Saturday, December 31, 2016

SMART ASS!

SMART ASS
One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
Remember the five simple rules to be happy: 
            Free your heart from hatred- - Forgive. 
                        Free your mind from worries- - Most never happen. 
                                    Live simply and appreciate what you have. 
                                                Give more
                                                            Expect less.
NOW............Enough of that crap!
            The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him. The gash from     the bite got infected and  the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock..
MORAL FROM TODAY'S LESSON:

When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass,
it always comes back to bite you

Friday, December 30, 2016

THE WONDER YEARS



THE WONDER YEARS
Brought to you by: DJ Trump & the Trump-ettes

D. J. Trump & the Trump-ettes
 Now, while half the County’s  hair is catching on fire over the 2016 Election, maybe we should take a collective deep breath, and look back over the past one hundred, or so, years. There have been some pretty bad actors in our recent global history. They all have been involved, at one time or another, in the practice of genocide; some on a small scale, but most on a huge scale. Most, if not all, of them make our present National situation look like a warm, sunny walk in the park.
 Is the future head of the United States Government going to resemble these bad actors, even fractionally? The most complete answer I can come up with is, “NO”. The United States is blessed with a democracy that has enough “Checks & Balances” to insure the political pendulum stays reasonably close to dead center.
 Even using Executive Powers & Actions, a President is limited in what he/she can do to circumvent a reluctant Congress. Moreover, what comes out of the White House has to be funded to some extent. Many of these Executive Actions look great on paper, but, without proper funding from Congress, they simply die on the vine.
The one who is about to be anointed Leader of the Free World, sounds and appears, from time to time, as if he has a vein of despotism running through his body. However, don’t be fooled by the occasional appearance, or sound, of demagoguery and populist disconnect.
 A few things need to be straightened out about D. J. Trump; our next and presumptive President. First, a question: “Does he really want to be President?” Assuming he does want to be President, what might his personal agenda be? Could it be that D. J. Trump is setting himself up for the time, four years from now, when he is no longer President? If so, he might be leaving the Office with enough I.O.U.’s to last a lifetime. So far, none of his rhetoric points to the fact that he is taking this “politician” thing seriously. He looks to be fat, dumb, and happy in delegating all things Presidential to folks who may end up owing him some serious favors in 2021. He doesn’t even have to keep track of it all, so there will be no appearance of impropriety. His kids can tally all the favors, and bank them in the basement of a hotel, or buried under the 18th green at a golf course (possibly off shore?).
Another provocative question: “Does old D. J. Trump actually write all these Twitter twats that seem to consume every minute of every Newscast and every Newspaper around the Globe?” I would be willing to bet a sum of real money that he has a ghostwriter. After giving this a little thought (very little, actually) one name comes to mind. This name is based on the often-times childish and inconsistency of these Twitter twats. The name, you may ask. But, of course: little Barron Von Trump!
 And, oh my God, do all the Trump-ettes have any idea what it’s like to live in the middle of Washington DC? They roll the streets up at about 6:30pm, save for a few bars and restaurants. Everything happens out in the suburbs where you probably won’t find a member of the “Firstest Family” wandering about. Will Madame D. J. Trump be excited living in the relative squalor of the White House? If she does move into Pennsylvania Ave., who gets the “remodeling” contract? Will it be outsourced to a Mexican construction Company; perhaps the same one that will be building the wall? That way, the D. J. Trumps may get Mexico to pay for the remodel as well as the Wall.







Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Lies We Believe! (this one from the Department of Defense)


Transition Assistance Program
Military.com | Week of December 26, 2016
The Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program (SFL TAP) is a commander's program that requires leaders to take an active role in a Soldier's transition. The program encourages Soldiers to attend early and often, starting 18 months prior to transition and 24 months prior to retirement from active duty. Participation in SFL TAP is required for all soldiers who have at least 180 days of continuous active duty service. The program teaches career skills like résumé writing, financial planning, job application preparation and military skills translation. SFL TAP works to provide opportunities to Soldiers who are looking to pursue an education, entrepreneurship, or a career. For more information, visit the U.S. Army SLF TAP website. For more transition tips, and a customized transition plan, visit Military.com's Transition Center.

