Thursday, January 31, 2013

Americia In Crisis

Why Can't We Get Along?: What Disturbs Me About America

Every time I log in to facebook, or Google Plus, it's  the same thing: We are divided, it seems, into two camps who cannot for the life of them say a civil word about each otherRepublicans and Conservatives look down their noses at anyone who does not agree with their business oriented view of America, and consider all Democrats and Liberals parasites and a drag on the country. They look at them as lowlife individuals who don't want to work for a living. The Democrats and Liberals, on the other hand, look at all Republicans and Conservatives as heartless, demonic souls who only look at the bottom line with no concern about the humanity that drives the economy of the country, and who want to control every aspect of a citizens life, while claiming to want less government. Both sides claim to have the best interest of the American People in mind. Both sides claim that the other side has distorted what America is supposed to be about. The hatred is palpable. It divides families and causes neighbors not to speak. It has spawned an underground movement that rumbles about civil war and secession because their side did not win in the election. There are threats of violence at every turn, and the media is divided into two armed camps who both distort the news to fit their diametrically opposed agendas. There is no end to this hateful war of words in sight. What worries me is that it could, one day, turn into something more than words.
  When I was a boy, we were taught that we were a nation that the rest of the world wished it could emulate. A democratic republic that, as Ronald Reagan once put it, was like that great city, shining on the hill, that everyone wished to go to. We were a great melting pot, where there was a great statue dedicated to liberty, with the inscription "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'
 Now, we are a country in turmoil, more concerned with forcing our conflicting agendas on each other, than finding a way to compromise for the greater good of the nation as a whole. We have a group of people trying to make our country into a non-secular nation, when this was not what the founders intended. We, as a nation, were supposed to welcome all beliefs with no national religion, but you would believe differently, if some had their way. Yet, the Constitution clearly states, in the first amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
 What to do, to stop this anger and this madness? If we are to continue as a nation, we must find a way to get along and work together, not oppose each other at every turn. We cannot be a nation of people who can barely contain their disdain for the ideas of others. Acceptance and compromise are the keys for maintaining that idea of the city on the hill, of continuing to be the example of Emma Lazarus's  New Colossus. We need to find common ground, without losing our compassion for our fellow citizens. We need to help those who need it. Help them to pull themselves up. To kick them to the street is not only inhumane, it's un-American.
  I am a Proud American, and a Patriot who was not afraid to give myself to the service of this great nation, so before anyone calls me Un-American or  any other anti American name, you better think again. I was there, as my father was, when my country needed me, and I would do it all over again without a second thought. So, think, brothers and sisters, before you call each other nasty names; before you hurl threats and hatred at each other. Only a coming together will solve the ills of the United States of America. Only the real dedication of America's citizens will bring us through this crisis that threatens to tear us asunder. I, for one, want my grandchildren to continue to enjoy the freedoms of this great nation. Thank you all, and God Bless America.
John Zaffino January 31, 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beware of Anarchist Groups.

In 1934, a group of industrialists, unhappy with the direction that President Roosevelt was taking the country, attempted to recruit a group of WW I veterans to mount an armed insurrection and overthrow the democratically elected government and install a facist type dictatorship in it's place. They might have accomplished this, save for the man that they recruited to lead the insurrection: two time medal of honor winner and Marine Corps General, Smedley T. Butler. Although a vocal critic of the administration, General Butler was true to his oath, to protect and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The plot was foiled, the conspirators were never prosecuted because they represented the rich and powerful of the time. If the plot had succeeded, things would have been very different, and the outcome of WWII may very well have been very different, and the course of the history that we all remember today would have been changed forever.
 Right now, there is an anarchistic group out there, that is trying to recruit people to that mind-set again. I stumbled on a group through a posting on one of the legitimate groups on facebook, that has since been taken down. I thought that it was a Marine Corps site, since this was how this character presented himself, as a retired Sgt.  in the Corps  who had served with honor. For all I know, this part of his story may be true. It's the other, more insidious, treasonous part that scares me, because I know that there are people that will follow him. It started with his posting of a video, with the request that no one make any remarks until they had watched the whole video.
 It starts out with a man wearing a Marine Corps uniform and a mask, his voice altered, explaining how our concept of what the founding fathers envisioned was wrong. It was not meant to be a democracy at all, it was meant to be a Republic. He goes on to try to explain why a Democracy is wrong and cannot work. He gives an example of majority rule in this manner: You buy a bicycle. The majority in the country decides that the bicycle is not yours and takes it away. Majority rule, right? This is, of course, a ludicrous example of a democracy. What he goes on to promote is really a totalitarian type of government under the guise of a Republic. We go to the polls and choose a group of representatives from a group selected by a committee. They, in turn, select from amongst themselves, a President. This, they claim, is what the founder wanted.
  This man, this group, are calling for armed insurrection against the government of duly elected representatives. This, my friends, is treason. No Marine who remembers his or her oath to the Corps and Country, would do such a thing. We live in a country of laws. We may not all, at any given time, be happy with the results of an election, or the decisions of the congress, but there are remedies under the constitution. A president may be impeached, if he commits a crime; a member of congress or the Senate may be censured and even removed for behavior that is found to be criminal. What we do not do is overthrow  government simply because we are not happy with the results of an election. There have been contested elections in the past, but never has there been a duly elected government in the United States Of America violently overthrown. The complaints begin almost immediately after the last election is called. There are always unhappy people, whether it be on the right or the left. Out country is almost so evenly divided that half of the electorate is going to be unhappy. That half has got to live with it. that is the price of living in a very free country. It never ceases to amaze me that there are fringe elements that call for things such as secession, impeachment, and civil disobedience almost right away. To them, I have to say "Your turn will come again... deal with it. It's not the end of the world."
   Now, I am watching this group. You cannot hide your activities from everyone, and I am sure that the authorities are well aware of your call for rebellion. They are letting it play out, for now, but I would be careful, if I were you. I am a veteran, and a patriot. I am not always happy about the direction that the leadership is taking the country, but I will follow the remedy laid out for me by the founding fathers. I will vote my conscience when the time comes. In the meantime, I will Always, support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States Of America. God Bless you All, and God Bless the United States.
 -John Zaffino
January 29. 2013 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Back Pages: Martin Luther King Day, January 21, 2013

