New Jersey’s Big Fat Investigation

28 Mar

The verdict is in!

New Jersey has just spent 1 million tax payer dollars for a complete investigation of our Governor’s possible involvement in the closing of 3 lanes of the George Washington Bridge and the creation of a massive traffic jam, as payback for a Democratic mayor who did not support him.

And the Survey says: Governor Christie knew nothing!

That sure is comforting.

It’s always nice to know that your governor’s close personal friends and appointed aides are working hard for him and your state, without his direction nor his knowledge of what they are doing.

And who conducted this thorough and complete investigation?…for the tidy sum of 1 million dollars?

The governor’s close personal friends of course!

The law firm responsible for the investigation, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, has worked for the Christie administration previously. Debra Wong Yang, one of the top partners at the firm, is a friend of Governor Christie and, employees of the firm have previously donated money to Governor Christie’s campaign for statewide office…And three of the Governor’s aides, who were most integrally involved in the scandal, refused to be interviewed by the investigators…which is always nice to know.

They don’t do law in real life like they do it on TV do they? I sure hope the lunches were good.

But, I guess that when you are only paying 1 million dollars for an internal investigation you can’t expect the investigation to be very thorough. I mean really, how many billable hours can you expect from a top notch law firm when you are only paying them 1 million dollars??? Perhaps the Governor might want to look into cutting some of these wasteful, overpaid lawyers from the state budget just like he did with the wasteful, overpaid policemen, firemen and teachers a few years back.

Oh well, just more money down the New Jersey political drain. I wonder if any of that 1 million will find its way back to the Governor through campaign contributions from his favorite law firm. That’s probably very impolite of me to wonder and I’m sure the Governor wouldn’t know anything about that anyway since he’s going to be so busy running for the Presidency over the next 2 years, to pay much attention to the job that I do believe we tax payers are paying him to do…for us.

Wow! What a big, fat waste of time!

The investigation I mean.

Charter Charlatans?

27 Mar

If you live in the NYC area then you know that newly elected mayor, Bill DiBlasio, is working to fulfill a campaign pledge to charge rent to charter schools. The mayor said he wants to charge rent based on how much a school can afford to pay, and he also wants to slow or perhaps even stop the continued growth of the NYC charter school movement so that more focus can be brought back to the public schools. Naturally the charter schools are up in arms over this proposal because charter schools receive rent-free space in city buildings even though they are privately run.

During Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, Money for charter schools increased from $32 million to $659 million and what was once a modest collection of 17 charter schools has now expanded to 159 charter schools within the city…and overall the NYC education budget has almost doubled to 25 billion dollars from the 13 billion dollars that was being spent when mayor Bloomberg took office.

But the city charter schools, along with receiving free rent from the city also raise quite a lot of money from the private sector including large donations from “philanthropists” like the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, and the hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, along with other prominent Wall Street tycoons, (You probably remember them from the great financial crash of 2008)… Anyway, That’s how Success Academy Charter Schools’ chief executive officer, Eva Moskowitz. can make nearly $500,000 a year to run only 22 “non-profit” schools.

That’s also how Mayor DiBlasio can be opposed by a “nonprofit” charter advocacy group called Families for Excellent Schools. They have organized rallies in Albany, created an internet website and spent 3.6 million dollars on commercials that can be seen constantly throughout the day on television here in the tri-state area. Charter school political action committees have even donated more than 100 thousand dollars to NY Governor Cuomo and other NY state politicians.

So is it a surprise that The Governor says that he is now “Excited” about charter school growth and that Mayor Di Blasio is now beginning to step away from his hardline campaign stance against charter schools?

Isn’t it amazing what money can do? Teachers and educators have always known that money makes a difference when it comes to your child’s education. Can your public schools use its public money to advertise in favor of the public school budget? Do your public schools have 3.6 million dollars that they don’t need for educating your children, to use for creating commercials to “convince” local politicians and influence you to support their efforts in passing the public school budget, let alone raising the school budget?