The Soldier for Life — Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) is a centrally funded commanders program that provides transition assistance services to eligible Soldiers. Public Law is the foundation of the Transition Assistance Program initiative, along with DOD and Army policy. The Army’s SFL-TAP goals also include support to the manning of the total Army. SFL-TAP supports the Army’s Active Component recruiting effort by producing successful alumni. The decision to enlist in the military and, more specifically, the Army is often influenced by friends and relatives. When alumni are successful they serve as powerful examples of what Army service can do for a young man or woman’s future. Those who are capable of translating Army skills, training, and experience into rewarding careers are living billboards promoting the Army as a great place to start. SFL-TAP also supports Active Component retention by helping Soldiers to intelligently compare their Army earnings, benefits and potential for growth with what they can reasonably expect to achieve in the private sector. Many SFL-TAP clients realize that they need to stay on active duty in order to gain new skills, education, training and experience.
As recent wars have demonstrated, the Army is more than the Active Component. SFL-TAP supports the Reserve Component by helping transitioning soldiers to understand how service in the Army National Guard or Army Reserve can augment their starting civilian salaries and provide valuable training and benefits. Civilian employees are also a valuable part of the total Army. SFL-TAP promotes Army civilian employee retention by assisting dislocated Army civilian employees to find new jobs. SFL-TAP demonstrates to all civilian employees that the Army truly cares and will be there for them; even if their jobs are eliminated. Both military and civilian supervisors of Army civilian personnel are encouraged to refer their employees who have been adversely impacted by Reduction in Force (RIF) or Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) actions to the SFL-TAP Center for transition assistance.
The Army expects its leaders to support SFL-TAP because it helps the Army to conserve scarce budget dollars and man the force. Finally, but most importantly, the Army expects its leaders to support SFL-TAP because they owe it to their Soldiers. A Soldier’s decision to leave active duty cannot erase his or her sacrifices and dedication. The SFL-TAP Transition Services Manager (TSM) will be happy to arrange a visit to the SFL-TAP Center for you and your staff to provide an overview of SFL-TAP services. During your visit, you can tour the Center and view a demonstration of the Army’s automated system of record for transition services TAP XXI. The TSM and staff are available to present informational briefings at installation/unit professional training and meetings or to host such events at the SFL-TAP Center. The TSM can also provide regular updates of SFL-TAP installation/unit performance metrics.

It appears that there is more emphasis on protecting civilian subcontractor jobs than actually assisting Military Personnel in their transition. The few success stories in the transition process are to be held up to the Nation as “poster children” for a program that doesn’t work and has never been funded to be successful. The entire TAP program, as it is, constitutes a major fraud on all Military Personnel. In short, it is bull crap of the lowest quality. The success rate of this program is close to zero. The Department of Defense claims it to be a mandatory program. From the “exit interviews” I have conducted, this current program is not mandatory, nor is it even encouraged by Commanders. That is why I have developed (over 4 years) a program that is truly mandatory and includes everything a Soldier and his/her Family needs to get a firm footing back in the civilian world.Congress must put our money where their mouths are on this subject. We are talking about the men and women who raise their hands and offer, of their own free will, to defend this Country to the death. These are the men and women we send off to foreign lands to fight and protect our way of life; our society, our economy, and, most of all, our democracy. The United States should hang its head in shame for not properly caring for those who enable its very existence.The articles quoted, above, are samples of the lies we tell ourselves just to feel good about our “commitments” to our Military Veterans. If a certain segment of our population was exposed to serving their Country as we do, the pendulum would most likely swing in our favor, and we would truly be honored for the services we provide. Until such time, however, being a U.S. Military Veteran makes you a third-class citizen in this Country.






Costs Kill Big Gains for Vets

You may want to read this article two, or three, times as I had to. Read between the lines and read the rest with a skeptical mind. If you do the math quoted in the article, this isn’t all that much to fund. He VA annual budget approaches $200 billion, so a few more $million$ won’t make add a significant amount to what we spend now. Also, no one should be afraid of reforming some of the Civil Service Laws regarding hiring, firing, and holding all employees at every level responsible for their performance and conduct. Doing this will not create fewer jobs; it will simply ensure that people in these jobs actually do what they were hired to do.
Funding and Civil Service Law Reform are the two places to start. After that is settled in place, Congress can start tackling the reforms that effect Veterans on a daily basis.
A good plan of action will consist of many small, attainable goals the, when placed in the same basket, will actually make a difference in the way this Country treats their Veterans - which really sucks right now!


 Costs Kill Big Gains for Vets
But Reserve Retirees Win 'Vet' Status
Military.com | Week of December 26, 2016
For a while it seemed 2016 would be the year Congress phased in a $3 billion plan to give older generations of severely injured veterans the same caregiver benefits enacted six years ago for Post-9/11 injured veterans. It also seemed Congress in 2016 would modernize VA's appeals process for veteran claims, and would impose stiff new accountability requirements on VA employees who are incompetent or misbehave. It even seemed possible this year that lawmakers would strengthen the Veterans Choice program by establishing prompt payment standards and by streamlining requirements for community medical care providers to enter into service agreements with VA. But, have any of these things happened? For more details, see this Military Advantage post.Bottom of Form

