Tag Archives: government

Like Father Like Son, Like Son?

21 Jul

Republican candidate for president, Jeb Bush, says that he is going to break the mold when it comes to being like the rest of the presidential members of his family because he has some very different ideas about how to make America strong again. Which begs the question…Are we weak now?

Anyway, Jeb’s first key to getting us stronger is to work harder! Apparently what’s wrong with America is that Americans don’t work hard enough and aren’t productive enough. Do you feel that that pretty much describes you and your American family? You’re all a bunch of deadbeats and lazy bones?

So after we all do our part and start working more Jeb says that he’ll do his part, if you elect him president, and do the things that no other Bush before him has done…Like cut government jobs! (but I thought we were going to work more?) And cut taxes… because who needs more money when you are already way too much in debt? And no new spending…on anything new! Unless I suppose there are new wars. In the Bush family I think war is like dessert: There’s always room for war…

Perhaps it sounds like a plan but just Imagine running your own family budget this way.

“Okay kids gather around. Your mother and I have decided to become more productive so we’ll be working more…but on the other hand we will not be asking for any more money from our bosses. In fact we’re going to ask them to keep more of our hard earned money so they can use it to create more jobs for other folks. So with more work for us and less money for you that means some of you will have to grow up and get out, because we’re going to cut spending and downsize and those of you who leave will not be replaced…(so don’t even think about bringing any grandchildren around!) but that’s OK because now that your mother and I are working more we will have to cut back on the 15 minutes that we as average American parents spend with our children each day already… So it all works out! Because More work and less time, while cutting income, along with a reduction in family members and their spending, equals productivity for all! Doesn’t it?…And oh yes, we’ll probably be invading the neighbors house at 0 six hundred tomorrow morning. So look sharp and dress for success. Just use the credit card if you need supplies… That is all.”

He also promised that it wouldn’t be business as usual in old Washington D.C. if he were elected president because he would crack down on the influence of lobbyists, noting that as governor of Florida he enacted a strict ban on gifts from lobbyists to legislators. Of course I think that he got that last idea from one of his top advisers, Sally Bradshaw, who is married to the founder of one of Florida’s most successful lobbying firms…so like his dad and brother before him…you can probably just read his lips to know that he’ll keep that promise!

Now who wants to go look for some more WMDs?!

Twelve Years A-Float…

9 Jul

I have 12 years to live!

At least to live above the poverty line…

That is If I do in fact live that long…

Because by age 72, according to our most corpulent governor, Chris Christie the 1st, my pension fund will be empty. He practically guarantees it! Our Beefy Boss says that any system where a person pays in 95,000 dollars and takes out 2.3 million dollars is destined to fail…that would of course be a system where Methuselah represented every pensioner because I would have to live to be about 969 to get paid 2.3 million dollars in retirement.

That’s an exaggeration on my part of course (by about 700 years) but then again so is everything that comes out of the Governor’s mouth, rather like so many of his farts, which I have no doubt represent more of the truth about our Over-sized Overseer than anything that he has to say.

When Mr. Christie was elected governor of New Jersey in 2009, he assured the state’s police officers and firefighters that, “Nothing will change for the pensions of current officers, future officers or retirees in a Christie administration. It is a sacred trust.” He told the state’s teachers the same thing…

But the intervening six years have shown just how little that “sacred trust” is worth to our Garden State Gargantuan, who signed legislation in 2011 raising public employees’ pension contributions and curbing their benefits. Employees were asked to make concessions which included raising the retirement age, suspending cost-of-living increases for retirees, and requiring workers to contribute more toward their pensions and health benefits, from 5.5 percent to 7.5 percent for teachers and 8.5 to 10 percent for Police and firemen with Judicial employees kicking in an additional 9 percent of their salary.

In return, our Most Magnanimous and Meaty Manager promised to make the state’s regular and contractual payments into the pension system, something that hadn’t been done by Governor Christie before (nor by most of his thieving governmental predecessors, I must add) However, this Head Honcho of Husk failed to deliver on those promises and those payments, which drove our pension system deeper into debt — a move that a judge later ruled to be unlawful.

But unlike previous Governors, Chris “Crispy Creme” Christie didn’t just stop payments but has also seen to it that the New Jersey pension system paid more than $600 million in fees to financial firms in 2014 — 50 percent more than the previous year, and at a higher rate than almost any other state reports paying for pension management. And he has had the pension money invested in high-fee firms whose executives made campaign contributions to Republican political groups…all the while telling New Jersey teachers, firefighters, cops and other public workers that “there are no alternatives” to cutting our retirement benefits because the state pension system is so strapped for cash.

