Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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Are You Better At Your Job Than a Mexican?

I now that this may seem a bit insensitive to some, but I was thinking about the premise that “illegal aliens” take Americans’ jobs…

I’ve lived in two places in my life. New Jersey and Florida, both of which have more than their share of what are referred to as illegal aliens. In the 45 years or so that I’ve been part of the workforce, from unskilled car washer in a NJ car dealership to a business owner, General Manager and CFO of others’ companies, I’ve never, not once, had my job taken from me and given to one of the people in question.

So, it struck me…(here comes the insensitive part) if you feel as if your job is threatened by someone who barely, if at all, speaks English, has no resume’, can’t pass a background check, has no job history or references, few marketable skills, no driver’s license and little or no documented education…I can’t help but wonder, are you more frightened of them, or of your being reminded of your own failures? Might it have been your career choices and abject lack of value in the workforce that makes you so imminently replaceable by such an unlikely group? Does your expressed hatred of them mask a hidden disappointment in yourself? Do you find any embarrassment in complaining that those people could so easily take your job? Huh? Huh?


Why Isn’t Benjamin Netanyahu on the Repub Ticket?

The Iran deal was approved by 6 nations: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany.

Two of them have claimed publicly that they will no longer maintain the sanctions against Iran if the deal is not accepted, simply because they want to buy Iranian oil and restore other trade with them, for the benefits of their own economies. Those two are China and Russia. In that case, Iran can continue exploiting its nuclear capabilities and will have the benefit of most of the sanctions going away-immediately. It will be as if we never had any agreement at all. It will set us back to the status we had with Iran when Bush was President

Three of the remaining 4 have stated, publicly, that if the US does not ratify the deal that they, by themselves, will continue to support the deal and help fund the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to commence inspections as per the agreement. America will then be an international pariah and have been humiliated and its power in the world severely compromised by the political party which is always complaining about just that.

The only remaining country, the US, is not the sole signatory to this deal. Other people, many of whom do not have the ridiculous and unexplained allegiance to Israel that we maintain, are perfectly fine with the deal after having had their own nuclear scientists and political operatives review it. The turmoil is primarily in the US and it is the result of the fact that so many of us believe that which Benjamin Netanyahu says but fail to trust our own President.

Netanyahu has a disproportionate amount of power among Repubs, the partial evidence of which is the fact that Mitt Romney repeated during the 2012 election, on numerous occasions, that he had gone to school with him and that they were friends. When has any American running for President used his ostensible friendship with a foreign leader as evidence of his qualification to run this country? That should tell you a little bit about the true motivations of the Repub hissy fit with this deal.

Repubs have more allegiance to a man who oversees a racist, exclusionary society of xenophobes than to the leader of their own nation. And that, my friends, is the primary reason that they, in isolation, are against this deal. It’s time that someone pointed this embarrassing little fact out to those who would deny it.

Illusory Superiority or My Country is More Exceptional Than Yours.

If we can learn anything from Vladimir Putin’s otherwise historically revisionist diatribe in the NY Times the other day, it is that we are not the only county who considers itself to be exceptional, all evidence to the contrary.

In the closing to “Lake Wobegone Days”, Garrison Keillor describes his pastoral, mythical town by saying, “Well, that’s the news from Lake Wobegone, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average. (If the humor in the italicized part escapes you, please do not continue reading. You are not my target demographic, but thanks for playing. Alternatively, click HERE and come back when you’re done). Lake Wobegone is an idyllic metaphor for how the US sees itself.

Virtually every country can point to something in their past or present that makes them ostensibly smarter than the average bear (for those old enough to remember Yogi and Booboo). Greece invented democracy! Central America’s Incas invented math! Russia defeated the Nazis and were (for those who study history objectively) the true victors in the European theatre in WWII. The Chinese are the world’s oldest culture. India once ruled the world. Portugal ruled the seas, until Spain ruled the seas, until England ruled the seas, etc. Everyone has a reason to exclaim that they are the skinniest kid at fat camp, including the USA.

Now, to be clear, I really like the USA. I like living here. It’s a good place to raise a family, start a business and enjoy free speech. But there are lots of other places that are equally as good. I live here because it’s where I was born and where my family lives. Plus, I speak the language kinda OK.

That having been said, nationalist deltoid flexing is the most childish way of categorizing a country. If our self-worth is tied up in how “exceptional” we are, then we will forever be chasing whatever definition is tied to that ridiculous word. The problem is that the word is really not very well defined. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s try some, shall we?

Here goes:
If exceptional means that we’re good at winning wars, let’s hope no one brings up Vietnam or Korea.

If exceptional means that we have the best health-care, let’s ignore infant mortality, old age longevity and per capita health care expense.

If exceptional means that we can overrun any country on earth without breaking a sweat, let’s not discuss Iraq and Afghanistan.

If exceptional means being richer per-capita than any other country, let’s hope no one brings up Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Canada and four or five others.

