Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Back Pages: The Journey Begins...

My Back Pages: The Journey Begins...: " A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step" -  Interpreted from a Chinese Proverb, Chapter 64 of the Tao Te Ching...

The Journey Begins...

"A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step" -  Interpreted from a Chinese Proverb, Chapter 64 of the Tao Te Ching ascribed to Laozi.
Thus the journey towards normalizing relations  with Cuba begins. It's been 55 years since ties with the Communist Island Nation were severed. Since that time, the whole world has shifted. Nixon went to Communist China to start the normalization of relations with them. We now have exchanged Ambassadors and trade with each other. Relations with the Soviet Union went from Glasnost  to seeing the USSR break apart. Germany is one country again. The one thing that remained constant was the hostility between the United States and Cuba.
  Now, I understand the feelings of those in the Cuban-American community who do not want to see the US recognize Cuba until the Castro brothers, and communism, have passed into history. Many have suffered under the regime. 
Many families were torn apart... many were killed or disappeared. 
  It was thought that if an embargo was put in place, the communist government would soon fail. It did not. When the Soviet Union came apart, it was again thought that Cuba could not last long. It's still there. Isolation did not work. The only people who suffered from the embargo were the Cuban people. Not the Castro brothers.  Not those in the ruling Communist government. Only the common people, the people who's hearts and minds the US wished to win over, suffered from the isolation and deprivation.
  Things change only through the open and free dialogue between peoples. You cannot bring about change by turning your back on a problem. Only by talking can barriers be brought down, Only by talking can differences be addressed and solutions found. 
 By opening the door to tourism and trade, we can begin the healing so sorely needed. We can reach the everyday people of this nation 90 miles off of our coast. Perhaps, sometime in the near future, we can once again become real friends. I hope so.
  In my lifetime, I have seen the specter of nuclear annihilation grow and then diminish as the nuclear powers talked and reached treaties. MAD was not an option that anyone wanted. I have seen the constant rise and fall of threats to peace and security. I have seen governments and dictators come and go. We are faced with so many threats to our security, and yet we seem to endure. I hope that we can put the animosity of the past behind us and work towards a new day of friendly relations with Cuba and the rest of Latin America. Nixon opened the door to China. Obama has now done the the same in Cuba. The first step has been taken. Let us see where the path leads.
  As always, I wish you all Peace, Love, and Tranquility.

 John Zaffino, Kent Lakes, New York March 23, 2016
  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Advise and Consent? ... The Continuing Assault On The Presidency

Before I get to my point, let me say this: I wouldn't care if the current administration was Democrat or Republican. What's right is right, and what is going on in this Senate and Congress is just wrong.
This Mitch McConnell and the other senators who stand in defiance of the constitution are everything that is wrong with this current government. Oh, I know my friends on the right will say that they are doing the right thing. I am here to tell you that they are not. It it their job to hold hearings on any candidate or nominee that the president puts forth. It's right there in the constitution. If they don't want to consider anyone that the President puts forth, there is a right way to do this. The can hold hearings and, if they find that this nominee is unacceptable, they can reject him. This is the correct way to do it. This is their duty.
 However, these opposition politicians refuse to do what is required of them. They don't want to give the nominee a fair hearing. They want to do everything that they can do to upstage and resist this President. This has been their policy since the President was elected, and it only got worse after he was re-elected. This is just the latest in a continuing assault on the right of this President to govern. Instead of doing their job.... or even pretending to do it, they stand in open opposition to this President and, in fact, the constitution that they say that they love so much. They refuse to follow protocol, and say that they want the right to nominate to go to the next President after the election. Well, they are wrong, as they have been all through this President's administration. McConnell has stated that his one objective was to make the President a one term President. He failed in that, but he continues to do whatever he can do to foil and upstage the President. 
  There will come a reckoning, at some point, for the failure of this congress to do anything productive. There will come a time when sitting on ones hands, holding one's breath until your face turns blue, will cost you! This has been the most contentious congress since Truman's 'Do Nothing' 80th congress. 
  I hate what has been going in in Washington for the last 8 years, and I am not talking about the Obama Presidency. While I don't think that the President has been completely effective, he has managed to get the economy to improve, despite the roadblocks thrown up by the disloyal opposition. All that I can hope for is that the current cast of characters will soon be voted out, and that a more reasonable group will be voted in.
 Let me give one caveat to these miscreants, these pols who posture and defy everything that this administration puts forth: What will you do when the next President is again a Democrat? Will you continue to refuse to work with that person? Or will you finally come to your senses and try to get this country moving again? Look around you.. the very ground that we are standing is crumbling because of your refusal to take any action. Bridges and tunnels are falling apart. Every moment that you sit in smug defiance, you put thousands of lives at risk. This is not the American Democracy that I honorably served. This is not what I believe in. 
  This is my opinion, and my opinion alone. I will stand by it as I watch the continuing circus that is the primary season. I think, I hope, that in the long run, this ship of state will sail on in a righteous manner .
  As always, I wish you all, Peace, Love, and Tranquility.
 John Zaffino,  March 16, 2016
 Kent Lakes, New York

Friday, March 4, 2016

My Back Pages: Political Views and Perspective

My Back Pages: Political Views and Perspective: Politics always brings out differences of opinions between friends and acquaintances. Discussions can become heated, and friendships torn ap...

