THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 157

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 157

…“And please keep my Father and Mother alive in time to be rescued, Amen.” Deke McKinney speaks to God from his heart…

A sleeping giant has awoken. The righteous of the world have spoken.

Global missile defenses all over the world are at the highest possible alert. Every fleet, every army, all radars are at the ready. There are mandatory commercial air travel ground stops. The planet is taking a deep breath, in hopes that the SALT IV Nuclear Treaty will hold, especially for arsenals not in the control of responsible leaders–

–Such is the risk that was taken by the leader of the free world:

“My fellow Americans: Today I come before you to announce a global response to certain aggressions perpetrated without our knowledge and against our long-term interests…Image result for my fellow americans

“To this end, the Congress of these United States and the greater Space Colony Global Coalition has supported the necessary actions to seek out and destroy facilities of known enemies of mischief. The United Korean Peninsula is currently enduring the wrath of our Coalition, as is Talibanistan, who has conspired to attempt to deny the greater world from conquering space…

“The destruction of Space Colony 1 has been positively linked to both nations and their propensity to independently cause trouble, whether here on Earth or in space, has been cut away from them in a swift and humane manner.”

— Watching President Sanchez’ address to the world is Aldona Afridi Fletcher Fitch and his family, “Praise to the God of Israel, He has used His mighty hand to defeat His enemies, Amen.” —

— Huddled close in front of the fireplace, watching the Presidential announcement on the mantle television {and ten quick steps from the King Ranch bomb shelter}, are five people who know the meaning of holding those close to you near. The preceding events that cement their resolve are overshadowed by those which directly affect the security of the entire planet.

Braden King, the ranch patriarch speaks, “Dear Lord, we thank you for your bountiful goodness, we praise you for the wonders of the Universe you created, and we pray for your blanket of protection, for us and your faithful around the world.” The mood is solemn, heads are bowed.

“And please keep my Father and Mother alive in time to be rescued, Amen.” Deke speaks to God from his heart.


THE RETURN TRIP

GOD By Marian Avramescu

Episode 157


page 148 (end ch. 7)

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 155

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 155

… you have the ingredients for the second biggest international incident, “a quarter of a million miles this side of the moon”…

Pink Floyd

— As things wind down is the Gulf region of North/Central America, just the opposite is happening on the other side of the world, specifically the United Korean Peninsula and Talibanistan. For far too long the so-called Dove of the Americas, Pete Sanchez has allowed free reign to certain, uncommon pockets of American/West hatred.

North Korea swallowed up the South when during his first term, he unilaterally withdrew United States forces, which had guarded the 38th Parallel for 3/4 of a century and the North pounced. The United Korean Peninsula was formed.

He was re-elected anyway.

At the beginning of his second term, he urged the United Nations to ease restrictions on what had only been a tribal movement in the areas north and west of India. During the vacuum of power, the Taliban seized control of all the “-stans” and formed the nation called Talibanistan. Never a friend to the west, it was allowed to fester like a regional infection, never to be challenged about its belligerent policies.

And still Sanchez sat on his hands, with the support of the festering Hispanic majority that dare not allow him to lose power.

Picasso

But the Presidency of the United States of America has not descended into dictatorship and when a Congressional majority decides to act in spite of the “Commander-in Chief”, the sleeping dove that has been the USA, can magically take-wing and soar like the proud hawk of days gone by.

Among the Joint Chiefs’ of Staff, who have been bound by loyalty and not apt to spout their verbal opposition to national policy, are privately ramping up efforts to build a case for surgical strikes against both Korea and Talibanistan. A downsized military, just like the budget-challenged space program, has to skillfully choose their skirmishes and missions.

So, when CIA briefings included information about that bodacious bash in the Korean capital, with all the prominent players involved in Space Colony’s destruction in one city block, the temptation to strike is obvious, even to the most casual observer.

