11-8-2005 Random thoughts from a sick individual

I was all but forced to use a sick day today. If this is what being "sick as a dog" is all about, I'd just assume opt out of this program and contract rabies. And isn't it a pleasurable experience to get your Doubting Thomas of a boss on the blower and tell him you're staying home today? I think it'd be easier to convince Fidel Castro you're not an American pig even while wearing Nikes, a Dallas Cowboys ballcap and a Nuke Iran button. Since my polling place is but a couple of hundred yards away from the adobe, I'm hoping to muster up enough stamina to vote later on today. Should I be fired if I'm caught voting? Hmmm...

Do you think the Pioneers should woo Terrell Owens away from the Eagles? Ah, forget it. I'm definately off of my game. Where's my Sharpie?

For the purposes of this exercise I will assume that very many of us would prefer to replace Ed Rendell soon enough. I crossed party lines and voted for the guy, and I voted for him for one reason alone: He promised to provide some economic boosts to our smaller cities, and he has definately come through for Wilkes-Barre. The theater project would not have come to pass without the oversized checks he brought to town, plus he changed some regulations that made the Labor & Industry relocation into our downtown come about. And for those two reasons, I will remain forever grateful. But...(you knew a "but" was coming)...but, he has lost my support on just about every other issue he has sought fit to tackle. I'll not list them here today, but suffice it to say that I'd just assume that we give someone else a shot at the top spot during the next election go-round.

Despite having changed my party affiliation during the run-up to the '03 primaries, I still lean towards the Republican side of things on most issues. And, no, that doesn't mean I want to install a web cam in your bedroom and have the Fedrule Sex Police monitor your goings-on, or mandate that your kids be forced to study the Bible until they finally grow up. In fact, I don't give a hoot about what your kids do provided they respect all of the stuff I've managed to collect over the years.

Anyway, assuming that I want a new governor, and assuming that I want a Republican governor, who in the heck should I glom onto? Jeff Piccola, Lynn Swann, or Bill Scranton? According to the polling numbers listed on Piccola's site, he's the front-runner here in the early going. Sorry, but I have to scratch Lynn Swann right here and now. Call me stupid, ugly and ignorant, but I'm not going to vote for a Pittsburgh Steeler, or any other former pro athlete. I've seen the guy on that PA political channel. Yeah, he's bright and well-spoken. And, no, I'm not voting for an ex-jock. If reduced to choosing from the other two GOP hopefuls, I'm kind of leaning towards having the next governor coming out of good ole NEPA, and for obvious reasons.

The sad fact is, too much of what goes on in Harrisburg is ultimately designed to benefit Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Sure, they are huge cities with huge problems of their own, but with the northeast region poised and ready for some serious progress, wouldn't right now be the perfect time for this long-suffering region to elect one of it's own to the top spot in this state? With the new governor looking out for his own backyard, could this region go from getting better and better to being that of a boomtown?

I'm just asking that you give it some thought, that's all.

Whoopee! The latest crime stats are in!

Wilkes Barre Crime Stats


Forcible Rape


Aggravated Assault


Larceny theft

Motor vehicle theft


Make what you will of those numbers, but let it be known that not a one of those crimes can be attributed to me. Although, to be brutally honest, that aggravated assault thing has appealed to me from time to time. That's a bit of a weird term, ain't it? Aggravated assault? Well, DUH! If I wasn't frickin' aggravated, I wouldn't have assaulted you in the first place.

And what's up with forcible rape? You see, your honor, I did rape her, but not forcibly. I don't know. It must be me.

Murder is pretty easy to follow, as are burglary and robbery. I want what you got and I'm going to take it no matter what. I'm assuming that if you commit any of those nasty bits of crime, you will be forever excluded from consideration whereas the mayor's Beautifying My Neighborhood awards are concerned.

Larceny has a cool ring to it. I'm not exactly sure what it encompasses, but it does sounds kind of cool. What choo in fer convict? Larceny. Doesn't it just roll off of your tongue? Again, no awards for the best-looking properties will be coming your way.

You know, rather than pointing accusatory fingers all the time, I'd love to see a breakdown of these crimes along both racial lines and original points of origin. Rather than sticking with the dimwitted constraints of political correctness, why not crunch the numbers and put them on the table for all to ponder over?

Who's responsible for the majority of the crimes in this city? The white folk? Black? Brown? Born and raised types? Or them other folks--them "outsiders"--flocking here from the big cities? Statistically speaking, which group should concern me the most while I'm out and about? I think it would be interesting, who knows, maybe even eye-opening. Would one group send up a gigantic red flag, or would the lunacy be pretty much equal along the various demographic lines?

Vger wants to know.

Somebody get The Times Leader on that one. Since the Leader has taken to painting Wilkes-Barre as the new Fallujah these days, I'm thinking those folks would be eager to do another front page story concerning the city's various and sundry crimes. And since they've got a serious journalistic bone to pick with our Chief of Police, no matter how those numbers crunch, they could conclude that all of the crimes committed in this century were his fault. Yup. Another black eye. Another "exclusive."

I'm just sayin'.

I think the nightly Jihads going on in France should be of particular interest to us. Iffin' we're gonna throw our borders open and allow whoever it is that wants to to illegally enter our country and then settle into the local barrio, I think we need to all but mandate that they are forced to assimilate into the communtity at large. I'm not trying to equate one group's actions with some other group's, but I thought we realized a long, long time ago that segregation, forced or otherwise, was not in the best long-term interests of this country.

Consider what's going on in this neighborhood. We've got plenty of new neighbors that obviously hail from south of the Rio Grande, but with the majority of the older folks not able to speak English, they are fast becoming a separate community within a nervous community. And being that we cannot communicate with them in any appreciable way, we cast a suspicious eye in their direction and look for some sort of sign that they are indeed decent neighbors. From what I've seen, they seem to be God-fearing folks always eager to earn a buck, but I don't think being split into opposite camps with no lines of communication is a healthy thing. A few weeks back, a sizeable group of Hispanics had themselves a block party up here on Wyoming street. I saw that as a good sign, but it seemed to be a Hispanic-only event. The thing is, nobody is going to invite me to their block party if they can't even begin to communicate with me.

And this resentment over some of these people being here illegally is totally counter-productive if the fedrule govmint doesn't care that they're here. With all of this Jihad going on all over the world, it's obvious that we need to clamp down on our porous borders. But if these people are here to stay, we need for them to become Americans rather than yet another hyphenated group feeling totally out of the loop that is the American dream. Basically, we dare not repeat the immigration mistakes the Europeans have made.

If you want to be a part of my neighborhood you should be able to speak at least some rudimentary English and also have the proper documentation to prove that you belong here. Then all you'll need is a studious work ethic, a robust respect for the law and a clear understanding that civility is what separates us from the anarchists. But the very last thing we need is any government-courted cultural, social or economic apartheid going on in this country.

If you doubt that, consider France. Diversity for the sake of diversity is wonderful and all, but forcing together people with next to nothing in common, and of wildly diverse cultural and economic strata is a recipe for a riot. Remember, this country is supposed to be the ultimate melting pot. The problem is, there doesn't seem to be much melting going on these days.

We need to tweak the recently updated recipe. Or else.

Sez me.

Screw Wilkes-Barre. Let's try a little geopolitics.

While I have little problem with the Bush administration telling the rest of the world that we will do what we have to do to ensure our safety and prosperity, I think we might be repeating the same tired foreign policy mistakes as they pertain to our neighbors to the south.

First of all, while it's painfully obvious that Fidel Castro relishes his role as America's chief antagonist, the decades-long embargo of Cuba needs to go by the wayside already. Cuba is one of those communist holdovers in which it's citizens will never be more than riding right at the poverty level, but all that our embargo accomplishes is to force those people a bit lower than the poverty line. And as we should all know by now, poverty breeds resentment. I'm not saying we caused all that ills Cuba, I'm suggesting that our longstanding policies pursuant to Cuba are making things worse for the average occupants of that tiny isle.

What we're doing is trying to isolate Castro both diplomatically and economically. Meanwhile, that country remains a Third World country with free health care, '57 Chevys and little else. With Castro getting on up in years, if he were to die, his eventual successor would most likely be forced to adopt that anti-American stance, say some really, really nifty things meant to promote fervent nationalism and then the embargo goes on and on with nary and end in sight. At this point, I'm thinking we forget the '61 missile crisis and start extending a few olive branches across the gulf. Call me crazy, but I seriously doubt there are any Soviet MIRVs on that island anymore. At this late date, our Cuba policy is flawed and then some.

Now, let's take a brief look at Castro's bestest buddy, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Chavez is a communist, an autocrat and a demagogue. But, he's nationalized the assets of the mostly white robber barons and instituted a lengthy laundry list of socialist programs designed to benefit the mostly poor population of his country. And they love him for it. During the last disputed election, he garnered almost 57% of the popular vote. Instead of the upper class benefiting from that country's massive crude oil exports, the poor are now getting their teeth fixed, their roofs fixed and a piece of land to call their own for the very first time. While crude oil prices continue to be what they are, he can afford all of his socialized hand-outs. Suffice it to say, Chavez is there to stay for the foreseable future. And our government doesn't like it none too much.

The problem is, he's trying real hard to supplant Castro as America's leading antagonist. He even claims to have proof that this country was behind an attempted coup, and some major league protests in the streets. With that sort of paranoia firmly planted in his head, we've got jerks like Pat Robertson publicly calling for his assassination. And while the Bush administration is working hard to isolate him both diplomatically and economically, he recently threatened to hand over some of the F-16s in his possession to the Chinese for the purposes of reverse-engineering our aviation technology. He's also called upon OPEC to significantly cut it's oil output, thereby sending the price of crude oil soaring to dizzying heights. He has also called for the formation of a South American NATO of sorts to serve as a counter-balance to American military might. Basically, we're well on our way to helping to create this hemisphere's version of Saddam Hussein.

And as I previously alluded to, with massive amounts of crude oil revenues at his disposal, he remains as defiant as he ever was. Short of establishing no-fly zones at both ends of his country, our approach to this commie's chest-pounding has been much the same as every other tin-horn dictator that has ever come down the pike. But with all of the other strife going on all over the world, I'm wondering if we should be seeking to isolate this guy instead of finding some itsy-bitsy middle ground from which to work with him from.

I'm not suggesting that our foreign policy should become all warm and fuzzy all of a sudden, I'm just wondering aloud if we need to create another monster in our own backyard.

Freedom and democracy is preferable to what Chavez is all about. But we can't blockade 'em all, we can't bomb 'em all and we can't invade 'em all. 15 years ago, we had 600 ships in our Navy. These days, we can barely afford the remaining 281. Our days of being the world's policeman will have to give way to the economic realities we have been confronted with.

I know Dubya is a stubborn sort, but so is Chavez and something has got to give. In this case, it might be wise to leave the gunboats back at the port and give diplomacy an exhaustive try. At this point in time, the very last thing we need is another Cuba.

Sez moi.

I'm gonna wash up and try wandering out to the polls.