Republicans Have Betrayed America’s Veterans

I know that all veterans are patriotic, because when our country called to defend America, democracy, or freedom for others, we answered the call. Whether drafted or volunteered, we answered the call. We may not have agreed with the war(s), but we answered the call. Political affiliation was not a major factor.

I understand that most veterans today tend to be conservative and vote Republican. This is partially due to the Republican party posturing themselves as the party of military strength and continued increases in defense spending. They proudly display their “Support our Troop” banners and bumper stickers, call themselves “Patriots,” and continue to pass budgets that increase our military spending. They are more than willing to send our troops off to fight the next war under the guise of “defending America”.

However, when our patriotic veterans return from war, they treat them like low class citizens that are a burden to our society. They don’t want to deal with the problem. The truth is the Republicans don’t care about veterans. They are more than willing to renege on their obligations to our veterans for their own political gains.

Why am I saying this?  Let me explain. Two months after President Obama was sworn in on January 20, 2009, he made the following statement reference his commitment to our veterans:

“For their service and sacrifice, warm words of thanks from a grateful nation are more than warranted, but they aren’t nearly enough. We also owe our veterans the care they were promised and the benefits that they have earned. We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America. It’s a commitment that begins at enlistment, and it must never end.” -President Barack Obama, March 19, 2009

Since that statement, President Obama has taken key steps to ensure that our veterans receive the best health care, get the benefits they have earned, and have access to the education and training they need to re-enter the workforce.  He has provided historic levels of support to veterans and their families in his budget requests.  However, he had to fight the Republicans every step of the way. The following veteran bills are an example of the Republican’s unwillingness to support our nation’s veterans.

Two of the Largest Veteran Bill’s Rejected By Republicans Since President Obama Took Office.

The Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012 would have spent $1 billion over five years to put veterans to work tending to federal lands, and in the nation’s police and fire departments. The measure would have potentially created jobs for up to 20,000 veterans. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) based her plan on FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

September 19, 2012 was the day that forty Senate Republican members of the United States Senate betrayed our nation’s veterans when they decided that denying President Obama a victory was more important than spending $1 billion to create jobs for veterans. Senate Republicans blocked the measure on a procedural point, arguing that the bill was unpaid for and because they said there is no proof that it would work.

“It’s both shocking and shameful that Republicans today chose to kill a bill to put America’s veterans back to work,” Senator Murray said in a statement. “At a time when one in four young veterans are unemployed,” she said, “Republicans should have been able, for just this once, to put aside the politics of obstruction and to help these men and women provide for their families. These men and women have worn our uniform, shouldered the burden and faced unthinkable dangers in forward areas during a very dangerous time. This vote was a stark reminder that Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader from Kentucky, and Senate Republicans “are willing to do absolutely anything to fulfill the pledge he made nearly two years ago to defeat President Obama. It doesn’t matter who gets in their way or which Americans they have to sacrifice in that pursuit, even if it’s our nation’s veterans.”

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In 2014, Democrats submitted legislation that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans. The measure would have brought the most significant changes in decades to U.S. veterans’ programs. It would have provided $21 billion for medical, education, and job-training benefits. The bill contained provisions that would restore the cost-of-living increases (COLA) for vets, protect them from losing their benefits in the event of another government shutdown, and would have provided tuition assistance to post-9/11 vets. It also would have authorized the construction of 27 new clinics and medical facilities to help a healthcare system that is strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

On February 14, 2014, Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, once again blocked the legislation saying the bill would bust the budget. Playing politics, Senate Republicans attempted to attach controversial legislation calling for possible new sanctions on Iran which President Barack Obama opposed.

“The issue of Iran sanctions… has nothing to do with the needs of veterans,” complained Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders of Vermont, the main sponsor of the bill. “I personally, I have to say this honestly, have a hard time understanding how anyone could vote for tax breaks for billionaires, for millionaires, for large corporations, and then say we don’t have the resources to protect our veterans.”

