Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Funday: Empathy And Praise

While there is still plenty to discuss and debate about President Obama's 2014 budget proposal, the immigration issue, the gun safety bills, and even a scientist who claims to have invented time travel, as we do on most Fridays, we're going to pull our focus away from the mechanics and analysis of politics, to something a bit lighter today - which frankly, is leading our thoughts to turn to vacation.

The next Federal holiday in the U.S. isn't even until the end of May, and our staff still has plenty of work and more than a few days of travel scheduled between now and then. We do have a day or two off tentatively set on the calendar - though we hope we don't end up spending those days sitting in an airport.

A couple of our professional colleagues this week ran into travel issues, and we have to empathize with both them and travel workers across the nation. Both groups of people were faced with the fallout from this week's ugly storms that dropped snow throughout the Midwest, even closing Interstate 80 in Nebraska - three weeks into spring. If you think your job is hard, imagine being a ticket counter agent for an airline during a freak storm like that.

Those patient airline workers, and a few other unique people this week, have earned special praise from us for going the extra mile in difficult situations.

First, we feel that we - and the entire nation - need to thank the parents and family members of the victims of the 12/14 shootings in Connecticut. They have worked tirelessly to keep reminding members of Congress, as well as members of their own state legislature, that more can and should be done by our elected officials to make our gun-filled culture safer. Their fight is far from done, though they did win a key battle this week in the Senate. Hopefully, our Senators will do the right thing, and rapidly pass the background check bill in front of them.

We also have to give praise to Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Sherrod Brown, former FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair, and the federal regulators behind the latest wild foreclosure news. Senator Warren, out of the media spotlight this week, tore into Federal banking regulators for not doing their jobs, while Bair very publicly made it clear that banks may be no longer "too big to fail." The federal regulators who've continued digging into the housing crisis long after most Americans thought it was over also earn some praise from us today. They revealed this week that nearly 1.2 million borrowers whose properties were foreclosed on during 2009 and 2010 should never have been victimized by some of the biggest banks in the nation - banks that will now have to answer for their crimes.

Speaking of crimes, Sen. Mitch McConnell continues trying to divert attention from the true crime that may have happened in his office recently. Thankfully the group 'Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington' didn't fall for his media blather. Instead, they've filed an official Senate Ethics committee complaint on McConnell, who now has to explain why his staffers - paid by taxpayers - were illegally working on McConnell's reelection campaign, during their professional, Congressional workday.

Finally, even though baseball season is finally here, we have to give some praise to the NHL, who announced their support this week for gay rights. The league has pledged to fight homophobia with new programs focusing on both players and fans. Hopefully, the NHL's actions towards acceptance and equality may soon spread to other major pro sports leagues. We know that action has made us even more psyched to watch the Chicago Blackhawks game this weekend.

Whatever you do to relax this weekend, we're very glad we have a couple days off to rest and recharge. We sincerely hope you do too.