Money matters! And one has to ask why billionaires are so interested in paying large sums of money in order to gain control of and advertise for the privatization of the public schools in our country… What’s in it for them? And most importantly, what do you think is really in it for you and your children? In the short term privatization always looks good, especially when there is a multimillion dollar ad campaign to help you to try and make up your mind.

But in the long run? Just ask yourself this: When have Wal-Mart, Wall Street tycoons and billionaires ever been interested in spending money on the poorer classes of this country…except when it leads to greater class exploitation and increased profits for themselves?

 

 

 

 

Shameless

24 Mar

I’m always receiving lots of junk Email in my inbox. Probably you do too. Most of it goes straight to my spam folder but every once in a while some slip through to my inbox and that’s mostly because every once in a while I can’t help but open one up just to see what it says. I’m sure that sets off an alarm in my browser that tells the internet police, “Hey! This guy will read anything! Send him more!”

Today I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this one titled: Background Checks: Find Out Your Parents’ Past Crimes!

If you’re curious about your parents’ past crimes, it just might be time to pack up and leave the house…unless of course you feel  they’ve been cheating you on your allowance and owe you more money for the lookout work you’ve been helping them out with… or maybe you feel they’ve been moonlighting with another gang late at night after you’ve been sent to your room to do your homework.

Here was another Email with the heading: Shameless Liars and Thieves!

It was from a Republican newsletter and after I opened it, it immediately identified the shameless liars and thieves as…the government. (As if I didn’t already know) but what had they done this time? Apparently our government has been withholding the secret to a cure for cancer for over 85 years! (I guess that means Republicans have been in on in too!)

Anyway, the short memo, as it’s called, goes on and on and on and explains that the good Dr. Al Sears knows the cure for cancer, aging, obesity, arthritis, depression, Alzheimer’s, and even graying hair! In fact he knows the cure for everything! All you have to do is purchase his newsletter and buy and read his 5 volume set about how to cure everything. And somehow the government can no longer stop him! Hooray for the internet! Hooray!

Of course, as any English teacher can tell you, always read to the end before answering any questions or filling out any forms because if you scroll down to the very end of this rag sheet you’ll find this disclaimer:

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Well, I suppose you’ve got to give them some credit. After all, they did put the words Shameless Liars and Thieves right there in the title to their Email. You just had to read to the end to find out that they were talking about themselves…

Now, If only someone could find a cure for people who behave like that!…or is it being kept a secret?

The Icebergs Cometh

23 Mar

Here is another word for you: Glaciologist: One who studies glaciers or ice

And not in a bar-tending kind of way but rather in a global warming way, as in glaciers, climate change and ice melt!

Apparently, according to glaciologists, there is some startling news! The North Pole is melting! And not in a slow, “oh no someone left the freezer door slightly ajar” kind of way but rather in a “ding dong the wicked witch is dead”, kind of way…

Because Greenland is now a lot greener than it used to be and is losing ice at the rate of 30+ feet per year. Just imagine 30 feet of solid ice melting. And that’s just this year because the ice is not melting at a constant rate but rather at a rate that is accelerating every year, so whatever predictions the glaciologists make based upon today’s melt rate, they have to be revisited every year and updated.

And even though folks around the world continue to debate the scientific merits of global warming and whether or not mankind has anything to do with it (rather than just God’s love) the glaciologists have absolutely no doubt that we are to blame. And why is that?…Because the ice in Greenland is black. And why is that?… Because the black color is from the soot that has settled all over it, making it melt at at even faster rate…and soot of course is not a heavenly substance but rather a consequence of fossil fuel burning by God’s most beloved and favored of creatures…us.

But don’t despair! It’s not too late! All we have to do is cut our worldwide carbon emissions by 85%!

But wouldn’t you know…we’re increasing worldwide carbon emissions every year. And as soon as 2 and a half billion people in China and India really get their economies going…we’ll really start to do some cooking…both literally and…literally!

So don’t buy beach property! Rent instead. And tell your grandchildren to move inland or to higher ground and if they are already there, tell them to expect neighbors, and lots of them,  because by the end of this century…or sooner… 80 out of 100 coastal cities in the world will be under water…and not in a good way like some futuristic Jules Verne kind of way but rather in a “glub, glub” kind of way.

