11-16-2005 Stupidistan

I love the way those naysayers predicting doom and gloom in Baghdad scoff that Iraq's a totally artificial entity and that, without some Saddamite strongman, Kurds, Sunnis and Shias can't co-exist in the same state. Oh, really? If Iraq's an entirely artificial entity, what do you call a state split between gay drugged-up red-light whatever's-your-bag Dutchmen and anti-gay anti-whoring anti-everything-you-dig Muslims? If Kurdistan doesn't belong in Iraq, does Pornostan belong in the Islamic Republic of Holland?

In a democratic age, you can't buck demography - except through civil war. The Yugoslavs figured that out. In the 30 years before the meltdown, Bosnian Serbs had declined from 43 per cent to 31 per cent of the population, while Bosnian Muslims had increased from 26 per cent to 44 per cent.

So Europe's present biculturalism makes disaster a certainty. One way to avoid it would be to go genuinely multicultural, to broaden the Continent's sources of immigration beyond the Muslim world. But a talented ambitious Chinese or Indian or Chilean has zero reason to emigrate to France, unless he is consumed by a perverse fantasy of living in a segregated society that artificially constrains his economic opportunities yet imposes confiscatory taxation on him in order to support an ancien regime of indolent geriatrics.--Mark Steyn, Telegraph

I abso-freaking-lutely love reading blogs. These days, it seems as if blogs are like assholes. You know the timeless bit---everyone's got one. That's certainly not a bad thing, but from what I'm running across, there aren't many bloggers running down the middle of the field. Rather, the majority of them stick way to the right, or way to the left of the political playing field. And with this aged freedom experiment of ours being what it is, that's not necessarily a horrible happening either. Undoubtedly, the internet scares the bejesus out of the national Democrats, oh, and John McCain. Why else would the out-of-touch gods in Washington D.C. be debating two bills meant to censor the internet as far as free political speech is concerned? Therein lies what our government and the communist government of China have in common. They are both scared sh*tless of the internet. That's where we're at, kiddies. The McCain/Feingold act was merely the opening salvo of the elite's War on Free Speech. Imagine that. U.S. Senators working to curb free speech. Makes you wonder where our form of democracy took that hard, hard left turn.

I'll not deny that there is much that disgusts me about many on the left side of the field, but, then again, there's plenty to annoy me coming from the opposing sidelines. During that last presidential election, I voted for Dubya based on his idealology to some degree, but much more so because of his unwavering stance on terrorism. In response to an attack on our soil, we are of the same mindset: You wanna f>ckin' fight? Fine! We'll fight!!! Sorry there clueless pacifists, but to do otherwise only encourages more attacks. But I digress. Back to blogging.

I was kind of beat yesterday and had no interest at all in further polluting the internet with any of my prolific toxicity. Instead, I spent a quiet night reading blogs. I started with the local variety and much to my amusement, I learned that DOUGHNUTS R US is no more. This is a very positive development when you consider that this site consisted of little more than anonymous attacks on one's neighbors when it wasn't purporting that this city's cops are "on the take", or basically just your garden variety "swine." And I quote. And now that Save My City is to Wilkes-Barre's internet presence what the Steam Heat building is to high-speed fiber-optics, when outsiders search for Wilkes-Barre blogs, chances are those surfers won't come away thinking that all of us bloggers from the rusted coal belt married our siblings after Papa went and ran off with the rodeo. Well, hopefully. I reckon.

For the purposes of reviewing the remainder of our local blogs, I'll not identify them past this point. I'm not afraid of ruffling anyone's feathers. It's just that I don't want to get into any of those totally counterproductive Conservative versus Liberal pissing matches. These days, the ongoing debate reminds me too much of the Hutus versus the Tootsies (or whatever those warring and murderous tribes called themselves). The thing is, the American electorate is so completely polarized, it's getting damn near impossible to debate much of anything of any substitive nature.

Local blog #1: The dude takes shots at whomever he pleases, but the vast majority of them are sent the republican's way. Sometimes I see his point, and sometimes I vehemently disagree with him. But his arguments are rarely of a Spy vs. Spy nature. You know, Libs vs. The Neocons, or whatever they're calling it at this point. I don't know, Libs vs. The Religious Right, or Libs vs. The Chickenhawks. For more on all of that, call Michael Moore or Kurt Shotko. Chances are they'll be stoned off their asses, but it's worth a try. Anywho, this particular blogger does not pontificate from atop his mighty cyber throne. He usually makes his case in a less than confrontational way (certainly not my style) and he's out of there. I can deal with that. I can go back to that site again and again. Fact is, I think I could throw a few sudsies back with this guy while we rumble my foundation loose with some Dead Kennedys set dangerously close to maximum volume.

