Friday, September 28, 2012
Most of us in this life have simple wants when it comes to where and how we live our lives...we want peaceful enjoyment of our abodes, want left alone, our business our own. Sadly, in speaking with various of my neighbors here in town, watching the ebb and flow of our small hamlet, it seems many of us feel as if our every move and action is being watched, observed and commented upon by eyes we never see as Big Brother watches and tabulates our every action as we go about our daily lives. Living under such constant surveillance at best is difficult.
This past Wednesday night several of us were talking outside the Mountaindale Inn when a Fallsburg Police Officer arrived wanting to speak to a member of staff...seems that several noise complaints had been called in by supposedly upset neighbors...odd since many of the few neighbors we have were in the bar enjoying a drink and listening to the live music. Disturbing when Ed has bent over backwards (as have his patrons) too keep noise levels down when Wednesday night Open Mic is happening. More disturbing is the FALSE NATURE of the complaints...at the time of the officer's arrival, as is often the case, several of us were monitoring the noise level with decibel reading apps we have installed on our phones...once the active and working app was shown to the officer, once it was pointed out that the sound levels were within the legal limits required after ten o'clock at night, he left not to be seen for the duration of the night.
Whoever it is that is making the noise complaints should be careful that they are not filing false complaints...the law clearly states that the decibel reading be taken in front of the property of the complaining person...odd, but I have yet to see one of the police officers show up at the property of the complaining person to take a reading to see if the noise complaint holds merit. However, several of the patrons routinely step outside after ten, our decibel meters in tow to make sure we are within the legally allowed noise limits established for our community. After while, it begins to feel like harassment...and for what purpose?
Yesterday while talking to neighbors, it seems that some in town don't like some of us parking our cars on the public street in PUBLIC PARKING SPACES. I may be wrong here, but would seem to me that the Fallsburg Police would be issuing warnings and then tickets if our residents were illegally parking on the PUBLIC streets of Mountaindale? No one owns the public streets, no private citizen has the right to tell you that you cannot park where you would like to park on public streets in public parking spaces that have no restrictions placed on them by our local governing body that I am aware of...if I am wrong on this, if a private property owner, or some citizen has a monopoly on and control of our public parking here in the hamlet, would love to know about this.
These are just two examples of living life under what feels like a microscope. I've heard stories from people who are hearing complaints that they are using too much water when they take their showers, wash their dishes and live their lives. Really? Is there a water conservation order in place that we have not been made aware of? Is my shower time is being timed, measured and graded by town of Fallsburg officials...I hope not. Others in town have been told by un-named people that their driving is inappropriate, or that they need to be a bit more careful with the language they use, or should learn to lower the modulation of their voice. Is there some secret list over in the town hall of what is and is not acceptable language and tone? Crying kids in a stroller OK, but two adults laughing over a humorous joke unacceptable...I mean there could be for all I know. After all, even though a lot of us would love to see it lifted, there is a ban on skateboarding here in the hamlet of Mountaindale. If Steve is reading this, could you tell us what we would need to do to lift that ban so that our teenagers here in the hamlet could skateboard without the fear of finding themselves running afoul of the law?
What happened to live and let live? What happened to being accommodating of others? More importantly, do we really have that many people in town who are running to the authorities about every little behavior they find distasteful in their neighbor? No one likes feeling they are living in a Gestapo State where they fear their every move is UNDER SURVEILLANCE. No one likes being told where they car or cannot park on a public street, or fearing someone is going to call in false complaints about abandoned cars. Is it possible for people to learn to embrace tolerance here in our community? Inquiring Minds want to know.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
|If Those Seniors Really Knew What I Think of Them! LOL|
If you watch the full video of the Mitt Romney Tapes (Romney Tape Gate), it appears conservative to state there were at least 20 well heeled (uber wealthy) rich Republicans who paid $50,000 each (minimum) to sit down and break bread with Mitt Romney. If you look at the video, you can pretty well pinpoint where the camera was placed...
So, lets think about a few things. 20 people is a conservative number for this fund raising event, but we will stick with that, and state that the dinner bill was one million dollars. It is also obvious that the patrons received very good service from those who waited on them...you know, hard working lower and middle class wait staff and kitchen help. Good service should get a 20 percent tip...we all know that did not happen, the staff did not split a $200,000 tip. In fact, would be surprised if the entire wait staff shared a tip of $1500-$2000 for their work. Fact is, if they had been properly tipped, there is a chance that video shot at the event might not have seen the light of day.
The person hosting the event, Mitt Romney and his staff never gave a thought to those working the event, saw and see them as nothing more than a part of the great uncleaned masses, saw them as WAIT STAFF and nothing more...perhaps if they had seen them as people, perhaps if they had not taken them for granted, perhaps if they had given any thought at all to this staff, a camera would not have been positioned in the staff area recording Mitt's talk. Perhaps if these self absorbed, self serving arrogant folks had really thought about it all, they would have had tighter security in the kitchen serving area, would have swept the place just before the event started, would have put the kitchen/wait staff through security screening...but the fact is, these UBER RICH folks don't see these people, do not see average people who they have deemed are beneath them at all.
Mitt Romney's words are damaging enough...the fact that someone so easily video taped this private fund raising event from start to finish speaks volumes about the stupidity of himself and his staff. Sorry, but a presidential candidate should have people around him that make sure such things don't happen.
Mitt Romney got secretly taped because he does live in a bubble, Mitt Romney got taped because he is out of touch with average every day Americans. Mitt Romney was taped because he and his staff were and are too stupid to realize that those people waiting on him and his friends are more than likely a part of that 47 percent he so disdains. Mitt Romney got taped because he does not see most people at all because we are not in his social class, are in his mind not worth being noticed, let alone acknowledged.
County Commissioners are looking at approving what could be a DOUBLE DIGIT property tax increase for 2013...lets be honest, property owners cannot afford any increase in their property taxes, and the county cannot expect much growth in our county when property taxes are already so out of line...such high property taxes DISCOURAGE NEW BUSINESS, rather than attract it.
As example, look at some of the properties for sale in our county, and the estimated property taxes (this includes all property taxes including school taxes), and it becomes crystal clear that one of the anchors holding back economic renewal in our county are the taxes on real estate...when one is looking at having to put more in the escrow account to pay property taxes than they are paying on their mortgage each month, something has to change.
