Archive for category Government
Excuse my logic but given the current crop of presidential candidates, namely Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump isn’t it time that we add a constitutional amendment that sets an age ceiling on someone’s holding the office of president of the United States.
Both candidates are approaching the age of 70 and there have been serious questions raised about both candidates’ health.
Their performance during this campaign seems to justify the concern over their age. Trump blasts everyone in sight like an angry old man.
In the case of Clinton she is caught in a classic catch 22. When people voice concerns over her health citing the infamous fall she took shortly before she was to testify in a Benghazi hearing her staff insists there’s no cause for concern. She used that fall and the ensuing “confusion” she claimed to be suffering as an excuse to dodge the hearing. Yet now her staff insists she is fine. If she didn’t fall at all, then she lied to the public several years ago. If she did in fact fall then there is good reason to believe that she may have suffered a concussion with long lasting repercussions.
Ronald Reagan was 70 years old when he took office. By the time he was well into his second term and now in his mid to late 70s I recall hearing stories that he would sometimes nod off right in the middle of Cabinet meetings.
In this author’s opinion both candidates seem to repeat the same tired ideas and the same boring rhetoric day in and day out. Furthermore the campaign has reduced itself to two candidates who spend most of their time chastising one another, sort of like two little kids each mad that they are not getting their way. It is a known fact that when people reach advancing age they often revert to behaving like children. The evidence that these two candidates are acting just that way is on daily display.
Given the complex problems of our country and the world, especially in areas of environmental destruction, terrorism, famine and economic instability we don’t need tired old hacks to run our country. We need the vitality, energy and imagination that comes with youth.
Let’s put a maximum age on serving as President of the United States NOW.
Having watched Donald Trump seemingly insult his way to the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential election I think his real campaign slogan should be “make America hate again.”
He is often labeled “The Most Powerful Man on Earth.” He is also the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize. Excuse my logic, but seriously folks, are we going to label him Saint Obama?
If the photos tell the story maybe he’s already been canonized.
What I am getting at are photos that anyone who likes to Google can find that show some of our recent presidents with what appear to be halos above their heads.
Upon close inspection the viewer will quickly realize that the “halo” is nothing more than the blurred image of the presidential seal that is hung behind the president’s podium whenever he addresses the media or other official gatherings.
Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now President Obama have all been immortalized with halo photos as shown below.
Now I am really impartial as far as President Obama is concerned. I am not his biggest fan but then again I am not a detractor. So when I first saw a halo photo last year the skeptical journalistic side of me was fuming that certain liberal members of the media had deliberately shot the photo that way to imbue Obama with divine persona.
Upon calming down over this phenomenon, I started Googling and soon saw that the other aforementioned presidents had also been adorned with halos in their photos.
Once I had the chance to think the whole thing over I must confess that I think the entire staging of these photos may have some positive sides.
We live in what is still the greatest most successful country on Earth. Serving as the president of this great nation is not an easy task. No matter what he does, there will always be some special interest group, lobbyist group or other naysayers that call him out.
When a new president is elected he rides into Washington on the wave of being picked the most popular politician in the country. People have high hopes. So is it surprising or even inaccurate to picture him with a halo? After all, albeit temporarily, the new president is often regarded as a sort of messiah who will safeguard our freedoms and deliver us to a life of prosperity and security. Of course, things don’t always turn out that way.
As well with regard to the halo, serving as president despite all the security protection he receives is a dangerous job. Two sitting presidents have been assassinated and countless other presidents have been the target of thwarted attempts on their lives.
Thus, the office of the president is in my opinion sacrosanct. To those who diss our country, be they Americans or others, I ask you to consider what other nation on earth has so welcomed immigrants from every walk of life and from every country the world over. Furthermore, look at countries such as North Korea, Iran, and now in particular Syria. Their records on human rights are atrocious. We in America like to complain when one of our civil rights is trampled on. Yet unlike Syria and other countries our president doesn’t employ secret hit squads to mow down anyone who opposes him. Here we are free to speak our mind and assemble peacefully to protest that which we don’t like about our government.
In recent years our past presidents and current one, have never been caught being drunk or impaired while on the job. Each of them has had to live in the huge fishbowl existence that the modern day media has created and have all behaved admirably well with grace under pressure.