My Back Pages: Martin Luther King Day, January 21, 2013: Martin Luther King Day,  January 21, 2013   On April 4, 1968 I was a young Marine in a casual company barracks in Okinaw a, w a iting f...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King Day, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King Day,  January 21, 2013


On April 4, 1968 I was a young Marine in a casual company barracks in Okinawa, waiting for my orders to leave for Vietnam. It was actually April 5 in Okinawa, because we were a day ahead in the Western Pacific. It was early morning, and we were getting ready for chow, when the word came that Dr. King had been assassinated. When I had left the States, the civil rights movement was in full swing, but being from the north, I did not fully understand the sweeping changes that were taking place in the country. We didn't have blatant segregation in New York. Not to say that there was not discrimination, there was, but is was a more subtle kind of discrimination. There was discriminatory hiring in jobs, and schools in some towns, indeed, in some areas of cities, were strategically placed so that they were segregated. I had lived in a integrated neighborhood. Blacks and whites living side by side with very little tension in the '50s and early '60s, at least that is what we felt. We went to the same schools and ate at the same lunch counters, when we could afford it.... a far cry from the institutionalized segregation of the deep south. However, the discrimination suffered by the blacks in my northern city was no less insidious than the segregation in the south. Some might say that it was even worse. Our schools were teaching us the American Dream, where anyone could become anything that they wanted. That everyone was equal. But when it came to practice, this simply was not true. If you were black in the North, your chances of advancing were just slightly better than if you were black in the South.  Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference were determined to change that. The methods that they used were civil disobedience and Passive Resistance. Dr. King had learned from Mohandas Gandhi how to effectively protest nonviolently.  Dr. King preached love and understanding between all races. He was beaten and arrested many times for his quiet protests. The FBI under Hoover branded him a Communist, and tapped his phones, and monitored his every communication. They tried many tactics to break down Dr. King, but he would not be broken. He and so many others just kept on pressing the issue, holding sit ins at segregated businesses, quiet boycotts of public transportation, marches on Universities closed to blacks. They had dogs turned on them, fire hoses shot at them, and police with clubs who viciously beat them. Workers were murdered, black churches were burned; but still he preached non violence. He was determined to win by preaching love and understanding between the races, completing job that Abraham Lincoln had started a hundred years before. Dr. King was cut down on the evening of April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where he had come to support the city sanitation workers who were on strike. He was murdered by a petty criminal and racist, who's name is not going to written by me.

Dr. King started my education in race relations, an education that continues to this day. He started opening my eyes to things that I never knew existed in America. Up to that point, I, like so many others, was oblivious. I had many black friends.....  I still do to this day..... but I was just blind to the differences in the way that we were treated. Dr. King was relentless in his determination to open the eyes of every American to the injustice of what was going on in America. He knew that he would be killed... not thought that he might.. he knew that he would be killed; but, to him, it was worth it and it had to be done. He was transcendent. He became more  that just a man, he became a statesman and a martyr for the cause that was beyond a doubt something that cried out to be taken up. He knew what America was supposed to be, he knew what America could be. He had been accused so many times of hating America, but he said so many time that he loved America and wanted it to be the country that was put forth by the Declaration Of Independence, a place where all men are created equal.

