Topic: CONGRESS

A HOUSE DIVIDED CANNOT STAND

By U.S. Senator Zell Miller, D-GA, delivered on the floor of the Senate
Forwarded by 1stAdmPAO

After watching the harsh acrimony generated by the September 11 Commission which, let me say at the outset, is made up of good and able members, I've come to seriously question this panel's usefulness.

I believe it will ultimately play a role in doing great harm to this country, for its unintended consequences, I fear, will be to energize our enemies and demoralize our troops.

After being drowned in a tidal wave of all who didn't do enough before 9/11, I have come to believe that the Commission should issue a report that says, “No one did enough in the past. No one did near enough.” Then thank everyone for serving, send them home and let's get on with the job of protecting this country in the future.

Tragically, these hearings have proved to be a very divisive diversion for this country. Tragically, they have devoured valuable time, looking backwards when we should be looking forward.

Can you imagine handling the attack on Pearl Harbor this way? Can you imagine Congress, the media and the public standing for this kind of political gamesmanship and finger pointing after that “day of infamy” in 1941?

Some partisans tried that ploy, but they were soon quieted by the patriots who understood how important it was to get on with the war and take the battle to America's enemies… and not dwell on what FDR knew when.

You see, back then the highest priority was to win a war, not win an election. That's what made them “The Greatest Generation.”

I realize that many well-meaning Americans see the hearings as “democracy in action.” Years ago, when I was teaching political science, I probably would have had my class watching it live on television and using that very phrase with them.

There are also the not-so-well-meaning political operatives who see these hearings as an opportunity to “score cheap points.”

Then, there are the Media Meddlers who see this as “great theater” that can be played out on the evening news and on endless talk shows for a week or more.

Congressional hearings have long been one of Washington's most entertaining pastimes. Joe McCarthy… Watergate… Iran Contra. They all kept us glued to the TV, and made for conversation around the water coolers and arguments over a beer at the corner pub.

A Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. is the ultimate aphrodisiac for political groupies and partisan punks.

But, it's not the groupies, punks and television-sotted American public that I'm worried about. This latter crowd can get excited and divided over just about anything. Whether it's some off-key wanna-be dreaming of being the American Idol, or what brainless bimbo The Bachelor or Average Joe will choose, or who will Donald Trump fire next week.

No, it is the real enemies of America that I'm concerned about.

These evil killers who right now…right now…are gleefully watching the shrill partisan finger pointing of these hearings and grinning like a mule eating briars. They see this as a major split within the Great Satan America. They see anger… they see division, instability, bickering, peevishness and dissension.

They see the President of the United States hammered unmercifully. They see all this and they are greatly, greatly encouraged.

We should not be doing anything to encourage our enemies in this battle between good and evil. Yet, these hearings, in my opinion, are doing just that.

We are playing with fire. We're playing directly into the hands of our enemy by allowing these hearings to become the great divider they have become.

Dick Clarke's book and its release coinciding with these hearings have done this country a tremendous disservice, and someday we will reap its whirlwind. Long ago, Sir Walter Scott observed that revenge is “the sweetest morsel that ever was cooked in hell.”

The vindictive Clarke has now had his revenge, but what kind of hell has he, his CBS publisher and his axe-to-grind advocates unleashed?

These hearings, coming on the heels of the election the terrorists influenced in Spain, bolster and energize our evil enemies as they have not been energized since 9/11.

Chances are very good that these evil enemies of America will attempt to influence our 2004 election in a similar dramatic way as they did Spain's. And to think that could never be in this country is to stick your head in the sand.

That is why the sooner we stop this endless bickering over the past and join together to prepare for the future, the better off this country will be. There are some things - whether this city believes it or not - that are just more important than political campaigns.

The recent past is so ripe for political second-guessing “gotcha” and Monday morning quarterbacking. And it is so tempting in an election year. We should not allow ourselves to indulge that temptation. We should put our country first.

Every administration from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush bears some of the blame. Dick Clarke bears a big heap of it because it was he who was in the catbird's seat to do something about it for more than a decade. Tragically, it was the decade in which we did the least.

We did nothing after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, killing six and injuring more than 1,000 Americans.

We did nothing in 1996 when sixteen U.S. servicemen were killed in the bombing of the Khobar Towers.

When our embassies were attacked in 1998, killing 263 people, our only response was to fire a few missiles on an empty tent.

Is it any wonder? Is it any wonder that after that decade of weak-willed responses to that murderous terror, our enemies thought we would never fight back?

In the 1990's is when Dick Clarke should have resigned. In the 1990's is when he should have apologized. That is when he should have written his book. That is, if he really had America's best interest at heart.

Some will say, “We owe it to the families” to get more information about what happened in the past and I can understand that. But no amount of finger pointing will bring our victims back.

So, now we owe it to future families and all of America now in jeopardy not to encourage more terrorists, resulting in even more grieving families, perhaps many more over the ones of 9/11.

It is obvious to me that this country is rapidly dividing itself into two camps: the wimps and the warriors.

The ones who want to argue and assess and appease, and the ones who want to carry this fight to our enemies and kill him them before they kill us. And, in case you haven't figured it out, I proudly belong to the latter.

This is a time like no other in the history of this country, and this country is being crippled with petty partisan politics of the worst possible kind. In time of war, it is not just unpatriotic; it is stupid, and it is criminal.

So, I pray that all this time, all this energy, all this talk and all this attention could be focused on the future instead of the past.

I pray we would stop pointing fingers, assigning blame and wringing our hands about what happened on that day David McCullough has called “the worst day in our history” more than two years ago.

And instead, pour all of our energy into how we can kill these terrorists before they kill us - again.

For make no mistake about it. They watch these hearings. They are scheming and smiling about the distraction and the divisiveness they see in America. And while they may not know who said it years ago in America, they know instinctively that a house divided cannot stand.

There is one other group that we should remember is listening to all of this - our troops. I was in Iraq in January and one day when I was meeting with the 1st Armored Division, a unit with a proud history known as Old Ironsides, we were discussing troop morale. The Commanding General said it was top notch.

And I turned to the Division's Sergeant Major, the top enlisted man in the division, a big, burly, 6-foot-3, 240-pound African American and I said, “That's good, but how do you sustain that kind of morale?”

Without hesitation he narrowed his eyes, and he looked at me and said “The morale will stay high just as long as these troops know the people back home support us.”

Just as long as the people back home support us. What kind of message are these hearings and the outrageously political speeches on the floor of the Senate yesterday sending to those marvelous young Americans in the uniform of our country?

I say Unite America! Before it is too late! Put aside these petty partisan differences when it comes to the protection of our people.

Argue and argue and argue and debate and debate and debate over all the other things - jobs and education and the deficit and the environment - but please, please do not use the lives of Americans and the security of this country as a cheap-shot political talking point.



AN OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS

Reprinted as published in The American Thinker [http://www.americanthinker.com/comments.php?comments_id=4620 ] on March 13, 2006.

Dear Representative:

We are of the belief that the release of captured Iraqi tapes and documents now in the possession of our government should be expedited with all haste. We believe that information contained in those documents would substantiate our government’s stated reasons for going to war with Saddam’s regime. For too long, too many Americans have been led to believe that their government lied to them and subsequently are lukewarm on support of the war and by extension of our troops.

If there is intelligence in that huge cache of documents and tapes that would help to dispel the doubts of these many citizens and unite this nation behind our armed forces and their mission, then it is absolutely unthinkable to allow these materials to remain restricted from public view.

It has long been our belief that our government was reluctant to release this trove of information for fear of embarrassing our allies such as the Russians, the French and others, by exposing their nefarious support of Saddam’s reign of terror. Today, for the first time, we have seen our suspicions confirmed with the revelation on the very reliable Power Line Blog, that President Bush wants this information released to the public for precisely the reasons we ascribed above. However, Mr. John Negroponte, our Director of National Intelligence, is rumored to be holding up such a release for precisely the reason we suspected.

This is completely unacceptable. Mr. Negroponte may be our intelligence czar, but he is misguided if he believes not embarrassing our underhanded, so-called allies is more consequential to America’s future than the benefit to be derived if the released information does indeed serve to unite America’s citizens behind our armed forces and their mission to defeat worldwide islamofascist terrorism.

It is time for the Congress to take a hand in this matter. There is no other issue before you that could have more import than helping to end the divisiveness and dissension in this country arising out of the belief held by so many that our government deliberately misled us into an unnecessary war.

We will be watching to see what position you take and what role you play. We will weigh your performance at re-election time.

Sincerely,

Russ & Linda Vaughn



BASE CLOSING DODGE

LAWMAKERS SIEZE ON OBSCURE STATUTE
By Amy Klamper, CongressDaily, 2/7/05

Lawmakers and some state governors looking to shield their military installations from the 2005 base closure round have seized on an obscure statute they say could prevent the Pentagon from shuttering National Guard facilities.

Read full story HERE [http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0405/040705cdpm1.htm]



BATTLE FOR FUTURE OF THE INTERNET

By Gail Russell Chaddock, The Christian Science Monitor,

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2006 - Call it a battle for the future of the Internet.

As the Senate takes up the first overhaul of the nation's telecommunications laws in a decade, this week's debate will pitch one of the most unlikely lineups in recent political history against an entrenched industry lobby.

On one side: the big phone companies and cable providers, who want Congress to help them speed up the move into the video market and keep government regulation at a minimum. It's one of the most well-funded and experienced industry groups on Capitol Hill.

On the other side: those who use their services, who want Congress to make sure that the Internet does not become a fast lane for those who can pay - and a dirt road for those who can not. The Save the Internet Coalition includes Google Inc., Amazon.com, Microsoft, and eBay, thousands of bloggers, and more than 700 groups. It's one of the most diverse coalitions ever to lobby a bill.

At stake is whether the Baby Bells and cable companies can charge more for fast, reliable service or “discriminate” against online competitors. Groups ranging from the Christian Coalition, Gunowners of America, and Moveon.org - which are bookends on most other issues - want the government to ensure “network neutrality.”

