Left behind, once again

On May 31, 2014, in Military, Veterans, War, by tommy

Check out the title o’ that story, to the right: “Minnesota enacts restrictive medical pot program”

So, how “restrictive” is “restrictive”? Well, say you were serving your country in Iraq and got PTSD after watching your buddies get blown up and years later, you see it play over and Over and OVER and are wondering why it’s you that survived and your buddies didn’t — you were left out of this “restrictive” new law. Or, say you were running around in the wilds of Afghanistan and a roadside bomb blew up your Humvee and you ended up with Traumatic Brain Injury — you, too, were left out of this “restrictive” new law. So while I’m happy this “restrictive” new law was enacted, I’m really not surprised that, once again, Veterans got left behind.


A Conversation With Spurticus

On November 23, 2013, in Sports, by tommy

OK, I didn’t write this. As a matter of fact, it ain’t even new. Came in a chain-mail back in ought-four; back when Zooker was stinkin’ up the Swamp, and Spurticus was tearin’ up the links. But, after becoming GatorBait to Georgia Southern (and, payin’ ‘em a half a million smackers to stick it to us), I thought I’d dig it up and post it again – ’cause if Foley knew what the (bad word, deleted) he was doin’ he’d get Spurticus (or, someone like him) on the sidelines at The Swamp and make sure a Muschamp 2014 “Oh, ten and one (think=1979)” season isn’t just around the corner.

Again, this was way back from 2004; kudos to the dude that wrote it:

Spurrier: Yello.

Foley: Steve?

Spurticus: Yuh-huh.

Foley: Heyyyyyyyy, Jeremy Foley. How the heck are ya?

Spurticus: Well, well, well. Look who found my number.

Foley: Aw, heck, buddy, just calling to, you know, see how you’re doing.

Spurticus: Knock it off with the bull****, Foley, I got a tee-time.

Foley: Oh, yeah. Good day for a little golf. Sport of gentlemen. Man I wish I…

Spurticus: Save it, jackass. We both know why you’re calling.

Foley: Matter of fact, uh, there is something I want to discuss with you.

Spurticus: Yeah, yeah. You fired Forrest Gump and you want me to save your bacon again.

Foley: Well, now I wouldn’t say…

Spurticus: Aw, bull****, Foley. You gotcher in a crack.

Foley: Yeah.

Spurticus: This is gonna take some five-star butt-kissin’. You better smear on the Chapstick and pucker up.

Foley: Now, Coach, I know we’ve had our differences.

Spurticus: Yer damn right we have, and know what’s worse? You crapped all over my legacy.

Foley: What?

Spurticus: I was more famouser even than Captain Kangaroo. I was the best ball coach since… since… hell, I was the HBC! You replaced me with a retard.

Foley: There’s no need to…

Spurticus: Shut up. You replaced me with a friggin’ Disney character. He didn’t have the sense to chew gum. I got golf balls with higher IQ’s than that dipstick.

Foley: Well he…

Spurticus: Didn’t I already fire his sorry ?

Foley: Well, Coach, that was way back…

Spurticus: Oh, and you thought he grew a brain since then. I built that team into a contender. We were in ‘lanter every year to play for the conference, and that nimrod lost to Mississippi State.

Foley: Didn’t you lose to Mississippi State?

Spurticus: ME??? I… you just… oh, that just cost you some more butt-kissin’.

Foley: Perhaps that remark was out of line.

Spurticus: Shut up. Lemme tell ya how it’s gonna be. First off, I don’t just wanna be head ball coach. Let’s just go ahead and make me Director of Football Operations.

Foley: Coach, let’s be reasonable…

Spurticus: Foley…

Foley: Done.

Spurticus: I don’t recruit.

Foley: Coach, somebody has to…

Spurticus: Foley…

Foley: Uh, we’ll get somebody on that.

Spurticus: My boys don’t do time, don’t do suspensions, and let’s not bother with classes. I don’t want eggheads, I want ballplayers.

Foley: So, status quo?

Spurticus: Egg-zackley.

Foley: Mmm-hmm.

Spurticus: Let’s talk salary.

Foley: Oh, sweet Jiminy Christmas…

Spurticus: How much ya got?

Foley: What’s this gonna take?

Spurticus: How much do you consider a ****load?

Foley: A lot.

Spurticus: Double that.

Foley: (whimper)

Spurticus: We’re just getting’ started.

