6-10-2007 Idiocy begets idiocy

What a week it has been. If Sugar Notch brought in as much money as I have during the past four weeks, it could easily enter into whatever arms race it wanted to. Missile shields? No problem.

Yesterday I learned that my nephew Rory, who has already served one term in Iraq, will be deployed all over again, only this time to Egypt. Yep, a year in Egypt and he isnít too pleased about it. Since he returned from Iraq, heís gotten married, secured a real job, bought a home and even had himself a kid--a 1-year-old little girl. And now heís going to miss an entire year of his daughterís life. Big, big bummer.

The way I hear it, half of the 109thís Bravo Battery is headed for Afghanistan, while the other half is going to Egypt. Now, you can all call George Bush all kinds of names if you wish, but I go back to 9/11 when that second plane exploded through the second tower, when I looked at the stunned homeowner gaping at the television there besides me and let out with, They just fu>ked up. They just donít know it yet.

3,000 innocent people died that fateful day, and many, many more have died since. Why? Because somebody chose to bring the fight to us, and not the other way around. On September 11, 2001, we were an ornery bunch demanding that the U.S. respond in kind. Alas, today we demand that our elected leaders make like King Arthur when confronted with a killer rabbit. We have become milquetoasts demanding to be mollycoddled even more than we were before. So what does the future have in store for us, the country with the most feared military in the history of the planet, a military commanded by the sissified elites that take their marching orders (Retreat!) from the self-centered, emasculated cream puffs?

It seems like Bin Laden was right all along. We talk all tough and whatnot, but we donít have the stomach for a fight. And whether we unceremoniously exit Iraq or not, expect the senseless carnage to continue all over the globe. Because killing in the name of religion is definitely en vogue.

But whatís a gallon of gas up to?

Speaking of religion, does somebody want to tell me what happened at the St. Boniface Bizarre on Friday night? Yeah, when the War of the Worlds-like lightning show began, we grabbed a beer and a police scanner, parked ourselves on the front porch and watched with glee as death and destruction rolled on into town.

And just as soon as we turned that scanner on, we were hearing about 6 people being escorted from the scene in a paddy wagon, police cruisers patrolling the perimeter in search of still other numbskulls and a police officer announcing that the entire church shebang was being shut down.

Say what you will about my past exploits involving fists and such, but even I ainít never even thought of turning a church-sponsored event into a bare-knuckled hockey fight.

Although, Iím absolutely certain doing such a thing would annoy the in-laws to no end. Iíll consider it.

WILK has switched gears on me to some extent. One week it was an outlet dominated by the guilt-ridden white folk who ran away from the black folk. Yeah, those who took the White Flight Express out of town were on the blower every day telling us how cities should be run, how we should be tolerant of others, no questions asked. And how much more enlightened and all-inclusive they are versus us silly, ignorant racists still slogging it out in what doesnít pass as one of those far less than inclusive semi-gated communities in which they hide from society.

WILK Radio, suddenly stuck in an enormous and uninteresting rut, has unofficially become ďThe Scranton City Council Meeting Network.Ē It has been hijacked by those intrepid few who regularly show up at these televised meetings wanting a fight, getting a fight, and then bitching to the high heavens after getting that which they wanted all along: a fight.

If this failed televised experiment in citizen participation in democracy were to be taught in our local colleges, itíd likely and aptly be titled Idiocy 101. And judging by the far less than receptive behavior of the city council members facing increasing belligerence from the self-celebrated, but oft-hair-brained Legion of Doom, itís become frightfully obvious that idiocy begets further idiocy.

If Scranton sucks, it sucks. And if it really sucks, there is this place called the polls where the downtrodden masses can effect a bloodless revolution. But from what Iím seeing on YouTube, the only thing the Legion of Doom has managed to do is to make Wilkes-Barre folk thankful that they donít reside in Scranton.

Still, itís complete bullsh*t that Mayor Doherty staunchly refuses to attend the city council meetings in his town. And his lack of attendance, his lack of accountability is definitely fueling the constant rancor, the constant tumultÖthe constant idiocy.

We once had us a mayor who refused to attend, who refused to provide answers and who refused to be held accountable. And after two or so years of that, we kicked his ass out of office. Instead of fighting between the election cycles, try fighting the good fight during an election cycle. ĎCause you know what, Channel 61 is providing more comic relief than it is any example of democracy in action.

Idiocy begets idiocy.

Sez me.

Proposed restaurant location???

I was scanning the internet for the types of gunk that normal people rarely look for and came across the following PDF file.

Click on Humford Equitiesí ďDiamond City Entertainment DistrictĒ PDF presentation

And as I scrolled on down, I found that a couple of empty storefronts are supposedly ďunder contract,Ē which suggests to me that those properties are not long for being vacant. One is located next to Katana, and the other right next to Club Mardi Gras. Interesting.

The thing that wowed me was finding a photo-shopped picture in which a Ruby Tuesdayís was supplanted into the Midtown Village property. No, the name and logo was removed, but the stand-alone building in that picture is definitely a Ruby Tuesdays restaurant. So what gives with that?

While that prospect excites me, it also means that if it ever came to be, the building where Franklinís Family Restaurant once served itís loyal customers would be toppled over and hauled away. And whatís up with that? What, wherever I once flipped eggs, baked Haddock and gutted and stuffed pigs, you people have to go around tearing them all down? First Percy Brownís, now Franklins? It ainít right.

Anyway, the Ruby Tuesdays on Kidder Street is operating on a lease in a strip mall, while most of Ruby's units are stand-alone units. And I know from past experience that stand-alone buildings typically outperform the stores buried in strip malls and expansive malls. And with the downtown turning around, with foot traffic way up, a Rubyís in our downtown could easily exceed the sales volume itíd take to justify such an endeavor.

As with everything, we donít get to know anything until the ink on the contracts is dry and then some.

Stay tuned.

From the e-mail inbox Dear Mark: AHEM! Crazy old coot? OK, lets change that to sexy senior citizen! Thanks for the accolades anyway. Yes, I was, and am, considering getting back into the race somehow. I'm told it's impossible under state election code, but there are a couple of state Superior Court decisions on "independents"(see Ralph Nader and a fellow who ran for Magistrate) that might throw a monkey wrench into things. There are those who will say I'm off kilter with this attempt, but, everywhere I go, people stop me on the street and literally beg me to not "give up". It's been a great bunch of years serving the people of Wilkes-Barre, and I've done my best to utilize all the experience I gathered over the years to drag us into the 18th century. I admit to losing my temper when my colleagues refused to pass that sex offender legislation six times, especially when I changed it to meet their demands and ideas six times, and more especially after more than 30 states and hundreds of other communities nationwide passed it (including Scranton, Hazelton, Nanticoke, etc. nearby), and I lost it by saying "I can't serve with you people anymore!". But, hindsight is 20-20, and now we'll just have to wait and see what the future holds. I won't be surprised if one of them doesn't bring it up after I'm gone and they pass it the same night. By the way, did you notice every Republican who's running has said they'd vote for it if elected? Not much chance of that, the GOP being so small in number around here, but it did make me feel good to have their support. Anyway, thanks again for the kind words...hope to see you around soon...I'll buy the first round!
Jim (aka "The Old Coot") McCarthy

You are certainly welcome.

Maybe ďold cootĒ wasnít the proper choice of words. How about, that venerable legislator that was born before the advent of toilet paper? Electricity, perhaps? A written language? Please advise.

Hey, if the loose cannon tag wouldnít bother you, maybe you should become a Republican and really shake things up. Imagine that, a local Republican with some serious name recognition, a documented track record and without a threadbare resume, no less. Instead of looking at the roster of Republicans and thinking ďWho?,Ē weíd no doubt review that list and go ďNo sh*t!Ē

Give it some thought, you relic.

From the e-mail inbox I am the QUEEN ATV ANNIHILATOR !

We have had problems with them riding on the tracks next to our house for what seems like ever. We have tried just about everything...

This is what works .. (and is legal)

Stand there and take a picture or a video of them driving the ATV on the street. Make sure he/she sees you doing it. Most time they won't come back. (I have got lots of useless pictures of ATV's)

If he is brazen enough to come back, call 911 and show the officer the picture and he/she will site the driver cuz they are illegal to ride on the street. good luck

Char

HmmmÖIím going to try, but these ATVs shoot down the street twice as fast as the cars usually do. On purpose, I suppose. Plus, they lack license plates, so thereís no snagging a plate number or anything like that.

