KILLER BARRY O CONTINUES HIS ILLEGAL WARS OF CHOICE -- USUALLY AT A SAFE DISTANCE . . . FROM THE COURTS AND FROM THE PUBLIC.
ON THE GROUND IN AMERICA, THE ECONOMIC RECESSION CONTINUES. IN 2008, AS HE CAMPAIGNED FOR PRESIDENT AGAINST JOHN MCCAIN, CYNTHIA MCKINNEY AND RALPH NADER, KILLER BARRY SWORE HE'D PROVIDE JOBS AND HE'D LICK THE ECONOMY'S WAILS. THE BAD ECONOMY MAY BE THE ONLY THING HE REFUSED TO KILL.
FOUR YEARS LATER, IT'S NOT BULLY BOY BUSH'S ECONOMY, IT'S KILLER BARRY'S. AND "WHERE COMPANIES USED TO HIRE 10 PEOPLE, THEY NOW HIRE 2" AS THE JOB MARKET CONTINUES TO CONSTRICT.
THE ONLY TIME KILLER BARRY'S WORRIED ABOUT JOBS SINCE 2008 WAS WHEN HE WAS RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION.
EVEN NOW, HE'S FOCUSED ON EVERYTHING BUT THE ECONOMY.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
"Together there's no challenge we can't meet on behalf of our veterans," declared Veterans Affairs Committee Jeff Miller declared yesterday at a hearing where members of Congress heard from Disabled Veterans of America. Chair Bernie Sanders offered, "It is unacceptable that veterans wait months and months and years and years to get those claims adjudicated. That is an issue we've got to work on and that we've got to solve."
Two Chairs? Yes, not a typo. Yesterday the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a joint-hearing. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair is Jeff Miller, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair is Bernie Sanders.
Chair Sanders is the new Chair of the Committee. Everybody finds their own way as Chair and Ranking Member. I love Daniel Akaka, he's a great senator. But I criticized him when he was in the post. Chair Miller got raked over the coals by me for months. And then, when he was doing a strong job, the raking was gone and I thought we were all aware that was due to the stronger job but a friend asked me if I hadn't noticed how Miller had adjusted so it obviously wasn't clear so there's a snapshot where I make a point to note that he didn't just improve, he grew into his role and was doing a strong job. Senator Patty Murray?
She's the exception. Over a year before she became Chair, we were advocating for her to be the Chair here. That was because she had the energy, she had the skills and she had the determination. She's the rare person who takes over as Chair and hits the ground running. I don't believe we ever had a need to criticize her negatively as Chair. By the same token, I am sure she did not get the praise others would have gotten for the same work. In the coverage of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearings, we advocated for her to be the Chair and when she became the Chair, she really did the amazing job that most knew she was capable of. And because we expected her to do such a great job, we were able to focus on what she was doing and she probably got short changed in terms of praise here as a result. So my apologies for that. She was a great Chair and I wish she was still Chair. (She now Chairs the Senate Budget Committee and she remains on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.)
I say all of that to note that things just aren't fair. Miller's performance got critiques that Murray's never did. I paid attention to Miller's performance because I found it lacking. I didn't even note Murray's performance because it was so professional -- from day one as Chair -- that we were able to instead focus on what happened in the hearings. And let's put in an honor that's been bestowed upon Senator Murray. Her office issued the following today:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Senator Murray Honored by Military Order of the Purple Heart
Recognized for leadership and distinguished service to our nation's veterans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was presented the Inspirational Leadership Award by the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) during a private ceremony in her Capitol Hill offices. MOPH National Commander Bruce McKenty presented this year’s award to Senator Murray which read:
“Since being elected to the Senate in 1992, Senator Patty Murray has consistently served as an advocate for veterans, military members and their families.
“Having been raised in the family of a disabled World War II veteran, she came to the Senate fully understanding the sacrifices, as well as the physical and emotional scars the veterans bring home with them.
“Senator Murray was the first female Senator to serve on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and serves as its Chair in the 112th Congress. She has consistently been a tireless advocate for all veterans.
“She led the battle for increased funding for veterans’ healthcare and increased benefits, and profoundly recognized the importance of specialized programs for veterans suffering from TBI and PTSD.
“Senator Murray continues to support education and employment opportunities, better health care for women veterans and a myriad of other programs that she believes America owes its veterans.
“Senator Murray’s service reflects great credit upon herself, the United States Senate and the United States of America.”
The organization now known as the "Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.," was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal.
Click here to download high resolution photo.
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834Get Updates from Senator Murray
So congratulations to Senator Murray on a well deserved honor.
As I stated earlier, Chair Jeff Miller grew stronger and stronger and is a very good Chair today. Bernie Sanders may grow stronger and stronger. But this was his first hearing as Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
In these hearings, the joint-hearings where they hear from one service group, you're really just trying to get your message out -- regardless of whether you're providing testimony on behalf of your organization to the Committee or whether you're a member of the Committee addressing the veterans gathered and outlining what you hope to do or assuring what you plan to do. One of Chair Sanders' big points -- probably his biggest -- was what follows.
