Pages

Sunday, November 9, 2014

WH Weekly Address: This Veterans’ Day, Let’s Honor Our Veterans


In this week's address, President Obama spoke about Veterans Day and the thanks that veterans rightly deserve - and I agree. I think it's one of the few things that all Americans can agree on: Our Veterans deserve our thanks and gratitude.

Though I have to admit, as a veteran myself, I often feel a little strange when I'm thanked for my service on Veterans Day, or any other day. It's kind of like that feeling you get at the top of the roller coaster - fun and scary at the same time. You see, I was a mainframe computer operator - a specialist and technician. The first half of my time in the Army was spent in the world of Paychecks & Promotions, and the later half serving the data processing needs of the Army's Intelligence Community. I don't mean to sound like I'm trying to diminish the value of my service, though many vets that I've met over the years have, but I personally feel funny about being thanked like that considering the biggest dangers I faced were the ever present threat of paper cuts and the occasional possibility of being injured while servicing equipment. But that's just me - and there are a lot of other veterans that deserve a lot more thanks than I.

But the thanks of a grateful nation is simply not enough! That's why it just chaps my ass every time I see one of those commercials on television asking for "tax-deductible charitable donations" for various charities and organizations to help America's veterans. I've seen online that some of these organizations have been accused of being scams, and I'm not going to go there today other than to say that you should always vet any charity (including religiously affiliated ones) to see how much of your donation goes to their programs and how much is eaten up by overhead. That said, why should veterans need charity to get the care and support they need, deserve, and have earned by their service to our 'grateful nation' in the first place?! 

Another thing that gets me is when I hear of service members who are forced to turn to food banks and/or public assistance to meet their families' needs. I've known soldiers with kids while I was in the Army that just couldn't make it on their pay alone without food stamps. And in some cases these were soldiers living on base in housing provided at little or no cost by the military. And it wasn't because they had fancy flat-screen TVs or expensive iPhones - these things didn't exist back then. The thing you need to realize is that a service member can't just walk into the boss' office and ask for a raise and bosses can't just hand out raises, either. There are only two ways to get a raise:
  1. Get promoted.
  2. When congress authorizes an increase in pay and allowances.
There were times when my superiors said they'd like to be able to give me a raise, but I wasn't yet eligible for promotion and/or there wasn't a slot available to promote me into. So I wound up with a 'Certificate of Appreciation' instead, which didn't put any more money in my pocket or get me a promotion. And if you take one those certificates down to Starbucks you can get yourself a coffee - but only if you can pay for it just like everybody else.

So this Veterans Day, do more than just thank the vets you meet. Contact your elected officials at all levels and tell them to:
  • Raise military pay and allowances to our active duty troops.
  • Do not cut pensions to our retired vets and their eligible/surviving family members - and give them adequate cost of living adjustments going forward.
  • Adequately fund the Veterans Administration so that our vets can get the physical & mental health care they need and deserve.
  • Fund and expand programs to get our returning vets into the workforce and our homeless vets off of the streets.
I'm not saying you need to do this every day, but you need to do this more often than just on Veterans Day. Keep the pressure on until these goals are met because American veterans didn't and don't give up until the mission is complete or they don't have life left in them to continue the fight - and you shouldn't, either!!

So do more than just thank a vet for his or her service. Fight for them the way they fought for you. Because every last one of them, whether directly or indirectly, has contributed to the security and well being of you and your family.

Now it's your turn to return the favor.

Weekly Rant & Round-Up for 11/08/14

Well, the 2014 midterm election is over and I'm glad. Mostly because I can watch TV without the urge to throw something at it every time a misleading or deceptive political ad comes on. One thing I'm not so glad about is that the GOP has taken control of the US Senate. Though this was not completely unexpected and it's not like this hasn't happened before, as Jeremy Hooper at Good As You pointed out: #ThrowbackThursday: One party insists midterm Senate flip is repudiation of superstar president. There you'll find to headlines from November 5th, 1986 touting the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency and influence. And now, 28 years later, trickle-down Reaganomics are still GOP policy - even if Reagan himself would be considered too far to the left for today's GOP/Tea Party.

While there's still the lame duck session to get through, right now I'm more focused on what's to come in the new congress next year.

One of the things I think is going to be worth popping some popcorn for is the continuing strife and struggle going on inside the GOP and with their Tea Party 'allies.' Jeffrey Lord writes for The American Spectator

"Yet no later than the day after the election did soon-to-be Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announce that “there will be no government shutdown and no default on the national debt.” In other words, the very first thing McConnell did was take one of Republicans most potent weapons — the power of the purse — off the table." 
And so it begins.... When you couple this together with the likelihood that Ted Cruz will probably try to be the de facto leader of both the House and Senate and the new batch of Republicans determined to make Michele Bachmann look sane in the likes of Sen. Joni Ernst (IA), Sen. Thom Tillis (NC), Rep. Jody Hice (GA), and Rep. Glenn Grothman (WI), things will be, at the very least, entertaining.

And I don't believe for a believe for a moment that there won't be another government shutdown. I wouldn't even be surprised if there are shutdown threats in the lame duck session since there's an appropriations bill that needs to get passed.

On the local front, we had a general election for state-wide offices here in Arizona. It was also a Republican sweep. Also not a surprise. I've only lived here for a little more than a year and a half, but seeing all the anti-Obama political ads during this election cycle, I still haven't figured out how Janet Napolitano was ever elected governor. I only caught a piece of the GOP gubernatorial primary and what little I saw made it look like the candidates were competing to convince the voters who hated Obama the most - and I don't mean oppose, I mean hate. Doug Ducey (R) is now the Governor-Elect, which means that Cathi Herrod will be moving into an adjoining office with the new governor. For those of you unfamiliar with Ms. Harrod and the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), they are the authors of the odious SB1062 [a.k.a. The We Don't Serve Your Kind Here bill] which was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), but mostly because the Super Bowl is going to be played in Phoenix next year and the NFL hinted that it wasn't too late to move it somewhere else. During the campaign, Ducey was asked about SB1062 and his campaign stated (February 21):
"I will approach this issue as both a man of faith and a businessman, and firmly believe that neither individuals nor businesses should be discriminated against for their religious beliefs or any other reason." [emphasis added]

When you consider the support his campaign received from Cathi Herrod/CAP and that in both the 2010 & 2014 Candidate Surveys from CAP he opposes domestic partner benefits for couples who are not married, adding sexual orientation and gender expression/identity to anti-discrimination laws, and supports the Arizona constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, I'm assuming that's code for, "I'll sign SB1062-The Sequel without hesitation." I'm expecting it to be reintroduced into the legislature shortly after the Super Bowl.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I'm Back....

....though it's been so long since I've posted anything here that I can't imagine that anyone even remembers that I was here in the first place.

I've been meaning to get back to blogging, but something always seemed to get in the way or I just didn't feel like putting the time and effort into it when I could be doing "something else," like playing with the cats or watching something on Netflix, y'know?!

Since it has been a while, I know that some of the links and widgets, etc. on this blog aren't current and/or active and working properly.  I hope to take care of them going forward.  I'll also be making changes to the blog's design and appearance and your well meaning comments and criticism on that are always welcome.

In the meantime: WATCH THIS SPACE!!

~JR