Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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Ivanka Trump has Stockholm Syndrome

I heard Ivanka Trump the other day defending her dad against accusations of sexism and racism by citing the number of blacks and women he has hired over his career. This is a typical white-privilege response to a much more complex set of issues.

White slave owners allowed their slaves to raise their children, attend to their wives, and cook their food. They allowed their black slaves to see the most intimate and vulnerable sides of their lives. But there is no question of their profound racism. Why is that?

Men who beat their wives or treat them like second-class citizens allow their wives to cook, clean, raise their children, handle money and know their innermost thoughts and weaknesses. But there is no question that wife-beating men are profoundly sexist. Why is that?

Donald Trump has likely hired hundreds if not thousands of woman and blacks over the course of his career. He has likely allowed them to handle money and potentially make decisions that could have a negative impact on the profitability of his companies. But the comments he has made about women and the fact that he “has a black person right over there” suggests that he is a profound racist and sexist. Why is that?

The simple answer to all these questions is that racism and sexism do not negate usefulness. Just because I think you’re less human than I, just because I think you’re of lower value than I, just because I believe you should have fewer freedoms and rights than I, does not mean I don’t want you to clean my toilet, or mow my lawn, or raise my children, or use whatever talents you have to put money in my pocket.

My willingness to exploit you does not trump (for want of a better word) my disdain for you.

Ivanka Trump may be what we consider an intelligent woman (at least from outward appearances) in that she’s somewhat successful at trading on her father’s name, well-educated and articulate. But who in the world could possibly have been more indoctrinated into the Trump bullshit train than she? Her doting, adoring father has used her looks to his advantage her entire life, and she, of course, believes whatever daddy says.

Stockholm Syndrome is defined by Encyclopedia Brittanica as: A psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands.

Hey, don’t take my word for it. I report, you decide.

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Ink Up for Gun Rights!- A reprint of my blog from August 2013

I’ve been noticing that there are some militant gun owners who’ve chosen to get tattoos of the Second Amendment. This curious trend made me want to research exactly what these people thought they were accomplishing by doing so. On it’s face, it appears that they believe that, having read one sentence out of The Constitution, their brilliant legal minds were instantly able to deduce that all one needs to know are these 27 simple words regarding gun rights. As is quite typical of those who perform these simplistic and reductive acts, they should have read juuuuust a little further along, since there’s quite a bit more to the story.

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Second Amendment: A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The “well-regulated militia” part is the subject of great debate, with some asserting that it limits the right to bear arms only to a militia. We will not address that issue here because it is, admittedly, vague. I will assume that this amendment gives everyone the same rights, militia or not.

The second part, which says that the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed, is the part that appears to be quite black and white,(aka Tattoo-worthy) with some believing that it settles the argument about gun rights. That would be true until you remember that the Constitution is not limited to the Second Amendment. There’s a few other words in there as well…

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Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This amendment quite simply states that if the Constitution does not address an issue, then the states may do so. It is often ignored by those who are biased toward the Second Amendment, since it doesn’t serve their purposes. What a shocker.I guess it also doesn’t look as good scrawled across one’s back on a drawing that looks like aged parchment.

So, by simply reading just one more of the Amendments, we should understand why any state can pass laws to modify the Constitution, within the limits of the Tenth Amendment.

Below you will find the language of the State Constitutions of 8 states, which do, in fact, modify the Second Amendment to make it mean something quite different. This list is not comprehensive, only a sampling of the states that have chosen to modify the right to bear arms in their respective states.

I picked out these specific states because there are many, like Michigan and Alaska, among others, which do not modify the Second Amendment at all. In those states, there is no infringement whatsoever on your right to bear arms. In the states I’ve list below, however,(some will surprise you), there are quite specific, legal limitations on your right to bear arms.

On a side note, if anyone doubts the veracity of what is printed below, I got it directly from the NRA’s web site at http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/state-laws.aspx. We all know that the NRA would never lie, so we’ll use their data to make our point.

Florida: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.” (This basically says you can, unless we say you can’t).

Georgia: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but the General Assembly shall have power to prescribe the manner in which arms may be borne.” (Same restrictions as Florida. Yes you can, unless we change our minds).

Kentucky: “All men are by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned: … 7) the right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the state, subject to the power of the general assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons.” (If they can regulate concealed weapons, they can regulate all weapons).

Missouri: “That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons.” (Same as Kentucky).

Oklahoma: “The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited, but nothing herein contained shall prevent the legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons.” (The legislature can regulate, which is basically saying that the legislature can “infringe”).

Tennessee: That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.” (Once again, if that “regulation” lessens anyone’s right, then it is “infringement” and is apparently legal in Tennessee of all places).

