Tag Archives: GI Bill

CA 10: National Service to College, Sign the Petition

The road to lasting security and economic prosperity runs through America’s universities, state colleges, community colleges and technical training schools.

Yet for an increasing number of Americans, the dream of the quality education they need to compete in the global economy of the 21st Century is out of reach.

That’s why I am asking you to help me remove barriers to college right now by signing the Service to College petition.

For decades, politicians have used cuts to public schools and financial aid programs, as well as tuition hikes at universities as a means for closing state budget gaps.

We now know that these short-sighted decisions have come at an immense long-term cost to America’s economy, the competitiveness of our workforce and our security.  

But together, we can reverse these wrong-headed policies- starting with stable and adequate funding at the K-12 level, rolling back recent tuition increases, and by rewarding national service with a year of college tuition for every year served in the military, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or other recognized full-time service programs.

Growing up in Fairfield, California as the son of a single mother, my family couldn’t afford health care, much less think about college tuition.

But I was lucky. I was accepted to West Point, where I received an excellent four-year college education our family would never have been able to afford alone. I went on to serve my country, including two tours of duty in Iraq.

This kind of college for service should be available to more Americans. It is a win/win bargain that will make our country stronger right now as we harness the public service spirit of a new generation and it will make our country richer in the long-run as we train more Americans for the high-skill and high-wage jobs that will keep us economically competitive.

I have been honored to serve not just in Iraq – but to work as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity rebuilding homes in New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I’ve seen first hand the tremendous energy and effectiveness of Americans serving other Americans. It does more than transform once-devastated communities; it helps transform the people performing the service. This kind of community engagement helps build a model of citizenship and life-long service that is America at its best.

History has always been my passion. At West Point, and later at the Kennedy School of Government, we frequently talked about the sacrifices of the “Greatest Generation” that protected our nation in WWII.

It is a deserved title for these Americans, because they did more than serve our country in the military. They came home and used the GI Bill to help unlock nearly 25 years of economic growth and prosperity. They opened the door to opportunity for tens of millions of Americans. And they served, and continue to serve, their communities at home.

As a member of what’s being called the Millennial Generation, the largest generation in our nation’s history, I want plans like Service to College to unlock a new and great wave of service. I hope you will help me make this Service to College plan a reality.

If you agree that we need to break down the barriers to college by promoting national service, please sign our petition today.

And I hope you will learn more about me and my campaign for Congress in the California’s 10th Congressional district by visiting my website, or joining more than 3,000 supporters at Facebook or


Thanks for all you do,

Anthony Woods

Democrat for Congress, CA 10

CLICK HERE to Contribute to our Campaign

CA-50: Yet ANOTHER Deadlocked Congressional Race – Third of the Week

Adding to Bill Durston in CA-03 and Debbie Cook in CA-46, now Nick Leibham has some poll numbers showing a virtual tie:

You can now add Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA 50) to the new heap of GOP incumbents who should be suddenly very worried. A new poll, conducted for atty/ex-San Diego City prosecutor Nick Leibham’s (D) camp, shows him trailing Bilbray by a miniscule 44-42% margin.

This may feel like deja vu for GOPers. In the ’06 special election to fill imprisoned-Rep. Duke Cunningham’s (R) term, Bilbray needed $4.5M from the NRCC to skate by a relatively lackluster Dem. What’s worrisome for Bilbray is that the cash-starved NRCC can’t afford to put anywhere near that amount in his CD to save it this year. And the DCCC has enough cash, if it chooses to enter the contest, to make a difference. The NRCC simply can’t afford to overwhelm Dem efforts here like they did in ’06.

This is particularly acute in CA-50.  Leibham beat Bilbray in fundraising in the third quarter, and they are almost even in cash on hand.  Which means that, barring a life raft from the national party, Bilbray is largely on his own.  And he doesn’t have much to run on.  Here he is whining about that powerful ad from Leibham supporter Joe Hoar, a retired Marine General, which ripped Bilbray for voting against the new GI Bill:

Bilbray said he was one of the GI Bill’s original co-sponsors, but voted against it after congressional Democrats loaded it up with extraneous goodies, including a “massive tax increase” and a foreign aid package for Africa and Mexico.

“That’s the kind of cynical tactics we said ‘no’ to,” the Carlsbad Republican said. “We forced it to come back as a clean bill and we were able to pass it and it was signed into law in June.”

Actually, it wasn’t a clean bill at all, it was folded into an Iraq appropriation.  And he objected to it initially because it was funded by a tax on millionaires.