There is a property for sale in Mountaindale that can be purchased for $45,000...the owners are wanting to be done with it. If one puts down 20 percent and finances the remaining $36,000 with a traditional 30 year mortgage, your monthly payment would be $171.87. However, the estimated taxes (before the county raises them) for this property come out to $3300 per year. That would require the home purchaser to put $275 per month into escrow to cover property taxes on the home...hello Houston we have a problem. Who wants to buy a home where they have to pay more per month in property taxes than they are paying on their mortgage? No wonder so many people walk away from their properties, let them go up for auction to pay off their property taxes.
Property values in our county have plummeted, yet try to get a reduction in your tax rates, and most of the time the County Auditor is going to laugh at you...why? If a home was once worth A and is now worth B in an arms length sale and that value of B is now lower than A, seems only logical that our citizens should see their property taxes lowered rather than raised doesn't it?
No one likes cutting services, or losing some of their perks, but maybe it is time that the County Commissioners here in Sullivan County find ways to TIGHTEN THEIR BELTS, rather than raising property taxes that are already out of line.
How about an across the board cut of say 10 percent? How about figuring out ways for the county offices to use less electricity...trust me, go through the budget and you would be surprised at how much the county ways to keep the proverbial lights on. Perhaps they need to ask county employees to pay a bigger share of their health care costs, or ask police officers and others to pay for their own uniforms, rather than handing out generous clothing allowances that we the tax payers pay for...no one pays the tab on the clothing we need to go to work. Maybe it is time for some PAY CUTS...studies show that those on the government payroll earn on average 40 percent more than their private sector counterparts doing the same work.
Raising property taxes is NOT GOOD for the county's property owners, and in the long run not good for the future growth of our county. In this economy our elected officials should be looking for ways to cut costs, rather than looking to already financially strapped households to take yet another hit on their family budgets.
Woke up to rain...which is fine, as we desperately need some of the wet stuff....especially since it has just been announced that this has been the hottest summer America has ever recorded since record keeping began. Of course, there are still some (Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan) who will insist Global Warming is a hoax.
We are losing a very talented clothing designer at the end of this month who will be vacating 47 Main Street as she heads back to her home state of Minnesota.
Many of us suffer from allergies...ragweed, golden rod and other weeds contributing to our suffering. A walk around our hamlet, and other villages shows us there are several yards/lots that have not been mowed all summer, some of the weeds over four feet in height. A perfect example of this is the vacant/abandoned lot right next door to the Post Office. Not sure who owns this lot that so many of us walk by every day, but do know it has not been mowed even once this entire summer.
Town of Fallsburg ordinances state that grass is not supposed to be taller (on average) than six inches. Now I can understand an open field out in the country not being mowed, and appreciate the beauty it represents. But do wonder why it is that vacant/abandoned lots within the limits of a town, village or hamlet are allowed to grow out of control when we have an ordinance requiring that these lots within town limits be maintained...in fact, the ordinance goes so far as to state the town will mow the lots themselves and bill the property owners if these lots are not maintained. These in town/village/hamlet lots covered in weeds present a serious inconvenience and health hazard to those suffering from allergies, so if Steve Veglianti and the town board are reading this, it would be nice if someone would address this issue here in Mountaindale, and in some of our other small hamlets and villages within their governmental jurisdiction. Those suffering from allergies would thank you for it.
Don't forget...every Wednesday is OPEN MIC night at Ed's Mountaindale Inn which is located at 69 Main Street in downtown Mountaindale. Bring your voice, instrument and self and enjoy some great local musical talent from 8 PM till around midnight.
We end on a funny note...apparently there is nothing newsworthy going on in the Town of Fallsburg...vist the town of Fallsburg's reworked webpage for news, and the page is literally BLANK.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Are You Part of The 47 Percent of Americans Who See Themselves As Victims That Romney Could Care Less About?
|I would be doing better if I were Latino|
Laying here under the weather, and doing what I always do when I find myself snuggled in...watching CNN as the news junkie that I am. Seems that someone recorded Mitt Romney at a private fund raiser for well heeled FAT CATS...think UBER RICH. He had some rather explosive things to say, seems to be actually mocking and insulting those who support him...think SENIOR CITIZENS. Lets share here his most explosive statement:
Mitt Romney essentially wrote off 47 percent of the population who he said will always support the president because they “believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. ”
OK, lets dissect this...For all those senior citizens who are planning on voting for Romney, PAY ATTENTION HERE.
1. Do you, or will you collect social security? If you answer yes to this question, you are a part of that 47,48 or 49 percent who see themselves as victims, who want a FREE RIDE compliments of Uncle Sam and the United States government. NEVER MIND THAT YOU PAID INTO SOCIAL SECURITY FOR OVER FORTY YEARS!
2. Do you get Medicare as a Senior Citizen? OMG, do you see yourself as a victim, do you see yourself as someone expecting the government to give you something you have not earned, but instead are entitled too? Hello, again if you are on Medicare, YOU EARNED IT, paid into the system for over 40 years so that Medicare would be there when you retired!
3. Do you have a child, parent or other relative with serious medical issues, who is disabled that receives some kind of government assistance? IE, think about our 50,000 troops who have been injured in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you are someone that falls into this category, if one of your loved ones does, you fall into this category of people that Romney DOES NOT CARE ABOUT? In his words, you see yourself as a victim, you expect and even demand that the government give you a FREE HANDOUT!
4. Have you, or anyone you know ever needed foodstamps? Romney does not care for you!
If you, someone you love falls into any of these categories, this is what Mitt Romney went on to say in that private fund raiser about you....
“My job is not to worry about those people,”... “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Hello seniors...you worked your entire lives, paid into the system, paid into both the Medicare and Social Security systems so that those benefits would be there for you when you retired...now Mitt Romney is saying it is not his job to worry about you, and even worse, he is saying (basically) that you are a FREE LOADER who does not take responsibility for yourself, is saying you do not care about your own lives. Yet, you are going to vote for him? REALLY?
