2-17-2009 Schadenfreude

Boy, oh boy. Iím not one for eating mass quantities of antacids, but this and this surely got my day off to a very sour start.

Guys. Guys, guys! Whatís this? More change we can believe in? Like, a hundred people have announced their intentions to try to join the ranks of our rapidly diminishing judicial corps. But when one of Congressman Paul Kanjorskiís underlings ups and announces, all of a sudden, youíre completely enamored? Loyal little foot soldiers, heyna?

Somebody get me a bucket.

And Kanjorski claims heís a ďbig fan of blogs?Ē Um, if you believe that pandering swill, Iíve got a 10,000 square foot mansion I want to sell you, even if you canít afford it!

Does Paul Kanjorski really read these electronic pages of mine, too? Yeah, well, I want to remind him that itís been one year and three days since his proposed inflatable dam went the way of the Community Redevelopment Act inspired self-paying mortgage.

Read that!

According to the newspaper, at least here locally, the digital conversion is on as of today. What can I say about this nonsense?

For starters, itís about time. A year. A freaking year. For an entire freaking year Iíve had to put up with the scrolling reminders, the public service ads and the talking heads beating this non-event to literal death.

Oh, no. without our digital converter boxes, we wonít be able to see any of the redundant advertising anymore. No more ExtenZe hard-on pills. No more of the animated, pink-haired femme fatale in the Esurance commercials. No more Bootie Call dot com. No more Barack Obama newly minted coins. No more free credit reports that arenít really free. No more online dating services for the terminally homely, the terminally lame and the terminally stupid. And most importantly, no more wall-to-wall cell phone commercials.

Wait a second. Why is it again that we bought these conversion thingies when we could have gone without?

With judges dropping like flies, court administrators pleading guilty, politically appointed hacks going bye-bye, ongoing investigations and the like, and with a county commissioner denying rumors we hadnít even heard of yet, is it any wonder that the fledgling Home Rule movement seems to have been trampled underfoot?

Without all of the aforementioned chaos coming from the courthouse, the Home rule push would have dominated Page 1 and almost always above the fold. But as things currently stand, the only way Home Rule will dominate the headlines is if one or two of itís four or five self-appointed designees strips naked and runs a few laps around Public Square.

In addition, the Home Rule ďcommittee,Ē whoever they are, have decided to officially endorse eleven candidates of their choosing when next we vote to elect Ďcommonersí to the Government Study Commission. So, without even waiting to see how many of this countyís 350,000 residents might express an interest in serving on the reconstituted commission, the one-man show known as Luzerne Home Rule has already decided who is best suited for the job.

Even while sticking with the revolution in the making bit, it still smacks of politics as usual. So, on election day, do as you have been told and vote a straight revolutionary ticket. They know better. Or best. Or some such thing.

Sez them.

With nonstop courthouse scandals occupying us of late, the local talk radio outlet has been firing on all available cylinders. To be honest, WILKís coverage of the unfolding corruption saga has been outstanding. As for the callers, well, theyíve been mostly reduced to rampant speculation and trying to level charges that could probably never be substantiated. And in this respect, the talk show hosts have done their best to mute what ought to be muted.

And our afternoon talk show host, Steve Rodham-Corbett, has gone as far as interrupting and/or dumping callers altogether for speculating, or for attempting to name the names of those who have not been charged of any wrongdoing to this point. Heís been very careful not to get either himself, or his employer sued.

With one glaring exception, I must point out.

On three occasions I have had the misfortune of hearing, Rodham-Corbett has tried to insert Mayor Tom Leightonís name in to the middle of the corruption fracas. Despite all the feigned caution he brings to his show, he has absolutely no problem with mentioning Tom Leighton and the still developing corruption scandals in the same baited breath. If you paid little or no attention to detail, if you were an infrequent local political observer, youíd likely come to the conclusion that Leighton is in danger of following our two disgraced judges off to the hoosegow. And nothing could be further from the truth.

I even heard Rodham-Corbett out rightly demand to know why Tom Leighton still has not issued a public statement concerning the scandalous brouhaha emanating from under the courthouse dome. Why the Mayor of Wilkes-Barre needs to address any of the malarkey at the courthouse completely defies any known logic or talk radio illogic. But since his return from Freak Central, California, Steve Rodham-Corbett has been unfairly disparaging Leightonís reputation, and almost on a daily basis. For whatever self-centered reason, Rodham-Corbett seems intent on sullying the professional reputation of our mayor.

