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Thursday, December 23, 2010

THE LATEST AND GREATEST! - The DoD Needs To Step Up To The Plate Concerning Mental Health, And Is It Going To Be Politics As Usual When It Comes To Tax Cuts, Don't Ask Don't Tell, And Health Care Benefits For 9/11 First Responders? Also, A Democrat Supports A Bush Center Project!

Hello All,

It's been a while since my last post, and a lot has been going on in the world, so here goes...

Politics As Usual while the Public Suffers:
The Daily Show's John Stewart hit the nail on the head when he said this is a prime case of "Bro's Before Hero's!"  Even as a Democrat, I will be the first to admit, that many in my party have been f*@king up!...i.e., The DREAM Act, The Health Care Mandate, but they have been trying to pass some solid, beneficial legislation the past couple months as their control in the House winds down, only to have it blocked by some Republicans looking for quid pro quo.  NATIONAL DEFENSE AND BENEFITS FOR VETERANS AND FIRST RESPONDERS IS NOT THE PLACE TO PLAY POLITICS!!!  Many Republicans are notorious for invoking 9/11 to stir patriotism, and serve their agenda, but recently when Democrats tried to pass legislation that would pay for the health care of ailing 9/11 First Responders (many are suffering from cancers traced to the Ground Zero clean-up), they voted against it because they wanted more compromise on a tax bill.  In addition to that, while in the midst of two wars, they delayed the vote on this coming year's Defense Authorization and Budget Bill because it contained provisions concerning the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy!  

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Luckily, some Republican Congressman put politics aside, and with their help, the 9/11 First Responders Health Care Bill and the Defense Budget was passed.  "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has also been repealed.  

Concerning repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," this is something that I whole heartedly supported, and personally, worked hard to accomplish.  I have received alot of praise and alot of hate mail from friends, family, and others, both civilian and military.  As a libertarian minded Democrat, I believe that D.A.D.T. is 100% discriminatory!  75% of military personal surveyed by the DoD (myself included), could care less what someone does outside of work or at home, as long as they could do their jobs!  From my time in the Marine Corps, I served with numerous gay and lesbian Marines and Sailors, and news flash...the majority of us knew it, and didn't give a shit because they were good people, good, professional service members, and what they did after 16:30 was none of our business!  It's not illegal to be gay. In the 1970's, the American Medical Association stated that being gay wasn't a medical or mental illness.  Therefore, why would you punish someone for being who they are?  Frankly, if you set your personal or religious beliefs aside, and think about it from a totally legal and Constitutional standpoint, the policy was discriminatory and, therefore, rightly repealed.

Now, to call out my fellow Democrats...when it comes to tax cuts, the majority of you are f*@king up too!  What it boiled down to concerning the renewal of the Bush era tax cuts, the Republicans wanted to extend the tax cuts to the wealthy, and the Democrats wanted to extend them to the middle class and poor.  Again, as a Libertarian Democrat, I think an awesome compromise was reached - the right one! Vice President Biden was a staunch supporter of the new plan, and he and other Dems who supported it have come under fire from the far left hard-liners.  The new plan extends the Bush era tax cuts to everyone - the rich, the middle class, and the poor.  While giving tax cuts to the middle class and poor is something that should always be fought for, so they can keep more of what they've earned, cutting taxes on the rich and business owners helps create private sector jobs and stimulate the economy.  Also, people need to realize that there will always be greedy, law breaking, sleazy people in the world who get rich by not following the rules, but why punish the rest of the honest, hard-working, law abiding, successful people in this country for the misdeeds of a few?  A fellow Democrat, John F. Kennedy, realized the importance of across the board tax cuts.  If Democrats want to be successful, they need to remind themselves of this.

The DoD and Mental Health Care Access:
Monday, I spent a few hours in Atlanta at the Carter Center discussing the need for better access to care for veterans with mental health issues.  This topic is near and dear to Mrs. Carter, who has been a stanch supporter of mental health reform since her husband was Governor of Georgia.  The resounding message at our meeting was that the Dept. of Defense needs to be more involved, open, and receptive on the subject.  They can't keep ignoring the problem, hoping that it will simply go away.  Our service members, our veterans, and their families deserve better.  We all agreed that the VA's current system is overloaded and broken, but they are trying.  At the very least, they admit that there is a problem.  Last month the Carter Center hosted a conference on mental health, and a portion of the conference was dedicated to PTSD and returning combat veterans.  Representatives from the private sector as well as numerous government agencies attended, including the VA.  An invitation was also extended to the DoD, but they did not attend.  One thing that we discussed in our meetings was how to alleviate the back log of requests for services.  One suggestion was to provide veterans with vouchers to see civilian mental health care providers instead of having to wait weeks or months for an appointment with the VA and any services provided by civilian providers would be paid for by the VA or DoD.  This brought up the point that civilian health care providers would need better training in dealing with military and combat related behavioral health issues.  Getting fellow veterans involved in the mental health field could help alleviate this issue.  The Carter Center mental health conference can be viewed by visiting the following link:

A Democrat Showing Support For A Bush Foundation Project:
One thing that I thought about while at the Carter Center was all of the good work that the Center does, and there are still those that will not donate to it or support its work because of the politics of President Carter while he was in office or because of his party affiliation.  It's ridiculous, but it happens!

In addition to being a supporter of the Carter Center, I am also a supporter of  the President George W. Bush  Center and Institute's Human Freedom and Cyber Dissidents Project.  There was a lot about President Bush's actions while in office that I liked, and there was a lot that a didn't like.  Regardless, credit is due when it is deserved.  The Human Freedom and Cyber Dissidents Project deserves such credit and support.

It is the documentation of the struggle for freedom in our era. The Freedom Collection presents the personal stories of struggle and achievement told by the men and women who led freedom movements from the last century through present day.  The material developed will be located in the Library of the George W. Bush Presidential Center and presented online as a resource and testimony to the world. It will consist of video history, as well as physical documents from democratic activists at all levels and from many nations. Interviews have already been gathered from Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic and Chol-hwan Kang, who spent ten years in the North Korean gulag and recorded the experience in his memoir. This project guarantees that no matter what happens to these individuals who stand up for freedom, their message and writings will always be preserved and available to others. This project can be very useful to people seeking freedom and democracy in places like Iran, North Korea, and China. You can learn more about the project by visiting the following link:

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