Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Latest Rave - Proposed Pay Freeze for the Military

              Sadly, as often happens in time of budgetary woes, particularly with Democrat administations, there is a move afoot by the President to freeze military pay and benefits.  This was reported in Star and Stripes and on 
                This comes on the heels of proposals to raise the costs for TRICARE (the military's health care program) for military retirees, and linking TRICARE payments to what Medicare pays.  Medicare payments have been cut to such a low level that many doctors are dropping Medicare because they loose money on every patient.  This means that our military dependents and retirees are further restricted in obtaining medical care.  Medical care for life was a promise made to those of us who wear or wore the uniform, for many generations.
               I realize that in tight times, sacrifices have to be made.  I also realize that this includes the military budget.  That being said, where are the comparable cuts in pay and benefits across the board in the Federal budget?  Why should military personnel and their families, as well as veterans, be the ones to bear this burden.
               Most Federal employees don’t deploy, as does the military; most don’t see the danger nor the arduous hours, days, weeks, months, years away from home and family. Yet they have, in many cases, better pay and better health benefits.
               Further, we are at war right now.  In President Clinton’s tenure, he had the military seeing very high operation tempos during peace time, including many combat missions (e.g. ten years of bombardment of Iraq after Operation Desert Storm), yet he cut the military during this time period.  Now President Obama wants to repeat this.
               If the Federal budget needs to be cut, fine, make cuts across the board.  Start with the White House and Congress.  Go next to all the Federal Executive Service people in their fancy offices in Washington. Then to every person who sits at a desk.  The military should be the last place for personnel budget cuts, especially during wartime.
               Further get rid of the pork, and all the special interests that we so love to throw money at. Stop paying farmers to not grow crops. Stop building bridges to nowhere.
               If you want to cut the military budget, then fine.  Stand up to Europe and NATO. Make the Europeans stand up for their own defense. Likewise Korea, Japan, etc.  The US has been the police force for the world since World War II. The military has been deployed everywhere, because we are the strongest country.  This has allowed for other countries to have minimal military obligations, and the ability to use that money elsewhere, at our expense. 
Keep our military engaged in the defense of our borders, the protection of Israel, and protecting our vital interests at sea and overseas. Stop using our military as the police of the world. Stop getting into wars that accomplish nothing. Once you’ve done that, streamline the military and get rid of ridiculous acquisition programs that the military doesn’t want or need.
And then, and only then, consider cutting military pay and benefits.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rave Number 7 – The Midterm Election

           Well, the politicians have gone and done it, haven’t they.  It began with Gingrich in the 1990’s, when “Rush was right” (he really was wrong).  The Republicans impeached Clinton because the Democrats were pushing to the left.
          Then came Bush 2, and his “War on Terror” which was really a war on the world.  He and his Republicans went further and further to the right.  Along came the 2008 Presidential Election, with the McCain/Palin ticket.  Sarah Palin came out of nowhere to become a star and the role model for the “Tea Partiers”.
          Over the last couple years with Obama in office, he and the Democrat controlled House and Senate have pushed way far to the left, in response to the pushes to the right from the Republicans over the previous generations.
          So what happened yesterday?  The Republicans got control of the House and gained seats in the Senate.  With all the Tea Partiers who got elected, the roadblock to effectiveness that we already had in place is now going to get way worse.  During the past two years, the Republicans have as a whole refused to work with Obama and have opposed most of what Obama tried to do without any negotiation.  They were the minority yet they seemed to be in control
          Now they really are – they have the House and more Senators.  How much do you think we’ll be able to do for our Country in the next two years?  Not much, as I see it.  We’ll be in a huge standoff, with the House trying to push their same old sad song of supporting Big Business and Wall Street, while trying to destroy Main Street and the real people in this Country.  The Democrats, meanwhile, will keep trying to push their radical left wing ideas, and we’ll just have a big mess.
          The Republican mix in the house is not homogeneous however. There are the Tea Partiers, but there are also many mainstream Republicans who don’t see things the same way. It will be interesting to see if they can come close to having a common agenda – I’m doubtful.

          So – what do we do?  It is far time that we had a third, Centrist party in this Country.  All we have are the Republicans who want to polarize to the right and the Democrats who want to polarize to the left.  All of us are stuck in the middle with this tug-of-war.  We’re going to get torn to pieces.
          The only way this will ever get resolved is if America wakes up and gets enough people to realize what I’m saying, and form some kind of Centrist party that will work towards moderation in all of the agendas on both sides.  Every argument has some merit, but with the huge polarization, no-one is interested in compromise.
          I hope and pray that in 2012, there will be some common sense arising. Please, America, THROW THE BUMS OUT!!! Don’t vote for incumbents, and don’t vote for the same old dross.  Get some new people in there who can work the center, compromise, and actually move our country forward.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Sixth Rave - Political Advertisements

            There are a lot of things to love about this time of the year.  The weather is turning, with that chill in the air that lets you get out your sweaters, fire up the fire place, maybe a cup of cocoa. The leaves are beautiful (as long as they are still on the trees). My SF Giants are ahead 3-1 in the World Series (I'm waiting for the first pitch on [hopefully] the final game, as I write this.
            That being said, there is something very loathsome in the air right now.  That, my friends, is the election.  The political advertisements are nauseating.  I would like, in my heart to say that any candidate who slings mud should be banned in my mind.  This creates a huge turmoil for me here in Washington State.
            My candidate for Senator has been slinging mud like we’re building an adobe house.  The opponent is, imho, a vile person and not worth considering. So, it was with a heavy heart that I selected my candidate (we have all mail-in voting in WA).
            The same can be said with the advertisements for the ballot initiatives.  The lies that they tell on these commercials, not to mention the obfuscation, make it absolutely impossible to know what to do about these initiatives.
             Then there are the people behind the ads.  Some people are upfront about who they are, but there are some organizations sponsoring commercials that no-one has ever heard of. If one pulls the string, one finds a shell corporation over a dummy company over another shell, etc. and it takes myriad searching to find out who is really behind the ads themselves.
            I would love, for just one campaign, to have the candidates pledge to only tell me why they are qualified for the job.  What is their background? What will they do to fix the problems in Washington DC and throughout the country and our fractured world?  I don’t want to hear what they think of their opponent. I can guess that! They probably think their opponent is some slime that crawled out of the sewer drain.  Who CARES?!?!
            Tell me why I should vote for you or your initiative, in plain, straight talk. No political speak. No circular logic. Certainly no mud.  Just tell me why you are the best thing since sliced bread.  If you do that, you might not get my vote because I don’t agree with your platform, but at least I can intelligently choose whom to vote for, and I’ll have your respect.
            Remember the Golden Rule (and not the one in DC – “He who has the gold makes the rules”). I’m talking about the one that says don’t do to others what you don’t want them doing to you.  Speak positively.  Then perhaps we can have some real, honest debate, and the voters might actually turn out to vote.
            May the best candidates (not the ones with the biggest war chests) win the election tomorrow, and may our country see only improvement over these next two years.