Political Views and Perspective

Politics always brings out differences of opinions between friends and acquaintances. Discussions can become heated, and friendships torn apart; all over what are differences of opinion. It's silly to let these differences destroy friendships which sometimes span decades. They have caused rifts in families, sometimes irreparable. When we get into these discussions, we should all take a step back and think if this is really what we want to do. I, for one, do not want differences of opinion, especially political differences to cause resentment and anger. 
  Folks, it's just not worth it. There are circumstances in our lives that lead to differences of opinions. Perspective, and events in ones life form our opinions and our views. I watched my father struggle his whole life to make ends meet, while his bosses made great amounts of money from his labors. I've seen businesses who were making huge profits, make decisions that were harmful to their workers. I've seen the right do things that I, as a loyal American and Union Steward, see as detrimental to workers. I will always side with any politician that helps American workers. I will always be against any person, any party, that I feel is against the interests of the workers in this country. I believe that trickle down is a fantasy, as George H. W. Bush said 'Voodoo Economics". It didn't work then, it won't work now. Now.. this is my opinion. I am a retired Chief Steward for the CWA. I am someone who believes that the worker, not the multinational corporations who ship jobs to third world countries, are the backbone of this country. I believe in the American dream, and I believe that those, like the Koch brothers, have an agenda to destroy everything that we fought so hard to achieve.
 I am against any person, or party, that treats certain segments of our society as second class citizens. I believe that everyone who is doing the same job is entitled to make the same wage. I believe that everyone is entitled to healthcare... it should not be those who are rich enough to afford it. I believe that we should repair our infrastructure, the roadways and bridges, and railways... all that made us such a great nation, instead of building a wall along the rio grande. I believe in a woman's right to chose. I believe that a society that oppresses their working class is no better than any totalitarian society that ever existed.
  I believe that those who wish to be the Commander in Chief of this great nation, should be dignified and show the gravitas that is required for that lofty position. I believe that these candidates should show respect for each other and address the issues with their informed solutions, instead of resorting to schoolyard taunts. I believe that our politicians should try to work together, not be so partisan that they are not willing to compromise.
  All this being said, I will not get into a contentious argument with my friends or loved ones. It's just not worth it because, as we all know, the political winds are constantly shifting, and if you just wait... things will change again.
  I hope that all we be resolved for the betterment of this country. I hope that, one day, another great statesman will come  along and rise up, as Lincoln did. In the meantime, I ask you all to be civil to each other. If you have a strong opinion, by all means, post it, but don't be hateful Respect each other, show tolerance for the viewpoint of others, and keep it civil. None of us have the complete answer. We all see things from different perspectives, and from different life experiences. In the end, we are all part of this great country.
  I wish you all, Peace, Love, and Tranquility.
 March 4, 2016
 John Zaffino
 Kent Lakes, New York

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Back Pages: Bullies, Dictators, and Schoolyard Politics

My Back Pages: Bullies, Dictators, and Schoolyard Politics: March 1 and 2, 2016 I hate bullies. Bullies are people who find a flaw in someone and use it to belittle that person. Bullies are people wh...

Bullies, Dictators, and Schoolyard Politics

March 1 and 2, 2016
I hate bullies. Bullies are people who find a flaw in someone and use it to belittle that person. Bullies are people who are really insecure, but put up a facade of being tough and strong. Bullies are, when all is said and done, weak individuals who live just to humiliate others. Donald Trump is a bully. So is his sidekick, Christie. They call names and poke fun at those who do not agree with them. Trump talks about shooting reporters. Trump talks about punching people in the nose who dare to disagree with him. Trump never really answers any question put to him that he doesn't really have an answer to. I think that there is something seriously wrong with 'The Donald'. A personality flaw that threatens to overwhelm this country. Those of you who support him, I can only say that this is your right. We live in a democracy (despite what some of my friends on the right believe, it's a democratic republic!) Regardless, I know that he is a bully. He is no different than the bully that pushed me into the pricker bushes when I was in second grade and he was in sixth. He pretended to be my friend and then set out to dominate and hurt me. He's no different than those who humiliate anyone who was an academic achiever when he (0r she) couldn't comprehend what was being taught. Instead of addressing issues, he humiliates his opponents by poking fun at their ears, or the fact that they are sweating under the hot television lights. He says that he will make America great again, but does not say how he will accomplish this. (I have news for him: America IS great!) I can only hope that the majority of this country's citizens will not be seduced by the empty rhetoric of this pompous megalomaniac. I can only hope that, when all is said and done, he will only be a footnote in the history of the country that I pledged to protect and defend. I would hate to think that this man, who did everything that he could to escape service, would be elected Commander In Chief. In my opinion, it would be a sad day for this great nation. 
  We have certain rights in this country. We have a right to civil political discourse without the threat of being dragged out of public meetings, or being threatened by someone saying that they want to cause us physical harm. We have a right disagree, in a civil manner, with any political statement. We have a right to worship, or not, as we please, without discrimination, or fear of being singled out for our beliefs, or lack of them. We have a right to associate with any group, political or otherwise. We have the right of freedom of speech as long as our speech does not cause harm.
The current political climate really troubles me. Where has the dignity gone? Have we really sunk so far that those who ask us to support them act like 8 year olds in the schoolyard? I cannot believe what is going on in this country.. it makes me sad and fearful for the future of the country that I swore to defend. It makes me fearful for the future of my grandchildren, whom I love with every fiber of my being. This is not what I volunteered to fight for. This is not the United States that I love. We seem to have descended into chaos. I can only hope that sanity will, in the end, prevail.
I'm an old man. My time is nearing the end. I hope that the upcoming generations will take control and right this ship of state. In the interim, I wish you all, as always, Peace, Love, and Tranquility, and tonight.. sanity. 

 John A. Zaffino Kent Lakes, New York