously.

    You can't put a finger on that? Just guessing?

    And I am curious, my description of my experience was characterized as “glossed over line items on your resume”, yet now you say I engaged in “pompous bragging”.

    Yes. I was in a club in HS. I don't talk about it beacuse it's not really relevant.

    Report. I guess a “real blog” is one that wins the popularity contest.

    No but posting everyday or every other day and allowing and getting comments would be a start.

    Seriously, do you think that commenting anonymously is a license to be rude and insulting to others?

    Ed, I am just pointing out facts here. Is jack Kelly personally offended by your blog?

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  25. I think Dowd is making noise about getting into the race to try to scare Shields away from running. In other words, Dowd is again running interference for Ravenstahl/Zober/Onorato.

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  26. Pat Dowd once argued strongly (on the Burgh Report) that you can’t have a reasonable discussion with anonymous commenters. Being anonymous, a commenter can say anything (s)he wants, without worrying about consequences. (s)he can make unsubstantiated allegations or they can make personal attacks, and the statements just hang there. If someone offers verifiable evidence that the allegations are false, the anonymous commenter can just come back and make another unsubstantiated allegation. It is the ultimate in gossip.

    Anon 9:23 (am), I didn’t realize I would have to be talk as if to a first grader to comment here. I thought it might be possible to use simple and commonly understood euphemisms like “what do you bring to the table”. Still, your statement at the end of your comment is worth highlighting. That you can not tell the difference between fact and opinion is a clear indication of how little insight and how much arrogance you contribute to this discussion.

    But if you are going to force that level of incoherence on this blog then fine, I will stop commenting here. Not that I am under any illusions that my presence makes any difference here (or anywhere). By the way, my blog does allow comments. I don’t allow anonymous comments, but that only means you have to choose a (Google) handle (or other things, I haven’t bothered to identify the full range of possibilities). I realize a commenter could choose a different handle every time, theoretically, but at least I am making the anonymice work for it.

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  27. Aw Ed, don't take your balls and go home. Just don't let the scurrilous anonymous whatever whatever throw you off your game, is all.

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  28. "Being anonymous, a commenter can say anything (s)he wants, without worrying about consequences."

    Ed, I am anonymous. I don't want my name out there all over the internet. If you don't care that's fine. My opinion still matters, just as yours does. I am a bit more private, I don't want people knowing about my 2002 Hyundai or my folding bike. This is a political blog. It's big boy time.

    Let's just say I register here with my real name. Anyone could take exception to what I say and be a real bugger about it. We have seen what some wackos will do on the internet and how people can be attacked who don't share the same opinion. If I make myself a public figure I might have say, Pgh Hoagie looking at every public record out there in an attempt to discredit me or to embarrass me into shutting up. I don't wish to get that personally involved.

    "but at least I am making the anonymice work for it."

    Is that solving anything?

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  29. "Doug Shields is a bad, bad, bad, person."

    I stopped paying attention after that crazy statement.

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  30. "inquiring minds want to know what qualifies you to speak as an authority on any of this?"

    Why does Bram have to have political experience or a degree in poly sci to be able to talk about this?

    What point are you trying to prove by these questions? If Bram was some political novice does it really matter?

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  31. "This blog and Matt's. This is the best one by far as Matt is a complete wacko. I only read his blog to laugh at his misc ramblings."

    Why thanks!!

    I'm glad you keep reading! :)

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  32. "Seriously, do you think that commenting anonymously is a license to be rude and insulting to others?"

    Ed, I do believe that some people think that is the case.

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  33. It is easy to use anonymous and be rude. Personal attacks have always been made on politicians since the beginning of time. That is the bad news.

    It is also easy to use anonymous and get a point of view across that differs from others, without fear of being bullied, or losing your job for having an opinion that differs from someone elses. Is that the democratic process also?

    I might add this, isn't it possible that many truths are uncovered in the dialogue that you won't read anywhere else?
    That is the good news. Probably just as much as unsubstantiated allegations are made and peoples livelihood depends on not suffering the "consequences" for telling the truth. Just a thought

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  34. I will comment here once more, and then think long about whether to comment here again.

    I will point out one more time that this thread started with an anonymous commenter asking Bram for his background in politics and another echoed it. Now, the way blogger is set up, you can be anonymous in more than one way. You actually have to choose to reveal your identity. So it doesn’t matter how I feel about anonymous commenters, they are a fait accompli. But two anonymous commenters, at least, were demanding to know more about Bram’s background, because apparently they need to know that to decide whether to think his opinions matter.

    I will say that I try not to make personal attacks, that if I attack someone it is because I think that there opinion is not supported by the facts (as I see them). I can be wrong about facts, my opinion may be uninformed. But I take exception when someone repeatedly attacks my background and things I have said and then sniffs “I am a bit more private” and implies that they are more mature than I am (“It's big boy time.”).

    If I say that I support a 55 mph speed limit because I think that conservation is superior to drilling domestically for more oil as a means to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, I may back that up by describing how much (or little) I do in my personal life to conserve oil. I don’t remember mentioning my Hyundai on this blog, although I may have done.

    The anonymous commenter stated that “My opinion still matters, just as yours does.”. But he started off his series of attacks by slamming my background, insulting me and suggesting that his painfully obvious facts were superior to my opinion. It’s not a fact if it is not a description of an event, and even then the description can be spun. Mostly what blogs provide is a forum for different opinions. They are all equal, and the reality is that a lot of them are going to be anonymous. Personally I do think it is an insult and an annoyance to the person running the blog if you choose to post as anonymous (in part because of the confusion it can cause if someone wants to respond to your opinion) rather than at least choosing a handle. Personally I also agree with Pat Dowd (on this one point) when he says that a real discussion is not possible unless people reveal themselves. But I concede the point of the last anonymous commenter (and others) that revealing your identity on the internet can carry job and personal risks, and I any event anonymous blogging and commenting is currently a fact of life.

    But I bitterly resent someone telling me that, apparently because I choose to reveal my identity, their views are “facts” (“Ed, I am just pointing out facts here”) and my opinions are thus wrong.

    Matt, I will say that, from what I have seen on your blog, you have much more reason than I to know whether anonymous commenting is that license to be insulting. I don't always agree with you, but I have tremendous repspect for how you conduct youself on your own and every other blog.

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  35. Ed, You need to chill out. If you want to quit writing comments here then go right ahead.

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  36. Yeah, I know, "Lighten up, Francis".

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