This came up while I was still in Virginia on holiday, so perhaps the whole 'sphere was atwitter about it and I am now presenting thoroughly old news. Via DonkeyRising (and apparently onto Kos thereafter), ThinkProgress notes the birth of the guild/support group/PAC known as Band of Brothers: a roster of veteran Democrats, particularly Iraq veterans, running for federal office across the country. (TP follows up on the story here).
This is extraordinarily smart use of money for this cycle, IMO. I think it's worthwhile to consider the cautioning counsel that simply being a veteran is not a winning strategy--"John Kerry, reporting for duty"--but as indicated on their website, the plan is a broader one of support and coalition of message:
We aim to bring middle class and lower income Americans back into the decision making process by promoting candidates that may not otherwise be heard.
Band of Brothers 2006 is premised on the basic idea that all Americans should be given the same opportunities to succeed. We support policies that promote American Values:
- Basic health care coverage for all Americans
- Expanded education opportunity
- Responsible use of our Military
- A foreign policy that promotes US leadership with NATO, the UN, and our allies in the war on terror
- Overhaul, reform, and simplify the tax system
The Band of Brothers 2006 campaign will focus on exposing neo-conservative agendas and policies that are in conflict with great American traditions.
- Values and Patriotism – Clarity on which values are to be honored and which values are under siege.
- Corporate Responsibility – Reinforce the sensibilities of the middle class while illustrating how neo-conservative agendas encourage corruption and greed in big corporations.
- Exposing Bush – Put the spotlight on policies that benefit the 1%, on Republican base strategy, payoffs, and cronyism.
- Foreign Policy – Not contesting the need to fight the war on terror, but illustrating that the Bush foreign policy makes it more difficult and costly.
- The Economy – Serious discussion on low income growth, increasing inequality, rising health care cost, cuts in public services, and a deepening middle class squeeze.
There is obviously a concentration on the politics of war, but it's one that's sorely needed. Current Democratic members of Congress have been loathe to speak up firmly about the failures in Iraq and how to go about fixing them, because when they do they get the Murtha Treatment--and it does take a strong constitution (little c and big C) to withstand the attacks. Why is Murtha able to withstand it? Because he's got the credibility, and in general so should the other veteran candidates. They've been there, they understand the reality on the ground, and likely have a feel for what does and doesn't work.
The coalition also recognizes, however, that just being "a veteran" doesn't make you a savvy politician, and aims to help the candidates learn the ropes of campaigning--phone banking, town halls, message development. And of course each candidate has his (or her) own set of values and priorities, and is running in a different district or state with its own priorities as well. The job is to help tailor individual campaigns within an overarching theme: experience and achievement-based ideals.
In this context, the veterans are a good match for the "accomplishment Democrats" like Warner in VA and Schweitzer in OR, who are able to run on the theory that government CAN work if it's run well. This is where the important focus on the "Republican culture of corruption" can be applied in a positive manner to distinguish Democrats: corruption and favors are the ultimate enemies of properly working government. The Republicans don't believe in government, they themselves admit, and thus neglect the hard work that must go into it for it to be run successfully. Corruption is a short-circuiting of the process, a tool for the cravenly disengaged.
The war is a prime example of the triumph of style over substance. Republicans have won elections on the basis of appearing tough, rather than achieving goals based on proper preparation and smart use of resources. Hurricane Katrina went a long way towards exposing the fallacy that we don't need a functioning government, and reminded us that we need competence from our public servants. Few professions are as well-regarded for developing competence and integrity as the military, so putting soldiers to work on fixing government is a natural fit.
The Band of Brothers (there are women; the term "brother" is generic) is seeking to raise $10 million for the 2006 elections; I think it's an entirely worthy cause. If you happen to have one of them running in your area, check them out and do what you can to support their efforts. Here's the full roster, currently (why not? Bandwidth is cheap these days):
AZ-03: Herb Paine
Herb Paine is president of Paine Consulting Services, a leading enterprise specializing in business strategy, organization development, and turnaround management for a diverse range of public, private, and nonprofit sector clients. […] He received his Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1970, specializing in American Foreign Policy, Soviet Affairs, and International Economics. Following his service in the U.S. Army, he embarked on a career devoted to human services, social justice, and community problem-solving, spending thirteen years with the United Way. Prior to establishing his consulting practice in 1989, Herb was Executive Director of United Way of California and the leading legislative advocate for the nonprofit sector in California.