Although, I do know exactly where they hail from, so if the cops really wanted to bring this nonsense to an end, they could take our call after the speed demons fly on by, and then simply park at their point of origin and wait for them to roll on home. Shakedown, breakdown, youíre busted.

I dunno, but is it too much to ask that the residents obey the laws on the books? Leash laws? Pool fences and suchlike? Noise? Littering? Canít we all just make like nice little neighbors for the benefit of all?

Yeah, I know. Iím talking crazy like.

Sorry.

From the e-mail inbox >>>If I tire of all of this and pull the plug, would you be happy, or would you have preferred that it still appear, albeit, in a vastly different form? I guess what Iím asking is, does the local internet still matter? Do you want it or not?<<<

Maybe this liberal agrees with you and maybe he doesn't. Don't waste too much time guessing. But I think you bring good insights and opinions to The Greatest Show In The Valley, i.e.: Our Fair City.

The local internet does matter. Itís a necessary alternative to the newspapers, a chance for people to have their voices heard. We can sort out which sites are good for what reason. Mine are comments on the passing scene; a local quiet spot on the net. Yours is the guy on a soapbox in Public Square shouting at the passers-by to wake the eff up and see whatís going on around them.

The newspapers present finely-written op-eds; all very nice, and such. Then I go over to WB Online to get the real dish, cuss words and all. It's like walking into a NordEnd bar where the local is giving his opinion about what's *really* wrong and what's *really* going on. You sit there, knowing that he's worth the price of admission and, since he gets around, he might be right. At least he's worth listening to. The discussion may get heated and noisy, but nobody ever takes a swing. It's all taken as meant.

Tom Carten * * * *

Today's thought:
Don't do anything that will scandalize the children or stampede the cattle.
Visit me at: http://northfranklin.blogspot.com

I think the internet did matter there for a while. But, since itís become little more than a depository where those cloaking their identities can slander anyone they wish to and get away with it, I think itís lost much of itís luster, if not, a lot of itís former following. I wish it could be a bit more upstanding at times.

As for my contributions, I never pictured my efforts becoming an alternative to anything of note. I simply wanted my city to get with the freaking program already. And somehow, this electronic oasis of mine developed into whatever it is that is has become. I know a lot about a lot of things, I know a little about a lot of things, but I did stay in a (what was that hotel outfit?) last night.

With that mumbled, there is something I truly like about the internet. A local reporter once told me that she thought one of the two local newspapers should hire me as a columnist, but only after teaching me some of the many tricks of the trade. She said if I cleaned up my act, I could be a good writer.

Clean up my act? No way! Why would I want to have to parse my words every single time I write, and basically say three-quarters of what I actually think or feel? Why would I want to join the ranks of the unvirile? Politically correct puss? Ill-advised idiot turned twinkie? Not!

I dunno.

What I do know is, if the companies that host the mutterings of the citizens turned ďjournalistsĒ demanded that a name be attached to the countless mutterings, the internet would become a ton more civil and a ton more productive almost overnight.

But Iíd still be an idiot.

From the e-mail inbox Hi Mark,

First of all my wife and I send our condolences on the loss of your brother. I've been remiss and I know that no words can ease the pain you feel. All the best to you and your family.

I considered pulling the plug in April and even did a farewell post using a couple of videos from The Day the Earth Stood Still and the Hitchhiker's Guide. The comments on that post, some emails and people I know all encouraged me to keep going. I think we all hit a slump and I might still be in one.

The lack of local blogs is puzzling. Down in the Lehigh Valley they've had an explosion of local political blogs. Some of the Scranton blogs are downright nuts but they're there. But in Luzerne County there is just a handful of us. Why? I don't know. We have seen about 20 local blogs come and go over the last year and it seems as soon as I list them on NEPA Blogs they stop posting. The kiss of death?

I know that many of the local political and media types read us everyday. I'm not trying to change the world but admire those who do try. Your exposure of the incompetence of the McGroarity administration was a valuable public service and that was a battle won but we still have to keep an eye on our local leaders. My own view of blogging is that's it's like having your own newspaper column or a letter to the editor that actually gets published.