Faced with his own remarks, Romney DID NOT APOLOGIZE...all he had to say, is that maybe he could have made his statements in a more politically correct fashion! Come on folks...WAKE UP...it is time to toss this out of touch with reality spoiled rotten rich asshole under the bus..
Friday, September 14, 2012
First, the movie "Innocence of Muslims" is offensive to any REASONABLE thinking person regardless of race, color or creed.
Secondly, though the movie is (putting it mildly) is in extremely poor taste, it does not excuse the behavior of those fanatical zealots who have invaded embassy, needlessly and wrongfully taken the lives of innocent citizens in their own hatred. It was a poorly done movie orchestrated by one man, it was not done by a nation, and as I was taught as a child, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.
Lastly, in looking at the various trailers and watching the movie itself, I was shocked to see that You Tube had actually PUT COMMERCIALS on some of these tasteless videos that have caused some much destruction and loss of life. Why? Commercials mean that You Has made money on these videos, as has the person who uploaded them...that is SICK. I would call on You Tube now to figure out to the penny just how much ad revenue these videos generate, and take that amount of money and donate it to the families who have lost loved ones in Libya.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
|You Folks Insult YOURSELVES...GET A JOB!|
To those who attacked our embassy...get over it. We here in America have FREEDOM OF SPEECH, we have the RIGHT to say whatever we want about anything and everything. You today desecrated our flag, but take offense if we burn one of your Korans...what makes your book of scriptures more sacred than our flag, or a Christian's bible.
Here is a clue...if your Allah tolerates and even approves of your heinous actions today, your terrorist activities such as bombing our Twin Towers, if your Allah approves of your senseless violence, then HE IS NO GOD BUT INSTEAD IS A FALSE PROPHET, by proxy and association is a murderer and thug, which makes him nothing more than a sleazeball scum, a demon-spawn born from Satan's loins.
If my words on this the eleventh anniversary of 911 offend you get over it. These words, just like the movie you have taken offense to are not the words of the United States, BUT MY WORDS as a United States citizen practicing his FREEDOM OF SPEECH. I take offense to your actions as a radical extremist, the actions of today, the actions that we hear about in the news on a far too frequent basis. May the one and true god, whomever she or he may be, give you just what it is that you deserve on judgement day...my guess...there will be no virgins waiting in heaven for you, as you will spend your eternity feeding the flames of hell.
As to your nation, the nation of Libya...you have SHOWN YOUR TRUE COLORS, and it is time that our government stop giving you a bloody red cent, it is time for us to take that money and spend it in our own homeland.
As to your nation, the nation of Libya...you have SHOWN YOUR TRUE COLORS, and it is time that our government stop giving you a bloody red cent, it is time for us to take that money and spend it in our own homeland.
The Chicago teachers strike is now in its second day with both sides wanting to point fingers at the other with children seemingly caught in the middle. Teachers want certain protections...IE, who gets called back and when (seniority), while those on the other side want the right to call back who they want when they want, claiming they want to call back to work the BEST TEACHERS FIRST. Being a bit jaded, would guess here that the Chicago School Board wants to call back first those teachers that cost them less, rehiring the newer younger teachers while abandoning those who have paid their dues.
However, that is not the focus of this article, just as the the strike in Chicago is not the problem, but rather a symptom of a far larger problem...the very real fact that many school systems in the best of times, let alone the worst of times simply cannot afford to give our children a quality education under the current funding system where a large part of the budget comes from property taxes assessed to those who own homes in the local school district. Being honest, being a man of modest means, and having no children, and looking at the already far too expensive property taxes here in Sullivan County, I would vote against any new school levy. Not because I don't want children getting a great education, but because I simply cannot afford an increase in taxes...or for those renting, could not afford the increased tent a landlord would charge to cover those additional costs.
Contrary to what some politicians and leaders express, I am one that feels our teachers are both under valued, and under paid. Yes, they get summers off, all major holidays, and I know the argument that they are getting 12 months pay for around eight months work...problem is, those who give voice to this argument are missing some basic facts. A teachers job does not begin and end with the start and finish of the school day. How many teachers have to come in early and stay late because they care about their students, are going above and beyond the call of duty by being at school for various events, and school functions. How many teachers finish dinner and then go off alone to grade papers, or to work on their learning plans preparing for the next day's class? We think nothing of a Wall Street Weasel earning north of a quarter million dollars a year, yet when it comes to those people that will give our children the quality education they deserve, we want to claim teachers are underpaid?
There is the rub...we want our children to get a quality education, but when it comes to taking care of those that provide it, we balk at the cost, and when it comes to funding education, many of us are going to vote against it because our own middle class pocketbooks cannot afford another raise on the expenditure side of our own budgets. The whole equation comes down the haves verse the have not,s with those fortunate to live, attend school, and/or work in wealthy neighborhoods getting what it is they need, while those in poorer communities find themselves coming up empty handed, property owners, teachers and students alike all getting the short end of the stick.
In Chicago, I side with the teachers...they deserve to be paid well, and they deserve job security. I understand the school system's problem...in these hard economic times, the money is just not there, and they know they can probably rehire two young (unproven) teachers for every teacher that has maybe 20 or 30 years of experience under their belt...simply stated, for them it is a matter of numbers though they will not admit it. Problem is, such an approach is not fair to those who have paid their dues, put in the time necessary to get where they are at. Last in, first out when it comes to layoffs has stood the test of time, is the only fair way to approach call backs, which means the real problem is finding MORE MONEY in hard economic times.
The solution from my perspective...when it comes to funding schools, eliminate local rule. Create a National School Tax that is EQUALLY distributed to every school system in America so that we eliminate the inequality that is a byproduct of funding our children's educations through local property taxes. Let us do away with a funding mechanism that creates haves and have not's, let us eliminate a educational system that allows privileged children to excel, while penalizing bright young minds who are unfortunate enough to have been born poor. Let us also allow those with children, especially those with large families to pay a tax that reflects their usage of the educational system. It is unfair to ask someone with no children to pay the same school tax as someone with say five children.
