Friday, September 26, 2008

I have a Bracelet, too

The McCain campaign proudly and prematurely announced "McCain Wins Debate" with an online ad in the Wall Street Journal, published early Friday morning. McCain hasn't had the best week, so I figured the ad might be wrong as I sat down and watched these men face each other, one of whom will be our next president. As the debate ended, I was more than convinced that the ad was just another in the many missteps of McCain campaign. (Transcript of the debate can be found here)

They covered foreign policy and they even gave a fair amount of time to economic policy, which considering the week we've had may have given well needed insight into how these men may run the financial ship of the United States. On a personal note, Obama seemed relaxed and confident, while McCain seemed grumpy, disrespectful and patronizing as he would not look Obama in the eye nor even refer to him by name.

I'll leave the other policy discussions to others more qualified than me. I was interested in the discussions of Iraq and the definite differences in the way each of the candidates will address the conflicts in Iraq & Afghanistan. Clearly, McCain thinks things are going well in Iraq and that the surge is bringing us closer to victory (whatever that means). McCain accused Obama of voting to cut off the funds for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is a hot button for those of us who want to end the occupation. This is a tactic to scare the general population into thinking that Obama doesn't support the troops. Fortunately Obama had a quick and proper response I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open- ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn't have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding troops. He added what I've said is we should end this war responsibly. With regards to Iraq & Afghanistan, if you vote for McCain, you'll get 4 more years of the same blundering foreign policy brought to us by the Bush administration. How many thousand s more will die and be wounded? How many more families will be changed forever because of those same policies?

It didn't surprise me that McCain brought up the story of the KIA bracelet that he was wearing, presented to him by the mother of Spc Matthew Stanley who was killed in Iraq in December 2006. It also didn't surprise me that Gold Star families who McCain has met along the trail have told McCain "I want you to do everything -- promise me one thing, that you'll do everything in your power to make sure that my son's death was not in vain. And they all say to me that we don't want defeat." I know many Gold Star families who feel the same way. I do not.

So, I was pleased when Obama responded with I've got a bracelet, too, from the mother of Sergeant Ryan David Jopeck, given to me in Green Bay. She asked me, can you please make sure another mother is not going through what I'm going through.

I've got a bracelet, too. Mine honors the memory of my son, 1Lt Ken Ballard, who was killed in Najaf, Ira on 5.30.2004. I am thoroughly, 100% in the same camp as Ryan's mom. People have no clue what it is like to lose a loved one in war and they don't want to; no one should. But I make damned sure they do if they talk to me. Like Tracy Jopek, I never want another mother to know this pain. Gold Star families are just as divided about this endless occupation of Iraq as the rest of the country. While I disagree with those Gold Star Families who want the war and the dying to continue and who want victory, whatever that means, I understand that they need a reason to get up in the morning, just like I do and it is not a debate I choose to have with them.

While John McCain presents his POW/ veteran support as impeccable; in truth he offers very little support to veteran's issues. On the campaign trail he frequently speaks of his pride in the military as he did this evening. "I know the veterans. I know them well. And I know that they know that I'll take care of them. And I've been proud of their support and their recognition of my service to the veterans. " Except those statements are wrong. McCain might think he supports the troops, but his voting record is appalling and disrespectful of veterans.

Veterans for Common Sense reports his voting record on Vets issues since 2001
"not that many really, truly know just how horrific his voting record is when it comes to the troops. And it is pretty consistent – whether it is for armor and equipment, for veteran’s health care, for adequate troop rest or anything that actually, you know, supports our troops.

John McCain skipped close to a dozen votes on Iraq, and on at least another 10 occasions, he voted against arming and equipping the troops, providing adequate rest for the troops between deployments and for health care or other benefits for veterans.

In mid 2007, Senator Reid noted that McCain missed 10 of the past 14 votes on Iraq. However, here is a summary of a dozen votes (two that he missed and ten that he voted against) with respect to Iraq, funding for veterans or for troops, including equipment and armor. I have also included other snippets related to the time period when the vote occurred.

September 2007: McCain voted against the Webb amendment calling for adequate troop rest between deployments. At the time, nearly 65% of people polled in a CNN poll indicted that "things are going either moderately badly or very badly in Iraq.

July 2007: McCain voted against a plan to drawdown troop levels in Iraq. At the time, an ABC poll found that 63% thought the invasion was not worth it, and a CBS News poll found that 72% of respondents wanted troops out within 2 years.

March 2007: McCain was too busy to vote on a bill that would require the start of a drawdown in troop levels within 120 days with a goal of withdrawing nearly all combat troops within one year. Around this time, an NBC News poll found that 55% of respondents indicated that the US goal of achieving victory in Iraq is not possible. This number has not moved significantly since then.