Interestingly enough, he did not call out the mayors of Nanticoke, Pittston, Sugar Notch, Edwardsville, Freeland, Hanover, Duryea, Larksville, Plymouth, Avoca, Kingston, Wyoming, West Wyoming, West Pittston, West Hazleton or Hazleton for not issuing public statements on the corruption mess. Nope, no other mayor of any municipality in Luzerne County had his name included in the same baited breath with the rampant corruption being exposed over at the courthouse. Only one mayor was held to a different standard, assuming that Rodham-Corbett really has any standards to speak of. And only that mayor continues to have his name and reputation deliberately and unfairly dragged through the mud on WILK.

Got me, I dunno what Rodham-Corbettís particular problem is. Hell, in his usually hyperventilated state, he probably doesnít even know what heís going on about. But I do know that unfairly singling out for abuse the best mayor weíve had in my lifetime makes about as much sense as buying a Braille version of Hustler.

While his own hometownÖwhile Scranton burns, Rodham-Corbett as Nero continues to fiddle with a vastly improved Wilkes-Barre.

You figure it out.

The more I hear from Obama Nation, the more I hear from people who feel entitled to damn near everything, the more I fear for the future of this country.

I snagged this from a local Web site, and Iíll not identify the author.

Special commentary by BXX DXX: "I think everyone agrees that all Americans should have quality health care at a price that doesn't make them sacrifice other things...like a house or food or medicines. 24x7 coverage from birth to death. No depending on your employer to provide your health care coverage. Stop the co-pays, deductibles, co-insurances, denial of coverage, and all these other health insurance industry schemes."

Straight up, that means all Americans should have quality health care given to them.

I donít know which part of this is so frightfully hard to follow, but letís take a whack at it. For the purposes of this exercise, remember, weíre talking private sector here. This is the sector of the economy that continually props up the overly generous amounts of benefits provided to the least productive sector of our economy, the public sector. Seriously, if you work for the local, state or federal government, youíve got no real gripes.

Here we go.

Your employer ďprovidesĒ you with health care coverage if you are providing your employer with skills that return on their investment in you. For instance, for every labor hour I work, I generate somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 an hour in income for my employer. If that number slipped to $99 an hour, Iím absolutely certain I would be facing a probationary period. If that figure dropped to, say, $89 an hour for a single fiscal year, Iím also certain I would be unemployed and then be tempted to join the growing ranks of the people clamoring for Ďfreeí health care bought and paid for by others.

And if your employer does not ďprovideĒ you with health care coverage, youíve got one of two issues going on there, maybe even both. Either you are not very valuable to your employer, in that, their investment in you does not produce enough of a return to justify providing you with benefits. Or, you work for the wrong company. And no matter which, how does that then become my problem? How does your lack of marketable skills turn into my having to subsidize your health care?

When I was a 19-year-old cook, I had adequate health care coverage. When I became a 20-year-old restaurant manager, I then enjoyed above average health care coverage. And when I eschewed the hospitality industry in favor of trucking and warehousing, my health care coverage marginally improved. And now that my purpose in life is controlling the only insects that can digest your home, garage and/or storage shed, my health care, eye and dental coverageís are outstanding.

Anyway, if health insurance is what you lack, itís not a question of what the government is doing wrong. More accurately, itís a question of what youíre currently doing or once did wrong. You know, like, bad choices?

Look at it this way, this is where Iím coming from. If you teach a man to fish, heíll eat for a day. If you teach a man how to acquire taxpayer-provided fish, heíll be a drag on society for a lifetime.

Honestly, if youíre reasonably young, still somewhat able-bodied and capable at all of cognitive processes, demanding the sequestrating of mine to provide for yours is unquestionably unconscionable. The political discourse being what it is, in this country, they now call cradle-to-grave health insurance coverage a god-given right. In Europe, they call it Schadenfreude.

Yes, Schadenfreude.

You decided that Iím not solely entitled to what I have earned, and I now must disinvest in some of that because you feel you are equally entitled to what I alone have earned. And in those forced disinvestments of mine, you take much delight.

How do you say, ĎThis country is probably fu>kedí in German?

However you say it, thatís what Iím saying.

The way I see it, it might be high time to plant some potatoes, plant some tomatoes, horde canned goods of every variety and stock up on ammo.

As with all thoroughly failed and disgraced socialist endeavors, the sudden emergence of Schadenfreude as the way forward is a clear signal that the long, slow descent is well underway. And remember, sustained economic decline necessitates a proportionate and irreversible military decline. And if we keep going as we are presently going, we might just learn firsthand what the framers of the constitution really had in mind for a well-armed militia.




