Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

“Eighteen months ago, we began with the simple concept that those who have been serving since 9/11 should have the same opportunity for a first class educational future as those who served during World War II. Today, we have accomplished that goal.”

Senator Jim Webb of Virginia spoke those words on June 26th after the Senate passed the 21st Century GI Bill that was part of the 162 billion war supplemental spending measure. The legislation passed 92-6 with 2 not voting. Today President Bush signed the measure into law and in a press release from the White House the President spins all the positives and thanks numerous people for their work. One line from the press release did raise my blood pressure.

“And I want to thank members who worked hard for the GI Bill expansion — especially Senators Webb and Warner, Graham, Burr, and McCain.”

Graham, Burr, and McCain? This is the same trio that opposed the 21st Century GI Bill and introduced legislation in an effort to sabotage Senator Webb’s bill. GOP presumptive nominee John McCain is now jumping on the bandwagon and trying to take credit despite the fact he was a vocal opponent and didn’t even bother to show up for both of the votes on this bill. McCain has proved that he is consistent in one way-having it both ways!

Ollie Ox at Bluestem Prairie has the press release from 1st District Congressman Tim Walz who has been consistent, vocal and hard working on veterans issues. In the statement he notes that over 20,000 men and women from Minnesota have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. The Congressman also offers up the assistance of his Rochester, MN office (507-206-0643) for veterans that are experiencing difficulties with their benefits.

Peace & solidarity,




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With the passage of the 162 billion Iraq war funding bill last week it appears that the 21st Century GI Bill will become law. The Senate still needs to act on it but the White House has indicated it would sign the legislation. The GI Bill was included in the war funding along with a 13 week extension of unemployment benefits, disaster relief in the amount of $2.65 billion for the Midwest affected by the recent tornadoes and floods, additional money for the construction of military hospitals and some important Iraq policy provisions as noted by Minnesota Central in the comments section.

Senator Jim Webb, co-sponsor of the GI BIll, expressed his gratitude to supporters:

“I would like to again express my appreciation to the veterans’ service organizations, many of whom communicated their support of this bill directly to a skeptical White House, and to the 58 Senate and 302 House cosponsors of this landmark legislation. This bipartisan coalition consistently rejected the allegations of this Administration, and of Senators McCain, Burr and Graham, among others, who claimed that the bill was too generous to our veterans, too difficult to administer and would hurt retention.

“It has now been nearly seven years since 9/11 — seven years since those who have been serving in our military began earning the right for a proper wartime GI Bill. I am looking forward to the President living up to his word, and signing this legislation at his earliest opportunity.”  Read the entire statement here.

DFL Representative Collin Peterson, from the 7th district, which is just a tad more than 60 miles from my corner of the state was a supporter and his comments are covered by the Bemidji Pioneer.

A Bluestem Prairie covers 1st District Congressman’s statement on the passage of the new GI Bill and also comments about the process of getting the legislation passed:

“Like the final passage of the increase in the federal minimum wage, final approval of the New G. I. Bill came–eventually–at the cost of continuing to fund the war in Iraq. Those who feel that Congress should quit funding the war and pull out immediately will be disappointed with Walz’s vote for another amendment to the bill that continued money for the war in Iraq.”
It has been said that making laws is a lot like making sausage. Well, I work in the meat industry and I would consider that an insult. It is tragic that the continued occupation of Iraq was the price to pay. Just about everybody (416-12) in the House of Representatives will be able to pat themselves on the back for supporting the GI Bill. How many more GI’s will they be making eligible for the benefits?
Peace & solidarity,


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Yeah, I know there is more important stuff going on like Obama claiming victory, McClellan dissin’ the Bush regime, and the never-ending occupation of Iraq but come on people-doesn’t everyone want a kitty?

 Contact me, Please!




Here is a handy-dandy guide to cats from YouTube:




Peace & solidarity,


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This week, the U.S. Senate took an historic vote and passed (75-22) the Webb-Hagel 21st Century GI Bill. The GI Bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this month so now once the two legislative bodies reconcile any differences it will go to President Bush for his signature, signing it into law.

Or maybe not!

