12-24-2006 Refrigerator magnets or: Why sobriety should be avoided at all costs

You tell me, man. Iím reading here that the New York Football Giants can make the playoffs after losing their final two games. Conversely, they can miss the playoffs if they win their last two games. Huh? Makes about as much sense as this.

Here. Click on the thingamabob displayed below. Itís not really a video or anything, just a heartwarming Christmas song to amuse yourselves with while I rape whatís left of your minds.

Whatever happened to all this talk about ďredeployingĒ from Iraq, as the Democrats coined it, or ďcutting & runningĒ as the Republicans called it? Seriously, the redeployment thing was at a fever pitch when the Democrats were swept back into power and now thereís nary a mention of it. What gives? What happened to finding that exit strategy? Sounds as if a whole bunch of those Democrat hopefuls were selling you dupes a hollow bill of goods, hayna?

Although, Iím not just busting on the left-leaning here. As it pertains to Iraq, it seems as if all the Republicans are seeking is a way to save face, while all the Democrats are worried about is not losing seats in Ď08. Thereís a whole lot of political triangulating going on. Meanwhile, the flow of body bags to Dover continues unabated. And, in my mind, thatís far, far worse than invading that sh*tty country in the first place, whatever the original motivation (lies, mistakes, what have you) might have been. Itís one thing to get close to 3,000 soldiers killed because of some perceived threat. But itís a whole other travesty of a thing to allow any more to die while politicians are collectively preoccupied with covering their oft-pampered asses.

Where once our soldiers were dying for a cause (whatever it was), now they are dying for the sake of the politicianís wants and needs. In other more succinct words, now they are literally dying for nothing. And, unlike during previous military conflagrations, our soldiers have access to the media on a daily basis, so they have to realize it. They know they are dying for nothing. NowÖnow, we have another Vietnam on our hands.

So, what to do about it? The Republicans donít want to admit that the war was not properly planned from the get-go, which has led us to this sorry point. The Democrats donít want to appear soft on national defense and all of that. Meanwhile, back at the sand dune, dog tags are still being collected. And for what? Politics? They followed their orders. They fought for their country. They killed people they didnít know and probably had little reason to, or interest in killing. And now they are dying only because it is politically expedient? Talk about giving a battle-hardened veteran a reason to be embittered throughout the remainder of his life, as if the weight of his conscience isnít crushing enough!

An exit strategy? Maybe they should start asking those ďboots on the groundĒ what our exit strategy should be when one political party canít admit to itís mistakes, while the other would prefer inaction--the status quo--to making a political misstep. Yeah, what would the grunts tell us at this point if they were allowed to speak their minds without fear of being court-martialed immediately afterwards for having done so? Iím thinking itíd be something along the lines of ďWe tried, we did our duty, but itís time to police your ammo, pack up the gameboys and line up on the tarmac. Itís time to go home.Ē

Sorry, but the way I see it, up until this last election we were counting the number of troops killed in action. But now that the defining moment has come and gone--now that the referendum on the war resulted in a very clear message being sent and then promptly ignored by the recipients, weíre now counting the number of chumps killed in action.

Where once there seemed to be a purpose to all of this dying, now people are dying only to benefit a bipartisan collection of self-serving politicians. Thereís your bilateral approach to waging war. The Republicans and Democrats alike want out of Iraq in the worst of ways, but during this sure to be testy run-up to the 2008 election, electioneering mandates a lack of decisive action over the much more politically safe harbor known as inaction.

Meanwhile, back at the sand duneÖ

To be perfectly frank, when our two majority commissioners went forward with that highly dubious juvenile detention deal, I washed my hands of both of them. In addition, when Skrep tells me the only way we can achieve a really, really functional county government is by hiring all of his closest friends, I must remind you that I did not vote for him. And when he tells me those close friends of his should be paid salaries much, much higher than his, Iím thinking a clothes-pin over my nose probably wouldnít hurt that bad.

Just to be fair, I also think those majority commissioners of ours have made some sound investments in our future despite the heavy criticisms they were treated to for having done so. With that said, there does have to a limit to all of this unchecked spending, doesnít there?

Letís put it this way, when they start resembling me at 15-years-old entering a Gallery of Sound with my income tax return already changed into dollars, there is a serious freaking problem.

W-B gets $1.7M for growth projects

It was a good day for Wilkes-Barre revitalization.

Luzerne County Commissioners on Thursday unanimously voted to earmark $1.7 million in bond funding for three city government projects:

ē $800,000 to help turn the old First National Bank Building on Public Square into a restaurant

ē $400,000 to build clusters of affordable housing projects in two blighted sections of the city

ē $500,000 toward a downtown intermodal transportation hub

Commissioners Greg Skrepenak and Todd Vonderheid also voted to forgive county property taxes on improvements made at the Murray Complex so the developer may use that money to help pay off a $2.2 million loan to build condominiums and commercial space at the Wilkes-Barre site.