Read complete story here. [http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0620/p01s03-uspo.html ]



BY, FOR, AND OF WHICH PEOPLE?

A letter from Mike Von Wert, MSVeteransVote@aol.com
Forwarded by Floyd Sears

Are Americans beating our heads against a brick wall when we communicate with our “representatives” about what is needed or what is the right thing to do?

The only conclusion we can come to is yes, WE ARE WASTING OUR TIME!

All one needs to do is look at the evidence.

Thousands of Veterans can call, write, email and fax our “reps” for years and years, and still they take no action, or take only the action they “assume” is right for us. Most postulate year after year, making promises and then backing out when a vote is called.

If we question the staffers, they will tell us, our “reps” are only given a summary of what the communications are.

And what do we do about a “representative” that doesn't do what they promise? Easy. We vote against them… but then there's a problem to that, too. Remember the campaign reform act? Guess what it did! It made it almost impossible for the average American to run against an incumbent.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a job where you can set your own job security, show up when you want, and use taxpayer money to travel the world?

Wouldn't it be nice to have a job where you can decide to give yourself a pay raise of several thousand dollars every year?

What happened to Government of the people, for the people and by the people?

The final answer comes down to accountability. Our “representatives” feel they are no longer accountable to American citizens. They do what they want, when they want, with the full knowledge there isn't squat we can do about it.

I look at the Declaration of Independence and can replace every mention of the King with the name of our Federal Government. America has the most corrupt and despotic government in the world today.

The saddest part of that is our “representatives” almost seem to bear that label with pride or arrogance.

So what do we do? Put up with it, or do something about it? Washington is betting we will put up with it.
———————-

“We have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” —Thomas Jefferson

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” —Thomas Jefferson



CONGRE$$ $HOULD CON$IDER $EN$IBLE IDEA$

By Jug Varner

With hurricane devastation costs running into the billions of dollars along America’s coastlines, the question is: Where do we get the money to rebuild and replace these lives, homes and businesses? Here are some suggestions that may be too obvious for those in Washington DC to understand or even consider:

The first suggestion to Congress is one they would most likely NOT even give a second thought… much less take any action… but it is one that could quickly free up billions of misspent dollars.

1. ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY BUDGET PORK.
Retain only NECESSARY ITEMS - defined as those that greatly benefit the nation as a whole.

Democrats and Republicans alike do this nation a great disservice by their “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” system of taking care of themselves FIRST and insuring their reelection by PORKING their beneficiaries back home. They turn deaf ears to this ever-growing problem even when their own few colleagues in Congress try passing bills to eliminate pork - so this suggestion probably would never see the light of day. But it certainly shows where their real interest lies.

2. GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HOG TROUGH

The majority in Congress have independent incomes, but what they consider to be “low” congressional pay (in excess of $100,000 annually plus expenses) is not enough… so they continuously give themselves unnecessary raises (usually as quietly and surreptitiously as possible in the form of an ame1, ndment to some unrelated bill). These raiseses also impact on their enriched retirement as well. They may plead sorrow for your support of their sad plight, but obviously they don’t feel much sorrow for yours!

3. $TOP GIVING NEEDLE$$ BILLION$ TO NATION$ THAT HATE U$

For years, Congress and every administration have approved vast sums of money to aid many nations that obviously hate us as well as questionable amounts and purposes of some nations who ally with us. It is high time these government movers and shakers realize what history has proved: “You can’t buy love.”

Voting records of various Arabic/Islamic recorded in both the U.S. State Department and United Nations shows the following results:

67% of the time Kuwait votes against the United States
67% of the time Qatar votes against the United States
70% of the time Morocco votes against the United States
70% of the time United Arab Emirates votes against the United States.
71% of the time Jordan votes against the United States
71% of the time Tunisia votes against the United
73% of the time Saudi Arabia votes against the United States
74% of the time Algeria votes against the United States
74% of the time Yemen votes against the United States
74% of the time Oman votes against the United States
75% of the time Pakistan votes against the United States
75% of the time Sudan votes against the United States
76% of the time Libya votes against the United States
79% of the time Egypt votes against the United States
80% of the time Lebanon votes against the United States
81% of the time India votes against the United States
84% of the time Syria votes against the United States
87% of the time Mauritania votes against the United States

Despite the above, our government keeps handing out billions in foreign aid to many of these nations - very little if any of which may go to benefit anyone beyond those at the top. For example, and this is only the tip of the iceberg:

  • Egypt votes 79% against us and receives $2 billion annually in US Foreign Aid.
  • India votes 81% against us and receives $143,699,000 annually.
  • Jordan votes 71% against us and receives $192,814,000 annually in US Foreign Aid.
  • Pakistan votes 75% against us and receives $6,721,000 annually in US Foreign Aid.

When one compounds this by all the other many U.S. billions going elsewhere in the world, the answer to the question “Where are we going to find the billions to help our own people?“ should be obvious to the Congress — but is it?



CONGRESSIONAL POLICY BRIEFINGS ONLINE

Forwarded by E Lawton via p38bob

Hard-to-Get Policy Briefings For Congress Are Now Online
Technology Group Opens Access to Research Reports

By Brian Faler, Special to The Washington Post 6-28-05

It's a bit like Napster — but for policy wonks.

A Washington research group has created a Web site where the public can read, submit and download the difficult-to-find public policy briefs members of Congress use to get up to speed on issues.

The Center for Democracy and Technology has created an online database of Congressional Research Service reports that anyone with an Internet connection can now tap free of charge.

LINK [http://www.opencrs.com/ ]



CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE

From Jean D. Beard

American taxpayers spend nearly $100 million a year to fund the Congressional Research Service - a “think tank” that provides reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events. Yet, these reports are not made available to the public in a way that they can be easily obtained.

A project of the Center for Democracy & Technology through the cooperation of several organizations and collectors of CRS Reports, Open CRS provides citizens access to CRS Reports already in the public domain and encourages Congress to provide public access to all CRS Reports.

Check it out here [http://www.opencrs.com/ ].



CONGRESSIONAL SPOOF SUPPORTED BY TRUTH

Forwarded by JackMac

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Judge Alito and Chief Justice Roberts questioning Democrat Senators to determine their qualifications for public office? Just imagine matching the IQs of the Senators and the Judges!

The questions should go like this:

Judge Alito (JA): “Senator Kennedy, I see from your official resume that you attended Harvard University.”
Senator Kennedy (SK): “Yes, your honor, I certainly did.”

JA: “Did you graduate?”
SK: “Your honor, I respectfully request that you not pry into my personal life.”

JA: “Is it not true that you were expelled from Harvard for violating the honor code, to wit, you hired someone to take an exam for you?”
SK: “Mr. Chairman, I want to go on record that I disagree with this line of questioning. I ask the chair to order the Judge from asking questions about my private matter.”

Senator Specter, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee: “Answer the Judge's questions. He answered all of yours.”

JA: “Senator Kennedy, we have on hand a transcript of the session of the university's honor council attesting to your fraudulent examination and subsequent expulsion from the university.”
SK: “I have had all I can take of this line of unreasonable questioning. I am going to ask Al Gore how he managed to keep his early departure from Vanderbilt University Divinity School away from the eyes of you religious nuts!”

JA: “Wait, Senator Kennedy, I want to ask you about the 26 phone calls you made from a motel room the night Mary Jo Kopecne drowned in your car at Chappaquiddick, when you said you were asleep all night.” (Kennedy flees the hearing room)

Senator Specter: “Chief Justice Roberts [CJR] will now interrogate Senator Biden (SB), Democrat of Delaware.”

CJR: “Senator Biden, is it not true that you were expelled from law school for plagiarizing another student's work?”
SB: “Wait, Ted, I am going with you!” (Biden flees the hearing room)

Senator Specter: “Judge Alito will now interrogate Senator Feinstein, Democrat of California.”

JA: “Senator Feinstein (SF), why did you vote for the former Grand Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan of West Virginia (Robert Byrd) to be the Democrat Senate Majority Leader in 1986, 1988, 1990, and 1992?”
SF: “Wait, boys, I am going with you.” (The lady from San Fran flees the hearing room)

(The hearing recesses for coffee)



DANGER! POLITICIANS AT WORK

From SuzyQ

While walking down the street one day, a U.S. senator is tragically hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

“Welcome to heaven,” says St. Peter. “Before you settle in, I must tell you there is a problem. We seldom see a high government official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.”

“No problem, just let me in,” says the man.

“Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.”

“Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,” says the senator.

“I'm sorry, but we have our rules.” And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before the guest realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises.

Up, up, up he goes until the elevator door opens in heaven where St. Peter is waiting. “Now it's time to visit heaven.”

For the next 24 hours the senator joined a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They had a good time and, before he realizes it, the time is up and St. Peter returns.

“Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and one in heaven. The senator reflects for a minute, then answers: “Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.”

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down again to hell.

When the doors open he steps out onto a barren land covered with waste and garbage. Then he sees all his friends dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder.

“I don't understand,” stammers the senator. “Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?”

The devil looks at him, smiles and says: “Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted.”



FACTS? NOT FICTION?

Forwarded by Don/Beth Waterworth

Which well-known organization’s members would you attribute the following to?

  • 36 have been accused of spousal abuse.
  • 7 have been arrested for fraud.
  • 19 have been accused of writing bad checks.
  • 117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least two businesses.
  • 3 have done time for assault.
  • 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit.
  • 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges.
  • 8 have been arrested for shoplifting.
  • 21 currently are defendants in lawsuits, and
  • 84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year.

Can you guess which organization this is?
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Give up yet? . . . Scroll down.
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These supposedly are statistics about some of the 535 members of the United States Congress. Perhaps these numbers may be lower than the national average, by comparison, but it just goes to show that this body politic certainly is “representative” - to say the least.



FACTUAL CLARIFICATION FOR REP MURTHA

By David Bellavia 12-16-05
Forwarded by RAdm William Thompson U.S. Navy (Ret), with the comment, “It's reassuring to have the likes of Sgt Bellavia on our side.>”

David Bellavia, a former U.S. Army staff sergeant who served in the First Infantry Division six years, has been recommended for the Medal of Honor by his leadership, and has been nominated for the Distinguished Service Cross. He has received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Conspicuous Service Cross (New York state's highest combat valor award) and was recently inducted into the New York State Veteran's Hall of Fame. His Task Force 2-2 Infantry has fought on such battlefields as Al Muqdadiyah, An Najaf, Al Fallujah, Mosul, and Baqubah. His actions in Fallujah, Iraq, were documented in the Nov. 22, 2004, cover story “Into the Hot Zone” by award-winning journalist Michael Ware. He is 30 years old.

As the debris continues to settle from the explosion detonated by Representative John Murtha's, D-Pa., continued rapid fire defeatist comments this past week, I wonder how he expected his statements to be perceived. As an infantryman whose boots are still caked with blood and dust from Iraq, I am beyond confused with the Democratic Party's “Prada Pant Suit Posse” of Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter's insistence that he preserve his title as a combat visionary.

As rancor and hyperbole have reached its peak, we continue to be fed bastardized statistics and a complete denial that Iraq ­ according to al-Qaida intercepts ­ is indeed the front line in the War on Terror. Murtha's outrage seems to be concerned with the massive amount of American youth far from home and in harm's way. There is no outrage that we have 1,700 troops patrolling Kosovo's tranquil streets. No complaints from the left when asked about the 3,000 troop presence in Bosnia or why there is a need for 1,754 troops in Iceland. “Mr. President, bring home our boys from Iceland NOW”!

When President Clinton sent 15,000 troops into post-hostile Bosnia to get the job done, it was the equivalent of keeping 585,000 troops in Iraq post invasion, when equating terrain and population. Tellingly, the silence from the left is deafening. To the leftists in America, Clinton understood war like no other. The template is simple: Pull out when the blood starts to flow (Somalia) and over commit when there is no chance of loss (Kosovo and Bosnia).

As Congress jockeys for their individual credibility in who has eaten more meals at Halliburton chow halls, Murtha stands and wears his lone Bronze Star with Valor (BSV) as his badge of authority. On behalf of every veteran of Iraqi Freedom who has exchanged hot lead with this enemy, allow me to state: “Mr. Murtha you don't know 'Jack' about the mujahadeen.”

Rep. Murtha quotes an unscientific poll that concludes arrogantly that “80 percent of Iraqis want us out.” I am no John Zogby, but I conclude 100 percent of Iraqi's want us out .. eventually. They very much want us there while Islamo-fascists continue to blow them up as they worship and apply to serve the cause of freedom.

My peers are not appreciative of the Sen. Kennedy and Kerry elitists who daily attempt to uncover mistakes made by this administration, while my brothers under fire bleed to death thousands of miles from their homes. In the era of digital satellite, these senators have put us on daily trial for executing a war as it unfolds, without delay and in its entirety.

Iraqi veterans are without apologies for not finding weapons of mass destruction today in Iraq. As former administrations ignored the present danger in this region for years before 9-11, we in the trenches pay the price for our past inability to confront our brazen enemies. Each day, the enemy hopes that one more 10-plus death toll inflicted against the coalition via a roadside bomb will be the last straw of the American collective will.

Voting against the immediate pull out of the troops and then carpet bombing every TV program that offers an invite by supporting Murtha's ignorance is a political attack that is aiding the enemy. Congress has had multiple opportunities to pass official articles of war against al-Qaida and her assets to end once and for all the bipartisan bickering of why we fight in Iraq today. They have yet to act.

Make no mistake: This is a middle- to lower-class war, fought by volunteers of the greatest generation of American Warriors ever born. I personally have written over 47 Bronze Stars with Valor awards for the members of my 34-man infantry platoon. The BSV is alarmingly growing more and more common during this fight and yet my peers cannot use their awards as a platform to defend their noble struggle, because they are still deep in the fight. Neither Mr. Murtha, nor any other congressional representative, has held a position in a skirmish line under fire in Iraq, yet they pontificate to the masses from “their war” experience.

Not one has borne witness to the extreme close quarter nature of this fight or commented on the tearful thanks from a deserving and proud people who need us to stay the course. Yet Rep. Murtha has the extreme audacity to call my peers “broken.”

The testament to the American soldier is the attrition on the other end of the battlefield in Iraq, and it is almost biblical in proportion. Hundreds of thousands of Iranian-trained Hezbollah, Chechnyan, Wahabbi and local mujahadeen militants have been pacified by our young patriots and their continuation of the legacy of the American Warrior Ethos. Funny how a man like Murtha ­ who made his career on detailing his heroism under fire ­ is the first to chip at away at my generation's valor.

As my peers continue to bleed for the acceptance from a growingly cynical media, it must be stated: We are not “broken,” we have never “terrorized Iraqis in their homes” and we are most certainly not “living hand to mouth.”



FREE LIFE INSURANCE TO COMBAT TROOPS

WASHINGTON - An amendment by U.S. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) to give free life insurance to troops in combat became law on October 17 when President Bush signed the defense authorization bill.

Spratt's amendment pays all premiums incurred by military personnel for Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage up to the maximum amount of $400,000.

The coverage will be available to troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. These troops have received reimbursement for premiums paid on the first $150,000 of SGLI coverage. Now, under Spratt's amendment, they will receive reimbursement for all premiums paid while serving in a combat theater like Iraq.

“Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line for us every day,” said Spratt. “They should not have to pay for life insurance when we put them in harm's way. This bill allows every service member serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to take the full amount of life insurance available, and not worry over the costs associated with it.”

For the past three years Spratt has advocated for increases in SGLI coverage from $150,000 to $400,000, reimbursement of premiums paid for such coverage, and increases in the death gratuity paid by the military to family of service members killed in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom from $6,000 to $100,000. As a result of these improvements, the family of a service member killed in one of these theaters could receive as much as $500,000 from combined payments of death gratuity and SGLI life insurance.

“This is precious little consolation to families who lose loved ones, but it will help through their painful transition. It is the least we can do for the families of those who make the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live free and secure,” Spratt said.



GOVERNMENT ON A CITIZEN-RUN DIET

By Paul Jacob, Oct 30, 2005 at townhall.com [http://www.townhall.com/opinion/column/pauljacob/2005/10/30/173434.html ]
Forwarded by Col. Charlie Spicka, USAF (Ret.) via p38bob, who added the comment:
“Somewhere over the rainbow, some of us our getting wise and skies are blue, Somewhere over the Rainbow, keeping politicians fingers out of the pies will find a pot of gold for me and you!”

Once after comparing big spending congressmen to drunken sailors, Ronald Reagan apologized to the sailors; they at least spent their own money. He could have added that sailors eventually sober up - something most politicians never manage, at least when it comes to fiscal politics.

So, year in, year out, virtually everywhere, our already quite corpulent governments - local, state, federal - just keep growing and growing and growing. Despite campaign promises to the contrary. Regardless whether it's the Democrats or Republicans who are in charge.

Except in Colorado.

There, it really doesn't matter how much money politicians want to spend, since only voters can make that decision. With their Taxpayers' Bill of Rights law, Colorado voters have more control over the growth of their state government than voters anywhere else. The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, called TABOR for short, was placed on the ballot by citizen initiative and passed by voters back in 1992.

TABOR is simple. It mandates that government spending, year to year, can increase no more than the rate of inflation plus population growth. If surplus tax dollars come into state government coffers, they must be rebated to taxpayers. However, a vote of the people can permit state legislators to break the cap and spend more money. Thus, TABOR puts government on a diet, one that regularly allows natural government growth, but only allows greater than natural growth when authorized by a vote of the people.

In most states, when revenue rolls in during good times, politicians dream up new programs in order to spend every single penny. When money falls off in bad times, the politicians and special interests scream and moan about budget cuts or rush to raise taxes.

For example, during the boom years of the 1990s, when many states nearly doubled their spending, Colorado's TABOR spending limitation kept government growth to reasonable limits, and forced politicians to return over $3 billion dollars to taxpayers. When the recession hit at the end of the '90s, Colorado escaped the tax increases and budget cuts seen in California and other states that had over-spent in the good years.

In fact, since TABOR was enacted in Colorado, the state has regularly outpaced the rest of the country in economic growth. Advocates for limited government across the nation are beginning to demand this brand of spending cap. Citizens in Maine just turned in 55,000 signatures to put a TABOR-like measure on the 2006 ballot and a group in Oklahoma has launched a petition drive to establish a similar state spending cap there.

Still, TABOR hasn't ushered in nirvana. Colorado suffered a serious drought in 2002, which walloped agricultural production and dramatically worsened the state's recession. Though total state spending has gone up every year under TABOR, the budget has been tight. And the budget crunch has been exacerbated by an amendment to the state constitution, Amendment 23, which mandates higher spending each year on K-12 education, thus removing it from the TABOR caps.

So, other budget items have felt the squeeze even more. Of course, politicians despise the very idea of any limit to their spending, the wellspring of all their power. So, every problem under the sun has been blamed on TABOR.

Those in government, and those who profit from it, have previously pushed seven times since 1993 to break the voter-enacted spending cap. Each time voters have said no. Now these usual suspects are pushing passage of Referendums C & D, two measures put on the ballot by the Democrat-controlled state legislature with the support of the Republican governor.

With Referendum C, politicians ask voters to throw out the caps on state government spending for the next five years. Projections suggest Referendum C amounts to a $3.7 billion tax hike. Referendum D goes a step further, allowing the state government to borrow $2 billion, which with interest could cost taxpayers more than $3 billion to pay back.

Besides politicians, who else supports Referendum C & D? A long list of businesses and unions looking for special favors. Most noteworthy is the fact that four of the ten largest donors to the committee promoting C & D are public employee unions.

This Tuesday, a week before citizens in California, New York, Ohio and Washington state decide a spate of ballot measures, and before voters in New Jersey and Virginia elect governors and legislators, Colorado citizens will decide just how much their state government may spend.

No matter how the vote totals come in, the fact that voters get to decide is a victory for the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. Americans everywhere wish that they, too, had that much control.

Coloradoans are likely to vote no on these two turkeys, even with the state's most powerful lobbies pushing C & D by filling the airwaves with sky-is-falling warnings about the consequences of not giving politicians every last dime they want. Colorado voters know: if you want leaner government, keep government on a citizen-run diet.



HELLO, WASHINGTON DC - ARE YOUR CALCULATORS BROKEN?

Forwarded by “VAdm Harold Koenig” USN (Ret) via p38bob

The next time you hear a politician use the word “billion” in a casual manner, think about whether you want him or her spending your tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.

  • A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
  • A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
  • A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
  • A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two bare feet.
  • A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brain, let's take a look at New Orleans . It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division.

Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu (D), is presently asking the Congress for $250 BILLION to rebuild New Orleans.

Interesting number! What does it mean?

  • Well, if prorated to the 484,674 residents of New Orleans (every man, woman, child), each would get $516,528.
  • Or, to the 188,251 homes in New Orleans, each owner of would receive $1,329,787.
  • Or, to every family of four, each would receive $2,066,012.

HELLO, Washington, DC: Are all your calculators broken?

The following is too true to be very funny:

Tax his land,
Tax his wage,
Tax his bed in which he lays.
Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes are the rule.
Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.
Tax his ties,
Tax his shirts,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.
Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he tries to think.
Tax his booze,
Tax his beers,
And If he cries,
Tax his tears.
Tax his bills,
Tax his gas,
Tax his notes,
Tax his cash.
Tax him good and let him know
That after taxes, he has no dough.
If he hollers,
Tax him more,
Tax him until he's good and sore.
Tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in which he lays.
Put these words upon his tomb,
“Taxes drove me to my doom!”

And when he's gone,
We won't relax,
We'll still be after the inheritance TAX!!
Accounts Receivable Tax,
Building Permit Tax,
CDL License Tax,
Cigarette Tax,
Corporate Income Tax,
Dog License Tax,
Federal Income Tax,
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA),
Fishing License Tax,
Food License Tax,
Fuel Permit Tax,
Gasoline Tax,
Hunting License Tax,
Inheritance Tax,
Inventory Tax,
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax),
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax),
Liquor Tax,
Luxury Tax,
Marriage License Tax,
Medicare Tax,
Property Tax,
Real Estate Tax,
Service charge taxes,
Social Security Tax,
Road Usage Tax (Truckers),
Sales Taxes,
Recreational Vehicle Tax,
School Tax,
State Income Tax,
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA),
Telephone Federal Excise Tax,
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax,
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax,
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax,
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges
Tax, Telephone State and Local Tax,
Telephone Usage Charge Tax,
Utility Tax,
Vehicle License Registration Tax,
Vehicle Sales Tax,
Watercraft Registration Tax,
Well Permit Tax,
Workers Compensation Tax.

Question: Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago and there was prosperity, absolutely no national debt, the largest middle class in the world and Mom stayed home to raise the kids. What the hell happened?

Answer: We voted in professional politicians.



HOUSE BILL TO INSURE CONTINUITY

From the Washington Post, 4/23/04

Washington - The House passed a measure on April 22 to insure that Congress can continue its work if many lawmakers perish in a terrorist attack. Opponents warned that the bill won't prevent a power vacuum at a time when the country could least afford one.

The legislation, approved 306 to 97, would require states to hold special elections within 45 days after the House speaker certifies that at least 100 of the chamber's 435 members have been killed. Under House rules, the Speaker designates a list of temporary successors in the event he is unable to serve.

A Senate panel is also considering legislation to provide continuity for its operation if many of its members are incapacitated.

The House bill is the first legislative step taken by Congress to ensure its institutional survival since the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks illustrated for many members their vulnerability to a devastating strike. Many lawmakers believe the Capitol was the intended target of the highjackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania.

“We face a grim new reality today,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash,
“… the reality that so many vacancies might suddenly occur in the House that our ability to function, and to be confident that the decisions made in this chamber reflect the broad desires of the American people, could be severely impaired.”

The fear is that the loss of many lawmakers could leave the House or Senate without a quorum and unable to conduct important business such as authorizing military force and approving spending. If only a few survived, the legitimacy of their actions could be questioned. Members of both parties agree on the problem, but ideas for solutions divide largely along partisan lines.

Most Republicans insist that any legislative fix maintain the constitutional requirement that all members of the House be elected, which they say makes the chamber uniquely reflective of the will of the people and best suited to make decisions in a crisis. In contrast, a governor can appoint a replacement if a senator dies.

Many Democrats say that approach, while laudable in theory, could leave the House paralyzed for more than a month while it awaits the election of new members. It also allows too short a time for some states to prepare for elections, they say. So some lawmakers favor changing the Constitution to allow for appointment of temporary replacements of deceased members until elects could be held.

Rep. Martin Frost, D-Tex, called the bill a “poorly thought out and wholly inadequate response.” Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash, who has proposed a constitutional amendment to allow governors to appoint temporary replacements, said the bill approved on the 22nd “could lead to chaos.”



HOW MUCH IS A BILLION

Forwarded by Harley Koets. Originating source unknown.

The next time you hear a politician use the word “billion”, casually think about whether he or she is the right one to be spending your tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but an advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into perspective in one of its publicity releases:

  • A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
  • A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
  • A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
  • A billion days ago no person walked on two feet on earth.
  • A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government spends it.


LETTER TO MY SENATOR

Jug's Note: Since 1958, I have known, served with, and greatly respected the writer of this letter to a Florida Senator. Please read it in its entirety and you will probably agree that it hits the bullseye! My concern is, “Will it actually be read by the Senator, and if so, will he take any positive action?” What's your guess?

9 October 2006

Senator Martinez,

I am confident your recent visit to the war zones was helpful. There's much to digest to fully comprehend what our young people in a combat zone must face up to as well as their countenancing the incredible circumstances when politicians seemingly fret more about the rules of engagement and terrorist prisoner's treatment than the lives of these young men and women.

I must tell you how I deem the Senate's efforts to reduce the armed forces personnel to a half a percentage point below the Federal workers. The Senate majority's action is outrageously unforgettable.

As I reflected on the legislative process this year, I saw… as usual… the Senate on one side of a military or veteran benefits issue and the House on the other side. This has all the earmarks of being a repetitive sham.

For instance, the Senate enjoys credit for fixing the inequities existing in the SBP and the DIC. The House's muteness on the same issue… well what's there to say in its defense? Issue… may it rest in peace and escape the attention of the electorate! The Senate supports the current TRICARE pharmacy co-payer's share. The House wants to raise these payments to more than Wal-Mart is willing to charge all of their customers. Ironic isn't it. Another impasse. It's the House's turn to be the good guys by seeking improvement in the Guard/Reserve health coverage. Oops, the Senate opposes it. The plus in such a modus operandi… is it gets nothing passed. Ergo… money saved… perhaps thus facilitating another bridge binge to nowhere. On the brighter side, one chamber garners the bragging rights… and the other is trusting to a few, if any, reading the fine print.

If this grim appraisal is not the case, please explain how people of one party can avow a platform… yet respond to the needs of a deserving community in the negative sense. This political administration would now not be in office had it not been for the confidence we Florida veterans bestowed on your collective and individual word.

In the 30 years and 5 months I have been retired, I have paid $111,151 to the Survivor Benefit Program. When I enrolled in May 1976, there was no talk of my wife not getting paid 55% of my retirement if that was the amount for which I signed up. There was no credence to the eventuality that Congress would vote for detrimental changes in the ground rules a few years later. Nor was there any briefing advising me my wife would lose her social security benefits (she taught school for 22 years so we could provide our childrens' college educations) to the income she would receive on my death. There was no mention that DIC payments would not be paid to the career miliitary's widows whose husbands died from one or more of those disabilities. And there most assuredly was no proviso that my social security pension would make up a good portion of the 55% of the payments to which she would be tendered. To be frank, sir, that's a considerably different package and protection that I thought would be the case. The fact is the SBP has been a financial success for the government. How many other programs can be so identified?

I am 77 years of age. I am 100% disabled by combat-related injuries. I am unable to assist my 77 year old wife in what I should be expected to do for her. I can't even protect her in an emergency. Do you have any idea how I feel given this sense of weakness? After all those years of service and sacrifice, is she another of the many who are merely statistical realities of how and where our monies can be saved for other more worthwhile endeavors.

My lady has been a Navy wife and mother from 2 June 1951 - 1 October 2006 which is when our eldest son retired from the Navy. She raised our five children by herself… on one occasion… for two consecutive years in my absence. She was not a complainer. She kept her concerns, worries and fears to herself while I was in Vietnam. As with so many other wives, she pledged herself to her husband, her children and the United States Navy.

She is a spouse among thousands who will be discriminated against if changes and fairness are not legislated against the long term inequities of veterans and military wives benefits. These long standing oversights by those whom we depend upon for fairness are nothing less than ignoring the sacrifices of women who bore the stresses of not seeing, being with… even hearing the sounds of their husbands voices… not for weeks… not for months… but for years. Are these ladies any less deserving than their counterparts who wed civilian husbands in the federal government employment? Is fair and equal treatment under the law a myth for those who have dedicated their lives to the service of our nation? I am unsure.

If you are not, you should be aware that Federal workers are immune from these discriminatory treatments. Why is this so? Tell me, Senator Martinez,it's not because our people in uniform are not unionized. You, sir, and your 534 colleagues in our Congress are and should be our advocates. In the event this particular responsibility should linger in limbo, our degradation in American society is assured. I know of no other community in these United States who suffer the same or similar adverse separation from the norm. Don't treat our successers… the All Volunteers… as mercenaries. They are not our foreign legionnaires. These young people serve so that other young people can enjoy the freedoms and opportunities so readily available to them. Never have any of those of us who have served in combat will ever forget that freedom is not free.