Local blog #2: Sorry, but "liberals this," and "liberals that" makes Jack the Blogger a very dull boy indeed. Fact is, if you listen to Rush Limbaugh on anything approaching a consistent basis, there's absolutely no reason to visit this blog only to find encapsulated re-workings of Rush's Them-vs-Us daily content. If what you seek is to be the king of the blogosphere, it's gonna take quite a bit more than bashing liberals day-in and day-out. The Jints were upset by the Vikes a couple days back. Why might that be? Liberal play-calling? Dude, either find some middle ground from which to work solutions from, or stick a f>cking sock in it already.

Local blog #3: This guy is the Hatfield to Blogger #2's McCoy. Nothing matters to him other than having that D listed immediately following the candidate's name. When you consider the complexity of the multitude of problems facing this country, the abject simplicity of Democrats Good/Republicans Bad should get you to running from this sort of loyal, blinded partisanship in a big hurry. The substance of the candidate matters not, only the party affiliation. What's that line from The Clash? If Adolf Hitler flew in today, they'd send a limousine anyway. A limo for Hitler? It's not out of the realm of possibilities when all that matters to the adoring supporters is that you line up on the correct sideline.

And my point? Unless we wanna become Stupidistan in a relatively big hurry, as voters, or as bloggers, we gotta start weighing candidates on their merit first, and their party second. What good is it to elect your party's candidate if your candidate is a total buffoon in the first place? Or are we stupid enough to incessantly bow before a certain idealology even while holding our collective noses at the polling places?

After the fact, I have yet to meet a Democrat that would staunchly support anything that John Kerry had to say during the election run-up. The thing is, he didn't say much of anything other than his being a Vietnam veteran and his not being George Bush. Sorry, but the guy was a hopeless stiff. And trust me on this, I thought I'd never see a bigger stiff than Mr. Alpha-Male himself, one Al Gore.

And you need not e-mail me and list all of Dubya's well-documented faults. The reason you left field folks lost to him twice was because your candidates reeked to the highest of the heretofore undiscovered heavens. Like Bob Dole before them, both Gore and Kerry were duds. They were oafish bores. And rather than devoting your collective energies to "getting" Bush, maybe the country would benefit more if you had something substantial to offer in return.

You can go and call me a "no good fargin' conservative," and I can shoot right back with "you friggin' no good liberal," but where is any of that hopelessly partisan back-and-forth going to get us? Is it going to fix even one of the enormous and still-festering problems we all face as a nation?

Yeah. Listen to me. A nation. As if. These days, there is no more nation to speak of. There's only warring tribes being barely held together by who know's what. We fritter away time with all of this cultural civil war muckity-muck, while our stated enemies of the holy jihad are knocking themselves out trying to figure out how to nuke a major city near you. People, if ever a new tone could be established, it desperately needs to be country first, and political party second. As Private Hudson once said while being stalked by aliens: We're in some real pretty sh*t here, man. It's ultimately sad to say, but that's where we currently find ourselves. We're in some real pretty sh*t here, man.

So what's it going to be? Should we cross party lines when the good of the country trumps all other considerations? Or, is toiling away in Stupidistan perfectly fine with you so long as your side wins? I'm fairly certain that I know the answer to my own question.

The apex of our country's remarkable existance is now but a smallish speck on the rear-view mirror. And we seem to be too completely busy fighting amongst ourselves to even take notice of it.

Do you really want to live in Stupidistan?

Too late! You're already there.

Whoa!!! We've got some late breaking news here.

The Eagles do not suck. No. Donovan has a bruised crotch, a bruised teat, a bruised butt, a bruised face, a bruised toe, and a bruised ring finger. What he should have is a bruised ego.

More Chunky Soup, Mom?

And then we've got that Vikes upset of the Giants this past Sunday. Believe me, this team has built my hopes very high many times over only to crush my dreams in the most depressing of ways. There are those seasons when being a Giants fan felt very similar to being an oppressed and lost tribe wandering aimlessly through the barren desert. But this season is not one of them.

As much as that game was frustrating, it was kinda like watching a football game in the Twilight Zone while just the right super nova got stars, planets and asteroids to colliding with each other in a way that only Arthur C. Clarke could envision. Rather than investing any time in squaring off against the Jints, the Vikes would have been smarter to simply stay at home and buy a few Powerball tickets. Such was their luck on Sunday.

And, please, don't give me any gibberish about superior special teams play, or whatnot. Coaching special teams amounts to little more than launching a feverish Blitzkreig directly into the center of a rapidly-advancing Blitzkrieg. It's not something that'll get you many wins in the NFL unless imploding stars are collapsing upon themselves in the correct quadrants somewhere.