God!, Iím in a foul freaking mood right now. Not angry, just foul. I took some good advice from a former Times Leader reporter and ran with it some years ago, when he correctly advised me to never write in anger in direct response to a post of mine aptly titled ďPussy!Ē

As of this very moment, I reserve the right to lash out at whomever I feel like lashing out at. I know why, and itís been bugging me for the better part of two weeks now. Iíve tried to suppress it, Iíve done my best to ignore it, but itís been slowly but surely eating at me. Iíve actually summoned up the trusty word processor during the past two weeks, and then sat here blankly staring at it. I could not write. I could only think. And think some more. And after much too much thought, none of this internet nonsense, you know, railing against what now seems predetermined or preordained, none of this seemed all that important to me. And itís growing less important by the minute.

Hereís whatís been bugging me of late. And before we go there, or here, or wherever, let it be known that I love my mother and I still desperately miss her.

When I was a boy, I was told little or nothing about my father, or my motherís ill-fated union with him. And when I got older and started asking questions, I was offered miniscule tidbits that mostly included harrowing tales of rapidly impending child abuse, and again, little else. Now, the child abuse thing did not resonate with me in the least as I was already a walking, talking punching bag for this surrogate father of mine. Still, not really satisfied with things as they were, I kept asking.

St. Petersburg Times, February 24, 1962:

Officials Seek Mrs. Cour Before Court Hearing

And around the time I was growing beyond my momís and my grandmaís control, the familial informational flow began. And I was told all sorts of ghastly things. I was told that my father wanted to name me Ugak, after some dead Russian or some such thing. I was told he didnít believe in paying for diapers and he wanted to Ďpotty-trainí me by way of a kitty litter pan. In retrospect, this particular story does not pan out when you consider that I was a baby and a toddler long before the appearance of disposal diapers. That was during the cloth diaper era. As for the Ugak thing, I dare you to find me anyone named Ugak.

Anyway, nobody told me he had beaten me or anything, but the neglectful father thing was definitely implied and implied and implied all over again. With just two quick examples, are you not leaning towards judging him very harshly? Think about it. Baby Ugak in a kitty litter pan?

St. Petersburg Times, August 29, 1962:

Attrorney Asks Eugene Cour Case Reopened

Recently, on our genealogy site, I wrote something about hating him as a preteen, because, the way I saw itÖif he was the absolute genius I was told he was, if he was so smart, if he was so successful, if he could program a rocket to go from one continent to another without a glitchÖwhy was I stuck here in a housing project simply getting by on welfare?

But at any point during the formative years, any one of my then living relatives here in Wilkes-Barre could have and most likely should have told me that the truth about my father wasnít nearly as ungodly, as completely inhuman as previously advertised. Somebody could have and probably should have told me that he was being unfairly vilified ought of fear that he might come here and kidnap me all over again.

Very recently, while trading e-mails with my first-cousin in Denver that I never knew existed before a month or so ago, she said, as far as she could recollect, that back in those old days, my dad seemed generally fond of me. That was the very first I had ever heard of that. Actually, after the custody thing was settled in a Florida courtroom, I was told he kidnapped me, handed me off to some woman I didnít know, and did so only to spite my mother.

But, just recently, it has come to my attention that very little of that was true. In fact, I spent some amount of time still to be determined living with both him and that Ďwoman,í who he spent the next twenty years married to.

St. Petersburg Times, July 28, 1962:

Attorney Seeks Whereabouts Of His Client

And since my daughterís genealogic exploits have now dug up all sorts of previously undiscovered familial gems, I have learned that when the custody dispute did not go his way, he was--according to published reports--visibly distraught and the kidnapping period was well underway within hours of that ruling.

So, in effect, Iíve spent my entire life believing that 1, My father did not care about me in the least, and, 2, He was too weird, too eccentric to be entrusted with the care of a child. And as of this late date, I now know neither of which to be the case.

Strangely, stupidly, Iím not angered near as much as I feel somehow violated. Systematically violated over the course of four decades, no less. Finally, victim status! Awesome! Where do I sign up for Obama Care and a free five-pound block of cheese?

I just wish someone had told me that I was not wholeheartedly rejected by exactly one-half of my parental units. I wish someone had told me that while he may not have been a factor in my life, that didnít necessarily mean he did not, at one time, love his son. It would have made for far less soul-searching, a far less than combative attitude on my part while growing up, no need for the Gibraltar-sized chip on my shoulder and a clearer understanding of who I actually was, where and from whom I had come, and where I should be going as I struggled to trudge forward as a very young, very emotionally disheveled person.

The truth hurts? No, the truth may have hurt someone else a long time ago, but it wouldnít have hurt me as much as growing up believing in wholesale fabrications. Whatever. Iím not whining, Iím just stating facts. The way I see it, I should have been provided with at least the chance to have a running dialogue with my long-AWOL dad over the years, but all I was saddled with was this niggling, this unrelenting backwards-looking introspection by which I would question my own worth over and over again.

