Sunday, May 25, 2008

Time for Our Government to Start Supporting the Troops

This Memorial Day weekend, remember our troops who are tirelessly fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 160 Michigan soldiers (here is a list of those who have died for our freedom from MI) have been lost in the War on Terror and the number of American casualties has climbed past 4,000. Yet, many members of our armed forces are frustrated with our government’s unwillingness to stick to its half of the deal. Some of our soldiers have been lied to by recruiters about the amount of money they would receive for college and the support they would receive as veterans of war. This government has had a hard enough time funding body armor and adequate health care facilities for our soldiers, yet, it routinely "misplaces" large sums of money appropriated for the war effort. Now the government refuses to pay the bill for having a well trained, standing army. Private employers are not allowed to get away with not paying the promised compensation to employees (see Fair Labor Standards Act), so why should the government? There is hope however. This week the United States Senate, in a rare show of bipartisanship, passed a funding bill for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan 70-26 that increases the benefits under the GI Bill for all soldiers who were active after 9/11. This support includes funding for college tuition. President Bush continues to threaten veto, but if these numbers continue in the House then Congress may be able to overturn. Surprisingly, JOHN MCCAIN DID NOT SUPPORT THIS BILL. The bill goes before the House next week. Let's make our voices heard and keep our Representatives responsible to our troops.

Additionally, our soldiers are being stop-lossed and forced into an extension of their active duty service. The president is granted this power under 10 U.S.C. § 12305(a), which states, “... the President may suspend any provision of law relating to promotion, retirement, or separation applicable to any member of the armed forces who the President determines is essential to the national security of the United States.” Soldiers are being told that their service will be over after a specific period of time; however, always remember to read the fine print. In the Armed Forces Enlistment Contract, paragraph 9(c) states that “In the event of war, my enlistment in the Armed Forces continues until six (6) months after the war ends, unless the enlistment is ended sooner by the President of the United States.” Not only are our soldiers not being payed as agreed, the government has used deceitful contractual language to extend the duration of contract. In the law of contracts, individuals only have to pay damages to the other party if they choose to breach the agreement. Unlike normal contracts, a soldier's breach of contract means court martial. If the government wants to enforce these contractual agreements then they should be bound to the same principles of private contract that our soldiers are bound to as well as all Americans. Let's do right by our fighting men and women. These people deserve our support and admiration, and I for one refuse to let my country shove these people off the side of the cliff like it did with the American Vietnam Vets. Let's remind our legislators of our soldiers on this Memorial Day.

- Keith

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Slogans without Substance

Although the presidential primaries have monopolized most of the political discussions for the past year, the starting gun on the 2008 congressional races has been fired. Over the past several weeks there have been three special elections in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi. Usually special elections serve as a harbinger for the upcoming general elections where each party tests the themes, ideas and strategies which they will employ in the fall. This time around all three races were to fill seats in mildly or considerably conservative districts, all of which were carried easily by George W. Bush in 2004.

Well what do you know, but there are now three new Democratic Congressman in the House of Representatives! We swept all three races, surprising both national and local pundits. Apparently, these Democratic successes got the attention of GOP leaders who sunk over $3 million dollars into these losing special elections. The leadership of the GOP have decided that to win they need to stand for change.

Given the rising gas prices, the increased cost of living, a depressed housing market, the endless disaster in Iraq, and high unemployment at home, you would think that change from the GOP would mean moving away from the disastrous policies of George W. Bush which have led America to our current predicament.

Alas, no the GOP leaders are advocating "Change" as a buzzword and not as a shift in policy.

The GOP strategy for the congressional elections will be to offer the same old Bush policies re-branded as "The Change You Deserve."

This amounts to a Slogan without Substance!

With Congressional Democrats offering long term energy relief for our economy:

The GOP will counter with an empty slogan.

With Democrats offering concrete solutions to address America's housing crisis:

The GOP will counter with just an empty slogan.

And with national and local Democrats (including our own Congressman Dale Kildee) supporting a national single-payer health care plan:


The GOP will counter with, you guessed it, another empty slogan.

Good luck with that!

- Kyle M.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Beginning of the Beginning

There has been hand wringing and discussion about the results from Tuesday's elections in Indiana and North Carolina. The blowout win by Sen. Obama in the Tar Heel State combined with Sen. Clinton's razor thin margin of victory in the Hoosier State have denied her any realistic chance of winning are party's nomination. The epilogue on this primary season will be written at a later date. Politics can be a cold business and to ask someone, after nearly two years of campaigning to abandon a lifetime ambition in one night, is probably too much to ask. The Clinton's are experienced enough to read the proverbial tea leaves and know that her campaign will not suceed. If she wishes to ignore reality and go further into debt to contest the last few races it frankly won't matter much (as long as she drops the 'kitchen sink' strategy and says nary a negative word about Sen. Obama for the next six months).

Tuesday night was not the beginning of the end. It was the end. Remember the old adage about a tree falling in a forest? Well if a campaign has no mathematical chance of succeeding and the candidate keeps campaigning, did the campaign really end. I would argue that yes it did!

With all of these contests and elections, the speeches and rallies we may have lost sight of the prize. The reality is that the only thing Sen. Obama has secured is the right to challenge Sen. McCain and end the Senior Senator from Arizona's bid for George W. Bush's third term.

Folks, this is the beginning of the beginning.

The unfortunate thing about the long primary season is that by going two months longer than normal, we do not have the luxury of having a training camp. When a football team prepares for the season, they take a couple months in the summer getting into shape. They prepare themselves for the upcoming campaign. Normally in presidential politics we have training camp period for a few months to prepare for the general election.

Not this time. For the past few months, John McCain has been traveling around the country and the world saying crazy things, proposing ideas that won't work, and just generally messing up. The bad thing is that we've been so busy attacking each other that we haven't been able to effectively counter his claims. With the beginning of the beginning, we can now focus our attention to Sen. McCain. Our campaign dollars won't be used for ads attacking fellow progressives they will be used to unite our party, build our base, and convince voters why four more years of Bush/McCain policies would hurt our Country.

The beginning of the beginning, whether or not Sen. Clinton is ready to admit it, is upon us. There will be over 100 voter registration drives across the US this weekend to kickoff the general election campaign. Here in the Flint area we will kickoff the campaign just like folks all over the country. For more information here is the link: