Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Back Pages: Thankful

My Back Pages: Thankful: Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday of them all. It's a time when most of my family gather's at my home for a good, old fashioned Thanksgivi...

Thankful

  Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday of them all. It's a time when most of my family gather's at my home for a good, old fashioned Thanksgiving dinner. It makes me stop for a while and think about the things that I am thankful for. Granted, the past few years have been difficult. The economy crashed a few years ago, and shows just a few signs of improving. Most of the manufacturing jobs have gone overseas, thanks to free trade agreements and  the exploitation of the underpaid workforce in the third world by corporations. There seems to be a general malais in the world at large that seems to be very hard to shake off. 
 Times, indeed, are hard. Still, I have many things that I am thankful for. I am thankful for my parents, who raised me with a good sense of morality and a decent work ethic that served me well for all the years that I was able to work. I am thankful for finding a good, steady career in Telephone work that enabled me to raise my family under decent conditions and provided me with healthcare and a good wage for my entire career. I am thankful to the United States Marine Corps for taking a self centered boy and turning him into a fully functioning man in just four short years. I am also grateful for the Corps for showing me how others live and what they need to do to survive in countries that do not have  functioning Democracy like we have her in  the United States. I am thankful for being born here, in the USA and being able to know a level of freedom only dreamed about by others. I am thankful for having a mind that is inquisitive and passionate. It gives me the ability to question things that are put before me and it also gives me compassion and empathy for those who are in pain or are struggling with something. After all, if we don't care about, and try to help, each other, who will? Without the ability to help and care for each other, our society would be doomed to end up on the ash heap of history. I am grateful and thankful for my family. I am glad that they continue to succeed in these difficult times. I am thankful for my wife, Sheryl. She is my second marriage. They say that second marriages fail more frequently than first marriages. I guess that could be true, if you do not continue to work at it and try to mend the leaks in your bonds when they spring up. We've managed to weather all the storms and are sailing on into the sunset together. I am thankful that I have lived to see all of this wondrous technology that has now gotten us to the point where we have made the first tentative steps to meeting and interacting with each other across the globe, without the aid of diplomats or leaders who tend to skew things to their view of them. Maybe one day, we will all understand and respect each other. Perhaps not in my lifetime, but maybe in my grandchildren's lifetime.
 Finally, I am thankful for being able to reconnect with the many friends that I had in my childhood and young adulthood. What a marvelous thing this Internet is. How wonderful is this facebook? I am so happy that I found you all: Tony, Bernie, Jo, Pam, Don, Bob, Fred, Jerry... the list goes on and on. It makes me feel young again. Thank you all for accepting me back  into your lives after all these years. And to all of my new friends across this country and across the globe, I am so thankful to have touched all of you, and been touched in return. I love you all. 
 Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Back Pages: Marine Corps Birthday - Veterans Day, 2011

My Back Pages: Marine Corps Birthday - Veterans Day, 2011: Every year, during the second week of November, I get very reflective and tend to keep a little bit to myself. It's Veteran's week. This we...

Marine Corps Birthday - Veterans Day, 2011

Every year, during the second week of November, I get very reflective and tend to keep a little bit to myself.  It's Veteran's week. This week contains the Marine Corps Birthday, and Veterans Day. You won't find the week designated on any calendar, or noted in any article anywhere but here. The individual days are noted and honored; but, to me, the entire week should be dedicated to the remembrance of all those who have served and sacrificed so that we all can continue to enjoy the freedoms that we have; not only in this country, but in many countries around the world. Many have paid the ultimate price so that we can continue to argue right and left over the direction of this ship of state. It didn't matter what they were. Democrat, Republican, Leftest, Rightest, they were all united in one belief, that an individual should be free to state their  beliefs without fear of repercussion from any governmental body. I can remember back when I was in the Marine Corps, we had men and women from every walk of life, with every form of belief, all serving one ideal: that freedom should continue to reign over this country and that it was up to all of us to protect and defend it.
 It is no different today. Our troops, Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard, are all fighting to protect us from being destroyed by enemies that hate everything that the United States stands for. Freedom of Speech, Freedom to practice any religion that we wish, or practice none at all, if that is what we believe. We still have the right to bear arms. We still have freedom of the press, all of these things thanks to the sacrifices of those who have given a part, or all, of their lives to a military service. It makes me sad......, no, it makes me ANGRY, when I hear or see people called vile names and having their patriotism challenged because of their political or religious beliefs. These are the things that I felt it was my duty to help protect and defend. I have also been called a few choice names. I have been told, because I am a lifelong member of a labor union, that I am a left leaning pinko. This by someone who never spent a second in service to this great nation. But I digress, and my experiences aside, we must remember what these men and women fought and died for. 
 So, I am asking everyone who reads this to take a few minutes to day to reflect on those souls who have in the past put their lives on the line in defense of all of us; and I am asking also that you remember and continue to support all the brave men and women who now put themselves in harms way because they believe that they can, by their sacrifices, help to make the world a better, safer place for all people. There is no greater service than what they continue to give.
 Semper Fi!
 John Zaffino  Cpl., USMC 1966 - 1970 Active Duty, 1970 -     Once a Marine...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Back Pages: Marriage: Why it's Not an easy proposition.

My Back Pages: Marriage: Why it's Not an easy proposition.: My Wife and I just celebrated our 32 nd Wedding Anniversary this past Thursday. 32 years of marriage! We've actually been together almost 3...

Marriage: Why it's Not an easy proposition.

My Wife and I just celebrated our 32nd Wedding Anniversary this past Thursday. 32 years of marriage! We've actually been together almost 34 years. In this day and age, this is quite an accomplishment, if you think about it. With the number of couples getting married declining each year, and with the average duration of todays marriages is 7.8 years, any marriage that goes past 15 years is considered a great success. Today, people enter into a marriage betting on it to fail. You have pre-nups, contracts that guarantee you part of the marital pie and laying the ground rules of what is fair game in the inevitable divorce action. Gone are the days when a couple that entered into marriage went with a belief that they would be together forever. Now, it seems that it's more of a declaration of possession for a few years until the happy couple is no longer happy, and are ready to move on to the next phase of their lives. 
To me, it's a sad statement on our times that fewer and fewer people are willing to work hard and compromise to make something that, to me, was once so beautiful and sacred.
 Marriage is not easy, by any stretch of the imagination. When I think back to when we got married, we both were coming out of failed marriages. We each had two children, which, by the way, we were raising together. Getting any financial support from the absentee parents was a farce. So, for the first couple of years it was just my salary, and after that, Sheryl just had to go to work. We had Danielle because we wanted to have a child together and she acted as the glue to bring the whole thing together. She was a very wanted child. 
Our story is not what this is about. I just use us as an example of what can be if you work at it. As I was saying, marriage is not easy. We enter into it of sharing and doing everything together. Forget it... that's not happening. You have to work, unless you are extremely wealthy.. that is just a fact of life. If we didn't, what would be the point. Work requires you to be away from the home at least 9 hours a day, if you are lucky, but it's usually more like 10 to 12 hours a day, when you take in the commute and lag time. So, out of a 24 hour day, that leaves you anywhere from 12 to 14 hours together, right? No... you have to sleep, and I don't care if you sleep wrapped around each other, once you are asleep, you are on your own. So, lets be conservative and say you sleep 6 hours a night. That still leaves you 4 to 6 hours to be together. Of course, there are other things that cut into that: Phone calls, neighbors, other miscellaneous things that cut into it, so that, if you are lucky, you get a couple of hours that you can dedicate to each other. But wait! If you have children, they, too, need your time. When they are tiny, they need to be fed, bathed, loved, played with, etc. When they get older, there are school functions, organized sports and other organized activities (I'm so glad that we did not do this when I was young. I made my own friends and we had pick-up games and the Boy's Club!) So much to do, very little time. So, you get an hour, maybe two, on weekdays to actually be together. Weekends, if you are luck enough to both get them off together,  you can get more time together. If you have children, most of it will revolve around their activities. 
So you can see right away that there are built in roadblocks to having a successful marriage. But wait, as the man in the infomercial says, there's more!  Most of us, when we married, were young. We were still growing, still forming as people. I don't think that you ever stop, you continue to evolve well into your later years. If you have a need to continue to learn and grow, as I do, it may never stop. So, imagine how hard it is for two people who have to go to work. They spend most of their times with the people that they work with. They are out there, continuing to grow, forming new relationships, new ideas and thoughts, and all this away from their significant other. This is why many marriages fail. If you don't make a concerted effort to grow together, you most assuredly will grow apart.   
Marriage is not easy, in fact it's probably the most difficult thing that two people can undertake together. You have to learn to get used to each others individuality. You may have certain things that you do a certain way, and your spouse may do them the exact opposite. It may even annoy you. Get used to it, because this is part of what makes them the person that you fell in love with, and if you can't get used to that little thing, you will never get over the big things.
  Don't think that, if you can accept the differences, big and small, that it will always be smooth sailing on untroubled waters from there on out... it will not. Things tend to crop up, financial troubles, ill health. You have to deal with these. People tend to drift in and out of your lives, many with very bad intent. You have to be strong and deal with it. People who you think are your friends may be nothing more than opportunists waiting for a weak moment to come and tear you and yours apart. You have to be vigilant, but not paranoid. You have to learn to adjust to the changes in you spouse, as well as the changes in you. We are not machines, but constantly evolving beings with thoughts and feelings and opinions. It can be done, if you just make the effort.
So, to those who, like me, have come through it and are still together after all fo that, I say Congratulations! To those of you who are going to start down this road, or who have started and are wondering if it gets better, I can tell you that it does, and that, after all is said and done, it is really worth it. Good Luck!

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Back Pages: Religious Intolerance In America.. Did we take a s...

My Back Pages: Religious Intolerance In America.. Did we take a s...: From Article 6 of the Constitution of the United States Of America: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of t...

Religious Intolerance In America.. Did we take a step backward?


From Article 6 of the Constitution of the United States Of America: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Let me extract the portion that I am looking for : No religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or Public Trust under the United States. 

That says it all, does it not? It means that you do not need to be a Evangelical Christian to hold any office in the this great country. The first people who colonized this country were running from religious repression. And yet, I hear this Reverend Jeffress the other night calling another man’s religion a cult and inferring that, because of his religion, he is not fit to hold office. We have just come through a long, protracted witch hunt over the current President’s religion. There were more conspiracy theories about Obama and his religion, his citizenship and his rightful ability to hold office than there are about the Kennedy assassination and the 1947 crash in Roswell, New Mexico combined. And they continue to this day. Now, we have the controversy over Governor Romney’s religion. This is just anti-American in more ways than I can count. We live now in the 21st Century, and still we have religious fanatics that want to control the government and every aspect of our lives. How can we, as a people, condemn the religious fanatics in the Middle East when we, in fact, have sections of our own people who wish to run our government as a quasi-religious democracy? Are we to continue this child’s game of ‘my god is greater than Your God’? Is this, in fact, how we want to elect leaders in the free world, by what religious sect or order that the candidate belongs to? We are a country of many peoples, not one religion. There are Catholics, various fundamentalist Christian sects, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Orthodox Jews, Reformed Jews, Conservative Jews, Hassidic Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Hindu’s , Sikhs, the list goes on and on. What gives any one religion the right to say that they are the ones to lead this country? I thought that we were over this nonsense when Kennedy was elected... but, no.. it’s worse today than it ever was. I remember being told by nuns when I was a young boy that anyone who was not Catholic was going to hell, no questions asked. Even at the time, that struck me as wrong. And yet, we have the same thing going on today, in 2011. We have a council of religious leaders, read evangelical Christians, trying to dictate to the Republican Party who they should nominate for President. Never mind his or her qualifications. Is that the way that we want to elect the next President?  We are in serious trouble in this country. The jobs have left to go to the far east. Our own businesses have deserted us because of the bad trade agreements made over the last 20 years. We are winding down two wars. Do we really want the next leader chosen by where, or if, he goes to worship on his or her sabbath? 
 What we need is a leader. Someone who understands our problems and can put together a group of people to find us a way out of our morass. I cannot, no, I will not stand by silently and watch people again throw out conspiracy theories because someone is a Mormon, or a Jew, or a Catholic, or any other religion. What matters is how a man or woman performs their duties. Their religion, and every other aspect of their private lives should be their business. If they perform their jobs to the best of their abilities, that’s all we can ask for.
 So, my question to all of you, gentle readers, is: Are we going to stand up and be the America that was designed by the founders, and forged through 200+ years of blood, sweat, and tears? Or are we going to let a small group of religious zealots decide the fate of this nation for the next 8 years? I know how I feel. The rest is up to all of you and the American electorate.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Back Pages: It's Time For Cooperation and Compromise

My Back Pages: It's Time For Cooperation and Compromise: What has happened this country? Where did the dynamic, can-do, American Spirit go? I'm talking about the United States of America that my f...