Mr Christie’s overbite (excuse me, oversight)  of our pension system has gotten so bad that former Securities and Exchange Commission attorney Ted Siedle, who conducts forensic investigations of state and local pensions says that New Jersey is the “Poster Child for pension system shenanigans happening to pension systems all across the country.” Including shenanigans like: lack of transparency, skyrocketing risks and fees and chronic under performance…with shenanigans being the operative euphemism for…stealing!

And now of course our Weighty Chief of State is happy, no, practically giddy, if you watch him on the morning shows, to tell us and all of America that the NJ pension system will collapse and go broke in 12 years. Now everyone sit down and shut the ef up!

But On a lighter note:

Our Elephantine Executive paid for food and drinks at MetLife Stadium with a state debit card 58 times over the 2010 and 2011 NFL seasons, accruing a bill of 82,594 dollars. That’s an average of nearly $1,500 on food and drinks every time he attended a football game. If you follow the governor at all you know that Our Paragon of Plump is fond of saying that while serving in public office he wants to “squeeze the orange for everything he can get.”… Here I believe orange being his operative euphemism for electorate, while he means squeeze, as in…screw.

So go ahead America and vote for Chris Christie for president of the United States! I’m sure He’ll be more than happy to liquidate your Social Security checks in an all out effort to outdo the late great Roman Emperor, Nero, who was once said to have fiddled while Rome burned.

So Won’t it be great fun America, to watch New Jersey’s Rotunda of Rule… Fart while America goes Belly Up!

The Smoking Gun

21 Jun

If today in the 21st century one man with a gun can commit mass murder… then why isn’t a gun considered a weapon of mass destruction?

To say that an archaic amendment to a living constitution, made during a time when the personal weapons of men could not help one commit mass murder, is an incontrovertible right that can never be modified, is equivalent to espousing the notion that the confederate flag, born in a refutation of human value, is now a symbol of honor and freedom among men.

When will America stop embracing dumb-assery… and start embracing humanity within our own borders?

“All for ourselves, and nothing for other people.”

2 Jun

I saw a post on Facebook recently espousing this thought:

“We must put an end to economic freeloading…There must be no place for parasites who draw their sustenance from society without giving anything in return.”

We have over 50 million people in this country who live below the poverty line. And it’s a pretty low line…certainly not one that we or anyone else that I know would want to live under for one day… let alone a year or two or a lifetime. And of all the industrialized countries in the world we, the United States, the richest, mightiest, most boastful country in the world… is last in helping its poor people.

Wow! We’re last in the first world at charity…and as far as I can tell it makes most Americans sick…and not because we’re last but because we can’t get any lower… without leaving the first world and joining the second and third world countries in order to do it that is. Most folks and certainly all Republicans, would like to cut programs for the poor (like food stamps, rent assistance, healthcare and welfare) all together and completely.

After all there is no place for parasites is there? Unless we count prison, and we are first in prisons and prisoners aren’t we? Huzzah! At least we are proud to be number one in some category among the wealthy, advanced nations of the world. But if the poor are parasites and undeserving moochers who draw sustenance from their hosts while offering nothing in return, what are we to do with them? Kill them? Eat them? We already ignore them don’t we? If they aren’t already in prison then they certainly are pretty much invisible. Right?

I mean seriously, do you see a lot of poor folks during your daily routine? You pretty much have to go out of your way or take a wrong turn or exit on the freeway to bump into them don’t you? Or maybe you sometimes see them get shot by scared witless policemen in their efforts to “protect and serve” as you channel surf on your cable TV. So really, what more can we do besides cut those checks?…and I mean cut as in off… not as in… write.

But who are these undeserving poor that beguile and bewilder our great United States of America with their hands out for more and more of our hard earned money every day? Who are these 50 million or so ingrates who can’t stand on their own two feet? These huddled masses who are bankrupting the richest citizens of the richest country in the world? Which, by the way, they aren’t because in case you missed it at the beginning of this blog post, we don’t really give them anything, because we, in all actuality and factuality, already are the STINGIEST, wealthy country in the world!

But I digress…

Because, who are these money grubbers anyway?!

Well… 35% of the 50 million or so poverty stricken Americans are kids! They are all under the age of 18 so how much of a slacker can they all be? Are we going to call 17.5 million children parasites and undeserving moochers for whom there must be no place in our society because they don’t pull their own weight in this world? Yet? They haven’t even graduated high school.