Add in the fact that permission from Congress is nothing but a presidential rubberstamp and you have the ingredients for the second biggest international incident, “a quarter of a million miles this side of the moon”. As the Army Chief put it, “What happens in Korea stays in Korea.” —


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 155


page 146

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 148

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 148

…“What do I tell the world? And will they believe me?” asks the President of the United States…

Francine could not possibly guess what Roy is about to tell the leader of the free world, of all people.

“Please don’t beat around the bush. What the hell happened to the United Korean Peninsula’s sovereign property? I have to tell them something…… and I have a stump speech to deliver in 10 minutes.”

“I’m sure that will be a Democratic knee-slapper!” Roy is sure that the President has heard the rumblings about Roy’s possible political plans. “We have thrown a wet blanket over the whole Sang-Ashi thing and I guess you can spin it any way you want.”

“Well then just spin-it-out man!”

“We have indisputable proof that Sang-Ashi was built by the Koreans for the sole purpose of sabotaging the Space Colony program, doing whatever it takes to stop it in its tracks. To that end, they have used a deep-space probe to disguise their destructive ways.

“In response to that aggression, we needed to disable Sang-Ashi as it was about to take out the New Mayflower as well. However, the crew did not pull the trigger, the onboard mainframe did.”

This information produces differing reactions; Francine cannot believe Roy was so blunt. President Sanchez sits down, aghast at the notion.

“We can’t do that!” he proclaims.

“We had to take defensive measures,” Roy indirectly crediting Aldona Afridi. “We are not going to sit on our hands while two rogue global powers have their way with us!”

“Two? Who is the other one?”

“Talibanistan.”

“That’s impossible. My Secretary of State tells me that he has a working relationship with Kamran Khan-Nutkani.”

“Sure it works for them! And who do you think is behind the freeing of Samiq Gaad and the kidnapping of the McKinney boys?” He warns, “Do not be hoodwinked by a Talibanistani Trojan Horse.”

“What do I tell the world? And will they believe me?”

“Think about Sampson and Celeste McKinney, stranded on Mars, running out of food, water, and oxygen.”

“The country would not stand for news of their deaths, they adore that couple,” he makes a politically generic statement.

“Exactly.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Talibanistan

Episode 148


page 140

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 147

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 147

..When it seemed like he wouldn’t let her go, his European Police Siren ringtone lets the whole area know that he has an incoming call. Upon seeing the I.D….

“Thank you and good day.”

Francine backs away from the podium, turning toward a stage left exit, when a cry comes out from the crowd, “Miss Bouchette!!! Is it true that you left KHST in Houston in violation of your “sweetheart” contract?” He must be a friend of her former fiancée.

Nowheresville USA from Kasey Musgraves

This voice is antithetical to the previous 30 queries, antagonistic, from the middle of the mulling transcriptional troubadours. She was going to ignore the provocation and continue on, but chooses not to retreat from the cowardly question asked when the lights have been doused and attentions have shifted… by someone she recognizes.

“If I am not mistaken Mr. Loyd, with one L, weren’t you under contract when you left Nowheresville, Arkansas for the greener pastures of the Dallas market six years ago?”

The man’s self-righteous grin is inverted to a frown as he slithers toward the door, while other reporters in the know inherit his smile. Pockets of applause erupt from those remaining to witness Francine’s rapier wit.

In the wings, Roy exhibits delight for Francine, fully aware of the awkward position he has asked of her. She is more relieved than pleased, but accepts his warm embrace.

police-siren-animated - The HostBaby BlogWhen it seemed like he wouldn’t let her go, his European Police Siren ringtone lets the whole area know that he has an incoming call. Upon seeing the I.D., “You’ll want to take a seat for this one.”

He makes the caller {the President} wait five rings and clears his throat, preparing for a preemptive strike lobbed all the way from the Hawkeye State, “Your Press Secretary delivered a real snow-job at that presser, which was nothing more than an advertisement for funding of a second space colony, Director Crippen. I think they would be more interested in the incompetent handling of the New Mayflower Incident!”, Pedro “Pete” Sanchez blusters in his best  back-seat bravado!

