Posts tagged ‘Veterans’

01/20/2012

Republican Debate: S Carolina (1-19-12)

MILITARY: Paul, who served along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the 1960s when he was in the Air Force, would cut overseas military spending. He asked why we have troops in Korea, 59 years after the Korean War ended; or in Japan and Germany, 67 years since WWII. We subsidize those countries, he said. Why are we in Afghanistan now for 10 years, and fighting so many undeclared wars?  He argued it is making us bankrupt. Romney thinks we have an aging Navy and Air Force, and it is wrong to balance the budget on the back of the military. He wants a military so strong no one would even think of testing it.

VETERANS: Paul receives twice as much support from veterans than all the others combined, he said. Santorum would continue the multitude of veteran’s preferences.

SOVIET UNION: Gingrich harbors the delusional belief he and Reagan were somehow responsible for Gorbachev’s unilateral decision to dissolve the Soviet Union.

TRADE: Romney wants to crack down on China, since he thinks they cheat with unfair trade. Santorum was asked about Apple Computers, an American company with 40,000 employed here, and 500,000 in China. He would cut to zero corporate income taxes for companies who manufacture in the U.S. Paul tried to explain the consumer benefits from cheaper products made in China. He said a $100 computer instead of one $1,000 is a benefit, but the audience reaction fell flat. He mentioned foreign auto companies still make money assembling cars in America.

IMMIGRATION: Gingrich would control the border and if needed, move half of the 23,000 who work for Homeland Security to Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. He would: 1) enforce English as an official language; 2) modernize visas; 3) make it easier to deport; 4) allow guest worker programs; 5) impose enormous sanctions against businesses that hire illegals; 6) have local boards review residency permit applications for those here 25 years; and 7) drop federal lawsuits against South Carolina, Alabama and Arizona. Romney said immigration is a simple matter of forcing employers to check a data base. Those illegally here need to go home, and apply for citizenship, like everyone else. No one should gain an advantage by coming here illegally. Santorum said if you want to become an American, the first thing you have to do is respect our laws. Someone who has been here 25 years, he said, has been breaking the law 25 years, and probably stole someone’s Social Security number. Paul does not believe those who hire should be forced to become policemen, as border guards and the federal government have that job. There should be no federal mandate that forces states to provide medical or educational needs, Paul said. Instead of protecting borders in Afghanistan, Paul said, we should use those resources at home.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Santorum wants capitalism that works for everybody, including working men and women. Gingrich argued Romney’s Bain Capital leveraged a company in South Carolina and left it with debt. Romney claimed he created 120,000 jobs at four places, and only 10,000 lost their jobs. He said a lot of people benefitted, as profits went to pension funds, charities, and a wide variety of institutions.

JOBS: Santorum wants a Republican Party that talks about putting back to work the men and women who built this country. Paul said the solution is for the government to get out of the way, by reducing regulations, and dropping taxes to zero. The country has to liquidate their debt, Paul said. Regarding jobs, Gingrich would repeal Dodd-Frank, as he thinks it is killing small banks. He would develop natural gas and overhaul the Corps of Engineers.

LABOR: Romney thinks Obama is stacking the NLRB with labor stooges. Santorum pledged to sign a national right-to-work law.

MANUFACTURING: Romney claimed GM was given to the UAW. Santorum noted manufacturing dropped from 21% to 9%, because it costs our companies, excluding labor, 20% more than our top nine trading partners, to do business in America.

ENERGY: Romney wants to use our resources to become energy secure. He complained the 500 million dollar solar energy loan to Solyndra was a waste, as Obama’s rejected the Keystone Pipeline.

ENTITLEMENTS: Santorum believes all Obama wants to do is give people food stamps and Medicaid. He heard Iowa was being fined, because they didn’t sign up enough people for Medicaid. Romney thinks Obama wants to create a European style social welfare state.

HEALTH CARE: Santorum claimed he consistently favored health savings accounts. He accused Romney of promoting a Mass plan, which was not based on the free market. Over half the new people buying health insurance in Mass, he said, were fully subsidized by the state. He also accused Gingrich of supporting an individual mandate for over 10 years, from the 1990s through 2008. As to Gingrich’s idea to make everyone post a $150,000 bond, if they did not buy insurance, Santorum asked how many in the audience could post $150,000. Romney said he would go for a complete repeal of Obamacare. People should be able to take their own insurance with them as they go from job to job, he said. He denied setting up a government-run health care system, since they bought insurance from private companies. He accused Obama of creating a 2,700 page, tax-increasing, Medicare-cutting, monster. He would return health care to the states, and get the government out of Medicaid. Gingrich said to repeal it, a Republican House and Senate must be elected. He claimed to have led the charge against Hillarycare and help write the Health Savings Accounts law. He admitted he was wrong for supporting a mandate. Paul, who apparently did not practice medicine in poor areas, thinks health care “worked rather well” before the government got involved in the 1960s with Medicare and Medicaid. He remembers a fictional world, where “there was nobody on the streets suffering with no medical care.” He accused Santorum of expanding government with the unfunded Prescription Drug law.

BUDGET: Gingrich erroneously took total credit for the 4 years when President Clinton and a Democratic majority in the Senate balanced the federal budget.

TAXES: Santorum would cut the corporate income tax rate to zero. Gingrich opposed President Bush Sr. when he raised taxes, despite a pledge not to do so.