It's Time For Cooperation and Compromise

 What has happened this country? Where did the dynamic, can-do, American Spirit go? I'm talking about the United States of America that my father and my friends fathers handed over to us for safe keeping. The USA that was self-sufficient and able to grow enough to share with the rest of the world. The USA that was the greatest manufacturing force in the history of the world. Where did it all go? And who's fault is it that it has declined? Our two major political parties stand and point the fingers at each other, "It's their fault...." is the cry that you hear from both. Yet, this country thrived under our current system until the last 15 years or so. There was a thing called 'Compromise for the Greater Good'. Where did it go? When did it become 'My way or the highway?'. Well, you know folks, that is an impossible thing these days. One party may have a slight edge on the other at any given time, but things change rapidly. We cannot continue on the road that we are going down. There has to be a sea change, and the Party's have to realize it, and become a part of it. We are all Americans, regardless of political party, religious beliefs, or anything else that might distinguish us as 'Different'. All that must be put aside for the nation to survive and thrive as it once did.
 I remember an America that had a can-do attitude, where people worked in manufacturing and service and had steady, reliable work. None of us were rich in those days; at least not in my neighborhood. Hell, many of us would be considered poor today, but our fathers  all had jobs that paid enough to put food on the table. In Washington, they argued and debated the direction in which the country would to, but they got things done. Eisenhower wanted and interstate highways system? It got done. Kennedy wanted a moon program? It got done. These things added jobs to the economy all around the country. Manufacturing and construction. Now, the highways are falling apart and inadequate, the space program is all but dead. Factories have closed down and moved to places like Indonesia and China. And I am left  standing here, shell shocked, wondering where it all went.
 It's not too late to turn the tide. We must cooperate with each other and make things change for the better. We need to take back all that has been taken from us. It's time for Americans of all political persuasions to stop the bickering, shake hands, and find a solution to the problems that are plaguing us. It won't be easy, but it can be done. All it takes is a little cooperation and a lot of mutual respect. Lets get to it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Back Pages: Not My Brother's Keeper? If Not, Then Who Is?

My Back Pages: Not My Brother's Keeper? If Not, Then Who Is?: You should never talk politics or religion with friends. Let me put that right out there. I have always said this but, occasionally I do not...

Not My Brother's Keeper? If Not, Then Who Is?



        Not My Brother's Keeper? If Not, Then Who Is?



September 19, 2011

You should never talk politics or religion with friends. Let me put that right out there. I have always said this but, occasionally I do not follow my own advice and, invariably, I end up losing a friend. I am not a Democrat or a Republican, or a Tea Party lunatic, or a Communist. I am a mixture. There are certain aspects of all things that I believe in. I do believe that when a person get’s into trouble in this country, it is the moral responsibility of his friends and neighbors to help him or her out. This is not a socialist doctrine, unless you consider the Marine Corps a Socialist organization. This is the way things are done in  a civilized society. If we lose our compassion and the ability to help each other, then we lose our humanity. Animals do this for the injured or hurt in their packs. This is what I was brought up to do. This is what was taught to me when I was in the Marine Corps. This is what being a good Union member taught me during my career. Always support a union brother or sister. We not only talked this; we practiced it when one of our brothers or sisters were wrongfully suspended or terminated. Every union member gave cash each week to support those who had no income. This is what we did for each other in the Marine Corps. We supported each other. No Marine was ever broke as long as one of his comrades had cash. No Marine was left on a battlefield alone. No one was ever left behind.
  I am telling you all this because I had a friend who I recently found out would not lift a finger for another human being. Not even a friend. We were discussing the fires in Texas and how Governor Perry had cut funding to volunteer firefighters in the state. This ‘friend’ said “Who are you going to vote for then? Who? There’s no more Free Money.” I mentioned that Perry had stated that he would do away with Social Security, which he called a big Ponzi scheme, and do away with Medicare. This friend went into a lecture on how social security was not meant to be a retirement fund and why was it his responsibility to pay for people who had not planned properly. I countered with how it is not always planning, but circumstances such as injuries or illness that causes people to fall into hard times. This friend then said “Why is is my responsibility to support you if you get hurt?” I asked him why he was making this personal, and he replied that he would not help fund anyone who had not planned properly, it didn’t matter if it meant that the person would not survive. He said that he could see that I was getting upset, and that we would discuss it at our next get together.  We have not exchanged a word or an email since, and as far as I am concerned, it will stay that way. 
  I didn’t write anything, or make a big deal about it at the time. I wanted to cool off, let things settle down, and look at it again when I could be less emotional. So, I have given it a few weeks. I did some thinking.. mostly about the way that I was raised, and how I have treated people through the years, and I will tell you this: If I had a friend who was in trouble, I would do anything in my power to help them. If I had a friend who was in a financial bind, I would do what I could to try to ease his problems, even if I had no hard cash to give him or her, there would always be a place at my table for them. As long as I have a roof over my head, I would see that they had one over theirs as well.
Who will help him, if we falter?
 This is not hollow talk. I practice what I preach. I had a neighbor  who was very ill. On top of it, he lost his wife, and along with it, her pension and insurance. Suddenly, he was in danger of losing his house. I invited him to have dinner with us for as long as it took to get himself on his feet again. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to get him through the tough times. He managed to re-do the mortgage on his house and, after a few months, he thanked us and was on his own again. He’s OK now, and we are still friends and from time to time he brings us a bottle of home made wine, in appreciation for helping him. This is what friends and neighbors do for each other... they help each other through the hard times, and they celebrate the good times. What they do not do is turn their backs on each other and say “it’s not my problem.” This is where society starts to break down.
After all, if we don’t help our neighbors when they stumble, who will pick us up when we fall?
  Be good to each other, take care of each other, we are all we’ve got! 
 Peace!
  John

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Back Pages: September 11th And The Politics Of Fear

My Back Pages: September 11th And The Politics Of Fear: So we are have reached the ten year mark since the events of September 11, 2001, and it seems to me that nothing has changed. The politici...

