HereĎs the deal: The polls open in less than 48 hours. And then we can all get on out there and vote. And before too, too much longer, either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will have what they wanted from us, and theyíll quickly move on and forget all about Pennsylvania. No more satellite trucks. No more secret service. And no more raucous crowds. Nothing.
And Iím thinking the Wilkes-Barre Police Department will be just fine with that. Every time one of the big, national politicos made an appearance here, the police scanner lit up like a pinball machine, as was the case yesterday. I was sitting here listening to the nonstop scanner chatter spread over three frequencies, and I asked Wifey, ďWhat the hell is going on?Ē Oh, thatís right. Bill Clinton is in town again, down at Wilkes University. Yeah. Wonderful.
Yep, come Thursday, the local bloggers will be reduced to writing about local stuff again. Well, somewhat. Judging by the back-and-forth comments left at some other local blogs, the 10th Congressional race has been a hotly contested and very contentious throw down. And thatĎs likely to continue once Congressman Chris Carney knows who is opponent is for the fall throw down.
Weíve also got the Barletta/Kanjorski contest, which ought to be a real slugfest not suitable for mixed audiences. I find it amazing to see that so many are defending Paul Kanjorski right from the get-go. And Iím wondering, based on what? The fact that a deal was brokered to excuse him from an ethics investigation? The fact that he delivers the pork--to his immediate family? Or that he took donations from one of this nationís biggest subprime lenders gone bust? A company that he was empanelled to oversee? Or was the inflatable dam his biggest achievement? Seriously, if youíre defending this guy, you are of the hopelessly partisan variety. ĎNuf said.
I got an e-mail from some goober chastising Lou Barletta for the constant rewritings of the illegal alien ordinance in Hazleton. Actually, it was not publishable without some serious, serious editing. Bad words. Okay, fair enough. Thing is, mayors donít write legislation. They count on their city solicitors to do that sort of thing. The research, the legalese, that sort of mystifying gunk. So, if the ordinance wasnít properly researched, worded or prepared, thatís telling me that perhaps Hazleton needs to reconsider the true value of their current solicitors. I dunno. Iím not well-schooled on all of that muck. And thank goodness for that.
Like that? The politically correct ďThank goodnessĒ substituted for the time-worn ďThank God?Ē Iím learning. Yeah! Iím learning or else. Oops! Iím sorry. I forgot about the ongoing presidential campaign. We are allowed to make reference to god and religion until the general election. And after that, it becomes politically incorrect all over again. You can still cling to your guns and your religion and your NASCAR and your bowling ball and your beer, but keep it to yourself. The Democrats donít go for that sort of stuff. You have been warned.
Personally, Iím kind of looking forward to living in a post-Obama/Clinton Wilkes-Barre. Itís been interesting and all, but at the same time, itís getting kind of old listening to the same talking points stated a slightly different way. And not much of what they had to say resonated with me.
I like my health insurance plan. I use very little gasoline, although, the rising price of which is an issue for my employer, i.e., me. Well, itís an issue for every company that operates a large fleet of vehicles. My job is definitely not going overseas. No matter how we came to be there, I recognize the enormous stakes at hand with Iraq, so Iím not advocating that we run away like a bunch of pansies. From what Iím reading, Washington is purposely allowing the dollar to plummet, as part of an ongoing trade imbalance and dispute with Europe. Mean old Bush again.
The middle class? Hillaryís calling for tax increases. And Obama exposed at the recent debate the undeniable fact that he is very, very weak on very basic economic issues. So, why would I gravitate towards anyone who wants to stick yet another sticky finger into my wallet? And, energy independence? Please, donít get me started. All that they offered were meaningless platitudes and clever buzz words. No real plan, just a bunch of malarkey. Education? Oh, yeah, letís throw even more vast amounts of money to the teachersí unions, while our kids sound as if English and basic math continues to escape them. And immigration reform? Everything they have to say amounts to, ďToo late. Tough titties. Go learn some Spanish.Ē
Stem cell research? Yawn. Abortion/murder? I donít care. Same-sex issues? Whatever. Shorter your life expectancy, I could really care less. Veterans? In my mind, no matter what we do for veterans it will never be enough. For volunteering for the horrors of combat, they should be given a blank check.