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Texas: “Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime” (Who would have thought that Texas can decide when you can or can’t “wear” your arms).

Utah: The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the State as well as for other lawful purposes shall not be infringed; but nothing herein shall prevent the legislature from defining the lawful use of arms.” (Here they simply say that your rights will not be “infringed” but that the legislature gets to define just what “infringed” means).

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Interpret this as you will, but there is not a lot of road between “regulating” and “infringing”. You can debate this all you like, but the fact that some states limit your Second Amendment rights, and have for quite some time, proves, via statutory as well as case law, that they can.

For this reason, if you don’t want to look like an imbecile, it would be advisable that you know what you’re doing before you put ink to skin.

Unless looking like an imbecile is just how you roll…
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Insincere Compliments and Mother’s Day

Today we’ll talk about insincere compliments, thank-yous, attaboys and the like. They really piss me off.

What brought it up was the recent spate of Mother’s Day posts on several of the social media sites. So many of them, rather than simply wishing their mother or some other specific mother a good day or thank them for a job well done, elected to make comments such as “to all the wonderful mothers out there, you are the best!” Now I won’t go all grammar Nazi on you and question how all of them can be the best, but I will call out a bit of overzealousness in handing out these compliments.

Not all mothers are the best. Some are quite lousy. Wouldn’t you agree that it dilutes the intended compliment to one particular mother to lump her in with all mothers as “the best?” I mean, if you think your mother is the best, why not just tell her and leave it at that? Why pander to “all mothers”, including those who are not what many would consider to be at the top echelon of motherhood?

Motherhood is the most common job on the face of the earth. Every single person living has had a mother. There is no less exclusive club than that of mothers. Do you really want your mother to believe that she’s no different than all those others? Can’t we do a little better than that?

Next I’ll address an issue that will make some quite angry at me if they don’t read it in its entirety. We begin:

In 1973, we left Vietnam, thankfully, ending another in our long list of foolish wars for which Americans have died in vain. Sorry, but when we don’t accomplish our stated mission, then those deaths were for naught, and we should accept it. But that’s not my point.

Soon after our vets came home, it became evident that our hatred of the war had somehow redounded to those who had fought it, and there were many news articles about vets being treated badly for having participated in this war. This really made no sense, since many vets had been drafted and so, by definition, were fighting the war against their will. Blaming them for the war was simply idiotic.

Then I began seeing bumper stickers. They had various messages on them, but, in general, said something like “Thanks, Vets”. Really? The method we chose to redress the horrible treatment of veterans of the Vietnam War as to buy a $.69 bumper sticker and put it on our car? Does anyone else see in abject insincerity in that gesture? Does anyone else think that it would have been better to do nothing than tell vets that our method of repayment to them would be the purchase of a bumper sticker? And that the purchase of said sticker somehow absolved us of any further responsibility in the matter? Can’t we do a little better than that?

We see the same thing in the modern day regarding returning veterans, as well as fire fighters and the police. We appear to want to honor them and do so by standing and applauding when they are introduced to us within large groups of people. We make comments about how “they’re all heroes” and other such generalized compliments. We pat them on the back, having no idea whether or not they’ve actually done something heroic.

I have a friend who is an Iraq vet. He served in a supporting role and saw no combat. He tells me, without my asking, that his job was relatively safe and he rarely ever feared for his life, as many support personnel can attest. He spent most of his time at MacDill AFB in Tampa, where many of the higher level decisions are made at what is referred to as United States Central Command. He also tells me how embarrassed he feels whenever he is singled out as a hero. He feels that this singling out is not only relatively perfunctory, but insincere, since no one who is patting him on the back is actually asking him what he did. They are merely applauding the fact that he was in the military.

He has told me that it makes him feel guilty that people are seeing him as having been heroic when he knows that he wasn’t. He says that it dilutes the heroism of those who truly were, and it angers him that people will feel like they’ve somehow contributed something when, in fact, they’re just doing which they think they’re supposed to do and go away content that they’ve honored someone who is worthy of that honor. He says it feels cheap, and makes him feel that way as well.

In all three cases, it seems that, rather than go to the trouble of truly thanking someone for something that we believe is worthy of praise, heaping blanket praise on a group as a Pavlovian response to some perceived achievement on their part, yet not bothering to determine if they’re really one of those who are worthy of it, simply cheapens the entire act of offering this praise. It’s like tossing your change in the Muscular Dystrophy display at 7-11. Sure, it’s a nice thing to do, but it is very close to the absolute least you could do. Don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s any more than that.

Don’t just automatically praise every mother just because she’s a mother. Don’t just automatically praise every soldier just because he wears a uniform. Find out what they did that was so worthy of praise, and thank them for that, specifically.

