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No Child Left Behind in Doghole

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Obama speaks at Scranton High School Wednesday. | AP Photo

Tuesday, August 23, 2013, and to paraphrase George Orwell 1984, it is a bright warm day in Northeast Pennsylvania. My chin is nuzzled to chest in an attempt to ward-off vile respiratory winds. Later today, President Barack Obama's bus tour will stop at Scranton's Lackawanna College, and he shall deliver a speech on making college more affordable. Of course, hometown-hero Joe Biden and Barack will pass through glass doors, none resembling Victory Mansion portals, but there will be electricity in the Electric City's atmosphere. Although no posters of Big Brother are around downtown Scranton, one can be certain Academiac Thought & Media Police ears shall tune-in to the president's speech.

Freedom is not necessarily slavery, and of course vice-versa, this morning at 7:00 AM, I departed my Taylor Borough home for work. At Union Street traffic light, 250-Suzuki in neutral, I looked north to Interstate 81, New York State border. In preparation for the arrival of President Obama's tour bus-motorcade, late in the afternoon, I imagined local security forces, busy at work, and making plans to close the highway from city of Binghamton, NY to destination, Lackawanna College. An excited grade school student, 1960, I stood on Main St. curb, and watched JFK's motorcade ride through Taylor Borough. Kennedy's limousine stopped for a “pee” at Roy and John's Taylor Auto Exchange, there were no high-rises like Texas School Book Depository. An adult now, registered Democrat, I easily related to impatient motorists, on way home, stuck in I 81 traffic, anticipating Happy-Hour, and at the divine mercy of 1-percenter “hope and change.”

In 1984, one notes Mr. Winston Smith enjoyed secret-romance but he did not have any school-age children. In contrast, while at work, I considered my son Daniel's education, pondered his Keystone College graduation, a psychology major, if all goes well, a June 2014 B.S.

Upon securing “gainful” employment, Dan must pay-back an approximate loan total, $30,000 – not too shabby, monthly payments, based upon his current earning scale. As Dan's father, 61-years old, having a University of Scranton Liberal Studies degree (1986) nailed to office wall, I am both blessed and cursed with a sheepskin that minimized math and science courses. Having survived several US financial air-raids since 2003, despite education, and like millions of Americans, I struggle to sustain a family of four, including paying monthly rent and outrageous food bills. I do not know either how educated or well-paid was Orwell's Winston Smith.

At any rate, since education keeps internal-flame alive, despite distractions, I continue to read books, and such activity helps me better understand life, and in particular, Rosetta Stone de-code political speech. So as bills enter Orloski-mailbox, when possible, I often retreat into the essays of Michel De Montaigne. No Yale law school journal editor, in “On the education of children,” Michel De Montaigne discussed “a man in his youth, just nibbling at the outer crust of learning.” Upon reflection, during this afternoon's speech at Lackawanna College, I will be delighted if President Obama announces policies designed to do MORE than “nibble” at the startling high-cost for college tuition, and bites into the crust of how American minds were systemically dumbed-down, pursuant jobs were “out-sourced / off-shored,” and presently, middle-class graduates eat crust fallen from wealthy Corporate tables, apply for work at Walt Mart and McDonalds.

