2-26-2006 Never be too judgmental or...

The following e-mail is exactly the type of flotsam I have been extremely reluctant to post of late.

Read on.

From the e-mail inbox Ya know, i have to agree scientology is crazy, something i know nothing about. But, i also think it is a little crazy for you, someone whom says they love this country to be critizising someone elses religion, even if we do not think it is a religion, you are slandering someones name on religion, freedom of religion is one of the founding morals of our country, and you have set our country back hundreds of years by being so small minded.

YOU HAVE LOST A READER BECAUSE OF YOUR SMALL MINDEDNESS.... i was a JJ supporter because of you.....Now im lost...is JJ that small minded? Like you?.....lets go BOB REILLY

Iím not sure whether youíre missing the point entirely, or if youíre just trying to get a rise out of me, but letís do this anyway.

First off, scientology is to organized religion what The Sex Pistols were to disco. In my opinion, itís a dubious endeavor in many respects, but to suggest that itís not pertinent--not important--not an issue--during such an important election run-up is foolhardy at best. Anything that colors the judgment of the folks seeking elected office has to be open to debate. It just has to.

If we had an occultist practicing black magic running for Blaumís seat, Iím fairly certain weíd want to be made aware of it. Be it a Wiccan candidate, or an atheist, we need to know what shapes the decision making processes of the people aspiring to run the entire show. Is that too much to ask?

Consider what happens to folks like George W. Bush who wear their Christianity on their sleeves. They get savaged day-in and day-out because theyíre deemed to be too religious and supposedly trying to shove their religion down our throats. From where Iím sitting, thatís perfectly fine with most. To hear many tell it, heís just another one of those less than intelligent Bible-thumpiní rejects from a red state. Thatís apparently fair game.

But, the way youíre telling the tale, scientology is not fair game. Scientologists are being slandered when their belief systems come under scrutiny. So, if some lady who happens to be a practicing witch announces her intentions to seek an elected office, itís somehow unfair to make mention of it? Muslim? Wiccan? Buddhist? Are any of those faiths worthy of a mention, or are only the Catholics and born again types being crucified these days? David Duke anyone? Should we keep it to ourselves when the closet KKK boys who mix equal parts religion and hatred seek to run the whole program? Thereís certainly no shortage of professional types that will tell you that scientology is the sole creation of a modern day lunatic, so I beg to differ with you. It is an issue.

Iíve set our country back hundreds of years? All by my lonesome? Wow wee! I had no idea how much unbridled power I had in these dangerous fingertips of mine. Louis Farrakhan, David Duke and L. Ron Hubbard ainít got nuthiní on me. I can fu>k things up just as quick as the next whacko. All rise before Zorcong!!!

Another thing, mocking someoneís ďreligionĒ does not preclude them from practicing it, so spare me the American history lesson. Read the Federalist Papers and check back with me. Youíre giving me this sort of jive while some living in gated communities have been threatened with having their properties confiscated by force if they refuse to cease and desist with the manger scenes on their front lawns, or the Stars and Stripes fluttering in the breeze overhead? Christianity is under direct assault in this country, as are public displays of patriotism. But all other religions and beliefs should be above scrutiny for the purposes of electing our leaders? Thatís a frightening stretch.

And letís get a couple of things straight. The only noteworthy thing J.J. Murphy and I have in common is our belief that this town of ours can and will do a heck of a lot better than what weíve gotten ourselves accustomed to. I do not, nor do I presume to speak for him. If you need to know where he stands on an issue, youíll have to approach him to find out. Fact is, when they made me the frickiní mold was already broken in three places.

He attended college here, he chose to reside here and heís heavily invested in making Northeastern Pennsylvania a better place for all of us. On any given week he puts in more man hours than most of us would be willing to. Heís got his city administrator duties, his air force reserve duties, he volunteers his time to youth sports and heís got far-flung commitments above and beyond those that the general public has no clue about.

Iíve been lauded in the past for getting involved, but Iíd never commit so much of my time to what is generally considered doing oneís civic and moral duty for the betterment of all. I pick and choose when I want to get involved. The energy I could bring to bare is just about limitless, but I use up much of it frittering away the hours in mostly trivial pursuits. I like to enjoy myself too much. Iím what youíd call selfish. You know, your average Joe. The same cannot be said about J.J. Murphy. For too many of us, getting involved rarely amounts to much more than posing for the photographers at city council meetings, calling TalkBack 16, or writing a 50-word letter to the editors of the newspapers. The same cannot be said about him.

Look, we can fire electronic spitballs back and forth until the Sun burns out and never manage to agree on anything. So be it. No biggie. You vote for whomever you want to. I wonít think anything less of you, at least, not in public. I pay very close attention to the goings-on in this city and I do my homework to the best of my limited abilities. And in my opinion, J.J. Murphy is far and above the best available candidate out there looking to fill Kevin Blaumís soon-to-be vacant seat in Harrisburg.

As far as Iím concerned, Iím 2-0-1 in the won-loss column as it pertains to local politics. Supporting Tom Leighton amounted to a big win. The final Home Rule plan was a very flawed plan at best and went down to defeat. Another victory. And my having backed VonderTodd is a tie at best, with the replay official still trying to figure out if heís even come close to the goal line. I think my instincts are pretty good, and Iím convinced that I know who should replace Kevin Blaum.

