Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rantings of a sane man

Three items caught my attention this morning as I perused the morning newspaper. Each was more laughable than the next, and shows the sheer greed and stupidity that runs rampant through this great country of ours. After today's headline trifecta -- in sports, entertainment and politics -- let there be no more questioning why our country is so screwed up.

SPORTS: Football coach Lane Kiffin has a thoroughly unimpressive resume. Sure, he served as offensive coordinator for the USC Trojans in the early 2000s and helped develop a crop of star athletes. But after spending less than two years as the Oakland Raiders' head coach (in which he compiled a mammoth 5-15 record) he was fired by owner and true raider Al Davis. A couple years later, he landed a posh gig as head football coach at the University of Tennessee. There, he alienated the Vols from the rest of the SEC, ripped Florida coach Urban Meyer for, well, winning and racked up NCAA violation after NCAA violation. Oh, and this was before leading his team to a 7-6 record last season that included an embarrassing bowl loss. Yet, ole Lame Kiffin bolted the Vols this week for the open coaching position with the Trojans. Then Kiffin has the audacity to claim in a 40-second farewell press conference that he left the football program in better shape than when he arrived 14 months ago.

ENTERTAINMENT: It's hard to determine what cog in this comedic wheel deserves the most blame. With "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" and "The Jay Leno Show" both floundering on NBC, the peacock station has decided to alienate everyone. They want to bump Conan back to 12:05 a.m. and give Leno his old time slot after the local news. So, let me get this straight: Conan O'Brien waits 17 years for Leno to retire, then is given just seven months when the job is finally his? I don't necessarily feel bad for Conan or his wallet, but there are certain ways of treating people, and this is obviously not one of them. At least he's still having fun on his show, ripping NBC with just about every joke during his nightly monologue.

POLITICS: With our wonderful state legislators in Harrisburg continuing to suck pints of blood from the taxpayers, it should only be assumed that they also have a golden parachute when they retire. In this case, House speaker Keith McCall announced that he will retire when his term expires at the end of the year. Great! One more legislator is dethroned as we continue our march to slay the bloated General Assembly. But, whoops: The 50-year-old McCall will receive a $90,000 pension from the state. I don't know of ANYWHERE (except maybe on Wall Street) that offers that kind of compensation for doing nothing. Obviously this is not shocking news, but that does not mean we don't have to be outraged. So I'll challenge our local representatives, Matt Smith, Nick Kotik, Jesse White, Tim Solobay, Pete Daley, Mark Mustio, John Maher, David Levdansky, Bill Kortz and others to introduce legislation extending pension eligibility to at least 35 years of service and/or slashing the annual payments to something more in line with Social Security checks. Will you please vote AGAINST your personal interests just once?

Thanks, and have a nice day!


  1. One thing we definitely need is fewer legislators, but if you think our "leaders" in Harrisburg are ever going to make significant cuts in their own numbers, I have some oceanfront property I'd like to sell you in West Alexander. I believe, correct me if I'm wrong, that we have the largest full-time legislature. And they are also near the top in pay, benefits and pension. It would be one thing if they were great at their jobs. But I seem to remember it took them 101 days past the deadline to approve a budget.

  2. I'm looking to move from South Fayette, Brant. What's your asking price for the West Alex condo?

    And if you want to look at a cheap and efficient state legislature, just travel 220 miles down I-79 to Charleston. Sure, West Virginia has plenty of problems, but their legislators are part-time and get a fraction of the pay our lawmakers get. They meet several times a year to hash out new legislation, then go back to their communities and work their regular jobs. I never had a problem contacting them while working for the paper down there, so I think that is definitely the way to go.

    Pennsylvania lawmakers are supposed to be public servants, but they sure don't act like it with their compensation.

  3. Back in the Stone Age, when I was a young reporter in Wheeling, I had the same experiences you describe with the state Legislature. They were efficient and always easy to contact. One of the big problems is that a lot of our state lawmakers don't look at their legislative work as public service. They look at it as a career with ridiculous salaries and benefits, including those golden parachutes when they retire.