In short, while someone reading this may not think that our current president or any specific past presidents are holy figures, the office of the President itself is a sacred spot.
Pictured below are some of our presidents wearing halos. If you want to have a little fun, picture what some of the distant past presidents would have looked like wearing one. In particular, I think Martin Van Buren would have looked hideous with one.
Here’s to the presidency and God Bless America.
Copyright 2012; Greg S.
Excuse my logic, but sometimes I really do get it right. Those of you who follow this blog may recall my November 1, 2011 post that called into question the necessity of continuous toll increases at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey run Hudson River crossings. Only a couple weeks after that posting media reports began surfacing about questionably high salary add-ons for Port Authority Executives and other administrative staff. I am not saying that my blog was the catalyst for this surge in demand for Port Authority accountability. I am only saying I am good at sniffing out things that don’t always make sense.
However let’s cut to the chase. This post is about another bizarre and annoying aspect of many toll roads in the northeast and I suspect other parts of theUnited Statesas well.
About ten years ago in the middle of the summer on a Sunday evening, I was travelling home from theNew Jersey Shore. I was using the New Jersey Turnpike northbound. Traffic had been refreshingly light for a Sunday afternoon and I was in good spirits about that fact. However as I approached the toll plaza for exit 18 my good spirits flew right out the window faster than the spreading of a rumor about Bon Jovi’s death. Traffic had come to a complete standstill about three miles before the toll. I took note of the time on my car clock. Then I waited. Waited. Waaaaited. By the time I reached the toll booth and paid my toll, one and a half hours had elapsed. I was absolutely pissed off.
A couple of days later as I was still lamenting the inefficiency of the NJ Turnpike Authority at handling large volumes of traffic at their tolls, I hatched an idea and jotted off a letter to the governor of New Jersey. What I suggested was a revamping of the toll rates. Instead of having tolls in amounts such as $2.35, $1.65, or $3.85, I proposed rounding all tolls to easy to make change for figures – for example, $1.00, $1.50, $2.00, $2.50. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist and thank God because I am not one, to figure out that toll collectors can make change faster for toll rates with a zero at the end of them than with a 5. There is less calculation required on their part and the handling of less actual coinage.
Did I just mention calculation? Just today, I telephoned the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and asked an executive there if toll collectors are equipped inside their booth with a device that calculates the change due each customer. The answer was no. Toll collectors must manually calculate the change due for each customer. Now at the beginning of a shift this may or may not be relatively easy for experienced toll takers. However, as the hapless toll collector begins counting change for 500, 1,000 and maybe 2,000 cars during his shift this can become very mind numbing. Logically, he may begin to slow down the pace at which he handles transactions. That translates to longer and longer waits at the toll booth.
I know for a fact that the New York State Thruway also operates this antiquated schedule of toll rates. So does the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Just to confirm that the Pa. Turnpike does this too, I went to the toll calculator on their website, entered a point of entry (Exit 359 -Delaware River Bridge) and then several different points of exit (Exit 339 for Fort Washington and Exit 326 forValley Forge). The rates came back $3.20 and $4.75. This confirms my theory that they have umpteen different prices for their huge inventory of exits.
As the population on this planet continues to explode along with the amount of cars on the roads, the people in charge of the super highways need to streamline their operations into efficiently-run enterprises. It is interesting to note that the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey just changed their toll rates and in most cases the tolls end in a “0” cents rate. (In a few cases tolls are $.75).
I am not saying there shouldn’t be tolls. However, I think it is nervy to make people wait on tiresome long lines and then ask them to spend money at the end of the wait. This is especially aggravating for people who have just had a hard day at the office, or the construction site.
Let’s revamp toll prices to speed up what is currently a system that can best be described as archaic. Keep America rolling, not crawling.
Copyright 2011; Greg S.
Excuse my logic but the more time I spend driving, the more I believe it is high time that our government puts into place periodic road testing for all drivers, regardless of age. I will admit that when I sat down to write this blog, my original intention was to focus on the dangers of allowing extremely elderly people to drive. I had planned to suggest mandatory testing of senior citizens every two years to monitor their driving skills. Of all age groups, their driving aptitude may be the most suspect. However seniors aren’t the only people who need a reality check when it comes to driving ability.