September 11th And The Politics Of Fear

                 September 11, and the Politics of Fear

 

 

September 10, 2011

So we are have reached the ten year mark since the events of September 11, 2001, and it seems to me that nothing has changed. The politicians and the builders are still arguing over what will go up at the old World Trade Center site. The shadowy Al Qaeda  group is still out there, somewhere, plotting to pull off another spectacular attack. The world, it seems, is at constant war with itself. One group wants to commit genocide on another. There are revolutions going on across the globe, all with one thing in common: They call for the United States and her Allies to “Help Us”. If we don’t go, they curse us. If we give them support, they complain bitterly that we are not doing enough, and the offended regimes curse us and scream about interfering in an internal affair. If we go all out and help them, then you can rest assured that when the dust settles we will be reviled and vilified  as a war like nation that fosters instability.  We cannot win, folks, and the time has come to stop being the ready reserves for the whole world. I cannot remember one day of peace in my entire 64+ years of existence. I am tired of seeing our young men sent out to fight for people who, after a couple of years, hate us and hold up the US as what is wrong with the world. We cannot afford it. We cannot afford to keep spilling American blood, or the blood of others, for that matter. We cannot afford to keep sending increasingly more and more expensive armaments overseas.. the costs are in the trillions, a figure I did not even hear growing up. It’s time to tell the UN and the rest of the world that, except for humanitarian acts, the United States no longer will be the beat cop for the rest of the world.
  While I’m on the subject of  September 11, I need to say this to anyone who will listen: I am tired of being told that I need to live my life in fear of anything and everything in this crazy world. This is not who I am, this is not what the America I grew up in is about. Since the attacks on the World Trade Center, we have had to endure news commentators, politicians and numerous and sundry ‘Experts’ going on and on about how we must be constantly vigilant, that we must scurry about like so many rats,  casting our eyes from side to side, looking out for the next group of crazies that want’s to blow us all to hell. Well, I for one, refuse to live my life in a constant state of terror. This is exactly what the crazies want to do: To instill us all with terror.. that’s why they are called TERRORISTS! We need news networks and the politicians to stop feeding into their agenda. Report the news, do your damned jobs, but stop trying to instill fear in the entire population. If you want to mark September 11th every year, thats fine, but I don’t believe (and this is just my opinion, so don’t send me hate mail) that we need a countdown from three months out, every day on the news, and follow ups for a week afterward. It has already become a highly politicized event, with the very people who gave their all to try to save people in those buildings barred from attending the ceremonies so that more politicians and family members of some that died could attend.  I have had it with their ceremony when there is no place on the dais for the firefighters, the police and the transit police, not to mention all of the emergency medical personnel, the very people who wanted to help and ran into the doomed buildings. Some of these men and women are suffering today from the effects of inhaling the smoke and ash, after being told it was safe to breathe. It really sickens me.
 So friends, be careful, always be safe, but don’t live your lives in fear. Be yourselves. Be Americans. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day, The American Worker, And The Legacy Of Unions

    Labor Day, The American Worker, and the Legacy of Unions

 

September 5, 2011


Today is Labor Day, 2011. It’s supposed to be a day that is dedicated to this country’s labor force, a force that brought us through wars and good times. A force that has struggled through one Depression and countless recessions. It was a once booming, vital force throughout this country, at one time making it the greatest manufacturing country in the world.
 These days, having been undercut by third world countries that pay their laborers less for a weeks wage than most of our workers make in a single hour. They work under unsafe conditions, for incredibly long hours. If they dare complain, they are fired, if they live in a ‘free’ country, imprisoned if they live in a totalitarian society. Some of them are working as slave laborers. Yet, they produce items for our country and countries throughout the world. Electronics, clothing, tires... you name it. Meanwhile, these corporations that buy from these factories continue to close factories in the USA, saying that they cannot compete if they continue to manufacture here.
  There are no labor unions to protect those workers in those countries. They don’t have OSHA to see that they are working under safe conditions. They don’t have child labor laws to protect the young from being exploited. They have nothing to protect the workers at all. And yet, you hear no words of protest from the congress loud enough to get the attention of these corporations. Republicans in the congress are glad to see the demise of big labor in the US. Corporate profits are at a record high, and will continue to go higher with every factory that is shut, every union contract that is violated, or worse not negotiated. Over the last few decades, Unions have been relentlessly painted as the cause of everything is wrong with America. The corporations, and many Pols, accuse the unions of being greedy and corrupt. They say that contracts that were negotiated in good faith are dragging corporations down. In the ‘90s, the corporations successfully lobbied for NAFTA and other free trade agreements, arguing that it would benefit not only Corporate America, but the American Worker too. This was an out and out lie, as factory after factory shut it’s doors, leaving the workers and their unions powerless to do anything about it. The day of the American Worker as a force to be reckoned with are gone. Corporations are paying their executives ridiculous amounts of cash and other compensations, but they claim that they cannot pay for the workers health insurance.  They claim that they cannot pay a living wage, yet they continue to rake in record profits. They want Labor Day taken away as a national holiday. They say that Veterans Day and Martin Luther King’s birthday are not legitimate holidays. They say Americans Workers are greedy. They say that we are lazy. It’s time for this talk to end.
  Back in 1970, when I was  released from active duty, a Marine Veteran, there were plenty of jobs to pick from. Most were good, union jobs, that paid well and offered medical benefits. This was a good time to be a veteran. Even the Republican President, Richard  Nixon, supported the unions. He formed OSHA, and the Unions, for the most part, supported him.
 Things started to go bad after the war was over, as they often do. The mood started to shift a bit against the Unions. Veterans no longer had good jobs to go to as they were discharged, and unemployment and inflation raged through the country. But the unions stood strong, for the most part, until the end of the decade. Once the jobs started to trickle overseas, things started to get hard for the American worker and the Unions. It continues to get worse with each passing year.
 To those of you who applaud the continued shrinking of Unions, I say that if it were not for unions, the conditions that you work under would not be as good as they are today. You certainly would not be making a decent wage if you are a worker, that would be reserved for company officers and very rich stockholders.
  I saw one post the other day that said “Did you ever notice that anything that goes against Unions is a win for citizens?” To you, my misinformed friend, I say “Think again”. This country is a better, more civilized place to work, thanks to unions.
  So, as you enjoy your final barbecue of the summer and your last gasp of summer fun, remember: You would not be living a life as good as it is, if not for the blood, sweat, and tears of Union Workers that fought to improve conditions and wages for it’s members, and ultimately for all workers in the country. Take a moment to remember, and thank those who fought for you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Back Pages: Of Unions, Companies, Strikes, and Broken Promises...

My Back Pages: Of Unions, Companies, Strikes, and Broken Promises...: August 19, 2011 I am a bit under the weather today, but better than I have been in the past week or so. It all started out with a s...