Of course giant, moveable, and super expensive sea walls could be constructed to protect our cities but when you consider that most world cities contain a much greater portion of poverty as compared to wealth I’m betting that most of the wealth is just going to vote to move elsewhere…what do you think?

Anyway, there’s still some time and science could be wrong but who would you believe? Someone who has studied hard and dedicated his life to obtain a degree in Glaciology and who has seen and is studying ice melt with their own eyes… or rather someone who has studied hard to become a politician or an evangelist and who says, “Don’t worry about it” or “Let us pray”??

Maybe Noah’s Ark wasn’t a history lesson but rather a prophesy? In any event, when the iceberg cometh, ask not for whom the ice was ordered. It cometh with room service…for thee!

 

Wanna Bet?

19 Mar

Warren Buffet, Quicken Loans and Yahoo Sports are teaming up to offer 1 billion dollars to the first sports enthusiast to correctly pick a perfect bracket of winners for the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament. However, They are limiting the number of contestants to 15 million and should more than one sports enthusiast win, then they will have to split the prize.

But, I wouldn’t worry about that because the odds of picking 63 tournament games correctly are…

9.2 quintillion-to-1!

But that’s if you are just guessing, otherwise, if you know something about NCAA basketball, experts say that your odds increase to…

128 billion- to-1!…So it is possible.

But, no one has ever had a perfect bracket in over 30 million entries in the ESPN competition, which began in 1998…So, it’s a pretty safe bet that this is just a gigantic publicity stunt and an attempt to entice some folks to refinance their homes with a Quicken Loan, while they attempt to fill out their brackets on-line.

But, let’s just say that just one someone…perhaps myself…has picked 62 games correctly… and now with just 1 game to go between the 2 remaining teams, say, Boondock College Vs. MegaState University, and all the world focuses on…ME… to see whether or not I will become an overnight billionaire! And it all hinges on one game! Winner take all! Loser gets Nada. What Hoopla! What Excitement!

And here’s why that could never happen.

If I need Boondock College to win the game so I can become a billionaire all I have to do is to announce that if I win, every player on Megastate U. will get 1 million dollars, and I’ll even throw in 10 million dollars to the University to use for scholarships or bills or whatever…and to be completely fair and magnanimous, I’ll announce the same largess to the Boondock College players and university; A benevolent gift for all involved…as long as I win of course… because I won’t be a billionaire should I lose will I?

I won’t be asking anyone to lose on purpose or not play fair or even suggest anything improper or out of the ordinary. I will just make known my planned generosity should I win the final game of my bracket. I’ll even put in in writing. A total of about 50 million dollars in gifts to all players and both Colleges involved in this most momentous event…after all I stand to win 1,000 million so what’s 50 give or take?

Of course once I do that, everyone in the USA and world for that matter, will bet on Boondock College to win. How could they lose? That would mean that Las Vegas would have to immediately cancel all betting and Warren Buffet might as well just get out his check book and start writing and the NCAA would probably just cancel the game anyway because what a circus this would become…heck, I might as well just make my announcement when I get to the final 4. That would be a 100 million dollar pledge on a 1,000 million dollar win so…maybe I’ll just do it when I get to the elite 8? Then 200 gets me 1,000. How about the sweet 16?

In any event, 1 billion dollars is a lot of money and sooner or later I’m betting that the NCAA would just have to shut down the tournament and send the students back to class. (Did I just use NCAA, students and class all in the same sentence?) Anyway, 1 billion dollars may not be a lot of money to Yahoo, Quicken Loans, Warren Buffet or, sadly, even the NCAA… but to us regular folks and poor college athletes, I’m pretty sure it could buy a lot of good will and some creative play making in the final stages of the… “tournament”.

What do you think?

Sex, Drugs and Rocky Road

17 Mar


 

            After having spent 33 years in the High School classroom, and observing teenagers day after day I have come to the conclusion that life is about 3 things. How we relate to, learn about and handle our relationship with these 3 things will determine much if not all of the success and happiness that we will have in our lives. I believe that while teaching the 3R’s is a fundamental and sacred principle of our educational system the study and discussion of these 3 even more basic elements of our everyday lives should be mandatory in every public school curriculum throughout the world. And they are: Sex, Drugs and Rocky Road…and here’s why.