If someone is worthy of praise, praise them. Just them, by themselves. They will likely appreciate it.

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The Facts About Minimum Wage

The minimum wage was enacted in 1938 as part of the National Recovery Act for the express purpose of increasing the salaries of workers to that of a living wage and “to keep them out of poverty”. No mention was ever made of the minimum wage being for college kids or people just starting out. Its sole purpose was to keep companies from underpaying workers who had no other options in the job market, which was a common occurrence at the time. It was challenged in the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The court upheld the law in 1937.

It started out at $.25 per hour and is currently $7.25. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.4 million American workers (out of 102 million employed) receive minimum wage. More than ½ of them are under 25 years old. Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and West Virginia have the highest percentage of workers making minimum wage. All of those states have Republican governors, all of whom are against raising the wage. So, the states with the most workers to benefit from an increase in the minimum wage have governments which don’t want their workers to receive it, although West Virginia did pass an increase to $8 over their governor’s objection and “no” vote.

In 1978 the minimum wage was $2.65. It was incrementally increased every year, until 1981, to $3.35 after which the country saw a dramatic increase in economic activity, for which Ronald Reagan is typically given credit by Republicans. The point is not to debate who was responsible for this economic upturn, but simply to illustrate that after a 26% increase in the minimum wage, prices didn’t “skyrocket” and industry didn’t have to lay off millions. Quite the contrary, the economy expanded and unemployment was under 5% for most of the next 10 years. This is in direct contrast to the Republican argument that raising the minimum wage kills jobs.

The next increases occurred in 1991 through 1997, when it reached $5.15, a 53% increase over the 1981 level. Any student of history is quite aware that the US entered the largest economic expansion in its history during those years, for which, conversely, Democrats like to give Bill Clinton accolades for having managed. Once again, this is not to decide who was responsible for the economic activity, but whether or not the huge increase in the minimum wage somehow caused prices to “skyrocket” and companies to lay off workers. As in the 1980s, the increase in minimum wage did nothing to hinder the huge economic expansion and under-5% unemployment that we all enjoyed for most of the 1990s.

Finally, the minimum wage started its latest climb in 2007, when all with reasonable memories will remember was during the largest recession since the 1930s. This was done under George Bush, who was President at the time. It went to its current level of $7.25 in 2009. The period between 2007 and 2009 was one of weak economic recovery, with little growth, but which has turned into a huge economic expansion, which has continued to this day, with the unemployment rate now at 5.4%. This, after the minimum wage has gone from $5.85 in 2007 to $7.25 today. Those who deny that we have seen enormous economic growth since that time are simply denying facts that are unpleasant to them. This serves, once again, to dispel the notion that raising the minimum wage has ever had a deleterious effect on the economy, wages, business or employment.

GM, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, GE, Google, Yahoo and others are bigger and richer than any companies in the history of the world, all while the minimum wage has been increasing. The minimum wage has doubled since Apple was founded, yet Apple now has nearly a $1 Trillion valuation. So much for minimum wages hurting industry profits.

Those who claim to care about facts will likely use this information to determine their stance on minimum wage and possibly change it. Those who care more about ideology and some time-worn pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps idiocy will simply remain stupid. This will be by choice.

Reference:
Bureau of labor statistics http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/chart.htm

Burning Flags, The Prophet Mohammed and Shitting on Crosses

The imbecile Pamela Geller who thought she was consummately clever for holding a Draw the Prophet day, offering cash awards for the best drawing of the prophet Mohammed, has become a bit of a cult hero for those who have been told by someone who actually read it that there is something called a First Amendment which, they think, allows them to do just that. Well, it does. But that doesn’t make it clever.

And anyone who has protested this childish display of “I’m doing it just because I can” has been relegated to un-American status and had their patriotism challenged since, after all, offensive speech is exactly the kind that is protected by that very same First Amendment. I happen to agree with that aspect of it, but not the action that resulted from it.

Yet, I can’t help but ask, how those very same people can react with such righteous indignation when someone burns a US Flag? That, apparently, is going too far, is it not? I mean, after all, insulting a symbol that is important to 1.6 billion Muslims in the world (that’s about 400 million more than the amount of Catholics in existence), isn’t nearly as important as the importance of a piece of cloth to 325 million Americans, is it?

Well, one might say that one is a symbol of religion whereas the other is a symbol of patriotism, which is a distinction without a difference.

So, my proposal is to send a survey to all those who participated in this adolescent display of insolence and ask them if it would be OK for a bunch of American Muslims (I say American because we want them to have the same freedom of speech protections) to defecate on a cross, with Jesus Christ attached to it. I’d say that that would be approximately as insulting to Christians as is drawing Mohammed on a piece of paper. And just to show that we want to be fair, we’ll ask them if we could offer a $10,000 prize for the biggest turd that lands on it.