A local guy, George Gilroy suddenly comes to mind. His WWII experiences sound like those of countless others. 82nd Airborne. A Bridge Too Far. Piloting wooden gliders through the darkness to assault Germans behind enemy lines. Lost a brother in Korea. A real heroic, selfless story. Send that blank check to George right now.
If you write for the Times Leader or the Citizensí Voice, get a hold of this guy. Hereís a story that should be told. And, by all means, do not credit me for the tip. More on that a bit later.
Now remember, my intent with all of this excess verbiage was not to bash a couple of Democratic presidential hopefuls. No, my intention was to point out that neither Obama or Clinton were really speaking to me. And when this race is concluded and John McCain enters the fray in earnest, I really, really, really hope he speaks to me.
My hot button issues?
I want to keep more of my hard-earned income. I want federal spending brought under control, and I wouldnít shy away from mandated balanced budgets. I want my freedom preserved, and I want it restored in the areas where it has been impinged upon. As it pertains to energy independence, I want these eco-terrorists put in their place already. What good is a Spotted Owl if I canít afford the gas to go and marvel at it in itís pristine haunt? What good is recycling if we willfully embrace the throwaway society that Sprawl-Mart so gleefully provides us with? Going green is fine and dandy and all, provided that we donít take any steps backward whereas our standard of living is concerned.
I want a president who is not afraid to talk tough to our enemies. But I also want a president to think before he speaks. In other words, we can ill-afford anymore of this foreign policy doublespeak that has all the subtlety of a high-velocity sledgehammer. One way or another, Iranís exporting of terrorism has to be put to an end. You canít pacify the Middle East by pretending that Iran is not working to destabilize the entire region for itís own benefit. Like it or not, you canít wish this one away.
I honestly believe that George Bushís polices have nipped many a terroristís plot in the bud. And I think that many of them, not all, should remain in place. But in my heart of hearts, I want Osama bin Ladenís head on a stick. Sorry, but I do. And I do not believe that he cannot be gotten to. I just donít. And Iíd be willing to bet that if it came down from the Joint Chiefs that the president wants that man found no matter the cost, plenty from within the ranks of our military would volunteer for the mission. And thatís not anything oozing out of my id. Thatís me talking.
I want term limits at the federal level. Nothing stupid, mind you. But term limits nonetheless. They all go to Washington as high-minded reformers, but before every long, they come back and talk down to us as if theyíre from some upper class and weĎre but ignorant serfs. They are there, we are here, and weíre just too danged to stupid to understand the hoity toitey stuff that they do when theyíre not banging interns and the like. Much like Paul Kanjorskiís saying, ďYouíve got more passion than brainsĒ to a constituent. Yeah? Really? Well, we had this old saying in gym class that went like this: Fu>k you!
ButÖbut, if we have term limits, we canít get the upper hand on pork, you say. Yeah, well, weíve had the same congressman for over twenty years. And from what Iím seeing, most of the pork he acquired went to his immediate family.
I want much more federal funding to pay for the salaries of our police officers at the local level. Kind of like the old Federal Revenue Sharing plan, only for the purposes of bolstering the ranks of our flagging police departments. Here in Wilkes-Barre, we live in a city that has strengthened the ranks of itís police department in a significant way. But this is not the case in many areas of this country. All too often, the smallest of municipalities are forced to abolish their police departments altogether for a clear lack of funding. And that, in turn, further strains the patrolling capabilities of our state troopers. Ever wonder why you see so few state troopers on the interstate highways? Um, thatís because they are all too busy patrolling the towns that long ago deleted their smallish police departments.