            1. Sex – Our physical attraction to and need for someone else. Our sometimes overwhelming need for physical pleasure. The basic, primeval lure of reproduction. The undeniable connection, often repressed, between the animal world and ourselves. The basic instinct that we cannot separate ourselves from, no matter how hard we try. All of the religions in all of the world cannot sway us from our keen awareness of our sexuality and our link to the animal in all of us. We copulate and we reproduce just like all other animals. It is the only way for our species to propagate and survive. We are not separated from animals by divinity, and that’s just the way it is.

            2. Drugs – Our bodies are made of chemicals and natural substances that are found throughout our planet and our universe, that comprise all living things. Life eventually becomes mundane and ordinary for all of us and we find solace and euphoria and altered states of consciousness through the use of various drugs. Eventually we all try one or another and how we react to the effects they have on our bodies and minds will be revisited time and again over the course of our lives. All chemical substances will react with our physical organs and alter, enhance or reduce their functionality…from nicotine to alcohol to Ritalin and beyond. Whatever chemicals we ingest, be they natural or manmade, they will induce or influence behaviors and reactions that we will either find pleasant, unsatisfactory, euphoric or detrimental (and many times even addictive) but our relationship with drugs of one form or another will be constant and ongoing throughout our lives. The relationships we have with these chemicals may be the most important and profound  relationships that we will have during our lifetimes.

            3. Rocky Road – i.e.: Desire. We will all develop a desire and passion for something that may either drive, consume or haunt us throughout our lives. It may be one of the two of the three most important things that I have mentioned here so far, or perhaps all three to one degree or another. Perhaps the desire for the euphoric state that drugs induce will addict us. Or perhaps our sex drive will steer us on a course of emotional ups and downs over roads where we cannot find the off ramp. Or maybe the delicious tastes of food and the satiations that we can only find through our gastric delight will consume our thoughts and desires. Perhaps it will be the work that we choose to do or a vocation or a love for sport or the physical desire to be on the go all the time. Maybe a need for adulation or attention or love, or simply a desire to be left alone, will fill our dreams.

            Power, success, wealth, greed, fame, fortune or that nameless something, that we just can’t put our finger on…yet. Whatever it is you can rest assured that it will be something and not just anything, that will drive us or motivate us or propel us through to the end of our lives. That “Thing” will be our Rocky Road; That which we just can’t get enough of. And how we deal with that desire and pursue it or avoid it or succumb to it or live with it or without it will be our true life’s work…whether we work at it or recognize it or know it or acknowledge it…or not.

            It will be the personal relationships that we forge with these three most powerful forces; Sex, Drugs and Desire, from our adolescence through to our death, that will influence and drive us most throughout our lives. How we will cope with these relationships and how we will recognize our personal struggles with all of them will determine the very fabric of our lives and the course through which we pursue our happiness.

            Ironically these may be the 3 least discussed topics in all schools and homes when they should be the 3 most discussed topics, especially since we all have homes and we all go to school. Why do we avoid or demonize or place taboos on all of these topics? What makes them so influential in our lives and yet at the same time so embarrassing to talk about? Certainly I can understand our reticence to discuss these topics with our little children but by the time they have reached middle school and adolescence we are all, parent and child, pretty much on the same page. That is when we need to begin to open discussions on these topics. That’s when we need to begin openly discussing what it is that we are all privately thinking about anyway.

            Society needs to begin developing a curriculum for the home and school that will open a dialogue between children and adults about the topics that really concern and affect us all. Sex, Drugs and Rocky Road: A Course in Reality Science 101.

            Studying how to read, write and calculate is without a doubt important to all of our children but it will be how our children learn to cope, medicate and congregate in the 21st century that just may save us all.

Are You a Welfare Queen?