Of Unions, Companies, Strikes, and Broken Promises: The Politics of Labor



   Of Unions, Companies, Strikes, and Broken Promises



August 19, 2011
I am a bit under the weather today, but better than I have been in the past week or so. It all started out with a simple ear infection... something that I have not had in over thirty three years. As a matter of fact, the last time I had an ear infection is when I re-joined the Bell System after a 3 year hiatus, having been laid off from Western Electric in 1975. Soon after re-joining the Communications Workers of America, my service was bridged, and I had health insurance right away.. a good thing, since I soon came down with an ear infection and was out of work for a week. I was never one for taking time off for illness, but this was one of the exceptions.
  Flash forward thirty three years, and there I was with an ear infection being paid for by the same health insurance plan. I am retired now, and over the years, CWA took less in wage compensation so that we would be assured coverage for our illnesses. I never feared being ill....... until now! My Union Brothers and Sisters are out on the picket lines, fighting to keep the benefits that we fought so hard for over the years. The Company, now called ‘Verizon’, says that it can no longer be competitive if it pays for health insurance for it’s employees and retirees. It says that the union rank and file must now pay into the plan. They no longer want to pay for a retirement plan, although the way it was structured, it never cost the company a cent in real cash... in paid out from interest that was earned from the original retirement account when it was first established. They want the Union to give back three holidays, Veteran’s Day and Martin Luther King Day. The company spokesman said that they are not “Real Holidays” anyway. Tell that to those of us who put our lives on the line in defense of this great nation, and did not just guard Alabama, or seek deferment after deferment to escape service. Tell that to those who were beaten, and to those who gave their lives in the struggle for equality. Indeed.. tell that to Dr. King himself. The third Holiday that the Company want’s the Union to give up is: Labor Day! This is obviously so that they can say that the Labor Movement is dead in America.  
 This struggle that my Brothers and Sisters are in is very real. It is a matter of life and death. Those of us that are retired, hear the sharpening of the axe in Washington. Soon, they will be coming for us. They want to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. They call them ‘Entitlements’. Pardon my plain English, but Entitlements sound too much like ‘Welfare’, and that is just bullshit! There are people like myself that have paid into the Social Security fund since we were 14 and 15 years old. We have paid into Medicare since President Johnson forced it through to ensure that seniors had some kind of healthcare. These budget trimming congressman on the right are getting ready to sentence a great many of our seniors to death. If I lose both Verizon’s healthcare and Medicare, I will be one of them. 
 I have read across the internet, on facebook  and other social media outlets, how each defeat for a Union is a gain for citizens. How sad that these people who speak in this way have no concept on the underlying disdain that corporate America really has for the worker. You don’t believe me? You need look no further than the coal miners in this country to see greed and lack of care at work. It could be worse. The Unions have fought for every hard won concession, pay raise, and safety regulation that the industry has. And yet, the Unions are blamed for everything that has gone wrong in America’s economy. No blame for NAFTA. No blame for shipping jobs overseas to factories where they employee children. Just the Unions are the bad guys. “But look at all of the union people who malinger and do nothing all day long”... Oh, really? Maybe, Mr. Conservative Rush Limbaugh Listening Company Man, you can then explain to me how you are posting on Facebook all day long, when you should be working (I’m retired.. on the job injury performing MY job), and listening to Rush and Sean and all the other megalomaniacs that permeate the airwaves all day long? Who’s doing YOUR work.. wise ass? 
 It all comes down to this: You can sit and defend the cuts, and defend the companies that make even deeper cuts, until it comes down to the time when it effects YOU! Then, who will you blame? Labor Unions? Democrats? Come and see the Old Marine and Labor Union Activist then, and... just maybe... we can have a sensible conversation. Just remember this: If it was not for organized labor, you would not have the benefits that you have. 
 Me? I am happy with what I have done to fight for the rights of workers. I’m just saying..... 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm Tired!


                                      I'm Tired!                     


August 10, 2011


Facebook
I'm tired, folks.. not just tired from lack of sleep, although this is also true. No, I'm tired because of the constant, daily haranguing from the media about everything and anything. Someone needs to tell me, when we became a country that lives in a perpetual state of crisis? From one day to the next, from one hour to the next, there is something that we rend our garments like the prophets in the old testament, because conditions are so dire, so overwhelming, that we cannot possibly overcome them. From the panicky sissies on Wall Street who SELL, SELL, SELL and the drop of a decimal point, through the crazed media that followed the Casey/Cayley Anthony debacle like it was a religious event, to the loud mouthed pundits such as Limbaugh, Hannity, Matthews, Madow, and the entire group of them from both sides, who predict, with a giggle, the eminent demise of the the United States as we know it, we are constantly assaulted with high decible talk of bad news and gloomy forecasts. It's enough to make a person close their eyes and go to sleep forever. It just wears on you.
Don't get me wrong: I think the Anthony case was a disgrace and the woman should be in jail for life, but it did not justify the national attention that it received. Just here in Newburgh, New York, Marc Bookal was reported missing and never seen alive again after going to the store with his mother's boyfriend. The boyfriend has been charged now with the boys murder, after the body was found. No mention of it in the National Media... why do you suppose that is? I'm just saying, folks, if you are going to be outraged by one crime, obsessed with it, grieve for all of the abused and missing children, not just pretty little girl in Florida.
Limbaugh, my large draft-dodging friend, you do a lot of criticizing and pontificating, but I have never heard one viable solution from that large cavern that you call a mouth. Oh, maybe one... when you said that all drug addicts belong in jail.. no mercy... but, wait... that was until it was revealed that YOU were a drug addict, right? Or is your case special. You never served one day in any branch of the military because you had.... an ANAL CYST! Well, that figures, you coward, all talk no action. The rest of them follow similarly, except for the cyst. Matthews helped sabotage Hillary Clinton's campaign by constantly attacking her from the left and calling her names to help advance President Obama's campaign. He was so blatantly pro Obama, that he actually had to apologize to Senator Clinton at one point. My point is that these pundits run their mouths, give us their skewed analysis and offer no solutions to the problems that they are claiming are so dire. Here's what I say... IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A VIABLE SOLUTION THAT BRINGS BOTH OF THESE CHILDISH, PETULANT PARTIES TOGETHER, JUST SHUT UP!!! YOU ARE EXACERBATING THE SITUATION... and you are giving me a damned headache.
Now, Wall Street.... what can you say about a bunch of people that sell everything if, say, a leader in Greece sneezes? Or if the idiots in congress can't agree on something? This is nothing new, they have never agreed on anything, except for raising their pay, and they never will. Does this mean that you have to have a fire sale and cause all of this stupid panic, so that some Americans who have no clue about what this is all about, stop buying things add to the already bleak financial outlook? No, it doesn't. Be brave in the face of bullshit and hold on to your stocks. Eventually, it will correct itself.. either by the idiots being voted out of office, or by the American people starting to buy again.
I have to add one more thing, for my union brothers and sisters on the picket line at Verizon. CWA/IBEW members, be strong! Verizon made record profits last year, AFTER paying for our healthcare and contributing to the pension fund. Do not give in unless the officers of this company agree to slash their pay and benefits dramatically! Hang in there.
That's all I have to say, folks... thanks for your time...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer, The Heat, The Internet, and Old Friends