“Mr. President Sir, we are talking about a clear matter of self-defense and protecting the World Space Consortium’s investments from the jealous actions of rogue nations.”

Francine could not possibly guess what Roy is about to tell the leader of the free world, of all people.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 147


page 139

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 142

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 142

..Roy’s attempt at respect is lame and short-lived, “Did they happen to mention that Sang-Ashi destroyed Space Colony 1, or did they leave that out?”

While Francine & Roy discuss the lofty merits of a Presidential bid…. his wristphone wants to wriggle off his wrist. Braden King’s face is fills up the 2 x 2” screen.

“It’s nice to have you back on the job Braden; your replacement was kinda dull.”

“Dull would be refreshing right now Roy! I have President Sanchez (US) on the line and he is hopping mad… asking to speak with ‘the g** d****d head of the space program!”

“That isn’t my title, but if he wants to talk, who am I to refuse. Put him through.”

Image result for beep bop boop gif

Beep Bop Boop

“Mister Crippen, I just got a call from United Korea demanding an explanation.”

“About what, do they feel left out of the Coalition? They had their chance and BTW, tell them to stay the hell out of space–Sir!”

“They are claiming that we destroyed their Sang-Ashi Space Probe, that was on its way back from Mars, is that true?”

“We knew that it was on a heading back to Earth, but as far as I know, we were just keeping tabs on it–Sir.” Roy’s attempt at respect is lame and short-lived. “Did they happen to mention that Sang-Ashi destroyed Space Colony 1, or did they leave that out?”

“We have not proven that assertion Mister Crippen.”

Roy takes a deep breath, looks over to Francine for constitutional underpinning.

“This is Francine Bouchette, Mister President, Mr. Crippen’s Press Secretary. He will look into the matter and get back to you.”

Which he does and not just at the President’s bidding, telling Braden, “Have Image result for wake up gifMission Control wake the boys up on the New Mayflower  and I will be speaking with them shortly.”

“It will take some time for them to come out of hyper-sleep, but had anything happened out there AL would have rousted them earlier.”

“Yeah I know, but he didn’t, so something must be up.”

“Does this have anything to do with those enhancements that Aldona Afridi passes along?”

“You are catching up fast! I don’t know, I suppose maybe,” Roy is running scenarios
through in his head, while changing the subject to calmer King Ranch domestic issues. “How are the boys doing?”

“Well it turns out that they must miss Francine a lot, asking me about her all the day long. I gave them her mobile number this morning so give her a heads-up.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 142


page 134

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 141

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 141

…My God, any morals this country has left will be flushed down the toilet if she gets in office…

In his role of back-seat-driver, Roy Crippen can only sit back and be a worrisome observer of situations he has minimal control over.

Take the United States’ inaction as it applies to the mounting evidence that the United Korean Peninsula is engaged in active sabotage against the World Coalition. That they can enlist the help of the ever-dangerous, sprawling Talibanistan, is even more infuriating to him and he discusses these and other issues with his new Press Secretary Francine Bouchette, “If I were president, I would have put an end to that nonsense a long time ago. We have allowed them to swallow South Korea whole and why, because we were afraid that they would use their nuclear weapons on some defenseless nation.”

“On the subject of president,” Francine ignores his long held worldviews and moves on to the now of things, “it seems there is a growing faction of Republicans who are touting you as the party’s nominee for 2032.”

“You are sounding like my Political Advisor, instead of Press Secretary.”

“Advisor, mouthpiece….what’s the difference? One of the reasons you hired me is because you did not have the time or interest in keeping track of the extraneous details.”

“And dealing with the media hoard… which you have lifted off my plate. I owe you my debt of gratitude for that, among other things, if you know what I mean?”