Yesterday, The Big E published a blogpost, “David Hann in real trouble over campaign finance violation?”. Good question! A quick internet trip to Minnesota’s Statutes finds a section entitled “Corporate Political Contributions.” Now, I’m not a lawyer, but: this seems pretty clear to me:

Subd. 2. Prohibited contributions. A corporation may not make a contribution or offer or agree to make a contribution directly or indirectly, of any money, property, free service of its officers, employees, or members, or thing of monetary value to a major political party, organization, committee, or individual to promote or defeat the candidacy of an individual for nomination, election, or appointment to a political office.

Why is that important? Well, let’s look at just one Federal Elections Commission filing by an entity called “Senate Victory PAC” – whose Treasurer happens to be Republican State Senator David Hann:

That’s from filing FEC-865022, the Senate Victory PAC’s October 2012 filing.
3M Company PAC = $5,000
Centerpoint Energy, Inc. PAC = $500
Express Scripts Inc. Political Fund = $5,000
Koch Industries Inc PAC – $5,000

Those sure look like corporate contributions to me!

I looked at all the contributions to this “Senate Victory PAC” since it was started in November 2011, totalling $32,950, and they all look like corporate PAC contributions.

On November 18th, Rachel Stassen-Berger reported in the Star Tribune:

Hann said that as a former member of the state House and the state Senate Vandeveer, whom he considers a friend, has a good political sense of the Minnesota electorate. Hann said that he talks to Vandeveer, who did not run for re-election last year, “fairly often” and he has taken on various tasks to prepare Senate Republicans for the 2016 elections.

Why is that important? Because, also in that story, Rachel reported that Vandeveer had been paid out of the Senate Victory PAC – and that PAC’s only source of income appears to have been corporate PAC money.

A call to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board for comment was made and a message left. This one isn’t going away; stay tuned!

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Zappadan is the celebration (“Annual Blogswarm”) that occurs during the time frame of December 4th (the date of Frank’s death, 1993) to December 2st (the date of Frank’s birth, 1940).

And Yours Truly, the ol’ TwoPutter, has indeed participated in this festoonery; link here> for previous blogposts. Apologies in order; some links to some tunes have been removed. Bummer. Whatever.

At any rate, here’s a quick preview of what this year’s #Zappadan2013 might just bring. Featuring George Duke, it’s one of my favorite Zappa songs. Actually, when burning CD’s to introduce folk to the music o’ Zappa, I usually start out with this song, “Uncle Remus.”

(direct link to YouTube)

Yes, we’re kickin’ in to the Holiday Season, and one o’ my favorites: Zappadan!


The Education Of A Veteran

On November 10, 2013, in Veterans, Videos, by tommy

Back in the day, for a different war in a different part of the world, when veterans came back they were dissed and spit on and worse. It wasn’t like it is today – and that’s the way it should be. That said, there’s still problems for today’s veterans, what with the “for profit” vipers preying on our veterans’ educational benefits as just one “for instance.”

Here’s a little tune about that different war, in a different part of the world. Let’s hope there’s not an updated version of this song put out, reflecting a new reality of veterans tossed to the side when the bullets stopped flying….

(Direct link to YouTube)

Also from back in the day in the times of that different war, Stephen Stills wrote another song, about where some veterans live. This one isn’t over, as we’re still fighting here in Minnesota to ensure promises made for the Minneapolis Veterans Home are promises kept.

(Direct link to YouTube)

On this year’s Veterans Day, remember that thanking a veteran for their service is nice. Making sure promises made are promises kept is better.

Soldier, soldier, soldier
Stuck in a hospital ward
Living in a wheelchair
Do you remember the war
It’s not over
It’ll never be over for you
It’s not over
Till they stop playing war with you,
Soldier, Soldier

Do you remember who found you
The helicopter crew
Out of the Au Shan Valley
What could they do
It’s not over
It’ll never be over for you
It’s not over
Till they stop playing war with you,
Soldier, Soldier

Was anybody with you
When you felt your body die
Knowing that you live on
The shell of a man to hide
It’s not over
It’ll never be over for you
It’s not over
Till they stop playing God with you,
Soldier, Soldier
Soldier, Soldier
(Composed by Donnie Dacus / Stephen Stills, 1976)


Early Friday morning, you may see Jane Perry hanging out on a street corner. She has been distributing VFW “Buddy” Poppies as a Member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary for over 40 years. “It means a lot to me,” she said. “Buddy Poppies raise money to help veterans, their families, and our community. The VFW has been a rewarding place to volunteer.” On Friday, May 17, she’ll be out at 8 a.m., poppies in hand.

With six brothers having served in the U.S. military, Jane joined the Ladies Auxiliary under her twin brother’s wartime service. It’s been a membership that’s taken Jane across the state as a VFW Department Distinguished Guest Chair and to National Conventions across the country, starting in 1976. “I’ve missed a few, but not many,” Jane said with a smile. Favorite host city? “it’s a toss up between New Orleans and San Francisco.”