Another 10% of the poorest Americans are elderly. They are all over 65 years of age and can’t work or shouldn’t have to work anymore. How much financial independence and personal accountability do we require from those who may not have had any pensions or 401K plans during their working years or who saw them swallowed up by banks or government cuts or by the financial sector’s mismanagement? Can we give these folks a break and help them out with food stamps, medical and housing assistance or is there simply no room in our society for this particular type of societal parasite? You know…the old and feeble kind.

So that accounts for almost half of all the poor citizens in our country: old folks and children. But did you know that another 31% of the poor in our country are poor because they have mental and/or physical disabilities that prevent them from working or that caused them to lose their jobs in the first place? They might be veterans, paraplegics, developmentally challenged, perhaps those who suffered on the job injuries where no workman’s comp. was in effect or those who were suffering from severe mental incapacitates when their hospitals were closed during the cutbacks of the Reagan years and beyond. Are these citizens to be considered freeloaders also? Lazy work shirkers on the public dole? Irresponsible no-gooders who need to have their food stamp purchases monitored lest they buy an occasional steak or seafood out of season so that we do-gooders can treat ourselves to another tax cut?

A full 76% of those who live below the poverty line here in the United States of America are either children, senior citizens or disabled…that’s 3 out of 4… and what of the other 24%? Mostly they are comprised of mothers: more than likely they are single, divorced or unwed women with children (and a man on the lam from his child support)

And all together they comprise the Approximately 50 million people who can’t make ends meet in this, our Land of Plenty. Sure it’s a big number…but we’re a big country…and a rich country…the richest country! One that can afford to spend 20+% of its budget on blowing the citizens of other countries up and then debate whether or not we should be spending more on such endeavors.

But when it comes to helping our own poorest of citizens, the great majority of whom are either too young, too old, too disabled… or mothers trying to make ends meet…we wag our fingers and say, “We’ve given you enough! What more do you want?”  And yet, We as a nation are last in the world at helping our fellow citizens get back up on their feet now, so really, How much crueler and indifferent can we be?!

Well…The United States also has the highest poverty rate among the major industrialized nations of the world! And Our poverty rate for children is just as bad. So that means that we are first in creating poor people and last in helping them! Do we now need to make sure that we constantly refer to the poor in America as Parasites? Fraudsters? Morally bankrupt? Undeserving? Lazy? Cheats? Thieves?…

Do we really need to add insult to penury?

Because after all. Haven’t we fortunate Americans…God Bless Us…done enough already?

Why War Is (Still) Stupid

26 May

I wrote this almost 3 years ago, early on in my blogging days, but sadly it still seems to be ringing truer than ever…

During Desert Storm, the first war in Iraq, a student in my class raised his hand and asked me a question.

“Hey, Mr. Picone, did you see that general on TV who was showing the video where a cruise missile tracks down an Iraqi truck and blows it up right there on a bridge?”

“Yes, I replied. I did.”

“Well, continued the student, how much do you think that old Iraqi truck was worth?”

“Oh about 20 to 30 thousand dollars,” I guessed

“And that bomb with the camera inside that tracked it down and blew it up. That cost a few hundred million didn’t it?”

“Yes, I think you’re right.” I said.

“So my question is, said the student who was about to give me something very interesting to think about, If our country is Spending 200 million dollars to blow up a 20,000 dollar truck how long can we keep that up before going broke?”

He asked me that question in 1992 and although I had no answer for him then, apparently my answer should have been, “Oh, I’d say about 16 years!” War is stupid because eventually we all go broke. You can bet money on it! Just ask Egypt and Greece and Rome and Persia and Spain and England and France and the Soviet Union and…now…US.!

We owe 18 trillion dollars and have no plans for paying off that debt except for the proposed dismantling of our Social services, pension systems and national infrastructure. Some plan, huh?

All civilizations eventually either spend all of their money on feeding the wealthy’s appetite for more wealth or on war, neither of which is an ingredient in any recipe for the extended prosperity and growth of a civilization and its people. And we here in the United States are doing both…at the same time!

Education however, no matter how expensive it may be for a civilization’s inhabitants to fund, sustain and expand never leads to the end of anyone’s civilization. When will we ever learn that?