Whatever. Sorry about all of that. I think at the very least, Iíve provided you with an insight as to why I have been far less than prolific of late. Iíve come to the conclusion that exactly half of what my jumbled life has been based upon was a lie.

Turns out, my dad didnít hate me, he just hated and walked away from the marital situation at the time. And the only part of all of this that saddens me is the fact that no one seems to be able to locate him. Because, despite the passage of 46 years, Iíd like nothing more than to just have a conversation with him. One meeting. One phone call. One whatever.

I figure both he and my mother owe me at least that one request.


Enough with all of my nonsense.

I feel compelled to reflect on the passing of a former Wilkes-Barre Policeman, one James Wardle. Well, that is, I can reflect on my experiences with him way back then when both he and I were toiling away on the midnight shift.

Mind you, to put things in their proper perspective, policing a restaurant filled with 200 drunks at 3 in the morning is not what youíve come to expect out on the streets these days. When confronted by these inebriated sorts, there was no need for playing psychologist, social worker or nose-wiper as the police of today are so often hamstringed into doing.

No, at 3 in the morning, when the drunks wanted to make with the violence or theft of services routine, both the members of the WBPD and I reacted in kind. Needless to say, if you werenít really up to the toe-to-toe trading blows show, this was not the place for you, or your little Vox Box pussies. And no one, me included, should ever get to accusing Jim Wardle of having played psychologist, social worker or nose-wiper. At least, not in my chosen arena.

Put short, in his day and age, he was the closet thing this city ever came to having itís own version of Dirty Harry, the many details of which I will not share with you here. A big guy, a rough and tumble guy when need be, but still, a thoroughly likable guy when sitting over breakfast and a cup of coffee.

True story, when I was almost through with my management training period, the last two weeks of my training were spent with the sitting manager on the midnight shift. Now, it was one thing to sprint out of the kitchen and throw a few flat-footed bombs when the manager was in trouble out front, but now it was my ass out front and I didnít want to end up needing any backup from anyone, let alone my cooks.

So, whenever Joe or the frequently visiting Wilkes-Barre police officers had an advice at all, I listened intently. But no matter what any of them had to say, when the fisticuffs break out at 3 in the morning and youíre all by your lonesome, you either handle it or you turn in your keys in the morning and quit. You either hurt people, or you get hurt. And we all know my motto at that time: It doesnít matter if people get hurt, so long as the right people get hurt.

Trust me, an entire generation of oft-polluted East End kids witnessed it played out in real time, much to their dismay.

Anyway, back to Jim. While training on my first ever midnight shift as a manager trainee, Jim dropped in for a cup of coffee. He was on-duty, but working undercover. Yeah, the way I remember it, he was charged with making life miserable for the ever-present hookers and Johns at the surrounding motels.

So, he came in and sat with both Joe and I at a round top in the back dining room from which we could watch the ebb and flow of customers through the front door. And as we gabbed, a green Cadillac pulled up in front of the entrance. Not in a parking stall with the nose of the car to the building, as the painted lines mandated. No, this Caddy pulled across the front doors as if the intent of the occupants was to block the front doors. And contained within said Caddy were four black dudes, who seemed to be stretching and straining to see who might be inside the restaurant.

Being undercover, Jim was sporting a full beard, a headband, a pair of jeans and some big-assed boots. And as those black guys peered in at us, he pulled up his pant leg revealing a handgun, and told the both of us to hit the floor if those guys tried to waltz through the front door. What?, I asked in disbelief. And then he repeated that command, only much more forcefully the second time around. He knew who was in that car, he knew they were looking for him and his intensity level instantly flew off of the chart. An instant adrenaline rush, as the cops might say.

But the car pulled away after a few moments, the pant leg went back down and he sipped his coffee without missing a beat. And I remember wondering to myself about just what it I had gotten myself into by agreeing to manage those midnight shifts for at least a year. Before too long, I knew full well what I had gotten myself into, and the suture count grew by leaps and bounds.

What I had gotten myself into was an old-fashioned version of Fight Club, but Jim was one of those boys in blue who made a habit of getting there just in the nick of time when I was sorely outnumbered. In short, I owe him greatly.

I havenít shared a cup of coffee or breakfast with him in many moons. But to this day, he remains my all-time favorite no-nonsense Wilkes-Barre cop. There was no psychology. No social services on the fly. No wiping of noses. No, it was more like disperse, or be summarily dispersed. The way it was in those days. And the way it ought to be again.

Sez me.


PS--Note the new e-mail address. Due to a long-simmering dispute, I am in the process of changing high-speed internet providers.