AZ-08: Jeff Latas
Jeff Latas arrived in Arizona in 1978 to attend first Pima College and then the University of Arizona, where he graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. After a career as a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force, and after earning a Master’s degree in Public Administration, Jeff chose to settle in his beloved southern Arizona for good. A lifelong environmentalist and patriot, Jeff is ready to serve southeastern Arizonans as their representative in Congress.
CA-04: Charles Brown
From his web site: “Born in Iowa, I grew up in small farm towns, doing farm work and absorbing strong mid-Western values. I received a Congressional Appointment to the U. S. Air Force Academy and graduated in 1972. As a rescue helicopter pilot based in Thailand at the end of the Vietnam War, I participated in the evacuation of Phnom Penh, and the Mayaguez incident. I was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for actions in the Mayaquez incident. […] I earned a Masters Degree in Aviation Management from Embry Riddle University, hold a California teaching credential and am a certified Red Cross instructor.”
CA-11: Steve Filson
Steve Filson joined the Navy in 1970 and became an Aircraft Carrier Jet pilot. He served his country faithfully and diligently for more than 20 years before retiring from the Navy in 1994. During his service, Filson served aboard the aircraft carriers USS Hancock and USS Ranger, and then continued his military career in the Naval Reserves at Alameda, California.
CA-46: Jim Brandt
Jim served as a Naval aviator in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. As an officer (rank of captain), he was responsible for both aircraft and personnel under the most stressful of circumstances. The competition to become a Naval aviator is intense; only the best are awarded wings. His experience in the Marine Corps gave him a global vision with a lasting appreciation for the importance of making the right decisions and understanding diplomacy.
CA-48: John Graham
During 1970-74 Graham served as an officer in U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team Eleven in Coronado, CA and the Philippines. From 1974-79 he served in the U.S. Navy Reserves with UDT/Seal Team 119, also based in Coronado. He is currently a Professor at the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
CA-52: Karen Otter
Karen was born and raised in San Diego, California. After graduating from high school, Karen enlisted in the United States Army and served as a Pershing Missile Crewman. Assigned to Army units in Oklahoma and Germany, Karen found remarkable the dedication to service of her fellow soldiers. The discipline and training of the Army engrained in Karen a superior work ethic and responsibility to service. After leaving the military, Karen worked in increasingly responsible areas of administration and management. She obtained certification as a Community Association Manager. She has extensive experience in management of entities of a governmental nature where budgets are essential and rules and regulations are enacted and enforced.
CO-05: Jay Fawcett
At seventeen, Jay joined the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs as a Cadet with the class of 1977. Upon graduation he went to Navigator training and was selected as a Weapon Systems Officer in the F4 Phantom, serving in fighter squadrons in Korea and Spain. He became Air Liaison Officer for the First Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, and was deployed into military action in the first Gulf War. Major Fawcett was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions in Desert Shield and the initial helicopter assault into Iraq during Desert Storm.
CO-06: Bill Winter
From his web site: “I’ve been asked to take on, and I have accepted, the challenge of running for Congress against Tom Tancredo in Congressional District 6. I did not make this decision lightly and I’m not in this to win moral victories. I have a total of ten years of service with the Marine Corps and the Navy, and in good Marine Corps tradition, I’m in it to win it and I believe we can! […] I want to serve — the way I served as a 17 year old in the Marine Corps. I want to give CD6 back to the people.”
GA-01: Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson lives in Savannah with his wife, Marty. They married 33 years ago in Augusta, GA while Nelson served as an Airborne Infantry Officer during the Vietnam War at Fort Gordon. He also spent more than a decade in the Army Reserve and National Guard. […] Nelson works as a United Methodist pastor in Savannah and has been serving churches in South Georgia for more than 10 years. […] Prior to entering ministry, Nelson worked in the corporate world for companies such as IBM, Lockheed, GE, and Apollo Computers. He’s also owned a successful business, Signatures Unlimited Fundraising Consultants. A long-time community activist, Nelson has been a leader of local groups such as S.A.F.E. Shelter and the Savannah Mediation Center.
IL-06: Tammy Duckworth
L. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates has built her life and career upon serving her country, her community and those in need around the world. She is a dedicated, tireless leader and an inspirational example of what can be achieved through hard work, determination, compassion for others and a positive outlook. Having recently recovered from serious injuries sustained while serving on active duty in Iraq, Tammy’s next goal – in addition to flying helicopters again for the Illinois Army National Guard – is to fight for the interests of the people of Illinois’ Sixth District in the United States Congress.
IL-14: John Laesch
Driven by his desire to serve his country, John enlisted in the United States Navy in 1995. In 1996, Laesch graduated at the top of his class as an Intelligence Analyst for the United States Navy and was transferred to the Middle East for the next three years. While stationed in Bahrain, Laesch analyzed terrorist organizations and foreign political and military structures. Before being medically evacuated from the Middle East and honorably discharged, John meritoriously rose 5 ranks within 3 short years. He received numerous citations for his outstanding service to our nation. Following his service in the Navy, Mr. Laesch attended Illinois State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in History and minors in Political Science and Communications.
IN-04: Rick Cornstuble
Rick is a Navy veteran of the Viet Nam War, earning the Viet Nam Service Medal with one campaign star. He also served on the secondary recovery ship for the Moon Landing in 1969. After returning from duty, he graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Social Studies Education.
For more than 30 years, Rick Cornstuble has dedicated his life to fighting for Indiana’s public schools as a field director for the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA). He now seeks to bring that same commitment and energy as an advocate for the people in Indiana’s Fourth Congressional District.
KY-02: Mike Weaver
Growing up on values he has summed up as “Family, Faith, and Farm Work,” Weaver joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. He served on a Destroyer Escort for three and a half years as an electronics technician. After marrying his wife, he spent four years in the Army, including a tour in Korea. Weaver has already given Kentucky much to be proud of, but as a Member of Congress would give even more.
MD-03: Mishonda Baldwin
Ms. Baldwin’s life is demonstrative of using obstacles as stepping stones to reach her goals. She was one of the first African American woman ROTC Battalion Commanders. She was the first woman elected twice to serve as the chairperson of a national community service organization. In addition, as one of the youngest owners of a national franchise, Ms. Baldwin has a tremendous understanding for small business needs. Her experience led to her service of providing advice and assistance to emerging growth companies as a mentor for the University of Maryland Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. She has effectively restored breaches, brought hope to the hopeless, encouraged individuals who have given up, and reached out to individuals who others had thrown away. Ms. Baldwin hopes to continue making history by becoming the first African American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives in the state of Maryland.
MD-06: Andrew Duck
Duck’s distinguished military career has found him as a Platoon Leader of the Joint STARS Platoon in Bosnia, Chief of a Counter-Intelligence Operations Cell, a Commander, and later an Intelligence Liaison Officer and Intelligence Staff Officer in Iraq. Duck is a native of Maryland, one of seventeen children, and has ample business and community experience supplementing his military background.
MN-01: Tim Walz
Command Sergeant Major Walz retired from the 1-125th Field Artillery Battalion in the spring of 2005 after 24 years in the Army National Guard. After he was named the Outstanding Young Nebraskan by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce for his service in the education, military, and small business communities, Walz served overseas with his battalion in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
NC-08: Tim Dunn
Colonel Tim Dunn has served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves since 1994. He recently returned from Iraq and his posting with the Regime Crimes Liaison Office, where he helped build the case against Saddam Hussein. In 1995, Dunn established his own law firm, which concentrates in criminal and military law. The mission in Iraq will need expertise and experience to see it through to the best possible conclusion, and Tim Dunn can bring a strong dose of both to the “People’s House.”
NH-01: Pete Duffy
Pete Duffy is a citizen-soldier, community activist, small businessman and a father. His commitment to country is exemplified by his more than 30 years of military experience as a Judge Advocate General officer in the active Army, the Army Reserves and the New Hampshire National Guard, where he recently retired with the rank of Colonel.
NH-01: Peter Sullivan
State Representative Peter M. Sullivan is serving his third term as a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, representing Manchester’s downtown, millyard and center city neighborhoods. He serves as a member of the Criminal Justice Committee, and previously served on the House State-Federal Relations & Veterans Affairs Committee.