“Let us keep the “other things” out of this. Once this nation gets past this Space Colony malaise and things return to normal, it is going to need a Republican leader with a clear vision, not (current President) Sanchez’ V P Sylvia Freelove!”

“Are you telling me that Freelove is the Democratic frontrunner for ’32? My God, Image result for toilet flushing gifany morals this country has left will be flushed down the toilet if she gets in office.

“So if you do not want traditional marriage banned or the damned ACLU to become Attorneys General, you better start thinking about listening to the conversation.”

“I don’t have the money to make a run at the presidency? It takes big bucks to get to the White House.”

“If the world wants to restore the America of our great-grandfathers, the dollar$ will take care of itself.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Scrooge McDuck

Episode 141


page 133

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 28

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 28

“…this must be your 1st trip on the New Orient Expressmy lonely friend.”…

meanwhile-caption-001

In 2030, (again) after a famed and fabled past, the New Orient Express, that had halted the contiguous run in 2009, from Paris all the way through to Istanbul, a train-traveler can still take a (faster version) train from one end to the other; 2000 luxurious European kilometres.

Writers have forever taken advantage of its romantic whistle-stops and melting pot passenger list. Taken at face value, the spin of those yarns will have the seats of this long-train runnin’ occupied, in large part, by spies, opiate dealers, murderers, and the like.

In the second to last car is the restaurant coach and seated in the rear, trying his hardest to look inconspicuous {innocent}, is Aldona Afridi. Now you can add a Talibanistani defector to the list of unusually unusual passengers; fitting right in with the stereotypical fictional ne’er-do-wells. Just don’t stare at them.

In an attempt to make a goose-chase out of his flight to freedom thereby covering his tracks, Afridi had flown to Paris, instead of the logical land-way across the Persian Plain and Euphrates Valley, where Nutkani and his tribesmen were previously nipping at his heels.

The most gregarious of the conductor corps strolls down the aisle, stopping to chat with folks of all derivations, some of which would rather not, acting as if they were all long-lost friends. Afridi chooses Conductor“mute” as his origin, but is compelled to mouth, “What time Istanbul?”

“Last stop Bucharest…” he shares his answer, then pointedly asking, “…this must be your 1st trip on the New Orient Express, my lonely friend.” After 20 hours on the rapid rail, passengers should be more aware of the schedule.

“Will we get there before dusk?” he rephrases, hoping to elicit a more precise response from the mustachioed kibitzer.

“Romanian officials are asking questions, searching the whole train…for a defector my instinct tells me.”

Just what Afridi wanted to hear; like a priest preaching a sermon on hell in front of pews packed with hardcore sinners? Had he known that the rascally conductor was pulling his strange-unusualleg, using his uncanny ability to guess why passengers have chosen to ride this disreputable rail, Aldona would have been spared the mounting anxiety that threaten to make a wreck of him.

Chuckling on his way, the conductor whispers cryptically, “You will arrive at railhead before dark, my itchy friend. People who choose the New Orient Express are immune from border inspections…just be aware of the  people around you!”

The jovial ticket taker’s laugh echoes loudly, yet the cause of his amusement seems of little consequence to the other diners. Anonymity is the unspoken creed of this illustrious train.


THE RETURN TRIP

new-orient-express-001

Episode 28


page 27

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 21

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 21

…I need for you & the children to meet me in Istanbul. You have the numbers for our Switzerland account; have your cousin Fasil drive you to Ahmadinejad {formerly Iran}

Defection by Jovan Stankić

Defection by Jovan Stankić

”Do you have a…?” Afridi puts a hand to his ear, the universal cellphone gesture.

The husband reaches into his backpack to hand over his Talibanistani version of a communicator, “Safe,” he reassures.

Afridi feels he owes the family (who is giving him refuge) some kind of an explanation, but he is aware of how straightforward their life is, simple and routine, neither of which applies to his. They politely shuffle off to another room when they see him entering the numbers that will go directly to his oldest child’s phone, fear-the-worst-by-linwood barclyhoping he is at home, while dodging a wiretap of his wife’s device.