I think Eli Manning definately suffered through his worst game this year, but...but...ah, it's a good but, but the Giants defense has allowed a total of 500 yards in total offense, and 9 points during the past three games. We'll be alright.

One other thing. Is it any wonder that Monday Night Football is all but kaput when the halftime show is going on at a quarter to eleven? When I went up to bed, the Eagles were having their way with the Cowpokes, but we had a whole other half of football yet to be played. So, thanks to that ridiculously late 9 PM kickoff, I missed me one helluva wild finish. What else is new?

Thanks ABC.

The kids from The Crown, the Kings College student newspaper, have gotten around to publishing once again.

Renovations Progress Throughout Wilkes-Barre - Jim McCabe Managing Editor

Symbolically, Wilkes-Barre has already revitalized itself. Everywhere you go, you can fi nd posters displayed on small shops, bars, and restaurants with the phrase, “I Believe…”, with the idea being that those small business owners believe in the future of our city.

Full Story

Follow this sequence from The Club for Growth:

From the e-mail inbox Pat will be on the show, NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, tonight on PBS. We hope you can tune in because he was originally scheduled to debate Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, the head of the Republican Main Street Partnership.

This is the same RINO organization whose members are blocking budget cuts from passing the House and the same group that once received a big check from George Soros. Unfortunately, Ms. Resnick backed out of the debate. We guess it's tough to defend RINOs.

Regardless of who Pat will debate, it will surely be a spirited conversation. The show will air at 7pm EST on PBS, but check your local listings as the time may be different in your area.

Also, to learn more about the economic issues that the Club follows, please be sure to visit our blog, which we update daily.

From the e-mail inbox Well, it looks like Pat won't be on Jim Lehrer's TV show tonight after all.

The TV producers for the show simply couldn't find a RINO who was willing to debate Pat so they decided to scrub the segment all together. We're sorry for the confusion, but please look for more updates from us in the future.

You gotta love it when politicians are not willing to defend some of the Sad Sack sh*t that they pull.

Then again, we know all about that sort of thing being tax-paying residents of Pennsylvania. It seems our State Senate and our top dog in Harrisburg have conspired to repeal those hefty raises they voted themselves in the middle of the night. Poor, poor Russ Nigro.

I don't give a flying funk what any of these out-of-touch folks have to say while in full damage control mode. I don't care who got what, or who it was that built whichever arena. When we first lay eyes on our newfangled electronic voting machines, I won't be pushing any of their buttons.

Face the heat, boys. Feel the wrath. Eat it!

Poor, poor Russ Nigro.

As many of you that have subjected yourselves to my madness for far too long should know by now, some of my fondest memories are those that were generated at Percy A. Brown & Company: Foods of Distiction since 1905.

Check the pic:

Delivery Door

Yeah, I know. So what? The gigantic theater project is moving along very nicely. Ho hum. What else you got?

You see, memories, especially those of the fond variety, are very fleeting, if not, very exclusive things. Where you see a vacant lot, or a construction project, I see Percy Brown's. Where I see a vacant lot, you see the felled Fell Tavern. While frightening pigeons on the Square, I might turn just the right way and see my Grandma and myself sauntering into Kresge's for some pre-fabbed pizza. And while gettin' to scattering many of those very same pigeons yourself, you might flashback to the time when the high-falootin' businessmen sat in that shop with the highest chairs ever made while having their 'spensive-looking shoes shined. I see the Paramount, and you might see the Kirby. I spy some broken paver bricks, and you might be remembering that Disney movie you took in at the Comerford. So be it. Many years have gotten behind us, and the landscape we remember is long gone too. But back to the pic.

I rode the Hummer into that back alley to check the backside of the theater's progress only to be confronted by that which looks like the delivery door for the complex. And while you see bricks, mortar and some impressive construction do-dads, I was awestruck by the fact that the new delivery door sits almost exactly to the foot where Percy A. Brown's delivery door sat for quite a few decades. And I couldn't help but to remember what it was like to be 14-years-old again and carrying on "out back" with my co-workers some thirty-some-odd years ago.

Some of the best times I ever had were those spent fighting with a much younger and much nastier version of Charlie Weiss at the garbage hopper. Mucking about with that 81-year-old delivery guy who could carry a 100-pound bag of peeled potatoes in each hand was always fun. The dude smoked like a chimney, he was 81-years-old, and deep down, I knew he could kick my ass all the way back to Connecticut without even breaking a sweat. He was one cut sumbitch.

Roughin' up on the younger black kids that dropped down from the parking garage's roof onto ours was always a blast. Looking back on those days, I'm clueless as to why it was always black kids that sought to run amok on our roof, it just was. Whatever. We were equal opportunity ruffians in every sense, but the white kids seemed strangely disinterested.