You see, I’m not suggesting that anyone actually do it, since that would be petty and childish, kinda like Pamela Geller. I’m just suggesting that we simply ask them if it would be Ok with them, you know, because we want to be nice about it.

I’m just wondering if their bombastic and self-satisfied comments about the First Amendment would hold equally as true when its their religious beliefs that are getting attacked.

The Right Thinks That More Snow Means It’s Colder Outside

Here we go again. Another forecast for a major storm in the northeast and someone on Fox once again making their snarky “so much for global warming” comment. It boggles my mind that getting a job as a Fox spokesmodel requires so little fundamental education. I’ll explain this slowly to my Repub friends…

Snow does not come from cold, any more than rain comes from heat. Snow comes from moisture in the air, just like rain. When it’s warm and there is an abundance of moisture in the air, we get rain. When its cold and there’s an abundance of moisture in the air, we get snow. Got it so far?

Now, how does that moisture get into the air you ask? Say it with me now, evap…evapor…evapora…evaporation. Great!

And what causes more water to evaporate into the air than it ever has in our history? Well, one cause can be because the air and seas are warmer, so, more water evaporates! And so, that’s right class, when the earth warms, we get more moisture in the air, so that when it’s warm in the summer, we get bigger and nastier hurricanes. And when it’s cold in the winter? That’s right, we get bigger, nastier snow storms! All because of that nasty guy named evaporation!

The forecast for the northeast is not for exceptionally cold whether, just normal winter temperatures. The difference is that with so much moisture in the air from global warming, when it does snow, it’s going to be a lot worse.

See, when you actually think about it, there’s no need to go around saying that “you’re not a scientist” when asked about climate change, because you can be just like a scientist by simply using facts!

OK, recess.

Approval Ratings, One and All.

Much has recently been made of President Obama’s “low” approval ratings. They are hovering in the 40% area, depending on whom you ask. That means that, out of every 10 people polled, 4 like the job he’s doing, and 6 don’t. The fact that roughly 50% of the country is Conservative Repub, it sounds to me like every Repub thinks he’s sucks at his job (quite predictably) and about 20% of Dems (or 1/5th) agree.

So, if I were to try to spin those statistics the way a Repub would, 4 out of 5 people who would be expected to like Obama…do. That’s about the same as the amount of dentists surveyed who used to recommend Crest toothpaste…but I digress.

Funny though, I remember quite a few presidents with much lower approval ratings, yet not nearly the strum und drang associated with it. Come to think about it, I’m not sure if more than 4 out of every 10 people I know would give me high approval ratings. But, again, I digress…

Obama’s approval ratings have gone from 69% in January of 2009 to 38% in August of 2012. Pretty good on the high and end, as we’ll see, not really so bad on the low end…

George “Rodeo man” Bush peaked at 90% within a week after 9/11 when the country needed someone to rally around, but sunk to 25% in October of 2008, when we realized that it really mattered that he couldn’t pronounce “nuclear”, and that he had promised to bomb Iraq’s harbors (it has virtually none).

Going further, we see Bill Clinton at 73% in December of 1998, right at the heart of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but down around 37% in May 1993. Still not a bad spread compared to Bush’s 65 point swing.

George “Daddy” Bush went from a high of 89% right when he started the first Gulf War, (we do love to rally around those guys when they start killing people) and 29% near the end of his term in 1992. Yup, Poppy was even less loved than Cowboy George.

Then, (drumroll please) going back just one more presidential term, we have Ronald “Kill the Ruskies” Reagan, who went from 68% in 1986, down to 33% in January of 1983! Can you believe it? How stupid were we all not to worship the great dicta..er..President Reagan, who, according to legend, personally vanquished the Soviet Union with his mighty sword, lowered taxes, spent more on the military than every President before him combined, calmed the seas and colonized the moon, all while they assure us that his Alzheimers did not start till waaaaaay after his term ended. (Actually, the Soviets collapsed of their own weight due to a world-wide recession, too much military spending and lagging productivity. Reagan raised taxes and, many of us believe, was suffering from Alzheimers early in his second term. he did bloat the military as charged though.

But, if we read the numbers without benefit of my spin, we will see that every President, Repubs especially, had lower approval ratings than my buddy Barack. Sure, you say, but there’s another two years to go! Yup I say, and I agree that they might go lower. But before all you Repubs spike the ball about how “Romney was right” and all the other tripe I’m hearing bandied about, I wanted to remind you how bad your memories, of your own boys lousy approval ratings, are.

Ok, that’s it. As you were…
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