4-13-2008 Intemperate stuff

"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."--Barack Obama

Is anyone getting the feeling that Barack Obama honestly believes us small town hicks have this inherent dislike of our lives and America in general? And isnít it kind of eking out that he is of a very similar mind?

Then again. Maybe heís spot-on accurate with that remark. Assuming that he is spot-on accurate, I say we grab some warm Stegmaier, a hunting rifle or two and head on over to the CEO office for a rumble with those folks who donĎt speak the language quite as well as we do. Hayna? Besides, whatĎs a bitter white boy to do in a country as broken as this one?

Before you freak out, let it be known that that picture was sent to me by an Obama supporter who has managed to keep his sense of humor during this campaign. An oddity, I know.

Just in case anyone actually cares, I ignored the word processor this week because Iím freaking beat off my ass. And I get this way every Spring. Physically speaking, the Winter is my down time. But just as soon as the mercury hits 60 and the reproductives get to swarming, things get much more physical for me, and on a day-in, day-out basis. So, in a word, Iím pooped.

Doesnít matter, though. In a week or two, Iíll be immune to it. Immune. Immune to the floor joists making sophistry of my skull. Immune to the constant trenching. Immune to the ongoing battle between what remains of the back of my skull and window-mounted air conditioners. Immune to the crawling on concrete. Immune to the concrete dust covering my glasses and making every day seem like a cloudy day. Immune to the hundreds of feet of house always finding something to get hooked onto. Immune to the extension cords that seem to have a mind of their own. Immune to how the hammer drills always seem to want to snap my wrist. Immune to everything save for the AM radio covering my ears and protecting them from the roar of drills, pumps and motors.

Pretty soon now, Iíll get that ďYouíre bleeding,Ē which comes from an on looking customer so often. And Iíll look at him and say something like ďUh, thanks. Yeah. Cool. Donít worry, the concrete dust will help to coagulate the blood.Ē It always looks like I patched myself with red Sakrete. Cool.

Anywho, Iím still here. Iím just feeling susceptible at the moment. Just like you mere mortals.

I got the word from police headquarters: The police ride along is ON! I signed the waiver, the Release & Safe Harmment Agreement. So the City, the WBPD and anyone else worried about possible litigation have nothing to sweat about when we hit the streets. If I get shot, beaten, stabbed or enjoy a 400-yard-long vehicle rollover, itís my problem. And the potential for nasty things such as those coming about is always there. Our police officers face it every time they suit-up and kiss their kids on the forehead. The thing is, these days, Iíd likely face the same potential dangers if all that I did was pull up a stool at the nearby tavern.

Yep, only this time IĎm going out with a patrol car rather than with the ďViperĒ unit as I did last time. The two-man Viper unit does not respond to calls to 911 unless something life-threatening suddenly emerges. Basically, that unit freelances by visiting areas known for trouble and the like. Drug houses, stash houses, open-air drug markets and the well-beaten prostitution paths. Stuff like that.

This time weíre rolling with a ďzone car,Ē meaning weíll be patrolling one of the five patrol zones in the city, a zone that will be assigned to us at role call. My initial thought was that itíd be fun to patrol Zone 5, the good ole Nord End. Then again, the Nord End is very quiet most of the time, so perhaps we ought to head further south. Either way, itís not up to me.

Until that post appears, I think my fellow bloggers should be on their absolute best behavior while making their way through the city. I mean, wouldnít it suck being all drunk and disorderly with one of your partners in electronic crime there to report on it? Imagine that post?

Gort 10-47?

Another Monkey, another 10-35?

The Lu Lac 10-82 Letter?

Actually, most of this areaís bloggers would fall under a 10-96, an attempt to locate. No. Perhaps a 10-45--a call for the local coroner.

So, the date is set, the waiver is signed and all thatís left to do is ride along with a member of NEPAís largest and most professional police department. The way I see it, you should be jealous.

Either way, stay tuned.

The latest local news? Well, Kurt Shotko is suing the city. No big shock there. Typical activist nonsense.

Cause the problem, use the problem to attract attention to yourself and your cause, and then try to profit from the problem you alone created. Why do you think activists are practically married to their video cameras? Because theyíre always looking for proof of wrongdoing. And maybe even some litigation and a profit on the side.

And as every activist knows full-well, activism and litigation sure beats being gainfully employed. Well, until they run out of marijuana, that is. Although, while I agree that working for a living isnít exactly a thrill ride all of the time, I ainít never met anyone arrested for possession of an alarm clock.

By the way, I watched his arrest go down. And Iíd be more than willing to testify on the behalf of the arresting police officers, who he accused of numerous physical excesses that never happened.

Oh, and a judge somewhere continued Denise Careyís lawsuit against the city. I donít want to revisit the tired history of this needless ĎSave Our Firehouseí entanglement. To me, this was a page ripped right out of Activism for Dummies. Make a helluva lot noise about a particular issue, get the public on your side, and proceed from there even though you had it all wrong right from the get-go.