W-B Area signs on to Murray Complex plan

Guys, guys, guys!!! Tax-forgiveness is wonderful to some degree. That tax scheme is probably too much for us common folks to be able to understand. Restructuring debt payments is great and all in the short-term, but thinking long-term--they will eventually come due. And securing loans for reasonably thought-out enhancements is fine and all in the short-term, but they too will eventually come due. The budget may be artificially balanced for this year and next, but will that even be possible in the future with the county spending money like a 15-year-old in a musical candy store?

Todd has already announced his intention to vacate his current position after but one term. But Skrep worries me. Itís been rumored that he has much higher political ambitions, so Iím wondering if he isnít building that glitzy future of his by spending this county into near oblivion. Pass out the expensive political goodies now, collect the political chits later on and let some other poor rubes figure out how to pay for it all?

And people continue to ask me why I donít regularly opine away about the goings-on of our county government?

Sometimes you just canít decipher the indecipherable.

From the e-mail inbox Assholes to the left of us!

Assholes to the right of us!

The Spare Parts Theorem, from Henry Eyring (1901-1981), Princeton University: "There are more horses' asses than horses."


From the e-mail inbox Mark

I enjoyed your post yesterday and I know exactly who you were talking about. I have followed your site since mid-2001 and never once do I recall you getting personal with those you had a beef with. In fact, I remember you saying that if we could see some of the nastier stuff you receive and refuse to use we would be amazed. Kudos to you.

What I have to add is this___If a guy wants a council seat and canít stand what the internet has to offer by way of criticism, heís in for a rude awakening when he has to deal with the rest of what the job entails. What you have managed to do ONCE AGAIN is expose a lightweight pretender for what he is.

Keep up the good work.


From the e-mail inbox Hi Marc,

I just read your blog "The Stuff of Tyrants". I don't who you are talking about and it doesn't matter, but if they intend to enter into public life, that person needs to develop a thicker skin. During my run, my non-political office received harassing phone calls (usually answered by staff), I had not so nice notes left on my car and people walked up to me in the street and offered so not so nice advise. My business suffered, some of it left because they found out my party affiliation, some were friends with my opponent, some owed jobs to him or his friends, and some just didn't like what I had to say. There is a certain amount of privacy that disappears when you choose to enter, at any level, public life. I never complained, I never called the authorities, until right now I never mentioned it to anyone outside a close circle of family and friends.

Corey O'Brien was filling in for Kevin Lynn earlier in the week. Nancy made reference to something in the paper that may have been wrongly attributed to someone. I thought she meant Corey, but I was wrong. I offered up some reflections on my run. On occasion the newspapers misquoted me or flat out printed things I never said, if he is going to run for office that is a reality he needs to prepare for. No matter how specific you are, no matter how articulate you are, they are going to make their own interpretation and print what they want. When I called the reporter or editor, sometimes difficult to find retractions were printed, others times they were not. However, it all goes back to that it was/is my decision to enter public life. People need to be aware of that before they do it.

Is it appropriate for someone to genuinely be stalked and/or harassed if they enter public life? No, of course not. However, when you put yourself out there things are going to happen that are out of your control. If it is an anonymous phone call, unsigned note or a stranger in the street; however unsettling what is said or written may be, you blow it off and go on.

I learned a lot from my initial foray into public life. No one is ever going to agree with me 100%. Not everyone is going to be fair to me. If you want to make the leap into public life you need to realize that you loose a certain amount of privacy. That's why it's called public life. What was written and said about me wasn't always flattering, sometimes it was flat out ridicule. You deal with the source, hopefully if they were wrong you get a correction, apology, etc., just don't hold your breath. Hell, Kevin Lynn made some derogatory comment about me and even though the comment was personal --- I never took it personal. Kevin is a radio talk show host, it is his job to stir the pot. I didn't get upset, I didn't rant, I didn't threaten to sue; I called him up made a little joke about it, he apologized, we discussed issues and moved on. On the few occasions I called into the morning news I actually enjoyed talking with Kevin.

Bloggers post on the web to express their opinion about how they see their topic of choice. I have gotten to know some of the bloggers who wrote about me. Though we don't agree all the time, I have grown to respect their insights and opinions.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Keep on bloggin'


Hey, with the council being reduced from seven to five members next year, now, more than ever, do we need to make absolutely certain that only reasonable people who have some reasonably thought-out positions serve as council persons. And, at this point, what good would be served to elect a staunchly anti-incumbent candidate to serve on council? So he can bring more rancor and tumult to the debate? And what good could come when that same candidate has been proven to be wrong on practically every issue previous to this date? And how would we continue to move this city forward when that one-trick pony offers little more than austerity? This is a guy who sent a letter to the newspapers predicting the theater project would be a bust? With the size of council being reduced, now is not the time to be electing people who have a propensity for being less than astute whereas progress and the funding thereof is concerned.

And if a declared candidate is too completely thin-skinned to handle all of my craziness, as you alluded to, he is most probably ill-prepared to handle the scrutiny and guff that comes along with the job he seeks. Would he, himself want to be put through the needless antics he regularly puts people through? Methinks not. Damn, when I think back to what I put our former mayor through, this guy comes off sounding like a baby blue marine. Doesnít seem to have the necessary mettle.