I sincerely hope, Senator, that your staff makes this message available to you. I'm not a single voice in the wilderness. I have served on Congresswoman Brown-Waite's Veterans Advisory Board since it was established. She and her staff are unaware of this message. I intend to share it with her at our advisory board's meeting later this month.

I am a life long Republican… unable for nearly 30 years to boast of this because of the uniform I wore. If I'm wrong in what I've postulated, please correct me. I am sincere in my desire to distinguish right from wrong in these aforementioned grievances.

Should I receive one of those off the shelf responses which address nothing but thanking me for sharing my concerns, I shall know it's 'business as usual'… and setting another pace in the crew's stroke isn't worth the effort.

And finally, Senator, I ask you to insert this plea in the Congressional Record accompanied by your reply.

Thank you.

With all due respect to you and your office,

John C. MacKercher
Captain, U. S. Navy (Retired)
Falls Court
Weeki Wachee, FL 34613
lejacle@tampabay.rr.com

JUG'S 2ND NOTE: Fast response from the Senator's office was not surprising, nor was MacKercher's reaction to it:

From: Jack MacKercher
To: Mel Martinez@martinez.senate.gov
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 4:25 PM
Subject: Response to your recent comments

Senator Martinez:

This reply is exactly what I expected to receive, but hoped it would not be something taken as it is from the shelf.

I wrote you a serious message which addressed very specific issues. Not a single one was answered.

Your staff did both of us a disservice.

At a time when Congress is losing more of the public's trust… and immorality should be the cause of special concern to the Republican party, it's unwise to treat those who have supported you in your election to the U. S. Senate as people who don't care about their federal government and how it is failing in its responsibilities.

Your staff has disappointed me and indirectly so have you.

Sincerely,

John C. MacKercher
9445 Ruby Falls Court
Weeki Wachee, FL 34613

—Original Message—
From: Mel Martinez@martinez.senate.gov
To: lejacle@tampabay.rr.com
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 2:16 PM
Subject: Response to your recent comments

Dear Mr. and Mrs. MacKercher:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Fiscal Year 2007 (FY2007) Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Act. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your concerns.

As a U.S. Senator, my highest priority remains winning the War on Terror abroad and safeguarding our families here at home. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the brave men and women of our armed forces who so courageously responded to the threats posed by tyrants and terrorist organizations around the globe.

On September 7, 2006, I supported the DoD Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (H.R. 5631), which passed the Senate without opposition. This bill appropriates funding for the operations of the DoD. This legislation had previously been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 20, 2006. H.R. 5631 was subsequently signed into Public Law on September 29, 2006 by the President Bush. This vital legislation includes over $436.6 billion dollars for defense purposes, including $366.6 billion in regular, baseline funding and $70 billion in additional appropriations.

In an effort to continue providing the best possible care for our servicemen and women, the law authorizes a pay increase for members of the Armed Services. We also joined our colleagues in the House of Representatives in ensuring that TRICARE fees and copays for under-65 military retirees will not increase

It is absolutely imperative that we fully support the ongoing military operations of the War on Terror as well as the men and women of our Armed Services at home and abroad. As we build towards a democratic Iraq and as we work to secure our nation, we must provide our troops whatever they need to protect themselves and complete their mission.

Legislation such as this appropriations act helps to close the procurement gap that has occurred over the last two decades. There is still work that needs to be done to ensure that the spending for defense and national security related issues is brought to the levels that will allow more rapid procurement of vital defense platforms that have been underfunded for too long.

As we continue our work in this session of Congress, please know that I will work with my colleagues in the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Bush Administration to fully fund our national defense and support our men and womoen in uniform.

Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. If you have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. In addition, for more information about issues and activities important to Florida, please sign up for my weekly newsletter at http://martinez.senate.gov.

Sincerely,
Mel Martinez
United States Senator

**Note: PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS E-MAIL. If you would like to reply to this message, please contact me through my website at http://martinez.senate.gov.



MILITARY DRAFT BILL DEFEATED

From Rep Duncan Hunter (R-CA) Chairman, HASC
http://armedservices.house.gov/ [http://armedservices.house.gov/]. Forwarded by p38bob

WASHINGTON, DC, 10/5/04 - Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement upon the overwhelming defeat of the Universal National Service Act, HR 163 sponsored by New York Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel. The bill would require all young persons in the United States, including women, to perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of national defense and homeland security.

The vote was 402-2 and the bill was defeated.

“This overwhelming defeat will hopefully stifle those who seek to spread deliberately false information of an impending draft. We simply do not need a draft. The Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines are meeting their recruitment goals and are still attracting and retaining the people we need to fill all ranks. Our military today is highly qualified because it is comprised of an all volunteer force.

“The President and the Secretary of Defense once again today expressed their opposition to reinstating a draft in any form. The President said that if he were presented with this bill, he would veto it, and Secretary Rumsfeld said he would 'oppose any proposal to re-institute the draft.'

“This bill was brought to the House floor today to expose the biggest hoax in show business. I say again, it is the biggest hoax of the year. This rumor of a secret plan to reinstate the draft, has been running like wildfire throughout the internet, where millions of young people are being scared by a tipster who wants to insight fear in our youth. There is no 'secret plan' for a draft or backdoor draft. The fact is that not a single Republican signed onto this bill or is in favor of reinstating a draft. The only supporters of the draft bill are Democrats.

“There is only one reason that would justify conscription: if the military were unable to recruit enough volunteers to meet its personnel needs. Again, this is not the case. We must put an end to this rampant rumor and set the record straight.”



MILITARY EXPERIENCE

Forwarded by Jean D. Beard via Floyd Sears

If you wonder why many in Congress do not understand the military, here is the most recent info on their own personal military experience.

Percentages of those now in Congress who have served in the military are:
Army……………..14%
Air Force………… 5%
Coast Guard…….0%
Marine Corps……5%
Navy………………..8%
None………………68%

Complete details at http://www.ngb.army.mil/ll/anylysisdocs/05/veterans analysis.pdf [http://www.ngb.army.mil/ll/analysisdocs/05/veteransanalysis.pdf] This may be slow to load if you don't have high speed internet.



MILITARY PERKS

By Jug Varner

From the restive mood I sense in reading many of your e-mails passing through this website, some of you are damning President Bush because we are not getting all the perks that we feel we have been promised.

Well, duh! That’s not a new complaint.

This has occurred in every administration, Republican or Democrat, for as long as I can remember… and I’m probably older that 95% of you - having performed my active duty during WWII, Korea and Vietnam eras!

Despite what the President wants and sometimes promises, Congress controls what he actually gets. And, of course, his own advisors carry a lot of clout in changing priorities in the overall budget before it goes to Congress. Add to this mix a group of congressional obstructionists more interested in preventing Bush from succeeding than any serious concern for passing good laws.

Ironically, coming from you who always have sacrificed more than any other group of Americans (and probably always will), this damning of the President doesn’t seem to square with your typical mindset of putting the country ahead of your own personal opinions. When you consider the millions of us and the billions of dollars involved, it doesn’t take a PHD to figure out how much money is required to fund even the least expensive perks for the military!

So where do we stand?

Are we still the warriors who always put the nation's needs ahead of our own, or are we becoming a bunch of “what’s in it for me complainers” looking out solely for our own personal returns? I hope and pray that will never be the case of our military warriors.

Unfortunately for us, politics is the name of the game, and neither party has a lot to brag about these days. However, there definitely are some scary differences in the intent of the parties, particularly the Liberalism of those who may control congress.

Liberals who push liberalism hardest are the educators who have major influence over our kids in public schools and in our nation's colleges. More than 90% of college professors are avowed Liberals who teach accordingly.

As if that isn't bad enough, we have an overwhelmingly Liberal national media that daily omits or slants the news to suit their own political purposes. Couple this with an electorate that is often apathetic to the point of not voting, and you can see that America has a real problem!

I can’t think of any one factor that could bring this country to its knees internally quicker than this continued growth of Liberalism.



MORE OUTRAGED BY THE OUTRAGE

Forwarded by JayPMarine

WASHINGTON – May 13, 2004. U.S. Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) today delivered the following statement on the floor of the United States Senate addressing the situation at the Abu Ghraib prison.

“Mr. President, here we go again, here we go again. Rushing to give aid and comfort to the enemy. Pushing and pulling and shoving and leaping over one another to assign blame and point the finger at “America the Terrible.” Lining up in long lines at the microphones to offer apologies to those poor, pitiful Iraqi prisoners.

“Of course, I do not condone all the things that went on in that prison, but I for one, Mr. President, refuse to join in this national Act of Contrition over it.

“Those who are wringing their hands and shouting so loudly for “heads to roll” over this seem to have conveniently overlooked the fact that someone’s head HAS rolled - that of another innocent American brutally murdered by terrorists.

“Why is it? Why is it that there’s more indignation over a photo of a prisoner with underwear on his head than over the video of a young American with no head at all? Why is it that some in this country still don’t get that we are at war? A war against terrorists who are plotting to kill us every day. Terrorists who will murder Americans at any time any place any chance they get.

“And yet here we are, America on its knees, in front of our enemy, begging for their forgiveness over the mistreatment of prisoners. Showing the enemy and the world once again how easily America can get sidetracked and how easily America can turn against it self.

“Yes, some of our soldiers went too far with their interrogation tactics and clearly were not properly trained to handle such duty. But the way to deal with this is with swift and sure punishment, and immediate and better training. There also needs to be more careful screening of who it is we put in these kinds of sensitive situations.

“And no one wants to hear this, Mr. President and I’m reluctant to say it. But there should also be some serious questioning of having male and female soldiers serving side by side in these kinds of military missions.

“But instead, I worry that the HWA - the Hand-Wringers of America - will add to their membership and continue to bash our country ad nauseam. And in doing so, hand over more innocent Americans to the enemy on a silver platter.

“So I stand with Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma, who stated that he’s “more outraged by the outrage” than by the treatment of those prisoners. More outraged by the outrage. It’s a good way of putting it. That’s exactly how this Senator from Georgia feels.”



