Tag Archives: veterans

“WHAT YOU DO TO THE LEAST OF THESE” OUR VETERANS,By Louise Annarino,September 19,2012

20 Sep

“WHAT YOU DO TO THE LEAST OF THESE” OUR VETERANS; By Louise Annarino,September19,2012

Today was a day of further frustration as Republicans blocked passage of a veterans jobs bill. Democrats needed 60 votes but got only 58,including votes of 5 Republicans who joined them in attempting to override a point of order raised by Sen. Sessions (R-Ala).  Senator/Chairperson of the Veterans Affairs committee Patty Murray (D-Wash,) hoped an amendment she introduced which included a provision by Sen.Burr (R-NC) as a compromise to satisfy Republican objections could have gotten to a vote. “At every turn, we have sought compromise. But instead of meeting us halfway, we have been met with resistance,” Murray said. “Instead of saying yes to the nearly one million unemployed veterans, it seems some on the other side have spent the last week and a half seeking out any way to say no.” She warned that such Republican obstruction threatens every effort to aid veterans.

The $1 billion Veterans Jobs Corp Act would have paid for itself over 10 years. It would have created job-training and assistance to obtain work in targeted fields including police work,firefighting,national park conservation, historic preservation projects etc. The same persons who had no problem sending our young men and women to war, with no money budgeted to pay for those wars, objected on a budget point of order to aide the veterans of those wars. The deficit they decry was partially created by borrowing money to pay for those wars in order to avoid raising taxes and upsetting Grover Norquist. The same persons who raised no objection when passing Medicare Part D without funding the expansion to cover prescriptions, and who refused to include language to require bulk rates by pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of this unpaid mandate, refused to even consider a bill to put our unemployed veterans to  work.

Sen Tom Coburn (R-Ok) opposed it because it duplicated other efforts; Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky), because it did not include a provision to force Pakistan to free Dr. Shakil Afridi, the doctor who led the US to Osama bin Laden. While I appreciate Dr. Afridi’s help, I also appreciate the soldiers who were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan to find Bin Laden and destroy Al Qaeda. Our soldiers should not be held hostage by Sen. Paul.The hypocrisy is overwhelming.

One appreciates even more Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown’s unwavering support for America’s veterans. Brown was an original cosponsor of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, a key provision of which is VRAP, which offers job retraining assistance to veterans; up to 99,000 veterans will receive retraining assistance through March 31,2014.

The veteran jobs bill was expected to create at least 20,000 jobs at a time when one in four veterans are unemployed. But, then, they are part of Mr. Romney’s 47%, so perhaps Republicans think they are merely unwilling to take care of themselves, and feel entitled to depend on their government, and the people, all of us, who sent them to war. Here’s a novel idea: THEY ARE ENTITLED.

The Center for American Progress has put together this list showing the unfortunate facts behind veterans’ homelessness:

50 percent: Rate at which veterans are more likely than other Americans to become homeless. The Obama administration has set a goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.

About 75,000: Number of veterans who are homeless on any given night, according to estimates from the Veterans Administration.

About 20,000: Number of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who were homeless in the past five years according to the Veterans Administration.

5.5 percent: Percentage of homeless vets who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan in the overall homeless population, according to the Veterans Administration.

A Veteran Commits Suicide Every 80 Minutes, according to a Center for a New American Security Suicide report. And, according to armytimes.com. 1,868 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, in 2009 alone, made suicide attempts. Marine Corps veteran Jason Christiansen, 35, of St. Paul, Minn. watched his life unravel upon completing his service. He lost his job as an auto dealer in 2008, avoided debt collectors and fell into a serious depression, and considered suicide. Minnesota.publicradio.org reports. Should he be able to expect more from the nation he served at the risk of his life, over there and back here ?

Recent job initiatives by President Obama have helped veteran unemployment fall by six points over the past year. Between January 2010 and January 2011, veteran homelessness declined by 12 percentage points. Still, with wars winding down in Iraq and Afghanistan, those numbers could increase rapidly without government safeguards, according to the Center for American Progress.