 Summer, The Heat, and Old Friends

 
July 23, 2011- Well, yesterday is in the record books as the hottest day on record for that day in July since they started keeping such things. It was sweltering, no doubt about it. Sheryl went over to my daughter Danielle's house to pick up Johnny boy. They have no AC because the windows are louvered, so she brought him back here to nap. Grandpa asked him if he wanted an ice pop, and John replied with a big grin and a "Yes! Ice Pop!" The boy never ceases to amaze me... he is just one year old.
 Well, he finished his pop, and Grandma took him in to nap. Two minutes later, she was back. "We have no power!" Just John's luck. I called the electric company and went through the usual reporting routine and was told that they would get someone out as soon as possible. "Sure" I thought. "We will have to eat out, and will be lucky if the power comes back on in 6 hours or so. A very short time later, the power came back on for a few seconds, then went out again. A good sign. A few minutes later, it came on for good, and Johnny Boy got his nap. Grandpa cooked a very good meal of string beans and potatoes in garlic and oil, with a nice loaf of Italian Bread on the side. Delicious.
 By now, regular readers of my blog are probably wondering where the old, feisty Marine is. Well, he's feeling a bit mellow today. You see, yesterday evening, I was contacted on facebook by my best friend from Elementary School... Tony Calabro. Tony and I were classmates from Kindergarten through 6th Grade. By the end of 6th Grade, Tony's family had moved to another neighborhood and, even though he still attended Jefferson School with me, we lost touch because it was just easier to go to the local Boys Club and make new friends then to keep coming down to the old neighborhood. It just makes more sense, when you are young, to stay near your home. That's the way we are kept safe by our families.
 Anyway, through the years, I would ask about Tony, but as the distance in time increased, the news of what he was doing diminished to nothing. I, by that time, had gone on to the Marine Corps, got married and had a couple of kids, and divorced. Time just continued on, but I never stopped thinking about the skinny kid with the curly hair with whom I share so many early memories. I heard that he had moved away, but no one could tell me where. I never stopped thinking about him, but I had no means of finding him, and who knew if he even remembered me?
 Then, the computer aged dawned and Al Gore invented the internet*. Slowly, this 'World Wide Web' started to engulf all of us. I resisted getting involved in it, but it was inevitable. In 2001, I sustained what turned out to be a career ending injury, and I was stuck at home. My wife had purchased a WebTV, but soon, that was not enough. I bought a Dell Computer. We still had dial-up then, but after six months or so of waiting up to an hour for each pic to load, I hooked up with Direcway for high speed internet. From then on, it was full speed ahead. Jerry Trotta found me on Classmates and invited me to an irregular 'Fellowship Meeting' of old friends from my teen years. We now meet every few months for pizza and good talk. I found friends and comrades that I served with in the Marine Corps.. my old buddy, Don Radogna, whom I served with both in 'Nam and the states.
 My daughter convinced my wife and I to join facebook. Here, we found old friends and got to know people like Carol and Hop Hatcher who were always around when we hung out, but I didn't really know. I found my old friend Greg Williams, or he found me, I'm not sure which. It doesn't matter. The fact that we reconnected is enough. A couple of my old friends found me. Chas Borrelli, my friend and cohort from the seventh and eighth grade. Then, within the last year, I have started finding old friends from school. A few found me. Kathy LaBarbera found me through classmates. We have been in contact for over a year now. I have also found and friended Bernie Orlando Codella and Jo Gallello Short, both of them were with me for at least one year in elementary school. There are so many, and I do not omit anyone by choice, just lack of room. I love them all.
 Anyway, that was a long explanation to get to the point of this. Last night, Tony sent me a message on facebook. He wanted to know if I was the same guy he went to school with. Not in so many words, but you get the drift. To say that I was stunned to hear from him after fifty years would be an understatement. We messaged back and forth for almost two hours, talking about the past and some of the things that we did together. It brought tears to my eyes because we were such very good friends all those years ago. I can't remember an angry word that ever was passed between us. Then..... we just lost touch after sixth grade. It's really sad that things like that happen.. but, it's a reality for many of us.
 The main thing is, I have my good friend back again, thanks to the internet and Al Gore*. We may be separated physically by distance, but we now can talk to each other daily, if we so chose, thanks to this real modern Wonder Of The World. Tony, I love you buddy, and I have missed you all these years. We need to talk again soon so, whenever you have the time, I'm ready.
 So, if you were looking for a rant today... you're bound to be disappointed. But I will say this to you all out there: Think of all the potential good that can come of this World Wide Webb. It makes communicating with each other an easy thing, regardless of language differences. And it makes it easy to bring people who are important to your history, back into your life.

* Of course, I know that Al Gore didn't invent the Internet. It was a silly joke. He invented Climate Change and Global Warming. Have a good day, friends.

PS: There are so many people that I have re-connected with and there just was no room in this humble post. I want you all to know that I love you all, and I added names as they came to me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

