Recently posted quotes:

"There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.” -Will Rogers (1879-1935)

"Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it." -James Madison (1751-1836)

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported." -John Adams (1735-1826)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Immigration deportation hold vs. Vets claims processing

I’m not sure exactly where I stand on this illegal deportation hold executive order released by the current administration in D.C. The strict conservative in me says: ”Hold up there; is this right?” The kind hearted soul that I am says: “They didn’t cause this mess; cut them some slack!”

But here’s the rub.

The other day there was a report in the New York Times stating that “More than 82,000 illegal immigrants have applied for a two-year reprieve from deportation in the first 30 working days of an Obama administration program, and 29 (thousand) have been approved, officials from the Department of Homeland Security said on Friday.”

That’s a little over 35% claim clearing efficiency. Additionally “63,000 applicants had already been scheduled to have fingerprints and photographs taken for a criminal background check, the second step in the process.”

What’s more, “Officials had originally predicted it could take several months after they began receiving applications on Aug. 15 for the first immigrants to be approved.

Only several months to get these claims cleared? Just where did this efficiency come from?

On the other hand, I find this report from the same New York Times:

 “Nearly 18 months went by before the Department of Veterans Affairs granted his claim late last month”


“the vast majority of the 82,000 claims the department received each month were not from veterans returning from the current wars. “We’re still getting a lot of Vietnam vets,”

But the stated VA Goal is “is to process all disability claims within 125 days, at a 98 percent accuracy level, and eliminate the claims backlog in 2015” and “All 56 VBA regional offices will be operating under the new organizational model by the end of 2013

"Despite unprecedented (Veterans Benefits Administration) claims production — completing over 1 million claims each year for the last two years — VA's backlog has grown,"

“As of mid-June, the VA had 870,000 pending cases; and 66% had been pending more than 125 days, according to a special analysis of data cited by Hickey. At the same time last year, the VA was dealing with more than 836,000 claims, with 59% pending more than 125 days, according to data on the VA's website. The VA has set a goal of processing all claims in fewer than 125 days by 2015.”

Now I ask you; just where is the disconnect between the Current Administration’s handling of these two important topics? Is one more important than the other? Regardless of how you sympathize with the immigration issue; don’t we owe some priority to those who have fought and served us in the past as well as being ready to support those currently serving and fighting for us currently?

It seems that the current administration feels that helping the illegal issue is more important than providing for our Vets—sure seems that way to me.

Compare the 35% claim efficiency rate established above; just since 15 August—36+ days back—and the expected finish date of only several months—let’s say 90 days.

Extrapolating the same claim efficiency rate to the number of backlogged Veteran cases, the VA could clear some 304,500 claims in the same period. That’s more than 300 thousand vets better off by the turn of the year—not sometime in 2015.

How ‘bout we put the effort where it’s deserved or as a minimum get these claims people working one Vet case for every one immigrant case? Fair is fair!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

From the outside looking in

I was again reminded just yesterday of a saying those of us have that call ourselves Aggies. “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”

The occasion to recall was prompted by an acquaintance and former colleague of mine, Jeff Whittle. Jeff had attended the Florida Gator – Texas A&M football game over the weekend at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. He posted a very poignant blog entry detailing the treatment he and his group received before, during and after the game.

“This weekend I got a lesson in organizational culture I’ll never forget.  I went to my first football game at Texas A&M University.”

“We steeled ourselves for the harsh and sometimes insulting epithets to which we had become accustomed in places like Baton Rouge and Knoxville, where foreigners are considered fair game and common expectations of decency often suspended on game-day afternoons. ”

“It was a remarkable experience, and as the day wore on I realized that I was witnessing perhaps the most pervasive positive culture I had ever seen.”


 Jeff Whittle (blue gator jersey for our color challenged friends) with Company A-1 of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets 08 Sep 12

At the time I reviewed the blog post there had been some 131 comments made there. A great number of them were thank yous to Jeff for his kind words. They were really nice, I have to admit.

Then there were the detractors—those longhorn fans that just can’t leave thing alone. Oh, I think I saw a few Tech and Baylor fans mixed in.

You know the type:

I have no hard feelings towards the Aggies, but if you had come to Kyle Field for a game against Texas wearing burnt orange then you would have had the complete opposite experience.

No, Aggies are absolutely NOT polite no matter who you are. We have experienced their hatefulness time and time again.
Have you seen the billboards they have placed all over the place? Polite, I think not!!

Clearly you aren’t around Aggies enough! I am not a Longhorn fan, but live in Texas and have never been treated more poorly than a group like the Aggies. If they are so welcoming, why in the world do they not let any cheerleaders or band from the opposing team on their field?

Not a Longhorn fan, but we are absolutely going to love our conference without A&M! Time for some classy schools. Enjoy the SEC!

Bill mounted his horse and never tried to get off.

Several Gators responded to the post also—here’s a couple of samples:

My experience was similar as the one expressed in the article. Went to the game with 5 Gator couples and had only positive feedback from everyone we met. A family took us to the firing of the cannon before the game which was followed by the band and cadets. Was probably explained from at least a dozen different Aggie fans about the history of this pregame ritual and enjoyed each ones interpretation. We were included in BBQ as we walked through the tailgate area. Thanks to all the good people in College Station. Please come to Gainesville and expect us back in the future.

I also attended the game Saturday with 16 other members of GatorNation ranging in age from 24-70+. Jeff’s experiences were exactly the same as ours. After the final whistle had blown and we were back gathered around the tailgate there was a little bit of armchair analysis of the game but the majority of the conversation was on the hospitality of EVERY Aggie we encountered, including sitting in the middle of the students for mid-night yell. Thanks for a most memorable weekend and welcome to the SEC!

Now back to the commentary:

Every one is entitled to their opinion and experiences make up our perceptions of the world around us. I’m sure that LonghornFan and Bill both have good stories to back up their feelings. Having grown up in the Bryan-College Station area attending every game from 1955 through my graduation after the 1969 football season and
Holding season tickets for a while after departing the U. S. Army; I can tell you that I occasionally saw an inebriated fan spout his head off at the attendee of a challenging university—it’s gotta happen every-now-and-then—human nature.

Having said that; I am positive that the Aggie culture is pervasive enough to insure 98% of the Aggie fans attending the games at Kyle Field are just as Jeff found them to be.

I have the inside scoop on the blog poster; having spent eleven months working with Jeff Whittle in Cameron, Texas at Royal Seating and Texwood Furniture.

Jeff did a very good job explaining the culture from the outside—better than most that try to attempt it. Good job Jeff