Three rings, four, five and he begins to fear the worst. “They” had gotten to his family, salting them away with the intent of having them fall through the porous cracks of tribal autocracy.

Suddenly a familiar voice picks up; praise and glory to the God he is forbidden to worship!

“Are you at home my son, good? Hand your phone to your mother.”

“Aldona, Sheikh Kamran came to tell me that you were missing! Are you in trouble, what have you done?”

“Fatima listen very carefully, we have little time to dawdle,” accent on time. “We must defect immediately. ‘They’ wanted me to participate in something my conscience will not allow; I will have no part in their jealous ruin, what a fool I was.”

“What should we do Aldona? You know I support you in all your decisions.”

“You wanted me to get a job in the West, I should have listened, but now we have no choice. I am wounded…safe and well in the home of kind strangers. ‘They’ think I am dead, so act like you know nothing.

defection1I need for you & the children to meet me in Istanbul. You have the numbers for our Switzerland account; have your cousin Fasil drive you to Ahmadinejad {formerly Iran} and cross into Turkey from there.”

It is reflective moment for Afridi.

“If we make it through this ordeal, I vow to work endlessly for the good of the entire world. I have been escape2-001funneling my talents into an evil pit.

“Please go straight to the Galata district and seek refuge Sultan Ahmet Mosque, it is run by Christians, and you will be safe there.”

“We will do so Aldona. Praise God for sparing your life.”

“May He sponsor us in our time of need.”


 THE RETURN TRIP

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Episode 21


page 20

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 13

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 13

…Excuse me Comrade Aldona; this is Comrade Nae Tan-Dan, our main liaison to the great nation of Korea and the constructor of our glorious plan…

mastermind-001

Aldona Afridi is becoming more restless by the second. Everything about this strange encounter has trouble written all over it.

Oddly, no one in the limo makes a move; the newcomers cover ground in a hurry to join an already crowded limo.mastermind-001

“It is good to see you again Sheikh Khan-Nutkani,” states the smallest of the group, speaking with an accent not indigenous to the region.

“Glory to Allah, Comrade Dan, I am hoping your news is as good as Comrade Afridi’s”

“It is even better; phase one of the operation has been carried out. Fredrick Cabell has been neutralized.” The dwarfish man sticks his chest out as if he were waiting for a medal to be pinned on it.

“Excellent, excellent; time is growing short Dan.”

Afridi suddenly has the feeling that there is a plan that he is not in on. And what is with all this “comrade” stuff all of a sudden.

Comrades

“Oh excuse me Comrade Aldona; this is Comrade Nae Tan-Dan, our main liaison to the great nation of Korea and the constructor of our glorious plan.” Nutkani’s introduction is lavished with admiration.

“I was not aware we were working on the same project?” Afridi has a shrinking perception of just what the goals of the Sang-Ashi Probe are exactly.

“Let us say that you have your talents and I have mine.”

“Comrades, let me say that both of your talents will be needed to defeat the greatest threat to our stature in the world since the unlawful attacks on our founding state. That is why you are here; to help each of our nations stare down imperialism!” Khan-Nutkani refers to the endless Afghan War and inspired by the chance to settle the score. “Afridi, you hold the key; Comrade Tan Dan needs to open the door, and between us, we must slam the door on Universe Expansionism!”

Nae Tan-Dan seems to have a {short} leg up on Afridi and is poised to carry out a plan. Aldona Afridi is still mostly in the dark, but a sliver of light is seeping through some seedy cracks.Sang-Ashi Probe

“To keep our solar system free of those who want to conquer it, we need the firing codes for the Sang-Ashi Probe.”

“Sang-Ashi will protect itself, if the occasion warrants. I built in superior internal defenses.”

“We need to have manual control over it…..and we need it now!” The Sheikh’s arms are shaking angrily.


