Sunday, 26 July 2009

H. R. 3200, the VFW, and Military Retirees


Simply to toss another log on this health care universal policy episode. I blogged earlier about what I'd found....and this strange lack of comment from the VFW. Typically....the VFW guys always have an opinion on everything and readily provide data about things that would affect military retirees.

This is their page on current bills in the house and congress. Note: H. R. 3200 doesn't appear. They don't support or deny support.

Then you start to dig. Their database has the page sitting out there....with virtually nothing of value on it. A few bits indicate where it sits at the current time.

Nothing.

VFW playing stupid? Or is it beyond them and their agenda? This is the curious thing. Typically, they are on top of any bill which could screw up military retirees. They don't even have an opinion.

So I went over to MOAA...which is a credible retiree association within military circles. They have some comments on the topic...which I found interesting:

"It’s too early to know for sure. There are three major health care reform bills currently being discussed in Congress. We’ve spoken to staffers in both the House and Senate, and have been given pretty consistent assurances that there’s no intent to alter military and VA health care coverage or benefits, or to tax those benefits under any pending reform plan. Nor is there any plan to somehow roll military health coverage into a broader government-run plan".

At least these guys are talking to the members of the House and have some decent idea. Most of us...would readily agree to just keep things as they are. We aren't 100 percent happy....but we sure as heck don't want Canadian health care as our system.

Minimum Wage Hell

When you sit there and work in a minimum wage job....for years.....it's crap. There is no denial about that. Walk around your town and you can find a quarter of the service jobs fall into this category.

The McDonalds folks? They tend to bring you on at minimum wage, and at some point....six to twelve months....they pump it a quarter. And maybe at some other point, it gets pumped up against by a quarter. Frankly, it barely serves any purpose but making you think you are getting ahead....but you aren't.

When you've accepted this type of employment, you've condemned yourself and maybe your entire life. There are likely guys that I went to high school with.....and today make $8 a hour ($320 a week before taxes).

The adjustment of the fed's to a higher rate? It's probably a necessity but it truly doesn't fix anything.

A guy needs to use the jobs for a year or two....prepare a resume....and move on. You can't stay in one job or one business. You have to accept change and find jobs that eventually pay $10, and then onto $14. You've got no choice. You can't allow yourself to just fall into the pit and stay there.

This is not a government solution....it's a personal one. A guy has to prepare himself mentally to just keep upgrading and moving on. Stagnant attitudes....just leaves you standing there with less than $2k a month and no real future.

The GatesGate Episode

I have allowed a couple of days to pass before adding commentary to this Boston Gates episode.

First, after a long flight and two weeks on vacation....you can just imagine anyone...including myself....arriving back to the house and no key. Jet-lag would be setting in and I'd be pretty tired and upset. Yeah, I would have asked the cab driver to help find this mystery key to enter the house. The minute any cop arrived....yeah....I would have been helpful for 60 seconds and probably then got upset at any hint that he was after me as a criminal.

Second, this is a rental property that the professor has rented. Whats strange is that he has lived there for a fair amount of time....and the neighbors still didn't recognize the guy. When the cops wanted to know about the ownership and who you are....most of us would have had them get the neighbor out and just identify us. The professor didn't do that.....for whatever reason. I suspect that no neighbor has ever met the professor in person or knows the guy beyond seeing him come and go.

Third, the cop sounds like he gave this guy a good fifteen to twenty minutes to simmer down and get collected. There has to be some cooperation for this ID method and owner situation to be fixed up. The professor never calmed down. So the cop said....what the heck....take him onto the station and let him explain there. After twenty minutes of a tirade and no real cooperation....I would have done the same thing. I got better things to do....then waste time with a guy who is now suspicious in nature and not cooperating.

Fourth, you've got a president who wanted to make his observations on the cops....and used the word "stupid". There are 10,000 words he could have used. This was one of a dozen that should have never been used. Then while using it....he felt totally comfortable. I watched the video clip....and it amazed me that he just rolled this off and never hesitated.

Fifth, we come to the daily press conference where Tubby (the White House press dude)....suddenly has the president walk in and announces that he really can't understand how people have taken offense to his comment and that this just ain't right. He even continues on to say a over-reaction occurred with the Cambridge police department and the arrest was totally unnecessary. He's never been on any patrol with any cop or seen the various situations that a cop could walk into.

It was a bad situation....some professor lost his keys....and triggered an entire event that involves the president of the United States. Heck.....how many people each week end up in a situation like this? I worked with a guy once who lost his house keys three times in one month and the worst that came out of that was rekeying the house doors twice.

So the worst thing to come now? The professor will have a break-in within two months....and the cops will call the local TV station to come out while they slowly go through all the questions. Then the professor will have another break-in.....with another long drawn out police visit with the TV station recording. The robbers know that the cops won't react to any report at that residence. Why ask for trouble? And the bad part.....you end up with some President who is involved in local little troubles and the press corps eventually asks about baseball scores in Birmingham or hog prices in Jackson.

Before Action


Somewhere in the midst of the Great War...WW I....there stood a young Brit who had a talent of poetry. W.N.Hodgson lived a short and full life...dying at the age of 23 in the trenches of France (in 1916).

He wrote a eternal poem which is worth remembering:

"Before Action"

By all the glories of the day
And the cool evening's benison,
By that last sunset touch that lay
Upon the hills where day was done,
By beauty lavishly outpoured
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived
Make me a solider, Lord.