The poppies are assembled in by disabled veterans in Veterans Administration hospitals across the country. The poppies Jane is distributing today were assembled at the VA Hospital in St. Cloud, MN. The veterans that put them together are the only people paid. It gives them a few dollars to buy a few luxuries that many simply take for granted. Everyone else involved in the distribution, like Jane, is a volunteer.

Friday will find Jane outside of a grocery store in St. Louis Park with a basket full of poppies. A flier in the basket tells the Buddy Poppy story and has the words to Col. John McCrae’s timeless poem “In Flanders Fields.” Distributing poppies began in 1922 as a way to create awareness and raise funds for charitable programs, primarily focusing on disabled veterans and widows and orphans of those who fought and died. One of the places the money Jane’s Post (the Hopkins VFW) supports is the VFW National Home For Children in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. With a smile, Jane hands out poppies to all who pass and want one. The poppies are not for sale, they’re distributed as a way to keep the awareness of veterans in the public’s eye. Donations are accepted, and most people do donate. Many talk about their family members who have served and in some cases, still are serving.

When Jane’s shift is over, she’ll pass the basket and head back to the Post and swap stories with other volunteers. Everyone has a story to tell, like Dick Dvorak, a South Pacific WWII Vet and his wife Pat, or Dave Klocek who served in Viet Nam and his wife Mary Ann. The story they all want everyone to know is when people see the volunteers out today and tomorrow with baskets of poppies, remember the veteran who has returned and especially remember the veterans that didn’t.

In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hads we throw
The torch; be yours to hld it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though the poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Col John McCrae
Ypres, Belgium – 1915

(this story originally published in the Twin Cities Daily Planet)

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Minneapolis Veterans Home construction project is in serious jeopardy for the second year in a row. The Minneapolis Veterans Home was founded in 1887 and is the oldest of the State’s five Veterans Homes.
Last year in August a state of the art 100-room skilled nursing facility opened and replaced a condemned Depression-era building. That was Phase 1 of a 2009 Master Plan. Phase 2 called for the demolition and rebuilding of Building 17′s north wing. This was funded in 2010 but the Phase 2 is contingent upon funding Phase 3, the demolition and rebuilding of that building’s South Wing.

On April 23rd, Dayton spokesperson Katharine Tinucci reiterated support for the project, stating, “Governor Dayton has committed to funding the next phase of the Minneapolis Veterans Home in his last two bonding proposals.”
Although the House bonding bill does not contain funding for the Home, on the same day House Speaker Paul Thissen said, “The Minneapolis Veterans Home project will be part of the discussion this session as we work to pass a bonding bill that can be signed into law.”
A request for comment to the DFL Senate Caucus was not returned. The 2010 DFL Ongoing Platform (amended 2012) states the party supports “Providing timely and sufficient funding to appropriate government agencies to honor all our obligations to active duty military and military veterans.” A request for comment on the DFL’s position on funding for Phase 3 of the Master Plan for the Minneapolis Veterans Home possibly being delayed for the 2nd session in a row was not returned.
Reached for comment on May 6, Lee Ulferts, chair of a group of veterans organizations called The Commander’s Task Force, said, “The unfortunate thing is if we go ahead with Phase 2 without the assurance that Phase 3 will be completed the whole design of Phase 2 will have to be revisited, as it will mean dead ending electrical, sewer, gas and water. The cost to do this is not insignificant. To the Task Force, it just seems incomprehensible that proper funding for this home is not provided. And now it seems that we can dig into tax dollars to restore the State Capitol for $100 million plus but we still can’t find the money to provide beds for 100 veterans. When did our priorities get so screwed up?”


(cross posted from TwinCitiesDailyPlanet.net)

FULL DISCLOSURE: Tommy Johnson is a veteran and advocates for veterans’ rights.


Just the other day, Ahmed Tharwat asked me to be on his cable TV show to discuss the disclosure statement on the bottom of my emails – which is below. without any further ado, here it is!

(direct link to YouTube, here)

And, here’s that disclosure statement, that got the conversation started…..

EmailDisclosure photo EmailDisclosureStatement_zps829cbb21.jpg

Please feel free to use it yourself!

I’ll update when the Cable TV schedule is announced.

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A Preview Of A GOP 2014 Lit Piece

On April 24, 2013, in Gov. Dayton, Veterans, by tommy

I wrote a Community Voices story over at Twin Cities Daily Planet – “Governor’s Office, Legislature at odds over funding for Veterans Home” – because I’m a recipient of a Media Skills Fellowship and I’ll be covering veterans issues. From it:

Long story short: the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis used to be a pit. Among the Home’s campus were old buildings that had not been well maintained along with others that even had they been properly maintained were obsolete anyway. And, a dangerous one. In addition to the deferred maintenance there were problems with care to the point that patients had died. So a plan was put in place, and the turn around began.