PORK BARREL RUNNING AMUK AS USUAL

Forwarded by Jim Whittington mailto:jimw8869@megagate.com [mailto:jimw8869@megagate.com], who notes: “The massive, unbridled and reckless pork barrel legislation, controlled by an elite few in Congress, affects military retirees adversely now, and will do so even more in the not to distant future. This article is long but deserving of your reading every word of it.”

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN’S 11/20/04 SENATE FLOOR STATEMENTS
CONCERNING THE FY 2005 OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS BILL

Mr. President, at the beginning of this year, during consideration of the fiscal year 2004 omnibus appropriations bill, I stood on the Senate floor and spoke about how our economic situation and our vital national security concerns required us to take greater effort in prioritizing our federal spending and that we could no longer afford, literally, “business as usual.”

Unfortunately, little has changed since January. Here we are again, nearly two full months into fiscal year 2005, and we have before us another appropriations monstrosity. Let me remind my colleagues that, because of our inability to get much done around here under the regular order, this is the third year in a row that we have had to pass a mammoth consolidated appropriations bill. In fact, Mr. President, we have been forced to consider huge omnibus appropriations bills for six of the last eight fiscal years.

The fiscal year 1999 omnibus bill contained eight bills and I identified at least $11 billion in wasteful spending. The omnibus we passed for fiscal year 2000 consisted of five bills and totaled $385 billion of which $14 billion was pure pork. We rammed that bill through in late November of 1999 so everyone could go home for Thanksgiving. Sound familiar?

In December of 2000, we pushed through the fiscal year 2001 omnibus of five appropriations bills with a whopping $24 billion of pork projects. The fiscal year 2003 omnibus contained 11 of the spending bills and $20 billion in pork barrel spending. In January of this year, we shoved through an $820 billion omnibus of seven bills and $11 billion in pork. Our track record is abysmal to say the least.

The conference report before us today is 1,632 pages long and contains over $388 billion. It was put online very early this morning, and a hard copy was made available in the Senate cloakroom at 10:45 this morning. It is impossible for us to know exactly what is in this thing, and we're expected to simply take the appropriators word that it's all okay. Well, Mr. President, I've been around here long enough to know that a bill of this size, put together behind closed doors and rammed through at the last minute, cannot be all good. And I know it will be a long time before all of the hidden provisions in this legislation are exposed.

I fully recognize that it isn't the fault of the appropriators that we are forced into this new pattern of adopting omnibus appropriations measures. Overly partisan politics has largely prevented us from following the regular legislative order, and that fact must change. But while it may not be the appropriators fault that we are forced to consider omnibus appropriations measures, it is their decision to continue to load them up with unauthorized earmarks - and at a rate that only increases year after year.

Let me highlight some of the nine appropriations bills that have been rolled together in this conference report, only two of which have been voted on by the Senate. First, we have the Agriculture appropriations bill. Among the many important things funded by this measure are the Agricultural Research Service and the Food and Drug Administration, and yet it was never even brought up for consideration by the full Senate.

Instead, a handful of members had the final say in what was included in this portion of the conference report. There was no Senate floor consideration of the Agriculture appropriations bill, no opportunity for members to offer amendments, and no chance for members to be on record for voting for or against the measure.

The same is the case for the Commerce/Justice/State appropriations bill. This legislation funds the U.S. State Department as well as the Justice Department, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, and many other important agencies. Yet again, there was no Senate floor consideration, no ability to offer amendments, and no vote.

This was also the case for the Energy and Water appropriations bill, the Interior appropriations bill, the Labor/Health and Human Services/Education appropriations bill, the Transportation/Treasury appropriations bill, and the Veterans Affairs/Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. Again, no Senate floor consideration, no ability for Senators to offer amendments, and no opportunity to vote for or against spending billions upon billions of hard-earned American tax dollars.

Mr. President, what we are doing here, this recent practice of thousand-page spending bills that perhaps no one person knows what it includes, is just wrong. We are shirking our duties to the American public. The process is broken and we need to fix it. We simply cannot continue to operate in this manner. We owe more to the American people.

When we ram through a gigantic bill - spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer's dollars with little or no debate because we want to go home for Thanksgiving - we send the message to the American people that we are not serious enough about our jobs. We essentially accomplish little almost all year long because everything requires 60 votes, and then, at the very last minute, we scramble around and throw together a 1,632 page bill like the one before us today. We're sending the signal that it is more important for us to be able to issue press releases - and I'm sure hundreds of them will be going out today - about how much pork we've been able to get for our states and districts, than we are about good government and fiscal responsibility.

How can we, in good conscience, defend this behavior to the American people?

It's ironic that we are here just a few days before the Thanksgiving holiday. If you're a lobbyist or a special interest you sure have a lot to be thankful for in this bill. Let's all gather around the table and get ready for a great big feast because what we have before us, in the form of an omnibus appropriations conference report, is really just one big fat turkey.

But this bird is not loaded with the traditional stuffing, Mr. President, instead it is packed with pork. That's right, at a time of war, and with an ever-growing deficit, the appropriations committee has succeeded, once again, in loading up a must-pass bill with everyday, run-of-the-mill pork projects, many of which are simply not in the national interest.

Among the most egregious aspects of this bill are the so-called “economic development initiatives” funded under the Department of Housing and Urban development. This account is nothing more than a slush fund for the appropriators - plain and simple. Contained within this section of the managers statement are 1034 locality-specific earmarks spread out over 41 pages that fund everything from community swimming pools and playground equipment to street furniture and renovations for museums and theaters. The report language for this account states “$262 million for economic development initiatives instead of $136.5 million as proposed by the House and $126 million as proposed by the Senate.”

Mr. President, we all know that the whole reason for going to conference on a bill is to hammer out the differences between the two Houses - but, in this case, instead of coming to a reasonable compromise between the two amounts - the conferees just added them together. Remarkable.

Mr. President, there are plenty of other egregious earmarks, policy riders, and run-of-the-mill pork barrel projects in this conference report.

***** READS FROM PORK LIST *****

Earmarks

Mr. President, according to information compiled from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the total number of earmarks has grown from 4,126 in fiscal year 1994 to 14,040 in fiscal year 2004. That's an increase of 240 percent. In terms of dollars, the earmarking has gone from $26.6 billion to $47.9 billion over the same period. The practice of earmarking funds in appropriations bills has simply lurched out of control.

I was shocked when I read a recent report entitled, “Is Pork Barrel Spending Ready to Explode? The Anatomy of an Earmark,” published by the Heritage Foundation, which details a new scheme being used by lobbyists to sell earmarks. Can it get any worse? Mr. President, because of the serious nature of this situation, I want to read several portions of this report for the information of my colleagues. The report states:

“A news item appearing this November in a Virginia newspaper reveals the emergence of what may be a lucrative new lobbying strategy that could substantially increase federal pork-barrel spending. In the past, earmark-seeking entities approached earmark-providing lobbyists for assistance in getting a piece of the federal budget. But in this new strategy, lobbyists openly sell such services to unserved institutions and individuals by convincing them that they might be eligible for an earmark, providing that they are willing to pay a four-figure monthly retainer.

“The new strategy was recently revealed by way of a prospective earmark for a $3.5 million community sports complex in Culpeper County, Virginia. The county has just begun construction on the project, which was to be funded with the proceeds of a county bond offering the voters approved a few years ago. But that financial arrangement might change now that a lobbyist paid the county a visit and pointed out that, for a fee, the county could get the federal government to pay for the complex. As reported in the Free Lance Star, a county official says that “he had been approached by a representative of a Northern Virginia lobbying group, who expressed optimism that funds for the $3.5 million sports complex could be tied to one or more federal appropriation bills.

“And in the not-too-distant future it is quite likely that the federal budget process will no longer take place in the halls of Congress, as the Constitution requires, but in the dozens of offices of Washington's top lobbyists —largely driven by generous contracts between the firms and their clients.

“Another reason this process bears watching is for how it reflects on Congress. The lobbyist is proposing to sell something that is not really his to sell. That he believes he can deliver it tells us that something is terribly wrong in Congress. It is one thing for members of Congress to make pork-barrel spending promises to their constituents and deliver on them, but it is quite another that earmarks can be bought and sold like bushels of wheat on the open market by private speculators. And apparently, all this wheeling and dealing is taking place without any involvement (at least not yet) by a member of Congress. As noted earlier, if Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution reserves exclusively to Congress the power of appropriating money from the U.S. Treasury, how is it that these lobbyists have come by the same privilege, and who has allowed it to happen?

“That Congress once showed budgetary restraint and fiscal continence suggests that the propensity to earmark is not some inherent flaw in American democracy, but rather a willful irresponsibility now embraced by all too many members.

Among the many tasks confronting the re-elected President Bush will be to reduce federal spending from its near record levels as a share of GDP and to narrow the deficit, which now hovers at $413 billion. A good place to find fiscal redemption is in the appropriation bills that will soon come across the President's desk. The first step in the process should be a sharply worded veto threat. It would be a welcome change if that veto threat included excess earmarks as one of many items that would merit a presidential rejection.”

Mr. President, I could not agree more. It is clear that we are in desperate need of some fiscal restraint - let's show some real courage and take a step in the right direction by ending the practice of earmarking unauthorized projects in appropriations bills. I ask for unanimous consent that the full text of Heritage Foundation report be included in the Record.

Fiscal Realities

Mr. President, we simply must start making some very tough decisions around here if we are serious about improving our fiscal future. We need to be thinking about the future of America and the future generations who are going to be paying the tab for our continued spending. It is simply not fiscally responsible for us to continue to load up appropriations bills with wasteful and unnecessary spending, and good deals for special interests and their lobbyists. We have had ample opportunities to tighten our belts in this town in recent years, and we have taken a pass each and every time. We can't put off the inevitable any longer, Mr. President.