By all of man's hopes and fears,
And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavor that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.

I, that on my familiar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of Thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say goodbye to all of this;--
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.

Honduras: The Saga Continues

As the sun set yesterday in Nicaragua and Honduras...it was a fairly big mess at the border. Deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya did actually make it to the border....crossed it....and then within half an hour or so.....returned to Nicaragua.

The Honduran solders kept the border secure and refused entry.

As I watched this on CNN unfold....it was like some circus episode.

There were many 100 actual supporters with Zelaya in this convoy and at the site at the border. There were almost the same number of folks there.....as reporters. They took tons of pictures and video. Half the time, you couldn't see anything of Zelaya except that white cowboy hat he wears.

He made a grand speech....did interviews with dozens of news guys....and then announced that he was setting up camp at the site.

He says he's waiting for more supporters, and his family.....to join him at the site. I would imagine his wife is all excited about visiting at some dirt site in the middle of nowhere...in the midst of summer....with bugs and mosquitoes everywhere.

I thought he'd take a day or two to reach the site and draw this out....so it surprises me a little. What can he do at this point? Nothing much.

The Honduran government is proceeding with its planned election on 29 November of this year. So it's around 120 days away. Once the election occurs...this argument by Zelaya is finished.

I read up on this election business. It has two interesting aspects. First, typically, the Honduran authority normally sets up a 48-hour period before the election....with NO booze to be sold anywhere (even in bars). I'm kinda amazed by this directive. We would have trouble with this in the US if we tried to implement it there.

Second, Honduras is a fairly remote state. You have voting stations in some isolated remote village where a guy has to drive three hours down a dirt road (barely at 30 mph), to get over to the county seat and announce the official tally at the remote site.

So this opera continues on....and I think Zelaya will sit around for ten days....drinking beer and posing with journalists....until they start leaving because there is no story. The last guys out? CNN. They are fairly desperate to get some points out of this story.

Hot Lusty Wine: Forbidden in Bama

Deep in the heart of Bama, we have a board that meets on occasion. In a state full of Baptists and moral "giants"....this board has the job of protecting every citizen of the state.

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board went out on the limb and said to stores and restaurants throughout the state....NOT to sell the wine from the Cycle Gladiator bunch. Their label has some hot lusty long red-haired French gal of ample proportions about to board a bike in the nude.

Their logic? The damn label had been rejected by the agency. Someone within the AABCB and gone out years ago and wrote liquor regulations prohibit labels that are offensive or immodest.

To be honest....Bama is the first state to decline Cycles Gladiator. And to be further honest, it had sold in the state for at least two years before someone on the board woke up and actually did their job.

Cycles Gladiator is a historical name of sorts. It originally started out in Paris (maybe another reason why the board has issues)....by some eccentric guy who wanted to build state-of-the-art bicycles. The guy? Alexandre Darracq. In this 1880s/1890s period....bikes were like the original DVD player....every guy had to have one. So tons of money was made by companies that appeared out of nowhere. It was the posters that went out to the sales shops that interested guys in the magnificent bike that Darracq sold.

So the same concept is used in wine....guys see this hot nudey gal on a bike, on a wine bottle....and they gotta have it.

Naturally, since I drink a fair amount of red wine....I had an immediate interest in this (not because of the damn label). So this bottle of wine is a bit unique. It's dark in color....lots of berry and lightly hidden hints of green olives and chocolate (so described). Personally, I really don't like the idea of mixing olive taste into a wine but maybe it adds something.

I went over to a wine site and read up on what you'd use this wine with....beef, chicken, pasta dishes, savory appetizers and tangy cheeses. Savory appetizers and tangy cheeses? Where the heck would a Bama guy get this kind of stuff? Now, if we are talking about cheese wiz and saltine crackers....ok, but I got the feeling they mean real elite party food. In Bama....you might have to drive all the way over to New Orleans to find stuff like this.

I must be honest....I haven't ever bought a wine because of the label. Either it has a unique taste or it's damn cheap. In this case, at $9.99 a bottle....I might question if its worth drinking. Me personally, I awful stuck on Lambrusco (not a brand but a general type of Italian wine that regular folks drink)...it's cheap, red and fruity, and goes with just about anything....to include salted peanuts and dippy stuff. It generally only comes from the Lombardy region of Italy and elite drinkers frown on this....hence the reason for its cheapness. Amusingly, on a trip back to Bama four years ago....I saw it in Wal-Mart for $6 a bottle. You can buy it here in Europe for $4 a bottle....but hey, someone's got to pay for Wal-Mart profit.

Now, I have been known for buying beer in Denmark...based strictly on the label (Elephant beer for example).

So as the sun sets on Bama tonight, and you've driven over to the beverage shop to get yourself some Cycle Gladiator....and you realize it's forbidden in the state...then you start to calculate the distance to the Tennessee, Florida, Georgia or Mississippi border. You poor folks in Montgomery....you guys are screwed...it's a fair distance to the border.

You can be thankful that the Bama Beverage Board is actively working to protect your innocence and virtues. Face it....you would have sat there and drink the whole bottle with Wanda...got kinda peppy...looked at the cover...and started to get funny ideas. Next thing you know....throughout the whole state....guys would be buying the wine and have hot lusty stuff with their Wanda...and then you got major problems with the Baptists. So thank God....we have AABCB.