The only message that can be taken away from this is that Republicans continue to think it is more important to deny President Obama a “win” than it is to follow through on their obligations to our nation’s veterans.

More Veteran Bill’s Rejected By Republicans Since President Obama Took Office.

H.R. 466 – Wounded Veteran Job Security Act – This bill would actually provide job security for veterans who are receiving medical treatment for injuries suffered while fighting in defense of their country. It would prohibit employers from terminating employees who miss work while receiving treatment for a service-related disability.

H.R. 1168 — Veterans Retraining Act – This bill would provide for assistance to help veterans who are currently unemployed with their expenses while retraining for the current job market.

H.R. 1171 – Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Re-Authorization – This bill would reauthorize programs in support of homeless veterans, to assist them with job training, counseling, and placement services through the Department of Veterans Affairs through 2014.

H.R. 1172 – Requiring List on VA Website of Organizations Providing Scholarships for Veterans which does nothing more than direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to include information about scholarships for veterans.

H.R. 1293 – Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009 – Another bill in support of those who have fought for their country, passed by House Democrats and blocked from becoming law by Republicans.

H.R. 1803 – Veterans Business Center Act – This bill would set up a Veterans Business Center program within the Small Business Administration, which would specialize in such programs as grants for service-disabled veterans, help them develop business plans and secure business opportunities. In other words, it would create jobs and offer opportunities to those who have fought in defense of our country.

H.R. 2352 – Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act – This bill essentially combines a number of other bills that Republicans had blocked in the Senate previously, and adds a few elements. The bill would again establish a Veterans Business Center Program and would establish a Military Entrepreneurs Program.

Republicans have a long record of shameful betrayal of the promise that has been made to those veterans who put their lives on the line for this country. Their hiding behind our “troops” when they vote against what’s best for them time and again is sickening and needs to be exposed. They put a good game on for their voters about “supporting the veterans”, and promote the quaint notion of “patriotism”, but these are merely smokescreens to distract and confuse the population.

Republicans like going to war but throw our veterans into the gutter when they are too wounded, or worn out, to go back for another round of multiple tours. It’s not enough to shed blood for your country. How despicable these angry old men, pretending to serve the American people, can be. Sadly, this isn’t new to the GOP.

I hope this is a wake-up call for veterans who think that the Republican Party has their best interests at heart.

Summary of President Obama’s Success in Supporting Our Veterans

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Sources: Reuters, DailyKos.com, Whitehouse.gov, public domain

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Can’t Convince a Trumper

As members of the collective of 65,884,610 voters that voted for Hillary Clinton, we  continue to wonder how 62,979,636 voted for Donald Trump. It is clear to us that the Donald conned them into believing the lies he was telling. Our frustration is that you cannot convince his supporters of this. No amount of knowledge, common sense, or facts will dissuade their rationale for supporting him. I just don’t understand.

Then, being a Mark Twain enthusiast, I came across the meme below. This totally clarified it for me… I will no longer try to have a common sense conversation with a Trumper on this topic.

mark-twain-easier-to-fool

I have no source for this meme to credit.

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America, I Am Concerned…

I am concerned about what we have done to ourselves.

I am concerned because we have elected a billionaire, authoritarian egomaniac and pathological liar to be President of the United States. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, yet he convinced his supporters that he truly cared about them, understood their problems, would “drain the swamp ” (government) of lobbyists and Wall Street elites, and he was the only one that can fix America’s problems (because he is rich and smart).

I am concerned because during his presidential campaign he refused to adhere to historical protocols for presidential candidates. Unlike his predecessors, he refused to release past years of tax returns; he refused to have a medical evaluation done at a valid medical facility to determine his medical condition (he is 70 years old); and he threatened to “lock up” his opponent if he was elected.

I am concerned because he ran the nastiest, most unprofessional presidential campaign in history. His campaign speeches and actions clearly defined him as a racist, xenophobe, narcissist, misogynist and extremely vindictive person.

I am concerned because in the past five weeks we have gotten a preview of exactly what kind of president Donald Trump will be. I believe he did not really understand what the job of being President was about until his first meeting with President Obama. His transition has been like a television show, parading candidates through Trump tower to kneel at the feet of the “Don.” His transition has been extremely disruptive, causing international tension by his uncontrolled actions, loose lips and tweeting. He has caused the stock prices of major American companies to drop due to his vindictive comments and tweets toward those that disagreed with him. He has not been receiving the daily security briefings because he is a “smart guy.” During the time when he should be preparing to be the President, he takes time off to do a “victory tour.” This tour provides him with a venue to get the adulation and worship he so desperately needs and an opportunity to shape the thinking of his supporters by feeding them more lies and false claims.

I am concerned because he has filled his cabinet with Wall Street billionaires and millionaires, “oil and gas industry” friends and ex-military hawks. Most are unqualified for the departments they will lead because prior to their new roles, they fought against what they will now lead.

I am concerned because the House and Senate Republicans have been the “Party of No” for the past eight years of President Obama’s administration, but now they are more than willing to help Trump “make America great again.” They now see the opportunity to implement their agenda to repeal the Affordable Care Act (taking insurance away from over 20 million people), reform Social Security (reducing benefits for the elderly), privatizing Medicare (taking away Medicare so elderly can buy their own insurance in the market, with a voucher to help pay for it), and killing Medicaid, CHIPS, and food stamps for the poor. Of course all these actions come with a tax cut for the wealthy.

I am concerned because all the societal safety nets and protections we have put in place for the American people, thanks to Democrats, are now in jeopardy of being discarded by Trump’s administration and the GOP in the name of corporate profits.

Most of all I am concerned because our election was hijacked and manipulated by Russia and Vladimir Putin to help get Trump elected. This hijacking was known months ago but because of our current state of politics, it was not made public. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Majority Leader of the Senate, threatened to make it a partisan attempt to impact the election if the information was released. The Majority Leader of the Senate chose loyalty to his Republican party over the security of America and this threat to our democracy. He was rewarded by Trump when he picked McConnell’s wife to be Secretary of Transportation in his new administration. Now that this information has been made public, McConnell is suddenly on board with investigation of the hijacking. While this hijacking is now getting a lot of attention, it is not enough. This is serious. We were attacked by Russia to influence the outcome of our democratic elections and undermine our democracy.

We need to do more…NOW!  The world is watching how we respond to this attack.

This Is A Historical Moment For America

The latest breaking news is the Washington Post article about Russia’s interference in the presidential election. They referred to a secret assessment by the CIA where they concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just undermining confidence in the U.S. electoral system.

Assuming this is all true, this is a historical moment like none before in America. The legitimacy of our government and democracy are in question. We have a foreign country that has clearly undermined our electoral system and influenced the outcome of the election toward their favored candidate, which won. The scope and magnitude of this interference by a foreign country nullifies the validity of this election.

The timing of these findings provide one window-of-opportunity to resolve this issue. On December 19, each state will send their Electoral College electors to their state capitol to cast their vote for their candidate. Prior to that date all of the Electoral College electors should be assembled and receive the CIA’s briefing on this interference by Russia. After they have all the facts about this interference and after having a full month preview of Trump’s behavior, they can make a more informed decision on how to vote. Are they going to be true American “patriots” and vote for what’s best for their country or are they going to be a “political party over country” partisan hack and vote for what’s best for their party? I can’t see Trump supporters changing their votes, regardless of the facts, because they only believe what Trump tells them.

Right, wrong, or indifferent, a cloud of doubt has been embedded in the minds of Americans reference the legitimacy of this election. The level of interference by Russia and the widespread use of voter disenfranchisement is more than enough to deem this election illegitimate.

The only fair way to resolve this is to have a re-election using only auditable methods of voting (preferably paper votes) and a resolution for those large number of voters that were unfairly disenfranchised previously.