Bush along with his clone, McCain, is opposed to this particular legislation and has threatened a veto. Minnesota’s Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Norm Coleman both voted for the GI Bill. Only 2 of our representatives in the House voted against this legislation (Bachmann and Kline). 1st CD Congressman Tim Walz, my representative, voted for the legislation and delivered this speech in support on the floor of congress.


This legislation recognizes the sacrifice of ALL the women and men who have served, including our national guard and reservists who have paid a heavy price in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has strong non-partisan support in Congress and has the support of many veterans organizations, including the VFW and the American Legion. Senator McCain’s legislation is not as generous, would not treat the guard and reserve as equals and would require longer service times to be eligible for full benefits. Some may complain about the cost of this program but if we end our occupation of Iraq we will have plenty of extra cash on hand.

Peace & solidarity,


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The new GI Bill (HR 5740) is scheduled for a vote soon. Minnesota Central leaves an interesting comment on my previous post about the upcoming vote. Here is an excerpt:

FYI : The improved GI bill may be getting a vote this week. The House plans to add it as an amendment to the Iraq supplemental spending bill. Its smart strategy as the President may have difficulty in vetoing that bill. Currently there are 292 co-sponsors, so it should pass, but the hang-up is the Blue Dog Democrats who are concerned about the fiscal impact as it does not meet the PAYGO concept. The Blue Dogs are right and wrong … the GI Bill does not have the offsets to pay for it, but the entire Iraq supplemental does not either … how can they vote for Iraq funding but not domestic funding?

It should be a fun week … will Bachmann vote against the amendment but when it passes vote for the overall bill thus being able to say that she “supported the troops” ?

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) also sent out this urgent email today encouraging contact with congress to let them know to support the bill and to vote this week:

Last week, despite enormous momentum, a vote on the GI Bill was delayed by a small group of Democrats in the House. Believe it or not, they’re concerned about the cost of the bill, which amounts to less than 0.5% of war funding for the year. This is Washington ineffectiveness at its worst.

We’ve been pounding the pavement here in DC every day, meeting with all the key players in the fight for a new GI Bill, and today we need your support.

Please take a minute now to call your Representative, and urge them to show their support for a new GI Bill by voting to fund it this week. We’ve included some talking points at the bottom of this email that you can use during your call.

Despite deep bi-partisan support, the endorsement of every major veterans’ organization, and studies showing that a new GI Bill is a fiscally sound investment in our nation’s future, a few members of the House are standing in its way at this late, critical stage.

If you haven’t already, please take a minute now to call your Representative and tell them that you support education benefits for the men and women coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new GI Bill (HR 5740) has broad bi-partisan support, and leading Democrats and Republicans have been fighting for it since day one. But thanks to this small group that is mounting an ill-advised opposition, the vote is going to be close, and we need your help to make sure Congress does the right thing.

In our view, the GI Bill is a cost of war, and a smart investment in one of the most motivated, deserving groups of people our country has to offer.

So please take a minute now to tell your Representative to show real support for our troops and veterans by supporting the new GI Bill.

After your call, please take a minute to tell us about it here.

Thank you for your continued support.


Patrick Campbell
Iraq Veteran
Legislative Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Peace & solidarity,


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On April 29, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans held a rally in Washington D.C. complete with press coverage and speeches from congressional supporters. Peaceful, well choreographed, and pretty much by the book for modern day political rallies in the nations capitol.

Things were a little different in 1932 when thousands of veterans of World War 1, the Great War, converged on Washington D.C. The Bonus Army, as they were called, was there to demand payment of bonus money promised after their service in WW1. The bonus money was actually a deferred payment but the Great Depression hit the veterans hard and they were trying to get legislation passed for immediate payment. Legislative efforts failed and the 20,000 strong Bonus Army was driven out of their encampments by the Army, led by none other than General Douglas MacArthur. When they public saw the newsreels of the actions taken by their government against these veterans the reaction was none to favorable. President Hoover’s reelection bid was harmed by these actions. It was several years later that Congress was finally able to pass legislation allowing the early payment to the WW1 veterans.

Here is a good video with an overview of the Bonus Army.





And now for a little foot-tapping music, Pay Me My money Down from the Seeger Sessions by Bruce Springsteen.



Peace & solidarity,


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Meanwhile, Minnesota prepares to send more men and women to Iraq. Video here.
UPDATE: Minnesota National Guard press release.
Peace & solidarity,

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