Parents, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys

25 May

As Memorial Day arrives we take time to reflect on the liberties and freedom we all share due to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. My father served during World War II, My grandfather during World War I, and my great grandfather during the Civil War. They all saw action and survived while others did not and we can say today without any doubt that those who gave their lives in service to their country did so in valiant efforts to preserve what we so cherish here in the United States today…

But which of those wars was the war to end all wars? And will that war ever be fought? When I was young one American dream that was a big time favorite but by now really should have run its course was that of being a soldier. Whenever adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would always say “I want to be an army man!” That was back in the 50s and early 60s when playing soldier was a common pastime among young children. Once my father, a WWII veteran, explained to me that war involved fighting and possibly dieing, I soon changed my mind and as the Vietnam War loomed in my teenage future I wondered if perhaps my childhood boasting of wanting to be an army man would become an inevitable and now unwanted reality. Fortunately for me the draft and then the war ended and the country’s views toward wars and fighting them seemed to change for the better but now here in the 21st century we seem to have turned back towards war as a viable alternative to peace or perhaps even more insanely as a partner of peace!

Remember when you would get into a fight and your school principal or your teacher would tell you that fighting is wrong and that no matter who started it, it still was wrong to fight? When did we ever stop teaching and learning that lesson? We should no longer be encouraging any of our children to aspire to fighting or war. When will we ever learn that war is counterproductive to life? It seems like such a simple lesson to learn.

In my New Jersey high school we have a JROTC program. That stands for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and it is a class or series of classes and after school activities that help prepare high school children for a career in the military. Some believe that this is a good idea and I have seen many students proudly enroll in the program, graduate and continue on in a successful military career. However, that was back in the days when the United States was not actively involved in any wars and the graduating JROTC students went on to enjoy careers in a peacetime military. Today, most of these students are being groomed and prepared for active military duty in a wartime military and  many if not most of these young adults actually believe that they are preparing for something that will be fun and rewarding and once they develop their military skills they become eager to actually test themselves under real combat conditions. They look forward to becoming the new modern day cowboys of America.

This is something that I find very disturbing because these students are still children and we who work in the public schools are not just responsible for educating children. We are also responsible for protecting children. And part of what it means to protect our children involves making sure that they understand what it is that fighting and going off to war really means. And so as educators and citizens and community members we should all know better, and here’s why…

I took my own children shopping at Old Navy one day. You know that great American clothing store that sells the kind of clothes that young Americans just love to wear and have to have. As they were browsing I began browsing also and noticed that all of the clothes were made, not in America, (Gasp! Who else has an old navy?) But rather in Vietnam! Vietnam was the communist country America had fought over 40 years ago where we desperately tried to fend off communism and save democracy from the falling red dominoes that would crush us all one by one. And here today were my children happily sorting through the latest fashions in American clothes made by one of our most recent enemies, the Vietnamese! And then it dawned on me…apparently this is what our soldiers had fought for. 56,000 Americans fought and died and countless others were injured and forever scarred to ensure that someday a cheap labor source would be available to help put Americans out of work. Young adults of my generation studied hard, graduated high school, were randomly selected by our government in a lottery and sent halfway around the world in order to kill their own future jobs! Ain’t that a kick in the cargo pants?!

Is this possible? Am I remembering history incorrectly? The United States invaded Vietnam to stem the tide of communism. The war escalated. American teenagers were then drafted to bolster the armed forces desperate fight. The war continued for 10 years. Vietnam was devastated. 56,000 Americans were killed. Millions of Vietnamese citizens were killed. We eventually evacuated our forces in 1972. The communists prevailed and took over the country…and soon they began happily making clothes for Americans to wear! How did that happen? And what does this all have to do with your high school children and cowboys? Well, let’s see…

Back in the 1960s, when I was a teenager in high school, we all worried about the draft. During the year when a boy turned 18 he officially became a man, at least in the government’s eyes, and was required to register for selective service in the armed forces which meant that if your number came up in the subsequent draft lottery you would soon be headed to the war in Vietnam where your life would almost certainly be changed forever. As the casualties in Vietnam mounted, so did the public opposition to the draft. To randomly select recent high school graduates and send them off to war no longer seemed fair and although we all knew that it was all about fighting communism, and keeping the world safe for democracy, and serving God and our country and doing our duty etc., the prospects of going off to war no longer seemed exciting, just frightening. We probably have television to thank for this change in public opinion because that same medium that was bombarding us with advertisements and images of sex and violence that was surely going to rot our young brains was also showing us the truth about real violence and the real horrors of war. It was television and its pervasive sounds and images of real death and violence, along with the undeniable unfairness of a draft that could randomly pluck your children out of your home and end their lives at a moment’s notice, which brought about the end of the draft and the end of the Vietnam War.

So, what does that have to do with buying clothes made in Vietnam? Well, its 40 years later and we still have wars but now however, with an all volunteer army, it is harder to complain about those wars and how we as a country use our military because the government can always say, “They volunteered. No one made them join. They’re patriots proudly doing their duty.” That is a position that is very hard to argue with but still I am going to try to make my point and my point is this.