Mom and Dad

 June 18, 2011         Father's Day, 2011


With Father's Day fast approaching, I am painfully reminded that my own father has been gone now thirty years. Thirty years without hearing his voice, or having him see his grandchildren.... how very, very sad. We used to go to my parent's house every Sunday. We'd pack the four kids, then that last year five kids, into my old Pinto wagon and drive the short twenty minute trip to their house for Sunday dinner. It was something families did in those days, no thought to doing anything differently. Mother's Day and Father's Day were always special days, and we tried to make it as happy for them as we could. I miss that, sometimes painfully so. I wish I had them both back so that I could tell them how much I love them, and thank them for raising me to be a decent man. I am what I am because I tried to emulate my father, who was always forthright, decent, and respectful to all. He worked  long hours as a mechanic and, eventually, worked himself to death for his family.
  Times are different today. Over the years, my work for New York Telephone/Verizon sometimes would bring me to the nursing homes in the area. More than once, a very old man or woman would mistake me for their son. They would grab my arm and say "Are you my son? He promised to come and see me." More than once I have seen these seniors, many of them mothers and fathers, warehoused and forgotten, left to the care of strangers who, most of the time, do the best that they can, but seemed to be overwhelmed and somehow hardened to the plight of these unfortunate souls.
 Sadly, as the children get older and are consumed by the needs of their families, going to organized sports and other organized activities, their parents become an unneeded distraction and are sometimes forgotten altogether. They do not neglect because they want to, they do it because they are simply consumed by the demands of todays family life, so Mom and Pop are sometimes all but forgotten. 
 Let me just say this to you all. Those of you who have parents that are living, take the time to let them know how much you love and appreciate them. Their time on Earth is measured in days, and one day they will be gone. You will never regret the time that you spend with them; rather, you will regret the time that that you did not. Count your blessings that your parents are still alive. To those of you whose parents have passed, you know of what I speak. Just take a few moments, as I will, to remember the sacrifices that your parents made for you, and how much you really miss them.
 Happy Father's Day, everyone.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Death Of Bin Laden and the Politics Of Hate

         The Death of Bin Laden and the Politics of Hate

 May 2, 2011


 I was spending my usual Sunday night, watching HBO and surfing the net, when it came over my news feed that Osama Bin Laden, the face of the 9/11 atrocity had finally been taken out. As the details came in, I thought to myself, 'How fitting that the name of the man in the Oval Office when this mass murderer was brought down is Barack Hussein Obama. Now, it's not be that it is just a white man of European descent brought this animal down. It's a man of multiracial, multi ethnic background giving the OK finally bring this killer to justice. It is a man who's makeup represents the multiracial victims of this atrocity.
 Let me make it clear that I did not voter for the President. I did not vote for him because I felt that he did not yet have the experience necessary to be President. However, once he was elected, I felt that it was my duty to get behind him and let him lead. He has not, in my humble opinion, done a great job. He has been very indecisive at times and played to much to the polls. I would give him a c up to this point. By the same token, I did not think that GW Bush did a very good job.  But, in the case of the raid on Bin Laden's compound and the subsequent killing of this murderer, I thought that President Obama showed the steel needed for the job. He authorized an attack in a sovereign country that we were not at war with. This took guts, and he finally showed that he had them.
 As the word started to spread across the country, I saw some disturbing things. I saw a lot of hate still directed at the president. At a time when we should have been pulling together as a people, still the nasty statements were posted. One said "Blah, blah, blah.... so I forgot the words to the pledge of allegiance.... blah blah blah..... I got bin Laden...... Blah blah blah..... I want to be re-elected, vote for me...". (By the way, Obama has never forgotten the words to the pledge or the Star Spangled Banner. Check it out on Snopes.) This was just one of many. I have to wonder: Where is all of this hatred coming from? I've seen people who preach peace and loving each other every day, post that they hate this man and hope that he dies. All the nonsense about the birth certificate...... the list goes on and on.
 I watched interviews with, Peter King (R-NY), former Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Secretary Of Defense Don Rumsfeld. All of them were conciliatory and said that Obama did a good job in this case. The word just doesn't seem to get to all of the haters out  there who call themselves 'Conservative'.
 And still, I see the hatred and race baiting undercurrent that surrounds the opposition to this guy.
 Can't we be the Loyal Opposition without the hate filled statements, or are those days gone for good? Do we have to be  country so deeply divided that we cannot come together and start i again? It gives me a sick feeling to go to my email everyday and see all of the political hatred that fills it. I don't read it, regardless of what side it comes from. I find no joy in written hatred. If you hate, you just hate. Using names like Liberal or Conservative doesn't cover up the fact that you just HATE. This goes for both sides.
  Let me now say that I am proud at the job the Seals did. Professionals all the way to the core. I heard one commentator say that it must have been hard for them, thinking that this was a mission that they might not return from. If this person knew ANYTHING of the nature of these guys, she would have known, thoughts like that never, ever, enter their heads. It's the job, and what they will do that night. That's what separates these heros from the everyday people. Defeat is never an option. I salute you, each and every one of you. From the Seals to the President, a job well done. Thank your for your dedication, and Thank You for your Service.
 Semper Fidelis.
 John

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welcome Home To Vietnam Veteran's Day

               Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran's Day

 March 30, 2011

 
The Senate has approved March 30 as 'Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day'. This measure still has to be approved by the house, which probably means it will never get done because those posing imbeciles cannot agree on anything. I guess the senate feels guilty about neglecting us when we really returned, all those years ago. They tried once before to honor us with a Welcome Home Day and Parade back in 1986. That, while it was still a bit late, went over well.
 Now, all of us are older, many of us in poor health either because of the chemicals we were exposed to over there (Agent Orange was just one of many), or because we came back, put our heads down and got to work raising families and re-building America's pride in itself. We never complained, never asked for anything except what was coming to us. Yet, recently, we have been called 'The Greediest Generation' by Alan Simpson, and selfish by others. Some of us take great exception to that. We did all we could to raise our families strong, healthy, and law-abiding. When we could, we saved for our so-called 'Golden Years'. Many of us had to dip into that savings for one emergency after another. And still, most of us do not complain. Now, we are living off of small annuities and the small amount that paying into Social Security was supposed to guarantee us. Medicare pays for a lot of our health costs, supplemented by our secondary insurance. This was supposed to guarantee that we would stay reasonably safe as we get older. But, no, we are greedy, and they want to take some of that away from us.
  So, do us a favor. Don't make yourselves feel better by giving us a day to honor us, when for the rest of the year you would stick us in a closet like some holiday decoration. Some of us are really ill. I, myself, am in stage 3 kidney failure because my blood vessels have narrowed. I have a two friends that are even in worse shape than I am. There are many, many more of us out there that are failing physically. The government would not give us that it was the chemicals that they exposed us to, so we have to rely on what we can get from the VA, Medicare, and private insurance. Don't throw us aside like so many spent cartridges. We are human beings and Patriots that served our country well. We did not lose the Vietnam War.. the US government  gave up on us. Now, it is time to see that we are taken care of.
 To all my brothers and sisters who served, I say "To a job well done, my brothers and sisters in arms. Remember: You did what your country asked you to do. I am proud of each and every one of you. Welcome home and Semper FI!"