THE RETURN TRIP

Image result for expansionism

Expansionism by Robert Bertino

Episode 13


page 12

Bipartisanship , It Does Exist – WIF Politics

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Bipartisan Votes –

The US Government

Isn’t So Divided

For the past few years the media has wanted to portray the American government as divided into Democrats and Republicans, a supposedly black and white dichotomy. The two parties supposedly can never be expected to cooperate, even though many will insist that the parties are functionally the same. This has predated the election of President Donald J. Trump, but his election has certainly supercharged how the conflict is framed.

Don’t you believe it. Many momentous bills have overwhelmingly passed the two chambers of Congress and have been signed by the president while barely attracting a blip of attention. Partisans on both sides of the party lines want to portray the situation with more conflict than there really is even while the majority of both parties cooperate away from the public eye.

10. Patient Right to Know Act

For years, pharmaceutical companies kept doctors and pharmacies from telling patients about more affordable medications through gag orders. The bill to stop these gag orders passed through the Senate with 98-2 votes on September 17, 2018. It was signed by President Trump on October 11.

As anyone with much experience dealing with contemporary healthcare costs knows, these are not trifling expenses. It’s estimated that doctors offering more affordable alternatives will save the public more than $135 million annually. Everyone is entitled to their opinions regarding how much regulation is necessary or productive, but this is a strong indication that there are bipartisan ways to deal with runaway healthcare expenses if we take the time to look for them.

9. VA Choice and Quality Employment Act

The Veterans Affairs office is one of the most heavily criticized services in the US government. With more than $180 billion in the annual budget, it’s one of the larger annual expenses. Yet few will argue that it’s not worth it, considering the sacrifices made by its ostensible beneficiaries. So it was that in 2017, an emergency allotment of six billion in funds was voted into law. The focus of the funding was to provide government-funded medical services to veterans.

A big part of the reason the effort didn’t become a larger news story was that it was signed on August 12, which meant that it was completely overshadowed in the public consciousness by the murder of Heather Hayer during the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Few bills would be able to compete with that in the news cycle.

8. Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act

The National Council on Aging reports that an estimated one in 10 people over the age of 60 has been a victim of elder abuse, and every year another five million suffer from it while roughly only one in every 14 actionable cases is reported. On October 18, 2017, this law was signed with the intention of greatly expanding the enforcement of laws that protect elders. The law required every state to designate an Elder Justice Coordinator that would serve the Bureau of Consumer Protection. It also requires the Department of Justice to make information regarding the investigations public.

Additionally, in what seems directly inspired by a plot in the critically-acclaimed AMC program Better Call Saul, there are increases for penalties regarding interstate fraud. Furthermore, interstate adult protective groups are allowed to operate. In total, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that enforcing this law will cost $21 million, which — if it has a significant impact on rates of elder abuse — seems like a real bargain.

7. Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act

As said earlier, the Department of Veterans Affairs is a very controversial organization. One of the controversies associated with it is that many veterans who should receive coverage or compensation are denied their services erroneously due to incompetent or corrupt decisions by staff members. On June 13, 2017, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to pass this law, which would increase fines and pension deductions for problem employees, and also stop them from receiving pay during the appeals process.

The inclusion of additional protections for whistleblowers was in large part inspired by the Wait List Scandal of 2014. It came to light that many veterans weren’t receiving medication and other benefits for as many as four months at a time, but that the delays weren’t being recorded or reported. Still, considering that there were a reported 49,000 vacancies in the Veterans Affairs offices at the time the bill was signed, a reluctance to fire employees for any reason is fairly understandable.

6. Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act

Between the heated controversy over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline over Sioux land and what the famous American/Mexican border wall would mean in terms of dividing tribes such as the Tohono O’odham, Native American rights have been more prominent in the news in recent years. But there has been fairly recent good news for those tribes as well. On January 8, 2018, this bill was signed into law, even if it took most of the summer and all of Autumn of 2017 for it to make its way through Congress.