Liebham supporters have put up an attack website called Wrong Way Bilbray highlighting his votes.  Now that the campaign has settled into attacking Bilbray on the issues, with the Democratic wind at their backs, they are gaining traction.

And more than CA-50, what we’re seeing is an across the board re-evaluation of Republican incumbents, with multiple GOPers in trouble.

Leibham Delivers $1.27 Gas

I mentioned on Monday that Nick Leibham would be offering gas to residents of the 50th district discounted to the price in April 1996 when Big Oil first started funneling money to Brian Bilbray.

Today, ExxonMobil posted $11.7 billion in second quarter profits, the all-time record for a U.S. Company, so the $182,818 that Bilbray has received from oil companies throughout his career may seem like a drop in the bucket. But he’s certainly delivered time and again for Big Oil: Responsible Federal Oil and Gas Lease Act (Use It or Lose It): No. Drill Responsibly in Leased Lands Act: No. Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act: No. Energy Independence and Security Act: No.

The response yesterday was- perhaps unsurprisingly- huge. Leibham’s campaign manager described to me “lines down the road…people were so enthusiastic.” Because pain at the pump is inescapable, it’s immediate, it’s obvious, and it’s not a complicated issue. There’s a clear choice being presented between the failed policies of the past- more drilling, and the policies of progress- investment in new and renewable energy, use of existing drilling leases, the elimination of tax breaks for Big Oil.

This is a race that’s often flown under the radar in online circles, but with Bilbray refusing to even enter his district in order to defend his extremist voting record, it could get pretty interesting. Bilbray is desperate to avoid engaging on real issues, crowing about a veterans memorial but voting to continue the Iraq debacle and voting against the new GI Bill. Every chance he gets to bring about positive change, Bilbray stands in opposition. But when he can stand far outside his district and lob rhetoric, he’s all for it.

While Bilbray continues to work against Americans, Nick Leibham got out, in the district, and did something that would actually help a little bit. It isn’t much, but it’s not supposed to be a solution. What it was supposed to be- and succeeded in being- is a sharp line of contrast between the priorities of these two candidates.

One of and for the people, the other bought and paid to oppose the people.

CA-50: My trip to the VA Hospital with Nick Leibham

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe Leibham campaign has just wrapped up their week-long series of events honoring Memorial Day, which they called "Bring Our Troops Home Week." A summary of all the events is below the fold. It was my pleasure to join them for the highlight of the week, visiting patients at the VA hospital in La Jolla and delivering gift baskets.

The group was assigned to the spinal cord injury unit. Most of the patients were from the first Gulf War or Vietnam; La Jolla VA is a center of excellence for spinal cord injuries, so they were from all across the western states–Nevada, Colorado, Arizona to name a few. They travel to the La Jolla VA annually for 3-4 days filled with tests and evaluations. The medical care was universally praised. The food, not so much. 🙂 One woman said she ordered her meals delivered from a variety of local restaurants! And many were especially grateful for the fudge included in Nick’s gift baskets.

Visitors are prohibited from campaigning, and the group was meticulous about observing these rules. But many patients eagerly broached the topic of politics on their own, sharing their anti-Bush sentiments. Of those who said anything, anti-Bush feelings were unanimous. Most of the time it came up in off-hand jokes/mocking/derision. The most heart-breaking was a veteran of the first Gulf War, a mother whose son is now in the military. She said she didn’t mind being deployed since it was her duty, but watching her son was too much for her. She choked up while expressing her hope for a new president with a new direction. Nick’s volunteer’s response was simply, “A lot of people are working really hard to make that happen.” Amen.

Although seeing paralyzed young guys back from Iraq was as every bit as harrowing as you would imagine it to be, it was–unexpectedly–seeing the aging veterans that hardened my resolve more than ever to get us out of Iraq. Seeing so many who weren’t really that old, but whose bodies were deteriorating in a thousand ways, well beyond their age, I began to realize how the subtler, more invisible damage of war can accumulate. A Vietnam veteran who escorted the group said that service[wo]men who have seen and survived combat still have 10-20 years shorter life expectancy than their civilian contemporaries. We have all heard how damaging stress is for the body–but seeing the evidence a few years down the road, and seeing it so starkly and visually…I have no words.