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Of Dogs And People

                             Of Dogs and People                    


 February 26, 2011

I lost another of my best friends today. Shadow was almost 16 years old, and ancient by the standards of his species. He had been doing well up until about two weeks ago, when he started going down hill very quickly. Yesterday, he was having a problem emptying his bowels. Although he was almost completely blind, he kept going out the dog door all night, trying to relieve himself. This morning, he left the yard, through the electric dog fence, which must have caused him a great deal of discomfort. He crossed the road and went into the woods, probably to die. We noticed that he was gone almost immediately, or we never would have found him. My wife, Sheryl, charged into knee deep snow, down a hill and through trees and wetlands to save him. We had called my daughter, but she did not want to risk losing Shadow while we waited. When Danielle and Alan got here, both Sheryl and Shadow had to be rescued.  Alan carried Shadow up the hill and into the house, where we dried him off and wrapped him in a blanket to warm him as best as we could. He moaned in pain and shivered uncontrollably while we did our best. A call was placed to the vet, and Shadow, after a goodbye hug and kiss to me, his friend of 16 years, made his last trip. The vet, Dr. Jack, has known Shadow since he was a puppy, and sadly confirmed what was already known: Shad was beyond medical help. Laying in his  mom's arms, Shadow slipped peacefully into the light, with Danielle and Mom hugging and kissing him, and telling him how much they loved him. He will live on in our hearts and memories until we, too, draw our last breaths. Shadow will be cremated, and his ashes, along with his son Chance's, will be buried with me. You have not known unconditional love unless you have had a dog in your life. They will lay their lives down for you. They will comfort you when you are in distress, and they never stay angry with you. 
  Some human friends could learn a lot from a dog, but I am afraid that they are incapable of showing the unconditional love of my canine friends. Not all people, mind you, but a few. A dog would never, ever, cut you off forever because you have disagreed with them about something. Real friends do not have to agree on everything. The fake, phonies, and frauds will smile at you and  tell you how wonderful you are, until they do not agree with you about something; then, they will cast you out of their lives like so much garbage. If you are on facebook, one day you will see that one of your 'Friends' is completely gone, and you won't know why. You must have said something or disagreed with something that they said, and have now become dead to them. I don't need friends like that, and I'm sure none of you do either, dear readers. A dog would never do that to you.
  Rest In Peace, Shadow. I will join you one day, and we will walk down that country lane in the light together, perpetually in the the Spring sunshine. I love you, my friend.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Honors Affair

                                    The Honor's Affair

 January 5, 2011

I have this to say about Captain Honors, and then I will say no more. Captain Honors is a decorated Navy Pilot who has flown combat missions. I have served under pilots, I have been their subordinate, and I have also socialized with them after hours. This is not the normal state of affairs for the way officers treat their men. Fighter Pilots, as I came to know, are a breed apart. They have a wild streak that does not carry into their handling of a leadership position, on the contrary, they are better leaders; but the very nature of their job requires that wild streak and the unique way that they relate to their subordinates. Their  subordinates are the Plane Captains who make sure that the aircraft is ready to fly. They are the Ordnancemen that make sure that their munitions and weapons systems are ready and working. They are the Avionics people who maintain the critical electronics that not only fly the plane, but make sure that this man will come back alive from his mission if possible. What this man did was not for publication. This was a spoof put on by him and a few others for the entertainment of the crew. Anyone that was offended had the option to turn it off. A simple flick of a switch. The Navy is over-reacting, as is the press. Show me one officer that has not done something that they could parade out to ruin him, and I will show you someone that is lying to you. I have overheard some terrible things from Colonels and Generals when I was a waiter when assigned to mess duty. I was a waiter for Lt.Colonels and above for 30 days. It was an eye opener, let me tell you, but I would never tell you what was said. It was said in confidence.This is all that I will say. You can agree with me, or not. This should have been a private matter, but the press smelled blood in the water, and another honorable man has seen his career torpedoed and sunk, all in the name of Political Correctness. A shame, and a loss to the Navy and America. It's time to stop punishing people for things that are minor offenses, if they are offenses at all.

 I'm not saying that gay-bashing is a good thing, but we need to stop being so damned sensitive to everything that is said. We need, as a society, to grow a thick skin and suck it up. Not every word that is said or printed should be actionable. We need to stop litigating and over-legislating and deal with each other with good humor, like we used to.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Zadroga Bill

                                The Zadroga Bill






 I normally do not write two of these things so close together. I don't want anyone to think that I am so full of myself that I think that someone really cares what the hell I think. 
 That being said, I just had to write today because the battle over the 9/11 responders bill, the so called Zadroga bill, so fills me with anger against these arrogant politicians, that I just have to vent it.
 We are talking about people, men and women, firefighters, police, and just civilian volunteers, who went to 'Ground Zero' right after it happened to help out... first to try to find survivors, then just to help recover whatever body parts that they could find. It was nasty, choking work. That site bled smoke for what seemed like forever, and still they went. They were given filtering apparatus that was inadequate. They were assured that, despite the smoke and dust, the air was not hazardous and was safe to breathe. They were lied to. Without question, this is a fact. Now, they are suffering from various related illnesses, and have had to, up to now, pay for their own medications and healthcare. First, the NYC government blocked any attempt to collect from the city. Then, the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT refused to pay their medical bills. This is a Damned DISGRACE! There should have been no question, that anyone that went into that area to help out would have there bills paid, and their families taken care of. This was not the case. It turned into another Partisan Washington battle. I don't agree with Chuck Schumer much. But I will tell you, that I agreed with him on this, along with Anthony Weiner. I have heard from some of these elected officials from throughout this country that they wanted to know how these benefits would be paid for. Let me tell you uncaring idiots something, I DON'T CARE HOW THEY WILL BE PAID FOR!!! TAKE IT OUT OF YOUR PAY... YOU DO NOTHING TO EARN IT EXCEPT TAKE PARTISAN POSITIONS AND I AM TALKING ABOUT BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE!!! I am damned MAD about this. I have sat by for years and watched Veterans being kicked around and pushed aside because only a few Senators and Congressman, (John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and John Hall come to mind) will stand up for them. Well, enough is enough. 
 If you stand up and volunteer for hazardous duty in the service of your country, you and your family should be compensated for it. End Of  Story.  I urge all of you to write your elected officials and tell them that this compromise bill does not go far enough. Next time, maybe no one will volunteer... then what? Thank you for reading this.
 John

Saturday, January 1, 2011

This Jarhead's Viewpoint: New Year's Eve, 2010

This Jarhead's Viewpoint: New Year's Eve, 2010: " And so, the minutes and seconds tick inexorably towards midnight, and the start of the New Year, 2011. Can any of us say that we are s..."