Perhaps such an approach would create a system where every child had an equal chance at a quality education while at the same time reining in a population growth that is out of control. After all, how many families would choose to have say 2-3 kids instead of 5-7 if they knew they were going to have to start paying their fair share of the bill for educating their children?
|911 Let Us NEVER Forget|
Seems odd, almost unbelievable that it has been eleven years since that fateful day when America was changed occurred. It is just after seven in the morning, and like on that day, I am sitting here in front of my computer drinking coffee, blogging instead of checking my email. On that day I was already showered and dressed, would be driving my wife into work as her car was in for repairs. She was running late but it was not an issue as I drove faster than she, would still have her at work well before nine.
It was after eight when I got us on the road, and by the time I got us onto the Sprain the first plane had already struck...it was odd, the day, the time, the flow of traffic, the sounds...everything had a surreal feel too it, odd enough that I turned on the radio to get a news report. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, a commercial aircraft...I knew it was terrorism. As we approached the college, our ears glued to the radio, both of us stunned, the second tower was attacked. our nation under siege.
Driving onto the campus that fateful morning it was obvious that peoples lives had changed forever...students, professor and staff alike were huddled in groups, some stood alone trying to reach loved ones who worked in the towers or close by, others sat on benches as tears ran down their cheeks.
I was upstairs in the office of one of the college's vice president's offices watching a small black and white television when the first tower collapsed, the visual bringing me to my knees as a scream gave voice to the agony I was feeling for those who in that moment were losing their lives.
Eleven years later my heart still breaks for those souls, for their families.
A very dear friend of mine, Eric, lost half his company of comrades that day, firefighters who risked their lives trying to save the lives of others. Another friend's daughter was doing her banking in the towers that morning...she lived, made it out...yet she is still haunted as she recalls one of the leaping bodies that landed on the pavement right there in front of her eyes as she watched the tragedy unfold. She was frozen in place unable to move...a complete stranger racing toward safety saw her, scooped her up and carried her away from the scene. Would she still be here with us today if not for his unselfish moment of bravery?
On campus they were working at closing it down, I had been unofficially assigned the task of walking around telling anyone I saw that the college was shutting down. The task required more consoling than informing...how do you tell a weeping student that everything is going to be OK, that the loved one they cannot reach who works in the towers is going to be OK when you don't really quite believe it yourself?
Today, eleven years later I look at America and the aftermath of that day sad that we seem to have learned so little from what is one of the darkest days in our nation's history. It had seemed as if the tragedy would draw us all together, "One nation under God", all our differences set aside as united we faced what had been done to all of us as a collective whole. That sense of togetherness as we shared our pain lasted for far too short of a time, and today eleven years later we are a nation divided along party and philosophical lines as the American Dream seems to be going up in smoke...looking at this divisiveness, looking at a nation divided begs the question on this day of remembrance, "Are we really going to let the terrorist, those who oppose us win by defeating ourselves through an inability to compromise?
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
On 9/11 in the year 2001 those words meant something to each and every American, poignant words written in 1892 meant something again, the words "under God" which had been added to the pledge in 1954 seeming so appropriate as we all, as a nation, sat glued to our television praying for those who had died, praying that more survivors would somehow be found. Today as then, we are a nation in crisis, then caused by outside forces, today caused by greed, Wall Street, politicians and divided loyalties...we over came that first crisis, honoring those who died on this special day of remembrance...question is, will we individually and collectively survive today's crisis, will we find a way to heal a nation divided and again find that common ground on which we all can stand united?
God bless those who died on 9/11, God bless those who lost loved ones on that fateful day, God bless those touched by the tragedy directly and indirectly, God Bless the United States of America.
Friday, August 31, 2012
|Save Our Benefits...Benefits WE PAID FOR!|
If you are a Baby Boomer, you have PAID INTO Medicare & Social Security your entire working life. Sadly, the Federal Government over our working life has mismanaged our money, have borrowed greatly from the Social Security Fund, and now that it is time for us to collect what we have already saved for, our government wants to rewrite the rules in a way that will cheat us out of our benefits.
If you look at the Romney/Ryan plan to fix the problem, they want to divide the Baby Boomers into the haves and have not's as they protect the benefits for some, while taking the benefits away from others. Listen to Ryan out on the campaign trail, and he says, "If you are over 55 nothing will change for you, you will receive your full benefits as you should. I am 56, was born in 1956...what about the Baby Boomers who were born from 1957-1964? If a line is going to be drawn in the sand, if you are going to change the way benefits are tallied, if you are going to change Medicare into a voucher system, shouldn't the line in the sand be January 1, 1965?
Taking a yearly average of 4 million births during the Baby Boomer time span of 1957-1964, Ryan and Romney would deny Medicare as we know it today to 32 million (about 40 percent of us) Baby Boomers, despite the fact that those born in 1964 have paid into the system for approximately 28 years as of the writing of this article, the Federal Government taking deductions out of our pay checks each and every pay period for a period of three decades or longer. Imagine one brother or sister having Medicare Coverage that they have paid for, while a slightly younger sibling Baby Boomer is given a voucher (coupon) and told, "You are on your own."
If Romney and Ryan are going to strip away this paid for benefit, are they going to refund all the money (with interest) that the have nots have paid into the system they are now being denied access too? What about Social Security...the age which we can collect has already been pushed back, and now both Romney and Ryan want to see that age pushed back again, even though we were promised by the government that if we paid into Social Security at a higher rate (percentage of our income that is paid into Social Security was GREATLY INCREASED), we could retire and collect full Social Security at the age of 64...they want to raise it to 67 and 70.
If someone is 55, if that someone has paid into Medicare for some 35 years, has planned on having Medicare in their old age, is it fair to suddenly pull the rug out from under them because government bureaucrats and elected politicians mismanaged the funds in such a way that there is not enough money to pay out the benefits as promised? We bailed out banks, we bailed out Wall Street, we bailed out the auto industry, we bailed out AIG, but want to abandon our duty to 32 million Americans who played by the rules, who paid into the system their entire working careers? Really? We want to divide the largest group of American citizens we have in the name of winning an election, splitting the vote.
Wake up Seniors...Romney/Ryan wants your vote, so you are being told that your benefits are secure. What about our benefits...those of us who are ALMOST IN YOUR SHOES who are being told that the Medicare we have counted on is going to be traded in for VOUCHERS! What about one for all and all for one? There are 79 Million Baby Boomers, and that is (bar none) the largest voting block in America, and if there ever was a time for us to all stand as one to protect Medicare, that time is now!