Although, here in Pennsylvania, itís all too often their own fault for not consolidating some of these tiniest of coal patch municipalities that could capably fit on the head of a pin. And what good is allocating money for education, or money for enhanced health care, when so many of our residents do not feel safe on their own streets? We need more police officers on the payroll, and we need to put an abrupt end to the ACLU types tying their hands at nearly every available turn. What? A cop skulled our smart-assed kid? Yeah, well, itís probably about time somebody did it. You wonít!
Iím rambling away again, as is usually the case. All I know is, none of the presidential wannabes have spoken directly to me as of yet. So far, theyíve been limited to promising free goodies to the people too completely ďbusyĒ to provide them for themselves. ďWhat are you going to do for meĒ has been replaced by ďWhat are you going to give me,Ē and that a recipe for financial disaster.
And then youíve got the bozos like me. And all that we ask is that they stop screwing up everything we have. You see Mr. McCain, Mrs. Clinton and Saint Obama; Iím pretty much good to go. But please, stop making things harder on me. Save for more of your well-intended but ill-prepared and ill-advised intervention, I can make it on my own.
Just leave me alone.
As for the Great PA Cleanup, I did my part. Not much, but just enough. In celebration of Earth Day, weíre supposed to get out there and work to make the Earth a cleaner place. Never have I been confused with any tree huggers until just recently, but nevertheless, I swept my entire street all by my lonesome.
I read in the Times Leader today, ďIn Wilkes-Barre, Mayor Thomas Leighton reported more than 300 people cleaned up litter and leavesÖĒ
300, eh? I guess thatís pretty good, but then again, itís not that good when you consider that 43,000 people reside within this cityís confines. Perhaps the people in Wilkes-Barre really donít give a flying funk about the Earth. Canít say I blame them much. Itís not like an illegally dumped bag of household garbage is going to get the Earth to wildly spinning off of itís axis anytime soon. I think.
Illegal dumping is piss poor. Yet, itís dumped all around us, no matter where we go. And why is that exactly? Iím of the firm opinion that disposing of our refuse has become prohibitively expensive. Seriously, what are we supposed to do with it? Pay for a yard hopper to be delivered out front three or four times a year? Thatís not going to happen. So, if most of us canít afford to get rid of the old parlor suit, down the bank it goes, and where it ends up nobody knows. Thatís the long and short of it.
So what do we do about it? All but demand that a cash-strapped city suddenly resume the once popular clutter cleanups? I donít see that happening anytime soon, since this cityís administration is doggedly committed to being fiscally sound. And rightfully so. So, again, what do we do about it?
I dunno. How about allowing the lot of us to drive our refuse up to the landfill in the back of our pickup trucks? Couch, chair, two end tables--twenty-five bucks. Oops! One small problem. The waste haulers donate significant sums of money to both our state and national elected officials, so weíre going to continue to be shut out of the landfills. The elected representative has money to campaign with, the waste haulers continue to pile up profits, and we canít afford to rid ourselves of that which we no longer need nor want. So, as a direct result, we pitch it all down the bank.
In my denuded mind, the people directly responsible for the vast majority of the illegal dumping are the waste haulers and our elected representatives who are obviously in bed together. They benefit, and we continue to pay. And if we canít afford to pay, we pitch it down the bank. And then once a year, those same mealy-mouthed politicians encourage us to get on out there and clean it all up. You know, we have to save the Earth. Itís a continuous circle-jerk, and weíre the ones playing the role of pivot man. And in more ways then one.
But still, I did my teeny, tiny part. Mostly because I refuse to live on a street that looks like a dung collection point. And I know full well there are plenty of residents that feel they should not have to sweep their own streets, since we do have a DPW department. A seriously depleted DPW in a town trying to financially claw itís way back from the abyss, but a DPW just the same.