February 2007: For such a strong supporter of the escalation, McCain didn’t even bother to show up and vote against a resolution condemning it. However, at the time a CNN poll found that only 16% of respondents wanted to send more troops to Iraq (that number has since declined to around 10%), while 60% said that some or all should be withdrawn. This number has since gone up to around 70%.

June 2006: McCain voted against a resolution that Bush start withdrawing troops but with no timeline to do so.

May 2006: McCain voted against an amendment that would provide $20 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for health care facilities.

April 2006: McCain was one of only 13 Senators to vote against $430,000,000 for the Department of Veteran Affairs for Medical Services for outpatient care and treatment for veterans.

March 2006: McCain voted against increasing Veterans medical services funding by $1.5 billion in FY 2007 to be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes.

March 2004: McCain once again voted for abusive tax loopholes over veterans when he voted against creating a reserve fund to allow for an increase in Veterans' medical care by $1.8 billion by eliminating abusive tax loopholes. Jeez, McCain really loves those tax loopholes for corporations, since he voted for them over our veterans' needs.

October 2003: McCain voted to table an amendment by Senator Dodd that called for an additional $322,000,000 for safety equipment for United States forces in Iraq and to reduce the amount provided for reconstruction in Iraq by $322,000,000.

April 2003: McCain urged other Senate members to table a vote (which never passed) to provide more than $1 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment in Iraq related to a shortage of helmets, tents, bullet-proof inserts, and tactical vests.

August 2001: McCain voted against increasing the amount available for medical care for veterans by $650,000,000. To his credit, he also voted against the 2001 Bush tax cuts, which he now supports making permanent, despite the dire financial condition this country is in, and despite the fact that he indicated in 2001 that these tax cuts unfairly benefited the very wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

Let us not forget that John McCain, self described friend of veterans also did not support and did not show up to vote for the new GI Bill that was passed earlier this year. He walked lockstep with George Bush calling the bill too extravagant and that it would hurt military retention. Because if you offered a benefit that might offset the low pay and delay in career path, people might get out of the military? How about if you offered a benefit that would offset the low pay and delay in career path, they just might consider joining the military in the first place, serve honorably and then get on with their lives with thanks from a grateful nation?

I'll ask again as I have so often- Who really supports the troops? Campaign rhetoric should not keep us from the truth.


Anonymous said...

Of course MCCAIN remembered the name on his bracelet. Obama couldn't and stuttered paused and had to look at the name. Moreover, Jopek's family has asked Obama to remove the bracelat

GSMSO- Gold Star Mom Speaks Out said...


My point was that Gold Star Families have differing views of the war, just as the rest of the country does.

Moreover, you are wrong about Tracy Jopeck's reaction to Obama's mention of her son's KIA bracelet. From the AP Sunday evening.
Soldier's mother "ecstatic" about Obama's bracelet

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The mother of a Wisconsin soldier who died in Iraq says she was "ecstatic" during Friday's debate when Senator Barack Obama mentioned the bracelet she gave him in honor of her son.

Tracy Jopek of Merrill told The Associated Press on Sunday she was honored that he remembered Sgt. Ryan David Jopek, who was killed in 2006 by a roadside bomb.

She criticized Internet reports that suggested Obama exploited her son for political purposes.

She acknowledges e-mailing the campaign in February asking that Obama not mention her son in speeches or debates. But she says Obama's mention on Friday was appropriate because he was responding after Senator John McCain said a soldier's mother gave him a bracelet.

Jopek says Obama's comment rightfully suggested there's more than one viewpoint on the war.

TJ with 2 Blue stars said...

What John McCain "doesn't seem to understand" is that no soldier EVER dies in vain. HE of all people should know that.
(Figures someone "anonymous" would spout the bs like "the family wanted him to take off the bracelet". Rush Limbaugh koolaid must taste great......

I bet "anonymous" still thinks all military and their families vote Republican. They heard it on talk radio, it has to be true.
Keep on with the truth,GSMO. The truth WILL set us free.

GSMSO- Gold Star Mom Speaks Out said...

TJ- thanks for stopping by to speak the truth as another military family who doesn't vote Republican.

There's not much that McCain "gets" or "understands", and you are right, he should. I don't understand how anyone in the military or any vet can support McCain, with the pathetic support he has truthfully given to take care of the troops.

Here's to you & your 2 Blue Stars! I hope you are all safe.

tj with 2 blue stars said...

Yes thanks for asking. The 19 year old got home from his deployment in June,and will not deploy again until 2009.The 26 year old is now in the Inactive Ready Reserve, as he served his 4 years active duty.

The support this generation of military generally gets from Vietnam vets is amazing. I have contacts with Vets every day at my workplace, and though I live in a "red" area, the majority of them are angry with Bush and very critical of John McCain and the way he has voted in Veterans issues.
Thank you for raising a son who would serve his country and give his life.