13 Mar

Do you live in a community that has received federal aid as part of a recovery from a natural disaster like a hurricane, flood or tornado? Have you ever participated in a job training program? Have you, your spouse or child ever received an education grant, like a Pell Grant as part of a student college loan? Did your child ever attend a Head Start for pre-schoolers program?  Was money ever spent on your behalf to enforce child support orders? Did you partake in a program that helped to improve your teachers’ skills? Have you been involved in any screening programs to detect breast and cervical cancer in you community? Has anyone in your family ever attended a college or university that received federal money as part of a program to strengthen their management and fiscal operations? Did you work for Americorps- which trains and places teachers in low income communities? Or do you live in a community that has received federal assistance in upgrading their water and sewage systems? Maybe you take a child tax credit or earned income credit on your tax return. Does your elderly parent or perhaps you, if you are a senior citizen, receive housing assistance?

Well then, according to the Republican party members in Congress, operating conservative think tanks and Fox news, you’re on Welfare!

Because, When so called conservatives lump all of these programs together and call them welfare and then calculate how much money is being spent on these programs and then divide that number by only those folks who are living under the poverty line, they come up with a whopping total of $61,320 spent by the federal government on welfare recipients, which is 168 dollars per day which means that people on welfare are making 21 dollars an hour per day, everyday, even on Saturday and Sunday, to sit around and do nothing! That’s 11,000 dollars more than the average middle class family earns in America! Aren’t you outraged?????

And then when you consider that President Obama himself is writing these checks, and licking the envelopes and stamps and then mailing them out to all of these welfare recipients (all of whom he knows personally… because they used to go to school together) (or rather skipped school and smoked marijuana together) Then aren’t you doubly outraged!!!

It’s no wonder the good old USA is going to hell in a hand basket. You work hard every day and pay taxes and yet no good lazy bums are lounging around all day with 61,000 dollars and change in their pockets doing nothing. And they get free healthcare too! Don’t forget that! All in all, when you consider all of the extra perks, besides the welfare checks, these good for nothing poor folks are making upwards of $80,000 and using food stamps to buy lobster and fresh fish and organic foods!

Aren’t you mad? Didn’t you get the Email about this? Didn’t you hear the Congressmen and Senators rage on TV about this inequality? Didn’t you see every single Fox News program air this story over and over again? Didn’t you notice the pretty blonde lady who occupies the conservative pundit’s chair on every day time talk show practically break down in tears over how her country is falling apart because of these entitlement programs for the undeserving poor?

I know that I certainly am appalled! I just want to know why all of these poor welfare recipients continue to live in squalor and degradation in some of the saddest inner cities the world has ever known, when they are each making over $80,000 per year in cash and prizes?! For goodness sakes, four of them put together have over a 1/4 of a million dollars at their disposal! Why are so many of them homeless and refusing to live in decent and safe housing?

I just don’t get it. Why do the poor live like they don’t have any money when they apparently have all of it? Why haven’t they moved into my neighborhood…or yours? They could all afford a nice townhouse in the pretty blonde lady’s co-op couldn’t they…or live in the high rise next to that middle aged guy with the rolled up sleeves, suspenders and bow tie, who gets red in the face and practically faints from apoplexy each night while commenting on TV about how entitled these poor people are?

According to Republicans We spend 1 trillion dollars on the poor each year, more than we spend on Social Security, Medicare and National Defense…put together! And all of it spent just so that the President’s lazy friends can pretend they are poor, sit around all day, pay no taxes, eat lobster and smoke crack in a whore house!

And if you believe all that…Then I just may have another tax break for the rich, and a food stamp cut for the poor, that I can sell you!

Moral of the story?: Stay in school, don’t believe everything anyone tells you, fact check and learn how to do math. The result is that a lot of Americans are woefully misinformed about what we spend on anti-poverty programs, and what those programs look like. Traditional welfare, now known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, costs the federal government just $16.5 billion (out of a 3.6 Trillion dollar budget)In the real world we spend about $25 per day on the needy or about $753 per month for each lower income American (persons in the lowest income-third of the population) and NOT the $61,320++, per year that Republicans and conservative pundits claim.

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