A vote for Romney as the next president is a vote to deny some 32 Million Baby Boomers the Medicare that we have EARNED...are you as a Baby Boomer born in or before 1957 going to stand with all Baby Boomers, or are you willing to turn your back on those born after you because YOU GET YOURS?
I am a news junkie, so even though I have no intentions of voting for a rabid right wing quarter billionaire by the name of Romney, did tune in tonight to watch his acceptance speech, see if he laid anything out that was real or different. What a SNOREFEST!
The man has no clue, and still has not laid out anything to show America how he is going to fulfill his promise of creating 12 million jobs in four years...being straight forward honest, it cannot be done, and Romney and his handlers ARE LYING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, showing us they will do anything to get Romney elected.
Problem is, Romney is an out of touch, uber rich, boring man that if elected will rape America's middle class in the name of taking care of his rich friends. Problem is, Romney will rape America's environment in efforts to give the oil, gas and nuclear industries everything they want, which is LESS REGULATION, and LESS PROTECTION OF THE AIR WE BREATH AND THE WATER WE DRINK.
Romney's speech tonight should make Americans stop and think...do we share the vision of America that Romney and Ryan share? An America where gays do not have equal rights, and America where women who have been raped cannot get an abortion. Is our America the same one Romney wants, which is an America where the average Americans taxes are raised $2,000 a year so that he can give millionaires and billionaires a $250,000 a year tax break. Romney's vision is an America where Exxon can drill anywhere they damn well want to, and Natural Gas companies like Chesapeake Energy can frack for gas even if in doing so we lose our clean drinking water supplies. Romney and Ryan's America will deny over 25 million Baby Boomers the Medicare they have ALREADY PAID FOR, will take Medicare and turn it into a voucher system that sends our tax dollars into the private insurance industry while taking more money out of our pockets to pay for below par medical care.
Romney is a boring stuffed shirt with a dangerous vision for America if you are a lower or middle class American...hopefully, the undecided voters will wake up and see this scary reality and vote for Obama.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
So, our county legislature is seriously considering outlawing synthetic marijuana...if you look upon the face of this idea there is some merit...any substance, real or synthetic when abused and misused is dangerous. All one has to do is look at the number of people who abuse alcohol, get in a car and drive under the influence to realize this basic truth. Problem is, prohibition does not work, while legalization of certain substances (alcohol and prescription drugs) and the regulation/taxation of them over a period of decades has proven to be a far more effective means than criminalization.
One has to ask, if marijuana were legalized, regulated and taxed, would there even be a need for synthetic marijuana? One also has to ask if law enforcement, the courts and a public/private prison system have a very vested interest in keeping marijuana an illegal substance, if they don't have a vested interest in passing a law to make synthetic marijuana illegal.
Busting people, charging them, trying them in a court of law, incarcerating them is BIG BUSINESS which generates millions and billions of dollars a year on a local, state and federal level. Would you rather have American Farmers growing marijuana and hemp as a cash crop that is taxed and regulated, or instead have billions of dollars (of our tax dollars) a year being spent to fight the drug war against Mexican and South American drug cartels? 65 percent of the profits earned by these cartels comes from selling marijuana to American citizens...eliminate their profit stream, you eliminate the cartels. Does it make sense to arrest people for possessing/using a small amount of marijuana when many of those enforcing the laws against its use are users in their off time...isn't there a certain hypocrisy in that? The last three presidents (Clinton, Bush and Obama) had their own brush with drugs...what would have happened if any of these three had been caught, arrested, charged and incarcerated as young adults? Three lives ruined, three men who never would have become president, and a nation denied their minds and intellect.
Perhaps our county legislators should spend their time finding ways to deal with far more egregious crimes going on in our county, rather than worrying about banning another substance (which is actually the job of the FDA). How many employers in Sullivan County are paying workers OFF THE BOOKS, skipping out on paying unemployment insurance, workers comp, Social Security and Federal Taxes? How many summer businesses pop up in our county that are unlicensed? How many times are zoning violations ignored, no citations ever being issued? Perhaps it is time for our elected officials in Sullivan County to start finding ways to tackle our serious issues, rather than looking for low hanging fruit that will get them into the paper so they can pretend they are doing the peoples work.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Thanks to the person who shared this video with me via Email. Hopefully many of you will pass it along too all of your friends as it really captures the spirit of the Republican Party and their official Pro Life spokespersons Congress Todd Akin and Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan.
Watching out my window as rain falls upon our small hamlet washing away some of the dust that seems to come along with the traffic which often times races through our small community.
This past weekend saw Ed's Mountaindale Inn play host to the "Talking Machine" two person band...it was a great night of musical entertainment, and the food was incredible. I had the prime rib with the French onion soup as an appetizer, and delicious does not do the prime rib justice. The Mountaindale Inn is now offering a full service dinner menu every Friday night from 5-10...stop by and enjoy a great meal.
Saturday night, a regular visitor to our hamlet, and an employee at Uccelli's restaurant was involved in a serious car accident. Rachael Wiener luckily escaped serious injury when the car she was in flipped several times. Luckily she escaped with what could be considered minor injury...a concussion, some scratches, scraps and bruises. We hope to see her up and walking around soon, and wish her a speedy recovery.
Talks are underway to form a Mountaindale Tenants Association (MTA)...look for an announcement soon about attending an informational/formation meeting. Tentative plans are to hold the meeting in mid September, and if interest warrants, elect officers at an October meeting. Anyone renting residential or commercial property within the geographical area of the hamlet of Mountaindale is eligible to join. The organization's primary focus will be to lend assistance to renters who find themselves in a dispute with their landlords, and to provide information on tenants rights to people renting, or thinking or renting in Mountaindale.
Robert Uccelli's Mountain Charm Deli and Cafe officially opened for business, and the place seems to be fairly busy. There is a nice selection of necessities, and deli sandwiches made to order...been in a few times myself, and the only complaint I have is the place needs some air conditioning...in a brief discussion with Robert, been assured that the A/C issue is being addressed. So, if you need a cup of coffee on your way to work in the morning, stop by and say hello...Mountain Charm opens at 6:30 AM each and every morning of the week.
