Trump Despises Military Service

I get it. The military pay raise comment was a joke. But it’s not the first joke Trump made belittling military service members and Trump has repeatedly insulted military personnel and their families, including those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty. How often does Trump get to insult military personnel and their families – in jest or otherwise – before everyone understands that he has real contempt for those who sacrifice for our nation?

The man clearly thinks that real sacrifice is stupid and has no respect for anyone who does so.

Remember

I can go on. Others have, (see: https://www.cheatsheet.com/…/every-time-trump-has-disrespe…/) but it’s hard to even keep up.

I’ve lived through years of listening to people complain that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, having never served, don’t respect our military. But I’ve never before seen someone who never served take jabs at service members. I’ve never before seen anyone publicly insult a Gold Star family. I’ve never before seen someone do as little for the military as Trump does, then lie about it, claiming that he’s done more than his predecessors.

We have a head of the Environmental Protection Agency who is dismantling environmental protections, a Secretary of Education who hates public schools, a Secretary of Treasury who failed to report $100 Million in assets due to an “oversight”. I supposed it’s only fitting to have a Commander in Chief who is disgusted by military service.

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Comparing Clinton’s and Trump’s Plans for Veterans, Military Members and their Families

At the top of Hilary Clinton’s page for “Veterans, the armed forces, and their families”
is a paragraph about Clinton’s father who was a Chief Petty Officer during World
War II. Trump’s “Veterans affairs Reform” page, of course, describes no connections to the military, since his entire family has avoided service.

Both pages include three or four paragraphs of general vision statements. Even in these general statements, Clinton’s page provides more detail than Trump’s, but Clinton’s also links to a fact-sheet that details how she plans to meet her goals.

Clinton’s page says she will narrow the focus of the VA so that it concentrates on providing health care for service-related conditions and treatments that Veterans need but have difficulty getting outside the VA. For issues that can be dealt with outside the VA, she’ll have the VA coordinate with other existing programs, and “Strategically purchase private-sector care when it makes sense to do so.” She promises to hold regular meetings with the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense. She will look for ways to streamline the VA by removing redundancies and co-locating operations. She will push to implement the electronic health record system, which has been delayed for years. Her fact sheet is filled with such details.

Trump’s page as no such details. It’s pretty much a short list which he calls a “10 point plan to reform the VA”. There is no link to any fact sheet.

The first of Trump’s ten points is “Appoint a VA Secretary whose sole purpose will be to serve veterans.” We already have a VA Secretary whose sole purpose is to serve veterans. Recently the VA Secretary failed to fulfill that purpose, but the position and the purpose both exist, so Trump’s first point is meaningless.

Points 2,3,4, and 5 are all about punishing poor performers at the VA. They’re one point divided into four because a “10 point plan” sounds better than a “7 point list”. So far, it’s really just a 6 point list because point 1 is nonsense.

Half of Point 6 is a good idea. Yay Trump. He will create a 24 hour, live manned, “private White House hotline”. I like the 24 hour part. We already have a VA hotline but it only runs during East Coast business hours. It can be trouble finding time during the workday to deal with government agencies. So that’s great, but I don’t know what Trump means by “private White House hotline”. It would be stupid to put the hotline in the White House, and what does he mean by “Private”? The hotline would be better off in a VA facility were someone might be able to turn the call over to a health care professional.

Point 7 is about punishing non-performers, so it should get rolled in with points 2,3,4, and 5. Now it’s a 5 point plan.

Point 8 is about visas. Even if a crackdown on visas would help veterans (and I’m not saying it wouldn’t), it’s not a point in a plan to reform the VA. Trump really has a four point plan to reform the VA.

Points 9 and 10 sound good to me. He’ll increase the number of mental health care professionals and allow veteran’s to choose between care at the VA or at a private service provider. But since it’s mainly the cost that keeps vets from getting care outside of the VA (there’s no rule that says we can’t), if Trump wants to make sure that vets can get care outside of the VA, he should provide some clue about how he plans to cover the cost.

That’s it. Four ideas: Set up a 24 hour “private hotline”, increase the number of health care professionals, improve access to private health care,and make the VA a scary place to work where great resources are devoted to punishment and employees are rewarded for turning in their coworkers. There is nothing about the economic challenges faced by active duty military members. There is no mention of their families. There is nothing about education.

Most of all, there is no framework for how Trump plans to meet the four goals he spells out in his so-called “ten point plan”. There is almost no accountability.

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Photo by: Senior Airman Nichelle Anderson (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/334506) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Clinton’s plan has several specific objectives that later we can review to hold her to her promises.

Trump’s plan reads like a book report done on the morning bus by a student who didn’t read the book. It is an insult that shows no regard for veterans, military members, or their families.

The Responsible Response to Iraq

In response to all of the emails and Facebook posts telling me to “Tell President Obama” not to Intervene in Iraq, I urge you to to let Obama follow the advice of experts who know a lot more about the situation in Iraq then you, I, or even Bill Mahar.

Going into Iraq now would not be doing the same thing that we did before. It would be the opposite. Instead of toppling a regime and creating a power vacuum, we’d be supporting a government already in place and preventing an overthrow. Instead of lying to justify an invasion, we’d be responding to a request for help.

When America was cheering the removal of troops from Iraq, many conservatives not only endorsed the end of the war, they gave Bush credit for it, which was (I’ll agree with Politifact on this) at least half-true. Now they criticize Obama for leaving.

Whether your an Obama supporter or an Obama hater, crediting Obama for withdrawing or blaming him for it requires you to ignore the Bush timeline, the expectations of the American people, and the attempts to maintain a small force in Iraq against the will of the Iraqi government. Had we not withdrawn, many of the same people who are criticizing Obama for leaving would be criticizing him for staying, and Obama would be in a position of maintaining forces in Iraq against the will of the American and Iraqi people, while fighting a Congress who controls the purse strings and will do anything to make Obama fail. I think we had to withdraw.

Now I think we should return. Sometimes you have to take the training wheels off to see what happens. The American people can plainly see that Iraq isn’t ready to move forward without us. The government we helped put in place is asking for our help in cleaning up the mess that we helped create. Who are we to say “No”?

What’s the difference between a traitor and a hero?

The right wing reaction to the New York Times article pointing out problems with Bergdahl’s unit was to call the NYT “Outrageous” for reporting the data that they found. I’m not saying it’s right that Bergdahl went AWOL or deserted, but it’s becoming more and more likely that Bergdahl’s betrayal was a result of witnessing crimes committed by his fellow countrymen, including running over a child. The right wing reaction is that they don’t want to hear it. Betrayal is betrayal. He took an oath.

All this makes me wonder, why is Edward Snowden such a hero?

Forbes Repeats Right Wing Lie about Bergdahl Swap

Congressman Randy Forbes sent out an email which contained this blatant lie:

The Administration’s action violates a long-held principle that our government will not enter into negotiations with a terrorist organization.

I was a little disappointed. Forbes’s dishonesty is usually a bit more nuanced. He’ll often hide misleading innuendo in half-truths or push polls. He could have just said, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” and let it be understood that he’s accusing Obama of doing so.

But perhaps after reading the comments on his blog post about the swap, he realized that most of his supporters are so ill informed, so hateful, and so ready to soak up any nonsense that justifies their world view and their hatred of Obama, that Mr. Forbes felt it would be a waste of time to craft a technically true statement or to disguise his innuendo in the form of a question. He can just lie.

It’s a lie because the Taliban, despite being a hateful enemy, is not a terrorist organization. Not everyone we hate is a terrorist, although the right wing has been confused about that for over a decade. The difference is significant. The Taliban did not storm a non-combat zone and carry people away at gunpoint. They caught an American soldier, and instead of shooting him they held him as a prisoner. If we’re going to encourage that kind of behavior, then good, because the alternative is murder.

I am not discounting the heinous crimes against humanity committed by the Taliban, and I’m not discounting the Taliban’s treatment of Bergdahl while he was in captivity. The Taliban are disgusting, murderous bigots. I am only stating that Bergdahl’s capture was an act of war, not an act of terror. And that fact makes a lie out of all the talk about how this prisoner exchange will set any kind of dangerous precedent.

It’s a dangerous lie that Republicans are telling now. And Randy Forbes, as usual but without his usual craftiness, is helping to perpetuate it. It’s way past time for a change in Virginia’s 4th District.

Lying about Prisoners and Hostages

Imagine we invade a nation and during a battle, one or a small group of American soldiers falls into enemy hands. Maybe one dope wanders into enemy territory or maybe a team runs out of bullets because despite all the yellow ribbons, politicians who talk a big talk about how much they love the military only vote to give billions of dollars to defense contractors, not to support our troops. Anyway, for whatever reason, our soldiers fall into enemy hands. But now, also thanks to those big talkers, our soldiers are murdered rather than taken prisoner because we recently sent a message to the world that if we invade your country, take no prisoners. There is no reason to do so. Their won’t be any swaps. We don’t negotiate with terrorists, and the American people are so ignorant they don’t know the difference between a terrorist and an enemy so we don’t negotiate with anybody.

“Take No Prisoners” means “Kill Everybody”. That is the future of warfare that Republicans are calling for.

But it’s not the future that they actually want. They’re just lying to get political points. Bergdahl was not a hostage, and those who took him were not terrorists. The Taliban are a group of vile, murderous bigots, but it is not they who attacked us on 9/11. It is we who attacked them one month later.

Anything the President would have done would have been spun against him. That point was well made yesterday by David Ignatius on the Diane Rehm Show,

Let’s imagine for a moment that President Obama had not made this deal, and it’s a year from now, and evidence comes to light as the Taliban is showing ever more grisly videos of Bowe Bergdahl in captivity wasting away, dying, and it comes to light that President Obama could have arranged a prisoner swap that would have gotten him home. Can you imagine the outcry that there’d be in the country?

Although Republicans may not want Americans to die as a result of their irresponsibility and dishonestly, it’s a risk they’re willing to take so they can get Democrats out of office and cut taxes for the wealthy. That’s what it all comes down to: Playing on the ignorance and childish emotions of conservatives to get elected, and getting elected to cut taxes for the wealthy. At any cost.