Perhaps this explains why Republicans blocked this bill. They could not hand President Obama ANY success, even that of helping our veterans. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America reacted with strength,dignity, and disappointment. “Once again, this Congress let partisan bickering stand in the way of putting thousands of America’s heroes back to work,“ said Paul Rieckhoff, the organization’s founder. “Lowering veteran unemployment is something both parties should be able to agree on – even in an election year.” It’s the least our veterans should be able to expect from us.

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ROMNEY’S ON A ROLL-TWO LIES IN TWO DAYS,By Louise Annarino, August 9,2012

9 Aug

ROMNEY’S ON A ROLL-TWO LIES IN TWO DAYS,By Louise Annarino,August 9,2012

 

LIE#1

TANF(Temporary Assistance to Needy Families),signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 is the basis for welfare-to-work requirements. States must follow regulations meant to place welfare recipients in jobs. It includes a provision allowing waivers of state plans. The Obama Administration is the first in 16 years to listen to concerns from state officials, Republican and Democratic, that the work requirements are so rigid they actually create bureaucratic blocks to job placement. A memo from HHS (Health and Human Services)  one week ago stated it was open to experiments allowed by waiver to help states “find more effective mechanisms for helping families succeed in state employment.” The memo to the states reinforced that waivers would not be granted which could reduce access to employment,the same time limits would remain in place, and the waiver would be revoked if the experiment failed. “If states are not meeting their performance targets,their authority to test new ideas will be terminated,” said George Sheldon who oversees the program at HHS. (see more at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=156741426 ).

 

In Romney-speak this translates to “I hope you understand that President Obama in just the last few days has tried to reverse that accomplishment by taking the work requirement out of welfare. That is wrong. If I’m president I will put work back in welfare.” See video at (http://www.mittromney.com/news/press/2012/08/mitt-romney-we-must-restore-work-welfare ). This video is now part of his political ads, is repeated as a factual account of what occurred on FOX news and elsewhere. This distortion of an effort to recognize the unique needs of individual states to put more welfare recipients to work should have been well-received, not falsely attacked, by those who so often argue for “states’ rights”.

Posted August 8, 2012 on Romney’s official website:

-Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison today made the following statement on President Obama’s dismantling of bipartisan welfare reforms:“President Obama’s push to eliminate welfare to work requirements goes against everything Republicans and Democrats—including President Bill Clinton—fought so hard for more than a dozen years ago.

  • Former Speaker Newt Gingrich today made the following statement on President Obama’s dismantling of bipartisan welfare reforms:“As an architect of the historic and bipartisan 1996 welfare reform bill, I am disturbed and angered that the Obama administration is undoing the act’s central concept of a welfare-to-work requirement. The hugely successful reform saved billions for taxpayers

This lie is particularly disheartening when tied to his comments to NAACP, and subsequent speeches wherein he uses racial code talk “people who want to get free stuff”, “big bucks who won’t work”. His lies reinforce negative racial stereotypes, and foster racial and class division. These lies do more harm than costing one’s opponent an election.

LIE#2

After some Ohio voters faced hours-long lines at polling places during the 2004 presidential election, the state adopted reforms designed to prevent similar problems in the future. Those reforms included allowing voters to cast ballots at county boards of elections for an extended period before elections.

Earlier this year the Republican-controlled Ohio Legislature passed an Election Reform Law (HB 194)under the guise of stopping non-existent voter fraud. “The…closely-analyzed 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. National Weather Service data shows that Americans are struck and killed by lightning about as often.” (see more at http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/policy_brief_on_the_truth_about_voter_fraud/ ).

 

In reaction to the more than 300,000 signatures on a petition by Ohioans to place a referendum to repeal the law on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted convinced the legislature to repeal the law. Two weeks after HB 194 passed, another law (HB 224) affirmed a rolled back early voting three days before an election, except for active military and overseas voters whose prior rights had been overlooked when HB 194 was passed.