Don't forget...this Wednesday is Open Mic Night at the Mountaindale Inn...see everyone there.
|Ann Romney Is Seriously Ill|
As the governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney's greatest accomplishment was signing into law a bill that gave health care to every citizen in the state. The bill included a mandate that individual persons, not companies/corporations had a personal responsibility to secure/purchase health care...this from the same man who stated in Iowa that Corporations are people too. Romney Care was and is the model that Obama Care was based upon. However, trying to prove that Zebra's can change stripes, Romney never mentions his own greatest accomplishment as governor, and instead has promised, that if elected president of the United States, he will eliminate Obama Care...what he intends to replace it with no one is sure.
There is an unwritten rule that a Presidential candidate's wife and family are off limits in the heated election season, and as a general rule, would tend to agree with this rule. Problem is, Romney in promising to do away with Obama Care, is going to deny millions of Americans health coverage...Romney's wife has MS, and if elected President, the costs of providing health care to his wife Ann Romney will fall upon us the American taxpayers. We will be saddled with taking care of his wife's health needs, covering the costs of her medical coverage for the rest of her life while her husband as President of the United States is taking health care access away from millions of Americans in the middle and lower classes.
The question then becomes, "Is it fair for us as Americans to have to provide Ann Romney with the best medical care money can buy, and pay for it through our taxes while he is denying us the same care? The answer should be no, but what an answer should be, and reality are two completely different things.
I'm sorry that Ann Romney has (Multiple sclerosis)MS, but find it unacceptable that a man worth over $250 Million dollars will expect the American taxpayers to pay for her health care while he works diligently to take our health care away. Such actions on Mitt Romney's part are hypocritical, and emphasize just how out of touch he is with the average citizens of our nation.
One last thought...can Ann Romney handle the stress and work load of being First Lady, and if she should have a serious relapse, considering how close she and Mitt are, could a President Romney mentally and emotionally handle the job of being president while dealing with a suddenly very ill and declining wife?
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
We are a divided nation, and Washington DC is in gridlock as Republicans in Congress do everything they can to thwart any ideas that would improve the economy before the November Elections...the Republicans have spent the last two years tossing America's middle and lower classes under the bus in the name of winning the White House, seeing us as nothing more than acceptable collateral damage in a WIN AT ALL COST race to put themselves back in power so that they can perpetrate their Radical Right Wing Tea Party Agenda on the nation.
This past Sunday Todd Akin exposed an ugly truth about the party, showed Americans the dark and sinister under belly of the party that wants to send women back to the day when they are bare foot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Todd Akin has shown that the Republican Party is full of radical religious zealots with an agenda that runs contrary to the will of the people...which does make one wonder as a tropical storm/soon to be hurricane sets its sites on Tampa...is God sending the Republicans a message?
I'm not an overly religious person, would not be one to jump to this conclusion, but we all know just how God Fearing some in the Republican Party really are, and if some of their thoughts on obeying the word of God are correct, it might stand too reason that God is sending them a sign that they have strayed to far off the path of righteousness in the name of politics, in the name of the Republican Party. Perhaps God would support a woman's right to choose, especially in cases of Rape and Incest. Perhaps God, like Nancy Reagan supports stem cell research and the lives it saves. Perhaps a Hurricane taking a direct hit on Tampa, raining on Mitt Romney's parade is God's way of waking up the Republican Party, his way of telling them they have gone to far.
Or maybe this tropical storm is just a bit of bad luck that might put a damper on the Republican Party's National Convention.
So yesterdays deadline for Todd Akin to resign from the race to become Senator from the state of Missouri, and he has decided to STAY IN THE RACE. Mr. Legitimate Rape (and his bill co-signer Paul Ryan) has decided to ignore party big wigs, has decided to snub his nose at the Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney and continue his campaign...ignore Tod Akin's stupidity, and look at Mitt Romney...if he cannot control and convince one Rogue Republican to step down for the good of the party, then how can he rule a nation?
Todd Akin Has the Inside Scoop: Women Can't Get Pregnant from 'Legitimate Rape' [UPDATE from Akin Campaign]
Mitt Romney is the leader of the Republican Party, and in some ways Todd Akin gave Romney the chance to seize on a teachable moment, gave Mitt Romney a chance to show his ability to be a leader, and Mitt Romney BLEW IT BIG TIME. Mitt Romney's original response to Todd Akin's remarks was tepid, reserved and tentative. It was only yesterday afternoon that Romney finally told Todd Akin to step down for the good of the party. Instead, Mitt Romney should have been bold and forceful from the very start of this National Scandal.
Mitt Romney could have forcefully condemned Todd Akin's words and views. Furthermore, Mitt Romney could have stood up to the RADICAL RIGHT WING OF HIS PARTY and insisted that the Akin pro-life wording in the Republican Platform be changed to provide and exception for rape, incest and the life of the mother...instead, Mitt Romney stood SILENT on the issue, allowed the most rabid members of the far right craft a party position that runs (supposedly) contrary to his own views on the subject of abortion...he goes on TV and states that a Romney/Ryan White House will be one where victims of rape and incest have access to an abortion. Problem is, Romney's running mate, the man that is one breath away from being president holds the same views on abortion that Mr. Legitimate Rape (Todd Akin) holds, Paul Ryan was a co-signer on Todd Akin's bill which would have outlawed abortion in all cases except for FORCIBLE RAPES....are not all rapes forcible?
Todd Akin has shown us that the King has no clothes, has shown America that on this important issue where over 67 percent Americans support victims of rape and incest having access to abortions that the entire Republican Party, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are out of touch with the will of the people...if they are out of touch on this important social issue, what other issues are they out of touch on?
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
VP Nominee Paul Ryan Connected to Todd Akin's Hip On Abortion Views...They Are Siamese Twins.