Randy Forbes the Visionary

All this rancor about sequestration is all for naught because Randy Forbes has a solution: “Hey guys, how about Republicans take whatever they want and let Democrats eat shit?”

Wow, Randy. Nobody ever thought of that. Sure glad we have you and your win-win attitude.

I have an idea, too. Why don’t Republicans stop giving lip service about how important they think the military is and prove that they’re willing to sacrifice for it. As far as I can tell, Republicans will do nothing to stop the sequestration because they get political points for blaming it on Democrats. But the sequestration had plenty of Republican support. In fact, it had better support among Republicans than among Democrats. Even Paul Ryan pushed for it.

The reason sequestration is looming is it gives Republicans what they want. Not that Republicans want to gut the military, they just want to gut social programs to prevent the wealthy from paying higher taxes. And they can accept the devastation that sequestration will bring as long as they can blame it on Democrats.

Democrats, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as hostile to the military as Republicans claim they are. Democrats shrink from accusations of not supporting the military while Republicans boast about cutting social programs. Democrats do want to cut wasteful spending on pork-barrel programs that don’t actually strengthen the military, but they support the military with far greater force than Republicans support economic safety nets, infrastructure, or public education.

The asymmetry of sequestration is that social programs are on the chopping block because Republicans want them to be cut, but military spending is on the chopping block because they were supposed to be so unpalatable that they would force Republicans to negotiate.

But it turns out that taxes on the wealthy are more unpalatable for Republicans than cuts to the military. Republicans aren’t willing to honestly negotiate for what they claim is so important to them. The best they can do is Randy Forbes’s visionary proposal to let Democrats make all of the sacrifices.

The next time a Republican politician talks about supporting the troops, remember how Republicans would rather leave the military on the chopping block than negotiate to save it.

From a recent Forbes email:

Working to Prevent Sequestration and Protect Our Military

With sequestration just days away, Congressman Forbes continued in his efforts strongly opposing these arbitrary cuts and protecting our nation’s armed forces. Congressman Forbes voted against the Budget Control Act, which set up the process of sequestration, and has been warning against the devastating nature of these cuts ever since.

Introduced a bill to protect defense from sequestration. Congressman Forbes introduced a bill, H.R.773, to remove the Department of Defense from sequestration. Under sequestration, defense spending will be disproportionately cut, absorbing 50% of the cuts. Spending cuts of this magnitude will not only cripple the economy, but will decimate the military. This bill would reduce the amount of the sequester to $600 billion.

Joined bipartisan, bicameral letter on impact of sequestration in Virginia. Congressman Forbes joined Senators Warner and Kaine and Congressmen Wittman, Rigell, Wolf, Scott, Moran and Connolly in writing a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders to express concern about the disproportionate damage sequestration will have on Virginia. Members of the Virginia delegation urged both parties to work cooperatively to end the threat of sequestration. Due to Virginia’s contribution to national defense, the letter notes that over 207,000 Virginia jobs may be lost as a result of sequestration should Congress and the President fail to act.

Urged protection of vital defense programs. Congressman Forbes and Congressman Rob Wittman sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging that vital defense programs remain fully funded in the face of looming defense cuts. Among the programs cited as essential to national security were the continued modernization and maintenance of the Navy’s Fleet; completion of refueling and overhauls for the aircraft carriers Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln; construction of a new aircraft carrier, USS John F. Kennedy; and ensuring the procurement of additional Virginia-class submarines and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Congressman Forbes is determined to prevent possible defense budget cuts from degrading critical U.S. military capabilities and inflicting unnecessary economic damage on our struggling economy.

Met with senior leaders of the Department of Defense. Congressman Forbes met with senior military officers and Pentagon civilian officials to discuss the potential consequences of sequestration and another Continuing Resolution (CR) on U.S. national security. Among those whom the Congressman has met in recent weeks are Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley, the Navy’s senior shipbuilding official; Lt. Gen. Charles Davis, the Air Force’s senior uniformed acquisition official; Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps; and Lt. Gen. Burton Field, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff. The Congressman will continue his consultations with the Pentagon’s senior leadership in the coming weeks as he works to prevent and mitigate the damage of sequestration to our national security.

Questioned the Joint Chiefs of Staff on DoD’s failure to plan for sequestration: During a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Congressman Forbes questioned the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior civilian officials as to why the Defense Department has waited until recently to publicly explain the impact of sequestration. Congressman Forbes expressed his concern that the DoD has not adequately informed Congress and the public about sequestration’s potential damage to our economy and security. The Congressman will continue to use his leadership position on the House Armed Services Committee to demand accountability from our senior military leadership on issues affecting the national security of the United States.

Delayed implementation of health care law to prevent sequestration. Congressman Forbes cosponsored a bill, H.R.607, to delay all provisions of the health care law that are set to take effect in 2014 and 2015 until January 1, 2016, and then use those savings to replace sequestration for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013. Not only does this measure stop the destructive effects of these cuts, it gives the Administration time to prepare for the many new provisions of the health care law.