I found it encouraging just the other day to read in North New Jersey’s Bergen Record that a new law is being proposed to the state Assembly that would give our state one of the “strictest teen driver safety programs in the nation.” Under this law, new teenage permit holders would be required to log a minimum of 50 driving hours in addition to 6 hours of driving under a driver training professional. Teens who opt not to receive the 6 hours of professional training would have to log 100 hours of practice driving before being eligible to take their road test.
This is all fine and good and kudos to the New Jersey Assembly Transportation Committee for recognizing the need to better prepare drivers. I think overall, most states probably do an adequate or better job of preparing young people to become safe drivers.
However, I disagree with an assessment in the Bergen Record article that teenagers are the highest risk drivers. People who have held driving licenses for 30, 40 or more years I believe can regress into what I like to call an “old shoe” syndrome. In many cases, no one is watching over them and as time goes by, their skills begin to diminish. Like an old shoe that is just so comfortable that you never want to throw it out even though it is no longer functional, people who have been driving for a decade or decades can be dysfunctional when on today’s fast paced roads and highways.
As I said, my commentary here is not limited to older people. Now for some anecdotes.
I remember seeing a young person turn left out of a Wendy’s parking lot onto busy NJ Highway 4. There was only one problem with this. The end result was he was driving west bound on the eastbound lanes of the highway. It is amazing to me that with three busy lanes of fast moving traffic that morning no one got killed. Divine Providence perhaps, but whatever the case, this driver’s skills are definitely dubious.
On another occasion my wife and I were being driven home by a friend of mine in his early 40s, and originally not from this country. We were travelling North on the Garden State Parkway. There was heavy but fast moving traffic. He wanted to exit left off the one way lanes onto Route 19. He was in the center lane and no one was letting him into the left lane. So my friend did the unthinkable. He simply stopped dead in the center lane to make his point that he wasn’t going to miss that exit even if it killed all of us! Again, my friend needs to take a refresher course. Or two.
Years ago, while I was a sophomore in high school, one of my schoolmate’s mothers would pick us up after school. She was not old. Early middle aged. She had the crazy habit while driving that when she wanted to talk to someone sitting in the back seat, she would turn her head around to look at them, all the while continuing to drive. We always told this woman to turn around and keep her eyes on the road. She never heeded our advice until one day she plowed into the steel guardrail of a bridge. Fortunately no one was injured.
Thus far, we’ve directed our attention to young and middle aged drivers. Now consider this rather bizarre occurrence that was related to me by the perpetrator’s son. It is this incident from which the title of this blog came. This woman, in her late 80s, was pulling out of a parking space at the supermarket. She backed straight into the side of a passing car. The police were called, an accident report was written up and then the parties to the accident were told they could leave. This woman got in her car and backed up out of the space again. In case you haven’t guessed the outcome, she plowed smack into the same car a second time! Talk about déjà vu!
I also had a beloved uncle who had been victimized by a stroke. He walked using a cane, and his reflexes were next to nothing. I always told the older members of our family that he should be relieved of his car keys but no one ever did so. One day he was out driving and I don’t know exactly what happened but he had an accident. The police officer walked up to his car and asked for his license, registration, etc. My uncle was talking at that point according to the account I was given. By the time the police officer returned to my uncle’s side he could no longer speak. Apparently he suffered another stroke, either before the accident or perhaps as a result of the accident. He was dead two days later.
Driving should be considered a privilege, not a right. A car in the wrong hands can be a more dangerous weapon than the handguns most of us call to outlaw.
I, for one, would not object to being road tested every two years and I am 54 years old, supposedly in the “prime” of my life.
Let’s consider periodic testing for drivers of all ages. Sure it will be a costly endeavor, but aren’t our lives and those of our loved ones worth it?
Copyright 2011; Greg S.
Excuse my logic but if other areas of our nation are in as much trouble as mine (Bergen County, New Jersey), our country is in deep doo-doo. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Submitted for your viewing and consideration are the dismal images below, all vacated buildings that once housed thriving businesses in Bergen County. It is interesting to note that historically, Bergen Countyhas always been considered one of the more affluent counties in the nation. Some of these businesses probably went belly-up. Others probably saw that this area just wasn’t as much of a choice location to be in as it once was. Either way, it’s time for our government to take notice, and all parties to put political differences aside. Businesses are failing at an alarming rate. Foreclosures are soaring. The percentage of people living in poverty in this country is at an all-time high. It’s time our elected officials start working for all of our peoples.