TAX RETURNS: Gingrich put his 2011 tax returns online, showing he paid 31% of 3 million in income taxes. Romney said, over jeers, he would disclose his tax return for this year, when it is due in April, and probably for other years too. He thinks disclose would only serve the purpose of allowing people to attack his financial success. He lied as he added: “I didn’t inherit money from my parents.” He claimed he pays a lot in taxes. When he was asked if he would follow his father’s lead in 1967 and release 12 years of tax returns, because only one year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show., Mitt said just “maybe” and “I don’t know how many years I’ll release.” As the audience jeered him, he then said he would release “multiple” years. Santorum, whose tax rate is higher than Romney’s 15%, said he keeps his records on his laptop, and would release them when he gets home. Paul said he would be embarrassed to disclose his tax returns, because they show so little, but added Congressional financial statements show everything a person might need to know, and he has no conflicts of interest, since he doesn’t even talk to lobbyists.

FREE SPEECH: A question arose regarding the Stop Online Piracy Act, which pits anti-censorship groups against those who say movies and other property are being pirated. Gingrich said the degree of pre-emptive censorship in the law is unacceptable. He though people could use Copyright and Patent protections to sue infringers. Romney argued we should more narrowly go after offshore pirates. Paul said Republicans have been on the wrong side of this issue, as he joined Democrats to oppose it. Santorum opposed the law, but added the Internet is not a zone where people can trample on the rights of others, as property must be respected.

MARRIAGE: The hypocrite Gingrich, who went after President Clinton with a vengeance when he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky, was appalled, as he denounced the media for having the audacity to ask him questions about his affair, while married to his second wife. He described it as a vicious attack of the sort that makes it hard to find descent people to run for public office, and harder still to govern. He then distracted everyone by coming up with the preposterous diversion that he was tired of the media protecting Obama by attacking Republicans.

ABORTION: Romney said he was pro-life, and it was the Mass Supreme Court that made abortion available under his health care law. Planned Parenthood was not mentioned in his law, he said. Gingrich claimed a pro-life voting record of 98.6%. Dr. Paul was taught pregnant women are two patients. Santorum said Paul’s right to life record was only 50%. Paul said abortion should be handled by states, where murder and violent crimes are dealt with.

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04/15/2011

U.S. Civil War: Remembering Soldiers

Upon the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, many are discussing whether it was caused by slavery or states’ rights, and are asking if the rebels, or their flag, should be honored. Instead of giving my view up front, I decided to first pay my respects to all veterans of that war, by simply sharing the story of one ordinary man, who served in that conflict.

Henry was an immigrant, born in the Rhineland, near the French border (1829). After sailing from the port at Havre, France, he arrived in New York (1852), and moved to Wisconsin, where he labored on a farm, and became a naturalized U.S. Citizen (1860).

On Aug. 19, 1862, he enlisted as a private, in the 29th Wisconsin Infantry. The 29th served with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, along the Mississippi River, in the Western Campaign. A book entitled Wisconsin in the Civil War by R. Wells reported: “The 29th, it might be mentioned, was quite a cosmopolitan regiment. Of its original 882 men, 576 were foreign-born, coming from 16 countries. Only 28 members had been born in Wisconsin.”

Henry and the 29th took part in Grant’s strategically important siege at Vicksburg (1863). From a position north of Vicksburg, the 29th Wis. first went west across the Mississippi River, then south past Vicksburg, and east across the river again, behind enemy lines at Bruinsburg, Mississippi. From there, they trekked north to Vicksburg, engaging the enemy five times along the way.

After the first battle at Port Gibson (1863), Brigadier Gen. George McGinnis wrote: “The 29th Wisconsin stood the brunt of the engagement, occupying the front and most dangerous position. It was here that the heaviest loss occurred.”

He added: “I cannot refrain, however, from special mention of the 29th Wisconsin, not that they fought longer and more gallantly than others—not that they are more brave or better disciplined, but that it is a new regiment and this was the first time that they had been engaged with an enemy, or that any of their men had ever been under fire. They fought like veterans and suffered severely, as their report of casualties will show.”

Henry and the 29th Infantry then moved on to Jackson, Mississippi, before turning north towards Vicksburg. On their way, they engaged the enemy again at Champion’s Hill (1863).

The report on the Wis. 29th was as follows: “I never saw fighting like this. The loss of my division on the field alone was nearly one-third of my forces engaged. Of the 29th Wis. in what words of praise shall I speak? Not more than six months in service, their record will compare with the oldest and best-tried regiments in the field. All honor is due to their gallant officers and men.”

Two years after winning the siege at Vicksburg, Henry was still fighting, but his number was up. The day before the very last rebel army surrendered, he was hit on May 25, 1865, in Mobile, Alabama. A Civil War Census (1890) said he was “wounded in the back by an explosion.” Pension papers said his wounds were to his head and legs. He was honorably discharged June 16, 1865, after serving the Union for 2 years, 9 months, and 28 days.

As a Civil War hero, Henry returned to farming in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. At age 36, he took an 18-year-old bride named Lena (1865). They would have 11 children. He later received a veteran’s disability pension (1891), before dying from chronic bronchitis (1896). At his gravesite in Wisconsin, he has a very large stone, written in German, with a Civil War battle star on it.

Surely, there are thousands of Southern families whose relatives were also soldiers, with stories just as compelling as this one. It is quite alright to share them, and in most cases, to be proud of them, (unless of course war crimes were involved, like the case of Capt. Henry Wirz, the commandant at Andersonville Prison Camp in Georgia, who caused the death of 12,000 Union prisoners).

Today, we should separate the warriors from the war. Just as we should not blame the men who were drafted to serve in Vietnam, for the mistakes of the Senators who sent them there, we should not criticize the rebel soldier, called upon by their leaders to fight.

My guess is if my great-great grandfather Henry were with us today, he would be mindful of Lincoln’s admonition of “malice towards none,” he would sit down with his former enemies, and would have a few beers with them. Since they would soon forget for which side they had served, perhaps we should too. We should just remember all of them for the American soldiers that they were.