Nick spent a full hour and a half at the hospital. It was touching to see an emotion that maybe can best be described as resolve on his face during the visit. Now let me say that having spent several years as a twice-weekly volunteer at an emergency family housing shelter, we regulars developed a (admittedly somewhat elitist) contempt for the one-time feel-good volunteers. What bugged wasn’t that it was one-time–we all have different priorities–but the uncomfortable this is ickier than what I expected expression on the faces of so many. So bravo to Nick and co., who walked right in with confidence, real warmth and a sense of humor (and no icky expressions). Even for those with unusual abundance of tact and warm hearts, carrying on a normal chat with someone laying down and hooked up to various hospital machines is not easy. Double the difficulty when the war is so emotionally-charged. And–speaking just for myself here–triple the difficulty when there’s a whole foreign language going on between the veterans, having to do with their division, rank, assignments, specialties, friendly rivalries, and so on, that I’m largely clueless about. Nick has evidently spent enough time on military issues to be more fluent in this culture than I am.

Leibham’s Memorial Day/Bring Our Troops Home Week events:

  • Monday: Nick will attend the Allied Veterans Council Annual Memorial Day ceremony in Escondido and the City of Solana Beach and VFW ceremony at the Veterans Memorial at La Colonia Community Park.
  • Tuesday: Nick will release a statement condemning Bilbray’s recent vote against the G.I. Bill and our Veterans.
  • Wednesday:  Nick and volunteers assemble care baskets for Iraq veterans at the VA Hospital.
  • Thursday: Accompanied by members of Veterans for Peace and American Combat Veterans, Nick will personally deliver the care baskets to Veterans of the War in Iraq at the V.A. Medical Center in La Jolla.
  • Friday: Nick will release a two-page statement on the War in Iraq emphasizing his commitment to a timetable to bring our troops home by 2009.

One thing I’d like to highlight is Leibham’s statement on Bilbray’s vote against the 2008 G.I. Bill. It is shameful that Bilbray and other Republicans would still walk lock-step with Bush on this war. But if they insist on doing so, the least they can do is also take the best possible care of our veterans. Bilbray voted against the 2008 G.I. Bill, which would allow our troops to attend college. He had the nerve to do this just a couple weeks before Memorial Day. I really can’t explain it–I don’t think Republicans realize how much trouble they will be in this Fall.

UPDATE: Now available in orange, please give it a rec.

(Full disclosure: I am connected with the Leibham campaign in that I signed up to be on their volunteer list. As it turns out, I've been too busy and/or lazy to actually ever do any volunteering. I support vigorous primary seasons. If you must know, on June 3rd, I'll be voting for Leibham.)

House Roundup 5/16/08

I’ll have another House roundup probably by Monday, but I wanted to toss out a few items of note:

• CA-26: I have to applaud Russ Warner’s rapid response team for jumping on David Dreier’s voting record immediately and choosing the issues where he can reveal that Dreier is not the moderate he portrays as being to his district.  On the heels of yesterday’s House vote on the GI Bill, Warner released this:

David Dreier voted against a bill to increase educational opportunities for veterans today.  The legislation expands the education benefits veterans receive under the GI bill to restore the promise of a full, four-year college education.  It passed the House with broad bi-partisan support, 256 to 166.

“I would have voted differently on this bill,” said Russ Warner, a successful small businessman and the Democratic candidate for Congress from California’s 26th district.  “It’s important to make the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan part of an American economic recovery, just like the veterans of World War II were.  They put their lives on the line for us, and deserve to be able to come home and go to school if they so choose.  We need new leaders with new priorities in Washington, and that’s why I’m running for Congress.”

Russ Warner’s eldest son, Greg, is in the U.S. Army and served in Iraq for 17 months.  Upon his return, he challenged his father to make a difference by running for Congress.

Down With Tyranny has more, including a great pic of Warner and his son Greg.

• CA-41: Please take some time to read IndieinSF’s piece introducing the community to Dr. Rita Ramirez-Dean, a progressive candidate running for slimebucket Jerry Lewis’ seat in the San Bernardino area.  It’s also linked at DWT.  The post talks about the picture on the ground and the changing demographics in the district.  Our growth potential in California is dependent on winning seats like this.  I’ve met Dr. Dean and found her to be someone of character.  She has also endorsed the Repsonsible Plan To End The War in Iraq, elements of which passed through the House yesterday (Rep. Jay Inslee of Washington even mentioned it on the House floor).

• CA-42: Next week, Ron Shepston has two fundraisers with Amb. Joseph Wilson.  One is in Oak Canyon Park near Irvine on Wednesday, May 21, (purchase tickets here), and one is in Santa Monica on Thursday, May 22 (info here).  Ron also snagged the endorsement of DFA Orange County.

• CA-24: Mary Pallant’s interview at Blog Talk Radio is worth a listen.

• CA-04: Try to get the logic of this: by taking welfare payments in per diem checks from the state, Tom McClintock was denying benefits to soldiers.  That’s the premise of Doug Ose’s new ad.  Quite a logical leap, but potentially effective.