12-2-2007 Patriots or: a lack thereof

FYI: I’m having some sort of high-speed internet meltdown. Some say it’s the wireless router. Some say it’s the browser. Some say…oh, funk them already.

Anyway, for the time being, you can contact me at zorcong1@verizon.net And if you’ve sent me any e-mail pearls of wisdom during the past 7 days or so, you might want to resubmit them, because they did not get here. And I truly enjoy the feedback, both pro and con. I really do.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled internet gibberish.

This debit card dust-up was fun as all hell to watch, until three of the four local radio talk show hosts when limp dick on us. Yeah, they went rogue on us. They got all greased up and climbed into the wet side of the bed with Greg and the boys.


WILKES-BARRE — Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas on Friday requested a state criminal probe into county debit-card purchases, and county officials now want those who spent almost $42,000 with cards to pay it all back.

After they reimburse the county, the seven officials who used the cards could then request reimbursement from the county by producing receipts to justify spending taxpayers’ money, county Controller Maryanne Petrilla said.

Yeah, for days on end they were outright demanding their remonstrance, demanding accountability, demanding transparency, and even suggesting that a few heads may need to roll.

And then Deputy Prison Warden Sam Hyder appeared on WILK with an apology in hand (after lying to us twice) and Kevin Lynn said we need not lose such a valuable county employee. Huh? And get this, Corbett stopped screaming at the top of his lungs long enough to say pretty much the same thing…Hyder must stay. Huh?

And there you have it, not only did Hyder lie to us…twice, now we’ve got radio talk show hosts lying to us as well. Kevin Lynn is too close to too many at the courthouse to suggest that Hyder be dismissed. And Steve Corbett knows he’ll be journalistically blacklisted if he openly calls for terminations. So, after days upon days of railing against the machine, now that two-headed commie monster has softened it’s tone and wants to make nice like on the golf course.

We’re sorry.

Y’all can steal from the taxpayers with impunity.

See you at the club.

Listening to talk radio this week has been predictable. The peasants are calling for public stonings and the like. Practically everyone calling in was on the same page calling for complete reimbursement of the pilfered funds, and/or the termination of those involved. Can’t say I blame them much.

I listened to Kevin’s perverted defense, I suffered through Corbett’s inane blathering and was stunned to read that a local blogger thinks we should move on and fry bigger fish one day.

Excuse me?

This need not be a proctologic endeavor. These county employees knew damn well what they were doing.

Here’s the scoop, newbie. You take this card with you wherever you go and use it to buy anything your blackened heart desires. Titties, brass poles, lobsters, mixed drinks, beers, prostitutes, cross-dressing line dancers…the sky’s the limit!

You won’t need receipts, kid. You won’t need to report what you spent when you get back, there kiddo. You won’t need to reimburse the county for any of it. And if anyone finds out, have no fear, we’ll apologize and babble something about reinventing the program so as to protect the taxpayers. It‘s fu>king beautiful, baby!

Now, where I come from--the private sector--that’s called theft. If you knowingly take that which is not yours, that’s theft. If it is the property of your employer and you decide it is now yours to do with as you will, that’s theft. A box of paper clips slipped out of the office and directly to your home is theft. A burger, cooked to perfection, neatly packaged and smuggled out of the restaurant is theft. And misusing the funds of your employer is clearly theft. Especially when they are being misused for one’s personal gain. Thing is, it’s fairly easy to follow, even for the failed journalists working at WILK. If it’s not yours and you take it, it’s theft.

And make no mistake about it, this clandestine debit card game was fairly easy to follow for the county employees sporting and abusing the cards. Their existence was unknown to the press or the public, the users could spend as profligately as they wished, and no one would ever be the wiser. And the entire program was subsidized by tax dollars.

In other words, to a man…they all knew this clear misuse of taxpayer dollars was not copasetic. It was not acceptable. They knew it. This was not an oversight. This was not a forgotten policy gone awry. This was county government employees spending money they had absolutely no right spending, on the fly, and completely under the radar.

And now that they’ve gone and gotten themselves caught, they tearfully (wink) promise meaningful reform, while the local talk show hosts run interference for them. All of a sudden, Kevin could care less about governmental accountability. And all of a sudden, Corbett’s ongoing “revolution” is put on hold as he tries to curry favor with those he held in contempt just one short week ago.

Theft? Oh, Mark, why so hysterical? No, they were just using those cards by accident. They, they, they weren’t sure what to do, so they just spent with reckless abandon and without securing receipts.