No! You cannot ask people to save a firehouse, you cannot sit under a banner at the Farmerís Market reading ďSave the Firehouse,Ē and then have people sign their names to a petition seeking a referendum question intended to tweak the cityís form of government. Slipshod! Incorrect! Wrong!

If some of us actually knew what we were doing, i.e., the activists, nobody cries, nobody is on the hook for any hefty legal penalties, no one has their reputations besmirched and nobody is worse for wear. That is, if we knew what we were doing right from the get-go. We can demonize the city. We can demonize the city solicitors. We can demonize the mayor. And we can demonize that bastard that has the temerity to write about it on the internet. But the undeniable truth is, if we actually knew what we were doing, none of this ever happens.

So, when the next self-aggrandizing activist jumps up onto his soapbox made of balsa telling you how the world ought to be run, be leery. Be very effing leery. Because activists armed with the facts are a very, very rare commodity. Especially in these hardscrabble parts.

(Sorry, Sue. I couldnít resist.)

From the e-mail inbox Mark

Curious why you replaced the NEPA BLOG link with links to 5 local blog editors. Are you saying these 5 blogs are the best of the bunch? Not picking a fight only curious.

Iím also curious about your honest opinion of your local internet competition.

SXXXX

Interesting. Are you absolutely certain youíre not just trying to get me in trouble with damn near everyone?

Letís start with your latter comment. I do not see any of the other local blogs as my competition. I never did and thatís primarily because we all have something distinctly unique to offer. Take the 5 you referred to.

Lu Lac comments the political goings-on in two counties, which is no small task. And heís also the local political historian. His ď1968Ē posts remind me every time that I was correct in ignoring politics until my thirties. Different time, different name, very similar results. Heís opinionated, but never mean-spirited.

Then thereís Gort. Frankly, heís way too partisan for my tastes, but he can be objective when heís not repeating talking points. He tries to make nice with those who visit his site and he demands some civility and decorum from his readers when they leave comments. Heís a dinosaur, in that, heíd have to be called a responsible blogger. But he needs to admit the error of his sporting ways and kneel before my New York Football Giants helmet.

Another Monkey? A breath of fresh air these days. Not limited to one or a few topics. Thing is, you have no idea what youíre getting yourself into when you visit this site. Today itís politics. Tomorrow music. Then next day itís the Carpenter Bees terrorizing him in the backyard. And the very next it might be how beautiful it can be when celestial bodies collide, or how his car sucks. Very prolific and talented writer.

Things at Kings is almost indescribable. Itís eclectic, itís memories on parade and itís observations from the front window when the snow flies. Never controversial, but always there.

Kayak Dudeís site is devoted to Donís passion--The Susquehanna River--and a few other related topics on occasion. Heís a smart guy, a tireless guy, a well-read guy and a very reasonable guy. Just donít go throwing any sort of illogic at his beloved river, though. Ainít gonna float.

Okay, these sites do not have much in common, except for two things? Any idea? They all offer interesting content of varying lengths. And they are still active and have been for quite a while now. And thatís why I linked to them and discontinued the link to Nepa Blogs, which seems to have become a site listing dead or long inactive local Web sites. Because around here, the life expectancy of a fledgling blog is shorter than that of a bomb-laden suicide murderer with one finger on the button. Put bluntly, why link to something that wonít even be there a month from now?

In addition, some of these sites do not deserve to be linked to. The hopelessly partisan blogs are, literally, a dime a dozen. I link to you, you link to me, we link to her, she links to us, he links to all of us, and then we visit each otherís sites every day and see who beat up George Bush and Karl Rove the worst. Theyíre totally boring and riddled with misrepresentations. And ďwrittenĒ by the best and brightest that Google and Dorkipedia can teach.

Frankly, single-issue blogs bore me to no end and have the shortest life expectancies of the entire bunch. Gort recently linked to some blog devoted solely to smearing Lou Barletta. Not by one of his constituents, mind you. By some guy from a nearby county. Figure that one out and when you do, explain it to me. Now, seriously, how many times can the author bash the same guy but make it sound slightly different? How many times will I visit this single-issue site? Uh, once a month? Maybe. Not at all, if itís gets really, really lame? Yep.

Although, my all-time favorite has to be the local blogger that canít seem to post anything other than posts bashing me. Itís cute and anonymous and all, but itís redundant beyond belief. Every post, Mark Cour sucks, but stated in a slightly different way. No biggie. My well-sculpted ankles have been bitten by the anonymous girlie-men plenty of times.

Another problem is inaccuracy. If your posts are factually incorrect, you arenít going to be blogging very long. And there are a few local examples of anonymous bloggers just upping and walking away from their blogs for gross inaccuracies, for being on the verge of having their identities revealed, or just being shouted down by their outraged readers. One blogger hopelessly short on content even wants us to believe that he recently put his blog up for sale and found a buyer, no less. Yeah, perhaps CNN or FOX News bought it.

