Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Another sad day for America...

Below is a Washington Post staff/wire service report on the ceremony to close Walter Reed Army Medical Center. If you served in the U.S. Army, and were wounded, there's a good chacne you went through WRAH. That facility will soon be a thing of the past, consolidating in Bethesda.
I'm sure it's all for the budgetary betterment of active soldiers, but a piece of American history will go by the wayside.
Walter Reed holds closing ceremony
Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Army’s flagship hospital where privates to presidents have gone for care, lowered its unit flags today, readying for an actual closing in September after more than a century.
Army parachutists landed with pinpoint accuracy on the front lawn of the storied medical center, minutes after a formal ceremony in which Army Maj. Gen. Carla G. Hawley-Rowland, head of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, handed over Walter Reed’s saber to Navy Rear Adm. Matthew Nathan, who will be the first commander of the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda.
“This BRAC (Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission) has been painfully difficult at times, but it’s given us a chance to shape the future of military medicine,” Hawley-Rowland said.
Hundreds of thousands of the nation’s war wounded, from World War I to today, have received treatment at Walter Reed, including 18,000 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Dwight D. Eisenhower died there. So did Gens. John J. Pershing and Douglas MacArthur.
It’s where countless celebrities, from Bob Hope to quarterback Tom Brady, have stopped by to show their respect to the wounded. Through the use of medical diplomacy, the center also has tended to foreign leaders.
The storied hospital, which opened in 1909, was scarred by a 2007 scandal about substandard living conditions on its grounds for wounded troops in outpatient care and the red tape they faced. It led to improved care for the wounded, at Walter Reed and throughout the military. By then, however, plans were moving forward to close Walter Reed’s campus.
Two years earlier, a government commission, noting that Walter Reed was showing its age, voted to close the facility and consolidate its operations with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and at a hospital at Fort Belvoir.
Former and current patients and staff members said good-bye at the ceremony on the parade grounds in front of the main concrete and glass hospital complex. Most of the moving will occur in August, with a deadline for moving all patients by Aug. 31. On Sept. 15, the Army hands over the campus to the new tenants: the State Department and the District of Columbia. The buildings deemed national historic landmarks will be preserved; others probably will be torn down. The city is expected to develop its section for retail and other uses.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Balanced budget amendment not proper for U.S. constitution

The ballyhoo over the GOP's proposed balanced budget amendment is misplaced; it is a statement about government economics which has NO place in the U.S. constitution.
It is a document about governance - how things and branches operate, individual rights and the processes followed. Not one word about any form of economic system (captialism, socialism) is mentioned, other than Congress' appropriations duties that must start in the House of Representatives.
If supporters want such a change, make it the law of the land, with penalties when not accomplished. Otherwise, the whole budget process culd end up in the courts system, which would be a disaster.
The present attempt to adopt such a ridiculous stance is so much farsical political theater and that production should go dark as soon as possible.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What makes your job so superior to others?

I always find it curious why people chomp at the bit to demean those whose paychecks come from a governmental agency. It’s as if those in the “private” sector automatically shine with an air of superiority, opposed to those mere mortals who work their butts off in a different kind of sector.
My dear wife works for the city of Dallas, has to commute 45 minutes each way daily (through traffic acknowledged as some of the worse in the United States), and truly earn a paycheck some 25 percent LOWER than what she made with an international corporation (before said corporation decided to ship her job, plus 2,000 others to India and the Philippines where people work for table scraps). She is college-degreed and one of the better people in her IT field; yet this job is the best she could find offering full-time benefits (but one of the worst medical plans around) and steady income.
Sadly, in her field, the trend is moving towards “contract” (meaning part-time) labor which guarantees nothing and offers no longevity or stability. The only good thing finds the job actually NOT farmed to Manila, Mumbai or some other call center which pay its workers in scraps.
Yet, on talk shrill radio, dead-head television and everywhere else, she is seen as some kind of Hester Prynne, with the scarlet letter “G” emblazoned on her forehead – scorned, castigated, rebuked and emotionally spat upon by ignorant strangers who know nothing of her responsibilities nor the functions of her job. Even worse, these people take such uncaring attitudes – themselves working jobs which, in reality, would be highly insignificant in the grand order of things. Do we NOT have too many lawyers, accountants, nail technicians, dry cleaners, doughnut makers, insurance salesmen/women, fast food workers or “account managers” in the country today?
In the current economic state of affairs, too many Americans believe they are better than others – a flight of such hubris as to be the death of us all (as a society and nation). There are citizens – some down on their luck, some suffering from illnesses (physical, mental and/or addiction), or some because accidental placement of birth – seen as LESS worthy of compassion. Too many among us would rather contribute available charity to mega-churches, supplementing the lavish lifestyle of some slick-talking televangelists, than to move money which would actually do something of value for those who cannot help themselves.
For example, in my community (Plano, Texas), frightened protesters ran a homeless shelter out of town before a spade of dirt could be turned, all based on unfounded rumors, innuendo and lies … but mostly because of fear of the unknown. Critics kept claiming the city and shelter would be overrun by drunks, drug addicts and derelicts when the facts showed that residents would actually resemble their neighbors … because THAT’S the new face of homelessness in the U.S. More and more, middle-class families are being forced out of their homes because of long-term unemployment and bankrupting debt due to illness, hospitalization and the inability to cover living expenses like mortgages, rent, credit cards, food, car payments, etc.
Even worse, there are politicians seeking to be part of the very thing they despise – the government. As Groucho Marx correctly said, “I would never join a club that would have me as a member.” If you hate, to your very core, the federal government and ALL it represents, why in the world would you want to join it? Perhaps the answer lies in the enticement – power, rather than money (although congressional perks and benefits are quite a haul).
It’s difficult for me to listen to someone like Michelle Bachman deliver her diatribe against government when she was the recipient, for years, of the public’s tax money, serving as an IRS lawyer, helping to file suit for back taxes against her fellow Americans. I’m sure she cashed her checks like the rest of us, in order to pay the household bills.
We also demean the very people who established this nation – not the improperly sainted “Founding Fathers” – but the immigrants who came, by ship and by foot, to populate the “New World.” The United States has always been dependent upon new faces from different places to build the country in all facets of development.
Alas, our anger about temporary economic valleys is, again, directed to those who see the U.S.A. in a different hue – as a place of greater and grander opportunity for self-betterment (and for one’s family). Those who degrade these newcomers still expect them to fulfill the unwanted, menial tasks required to make the wheels of progress continue to spin. It’s just so hypocritical.
Everyone in this world, everyone in this country-state-county-city, has a purpose and role to play – at home, in church and at work. Appreciating for one’s work and another’s contributions go a long way to providing prosperity, peace and unity. I appreciate what my wife contributes to our household and to her employer; she does quality work and deserves her compensation.
Any other attitude only divides and is cruel and demeaning. Is that what our society has come to? So the question to be asked, for everyone, is this: what if it was YOU?