As teachers we need to present to our students all of the facts about history and especially the facts about the affects of war on the people who fight them, namely our children who become our soldiers, and who we send off to foreign lands to inevitably end the lives of someone else’s children. So here are some facts to consider…

In 1776 we fought the hated British for our liberty and freedom and the right to establish our own government. Then they invaded our new country again in 1812 and burned down Washington D.C. Later that century in 1863 they even considered aiding the Confederate states during our civil war to help divide our nation forever, but they decided not to so we eventually became friends again, saved their asses with massive invasion forces during two world wars and today we’re BFF!

In 1844 we invaded Mexico and fought the hated Mexicans who massacred Davey Crockett at the Alamo. Today, it’s the Mexican army (or so it seems) who shows up to fix my roof or cut my lawn or patch my sidewalks or trim my trees whenever I hire an American contractor to do the work. In 1898 we fought the hated Spanish in the Spanish-American war, remember that? Or rather remember the Maine?! Today, Spanish is the fastest growing language spoken in the U.S.A.

In 1918 and 1945 we fought the hated Germans who wanted to take over the world and kill us all, and yet by the 1960s every family in America it seemed owned at least one Volkswagen Beetle, the most affordable car of its time, made in Germany.

Who hated the Japanese more than us in 1941? If you had told my father and his WWII buddies in 1945 that someday a Japanese man nicknamed “Godzilla” would play the beloved Joe DiMaggio’s position in centerfield for the New York Yankees and win the World Series MVP while doing it, they would have plotzed! Right there in their pants! Right after their heads exploded!

My point is this. War isn’t hell. It’s stupidity! The people we kill today will tomorrow make our clothes and take our jobs. Why not just cut to the chase and just all be friends and go shopping? We need to teach our children to stop volunteering and to stop thinking that war is going to be fun. We need to teach them to stop believing that we’ve got to go over there to keep them from coming over here. They’re here already! And if not they’ll be here eventually and either with our soldiers help or because we simply invited them! Do you seriously doubt that “Made in Iraq” will be seen somewhere in your house in the near future or that a 7ft. something Afghani will be starting at center for the NY Knicks this decade and making 10 million dollars a year? I don’t.

We need to teach our children that going off to war today will only mean that if and when they come home it will most likely be with a shattered body and a rattled mind and the inability to enjoy as adults what they were sent off as children to protect in the first place.

So parents, don’t let your babies dream or grow up to be cowboys, unless they’re the kind who play in Dallas and get paid big bucks to wear their helmets and protect their heads when they do…although unfortunately that’s another story all together…

WMDs?

20 May

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Here is how you know if a country has WMDs or not, especially nuclear warheads like Dick Cheney asserted in 2003 before the invasion of Iraq with this statement: “We know he [Saddam Hussein] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

First: No one, not even the United States, invades a country that has WMDs. That’s why North Korea and Pakistan and Russia and China can do or say whatever they like without any fear of the United States taking any military intervention. So can France, Great Britain, India and Israel…but they are of course all supposed to be our great and close friends.

Second: If you are an invaded country and the leader of that country that actually has WMDs, then rather than watch your country be conquered while you cower in a hole, you use your WMDs on the invading troops as a last resort to your own defeat. That is why possessing WMDs is such a deterrent and threatening defense against invasion in the first place.

Third: Only 9 countries have real WMDs. We know who they are. And if ever there were to be a 10th, (Like Iran wants to be, and notice how they haven’t been able to surprise anyone about their intentions despite our supposed horrible and incompetent intelligence community?) you could find out on Wikipedia as soon as it happens.

And Finally: If any country in the Middle East, besides Israel, had WMDs, the Israeli’s would blow the crap out of them and take names and ask questions later…and then, when they were done, ask for the United States permission and intervention.

And that is how we know that Iraq never had WMDs and that the call to war against Iraq over the threat of their possessing WMDs, made by the Bush administration after the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center was always based on false pretenses.

And old rotting chemical weapons that were buried in various locations within Iraq, that were there because the United States had once upon a time given them to Iraq to use in their war against Iran during the 1980s, (we sold weapons to Iran at the same time by the way) and that we knew were still there, dysfunctional and buried, do not constitute a WMD or nuclear threat. Besides, you have chemical weapons in your kitchen cabinet and whether or not you have enough for mass destruction is frankly speaking…up to you.

Why politicians and the media still can’t figure all of this out, or pretend not to be able to, is beyond me.

J.R.Goldrich

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