Bottom line? There’s a 3 phase plan; phase 1 has been completed. Phase 2 has been funded, but cannot commence until Phase 3 has been funded. So this project to fix a major problem is on hold, because for some reason, the leadership hasn’t figured out what Governor Dayton’s office has: not only is it the right thing to do, it’s political suicide to do the wrong thing and NOT fund it. Right now, in the veteran community, Dayton is a hero. House and Senate leadership? Not so much, to put it mildly….

Here’s a quote from a GOPer on this very subject:

“We started renovation of the Minneapolis home back in 2009,” said Rep. Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake). “Are we really doing what we should be doing for our men and women who have served our country? I really feel that the perception out there that we’re not. We’re putting money into museums, state trails, sculpture gardens, nature centers and so forth. I think our men and women that have served our country over the years really deserve better. … I think we should be looking at finishing that project in Minneapolis and then going forward with some of these other concepts.”

Does anyone really think that if the DFL-led House and Senate pass a bonding bill without funding a project that’s already started that Democrats across the state won’t be seeing lit pieces based on that above quote hitting mail boxes in their districts?

This is an unforced error. And that’s becoming a pattern; just last week The Big E wrote about this one: “First raise the minimum wage”.

Any bets the GOP 2014 Lit Piece on not funding the veterans home will include that one, too?

The House and the Senate need to step up their games, and fast. Funding the veterans home, which includes a large chunk of federal money, is a good start.

(cross posted at MnProgressiveProject.com)

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Long story short: the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis used to be a pit. Among the Home’s campus were old buildings that had not been well maintained along with others that even had they been properly maintained were obsolete anyway. And, a dangerous one. In addition to the deferred maintenance there were problems with care to the point that patients had died. So a plan was put in place, and the turn around began. From an October 14, 2010 Strib story:

Outside, earth movers were starting work on a new nursing home that in two years will replace a Depression-era building condemned after steel supports began rusting away.

Last Friday a group of veterans representing nine major veterans groups called The Commanders Task Force held a press conference at the State Capitol concerning this. From their press release:

“The state veterans community is alarmed that funding for the project is in limbo at this time in both the House and Senate.”

The plan called for three phases. The first, referenced in that Strib story, was fully funded and completed. Phase II, the demolition of the north half of a building that veterans groups contend is far short of minimal standards for a quality nursing home, is funded. But, Phase II is on hold, because Phase III is the demolition of the south half of the same building. Quite simply, Phase II can’t move forward as planned if Phase III isn’t funded and scheduled.

Last Saturday, at the Minnesota 7th District VFW (“Veterans of Foreign Wars”) Convention, the Legislative Committee gave their report: DFL Leadership in neither the House nor the Senate seem to consider finishing this project a priority; in fact, House Leadership announced appointment of the Speaker’s Select Committee On Veterans Housing minutes before the Commanders Task Force’s press conference on Friday. This Committee, appointed by Speaker of the House Paul Thissen (DFL-61B) , was charged with “examin(ing) housing issues facing Minnesota veterans, including veterans with long-term care needs and homeless veterans. The committee will issue a report with their recommendations by February 1, 2014.”

To put it quite mildly, the Legislative Update report was not warmly received by the veterans in attendance. For many, far from it.

The House and the Senate’s priorities differ with Governor Dayton’s as Governor Dayton has called for fully funding Phase III. This puts the Governor’s Office squarely at odds with the Legislature on an issue that American Legion Commander Don Pankake called the number one legislative priority for the nine veterans organizations holding last Friday’s press conference. Governor Dayton’s proposed Capital Bonding bill includes funding for Phase 3 for the Minneapolis veterans Home. “Governor Dayton has committed to funding the next phase of the Minneapolis Veterans Home in his last two bonding proposals,” said Dayton spokesperson Katharine Tinucci in an email statement today. “For the benefit of our veterans, who have given so much, the Governor will continue advocating for that position throughout this legislative session.”

The State House of Representatives bonding proposal does not. A request for comment to the DFL House Caucus regarding Speaker Thissen’s thoughts about including Phase III funding this session was not returned at time of publication. With the Legislature Constitutionally required to finish its work by Monday, May 20th, Veterans groups will be watching closely to see if Legislators follow Governor Dayton’s lead by including funding for a project underway.

(cross posted from Twin Cities Daily Planet)

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