Here is the stark reality of our fiscal situation. According to the Government Accountability Office, the unfunded federal financial burden, such as public debt, future Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid payments, totals more than $40 trillion or $140,000 per man, woman and child. To put this in perspective, the average mortgage, which is often a family's largest liability, is $124,000 - and that is often borne by the family breadwinners, not the children too. But, instead of fixing the problem, and fixing it will not be easy, we only succeeded in making it bigger, more unstable, more complicated, and much, much more expensive.

The Committee for Economic Development, the Concord Coalition, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities jointly stated that, “without a change in current (fiscal) policies, the federal government can expect to run a cumulative deficit of $5 trillion over the next 10 years.” They also stated that, “after the baby boom generation starts to retire in 2008, the combination of demographic pressures and rising health care costs will result in the costs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security growing faster than the economy. We project that by the time today's newborns reach 40 years of age, the cost of these three programs as a percentage of the economy will more than double - from 8.5 percent of the GDP to over 17 percent.”

Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office has issued warnings about the dangers that lie ahead if we continue to spend in this manner. In a report issued at the beginning of the year, CBO stated that, because of rising health care costs and an aging population, “spending on entitlement programs - especially Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security - will claim a sharply increasing share of the nation's economic output over the coming decades.” The report went on to say that, “unless taxation reaches levels that are unprecedented in the United States, current spending policies will probably be financially unsustainable over the next 50 years. An ever-growing burden of federal debt held by the public would have a corrosive effect on the economy.”

Mr. President, where is it going to end?

We have to face the facts, and one fact is that we can't continue to spend taxpayer's dollars on wasteful, unnecessary pork barrel projects or cater to wealthy corporate special interests any longer. The American people won't stand for it, and they shouldn't - they deserve better treatment from us.



PORK GUMBO

By Veronique de Rugy, 10/07/2005, research scholar at the American Enterprise Institute
Forwarded by Jerry D. Johnson

Louisiana lawmakers have come up with a request for $250 billion in federal reconstruction funds for Louisiana alone. That's more than $50,000 per person in the state. This money would come on top of the $62.3 billion that Congress has already appropriated for emergency relief and on top of payouts from businesses, national charities and insurers.

According to Senator Mary Landrieu (D, LA), author of the Louisiana bill, “Louisiana will be rebuilt by Louisianans. New Orleans will be rebuilt by New Orleans. And the Southern Louisiana will be rebuilt under the leadership of the people who call it home.” Yet, the bill waves the normal cost-sharing requirements to shift the entire cost to the federal government. In other words, Ms Landrieu is expecting federal taxpayers to foot 100 percent of the bill.

We are talking about a lot of money here. The $250 billion will cost $1,900 per American household. (This ignores the progressivity of the income tax which will make it much worse for some than others.)

That being said, I thought it would be informative to know what we are asked to pay for. A not so quick read of the 440 page bill soon demonstrated that the Louisiana lawmakers stuffed it with everything they could think of including many items having nothing to do with hurricane relief. The items include:

  • $35 million for the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board
  • $8 million for direct financial assistance to alligator farmers
  • $12 million for the restoration of wildlife management areas
  • $25+ million to complete the Sugarcane Research Laboratory
  • $120 million for a laboratory, facilities and equipment at the Southern Regional Research Center
  • $28+ million for the restoration and rehabilitation of forest lands
  • $34+ million to support the research and education activities of the Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
  • $19 million for the acquisition of first-responder mobile communications, deployable cellular towers and for equipment necessary for public Internet access in a 100-block area of downtown New Orleans using wireless-fidelity technology.
  • $25 million for assistance to firefighters
  • $100 million for early intervention, prevention, and disorder treatment for children 0 to 5 years of age
  • $100 million for early intervention, prevention, and disorder treatment for school age children.
  • $100 million for substance abuse assessment, early intervention, prevention, and treatment.
  • $600 million for early childhood education
  • $20 million for the establishment of development plans for development districts in the State of Louisiana
  • $160 million to implement the 2005 recommendations of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission related to the Federal city development in Algiers, Louisiana
  • $7 billion for rebuilding evacuation and energy supply routes on top of $5 billion for expansion of road and transit capacity.
  • $150 million for a small business loans fund and tax breaks on top of $50 billion in block grants.

But Sen. Landrieu and her delegation also asked for lost sales revenues for many commercial entities. Never mind that all such loses could have been covered by private sector business continuity insurance if the owners had the discipline to think ahead. For instance:

  • $27 million for lost timber sales revenues from the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area
  • $250,000 for dairy cattle losses of dairy producers
  • $11 million for livestock losses
  • $1,000 per head of cattle without any limitation on the maximum amount of payments that a producer may receive
  • $5 million for dairy spoilage losses
  • $5 million for a livestock compensation program to make payments for livestock-related losses

After Americans all over the country rushed to send billions to victims of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana legislators served us all with a federal tax bill that would fund yet more pork barrel spending in their state. That might make many Americans rethink their inclination to be generous next time around.



PORK WEIGHS DOWN WAR FINANCE BILL

Excerpted from an article by Mary Curtius, Los Angeles Times

Washington - Two months ago, President Bush urged Congress to act quickly on an $82 billion emergency spending bill needed to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House responded by mid-March, but in the Senate, lawmakers have been unable to resist the temptation to attach their favorite projects and causes to the legislation.

The result: A bill the Pentagon says it needs urgently has become bogged down in debate on the Senate floor and freighted with extraneous items. Typical of these “emergency” amendments are:

  • $500,000 - Oral History project, University of Reno, Nevada; Sen. Harry Reid.
  • $500,000 - Desalinization plant, University of Reno, Nevada: Sen. Harry Reid.
  • $4 million - Fire Sciences Academy, Elko, Nevada: Sen. Harry Reid.
  • $5 million - Fish Hatchery (that has already received $20 million), Ft. Peck, Montana; Sen. Conrad Burns.
  • $34+ million - National Forest roads and facilities, California; Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
  • $35 million - Wastewater treatment in DeSoto County, Mississippi; Sen. Thad Cochran.
  • $40 million - National Nuclear Security Administration, New Mexico; Sen. Pete Domenici.
  • $135 million - Watershed protection, California; Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

“Congress is bent on 'bringing home the bacon,' even if it has a negative impact on our troops,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

So far, the Senate has cut $500 million from the president’s defense related requests and $42 million for his tsunami relief request. It has added $299 billion in domestic spending and another $137 million in a category designated “other emergency appropriations.”

“It’s disgusting,” said Sen. John McCain, R-AZ. “Congress owed it to the U.S. troops to approve the spending bill quickly and keep it focused on military and diplomatic matters. Many of the amendments are particularly egregious because the name of this bill is the Supplemental Appropriations to fight war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The White house also has criticized spending measures Senators have attached to the bill: “The administration has concerns with items that are unrelated to the funding of the global war on terrorism or to the Indian Ocean tsunami relief and reconstruction,” a spokesman said.

Alarmed by the prospect of delays, Army officials have been reminding lawmakers that the Army needs the money by mid-May so that it can keep food, weapons and supplies flowing to the troops.

Watchdog groups have combed through the bill’s text and pronounced several projects as outside any reasonable definition of emergency.

Keith Ashdown, a policy analyst with the group Taxpayers for Common Sense said, “The Senate has opened a Pandora’s Box for Pork in its version of the measure. When it comes time for the two chambers to craft a final product, I predict that House members will say, ’The Senate got theirs, let’s get ours.’”

Jug’s Comment: When will the American people wake up to the rampant “porkers” in Congress and start electing some new blood to replace all these politicians who put “pork for their constituency” (and their reelection) ahead of the good of the nation? If term limits were ever needed, NOW is the time! Read the following article from Paul Jacob:

“Bloat. Fat. Corpulence. A billowing mass of ugly, unsustainable flesh racing against time before the body gives out. No, I'm not talking about the latest obesity story put out by the health nannies. … I'm talking about the federal government. It just keeps growing and growing.

What to do? One theory trotted out by both Grover Norquist and Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman is to starve the creature. Cut off funds. Enact more tax cuts! It sounds like a neat idea, tax-cut our way to a slimmer government. But like most neat diet ideas, it doesn't work. That's what Will Wilkinson and William Niskanen of Cato Institute have argued, recently.

The evidence, they say, flies in the face of the 'Starve The Beast' Diet Plan. You see, government doesn't feed off just taxes. It goes into debt to spend. And that's what it's doing now. Niskanen studied the actual behavior of Congress after its cut taxes. Spending tends to increase, not decrease, as tax revenue declines! They just keep feeding the beast. And the beast keeps growing. Fatter and fatter. The only solution is political discipline, say the Cato economists.

I'm pretty agreeable to all sides. Let's cut taxes and government spending at the same time. After all, we're told that the best way to lose weight is to combine a good diet with exercise. But such diets are tough. Which is why term limits make sense.

Keep politicians moving.

Bring in new political athletes who might better whip our government into shape.”



PROFOUND DIFFERENCES

By Rush Limbaugh
Forwarded by Frieda Albert

I think the vast differences in compensation between victims of the September 11 casualty and those who die serving our country in Uniform are profound. No one is really talking about it either, because you just don't criticize anything having to do with September 11.

Well, I can't let the numbers pass by because it says something really disturbing about the entitlement mentality of this country.

If you lost a family member in the September 11 attack, you're going to get an average of $1,185,000. The range is a minimum guarantee of $250,000, all the way up to $4.7 million!

If you are a surviving family member of an American soldier killed in action, the first check you get is a $6,000 direct death benefit, half of which is taxable. Next, you get $1,750 for burial costs. If you are the surviving spouse, you get $833 a month until you remarry. And there's a payment of $211 per month for each child under 18. When the child hits 18, those payments come to a screeching halt.

Keep in mind that some of the people who are getting an average of $1.185 million up to $4.7 million are complaining that it's not enough. Their deaths were tragic, but for most, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Soldiers put themselves in harms way FOR ALL OF US, and they and their families know the dangers.

We also learned recently that some of the victims from the Oklahoma City bombing have started an organization asking for the same deal that the September 11 families are getting. In addition to that, some of the families of those bombed in the embassies are now asking for compensation as well.