Going up to the bakery, pushing one of those massive windows open and gawking at the sun-bathing college girls on the next roof was always the highlight of the work day after the bakery shut down and the head baker stumbled on home. When you're a struggling young dorkwad of 14, seeing a naked girl of, say, 20-years-old, gives one an optimistic view of what the future might have in store for him. See that, man. There's something to be said for living in a college town so long as you have access to the highest of the roofs.

Did you ever unload a 52-foot trailer filled to the top foot with frozen turkeys all by your lonesome? No? I did. Many times over. Like so many other times of the year, Thanksgiving was a sales bonanza for Percy's. You could order whatever size turkey you wanted, plus all of the peripheral trimmings with one phone call, and then pick them up piping hot and neatly stuffed into one over-sized cardboard box. The senior citizens loved it. And so did Percy's owners.

Now, you might think it quite the chore to unload a trailer such as that, but it never phased me. Well, it never phased me until that one year when the overflow had to be taken down the freight elevator and into the basement blast freezer. The door to the blast freezer used to swing shut by design, so I pushed it all the way open and used my jacket to keep it propped open. At some point, I was in the blast freezer stacking the frozen turkeys by weight when I heard an unfamiliar sound directly behind me. Turns out, the door had swung shut with a mighty thud.

At that point in time, Percy Brown's was in business for some 70 years, so there was no telling how old this particular blast freezer happened to be. It had no push-handle on the interior. There was no escape. Once trapped inside you had only a few things to consider. One was the fans at the back end blowing like an arctic hurricane. Another was that wooden door blocking your escape to the more hospitable environs. Another was that thermometer that reached thirty below zero faster than your nose hairs could freeze solid. And the very last thing to consider was the axe mounted on the wall. If you ever hoped to spy upon those naked college girls again, you knew what you had to do. You wanna live? Grab that axe and get to hackin'. And hack I did. And the more I hacked on that door, the more I started to worry. And the more worrying I did, the faster I hacked at the door. And after what seemed like a 6-month deployment at Ice Station Zebra, the door suddenly swung open only to expose Gary Davis laughing his balls off directly behind it's massive girth. He was laughing too hard to defend himself at that point.

Of all of the great people I worked with at that place, the one I missed the most as the years passed me by was the assistant manager, Leo Smith. When I was 14-years-old, I was a long-haired, obnoxious and terribly foul-mouthed welfare kid with a record-breaking chip on my shoulder. And rather than firing me, Leo tortured me. Leo tried to frighten me. Leo even took to throwing me up on a cutting board by my throat and jammed a large knife into that cutting board but an inch from that part of my body I wanted to introduce to the naked college girls.

He pushed me, he ragged on me non-stop, he challenged me, he held me accountable, and during that drawn-out process he taught me how to interact with other people without coming across as a total asshole. I had no freaking idea at the time, but he was my very first mentor. He was an old-timer for sure. He believed in those silly old ways of yesterday. He was into antiquated stuff like civility, courtesy and doing the toughest of the duties without whining about them. And being that I had no idea what was going on at that time, I never thought to thank him.

A couple of years later, I was put in a position where I had to lead struggling young dorks not many years younger than myself into some very high volume restaurant battles. I wasn't real, real big on the civility routine when all of the 192 seats were filled with customers, the waiting area was overflowing onto the front sidewalk and the cursing waitresses were but seconds away from scratching our eyes out if their orders didn't suddenly appear in the pass-through window, but one of Leo's oft-repeated phrases resonated within me whether I knew it or not: Stop whining and take the bull by the horns!

All of his management handywork took a few years to finally manifest itself, but he managed to create one ferocious short-order cook the likes of which I have never seen since. The cooks that worked with me turned out to be the best that my company had ever produced in a single kitchen. And the guys that later on worked under me more than carried on that tradition. Why? Because many years earlier Leo saw some raw potential in a scrappy long-haired kid who hadn't a single clue about anything.

And based upon my experiences with that boisterous old prick, and the many years I spent teaching clueless kids after being hired to their very first hospitality industry jobs, I firmly believe that some of the best teachers out there are the ones toiling away in anonymity where the young kids with no appreciable job skills flock to to make a few spending dollars. Leo toughened me up. And I in turn toughed up many a long-haired kid who happened to have some potential buried deep inside.

The unionized teachers can teach your kid how to conjugate a verb. And they can teach your kid how to appreciate classical music. But it's the guys like Leo that can teach your kid how to rise above that which holds them back the most. Namely, themselves.

Percy Brown's wasn't as much of a job as it was an education. And, yet, they freakin' paid me to go and get myself educated. Go figure.

Anyway, it looks like a delivery door to me.


I'll go now.