In 2003, Peter Sullivan was featured in 100 To Watch: The Next Generation of Leadership, a publication profiling the top one hundred rising stars in the Democratic Party nationwide. Sullivan joined such notable Democratic leaders as Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Ken Salazar and Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz in receiving this prestigious honor.
NJ-03: Rich Sexton
Rich Sexton has been a leader dedicated to public service his entire life. Born and raised in New Jersey, he left home at the age of 18 for the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He graduated from Annapolis and was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy. He was then stationed onboard an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Enterprise, at the time the largest warship in the world. […] Rich and his family are grateful for the freedom and opportunity they have enjoyed in America and while he aims to provide the people of New Jersey’s Third Congressional District with better representation more in tune with working class families and mainstream America, Rich is also running for Congress to help protect and preserve our freedom and to help extend to all Americans the opportunities that he and his family have enjoyed.
NY-29: Eric Massa
After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, Massa was commissioned as a Naval Officer and went on to spend a total of 24 years on active duty. He served in Desert Storm, and later as Special Assistant to General Wes Clark, in Panama and then when he became Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces. Massa left a position on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee, where he spoke his mind on behalf of the troops, to join the presidential campaign of his former boss Wesley Clark.
OH-18: Joe Sulzer
Joe Sulzer is an Army veteran who volunteered to serve during the Vietnam War from August 1967 to August 1968. He was in Saigon during the Tet Offensive. He has since come back to serve on the city council and later as mayor in Chillicothe, Ohio, as well as a serving as a state representative. He is now taking on the scandal-plagued Republican Bob Ney in his heavily Republican district.
PA-07: Bryan Lentz
In Iraq, Lentz commanded a civil affairs unit responsible for reconstruction in Mosul, following unique and extensive experience in international reconstruction projects with MFO and NATO peacekeeping missions in the Sinai Peninsula and Bosnia. A decorated veteran, he has received the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Bronze Star amongst other commendations.
PA-08: Patrick Murphy
Murphy is a young attorney who served in Iraq and was awarded the Bronze Star in February 2004. In Iraq, Captain Murphy advised on offensive operations, initiated reconstruction efforts within the justice system, trained the new Iraqi Civil Defense Corps on the rules of engagement and was instrumental in the prosecution of Sheik Moyad, a radical lieutenant of Muqtada Sadr. At a time when even journalists are having trouble getting the real facts about the war in Iraq, Murphy’s knowledge is invaluable.
PA-10: Chris Carney
A Lieutenant Commander in the United States Naval Reserve, Chris has received several medals honoring his service in multiple tours overseas. He was activated for operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle. From late 2003 to August 2004, Chris served as the Special Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, focusing on the integration of intelligence in the effort to destroy international terrorist networks. In the last year, Chris served as a Special Consultant on Terrorism and Intelligence Issues to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
PA-17: Phil Avillo
Phil Avillo knows the American Dream well. He has lived it. His mother and father, a bus mechanic who never finished high school, dreamed their son would go to college. Phil more than fulfilled his parents’ dreams. He earned a Ph.D. and, as a York College professor, has inspired thousands of college students to pursue their own American Dream.That dream, and America’s middle class, is now in jeopardy. So, as he did when he joined the Marines, and as he has done throughout his life, Phil is heeding the call to serve and to lead.
PA-18: Tom Kovach
Tom is “proud to be one of the millions of Americans who has served this country and its defense. I enlisted in the Navy and was trained as a nuclear machinest mate. Most of my career was spent on USS Nimitz minding the tea kettle. That experience, training, and confidence led me to become a fighting Democrat in Pennsylvania’s 18th District as I will take that seat away from the do-nothing, rubber stamp of Tim Murphy next November.”
SC-03: Lee Ballenger
The son of a Southern Baptist minister and a native of Greenwood, Lee Ballenger spent six years in the U.S. Navy as a missile fire control technician and was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal for service during U.S. operations in the Iran-Iraq War and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for his role during operations in the Persian Gulf. He also earned the Navy Achievement Medal for saving a fellow shipmate’s life in that conflict. As a veteran, he understands what it is to serve on the front lines on behalf of our country.
TN-03: Terry Stulce
Terry Stulce is a life-long resident of Ooltewah and can trace his ancestry back 5 generations in Hamilton County. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from U.T.K. in 1967 and earned a Master of Science in Social Work in 1974. He served two tours of combat duty in Vietnam, one as a Combat Platoon Leader in the 101st Airborne Division (December, 1967 to September, 1968) and one as a Senior Advisor to the 69th and 79th Border Ranger Battalions (November, 1970 to November 1971). In addition to the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, he earned the Bronze Star with “V” device for Valor and the Bronze star for Meritorious Services in Ground Combat.
TX-03: Dan Dodd
Dan Dodd is a dedicated father, husband of 36 years and career Air Force Officer with an extensive family military background. Character and effective leadership are the hallmarks of his military, business and personal life. Dan is a moderate Democrat, running for Congress in 2006 to fill the leadership and accountability vacuum that threatens America’s welfare and security.
He will work for Texans to return fiscal responsibility to the federal budget, high standards to education, protect equal rights and economic opportunity for all Americans - to achieve transparent government, bipartisan leadership and enhanced national security for our great nation.
TX-06: David Harris
Harris enlisted in the Army in 1992 and served in the infantry, receiving his commission as an Infantry Officer after attending Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA in 1994. He was mobilized for Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and was deployed to Iraq in February, 2003, spending the next 14 months there as a Logistics Officer where he received a Bronze Star. He is now an Assistant Professor of Military Science and Training Officer for the Department of Military Science at the University of Texas at Arlington, and is taking on “Smoky” Joe Barton.
TX-07: David Murff
David Murff’s devotion to achievement and uncompromising ethics have served him well throughout his personal and professional career. As a single child, he was surrounded by familial role models that instilled in him the virtues of sacrifice, dedication, and service. As a young man, David became the third generation to serve his country through military service. While stationed at Fort Hood, TX, great ethical leaders, who not only supported the ideals of his family, but lived them daily, inspired in David the confidence, creativity, and committment he continues to exude throughout his life today.
TX-10: Ted Ankrum
From his website: “I was Special Assistant to the only Astronaut to ever be Head of NASA; Deputy Chief of Facilities Engineering and Chief of Environmental Compliance at NASA; a Diplomat in Australia; and held other Senior Executive positions at EPA, the Department of Energy, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I went from Seaman Recruit to Navy Captain in 15 years of active duty and 15 years of Reserve service. I served four tours in Vietnam, where I was wounded and received medals for valor. I have a BS Degree in Electrical Engineering from a Navy scholarship to the U. of Colorado and an MBA from the GI Bill at Loyola. My wife, Ann, and I live in Cypress, Harris County; and two of our four children also live in Congressional District Ten.”
TX-21: John Courage
John Courage’s name embodies what Texans in District 21 are looking for in their next congressman - the courage to insist that their mainstream values, and not just Tom DeLay’s, be represented in Washington; the courage to stand with ordinary Texas families and small businesses against the corporate special interests; the courage to rekindle that faith they once had in government to be a force for positive change in their daily lives.
VA-02: David Ashe
When the September 11th attacks occurred, David was visiting his family in Virginia Beach. 48 hours after the attacks, David rented a car and made his way to Manhattan. He entered the perimeter with a group of police officers and spent several days at GroundZero searching for survivors with the rest of the “bucket brigades.” Two weeks later, David was recalled to active duty. Upon return to active duty, David was assigned as deputy legal counsel to the commanding general of all west coast Marine forces with geographic responsibility for the Middle East. For most of 2002, David was part of Operation Enduring Freedom deployed to Kuwait as sole-legal counsel to the commanding general of a special-purpose coalition task force, working with Czechs, Germans and Kuwaitis. […] In March 2003, David was deployed again. Within a few weeks, he was attached to an infantry battalion assigned to the Al Muthanna region of Iraq. David was the sole coalition legal representative assigned to restore the judicial system in an area which covered approximately 1/9 of Iraq.
VA-05: Al Weed
Al spent over forty-two years as an enlisted man, rising to the rank of Command Sergeant Major (CSM), which he had held for over twenty years when he retired in 2002. He was in the service continuously from 1959 to 2002, except for a 6-month gap following his honorable discharge from the Army after his tour in Vietnam ended in July of 1966. For most of his career he served in Army and Joint Special Operations, serving as the senior non-commissioned officer at every level from A-Detachment to Special Operations Command.