Like you I was attacked by the deadbeat blogger but ignored him because I knew he wouldn't last. In fact Walter exposed him as a fraud and we can thank him for that. Unlike you I like Walter, Tim and Sam. Rabble rousers and bomb throwers keep politics interesting. Hell, I even miss Fred Williams even though I disagreed with him on many things. And Corbett is pissing us both off, that's a good thing.

Yeah traffic is off lately but not only for us but for the big national bloggers like KOS and Redstates. But please don't stop. You have an important voice. I disagree with you on many national issues and some local ones but as Voltaire said "I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."

Ah, Ray. Thanks. I still canít believe heís gone. No more Giants shop talk. No more pickiní on people for no other reason than being an Eagles fan. No more equating a love of the Dallas Cowboys with effeminate tendencies. No more giggling ourselves silly over Joe Theissmanís permanent limp. Youíll never meet someone who poured so much of themselves into a freaking sports franchise. I suggested to his widow that his ashes should be dispersed over Giants stadium. Iím sure Jimmy Hoffa wouldnít mind sharing the place.

As for blogging, I think many people mistakenly believe that with political blogging comes an insatiable need to rip everyone and everything involved, as if itís a prerequisite of sorts. Look at my example. I bloodied my former mayor real good like for four long years. And immediately after he was deposed, very many of the people that cheered me on the loudest reacted with horror when I didnít get to ripping his replacement right from the inaugural get-go. I was told I was a sell-out, among many other less than flattering things.

First of all, I never tried to give the impression that I was going to be a knucklehead no matter who we elected. What I wanted was a new mayor and some responsible financial leadership. And in Tom Leighton, both of those goals were realized. And as far as Iím concerned, when you consider how little he had to start with and how many sizable hurdles he had to clear along the way, I think heís done an admirable job. He really has. Still, they howled that I wasnít jumping up and down on his jewels as I had so willingly done to his predecessor. At this point, itís obvious that I was right and they were wrong. As we all know, numbers donít lie.

Yeah, the street sweeping program has been lacking. Yeah, no more clutter cleanups. Yes, he closed a couple of aged firehouses. And the latest gripe, no pool is in the works for the upcoming new & improved Coal Street Park. Iíve heard it all and for the most part, I can appreciate where people are coming from.

But, without the finances restored, without the balanced budgets, within the bond ratings and bond insurances back in place, this city had no future. With the once crumbling financial cornerstones being systematically restored, this city has a legitimate chance at being a vibrant city again. But, as a blogger, I somehow failed because I refused to savage this new mayor of ours?

Thatís poppycock.

As you mentioned, weíve had no shortage of bloggers, but their threadbare content sprinkled with the scurrilously unfair anonymous attacks basically did them all in right quick. What they all lacked was any vestige of credibility and they probably belong in the blogging recycling bin. I guess what Iím trying to say is Tora! Tora! Tora! is no way to approach all of this.

As for Walter, Tim and Sam, yes, they sure keep things interesting. But being interesting and being electable are two wholly separate things. In the grand scheme of things, I have no problem with Walter, other than I donít want him put in charge of any aspect of my city. His recriminations and rancor shtick, his promises of austerity mixed with backwards-looking audits suggests that the management thing is lost upon him. We ask for bold leadership, for a bit of forward-thinking hard-charging, and he promises to get to the bottom of what happened in the past.

Then thereís Tim. I have to give him some serious credit for attaching his name to everything he does, I just think he goes about things all wrong. To hear him tell it, every single person involved at every level is a borderline criminal, if not, an outright criminal. Sorry, but thatís incorrect and misguided. The path to progress should not and can not include the burning of every bridge and the sacking of every political hamlet. In addition, while heís overly bombastic at meetings and the like, heís much, much more sheepish in a one-on-one setting. Too much so. Heís a smart but inexperienced kid who needs to retool his approach. If he figures out how to better get along with people, heíll be fine. He needs to tone down the self-righteous thing.

One proviso though. This comes from a guy who used to beat on drunks for a living. So take it for what itís worth.

Sam? Who the heck is Sam?

You disagree with me on many national issues and some local ones?

See, thatís your one serious deficiency: you disagree with me. Work on that, will you? Smarten up already. Jeez Louise!

As for myself, while I might disapprove of what you say, short of death, I will defend your right to say it.

Close enough?

Later