Is any business safe? Who’s next?
Copyright 2011; Greg S.
Excuse my logic but doesn’t it seem like Representative John Boehner is so cantankerous toward President Obama that if Obama issued a proclamation stating “the sky is blue” Boehner would push through legislation that says “the sky is pink.” I voted for Barack Obama and admittedly I now sometimes wonder if it was the right choice. However, at present, the climate inWashingtonis so counterproductive, backstabbing and negative that it makes me feel sad for Obama and for our nation as a whole. As for Boehner, you just take one look at him and you know he lives to bust other peoples’ chops. (I’d like to say he likes to bust something else but this blog is rated PG).
With respect to Obama, he should never had acquiesced to the Republicans’ demands that he change the night for his address to a special joint session of Congress that was planned for September 7. Yes it’s true that Obama may have thought offering an olive branch to the GOP is the best way to mend fences and get both parties back to working together for the good of the nation. However, in doing this he has also inadvertently given his tacit approval of allowing the opposition to dictate to the Office of the President. The Republicans have no significant proposals on the board for fixing the economy, creating jobs, or in general getting this nation back on the right track. The only thing they are able to do is trash Obama and then parade around as if they are the party of good government.
When I was in college, the fraternity I belonged to had several brothers who were members of a group called the “Young Republicans.” I can tell my readers from experience that these people were never happy unless they were debasing someone.
That seems to be the Republican mentality. I have come to the conclusion that the entire political scene is so devoid of conscience that a friend of mine has the right idea. He suggests that the best president would be an IBM super computer. I would like to take that idea one step further. Let’s replace all of our elected leaders with computers. Computers would have no party affiliation, would work for free, wouldn’t be influenced by special interests and would be super efficient. These are all qualities that sadly, right now are lacking in some of our elected leaders.
Copyright 2011; Greg S.
Excuse my logic but why do many states have laws on the books that make it impossible to at least detain and perform a psychiatric evaluation of a potential murderer or rapist who is a clear and present danger until after that person has already killed or raped an innocent victim?
Sadly, the recent case of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting is just another example of a tragedy that may have been prevented if the warning signs Jared Loughner was leaving a trail of had just been heeded. His was a textbook case of a disillusioned and troubled youth who perhaps could have been stopped from committing his heinous act if laws were in place protecting the public’s safety from individuals with an evident proclivity for bringing harm to others.
Oh I know now you’re thinking “innocent until proven guilty” and the right to a fair and speedy trial. You’re ready to accuse me of trampling on an individual’s constitutional rights. However, I am not advocating long term incarceration of people who are simply deemed threatening but who have not actually committed a crime. It’s not as if I am proposing a lethal injection or electric chair for a person who hasn’t even done anything wrong yet.
Rather, I am proffering that states and the federal government should do something to amend the legal system so that it’s proactive rather than reactive. We need to detain and question people who are making threats or displaying other forms of deviant behavior BEFORE they can act out on their negative fantasies. The components that comprise the fourth amendment and probable cause may need to be altered to reflect the dynamics of a changing world.
I can remember as a boy when a relative of mine attempted to stab another relative of mine with a kitchen knife but ended up jamming the dagger into the dining room wall instead. The police were called and upon their arrival they explained that the only way they would be legally allowed to make an arrest of the aggressor would be if the knife had actually made contact with the other person. The memory of that episode still resonates indelibly in my mind some 40 years after it happened.
Fast forward to much more recent times. There was the recent case in July, 2010 of Latiea Boyer, age 29 from Garfield, NJ. who was gunned down by a man who had just been let out of prison a week earlier. Her assailant, Quashaun Harris of Paterson, NJ had been released on $400,000 bail one week prior after being held on charges of three counts of attempted murder. Ms. Boyer, a Navy veteran and mother of a 12 year old was targeted because she was slated to testify against Harris in his upcoming murder trial. Still think the system as it is works?
The obvious question is how in the world a 19 year old Paterson youth can get $400,000 posted on his behalf. Yet, the more important question is how a fine young woman such as Ms. Boyer was thrown to the wolves by a legal system that allowed her to be killed by a man who was as obvious a threat as anyone could ever be.
