Published on March 6th, 2014
Politically, Morning Call Columnist Bill White drives me crazy; but, in a good way.
Normal political discourse involves a person from each “team” who adopt polar opposite positions and use the most ridiculous justifications and hypocrisies to “prove” their position.
For example, for the “Left”, George W. Bush was a war criminal for his wars and the body count was reported daily. Now, you hear crickets for President Obama’s same wars.
Similarly, now that the Governor’s race is around the corner, those on the “Right” avoid any talk about Governor Corbett’s gas tax hike, because you cannot avoid the phrase “tax hike”. Instead, there is some lame justification that a tax hike was necessary and ignore the billions of wasteful spending and corporate welfare handed out by Republican controlled Harrisburg. (I guess Governor Rendell’s corporate welfare was “bad” but Governor Corbett’s is an “investment”.)
However, I find myself agreeing with Bill’s positions about half the time based on the same reasoning. So I guess there is either hope for Bill White or, possibly, for me.
White hits a home run with his recent criticism of Northampton County Commission Matt Benol. From White’s column:
So as I mock new Northampton County Councilman Mat Benol for his ridiculous statements at the end of Thursday's County Council meeting, I do so with the most constructive of intentions, hoping that he will learn something from this episode and be a better legislator for the next four years as a result.
…the video is posted at County Council's website, so I got to see Benol's performance in all its daffy glory.
Here's my summary of his epic rant:
Somebody from the media called him for reaction to County Executive John Brown's doomed plan to pay a consultant $715,200 over four years to help Brown modernize county operations. Benol had just gotten home from work and had no chance to read the council email sent earlier that day outlining what Brown proposed to do.
It made Benol angry that the media knew about this before he did and was pressuring him to comment on it before he had a chance to discuss it with his colleagues and Brown. He would like to see a moratorium created so that council members would have 48 hours to mull over proposals before anyone else can find out about them.
… He said public chatter can distract council members from their consideration of important matters...
He advised … that residents should contact him and other council members privately rather than believe what they're reading and hearing...
He cautioned that none of his comments are intended to suggest that he doesn't want council and the county to be transparent... He just wants to be able to discuss matters privately with his colleagues without the press and public breathing down his neck.
Wow, where do I start?
•I would argue that as soon as the county executive formally submits a contract or other proposal to County Council for its consideration, that should be public information. Legalities aside, trying to impose some predetermined period of secrecy would be explicitly nontransparent…
•If someone from the press contacts him and he's not prepared to answer, he should decline to comment, explaining that he wants more time to study the proposal. That's the normal, common-sense reaction. Frustrated and angry because someone else got this public information before you did and you're not prepared to answer? Kind of anal…
What we have here is a rant in search of a problem. In an open government, the public is kept informed about what the county executive is proposing and council will be considering — before a decision is made. Public officials may comment or not. Columnists, editorial writers, bloggers and letter-writers may express their opinions, which officials may consider or disregard.
That's how our government works. If you're truly uncomfortable with that process, you probably shouldn't seek public office.
And if you say something this stupid, you should be prepared to eat your words...”
I have to say that I completely agree. But first, here are some of Benol’s inane and contradictory statements (emphasis added in all below):
Published on March 3rd, 2014
We’ve all heard the story a million times. On the night of April 18th, 1775, Paul Revere waited for the signal from the Old North Church in Boston - “One if by land, two if by sea.” Patriots and members of an irregular militia (extremists apparently) knew the British were planning to move on stockpiles of powder and ammunition. The questions were how would they move and from what direction? British Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith followed his orders and began the march with about 700 British troops to confiscate the weapons from the “illegal” militia. (BTW, there were two lanterns that night.)
Revere was not the only rider that night. Multiple riders were prepared to quickly spread the word that the British were marching. Quite the accomplishment in a pre-internet and non-mass communication age, but fighting for liberty is quite the powerful force for creativity.
Upon receipt of the warning the militia assembled. At dawn on the 19th, the first shots were fired – the infamous “shot heard around the world” – at Lexington. Colonial militia fell back and reassembled at the North Bridge in Concord. Unable to force the position, the British retreated and were harassed by colonial skirmishers all the way back to Boston and the siege of Boston began.
After years of anger and frustration against an out of control and almost tyrannical government, this feeble attempt to confiscate guns from civilians lit the fires of outright war and Revolution against the British Crown.
Today, there are very serious rumblings in New England once again.
Connecticut’s controversial gun law was rammed through the state legislature which required registration of all “assault weapons” owned by citizens. Of course, the “assault weapon” is defined more by how bad a weapon looks since automatic weapons – machine guns – are basically illegal since 1934. (There are few exceptions, but some can be owned through a federally registered dealer with very strict registration requirements.) Connecticut has demanded that certain semi-automatic weapons – one bullet per pull of the trigger – had to be registered by the end of 2013.
No one has anything close to definitive figures, but the most conservative estimates place the number of unregistered assault weapons well above 50,000, and perhaps as high as 350,000,” (as reported by The Courant)… Due to the new gun control bill passed in April, likely at least 20,000 individual people — possibly as many as 100,000 — are now in direct violation of the law for refusing to register their guns. As we noted above, that act is now a Class D Felony.”
This simple act of disobedience, which fully displays how ineffective government really is, seems to be fueling greater rhetoric.
The Examiner reports about a YouTube video of a taped phone call with a Connecticut State Police official:
In a video posted Thursday to YouTube, Connecticut State Police Spokesman Lt. Paul Vance is heard telling a woman identified as "GMN Producer Guerilla Girl Ashley" that she sounded anti-American for questioning the state's new gun control law.
Ashley said she called regarding a letter her husband received saying he must either sell, turn in or destroy his firearm, which was deemed to be an "assault weapon" by a new law passed in the state.
Lt. Vance explained the letter spelled out the options her husband now has regarding the law.
After about five minutes of give and take with Ashley regarding the law, Lt. Vance is heard saying Ashley sounds anti-American.
"I want to know, if it comes down to it, will the police go to my home if my husband refuses to give up a weapon that was formerly legal and now has been made illegal by a corrupt legislature?" she asked. "Will the police actually go to my home and threaten my family, 'cause I'm scared to death?"
"We don't threaten people, ma'am," Lt. Vance said. "That doesn't happen."
"If you're going with the force of government, that's a threat," she responded.
"Ma'am, it sounds like you're anti-American, it sounds like you're anti-law. I can't answer your question," Lt. Vance remarked.
Ashley told Lt. Vance in no uncertain terms she is pro-American and took exception to being called anti-American, a charge Lt. Vance tried to walk back.
He also told Ashley she should contact an attorney to learn what her options are under the law.
Later, after Ashley said Lt. Vance works for the people of the state, he informed her that he, in fact, is her master.
"You're the servant, we're the master," she said.
"I'm the master, ma'am. I'm the master," he said in response.
One wonders if British Lt. Colonel Smith felt that he was the “master” as well or if he was simply following orders from the “master” King George III.Read more...