And for them I have the answer as to why they should get on out there and sweep their own streets. You wanna know why? Why? Because itís there! Thatís why! Itís right there in front of your house. And if you have even a modicum of pride, it should bother you. The broken bottle. The crushed two-liter. The pile of silt. The weed growing from the curbís edge. Itís there, thatís why! Now stop waiting for the government to wipe your ass for you and do something about it. Sweat a little. Shed a pound. Get your ass in gear already.
What, if the mayor canít or wonít do it, you wonít do it either? And whatís that old line that has something to do with cutting your nose off?
We pedaled our bikes to downtown Wilkes-Barre yesterday afternoon in search of a copy of ďAlien vs. Predator II.Ē
I know the popular misconception wherein you cannot shop for anything in the downtown, but thatís not entirely true. Into Gallery of Sound I waltzed and Voila!Öa copy of that aforementioned new release. Granted, I paid more for it than I would have paid at Sprawl-Mart, but I truly do not care. And thatís because rather than having my money being spirited away to Arkansas or China, by supporting a local business, my money stays right here in the local economy. Plus, I didnít have to bang elbows with the Access Card crowd.
Letís do a movie review here. The ďAliensĒ and the ďAliens vs. PredatorĒ movies are my absolute end-all favorites. And they are all well done. But, this recent installment, while a spellbinding movie in itĎs own right, really leaves something to be desired. I guess the cinematography is seriously amiss.
Hereís the scoop: At midnight, turn off all of your lights, pull all of the drapes closed and then stare at something you canít see anyway. And there you go. Thatís exactly what the movie is like. Itís like sitting in a pitch dark closet. Itís so completely dark, I couldnít see a freaking thing during most of the scenes. Actually, it was damn near impossible to place the setting most of the time.
Now, Iím no big time Hollywood director, but if this is the best they could do, I just might be one someday. Itís flat-out awful. And how dare they grossly mis-produce my favorite video bloodletting.
I talked to those two ladies holding the enormous Hillary banner on Public Square. And I played stupid. They asked if I was registered to vote. I told them I was. And then they asked me if I was going to vote. I said, ďWhen?Ē They just stared at me in disbelief. And then I smiled and clued them into the fact that I am a hopeless jerk. They seemed amused. And they were very nice.
Thing is, they said they drove here all the way from New Jersey to hold that Hillary banner all day long. And then I got to wondering exactly who in attendance might be the bigger of the jerks. I asked and they told me that the locals were coming up short on Hillary supporters. That doesnít sound right, being that this is supposed to be Hillary country. Got me.
I love politics. Itís the best non-contact sport going. I pay close attention. I know the issues. And I vote like a champion. But if you think Iím going to drive all the way to New Jersey to hold your campaign banner for an entire shift, youíve got another thing coming. Passion is one thing. Insanity is a whole other thing.
Yeah, you know it.
I snagged the following from The Lu Lac Political Letter:
Coulter Jones, the youngest of the group in experience recounted his coverage of the 10th Congressional race which sparked a discussion about money in politics. Jones also said that bloggers just ran press releases and most times essentially did not vet or break news stories.
For the record, Coulter Jones is a reporter for the Citizensí Voice and he made those comments while participating in some televised meeting of the local political minds on WVIA.
As effing if!
When I read that part pertaining to bloggers, I cracked up and then some. And I said something akin to, ďWhy, you little fu>k!ď Iím thinking that perhaps Mr. Jones has been reading the wrong blogs. Or, perhaps heís sticking with his employerís long-running policy of using endless tips gleaned from local blogs--namely mine--to generate stories in the newspaper without ever crediting the original source. Itís been going on for many years, I really do not care, but donít give me this glib brush-off as if Iím not here and as if IĎm not widely read. Donít pretend that your outfit hasnít ripped me off on too many occasions to even recall at this late date.
Try this on for size, Mr. Jones.
From the Citizensí Voice, January 19, 2008:
WILKES-BARRE ó City Administrator J.J. Murphy, a major in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, will be deployed to Djibouti, Africa, for a six-month tour starting in March to serve as a search and rescue controller.
