2-18-2005 Behind the black tarps

Day Two of the Kev & Nancy boycott has come and gone. It's weird though, I figured if I skipped the irrational Bush-bashers and hooked up with Sue Henry at 9:06 am every morning, I'd be less agitated and ready to get on with my day on a very even keel. So I was trying to take in her show today while doing a bit of reverse-engineering on a kerosene heater. The darn thing decided to malfunction very noticeably last night, so I took the thing completely apart, stripped it of any built-up carbon deposits, scrubbed it, lubed it, and installed a brand new wick I bought at Vac-Way.

Anywho, at some point, I wandered indoors with a steel brush in hand only to hear Sue going on about some guy who is all but ready to road rage on unsuspecting people for displaying those stupid "Support the Troops" magnets on their imported vehicles. Now I was listening very intently and wondering where she found this jerkoff, but the intel I needed never came up. So, I fired off the following e-mail to "The Franchise" at WILK.

********Suzie Q,

Sorry, but I was outside when you launched into this magnet story. Where did you run across this Support Our Troops magnet drivel? I must read this barely veiled anti-Bush bullspit for myself.

Hey, you're the musical download champ of NEPA for now. Is there any way we could access the old Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas special from way back when? RIVER BOTTOM NIGHTMARE BAND!!! Bring it on!

Markie in MagnetLand*********

Thankfully, she responded that she had wandered across this troop magnet nonsense at MRC.org. Have a look for yourself.

***Media Research Center's CyberAlert column from February 17***

NPR Commentator Denounces "Support Our Troops" Stickers on Cars

Most Americans, regardless of their position on the war in Iraq, don't object to the expression "Support Our Troops," but earlier this week one National Public Radio commentator asserted that in at least one context, that phrase is "glib," "self-righteous," "partisan," and "vaguely...Ann Coulterish." He also declared darkly that "analyzing its rhetoric" may constitute "treason."

[Tom Johnson, who monitors NPR for the MRC, filed this item for CyberAlert.]

This past Monday on All Things Considered, Bob Sommer, whose son recently completed a year's service in Iraq, began his segment: "You would think that the sight of a yellow-ribbon magnet on the back of a car, proclaiming 'Support Our Troops,' would give me a lift, but it doesn't. It just seems so easy to express patriotism by slapping a magnet with a slogan on your car, so glib, so...self-righteous. 'Support Our Troops.' That sentence is neither a request nor a statement; it's a command. There's a hint of a dare in it that reminds me of a similar sentence: 'Bring it on.' It's vaguely...Ann Coulterish. Analyzing its rhetoric may be treason."

Sommer further complained: "I've noticed that these magnets often appear on vehicles that display still-lingering Bush-Cheney stickers. It isn't a big leap to conclude that there's something partisan about them, and the sight of all these yellow magnets is starting to bring out the worst in me. Sometimes, I want to roll down my windows and confront the drivers. I want to exclaim, 'Who doesn't support the troops? What have you done to support the troops?' They may be well-meaning and sincere people, but I'm convinced that they're just driving along, thinking support-our-troops thoughts like 'Thank God I live in a red state,' or 'Maybe it's time to price a Hummer.' That's what I assume they're thinking, anyway."

After Sommer detailed how he and his wife "expended a lot of emotional energy, as well as some financial resources, supporting our son and his buddies," including "sen[ding] Christmas gifts to the whole squad," he resumed his exegesis: "Still, that curious phrase, 'Support Our Troops,' on those yellow-ribbon magnets, seems to accuse me of not doing my part. Then I realized that 'Support Our Troops' is a code...Here's what I think it means: Those who presumably need to be admonished to support the troops are those who oppose the decisions of the [Bush] administration. 'Support Our Troops' means, then, that we should be supporting the war. I believe that most yellow-magnet-bearers want support not just for the troops, but for the mission, the presence, the President. Maybe the magnets should say, 'Shut Up and Support Our Troops.'"

It's hard to say whether "Support Our Troops" would bother Sommer much less if he saw it on, say, a red-white-and-blue lapel pin.

(OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto, in his "Best of the Web" column on Wednesday, ran an item on this NPR commentary. The MRC was already aware of it, but Taranto beat us on reporting it.)

Okay, fine. Let's check out the Taranto piece, shall we?

By James Taranto
Wednesday, February 16

The Whine Spectator

Car-bumper exhortations to support the troops have NPR commentator Bob Sommer bent out of shape:

That curious phrase, "support our troops," on those yellow ribbon magnets seems to accuse me of not doing my part. Then I realized that "support our troops" is a code! It requires parsing. Here's what I think it means: Those who presumably need to be admonished to support the troops are those who oppose the decisions of the administration. "Support our troops" means, then, that we should be supporting the war. I believe that most yellow-magnet bearers want support not just for the troops, but for the mission, the presence, the president. Maybe the magnets should say: "Shut up and support our troops."

You have to listen to the audio to get a full sense of Sommer's whiny, paranoid tone--which is odd, since he has a son in the military and he says that "my wife and I expended a lot of emotional energy as well as some financial resources supporting our son and his buddies in Iraq last year." So what in the world is he so defensive about?

Meanwhile, Stars and Stripes has a great quote from an Iraqi soldier, Staff Sgt. Alaa Akram:

Ultimately, there is only so much the Americans can do, Akram said. The difference between his men and U.S. soldiers is something far more abstract than weapons or training.

"It's heart," Akram said. He'll know the Iraqi army is ready to take control from the Americans when his fellow soldiers quit joining for a paycheck, he said.

"When we're like the American soldier," Akram said. "He never worries about money. He's worried about his country."

It nice to know that someone supports the troops.

Is it just me, or is Mr. Bob Sommer in need of one serious total body beating? What a bleeping asswipe! He looks at a passing meep-meep with a frickin' magnet on it and sees only those dreaded Bush supporters he'd like so much to see put to death without a trial.

It just seems so easy to express patriotism by slapping a magnet with a slogan on your car, so glib, so...self-righteous.

Boy, he sure is presuming all sorts of stuff, ain't he?

Then I realized that "support our troops" is a code!

Sooooooo f**king typical of the over-the-top leftist, conspiracy nutjobs. A two-dollar magnet is a code, man! It's code for those baby-killing neo-cons. And it was so closely guarded until the NPR nutball went and broke the code. The jig is up. They're on to us. Throw away your magnets and buy a "I love Dubya" banner for the radio antenna. We have been outed.

Check out some pics from the Pine Ridge section of town:

Pine Ridge

More coal industry ruins

Can you say property taxes?

Today I was treated to a tour of sorts by Butch Frati, Wilkes-Barre's Director of Planning & Development.

Between the two of us, we've run across way two many Wilkes-Barre residents that are completely skeptical whereas the multitude of nascent, but 100% financed projects in this city are concerned. To put it bluntly, despite all of the good news that has come our way during the past year, many of us are still adhering to the "I'll believe it when I see it" mindset. Butch recently faced a guy who was advised that the bridge replacements at Solomons Creek were not going to happen. The designs are done, the funding is secured and the projects have been put out to bid. Still, the guy refuses to believe that it's all said and done. He won't believe it until he sees the bridges being built. Not a problem, though. He'll be seeing just that soon enough.

Butch is of the opinion that many among us just won't believe in the coming progress until they see the steel girders going up. Again, not a problem. The steel has been ordered and should be going up within a couple of weeks at the Labor & Industry site. Butch wondered aloud if the current administration is doing a good job of getting the word out. I think it has. When you display the blueprints of some new fandangled project and then announce that it's already been paid for, what's there to be skeptical about? Although, as I pointed out to Butch, politicos have been promising us all sorts of pie in the sky progress for twenty years now without delivering anything more grand than a freakin' traffic mirror. Maybe the residents of Wilkes-Barre have every right to be so skeptical when some new mayor comes along bearing real progress rather than more empty promises.

We started by taking a ride through what will soon be Wilkes-Barre's newest neighborhood. Namely, Pine Ridge. The utilities and such are being put in place at the moment and we're only weeks away from having six different companies build sample homes on the site. Plus, some folks have already plopped deposits down on some of the site's 110 or so new home lots. The long and short of it is this Pine Ridge project is moving right along and it won't be long before people can cast a gaze in that general direction and see some real progress for themselves. Believe it or not, something positive is brewing right here in Wilkes-Barre. Crazy, I know.

We wandered south towards town and drove past the former Murray property located right next to fire headquarters. That'll soon be remodeled and home to 26 apartments with retail space on the ground floor. Just down the block sits the Cumberland building which will soon be home to 126 housing units geared towards the college-aged kids in town. With the student population at Wilkes exploding the way it has been, I'd expect to see that former eyesore fillin' up soon enough. We drove past the Call Center which will not be our problem for very much longer. Trust me on this. And we parked in the ground level parking lot where Percy A. Brown & Co.: Foods of Distinction once stood. Our mission was to tour the interior of the buildings currently being remodeled as part of the theater project.

We popped out of the truck and put on our "W-B City" hard hats only to be intercepted by a construction foreman. If he gave us a hard time, I was gonna start screaming at him with sh*t like "Do you know who the f**k I am? I could have you killed with one phone call! I run the Chamber of Commerce and I eat toads like you for breakfast! Do you want me to call your boss right now? Do you?!!! I'll have you raped and your wife beaten!" Butch flashed his city badge and told the guy why we were there. He told us to give him a few minutes and he'd be right with us. Drat! So much for being a big shot for all of ten minutes.

Anyway, much like a lot of the other ongoing projects in Wilkes-Barre, when you wander by this massive theater site, there really doesn't seem to be very much going on. You'll believe it when you see it, you say? Fine. Be that way. Let's go take a look, heyna?

Before we do, let it be known that I snapped 45 pictures in those ancient buildings today. I can't post them all here today, so I'll post a few everyday for the foreseeable future. I used some software to brighten the pics to a big degree as the lighting was really poor for the most part. Due to the brightening process, some of the pics have a somewhat grainy appearance, but we'll live.


Now, how in the heck is the general public supposed to be able to see the progress with their own eyeballs with all of that black tarp in our way? Are we trying to hide the progress, or what?

Check this pic. We used to buy our shoes in this place. No Hush Puppies (chick shoes) for me, thank you very much.

Boscov's Appliance Ctr--Formerly J.S. Raub shoes

Actually, I was on this conveyor belt about two years ago after the homeless drunkards ripped the door off of the rear of the building. Why is it we keep encouraging those useless pricks? Can't we have the cops bust on them nonstop until they finally move to Scranton?

Going down!

I can't recall ever being in the Stetz store, so taking a gander at South Main Street from an upstairs window was definately a first for me. Then again, how long ago was it that anyone looked through this window?

Stetz' upstairs window

Progress? Yeah, it's well on it's way. It's just trying to hide from public view for the meantime.

The Classic Bride store.

Classic Bride

Classic Bride

The rear roof of the Stetz section.

Stetz' roof

An old elevator in the rear of the Prestique Antique building.

Elevator in Prestique Antique Bldg

We were not allowed to enter the former Prestique Antique building due to the gross amounts of pigeon and human excrement piled within. And we were only allowed to enter the rear of the building next door (name escapes me) because the front half of the building is about ready to collapse upon itself.

And the construction dude who gave us the impromptu tour was very polite and very informative.

So, as we can clearly see, progress is well on it's way. It's just not getting here fast enough to suit some people. And it's not getting here fast enough to convert the skeptical folks to optimistic folks. Well, not yet.

But progress is well on it's way. That's why both Butch and I took to the streets of Wilkes-Barre earlier today. We thought we'd give you a small sneak peak at what you'd otherwise never get to see. Today we went behind the black tarps. And before you know it, we'll be seated before some very large movie screens with nothing at all blocking our view. Patience, kiddies. It'll be warm soon enough and then the litany of projects will kick into high gear real quick. It's gonna be one honest to God exciting year here in good ole Wilkes-Barre. Hang in there a little bit longer.

Just you wait and see.