 Today, we celebrate his birth. I feel honored to have been born to a time where I could see the transition that Dr. King created. When you live in the time of Giants, you live in awe of what they have accomplished with their lives and you wonder if you can measure up to the challenges that they have put to you. I try every day to be the type of person that Martin Luther King asked me to be. I don't always succeed, but I continually strive to be a better person, because of the example of Dr. King, and  JFK and RFK. Every day, I get better at it. 

 As you go about your everyday lives today, take a moment or two to reflect on Dr. Kings words:

"I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American Dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; thal all men are created equal".  -

Martin Luther King Jr. August 28, 1963

John Zaffino, Carmel, NY January 21, 2013 


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Back Pages: My Back Pages: Thoughts At Year's End and the New ...

My Back Pages: My Back Pages: Thoughts At Year's End and the New ...: My Back Pages: Thoughts At Year's End and the New Year Ahead : 2013 is just over the horizon.... one day and a few hours away. Wouldn't it ...

"Every time I think I'm out... they pull me back in.."

The best line from Godfather 3 belongs, fittingly, to Michael Corleone: "Every time I think that I'm out, they pull me back in!" Well, I am not comparing myself to the fabled son of Vito Corleone, it's just that these damned politicians just can't seem to act like reasonable men and women. Rather, they think that they are above those kinds of emotions, and think that they serve a higher purpose. Well, I have news for them, there is no higher purpose in the business of the congress of the United States than serving the people that live here. In fact, the force that put you here is not celestial, it is, in fact, the will of the people. You swore an oath to protect and defend, and you are doing neither. Not far from where your crying speaker sheds his crocodile tears, just up I 95 and I 80 from the halls of Congress, where  better men than you debated and compromised on issues affecting this great nation, we have American citizens living in the worst conditions imaginable. It has been over 66 days since Sandy devastated the coastline from Maryland up to Long Island. The worst hit? New Jersey and New York. People's lives have been changed forever, while these pols play politics with the lives of those who's stories lay strewn along the beaches of New Jersey and New York.  These people have been left to fend for themselves, when the job of the federal government is to give aid and comfort in the time of crisis. I've heard some hard hearted folks on the right say "Well, it's not our fault that these people were not prepared. Why should we have to pay to help them?" Really? It's easy for you to ask such callous questions when the problem does not affect you. But your day will come, too. One day, and I hope for your sake, that it will not be too soon, you will need assistance from the Federal Government, read, your fellow Americans; and then, your tune, as well as your perspective, will change. It's easy to turn your back when it's not your behind that is being left uncovered. This callousness on the part of the partisan Republican congress has even members of their own party calling them out for their partisanship and seeming indifference to the desperate needs of the American People. No less a Republican than Governor Chris Christie has called them out for their lack of humanity and putting party over the needs of the country. This is no Rockefeller Republican, this is Chris Christie who made his bones facing down the unions in New Jersey and championing conservative causes. This is a tough man, who has now seen first hand how damaging partisan politics can be when taken to the extreme. This is a man who I admire, because he is honest and forthright and caring, and I am an independent. I may not agree with his politics at times, but I genuinely admire the man because of his aforementioned qualities. 

 Which brings me back to congress, and the Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker Boehner cannot even get together to agree on issues. They hold the whole country hostage because they refuse to budge on taxing the more affluent Americans a bit more to help ease the blooming deficit. Remember, this deficit was caused by having to fight two wars, and the tax cuts that were suppose to,  but failed to, drive the economy. I am not pointing my finger at the previous administration, because there is enough blame for the short sightedness to go around for both parties. Enough said. They are both to blame. But standing around and pointing fingers now does no one any good. Making the American people suffer for the mistakes of the politicians only hurts the people. We need cooler heads to prevail in congress. People who will make sure that those on the edge, do not fall off; that those who enjoy all that a free society offers, realize that it is not really free and that there are fees that must be paid. We must make sure that our seniors who are just scraping by are not penalized to the point that they are choosing between medications and food. We must stop draining the school budgets to the point where music and athletic programs are being shut down. Music is so essential to the development of young minds, and physical fitness is a must. 
  So, I have been pulled back in to the fray. Not that what I have to say changes anyone's mind, but it is another voice crying at the halls of congress. I will continue to speak my mind until I can not longer think. We all need to discuss, discuss, discuss, and compromise. It's not a dirty word. It's the word that helped create this great Republic. We can make things work again. We are Americans.