Iíve lost a reader? Well, that happens in a supposedly ďfreeĒ country where unvarnished opinions are continually frowned upon. Although, if you steadfastly refuse to read that which you do not agree with, or find to be repugnant, you will be doing yourself a great disservice. Simple-mindedness is a direct byproduct of refusing to sample all sides of a given argument. Rush Limbaugh makes sense on occasion and so does Al Franken. Dennis Miller presents some really good arguments and then Bill Mauer does a credible job of refuting them without even trying to. Anne Coulter is abrasive on purpose and Maureen Dowd is repulsive on purpose.

If you limit yourself to Louis Farrakhan, then youíll be a black racist. Conversely, if you only read David Duke, youíll be a white racist. Adolf Hitler and Karl Marx made sense on occasion and so did Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Your best bet would be to expose yourself to as many mindsets as possible before you get around to determining your own. Information may not amount to knowledge, but a clear lack of well-rounded information will never amount to knowledge.

And remember, during these politically correct times, never be too judgmental or you will be judged very harshly.

Trust me, I know.

Sez me.

Ask and you shall receive. Somebody always knows the answer when our reminiscing falls just short of the goal.

From the e-mail inbox The pizza place next to the Paramount was Carmen's. Anybody back in the Valley remember another great place on the other side of the Square named Bettelli's,

Carmenís? Got me, man. But wifey chirped right up with Oh, Carmenís. I remember Carmenís, but I always ate Kresgeís Pizza. As did I.

I hope that helps Mrs. G out. If not, I would have to suggest a double shot of something in the 80-proof range. Whoa. Iím kidding, man. Iíll not provoke any woman without first knowing how long her fingernails are.

Bettelliís on the Square? Jeez oh Pete! Here we go again. Back to the great flood picture book I go. I donít remember that place at all, but I did eat at Bettelliís Villa on Kidder Street once upon a time. I was in the Char Pit a few times, but with who escapes me now. Does anyone remember that shoe shine shop that sat right next to the Comerford theater. My Gramps used to go in there when I was barely knee-high to a grasshopper, and I was fascinated with watching those businessmen hiding behind their morning newspapers while having their Ďpensive-looking shoes shined by someone else. Little did I know, before very much longer, that became my job back at home--shining everybody elseís shoes. It was too much like work for me.

Besides, my high-top Kedís never needed no shining.

Finally! A lone Republican enters the crowded race to replace Kevin Blaum.

ďSome of these candidates have experience in raising our taxes, or not spending our money responsibly or not questioning troubling hirings,Ē Katsock said. ďThis is not the kind of experience we need working for us in Harrisburg. The most important experience in this race is the experience in understanding and presenting the important issues encompassed in state government today.Ē

Huh??? And fractional divisions thereofÖofÖ.of a similarly diminutive proportion??? What?

Only someone sorely, sorely lacking in experience would dare to make the claim that understanding an issue somehow qualifies as experience. Or is it just me?

From todayís Citizensí Voice:

First Republican joins race in 121st district

Katsock said she plans to focus on many issues, primarily righting government wrongs on the state and local levels, such as delaying the city redistricting issue, voting for pay raises and vetoing the requirement to present identification before voting.

Righting wrongs? You know, at the risk of losing even more readers, I must ask a couple of relevant question at this point.

Is that forward-thinking, or is that dwelling on the past? Is that not in some part grinding the local political axe at the state level? Could the perpetual peopleís activist get an arena built in short fashion? Or is that the work of legislators?

Whatever. Iím not going to vote for her. Although, itís really sad that one candidate is the best the Republican party of Luzerne County can muster.


Again, is it just me, or is Luzerne County spending more on security for the big Hugo Selenski spectacle than the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is spending on port security? Weíve got more heavily-armed folks patrolling the perimeter of the courthouse than we have guarding the Mexico-New Mexico border, for chrissakes.

What are these people expecting to have happen? It seems to me that the lawless goobers Hugo used to run with are all in custody and ratting him out at an increasingly alarming rate. Whatís he gonna do? Rent himself an army of blood-thirsty mercenaries via eBay?

I thought they installed the new-and-improved security system over there on River Street. Last I heard, they had metal detectors and big, bad guys in blue suits hovering nearby at all times. And guns, too. So, what do they think Hugo has up his sleeve at this point? I gotta tell you, kicking out a faulty window and tying bed sheets together does not make for the greatest criminal mind in all of history. I think he has the lot of them unnerved. And I think heís loving every minute of it.

Just wait Ďtil he walks away a free man if you think heís got that sly smile thing going on now.

Just you wait.

RUTRO! The public hearing for Lake Kanjorski has been set for sometime in May. And right here in good Ďole Wilkes-Barre, no less.

Uncle Paul will be laying very, very low that week. Bad publicity, you know. And before the general election to boot. Ouch.

May 2006

I gotta roll. I wanna see for myself how many wrecks Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart cause this week, and still manage to finish in the top five.

Pampered freaks.