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Photo: Linh Dinh

Last week, I read Scranton Times Tribune and learned how County “Food Pantry” supplies are low, and an administrator of United Way was quoted, “you know... people are not JUST hungry at Christmastime.” The fellow's correct; I am a Project & Emergency Response Manager, and I tend to get hungry a couple times per month. Such situation gets a lot worse in a majority of American households. In my line of work, one becomes familiar with US D.O.T. Table of assigned “Hazardous Materials.” In the process, I learned chemicals are carefully classified as flammable, corrosive, and reactive. (NOTE: “Radioactivity” is my all-time favorite U.S D.O.T. Hazard Class) Last night, after perusing De Montaigne's essays, I learned that political speech can be quite hazardous. For example, in “On liars,” the French noble man asserted, “lying – and in a lesser degree obstinacy – are in my opinion, the only faults whose birth & progress we should constantly oppose it.” Question for readers? Instead of having a Free Press, would Constitutional America be a better country had presidents enacted an administrative agency, ie., MiniTruthAgency, a regulatory system which would identify and stop hazardous political speech? OSHA and the EPA were born in crisis aftermath, and today's America faces epidemic political lying apocalypto. No doubt, today's not 1984, and undemocratic laws are secretly promulgated to suppress political truth-telling, conscientious “whistle-blower”speech. As well as food at Christmastime, deprived Americans routinely hunger for government honesty, including Bradley Manning, and in response, they get non-odorous fumes of Marcellus Shale combustible natural gas to ingest.

It is now 2:00 PM, still a bright sunny day in Scranton. Soon, in preparation for Obama's bus tour, Penn D.O.T. and heavily armed security forces shall temporarily close highway I 81 South, from Great Bend Exit 230 to Lackawanna College. I hate traffic delays and deceptive political speech, which like the gospel poor, and given crooks in-charge, “will be always with us.” I have bad habits. One is, in order to get-away from life's many pitfalls and deceptions, I retreat into A&E channel crime-drama, “Breaking Bad.” Given my occupational tinker with hazardous chemicals & being 40-Hour OSHA-Hazwoper trained & certified, and broke a lot, “Breaking Bad” appealed.

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In short-summary, for those who work night-shifts, “Breaking Bad” features the fictional life of Walter White. I cannot determine what college Walter attended, but it does not seem to be Lackawanna College. He's extremely BRIGHT, ambitious, & especially “talented” as the best chemists I have encountered in the environmental business. In the series beginning, Walter and family struggles, he's employed as a chemistry teacher, diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, his goal is to secure the family's future. “Why not?” – Even De Montaigne and Mitt Romney might ask. However, Walter had no governmental support, and he elected to start a new career – manufacturing & distributing methamphetamine. Without hint of nepotism, Walters hired “Jesse,”his former “bright” student, who helped Walter reach revenue generation goals, and despite Big Brother's watchful eyes and absent a Brownie recipe, Walter & Jesse “did a helluva job.”

It's 2:15 PM, President Obama not here yet. The most recent “Breaking Bad” series displayed Walter's operation on verge of getting busted, while his wife fought to avoid both lying to cops and turning evidence against her hubby. As I write, I wonder if President Obama is seated comfortably inside black & shiny tour bus, and is at war with his conscience on capitalist education? However, I am reminded by a former US Secretary of Defense that a president must go to war with “weapons & armor-at-hand,” and the American Empire is obligated to fight the proletariat battle against outrageous college tuition bills, and maintain low-paying American workplaces as “drug-free.”

It is 2:30 PM, no Obama yet. Scranton's Lackawanna College is located less than two miles from my Taylor Borough, Union Street, apartment home. Like former-Governor Palin, I can see Scranton Times-Tribune's lighted tower from kitchen front-window. Taylor's present population is 6,263, 5.2 square miles, per capita income $19,807. We have a public library, gymnasium, an American Legion, and a landfill. In 1955, the Orloski family moved to Taylor, my father Charlie, a WW II wounded vet, liked Ike and Jimmy Hoffa. We moved into a 3-bedroom home on Center St., a dirt road, the section of town was nicknamed Rendham; in the 1950s-1960s, Rendham was the scene of a daughter-mother shooting incident, made cover of Life Magazine, and a very troubled youth stabbed Rendham's beloved store owner, Mr. Pat Langan. Less than a mile from Rendham is a sub-section of Taylor, creatively nicknamed “Doghole.” In commonality with the town featured in “Breaking Bad,” Doghole is slang-speak here in anthracite coal country. It stands for struggling Taylor Borough old-timers who excavated their own secret mine holes, and extracted coal for cooking & heating fuel. And so much for Yale and Doghole University, and early 20th Century Coal Barons did not get all the energy that lay beneath places like Doghole.