As for yourself, you did handle yourself with dignity and class every step of the way. I remember when I returned home from a kayak trip this past January only to learn that my exploits had been brought up on WILK, and as a result, you contacted me for the very first time. My reaction to that was an obvious snub. Yet, you pressed on.

And I remember the one tremendous insult Kevin Lynn had unfairly sent your way, and I have to say, if I was the recipient of that uncouth flapdoodle--he would have had a nasty fight on his hands. The verbal kind, but a nasty fight nonetheless. But, you took it all in stride and pressed onwards. His is a special kind of toxic cocktail that poisons his own reputation almost every time he speaks, but thatís a whole other subject.

To make a very long story short, should we vote for a self-important guy who threatens to sue anyone who takes serious issue with his inept designs on Wilkes-BarreĎs future? A guy whoís stated positions on how best to achieve significant economic development, increased retail activity and proper urban planning are medievalist at best?

Hey, he can sue whomever he wants to, but it still wonít make him right on any of the major issues we face.

Sez me.

Merry Fíing Christmas!

Sorry. Sorry. I knowÖ that was totally uncalled for, like most of what I do. Iím sorry. Iím not really some sort of heartless Grinch sumbitch. And I can prove as much, too. Ready?

Last night I was sitting here watching one of my favorite movies--Tora! Tora! Tora! I like it because itís historically accurate and it spares me all of the love story angles like the movies of today donít. I donít really care who was screwing who way back in 1941. I just want to see the attacks and such. Okay?

Come to think of it, the most fascinating thing about that movie is that it still pisses me off when I watch it. I first saw it when it was released in 1970 as part of a class trip in Derby, Connecticut. It pissed me off to the max. But, being that I was born but a dozen years after the end of World War II and was more or less taught to dislike the ďKrautsĒ and the ďJapsĒ as a kid--itís not my fault. Iím a victim, just like all of you. I can no longer recall how many of those imaginary enemies of mine I killed in the woods behind the house, but trust meÖRambo ainít got nothing on me. Hoo-ah!

So, I watched it last night and the treachery really pissed me off to the max all over again. Weirdly, I have absolutely no problem with anyone emanating from that part of the world. Letís just suffice it to say their grandfathers really, really pissed me off and weíll leave it at that. But donít get me started about that second Pearl Harbor that recently went down in New York City as Iím not near as forgiving about any of that.

Again, anyway, I was sitting here as the Zeros were fast approaching Pearl (fu>kers!) when there came a knock at the door. No, it wasnít Saint Nick. I opened the door to find some lady of approximately 35-years or so smiling back at me. And standing next to her was a girl of, say, 15-years holding a small box which had no lid. Needless to say, I was quite surprised. Jesus freaks? On a Saturday night? Is nothing sacred anymore? Weíre trying to drink here and the freaks come a calling?

Okay, so I stuck my head out the screen door and the lady asked me if I was interested in purchasing any of the Christmas-themed refrigerator magnets both she and her daughter had produced and brought directly to my door for my reviewing pleasure. Totally caught off-guard by these would-be entrepreneurs, I declined the gracious offer, they thanked me and hurriedly scurried away.

So, I shut the door, sat back down in front of the video advertising box and watched the death and destruction so neatly presented before me with one hand on my beer. And thatís when it first hit me. Thatís when I got to wondering about if they needed the money. As in, needed the money to augment what looked to be a rather meager Christmas this time around. Now, I had no idea if that was truly the case, but I sat there practically kicking myself in the ass for not buying at least a handful of those stupid refrigerator magnets. What if they really needed the money, I thought.

An hour or so passed and we were on to the next timeless epic: Patton. And at some point I realized I was anguishing over not having bought some of those damned magnets all over again. And then I got mad at myself for doing so, because I had no idea if those two even needed the money at all. But still, if only I had bought a couple. Urgh!

Assuming that they really, really needed the money, this is the conclusion I came to. Iíve been feeling a bit melancholy lately over the thought of not having all of my kids and all of my grandkids here for Christmas. Again, assuming someone would be going door-to-door trying to drum up some Christmas funding, Iím thinking I donít have it near as bad as some others may have it. The head count here at the adobe may be off a tad this year, but Iím suddenly feeling a bit better about things. My clan is pretty much healthy and happy, so why the melancholy? I guess what Iím trying to say is we should appreciate all that we have, ícause some people donít have what we take for granted.

Although, I still wish I owned a few of them homemade refrigerator magnets today. Now, see what sobriety provides me?

Happy holidays? Methinks no fu>king way, Jose. Ready? Iím gonna do it. Yes, Iím really going to do it, no matter what the repercussions are. Iím going for it. All the way, baby. No, those PC shock troopers donít scare me. Stick me in the gulag and make me play Bump Ďem Hump Ďem robots with Bubba. Take my Easy Bake Meth Lab back to the toy store. I simply do not care. Make me play lawn dart tag until I smarten up. Bring it on!

You ready for this?

Merry Christmas!!!

That took balls, hayna?