If exceptional means we spend more money on the military and have more nukes than the next ten countries combined-OK, you got me there. But that just means that we’re special because we own stuff that kills people.

I’ve got lots more, but I’m hoping I’ve made my point.That point is, when your mom tells you that you’re the cutest, smartest and best-behaved kid in your school, it’s OK to go to bed content in the knowledge that you are. But if you think that you are the only one who has ever been told those things by a doting mother, if you think that all your playmates got the memo from your mom and believe that only you, not they, are supremely gifted, smart and cute, a.k.a. exceptional, then you are exceptional

…ly stupid.

Telling ourselves how exceptional we are is like an actor awarding himself an Oscar. You can’t be less objective than to judge yourself better than others. Everyone thinks themselves smart, good looking, good in bed, objective, fair, reasonable, etc. Everyone thinks that all their children are above average.

It is that very assumption, however, that ignorance of anything which happens outside of our little family, our little neighborhood, our little nationality, which often reveals exactly the inverse.

Everyone wants to be the last immigrant…

I once knew a man who was the most patriotic American I had ever met. The flag went up in front of his house every Memorial day, every July 4th, President’s day and every other day when he could find an excuse to do so.

He stood up and put his hand over his heart whenever he saw the flag. He teared up at patriotic events in person and on TV. His love for this country was profound and he was never afraid to show it. He voted for Goldwater, Nixon, Ford and Reagan before he died. He was a true Patriot in every sense of the word. He was my father.

In 1944, while he was serving his home country as a Chief Engineer in the Greek Merchant Marine, his ship docked in NY Harbor. He got off the boat (it was called “jumping ship”) and never went back. He had no visa, no work permit, nothing but his clothes and his last paycheck-in what was the Greek currency at the time-Drachmas.

He spent some time in Chicago, going from job to job, trying to make his way in the US. My father was, in every sense of the word, what is commonly referred to as, “an illegal”.

After about 20 years or so he was able to become a citizen. He started a small machine shop in NYC, ultimately employing over 200 people. This illegal turned out to be a pretty good citizen and what most people would call an asset to this country.

Unfortunately he, due to his conservative views, came to view other immigrants as interlopers and intruders. He died a bigoted man, believing himself to be a true American, but not wanting to offer that chance to others. He figured that we had enough immigrants now, and it was time to close the borders. That was just before he died in 1985.

Knowing which groups to hate is relatively easy. Fox “News” and it’s ilk is there to tell us. It’s easy to pick a group and decide that they’re not entitled to the same opportunities as are you.

It takes genuine thought and reflection to know when to be compassionate to those who are less fortunate than us and need our help.

Hero, traitor, meaningless self-aggrandizer

This week’s epic political scandal seems to have been born by Edward Snowden, the Booz-Allen employee who allegedly released secret information that our government was conducting erstwhile surveillance of US citizens. Some claim he is a hero, in the vein of a Julian Assange or a Bradley Manning. Others compare him to Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame. In some circles, he is a traitor and should get 20 years-in the electric chair. Or worse.

Snowden is neither hero nor heretic. He is nothing more than a publicity-seeking would-be political martyr, revealing what he surreptitiously stole before fleeing to, and get this, China, in protest of government surveillance of its citizens. Yup, he went to China to protest that.
(Commence thoughtful pause)

Snowden, having recently made that all too common passage from deserved obscurity to partial notoriety, isn’t the problem. He serves as a mere symptom of something we’d rather not face.

The problem is the presumption, driven by years of common-law based interpretations of the Constitution, that we have a right to privacy. In reality, however, nuh-uh. We don’t.

Any Constitutional lawyer can tell you that there is no affirmative right to privacy anywhere in the Constitution. This “right” is based, firstly, on the 9th amendment, which effectually says that just because a right isn’t actually listed in the Constitution does not mean that it doesn’t exist. This is known in legal circles as the Penumbra, or a body of rights held to be guaranteed by implication in a civil constitution. It also stems from Olmstead v US in 1928, in which Justice Brandeis argued that the Framers of the Constitution had created a framework for the greatest right of all: “the right to be left alone.” These sentiments are also found in the 3rd amendment, which guarantees against soldiers being quartered in your home against your will, and the 4th, which protects you from illegal search and seizure of persons, papers, houses and effects.

Irrespective how you read it, this ostensible right to privacy was not baked into the Constitutional cake, even though the Framers certainly understood the word and its implications. The word privacy does not exist in the document. It was left out as a specific article or amendment because, in my estimation, the Framers wanted to leave our privacy open for interpretation by the government. And so they did.