It's 2:00 PM, no radio on, where is Obama? On Monday, August 19, 2013, sneaking away from work, I visited mother-in-law, Florence, gave her a couple delicious Scranton National Bakery hard rolls, for lunchtime. Exiting her home, on Rendham's Sampson Street, I looked south down the block, and saw “plain-clothes” officers scoping outside the home of 26-year old, Mr. Victor Perfilio. I watched for a moment, wondered what the hell's up?

After work, around 6:00 PM, I listened to breaking news, the PA State Police found 879 very prospering marijuana plants growing in Mr. Perfilio's otherwise inconspicuous backyard. How can one smoke so much weed, I thought? Later, I spoke with a childhood Rendham friend, Ron Casey, retired and who lived “catty-corner” across the street from Victor Perfilio's pot-farm. Ron Casey laughed, told me he had no idea what was going-on. Apparently, neither did the Taylor Police officer who lived directly across the street from Perfilo's house, he kept a Taylor Borough Police squad at home. The police car, clearly marked “K9,” is presumably Newspeak for drug-smelling, talented canines. I do not know Victor Perfilio at all, and despite blazing hot Summer days, perhaps the K9 suffered sinus problems, could not smell 879 baking-pot plants very well? Ron Casey noted “Perfilio's evidently had a knack for gardening, I thought it was tomato, maybe cucumber growing..., you know, Chuck, er, 897 marijuana plants? The dude's either very smart or a complete asshole.”

It's 2:20 PM, I have no idea where is Obama, have no idea about Victor Perfilio's level of education, knowledge of pot-cultivation & distribution laws on-the-books. Doubtless though, Mr. Perfilio displayed ambition & business ingenuity near equal to “Breaking Bad” Walter, the brilliant chemist become businessman. In the late 1970s, I tried to grow a couple marijuana plants in Newfoundland PA, where work-friends and I rented a chalet. The cost for Acapulco Gold and Hawaiian weed was unaffordable despite my having a good paying Teamster job at Roadway Express, Inc. Those days, the weakness of home grown was notorious, and I tried my best, but the marijuana plants failed. In retrospect, if had I the skills of either Walter or Perfilio, I might be headed for the slammer, instead of preparing for the 6:00 PM WNEP News headline story, the arrival of President Obama. The great 2013 education speech, at Scranton's Lackawanna College – and as arrogant & wealthy local Lords like to snicker, “Its Lackadaisical College, boy, a school where even a caveman could afford and maybe graduate.”

Epilogue: On way to Lackawanna College, President Obama's bus stopped to eat at Bingham's Restaurant, located in Susquehanna County, not far from Dimock Township and controversial natural gas drilling. The president spoke to restaurant owners, patrons, and he purchased three Bingham's Restaurant homemade pies. As the bus traveled south to Scranton, the Lackawanna County SWAT team served a warrant and seized ammunition & weapons from a Borough home on behalf of the Secret Service. Clarks Summit Police Chief said he “could not elaborate on the charges.” However, a man was taken into custody by the Secret Service.

Speaking at Lackawanna College, President Obama and V.P. Biden argued that “getting an education is more important than ever to good paying jobs.” The president chided PA Governor Tom Corbett for making “brutal cuts” to education. Last night, prior to bed, I re-read a chapter in 1984. Orwell wrote about Winston Smith's peculiar job, and said, “most of the material that (Winston) dealt with had no connection with anything in the real world, Statistics were just fantasy, not even a connection that is contained in the real world.” It is a bright and warm day, August 24, 2013, Taylor Borough is a Democrat town, per capita income is $19, 807, Victor Perflio's pot farm shut down, he's out on bail, and according to Obama/Biden, “the American dream alive in Scranton.” And I had the temerity to vote for Green Party, Jill Stein?

chuck orloski

Charles Orloski

Saturday, 24 August 2013