Chair Bernie Sanders: Last point. How many people in this room know what a chained CPI is? See, everybody up here knows what a Chained CPI is. We know. But most people in America don't know. So on TV tonight, you're going to hear people talking about the need for entitlement reform for a Chained CPI. What a Chained CPI is a different way of configuring COLAS for Social Security and for disabled veterans. A Chained CPI would make significant cuts for some 3,000,000 disabled veterans as well as everybody on Social Security. Now I feel very strongly that (a) the deficit situation is a serious problem, it has to be dealt with but you don't deal with it on the backs of disabled veterans and widows who lost their husbands in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Anyone see any problems?
First up, don't insult you audience. Did he mean to? No. 'We all know up here but you don't' doesn't necessarily sound welcoming and was griped about by three veterans I spoke with after the hearing. Two more veterans were confused by "COLAs." They knew he didn't mean sodas. But what did he mean? COLA is a Cost Of Living Adjustment. I doubt anyone is now confused reading "Cost Of Living Adjustment." The three offended were all over fifty. Not surprising, COLA questions came from two veterans under the age of thirty. You're going to have a wide audience of veterans and you need, if you're the Chair, to communicate with them. Anytime they're stopping to ask "Hey, what's COLA?" or "Did he just insult me?" -- that's time they stop listening because your words have distracted them. The point was important to Sanders -- he's one of the strongest advocates for Social Security in the Senate. But he lost five I spoke to. This was the first hearing as Chair of the Committee. I do feel it was a mistake. It wasn't a mistake that's going to haunt him or even be remembered in a month. But it did take place and it was remarked on (strongly) by three veterans. I did share with them a point that's worth noting here. That section that we quoted, it wasn't being read. Chair Sanders was speaking off the cuff and trying to get away from the reading aspect of his statements. I'm not trying to rescue him. If I were trying to rescue him, I'd be saying, "And he looked nervous, everybody, it was his first time chairing!" He didn't look nervous. He looked comfortable in his environment. It was a mistake -- in that the wording distracted from an important point he wanted to make -- but it wasn't a major one or the end of the world.
I spoke with twelve veterans after the hearing -- two were unimpressed with the entire hearing -- it was the first one they'd attended that was one service organization. Those really aren't typical hearings. There's no real questioning and not a panel of witnesses because usually one person speaks for all. That left ten veterans. We've already noted five, the other five? Two were impressed with Miller (though one confused him with Senator John Boozman, he was praising the remarks Miller had made). Two felt all the members who spoke did a good job. And one felt House Veterans Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael Michaud did a great job. I thought he did as well and he's been slighted the last two times I've covered full House Veterans Affairs Committee hearings because I've wanted to quote him but there were other aspects of the hearing and other representatives we had to grab.
Ranking Member Mike Michaud: As you know, the administration has delayed the release of its Fiscal Year 2014 proposal. While VA programs are spared from the effects of sequestration, it does not mean that veterans will be left unaffected. Veterans will lose extended unemployment insurance as well as face cuts in the critical TAP program -- just to name a few. In addition, all of our citizens will face the effects of sequestration at the state and local levels as well. The VA is at a crossroads. Many important decisions will need to be made as we look towards the future. Working with you and the VA, we'll make sure that the choices are both fiscally responsible and in the best interests of our veterans. I look forward to your testimony today. Again, thank you and your organization for the years of service that you have given to make sure that veterans issues and their families issues are heard here on the Hill so thank you very much, Commander.
Commander is Larry Polzin and he is the National Commander of Disabled Veterans of America. There are many ways a veteran can end up being disabled. They can be harmed while serving, for example. When we think of that, we may think of the loss of a limb or of emotional or mental wounds. Hearing issues actually remain a constant even in the most recent wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. As Manuel Gallegus (CBS News HealthWatch -- link is text and video) reported last May, "60% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have damaged hearing" -- with tinnitus being the most common, followed by hearing loss. We note that regularly because veterans write to the public e-mail account to note the hearing issues and how they often feel that newer and 'hotter' disabilities get attention while hearing issues don't. One thing that hasn't gotten attention in the last weeks from me is the victims of burn pits. I'm an idiot. My apologies for being an idiot. My plan was to note regularly the upcoming symposium -- it's next week -- and I believe we only noted it twice, the last time near the start of the month. Disabilities from burn pits are life threatening. The Congress passed a burn pit registry bill at the very end of the last session and that is great news but there is so much to be done.
Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York is gearing up to host a symposium on the issue. This will be their second one, their 2nd Annual Scientific Symposium on Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan. The symposium will take place March 4th which isn't that far away. If you'd like to register to attend, you can click here for the registration info if you're doing it by mail or by fax as well as a registration link if you'd like to register online. A resource for burn pit issues is Burn Pits 360
Two key points here. Friday, March 1st is the last day to register to attend the symposium. So keep that in mind. Second, one of the things the Veterans Affairs Committees in both houses have long addressed is rural veterans. Senator Jon Tester, for example, often notes the rural veterans in his state and how certain computer interaction would benefit them. If you're a rural veteran or you're no where near Stony Brook, New York, they are offering -- for $50 for veterans or veteran family members -- a live stream of the symposium. So that may be something that you'll be interested in.
The Congressional hearing we noted earlier was a joint-hearing of the House and Senate's veterans committees. Chair Bernie Sanders solos in his first Senate hearing as Chair next month:
There will be a meeting of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs in SR-418, Russell Senate Office Building, on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. to conduct a hearing titled "VA Claims Process -- Review of VA's Transformation Efforts."
Deputy Clerk/ Systems Administrator
U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
412 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510 | 202.224.6478
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