Saturday, December 28, 2013
A&E Folds: A Case of Self Inflected Duck Shot/Veterans Attacked by Congressional Move
Well, the "indefinite hiatus" of Duck Dynasty's patriarch, Phil Robertson, lasted all of 9 days before A&E executives saw the error of their ways. In a public statement, A&E seemed to have a change of heart, following a meeting the Robertson Clan, when they appeared to have acknowledged the family's commitment to family, tolerance, and faith, and claimed that the hallmark of A&E has always been "creativity, inclusion and mutual respect". Therefore, they've agreed to allow Phil Robertson to return to the #1 rated cable series effective immediately.
What, in fact, happened here was this. A&E screwed up and made a dramatic public relations miscalculation following Phil Robertson's comments regarding gays and his faith and his firing. Robertson had stated in an interview with GQ magazine, that his faith regarded homosexuality, as well as what he termed "promiscuity " were contrary with God's commandments. A&E immediately stated that they were "disappointed" with the comments, and disagreed with Robertson. They went on to say that effective immediately, Robertson would be suspended from the series indefinitely. Immediately, the entire Duck Dynasty family issued a joint statement stating that they stood behind Robertson; no Phil would mean no show, but A&E did not change their decision.
However, viewers didn't see it that way. Almost immediately, there was a public backlash with online petitions (one alone collected over 260,000 signatures), phone calls, calls for boycotts of A&E as well as sponsors who supported A&E's action like Cracker Barrel, not to mention huge outcries on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. While most of the more liberal media outlets supported A&E's position, as well as gay activists groups like GLAAD, who had originally applauded A&E's decision, the more conservative media outlets, including talk radio and bloggers, went into high gear to chastise A&E for, in effect, attempting to deny Robertson the right to state his personal opinions on his own time.
The bottom line for A&E was just that, their financial bottom-line, and A&E stood to lose millions in revenue while some of their advertisers could have lost much more. Companies like Target and Walmart put their own bottom-line first and stuck by the show. Cracker Barrel had to plead mea culpa and restocked their shelves with Duck Dynasty merchandise which they had pulled earlier. They underestimated the public's willingness to stand behind Phil Robertson, regardless of whether they agreed with his comments or not, although the majority of Americans seem too. The backlash was so fast and so severe that the executives at A&E simply had no choice but to "eat duck" and apology; they simply could not afford the financial hit. As for Robertson, he didn't miss any filming since the series is on seasonal break.
Many Americans are tired of feeling they can't express their feelings or stand up for what they believe out of fear of labeled a "racist" or "bigot" or some other name, while those on the Left can seemly say or do what they please almost with impunity. Those days may soon be over. I think this was the duck call heard around the world.
'Duck Dynasty': A&E reverses Phil Robertson's
A&E reinstates 'Duck Dynasty' s' Phil Robertson: Family and Fans React
Veterans Attacked by Congressional Move
President Obama signed a new budget. While that alone should be news to celebrate---Congress finally doing its job and the President doing his, the budget contains a poison pill for the nation's veterans, including its wounded heroes. The budget contains a provision to reduce cost of living increases, commonly called COLAs, for military retirees under age 62, which would save the country approximately $6.3 billion dollars by modifying their retirement COLA to 1% less than inflation. This would result in an average loss of some $80,000.00 over a retiree's lifetime. However, as if this wasn't bad enough for those who risked their lives for this nation, it also includes language that affects those military personnel with service connected injuries rated at 100% and are militarily "retired".
Arizona Senator and former Navy pilot and "guest" of the "Hanoi Hilton", John McCain, strangely didn't seem too upset; claiming that the average retiree would still earn $1.62 million dollars over their life time (assuming they retired at age 32 as an E-8 or better). Veteran organizations were understandably outraged since this change, which goes into effect December 1, 2015, affects those already in uniform and effectively changes the terms of their enlistment mid-stream. The military retirement community has already faced cuts to medical, housing, educational, and commissary privileges, in addition to the fact that many dependents of enlisted personnel are forced to live on food stamps and other government assistance programs, which are also facing cuts.
And lastly, to add insult to injury, Congress failed to close a loophole while allowing illegal immigrants to claim a child tax credit through the Refundable Child Tax Credit. US taxpayers have doled out some $7 billion dollars to illegal immigrants, up from $4,2 billion in 2010, who are using welfare benefits illegally (tens of billions are paid annually to illegal immigrants by taxpayers to cover the costs of tutors, childcare, interpreters, public housing assistance, medical care, job training, and more). On the upside, Republicans Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Roger Wicker of Mississippi have filed an amendment to close the loophole while also restoring the benefits to veterans (a previous attempt had been stymied by Senate Democrats) while Reps. Martha Roby (R-AL) and Mike Fitzgerald (R-PA) are making a similar attempt on the House side.
I don't care what side of the aisle anyone is one. This is no way to treat the men and women who've risked everything for this nation and everyone in it. We owe it to our veterans and their families to look after them and to honor our Nation's commitments to them, not change the rules mid-course.
Lawmakers and veteran groups push to restore military benefits
Senate Dems block amendment to restore veteran benefits