The law allocated 32,000 acres of federal land to three tribes in Oregon. Those were the Umpqua, Coos, and the Siuslaw. The US government does not have the best record when it comes to honoring land grants to tribes, but local leaders expressed that they were pleased with the arrangement.

5. Jobs for Our Heroes Act

As reported by Military Times in July 2018, more than 50% of US veterans have difficulty finding work after the end of their enlistments. There’s apparently not much that the US government feels they can do to change the minds of most employers, but there is one career field where it seems the government feels it can significantly expand employment opportunities for veterans. This bill, which was signed into law on January 8, 2018, has been intended to find veterans work as commercial drivers.

There are two primary ways the bill works to expedite this process. For one, it makes training with heavy machinery during enlistment valid as meeting the requirements for operating heavy civilian vehicles. It also makes health certification provided by VA medical professionals valid for health checks related to civilian driving jobs. Such is the sort of legal red tape that leaves it no wonder that some veterans have trouble finding employment in civilian life.

4. Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act

For those unfamiliar with the term, an excise tax is a tax on a specific good or service. In the case of this law, which was signed on May 10, 2019, it would allow taxes collected on the sales of firearms to be used to buy the land for, and to maintain, shooting ranges, covering up to 90% of the expenses. As one of the bills sponsors, Rob Bishop from Utah, put it, gun ranges are becoming more necessary for proper gun safety training, “As this nation becomes more urbanized.”

Sounds like a bill that would have needed to be concocted by a Republican, right? Actually, no — one of the original sponsors of this bill was Representative Ron Kind. He’s a Democrat from Wisconsin’s Third District. Party lines are much less clearly delineated than it often seems.

3. Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act

For those who don’t know, Medicaid is a program where government on the state or federal level provides assistance to low income families in paying their medical bills. Recently, there seems considerable bipartisan interest in expanding it. For example, in the 2018 Midterm election three of the four states with ballot initiatives to increase funding for it passed it, even though the states in question (Idaho, Nebraska, Utah) generally vote conservative and thus would not usually support increasing funding for social programs.

So it was that on April 18, 2019 this bill to bolster Medicaid services was signed. The law increased penalties for companies that mis-classify their medications to receive more government reimbursement, specifically whether the drugs are “innovator” or “non-innovator.” It also provided more protections against medical bankruptcy for spouses, and parents with children who are suffering from conditions that require intensive treatment.

2. Water Infrastructure Improvement Act

Between calamities such as massive flooding in the Midwest in the spring of 2019 and ongoing lead-tainted water in communities nationwide such as Flint, Michigan, dealing with water has recently become a growing problem for the United States. Against this background, despite its un-glamorous nature, six cosponsors evenly divided between the parties attached themselves to this bill in December 2018. It was signed into law on January 14, 2019, a brisk process for any piece of legislation.

This act delegates to local municipalities plans for how to deal with storm water and wastewater. It establishes offices for an ombudsman to expedite the process for municipalities to meet full Environmental Protection Agency standards. There is also, under Section 5, an emphasis on the EPA being required to promote the implementation of natural (i.e. “green”) infrastructure process.

1. Natural Resources Management Act

Sometimes when an act is signed into law, it’s not so much a single bill as a bundle of them. When this act was signed into law on March 12, 2019, it was roughly 120 bills that ranged in focus from public land conservation to water management. Considering recent rumblings in the media that there would be drilling and mining in national park areas, it makes sense that the government would be inclined to demonstrate a commitment to environmental protection.

The most striking single aspect of the act was the setting aside of 1.3 million acres of land for federal protection, including from damage by dam construction. Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley alone had an extra 40,000 acres added, which in the former case makes a lot of sense considering the damage that national park suffered during the 2019 government shutdown. Hopefully we can look forward to more bipartisan environmental initiatives in the near future.


Bipartisanship , It Does Exist

WIF Politics