Unless you live under a rock on mars you know about Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comments made a couple of days ago, and the Republican Fallout from those remarks. The calls for his head from some of the biggest names in the party was almost immediate, even though both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan hold almost identical views to Congressman Akin's...the Republican Presidential Candidates just smart enough to only make such callous remarks privately.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Every citizen of the United States should be outraged by Todd Akin's remarks. Many Republicans have rebuked the man for his callous remarks, BUT NOT FOR HIS BELIEFS, as his beliefs are their beliefs as can be witnessed by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryans CO-SPONSORSHIP of a fetus rights bill that would have banned all abortions, even in the case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Even today the Republican Party Platform MIRRORS Todd Akin's beliefs and position on the matter, just in (apparently) more acceptable words.
Instead of stepping down, instead of letting the Republican Party sweep his own dirty laundry under the table, Todd Akin has gone to the airwaves with a commercial seeking forgiveness. In his commercial he says he, "used the wrong words in the wrong way" and asks for forgiveness. If you put everything together, if you believe he used the wrong words in the wrong way, then his explanation makes his real words just as bad as his wrong words. He said he was searching for the word forcible when he said legitimate...is there ever a rape that is not forcible? Are you aware that forcible rape are words Paul Ryan has embraced, has used himself?
Perhaps the entire Republican Party needs to follow suit, perhaps the Republican Party, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan need to put a commercial out on the airwaves asking every American for forgiveness. Rape is rape, and who are any of them to feel they have a right to pass laws that would force them to carry a child of rape to term...that is a decision that only the woman raped can make with the help and guidance of her friends, spiritual leaders and medical staff.
There are on average almost 90,000 reported cases of rape in the United States yearly...key word being reported. Each and every one of those rapes were BRUTAL, and every one of those rapes has the potential to end up in pregnancy. Who is Paul Ryan or Todd Akin to tell these women that they have to carry that child of rape to term? Some of those rapes were perpetrated on the victims by members of their own family...Paul Ryan believes that a woman impregnated by rape by a relative (incest) should be required by law to carry her father, uncle or grandfather's child to term.
Are these the kind of MEN we want representing us in Washington, DC? Are these the kind of men we want in the White House? Perhaps it is time for the entire Republican Party to take a step back and re-examine their own morals and values, perhaps it is time that they join Todd Akin in begging the American people for FORGIVENESS.
Friday, August 17, 2012
|LISTEN...We Know How To Fool The Masses|
Watching the Navy Seals video (Swift Boat II) one cannot help but see Karl Rove and Dick Cheney's prints all over this piece of Republican Propaganda aimed at swift boating Barrack's Obama's Presidential Campaign. Funny how Republicans were fine with George W. Bush taking credit for the capture of Saddam Hussein, yet have issues with President Obama getting/taking credit for the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Obama is the Commander and Chief, and he gave the order...so why shouldn't he get some of the credit?
There is a lot of truth in the statement "A Mitt Romney presidency will be four more years of George W. Bush", and lets remember just who it was that put America's economy into the ditch...George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld to name a few members of the cast who killed the American Dream in the name of personal riches and fame...are we ready to return to those days? Do we want a president that wants to tax the middle class and give tax cuts to the uber rich? Do we want a Romney presidency that will see over 20 million Baby Boomers lose their Medicare as Romney steals it away and gives them a handful of worthless vouchers instead? Do we want a Romney puppet in the White House while Dick Chaney and Karl Rove pull the strings from behind the scenes?
Romney and company tip their hand with the Navy Seals attack video, have shown us who their mentors and their handlers are...unless you want another four years of the disaster that was the Bush Presidency, you need to begin supporting President Obama's bid for another four years in the White House.
|If My Husband Is Elected YOU Will Pay For My Health Care For Rest Of My Life!|
Mitt Romney and his taxes are back in the news again today...he is telling the world that he looked over his past ten years of taxes, and states he has paid an AVERAGE of about 13 percent over that period of time! First, be willing to bet that almost everyone in the middle class paid a higher percentage of their income in taxes than that. Now, lets factor in a few things we paid that he probably did not.
1. Medicare/Medicaid taxes...those are paid on wages, not on the kinds of income that Romney has.
2. Social Security Taxes...again, something Romney does not pay because of the kind of income that he receives.
3. Workers Compensation.
Factor those three additional line items into the mix, and most middle class families see about 20 percent of their gross incomes going to taxes while Mitt Romney pays THIRTEEN PERCENT, and wants to lower that percentage more by giving himself and his other rich cronies earning over 2.5 million dollars a year an additional tax break of $250,000 a year!
The average of 13 percent...that does not answer a key question put to Romney...were there years when you PAID NO TAXES? Offer up your returns, and stop hiding the UGLY TRUTH.
Seems that our County Legislature wants to close a very large budget hole by voting to remove a property tax cap, to hit property owners with an additional increase in property taxes of somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. Simply stated, the property taxes in Sullivan County are "TOO DAMN HIGH" as it is, and the citizens simply cannot afford another rise in already exorbitant county property taxes, and in the case of those who rent, they cannot afford rent increases in a time of economic despair that most landlords would want to levy to offset such a property tax increase.
As example, looked at a house for sale the other day which is on the market for $70,000 (asking price) and the yearly property taxes on this property are $3,300 per year...almost five percent of the total value of the property if you were to pay full asking price for it. Do the math, and you realize every 20 years would see you paying the full value of your house in property taxes. When the property owners of the county say they "just cannot afford any more taxes" they are very serious, and speaking from their hearts. There is something terribly wrong when the escrow amount to pay property taxes would be more money than the mortgage itself would be.
Perhaps it is time to wake up to a simple reality...Sullivan County needs more year around residents, and far fewer summer visitors...yes, our sales tax collections are slowly recovering to prerecession levels, but what hurts the budget is a simple fact...summer residents only pay sales taxes for three months of the year rather than 12 months of the year. Couple that with the large number of properties that have been granted questionable tax exemptions for claimed religious reasons, and you have to few people being asked to carry to large of a burden. Taking steps to discourage further summer residents, and to build our year round resident population would increase sales tax collections on a year round basis, and take the tax target off the foreheads of our county's home owners.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Today the flood gates to a back door AMNESTY for hundreds of thousands have opened as illegal aliens apply for a reprieve that gives them:
1. A two year reprieve from any/all actions leading to their deportation.
2. A Work Permit that would allow them to steal jobs from legal citizens during the two year reprieve that they would be granted.
3. A drivers license...if granted a reprieve these illegal aliens would be allowed to get driver licenses regardless of state laws.