You see where this is going, don't you? Folks, this is part and parcel of over 50 years of entitlement politics in this country. It's just really sad. Every time a pay raise comes up for the military, they usually receive next to nothing of a raise. Now the green machine is in combat in the Middle East while their families have to survive on food stamps and live in low-rent housing. Make sense?

However, our own U.S. Congress voted themselves a raise. Many of you don't know that they only have to be in Congress one time to receive a pension that is more than $15,000 per month And most are now equal to being millionaires plus. **They do not receive Social Security on retirement because they didn't have to pay into the system. (**See end of story)

If some of the military people stay in for 20 years and get out as an E-7, they may receive a pension of $1,000 per month, and the very people who placed them in harm's way receives a pension of $15,000 per month.

I would like to see our elected officials pick up a weapon and join ranks before they start cutting out benefits and lowering pay for our sons and daughters who are now fighting.

**Mik, at Testvet@aol.com, is a disabled Army vet and a retired postal worker who sent me the following info to correct the above misconception about congressional pay:

In 1984, Congress changed the Civil Service rules and changed new government employees to FERS, where you have to pay into a 401 K type plan and SS. This also included all newly elected officials, congressmen, Senators. Like all other SS recipients, it is based on how many years they work and how much they contribute.

A Congressmen being elected today, if he or she stayed until 65 years of age, would draw the maximum Social Security (about $2400 a month?). Based on their contributions to FERS, they would also receive another check like a 401K.

There are no more $15,000-a-month congressional retirees, except people like Byrd and Kennedy - and they will probably die in office.

I really doubt if they are worried about a retirement check, do you?



REP JOHN CONYERS AND THE MUSLIM CAUCUS

From Investor’s Business Daily
Forwarded by garyj@aol.com

The likely new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says he's ”just fighting bigotry” in leading a Democrat Jihad to deny law enforcement key terror-fighting tools. But he is in the pocket of Islamists.

Rep. John Conyers, son of a leftist Detroit union activist, represents the largest Arab population in the country. His district includes Dearborn, Mich., nicknamed “Dearbornistan” by locals fed up with cultural encroachment and terror fears from a steady influx of MidEast immigrants.

Conyers, who runs an Arabic version of his official Web site, does the bidding of these new constituents and the militant Islamist activists who feed off them. They want to kill the Patriot Act and prevent the FBI from profiling Muslim suspects in terror investigations. They also want to end the use of undisclosed evidence against suspected Arab terrorists in deportation proceedings.

And the 77-year-old Conyers has vowed to deliver those changes for them. “The policies of the Bush administration have sent a wave of fear through our immigrant communities and targeted our Arab and Muslim neighbors,” he growls.

He'll soon be in a position to act on his promises. And he has the full backing of the expected Speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants to criminalize FBI and Customs Service profiling of Muslim terror suspects.

“Since Sept. 11, many Muslim Americans have been subjected to searches at airports and other locations, based upon their religion and national origin,” she said. “We must make it illegal.” Pelosi has also promised Muslims he'll “correct the Patriot Act,” one of the most valuable tools the FBI has in ferreting out Jihadist cells lurking in Muslim communities.

Conyers, a lawyer by trade, last decade pushed through a bill to help stop what he called “DWB,” driving while black. He dubs post-9/11 profiling “flying while Muslim.” He is one of the top recipients of donations from the Arab-American Leadership PAC. And not surprisingly, he has a long history of pandering to Arab and Muslim voters.

During the first Gulf War, for instance, Conyers fought FBI outreach efforts in the Arab and Muslim community in Detroit that were designed to gather intelligence on potential cells and protect the home front. Conyers and other Detroit-area Democrats at the time, David Bonior and John Dingell, threatened to hold hearings unless the FBI stopped counterterrorism interviews.

The FBI met with them privately to explain the national security benefits of outreach, but could not allay their concerns. In the end, the FBI backed off. Today, Hamas, Hezbollah and the al-Qaida-tied Muslim Brotherhood are all active in the area.

Expect Conyers and Pelosi to kick open the doors of Congress to Islamists from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other militant groups. They will have unfettered access, even though many of their leaders have been tied to terrorism (some CAIR officials have landed in the big house).

In 2003, Conyers hosted the first dinner on the Hill that celebrated the end of Ramadan for such Muslim leaders. It's now a tradition. Incoming Democrat freshman Keith Ellison, a Louis Farrakhan disciple and first Muslim member of Congress, will no doubt expand the invitation list.

Conyers has also sponsored one of the Islamists' favorite bills in Congress. HR 635, which has 40 co-signers, would create a select committee to investigate President Bush for allegedly manipulating prewar intelligence and torturing al-Qaida detainees. The goal of his bill is to build grounds for impeachment.

Conyers led the defense of Bill Clinton in last decade's impeachment hearings and is clearly out for blood.

So are many of the constituents he serves.



RESERVES AND NATIONAL GUARD

The Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 established an independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves which is charged by Congress to conduct a comprehensive examination of how the Guard and Reserves are used in national defense, including homeland defense, and to recommend any needed changes in laws and policies governing the Guard and Reserves.

The final report of the Commission, to be submitted to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees and the Secretary of Defense in March 2007, will include recommendations covering the Guard and Reserves' roles and missions, capabilities, organization and structure, training and readiness, compensation and benefits, career paths, and the funding they receive.

Read more about this important function and meet its well qualified members by clicking HERE [http://www.cngr.gov/about-us.asp ].



WOMEN IN COMBAT

Washington, D.C. 5-11-05 - House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) defended the line of demarcation that the Military Personnel Subcommittee established with respect to women in combat support units. An amendment was offered today by Subcommittee Chairman John McHugh (R-NY) at Hunter's request.

Hunter's statement is as follows:

“The Forward Support Companies under the new Army modularization will be called upon to move into battle to support combat forces. Rocket-propelled grenades, machine gun fire and all the other deadly aspects of war will make no distinction between women and men on the front lines.

“The nation should not put women into the front lines of combat. In my judgment, we will cross that line soon unless we make a policy decision as we design the new Army.

“Forward Support Companies go forward into battle. That is why they are labeled 'forward' support companies. This in no way forecloses hundreds of defense specialties for women away from the live fire of today's battle field.

“The American people have never wanted to have women in combat and this reaffirms that policy.”

WEBSITE [http://www.armedservices.house.gov/]



YOU WANT TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS?

By Russ Vaughn

It's so easy to say you support the troops, regardless of which side you come down on in the issue of the War in Iraq itself.

Yeah, you can send care packages and put yellow ribbon magnets on your car to make you feel all warm and fuzzy that you're doing your own small part. You can do as I do and use forums such as this one to expound the viewpoint of the folks we send in harm's way, hoping that someway, somehow, someone who can make a difference may read your rant and actually do that something that makes a difference.

But right now, folks, we have a rare opportunity, a seldom-held power for ordinary citizens, to actually do something for the troops that will bring them more comfort than any supportive letters or boxes of cookies and candy ever possibly could.

You see, right now we have the ability to provide them with comfort of mind, to lift a mental and emotional burden that they all carry with them when they enter any theater of combat. We hold in our collective hands the ability to grant them assurance that should the worst befall them, we, their grateful nation, will provide for their loved ones in a manner that will approximate what they would have provided in the normal course of their lives.

Under current law, Uncle Sam is a rather parsimonious patron when it comes to providing for the families of fallen warriors. For example, when an American is killed in combat, the surviving spouse receives a one-time death gratuity of $12,400. Service Member's Group Life Insurance coverage (SGLI) up to $250,000 is available for those service members who can afford to pay the premiums. If the fallen trooper has been in service for an extended period of time, the surviving family may also qualify for the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), which is paid up to age 62 or until the spouse remarries. This SBP benefit is limited to 55 percent of the soldier's retirement pay, in the pay grade at the time of death. With so many combat deaths occurring among the youngest service members, we must keep in mind that this is frequently a pay grade that actually qualifies the family for food stamps and aid for dependent children.

The annual base pay of a sergeant E-5, with six years of service is less than $30,000. With twenty years service his retirement benefit is half of that. Think for a moment what 55 percent of less than $15,000 amounts to. Think about being a young widow trying to raise small children on less than $700 a month. And for lower pay grades, which constitute the majority of combat deaths, the situation is even grimmer because most of them will not have served long enough for their families to qualify for even this miserly benefit. Even if the service member is insured to the maximum amount, an unlikelihood for younger troops, think about how little $250,000 amounts to over the twenty-plus years required to raise and educate children in today's world.

Now think about the benefits conferred by our government on the survivors of 9/11. Yes, think about it long and hard: millions awarded to families because their loved one happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Millions handed to them not because their loved one had volunteered for the hard service of fighting in combat, but had simply shown up for work. Tell me, America: where's the justice in this situation?

Fortunately, there are some in government who have taken notice of this gross injustice and are preparing to attempt a legislative correction long overdue. Senator Joe Lieberman, D-CT, and Senator Jeff Sessions, R-AL, are scheduled to introduce the Honoring Every Requirement of Exemplary Service (HEROES) Act on January 24th. This legislation will increase the benefit paid to the survivors of military personnel killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and future conflicts, from $12,400 to $100,000, retroactive to October 2001. The benefit for non-combat deaths will remain at $12,400. The Act will raise SGLI Insurance coverage from $250,000 to $400,000, with the government paying the premiums for the first $150,000 for military personnel serving in a combat zone, also retroactive to October 2001.

So you say you support the troops? Then as soon as you finish reading this, start hammering that keyboard and let your two senators and your congressman know that you expect no less than their full support for early passage of the Heroes Act.

To a person, they all swear they support the troops, regardless of party affiliation or individual positions on the war. Let them know, their future electoral efforts will, in your mind, be dependent upon their actions on behalf of those troops and those families who have given that “last full measure of devotion,” to their nation.

Want a place to start? For a list of congressional contacts via telephone, Fax, or E-mail, go here: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ [http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/]. Perhaps a personal letter in your own handwriting will be even more effective!

Get off your butts, America, and show you really DO support the troops.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66