 

This seemed redundant for other voters already denied under law (HB 194). HB224 was passed as an emergency measure and super majority to protect the early voting rights of active military and overseas voters who were not considered when passing HB 194. It was meant to correct an oversight but in effect It continued the suppression of voting the 3 days before an election except for active military and overseas voters.

Although HB 194 was repealed HB 224 remains, including the restrictions on week-end voting repealed in HB 194. Clearly what appears to be a technicality is suppressing votes.In the last presidential election 93,000 Ohioans voted on that week-end.

 

 

The Obama campaign filed a lawsuit to restore the right of all Ohioans to vote,as they did in 2008, during the three days before the Tuesday election. It does not seek to disenfranchise military and overseas voters.”Plaintiffs seek to restore for all voters access to early voting through the Monday before Election Day,” the Obama campaign’s brief said. “Neither the substance of its Equal Protection claim, nor the relief requested, challenges the legislature’s authority to make appropriate accommodation, including early voting during the period in question, for military voters, their spouses or dependents. The question before the Court is whether, in the circumstances of this case, the State of Ohio may arbitrarily and without justification withdraw from all other Ohio eligible voters the same right they previously had to vote the weekend and Monday before election day.”

 

The lawsuit argues that all Ohio voters should be permitted to cast ballots that weekend, as members of the U.S. military are permitted to do. The complaint alleged that Ohio’s legislature failed to justify the disparate treatment between military and nonmilitary voters, and contended the “unequal burden on the fundamental right to vote violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.”

 

In Romney-speak this translate to “President Obama’s lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period is an outrage,” the Republican candidate’s Facebook message proclaimed. Next came a statement from the campaign: “We Must Defend the Rights of Military Voters.” Right-wing bloggers took it from there, and the outraged headlines came pouring forth. ( see more at http://prospect.org/article/red-white-and-untrue-romneys-big-lie-about-military-voting ).

 

The Romney campaign asserts that military personnel are losing the extension of time to vote they deserve, and have historically had, while serving overseas. But the voters in question are not voting absentee; they are voting in-person on absentee ballots. Absentee ballots filed from overseas are not created by the law being challenged.

The government already assures extra efforts for military voters—thanks in part to President Obama. He signed the Military Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which made a number of extra voting guarantees to servicemen and women overseas. For example, military bases now must have voter-registration services, and those serving overseas are allowed to send and receive their applications for voter registration and absentee ballots by email or fax as well as through the mail. Diane Mazur, a law professor at the University of Florida and a former Air Force officer, told Buzzfeed that the groups’ argument is “extremely misleading.” Mazur says there’s no history of of special privilege for military voters casting a ballot in person. “The idea that service member are fuller citizens than the rest of America is a disaster for military professionalism,” she says.

The problem with lies is that they must be sustained. Surrogates like Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison,campaign advisers, newscasters become pawns used to sow distortion and division. Voters are made needlessly fearful. Fifteen military organizations pumped up by team Romney intervened in the Ohio law suit believing they face a loss of voting privileges. Jon Stoltz, who heads the group VoteVets, and supports the Obama campaign’s lawsuit said in a telephone call to reporters “What appalled me so much about the narrative in Ohio is that the Romney campaign is supporting legislation that actually denies 900,000 veterans in the state of Ohio the right to vote early…In short, Mitt Romney supports efforts to make voting more difficult for the very people who have put their lives on the line,” Soltz notes.

The facts show that Romney’s claim about restricting military voting is a blatant distortion. The purpose of the lawsuit is to ensure that every Ohioan—including military voters—has the right to make their voices heard at the polls.

 

Everyone lies,so tey say.But, the complete misrepresentation of fact. The total reversal of an opponent’s credited position on an issue, the blatant change of historical fact, the warping of legal pleadings to serve a partisan political agenda are so overwhelmingly unique in their proportionality to past campaign lies they beggar description. This is something new. This is Romney-speak.