Murphy, a father of four girls, has spent over 10 years in the Air Force, more than six of which have been on active duty. The 36-year-old has never been deployed to a combat area overseas until now. After talking it over with his family and Mayor Tom Leighton, Murphy agreed to go to eastern Africa after his commander asked him.
Now, from Wilkes-Barre Online, January 15, 2008:
15. Would you care to share with us the details of the Djibouti thing?
As some of your readers know, I am an active reservist in the United State Air Force. I was recently promoted to Major and, although I was on active-duty for more than 6 years, and was previously mobilized as a reservist for 13 months in February 2002, I have never deployed to a combat area overseas. This is about to change.
My unit commander has asked me to fill a roll as a search and rescue controller in Djibouti, Africa for a 6-month tour starting in March of this year. I have talked it over with my family and the Mayor, and have in fact said yes. I look forward to serving on a U.S. Marine base in a joint billet and working along side some of Americaís bravest men and women. The reaction by this patriotic community has been overwhelming thus far. I know some people are confused about why I would want to go overseas and help in this global war. Maybe the great Thomas Payne said it best when he said, ďIf there must be trouble, let it be in my day that my child may have peace.Ē
Now, while I may be certifiably half-crazy and ugly and ignorant, Iím not as entirely stupid as so many of you who see yourselves as the official media might think me to be. Denise Allabaugh can swear on a stack of Korans that her own legwork and her superb journalistic instincts resulted in the ďnewsĒ that J.J. Murphy was about to be deployed to Djibouti, but no one this side of Sugar Notch still sober is going to believe her.
Over the years, countless things I published first later washed ashore on the pages of both the Times Leader and the Citizensí Voice. And not once did the Citizensí Voice ever make mention of the original source of the stories it generated from my site. Not even once. It never really annoyed me, but donít start talking smack on the people that were never credited for doing the original legwork.
I canít even remember all of the names now, but Jolyn Reznick, Mike McNarney and James Conmy pop right to the forefront.
Conversely, over the many years IĎve been at it, the Times Leader has gone well out of itís way to 1.) Credit the local bloggers it happened to glean news stories from and to, 2.) Admit that local bloggers even exist in the first place. Something that your newspaper obviously will not stoop to. And how old-fashioned is that? How backward-thinking is it to continually pretend that new sources of news and commentary do not exist? Whether the ownership and management of the Citizensí Voice likes it or not, the print media folks are losing market share to the newer electronic sources of both news and commentary.
Case in point. An excerpt from a Times Leader editorial from February 18, 2007; just after the great Valentineís Day blizzard of 2007:
|Feb. 18--WE LIKE THE way Wilkes-Barre Online blogger Mark Cour described our recent snowfall. He said it was "layered in there like cheese in a pan of lasagna." We can't remember seeing such thick, heavy snowfall, coupled with gusting wind and frigid temperatures. Aside from our observations, there's plenty of other evidence that indicates this was no typical storm. How often do you hear about a library roof, outdoor amphitheater and sports dome crumpling from snow? That's why we're hesitant to skewer local officials for their cleanup response.|
Now, for some in the slow-footed print media, to credit someone from the electronic ilk is journalistic heresy, but to not do so suggests that some of us are not only well behind the times, but fast becoming journalistic dinosaurs ready for extinction.
Excuse my undeserved insolence, but it is the Citizensí Voice and not Wilkes-Barre Online that publishes press releases. Press releases, I might add, that were readily available on the internet long, long before the Voice went to print with them.
According to the Times Leader, I do vet or break news stories on occasion. But, according to the stodgy Citizensí Voice, I might as well not even exist, even though I am, on too many occasions, an unaccredited source of their news stories. All I know is, somebody has their head purposely stuck in the sand, and it sure as hell isnít me.
So, according to Coulter Jones: Blogs suck.
Consider the source, assuming that youíll ever be told who the real source is.