Besides, if I call for their heads, they’ll never play golf with me again, or call my talk show. Oh, and, if I call for their heads, Kathy Bozinski will never, ever talk to me again, and my show is factually threadbare as it is. Mark, we know you’re technically correct. It is theft by public officials. But listen, Kevin and I really need to provide a warm, prehensile mouth on this one. As “journalists,” we no longer have any credibility. Oh, but we will have access to county officials. And in talk radio, access is preferable to integrity. So, theft is acceptable in this case.

And these two budding harridans dare to chastise us based on the results of our voting? They have the nuts to criticize us, but then tell us that under some circumstances, theft by our public officials is somehow justified, somewhat acceptable?

Barring some last-minute breaking news, I’m of the firm opinion that all of the county employees that abused the debit cards need to resign, or be forcefully removed. There should be not a scintilla of doubt that they knew exactly what they were doing--fleecing the taxpayers--and they need to be dispatched to the political graveyard right quick.

Or, is stealing the burger, the box of paper clips or our trust and our money somehow acceptable to you?

And know this, this is exactly why way too many of us have absolutely no faith in our government. This is exactly why people say “they’re all bums,” or “they’re all crooks,” and so on and so on and so on. People have little faith because rarely, if ever, does anyone in government give them cause for having faith.

In conclusion, if you take something that doesn’t belong to you, that’s called theft. And that’s exactly what happened in this case…theft.

Sez me.

As of today, December 2, 2007, I have been banging away on my keyboard for seven long years now. Yep, for whatever reason, I trudge on with these internet exploits of mine. And as I’ve alluded to before, I’m not even sure why I bother anymore.

Yeah, at one time there were those heady days when we sought to and eventually removed an inept mayor of ours. Yeah, there was a single-minded purpose to it, as well as the unbridled passion that made me to being prolific what Steve Corbett is to being overly loud, embarrassingly banal and the radio equivalent of ‘battery by bodily fluid.’ Um, picture saliva being sprayed all over the studio.

Uh, nevermind.

Yeah, there have been many accolades sent my way over the years. I’ve been called a trailblazer. The Blogfather. The Rush Limbaugh of Wilkes-Barre. (???) The man who blogged his mayor out of office. Actually, I’ve always kind of liked that one.

I’ve heard many times over, “I read you every day.” I’ve heard many say they start their day with the Voice, the Leader and Wilkes-Barre Online. And I know many that have moved away from the area read this site as a supplement to the local newspapers just to stay in touch with the latest goings-on in the old hometown. Oh, and my personal favorite has always been, “the local media reads you everyday.” Yeah, and they’ve never credited me for the dozens upon dozens of newspaper stories that were generated after I did the bulk of the legwork. Okay, that’s not entirely accurate. Former Times Leader reporter, Mike McNarney, always did. But he still owes me quite a few cases of beer.

Other than the unflattering stuff not ready for prime time, I’ve been called acerbic, gruff, in-your-face, overly opinionated, and, among other fun things, fat, bald, stupid, ugly and unemployed. And, truth be told, every insult sent my way over the years has resulted in a chuckle at the sender’s expense.

Whatever I am, and however my writing style might be best described, I could really care less about what anyone might think of me, and I make zero apologies for anything I may have written over these seven years. I didn’t undertake any of this to make new friends, I never bowed to the insidious political correctness pressures that some of you would have had me bow to, and I think that self-avowed centrists are people too completely cowardly to speak their own minds.

And no matter what high esteem you may hold yourself in, it is undeniable that every single one of us has some sprinkling of racism, bigotry, sexism and probably even some homophobia embedded within our beings. So, if I may have written something that doesn’t quite jive with the politically warped teachings at whatever quasi church you’re currently praying at, I suggest you get off of your house-of-cards pedestal, wander up on to Sprawl-Mart and grab yourself one of those imported lead-encrusted mirrors. My sole point is, nobody’s perfect. But unlike too may of you, I never pretended to be in possession of such a perpetually illusive thing--perfection. I see it, I think it, and then I say it. And if you don’t like it…well, there are plenty of other places you can visit where the authors will be of a like mind, further cementing your genius.

As to this anonymous blogging, it adds nothing to the ongoing political debate. Nothing. I admit, there are a handful of anonymous bloggers who write responsibly. But for every responsible blogger, there seems to be ten more who blog very, very irresponsibly. It’s one thing to say that so-and-so down at city hall needs to be run out of office for reasons X, Y and Z. But it’s a whole other lazy, cowardly and counterproductive thing to say that so-and-so down at city hall is a liar, a crook, a scumbag and a lowly Eagles fan. And to make such libelous and slanderous attacks from the slovenly comfort of anonymity suggests that the timid author, as well as his unsubstantiated words, deserve no credibility and no further attention. If I just described your sorry act, be a man for the very first time in your hardscrabble life and click on the delete button. Do it.

One of my greatest disappointments was being so heavily cheered on while attacking one mayor, and then being accused of selling out for not attacking his successor. It was as if so many of you thought that I was not unlike those anonymous bloggers, just looking for something and someone to rant about and being more than willing to attack even those who were doing a capable job. No, my intent was never to ‘kill ‘em all,’ my intent was to remove from office those who were clearly not up to the job. It’s now clear to me that what many of you wanted was ‘different mayor, same rant.’ And I’m more than happy to have disappointed you. I was never a howling lunatic. What I was and still am is a guy who just wants to live in a clean, safe and prosperous city. And in very many respects, I think we’re getting there, heading in the right direction.

And what I’m most proud of is the fact that I had a small part in making all of that happen. Way back when, when a mayor was doing the ‘politics as usual’ bit by stonewalling the press as the city’s financial wheels peeled off, there was this new phenomenon called the internet that he had no answer for, and from which he could not hide the great majority of the most troubling facts. I had that incompetence in my sights, I would not relent and I would not be intimidated. But most of all, much unlike my so-called internet counterparts, I attached a name, a face and an address to my acerbic commentary. Call me what you will, but reserve that coward tag of yours for someone else.

These days, Wilkes-Barre has no shortage of political raconteurs, both self-serving and otherwise. But, sadly, they are too often wildly inaccurate in their accusations. They are too heavy on slanderous insults in lieu of certifiable facts. And they are prone to citing chapters and verses that amount to little or nothing. And therein lies the biggest drawback to what they portend to do. Despite all of their hysterical-sounding huffing and puffing, they make no electoral inroads, they effect no significant changes and they seem to forever bask in their ill-begotten and ill-deserved celebrity.

They go to meeting after meeting when they ought to be working. They are always available to be quoted by the press. They incessantly howl away on local talk radio. They form PACs that are mere afterthoughts by the very next day. They file frivolous lawsuits just for the attention it ill bring them. They toss off in voting booths. They videotape anyone they want as if that’s proof of some wrongdoing or something. They work to reinvent the system to benefit themselves after each and every painful thumping at the polls. But when it’s all said and done, what did they really do? One word should be jumping out at you right now…nothing.

Nothing is what they did. A real Zen saying, I might add.

Sorry, David. Patriots don’t make unrelenting noise just for the sake of it. Patriots force much needed changes upon those who would forever resist them. And near as I can tell, Wilkes-Barre is completely devoid of any true patriots. Yeah, we’ve got some wild-eyed political sycophants running around here with copies of government publications, video cameras and multiple copies of their latest letter to the editor in hand. Sure, we’ve got those who would spend as least as much time playing ineffectual patriots as they do self-aggrandizing themselves at nearly every turn. But when it comes right down to it, what have they accomplished other than creating their own delusions of self-grandeur? What did they change? What common good was enhanced because of their actions? What have the “patriots” done other than make themselves into media darlings?

When some goof starts ranting and raving about how (insert accusation) the local government has become, tell them that is a direct reflection on them. Tell them that their generations-old apathy has led to what disturbs them the most about their local version of government. And tell them not to fall into this delusional mindset whereby making incessant noise is somehow equated with change or patriotism. Noise is just that…noise. Meaningful change comes about after good people put themselves in a position to affect said change. And if they cannot put themselves in that necessary position, then they are merely political hangers-on, charlatans, and/or well-meaning nincompoops better suited for some other far less noble endeavor.

But, I digress.

Anyway, where once I was a man on a mission, now I’m just a guy who writes on the internet for kicks and who delights in pissing off those who would mistakenly have me. I’ve been at it seven years now. And who knows how much longer you’ll have me around to dislike. One of these days, you just might need a new glossie for the dart board. Never know.

Big frickin’ deal. I write on the internet and I’m part bigot, racist, sexist, homophobe, hooligan, alcoholic and most importantly, political junkie. In other words, if you’re bothering to read this, I’m probably just like you.

Sucks, hayna?

‘Til next time.