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Crunch Time

Pittsburgh matters this election, and everyone's going nuts

Hang onto your hats, baby, 'cause it's nut-crunchin' time, and we're at ground zero.


Mixed metaphors aside, you, dear reader, actually matter in the next election. The New York Times quotes an unnamed political operative as saying not only might this election come down to Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania -- it's so tight it may in fact come down to Tampa, Columbus, and yes indeedee, dear old Pittsburgh.


And the political fur is flying in the 'burgh. Conservative windbag Fred Honsberger is getting more obnoxious when he yells at liberal callers, and that takes some doing. Liberal yakker Lynn Cullen's callers and e-mailers are reporting damage to their automobiles after displaying Kerry bumper stickers. Lynn herself says her car was keyed because she, too, had the temerity to exhibit a bumper-sticker affinity for Mr. Kerry.


Locally, the Democrats are motivated and energized. The Republicans are mean and dangerous. For all the conservative crying over the tactics of "union thugs" in intense labor disputes, many of their radical wingnuts don't hesitate to destroy property when the political hysteria moves them. And it's going to get worse.


In my last column, I wrote about the widely discredited, oxymoronically named "Swift Boat Veterans For Truth" and their absurd allegations regarding the presidential candidate who actually did go to war and see combat. I didn't expect conservatives to embrace me after calling these liars liars, but the response is more intense now that it's nut-crunchin' time (I just love that expression) in the Steel City. Still, one reader's e-mail caught my eye. My keen intellect immediately detected a hint of hostility when he began the missive "Dear Punk."


"Who the hell are you," he queried, "to decide that all of those veterans are lying, just because it suits your liberal, runny-nosed, dope-smoking, tree-hugging, fag agenda?" Yes, it's sophisticated discourse on the major issues of our day that makes democracy worthwhile.


Of course, the facts themselves speak to the Swifties' lying. But I take issue with the rest of this criticism. I have never been particularly fond of the runny-nosed. I find them to be somewhat off-putting, if not downright snotty.


Our column critic continued, bringing up allegedly "illegal contributions from his Nazi wife." Let's see ... Teresa was born in Mozambique, Africa, but I guess everybody with a foreign accent must be a Nazi.


Our caustic crusader concludes, "You couldn't find your ass with both hands (unless there was weed up there). ... So just do us all a favor and take another hit and pass the joint, you wet-nosed little bitch."


OK, there are several factual errors here -- not that it matters to conservative Republicans. I can indeed find my ass, with one hand tied behind my back. I find it, unfortunately, increasingly easier to locate the older I get. I would never keep weed up my ass (does that make it more potent?). And we've already been over the whole "wet-nosed" thing.


But hey, who cares about facts or truth or accuracy or fairness or clarity or health care or jobs or invading countries with no legitimate pretext, and inspiring a new generation of terrorists, when there's mud to be slung? The swift-boaters have fired the first shots, and even the aforementioned baggy up my butt can't stop the feces from flying.


Among the latest mud, Kitty Kelly says Dubya snorted coke at Camp David when Daddy was President. Also, Kelly reports Laura smoked and sold dope in college (no wonder she's so placid). Are these allegations true? Who gives a damn! Let the swift-boat ethics rule!


Democratic Sen. Bob Graham says the Bush administration covered up evidence potentially linking some Saudi government officials to the 9/11 hijackers. The Boston Globe reports Dubya did NOT in fact complete his National Guard service, and the Texas Guard officials could have punished him but chose not to. Dan Rather broadcast an interview with Ben Barnes, the former lieutenant governor of Texas who says he feels "very ashamed" about pulling strings to get Junior in the guard's "champagne unit."


How much of this is true or relevant? Screw it. It's nut-crunchin' time. Let the games begin. Follow the flying fur. The feces have hit the fan. This is your snot-nosed correspondent signing off.

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