Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It's Jim's Turn

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is Jim Spiri. He is a war photographer, among other things. He has spent a fair amount of time in the current war zones.

I first met Spiri at the State Republican Convention in Las Cruces June 14, 2008, when he escorted, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel George E. "Bud" Day.

Day was representing soon to be GOP Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain as the featured surrogate-speaker.

You've met him before.

He also was the local McCain campaign photographer; his major duty was to get pictures of the welcoming committee with the Senator.

Spiri’s secondary duty seemed to be getting in the way of other photographers by blocking their view. It wasn’t really a duty; it’s just what he did.

I got my pictures, in spite of him.

He also was very helpful with information from the McCain camp about visits.

Spiri writes articles that appear in Captain’s Journal.

He has a compelling story about his two sons.

Spiri, white shirt, with his wife Candace, to his right, attended President Barack Obama’s visit to Rio Rancho High School.

Chris Lardner introduced President Obama with a story about how, through an error, not of her making, caused her credit card company to raise her interest rates from 9.24 percent to 30 percent.

Her story maybe typical, but it was also carefully selected because, it did not contain an element of making a personal choice of misusing her card. Through an error with her daughter's university, the school continued to make withdrawals against her card, triggering the credit change. Many credit strapped people have made financial decisions to pay some item on time while holding back other payments as if there were no obligation. The President acknowledged the dilemma.

"You all know what Chris is talking about." Obama said, " I know. I remember. It hasn't been that long since I had my credit card, sometimes working that a little bit."

"I also think there's no doubt that people need to accept, as I said before, responsibility that comes with holding a credit card. This is not free money. It's debt. " Obama went to say, "And you shouldn't take on more than you can handle. We expect consumers to make sound choices and live within their means and pay what they owe in a timely manner."

Spiri wrote the following last Thursday about the visit.

He asked for the space and I offer him this posting as a guest commentator.

I wouldn’t normally repost, but it’s worth the read locally and it serves as a platform to show my picture from the event.


Today is May 14, 2009. President Obama came to visit Rio Rancho, NM and hold a kind of “town hall meeting” of sorts. I did not vote for Mr. Obama, however, I felt compelled to go and be present at his visit. There was no way I could obtain a ticket so I contacted the Governor’s office and explained that my son is currently on his fifth deployment to the war zone and that we had lost our older son, eight years ago, who was a US Marine. In short order, I received two tickets to attend. I wanted to speak directly to the Governor and the President, but, that would not happen on this day. Maybe some day in the future it will, we’ll see.

As for my take on the so called “town hall” meeting, I have some comments to make. Let me firstly say, Mr. Obama is all of our Commander in Chief, so, no matter what we think politically, left or right, Mr. Obama is the one who now controls my son’s destiny at war. My son has now served under three Presidents in his nine year career as an Army aviator. So I have a stake in what the current Commander in Chief has to say. But what did this new Commander in Chief have to say today here in New Mexico…?

Observing the crowd, and listening to what was being said both verbally and non-verbally (body language), it seemed as though all I heard from the crowd was, “Mr. Obama, please pay off my credit card bills and please pay off my house mortgage. We’ve been too irresponsible to do it ourselves and you promised to give us all this free stuff….” That is what it sounded like to me. But I kept my mouth shut. I am always considerate of my surroundings, wherever I am at any given moment.

In all fairness to Mr. Obama, he said one thing I agreed with. Credit cards are not free money. Duh……However, for some reason the people in the audience today, almost 3000 of them, seemed to think it is the governments’ job to pay their credit card bills. No wonder they think that, we’ve seen the current administration bail out big time bankers to the tune of trillions of dollars and rising, so, perhaps it is only fitting that the average dumbed-down New Mexican should think the same about their personal credit card debt…..What a country…!

I find it really tough to be in the crowd of 3000 whiny New Mexicans complaining about how deep in debt they got themselves in while at the same time I have to worry about my son flying combat helicopter missions in Iraq, again, protecting the rights of these New Mexicans to ask for more free money from Mr. Obama. I remember back, exactly eight years ago to the day, when my other son, 2nd Lt. Jesse James Spiri, USMC was operated on for a serious medical situation and was told he would die and that his government would not spend one dime to help him. And he was a United States Marine Officer. I think there is something wrong with this picture. Now granted, this did not happen on Mr. Obama’s watch, but what is currently happening on Mr. Obama’s watch is this. Our nation is even the more so at war now in the middle east and my younger son is there again. And he would go another five times if called upon. He, like is father, is a true patriot. If the Commander in Chief says, “jump”, we both say “how high?”

But…Mr. Obama wanted to talk about New Mexican’s credit card debt, not my son at war, today. I was almost called upon, but Mr. Obama chose his questioners carefully. He did not call upon anyone that looked like me. Rather he chose to call on people that were in unions, worked for the Congressman’s office from district 3, etc. He should have called on me. I would have asked him this question…

“Mr. Obama, when you are finished paying off the credit card debts of all these irresponsible New Mexicans, and bailing out all those fat cats on Wall Street and their banker friends, will there be any money left to continue the maintaining of the CH47 helicopter fleet the Army is using whose funds you have scheduled to cut? My son has served his country on five deployments in the war zones of the middle east and there is talk that cuts in the Chinook helicopter community is imminent. You have asked my son to fight the country’s wars and he has done so valiantly, but now, you have his helicopters on the chopping blocks so these irresponsible New Mexicans who cannot seem to stay away from Wal-Mart and Best Buy, want you to take care of them, while they scream against those fighting for our freedom and safety…What’s up with that..?” I would ask.

But, Mr. Obama did not call upon me. Maybe he knew who I was. Maybe he knew what I would ask. I’m not sure. But I know this, when he asks my son to go to war, as my son has just done, two weeks ago, I am forced to say, “Amen”, again.

Today, I saw Mr. Obama and heard him speak. Many say how smart he is, how intellectual he is. I found him rather boring today. Oh, he knew a little about how to talk to a crowd, but, on this day, there was nothing really earth shattering that he said that struck a chord with me. He is still my Commander in Chief. I respect his position. But I am not impressed with his talk today. He didn’t say anything relevant to things I’m concerned about. Once before, my government told me there was not enough money to take care of my son, a Marine. Now, my government is telling me there is plenty of money to bail out bankers and New Mexicans that cannot pay their credit card bill from Wal Mart. But my government is not saying anything about taking care of the helicopters my younger son is flying in war to give these irresponsible New Mexicans the freedom to ask the current Commander in Chief for some money to pay their credit cards off.

I’m not impressed. But I will still salute the current Commander in Chief and pray that my son will be safe in his helicopter while at war.

Jim Spiri can be reached at jimspiri@yahoo.com

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