Iíve been challenged many a time, but the fun part is that the attacks and/or comments were factually inept. One guy called me out because I supposedly took money from a candidate for a City Council seat. It never happened. I never received a penny, nor did I want or request one. And I never said I did. But that didnít stop some anonymous bozo from saying that I did. Guess where that blog is now? You got it, NEPA blogs--the local internet graveyard.

No sir, donít let a lack of facts get in the way of a good post.

Hereís a snippet from that site:

Think of it--Wilkes-Barre Online has never run for public office or even worked on a campaign or even had the guts to do what Tim Grier did by being politically active and yet he sits there with his beer and computer and blabbers on about Grier's faults when he should be looking at his own.

Guts? Guts?!? The anonymous coward speaks of guts? Nothing oxymoronic about that, is there now? No, I guess single-handedly staring down the entire McGroarty administration for four long years was not what we could call being ďpolitically active.Ē Nope. Not judging by the highest of standards the anonymous blowhard has set for me. Inaccurate? Oh, and then some. Stupid? Oh, and then some.

I saw a readersí comment on Lu Lac just today which was wildly inaccurate. Not attacking or anything, just untrue. The reader said I was upset for having to pay for Obama campaign buttons. One problem. It never happened. I never gave a plug nickel to any of ObamaĎs less than impressive minions. And I didnít say I did, either. But, with the internet comes anonymity which leads to wholesale inaccuracy. And whether anyone wants to accept as much, nobody has much of an appetite for untruths. Well, that is, unless they further muddy the reputation of George W. Bush, that is.

If the local newspapers were given to writing untruths, or factually incorrect statements all too often, readership would fall into the crawl space where IĎm usually found. So, why does everyone seem to think that writing untruths, or factually incorrect statements on the internet provides them credibility?

The sad fact is, if you canít follow my No donation, no buttons post and pass a very short quiz immediately afterwards, you probably have absolutely no business posting anything on the internet, or anywhere else for that matter. But, thatís what you get when you enable anonymous commenting.

Recently, I read that someone thinks I do not allow readers to comment on my site so that I can pick and choose between the comments I receive. Thatís incorrect. Then again, I could really care less what anyone thinks of anything I choose to do. But letís get back to this issue of (in)accuracy on the internet, shall we? A quick fact check is in order.

I once created a forum page for the visitors to my site, a place where they could comment all they liked. And my only precondition was that they use their real names and try to keep it somewhat civil. Next to no one used their real identities, and it was a parade of needless personal attacks from beginning to end. And when a bitter divorce became a part of the less than productive mix, I pulled the plug on the entire mess.

You want to comment on my site? You want to wade in here cloaked in anonymity and totally free from any semblance of accountability? Yeah? Well, kiss off! Been there, done that. And itís a bunch of complete BS from people who apparently canít get anything right, or even use a screen name we can all recognize. And, accuracy? In that uncontrolled environment? Right! Donít make me laugh.

I guess I got a bit long-winded with all of that. But, getting back to those 5 blogs, those people get it. Those people understand. Those people are responsible bloggers. Opinions aside, if it ainít true, it doesnít get published. And because of that, you wonít see them running away from their own words any time soon. None of them paid me to state as much, although, Iím certain some anonymous fool will emerge and claim that I said I did.

Whatever.

Finally. I was wondering if I was ever going to spy this picture, and then it finally arrived in the mail last week, all the way from Norfolk, Virginia.

Yeah, during that St. Patrickís Day parade of ours, right when the hordes of overly exuberant Obama supporters camped-out in front of his campaign headquarters got to screaming his virtues at me from just a foot or two away, I suddenly sprang the dreaded Bush/Cheney Ď04 button on Ďem.

They were stunned. They were horrified. And before they recovered and started cursing at me, not a one of them died of shock. Pretty sure. Anyway, slapping that button up in front of Obama supporters is akin to driving a stake through a vampireís heart. Itís like flashing rum at a recovering alcoholic.

Either way, I enjoyed the reaction I got. And as always, I donít really care what a bunch of kids think about politics. Because, as we all know, they make plenty of noise during the primary season. And then they donít show up in November.

Thanks, Mike.

Lastly, since itís getting warm, if anyone is interested in organizing some bike abouts for some of the upcoming weekends, let me know. My typical ride encompasses about 3 hours, anywhere from 10 to 30 miles, includes plenty of stops and usually some light lunch of some sort.

Thereís rarely a plan. We pick a direction and we go. And where weíll end up, nobody knows. Although, sometimes the scanner chatter dictates an abrupt change in direction, but other than that, itís more like a wanderabout on most weekends. But always good exercise.

ĎTil next time.