Every application, from my perspective, should be turned over to ICE/DHS and those who have come forward should be rounded up and deported...harsh? Yes it is, but in these hard economic times our government has a responsibility to take care of our own, and illegal aliens regardless of their country of origin ARE NOT OUR OWN. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, and what Obama's executive order does is by pass those laws for political reasons, appeases a group of people who are criminals.
Know the arguments on the other side...all we want is to live our lives, hold down jobs, and live the American Dream. Problem is, nearly 12 million illegal aliens, 7.5 million of them working in the American work force are living their own dreams by STEALING THE DREAMS OF AMERICANS.
The work permits essentially allow holders to live in the daylight; they will be able to obtain Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses and apply for financial aid for college. They will be able to open bank accounts and seek certifications to work as nurses and electricians.
Is it fair that illegal aliens in many states get "In State Tuition" while American Citizens who in many cases live just over a state line have to pay a much higher out of state tuition rate? Is it fair that the law that makes it illegal for a illegal alien to be employed is ignored, that our own children cannot find jobs because so many illegal aliens are in our work force? Is it fair that smokers (I know everyone likes to beat up on them) saw an additional dollar in taxes added to the price of a pack of cigarettes so that the 4.5 million anchor babies of illegal aliens could have health insurance? Is it fair that hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens under 30 who have used stolen/fake ID's are going to be allowed a two year reprieve from deportation, a reprieve that will more than likely lead them down the path to becoming legalized American Citizens, allow them to jump to the front of the line in front of hopeful immigrants who have played by the rules, obeyed the immigration laws of the United States of America? If an America were to steal an ID, or purchase one they would find themselves arrested and charged with a felony...why are illegal aliens not held to this same standard?
In almost any other situation where a person violates the laws of America, the family ends up paying a price...why should it be different for illegal aliens? If someone commits murder, is sent to prison, the family, the children do pay a price, we do not sit here and say, "for the sake of the family we'll let the father stay out of prison, allow the father to continue working and supporting his family." What makes the crime of illegal immigration different? If we are a nation of laws, isn't it time that those laws are enforced, rather than set aside, thus encouraging these law breakers to find a way across the border into the United States with the knowledge that if they make it here, politicians in Washington DC will allow them to stay?
|Can We Say State Wide BURN BAN?|
Sitting outside my apartment earlier this evening could not help but notice a merry band of young men with one senior adult walking past on the other side of the street. Especially when they were all carrying plastic bags, one of the young men carrying two Tiki torches, another a sword...though it is noted that the sword looked as if it might have been made of plastic, though none the less it was a sword. To say the least, this was ODD in our small hamlet, so I decided to have a look see.
Cutting down around the Upsate Karate Studio, and barely down the path leading to our small scenic bridge the gentleman carrying the two tiki torches lit them, and flashlights appeared...so NOT what one usually sees in Mountaindale, so decided to stand my distance and see what transpired.
From what one could tell, these eight or so gentlemen were having a late night picnic down by the stream behind the old abandoned high school on the edge of town...nothing persay wrong with that, but the campfire that they comminced to build, its sparks leaping into the air, and into the near by woods seemed to run contrary to Governor Cuomo's state wide burn ban.
A call to the local Fallsburg Police saw them arrive well over one hour later (great response time)...long after the fire had been extinquished and the group had left, to look into the banned fire that was but feet from the woodland area. Still outside, I watched as those who had built the fire left the area, so I asked a question of them..."Are you aware there is a statewide band on fires?"
The leader of the group replied, "No, but it is OK, we got permission from Ken."
Now there are several Ken's in the area that I know of, one of which is a judge, so not sure who this Ken is that said they could go back to our beloved bridge and start a fire. What I do know, is that someone thinks they are above the law, or perhaps they believe the law does not apply to them. A fire ban is in place for a reason...to protect ALL OF US who live in the Mountaindale Community.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Last night Sullivan Renaissance held their annual awards ceremony giving out over $100,000 in grants and scholarships. Having draw up the plans for Rock Hill's Category C project, I was watching the results closely, hoping the community would walk away with the Golden Feather award, and the $25,000 grant that comes along with it. Sadly, that hope was not enough, and congratulations to Narrowsburg Beautification Group who walked away with the big prize of the night, with Liberty Community Development coming in second, walking away with a $10,000 grant for future projects.
Not all is bleak for the hard working group over in Rock Hill. As the person who drew up the designs for Rock Hill's project this year, was very pleased to see they did not walk away empty handed, winning the award for Best Planning and the $5,000 grant that goes along with it. If you get a chance, head over to Rock Hill's new Farmers Market location, and appreciate the efforts put into this award winning project.
Congratulations to all of last nights award recipients...any one who participated in Sullivan Renaissance Projects was already a winner.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Ryan may be on the bottom of the Republican Party Presidential Ticket, but when it comes to the Republican Plan to save America and restore prosperity, leave no doubt about it, Paul Ryan is steering Romney's ship as the two of them try to win the White House, and that reality means Americans from every walk of life need to wake up to the reality of a Ryan/Romney plan...in short, it is a yellow version of Reagan's Trickle Down Economics where we were falsely led to believe that what was good for the rich was good for the middle and lower class, that their prosperity would trickle down to the rest of us...under the Paul Ryan & Mitt Romney plan, the middle class will find themselves pissed on by the uber rich...thus Tinkle Down Economics.
So, if you find yourself in the 99 percent instead of in the one percent, ask yourselves....are you willing to be pissed on by the likes of Mitt Romney, the man who earns $36,000 a day? Are you willing to be pissed on by the likes of Paul Ryan, the man who wants to raise your taxes while those earning over $2.5 million a year (Mitt Romney) receive a $250,000 additional tax reduction as the so called JOB CREATORS...can any one say Bain Capital?
Sure here in Sullivan County we have a few folks (Gerry) who are UBER RICH, and there are probably a bit larger number of folks who could be considered seriously wealthy, but for most of us, we fall into the categories of either middle or lower class, and like it or not, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney's plan for America has painted a target squarely on our foreheads. When you go into that voting booth in November to choose are next presidents, ask yourselves, "Can I afford to be pissed on by these two men for the next four years?"