And so, as of today, here is the state of your right to privacy:
Facial recognition technology rivals the accuracy of fingerprints in its ability to distinguish one person from another. DNA can pinpoint not only your genetic identity, but that of your ancestors. Google knows everything you’ve searched for in the last 10 years, Amazon knows what you bought, and Apple knows where you’ve been and whom you’ve spoken to. All of this information is in the same form, stored in the same format-a series of ones and zeros, stored on electronic media. It can be mined, interpreted and acted upon by whoever has the juice to do so. That “juice” can be legal authority or financial heft. And they don’t even need to ask our permission, since we’ll never know that it’s been done.

Yes folks, it’s time to get over it. Whatever privacy you believe that you are currently in possession of is brought to you by your friendly neighborhood government, and it can be retrieved, in full, at the drop of a pressure cooker bomb.

This truth has special significance since Americans decided en mass, soon after 9/11, that their government was supposed to know what every terrorist was thinking, everywhere in the world, all the time, lest we lose any more of those really expensive buildings. Well folks, since terrorists don’t usually identify themselves for us, we have to mine what everyone is doing in order to separate the good guys and the bad. If you don’t know what you should be listening to, you must listen to everything and then sort it out later.

Anyone with a computer can search to see how so many faulted Barack Obama for the Boston Bombing, claiming that he was failing in his role as über protector of the weak. They also complained, quite loudly, about leaks regarding the Bin Laden killing and intelligence we had received about North Korea’s nuclear program.

Just last summer, near billionaire, Congressman and accused arsonist (he settled with the insurance company) Darrell Issa was threatening the Whitehouse with even more investigations into their supposed failures in not stopping leaks to the media of secret information. The Fox “news” reporter, James Rosen, was attempting to interview high level informants who feed us information from North Korea, putting the lives of these informants, as well as American military personnel, at risk, simply to further his career. Yet it is these same people who do Casablanca-esque Captain Renault impersonations when they hear that our government is investigating news personnel to find the sources of those leaks.

We expect our government to keep us safe from those who would harm us, yet god forbid if they also happen to find out anything about the rest of us. We expect the government to know who the “terrorists” are, as distinguished from the rest of us, yet no one has found a way to distinguish them from us. Remember Timothy McVeigh? Well friends, no one is born a terrorist-that tends to happen later in life. And you can’t tell who is becoming one unless you listen to everyone, not just those with funny last names.

As long as we remain terrified of our neighbors, immigrants and anyone who subscribes to a different religion than we, you can forget about privacy. You don’t have any, and you’ll have less tomorrow. Edward Snowden simply told us what we should have already known, if only we had been paying attention.
Move along folks, there’s nothing to see here.

The Myth of Austerity-Thanks Paul Krugman

In recent weeks, the housing market is showing a 10% increase. Consumer confidence is the highest it has been in years. Unemployment is slowly working its way down. The stock market has doubled in the last 5 years. The federal deficit is half what it was last year, even though our “socialist” President has been spending money, in direct contradiction to the Republicans, in an effort to jump-start the economy.

It appears that all the austerity programs promulgated by Paul Ryan, the Tea Party, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich et al have been completely and thoroughly debunked. Europe followed the recommendations of the two economists, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, who came up with the austerity mantra that the Republicans were following, only recently having acknowledged that it was based on flawed research.

They are finally realizing the magnitude of their errors. European economies are still in recession, unemployment is high (other than in Germany, which continued spending throughout the recession), with no near-term fix on the horizon. Their demands for austerity and budget cutting were wrong and millions have suffered as a result.

Paul Krugman is the Nobel Prize winning economist who exclaimed, from the beginning of the recession,  that we needed to spend even more, and actually had the courage to say so. He was the only sane voice in the crowd telling us that austerity was the exact opposite of what we needed to do. His theory has been proven prescient, as indicated by the fact that all economic indicators are pointing toward the end of the recession. Spending was exactly what we needed to do. Barack Obama followed Paul Krugman’s message and we’re all better for it.

I was thinking this morning how the country would have reacted if Mitt Romney had been elected back in November and inaugurated last January. By that time, the economic cake put into place by Barack Obama was baked, and all this good news would likely have occurred even though Romney was in office.

Then it hit me…If Romney had been elected, he and his ilk would have been screaming to the heavens that the economy came back because businesses are more confident with a Republican President. They would have been preaching to their minions that the simple fact that there was now a Republican President in office had given people a sense of hope, which, in only 4 months or so, would have manifested itself in a recovering American economy.

To those for whom introspection and rational thought are not parts of their daily routine, it would have solidified the oft-repeated falsehood that Republicans are better for the economy than Democrats. I’m grateful that recent events have categorically proved otherwise.


How to make Republicans Love Obama

If Barack Obama wants Republicans to like him, he should immediately invade Syria and Iran.

He should then embark on the austerity plan that Republicans have been demanding, similar to that of Europe, which has caused unemployment to rise to as high as 25% and their economies to stagnate to the point of a double-dip recession.

The result of these actions will likely be that he will leave office in 2016 with the United States in the midst of two wars, and an economy on the verge of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

This, apparently, is what Republicans consider to be a job well done.

Donations for the library, anyone?


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