Friday, September 21, 2012

Rachel Gets Pissed: The Veterans Jobs Bill

   I'm in trouble.
   I attended a SRHT event at noon yesterday that celebrated resident's participation in various groups that the trust facilitates, when out of the blue my lovely yoga teacher, Beth Dian Prandini, walked up to me and said, "Where ya been?"
   I haven't been going to yoga class for a while. I do yoga for 15 minutes every morning at 4:30AM exactly, but I hadn't been going to class. I tell myself it's simply because I've been too busy, and that I need to buy some new yoga clothes, which is true, but I never seem to get around to buying them.
   "I've been busy and I need new yoga clothes," I told her lamely.
   She said she liked my mustache. I told her thank you. Then she said she liked my ear ring. "I've turned pirate," I told her.
   She told me it was nice to see me again, then walked off into the crowd.
   Now I have to go to yoga class on Tuesday, or she'll put some kind of yoga curse on me or something.
   That's her picture just above. Isn't she pretty?
   A little too old for me though... and she's married... damn it.
   Here's a link to Beth's web-site in case you need some great yogaing, and all kinds of important information to stay healthy and content.
   If you hire Beth tell her you heard about her from me so she won't be mad at me any more.
   I really am busy you know. Wednesday night I was busy watching The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, where I saw her get real mad. Boy, was she pissed, as you can tell from the first picture above.
   Actually that picture wasn't from Wednesday night's show. It looks like it was from some appearance she was making on some talk program, but it was the closest picture I could find on the entire Internet Machine that somewhat resembled what it would look like if she were to be really mad at something.
   She never really gets mad at anything though, or at least she doesn't show it, like I do, or Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, or Gov Jennifer Granholm who really gets unhinged at times. No Rachel's usually all smiley all of the time, she's so sweet.
   She'll eviscerate you if you're an offending conservative, but in a sweet way.
   Why was Rachel so angry? Glad you asked. I'll tell you.
   When I was in the navy I learned how to drive small boats. They call the driver of small boats a coxswain, which means "boat servant."
   I used to work on and drive what is called the captain's gig, which is a motorized boat that the Captain of the ship uses when he needs a boat to take him somewhere. We also used that boat to direct waves of other boats onto a beach during amphibious landings. In other words I would drive the captain's gig in front of and leading a horizontal colum of landing craft toward the beach. At just the right time I would make a sharp right or left turn and get out of the way of the incoming landing craft, and skedaddle out of there ASAP.
   I also drove some of those landing craft. Yeah! I know (or knew) how to drive a boat onto a beach, lower the forward ramp to let all of the soldiers in the boat out so they can get shot at, raise the ramp, and back up, turn around and get the hell out of there before the next wave of landing craft got there.
   It was fun as long as no one was shooting at you.
   A lot of military service personnel are trained in various jobs and specialties that do not translate very well back in the civilian world. In my own case I suppose I could have tried to find work somewhere operating a small boat, but those kind of jobs are already more than likely being filled by people who have been doing that in the civilian world for years and years. The job market for a coxswain is more than likely very small, so accordingly I entered an entirely different field for which I had to be trained, in my case as a veterinary helper. I did that for a few years until I got a better job in the customer service industry for which I worked for many years, talking to people over the phone.
   Or take John Rambo for instance. Like many in the military he was specifically trained to search for and kill other people, and... well that's about it. He knows a lot about weapons, explosives, bobby traps, hand to hand combat, camouflage, on and on.
   There's not a huge market for lethal killers back here in the states as a civilian. Maybe in Mexico there's a market currently working for a drug cartel, but in that type of work the job security is notoriously poor. And there's no dental.
   Rambo couldn't find any work and became... disgruntled. Our vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are having the same problem. Their unemployment rate is anywhere from 10.9 to 11 to 12% depending on where you get your info from and at what time. Still it is significantly higher than the national average of 8.1.
   720,000 veterans are unemployed across the nation, including 220,000 veterans who have served since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to  Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, sponsor of the Veterans Jobs Corps initiative, which President Obama first proposed during his last State of the Union speech in February. The initiative involves a partnership with the Veterans Administration and the Interior Department, directing $1 billion that would put up to  20,000 veterans (depending on the number of applicants) to work over the next five years rebuilding trails, roads and levees on public lands, and at the same time, contribute to the struggling economy. This is a stimulus package that helps vets, the economy, and the nation's infrastructure. Sounds great right? It certainly sounds good to me.  As a matter of fact the Democrats in the Senate wanted bipartisan support while drafting the bill and asked the Republicans to help.
   Rachel introduced four of them to the nation on her show Wednesday night. Senators John Boozman, Mike Johanns, Richard Burr and Pat Toomey (pictures above, in order of mention), all helped draft the Veterans Jobs Corps initiative.
   What disturbed Rachel was that these four Senators, when it came time to advance the bill through the Senate, voted against it, and in so doing so the initiative was filibustered (58 to 40, 60 votes needed to advance) and sent back to committee, and will not be taken up again, if at all, until next year, after the new Congress is seated.
   Why did this happen? Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma led the fight against it, saying the $1 billion price tag violated Senate procedures, that there was already 6 veteran jobs programs, and "If in fact we want to help veterans get jobs, there are lots of ways to do it," Coburn said on the floor before the vote. "We need to make sure the job training programs we have are working, and they're not."
   Supporters of the bill pointed out that the initiative paid for itself through increased revenue, which negated Coburn's point about cost. Considering the number of veterans that are still  unemployed, Coburn's objection to a seventh veteran's job program seems strange. What is he objecting to, too much help?!
   Even if the initiative were not paid for, do we really want to object to helping veterans return to society, a society that we asked them to leave in order to serve our country?
   Republicans love to allocate money for war. The last three wars were started by Republicans. They like to funnel money to defense contractors as well, and it's just so much easier to do that if the country is at war.
   In order to fight these wars we ask our children to serve in the armed forces. As a country we are supposed to provide whatever it takes to give our men and women who fight for us the best equipment and facilities to keep them safe considering the circumstances. But we haven't been doing that. Concerns about personnel armor arose in Iraq. Shoddy work by defense contractors caused soldiers to be electrocuted when they took showers. Armed Personnel Vehicles didn't have enough armor.
   And when our soldiers come home we are supposed to care for them if the need it. That is the commitment that we as a nation have made to these men and women.
   Republicans however are not motivated to do that because it costs money... money that does not go directly to defense contractors.
   But the real reason that they filibustered this Job Corp initiative is simply because it was President Obama who requested its passage. Because it was President Obama who proposed it back in February, and that we are very close to the November election right now and the Republicans will not do anything to make the President appear successful... at anything! Because Sen Mitch McConnell's top political priority is to deny the President a second term.
   No wonder she's pissed off.
   I am too.
   The entire country should be.

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