Look at the 1999 Columbine massacre that left 15 dead and the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting that claimed 33 lives. In both cases the perpetrators of these gruesome crimes were “troubled” youths who had shown clear cut hints at their instability. This is not to say the problem is confined to young people. Scores of less publicized mass shootings have been committed by murderers of all ages who showed all the signs of a powder keg ready to explode.
If a person is showing tell tale signs of a destructive or violent personality he needs to be taken off the streets, if for just several days so trained psychiatric professionals can assess his level of danger to the society.
Otherwise we will find ourselves again and again in the future asking the question “What went wrong?”.
Copyright 2009, 2011; Greg S.
Excuse my logic, but why in God’s name does the United States and Russia each need to have in their possession some 16,000 nuclear warheads apiece? To be quite blunt, the detonation of just let’s say a mere 5 percent of that amount (800 warheads by each country) if spread globally and strategically would destroy most, or all, of the human race. So why do we each need 16,000? Do we want to make sure we destroy all the cockroaches too? And the rats? Cockroaches and rats are said to be highly resilient and capable of adapting to severe environments.
Some points to consider:
Fifty years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, it was reported that most vegetation still couldn’t be grown there. 70,000 people died immediately. By year’s end there were an additional 30,000 deaths from fallout. Within five years the total death toll attributable to this event may have stood at 200,000. The yield of the Hiroshima A-bomb was 15 kilotons. Modern nuclear warheads have a yield of 1/ 2 megaton or more. A megaton is 1,000 times the power of a kiloton.
As a result of the Chernobyl Nuclear plant disaster on April 26, 1986, at Reactor #4 more than 350,000 people from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine had to be evacuated. The city of Pripyat, which is located in the immediate vicinity, stands today as a ghost town. It had contained a population of 50,000 people prior to the disaster. However, even more thought provoking is the fact that a plume of radioactive air drifted over the Western Soviet Union and all of Europe except the Iberian Peninsula. Imagine radioactivity scattering over an entire continent. From just one nuclear accident! So extrapolate the possible results that would occur if we experienced the equivalent of 1600 Chernobyls (remember 800 nukes being blown by each – the USA and Russia) and you get the picture.
Just as dramatic but a little more than a century earlier in August, 1883, the volcano known as Krakatoa on the island of Krakatau went into its final massive eruption after earlier smaller warning bursts. Three quarters of that island was wiped off the face of the earth. At the same time, the event was so cataclysmic as to create entire new islands. The force of the volcano’s blast was estimated at 200 megatons. 1,600 nuclear bombs being detonated based on an average size of ½ a megaton would yield blasts equaling 800 megatons. The 200 megaton Krakatoa blast was so loud that it could be heard 3,000 miles away in the island nation of Mauritius and 2,200 miles away in Perth, Western Australia. In simpler terms, if it had taken place in Los Angeles, CA you would have heard it in New York City.
Tsunamis 100 feet high were widespread and occurred as far away as South Africa. One tsunami measuring 151 feet high obliterated a town known as Merak in the northwestern tip of Java Indonesia. Debris resulting from this eruption was scattered as far away as Madagascar completely across the Indian Ocean. Average global temperatures dropped 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit and remained that way for several years. But the most telling phenomenon of all may be what happened to the sky. The entire planet’s sky was darkened for years afterwards and spectacular surreal sunsets occurred for many months after.
Although it doesn’t concern itself with the industry of building nuclear bombs specifically, a documentary entitled “Why We Fight” available as a download off the internet provides some eerie insight into this quagmire. It was produced by Eugene Jarecki of the BBC. It points out that wars make use of expensive equipment and weapons. Corporations that manufacture these items stand to make huge profits from their sale. These corporations throw a great deal of support at the politicians who vote on whether or not to make war and the corporations expect the politicians to show them allegiance and vote accordingly. It’s all related to what Dwight Eisenhower described as the “military industrial complex.” Nuclear missiles are expensive to produce and maintain. The cold war which resulted in the production of much of the USA’s and Russia’s nuclear arsenal was a boon to big business in these two countries. You get the picture.
To borrow from Disneyworld, “It’s a small world.” Massive detonation of nuclear bombs would show us just how small it really is.
When will people worldwide wake up to the deadly potential of nuclear weapons? It is a Damoclean sword that hangs over each and every one of our heads.
Copyright 2009; Greg S.