On the Granger front, I'll be interviewed at 7 p.m. Wednesday April 16 onVoice America's Civil War Talk Radio. You can listen live, or later on archive. On Friday, April 25 at 2 p.m., I'll be giving a talk and signing books at the Hudson Falls Library. And here's another review.
.... and other nonpartisan grumbling about the new state budget can be found, localized and wrapped up in poor Jim Tedisco's press release, on my newish Ballston Journal blog. When something I blog or report for the Journal has Planet Albany relevance, I'll draw attention to it here. You can heckle in the comments there, or corner me after a book talk.
I need to hold my head up and lose the cardigan, and maybe let the gracious, skilled and knowledgable Joe Nash get a word in. I'm looking forward to seeing him again at the William K. Sanford Library in Colonie when I give a talk there on March 27 from 12:15 to 2, and hope to flog a few books.
Before then, in fact tomorrow, I'll be signing books from 1 to 2:30 at The Open Door in Schenectady.
As an addendum to yesterday's post, The New York Times editorialized today in support of proposed defense cuts, including to soldiers' compensation. It said: "Mr. Hagel made a strong case for 'fair and responsible adjustments' in compensation. His proposals include slowing the growth of tax-free housing allowances for military personnel and increasing health insurance deductibles and some co-payments for military retirees and some family members of active servicemen. Even more reforms are needed, but these are a reasonable start."
So now, after years of hand-wringing about the stress of repeat deployments on the mental health of soldiers and the negative effects on their families, and with repeat deployments to Afghanistan continuing even as the Army shrinks, the Times' solution is to cut pay and benefits for the remaining soldiers by more than Hagel is proposing. So I think that means we can categorize all their years of purported concern for the well-being of the troops as just so much b.s.
For all the "support our troops" malarkey (to use a highly sanitized term) that politicians and other civilians come up with, the essentials of military service don't seem to have changed much since the days of Kipling. Today's Albany Times Union carries an AP story about Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposing "a variety of changes in military compensation, including smaller pay raises, a slowdown in the growth of tax-free housing allowances and a requirement that retirees and some families of active service members pay a little more in health insurance deductibles and co-pays."
Seems like "a little more" here and a little less there could add up to real money for people like my daughter, an Army sergeant.
" 'Although these recommendations do not cut anyone's pay, I realize they will be controversial,' Hagel said, adding that the nation cannot afford the escalating cost of military pay and benefit packages that were enacted during the war years."
Actually those "war years" are ongoing, with people like my daughter quite likely to be redeployed into Afghanistan, and the nation seems able to "afford" a great many things of dubious value. But apparently fiscal conservatives and antiwar liberals -- including Hagel himself, a former sergeant who was sold as a defense chief for the rank-and-file -- can find common ground on stiffing the troops.
In other news, I'll be speaking tomorrow evening at the Troy Library about the Gordon Granger book, which picked up a blog review here and local newspaper coverage here.
Philip Seymour Hoffman's death from heroin is described as a "beautiful helplessness" in this New Yorker headline and article by Lee Siegel. As someone who worked for many years in journalism, and for the past four in drug/alcohol counseling (mostly part-time), I think this kind of article glamorizes drug addiction as the price to be paid for artistry, and is a form of enabling, feeding more drug use and death. While I am using this piece as an example, I don't mean to imply it is unusual. Rather, it is all too typical of the coverage after this kind of event. It is a lie because, as Hoffman perfectly well knew, he was not helpless against his addiction. There is help available everywhere, not just to rich and successful people like him but to anyone at free meetings of groups like Narcotics Anonymous and AA. Because addiction killed him does not prove he had to pick up, and there is nothing beautiful about his doing so. To claim otherwise is a viciously destructive disservice to any living addict or potential addict.
So what about that Cuomo remark on Susan Arbetter's show, saying people who disagree with him about social issues or the Second Amendment "have no place in the state of New York"? I'm not sure what pecentage of New Yorkers that might be, but the number 47 seems about right.
Universal pre-K backed by NY gov won't come cheap says the headline today on an AP story in The Wall Street Journal. "How Cuomo intends to pay for it is not yet clear, but he may offer some insight Tuesday when he releases his 2014-15 budget proposal."
Actually, a lot about this is "not yet clear." In the Jan. 9 State of the State, the governor said "we formed the new New York Education Reform Commission headed by Dick Parsons, they have done extraordinary work; they have called for a full day Pre-K ... We can do better, we must do better, we will do better, let's invest in the future ... It is time for New York State to have universal full day Pre-K statewide."
The first recommendation in the final report of Cuomo's commission says the state should "commit to developing a clear plan to expand access to high-quality full-day pre-k, starting with New York's highest-need students" -- which sounds more reasonable and less ambitious than the State of the State. Expanding pre-K options for poor children makes a lot more sense than a "universal" baby-sitting entitlement -- or requirement? i.e. would it become compulsory? -- to solve a problem that for most people doesn't exist.
Creating further confusion is the campaign by new New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to fund pre-K by taxing the rich, which is more or less the opposite of Cuomo's tax plan. So where does Cuomo aim to find the money? A bond act to add to the state's already heavy debt load (probably justified with some dubious tech spending thrown in on smart boards or whatever the new fashion is)? Does "universal" pre-K make any sense when cash-strapped local districts are cutting educational programs such as art and music? Why not give them the money instead of cutting taxes (as Cuomo is apparently poised to propose)?
In other news, the governor has been making headlines lately on the Capitol Pressroom radio show of Susan Arbetter, who will have a rather more obscure guest on Monday (Martin Luther King Day), viz. me talking about da book (General Gordon Granger: The Savior of Chickamauga and the Man Behind "Juneteenth" by Robert C. Conner). Thanks to her for a skillful and knowledgeable interview (taped Friday as if live, at the LCA in the Capitol). The show starts at 11 a.m. Monday, when you can listen online, and airs at various times over 22 stations in upstate New York.
I'll also be giving a talk and book signing on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at the Malta Library off Route 9 (you can register here, though I don't think they'll turn anyone away). And here, by the way, is a free Gazette clip about the book.