Costs Kill Big Gains for Vets
But Reserve Retirees Win ‘Vet’ Status
POSTED BY: TOM PHILPOTT DECEMBER 22, 2016
Military Update: For a while it seemed 2016 would be the year Congress phased in a $3 billion plan to give older generations of severely injured veterans the same caregiver benefits enacted six years ago for Post-9/11 injured veterans.
It also seemed Congress in 2016 would modernize VA’s archaic appeals process for veteran claims, and would impose stiff new accountability requirements on VA employees who are incompetent or misbehave.
It even seemed possible this year that lawmakers would strengthen the Veterans Choice program by establishing prompt payment standards and by streamlining requirements for community medical care providers to enter into service agreements with VA.
Early election-year cheers of real progress on these issues by leaders of the House and Senate veteran affairs committees became whispers by year’s end, due to fiscal realities and disagreements over reform priorities.
The major veterans’ bill passed in the 114th Congress is titled The Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016 (HR 6416) to honor the retiring chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the ranking Democrat on the Senate committee who will step from that position in the next Congress.
Signed into law Dec. 16, it is long on ordering more studies of VA issues, and on tweaking current programs, but fails to make truly significant, and costly, program improvements. For proof, follow the money.
The Congressional Budget Office projects Miller-Blumenthal will raise VA appropriations by only $33 million over the next five years. A third of spending is for “reports, studies and surveys.” Over the next decade, the new law is projected to lower VA direct spending by $40 million.
From the perspective of major veteran service organizations, the roadblock to critical reforms of benefits and services are budget controls that the veteran committees must operate under.
“Either the House or the Senate passed nearly everything that we, as an organization, felt needed to be accomplished in the 114th Congress,” said Raymond C. Kelley, director of National Legislative Service for Veterans of Foreign Wars. “Except they couldn’t get it to the finish line — passed by both chambers and onto the President — because of the inability to fund it.”
VFW and other vet groups “continue to beat the drum for ending [budget] sequestration, realigning budget caps to meet need, and [lifting] most other budgetary triggers pressing on Congress. The authorizers know what needs to be done,” said Kelley. But until caps are removed, Congress can only approve major new benefits by making cuts to existing programs.
The Senate committee’s much touted Veterans First Act, which a bipartisan majority approved in May, had a host of substantive initiatives. The centerpiece was expansion of the VA caregiver benefit to families of older generations of severely injured veterans back to World War II.
The price tag was $3 billion, however, which the committee proposed to cover by raising interest rates on veterans reusing their home loan benefit, by rounding down disability compensation payments, and by dampening the housing allowance stipend for the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit. Lawmakers know those are hard tradeoffs for veteran groups to accept.
“As a veteran service organization,” said Kelley, “we cannot allow Congress to pay for one benefit with another benefit. We just can’t go down that road,” even though VFW eagerly supports expanding caregiver eligibility.
Another Senate initiative, to consolidate outside provider payments to improve access to community health care, would cost $34 billion over 10 years, an impossible expense to absorb with existing budget caps.
On the House side, Miller, a champion for forcing VA to punish wrongdoers among its workforce, linked reform of the VA claims appeal process to tougher employee accountability rules, which federal employee unions vehemently opposed and senators rejected. So, in the end, the final catchall Miller-Blumenthal package had no truly major reforms to tout.
Arguably, the most welcomed provision bestows honorary “veteran” status on many Reserve and National Guard retirees who, until now, have not been recognized as such. The new law specifically states that no added benefits will flow from the recognition so there’s no budgetary impact.
Affected retirees spent careers in reserve components, attending monthly and annual drills, but never having completed a qualifying period of active duty service under Title 10 to meet the legal definition of veteran and receive a DD-214 “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty”. Today, however, they are able to be call, and to call themselves, veterans.
Other provisions take steps to narrowly improve access to health care, disability and education benefits, and assistance to the homeless. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Chairman of the Senate committee, called HR 6416 a “down payment on the debt” owed to veterans.
“Though HR 6416 reflects just a fraction of our collaborative efforts, it nonetheless contains many important provisions,” Miller told colleagues.
Blumenthal noted that among 76 separate provisions passed, some allow hiring of more mental health counselors and emergency room doctors while others expand eligibility for homelessness prevention programs and extend some education benefits. The latter refers to a provision extending the deadline for using the full 36-month Fry Scholarship for surviving spouses who lost service members early in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They will have until Jan. 1, 2021, instead of April 1, 2017, to obtain their educations using the benefit. CBO estimates the added cost at $16 million.
The original Fry Scholarship program gave the children of service members who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001, full Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Congress extended it to surviving spouses in 2014.
Other highlights of Miller-Blumenthal will:
— Require VA to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Medicine to conduct an assessment on scientific research relating to the descendants of individuals exposed to toxins including Agent Orange. Estimated cost is $16 million over five years.
— Relax a rule that VA staff physicians can’t work more than 80 hours in any two-week period, which has handcuffed the department in using its full-time doctors more efficiently.
— Direct VA to provide, in lieu of a headstone or marker, a medallion to be affixed to a privately purchased headstone or marker of an individual, signifying their status as a veteran, if they served in the Armed Forces on or after April 6, 1917. Estimated cost is $5 million over the next decade.
— Require VA to arrange for an independent assessment of exams it gives individuals seeking disability compensation for traumatic brain injury. Estimated cost: $2 million over five years.
— Authorize contract physicians to conduct compensation and pension examinations at any location in any state as long as exams are within the scope of the authorized duties under the contract.
— Expand the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims from seven judges to nine through 2020 to help address a backlog of claim appeals. Estimated cost: $3 million.