So, having fallen off the blog wagon for a while, I was surprised to get an email from my friend Chris Marlink inviting me to be a guest blogger and tweeter for the ProLifeCon this morning. What a great way to get me off my blogging duff and back into the world of social media! So, here I am with a quick, impromptu post to spread the word of today’s events. As the 2012 Election race heats up, my goal is to revive this blog, and get back into the political loop.

In the way of an update, I have moved from West Michigan to the greater Washington, DC area. I’m closer to the zoo than ever, but I am also bombarded with more obligations than ever. My current military career position precludes me from directly engaging in politics, but I can certainly share my two-cents, and encourages others to get involved. And, of course, I can still VOTE! As a reminder, the views in this blog are my own, and do not reflect that of any of the agencies I work with or for (please see my profile disclaimer).

Tweeters, blogger, and other internet activists gathered in DC today at the FRC headquarters to spread the pro-life message. I was honored to be invited to be a featured Tweeter, and found myself encouraged to reengage in the prolife movement. If you caught my Twitter feed this morning, then you probably already know about some of the great speakers we heard.

Thanks to some really crappy weather, I wasn’t able to make it to the event in person, but I followed along with the live stream at http://www.frc.org/prolifecon. The gang at FRC will be posting the stream later for those that missed it, or just want to see it again. Speakers included country singer Collin Raye, Representatives from the US Congress, and members of the FRC staff. Be sure to check it out, and share any links about the prolife fight here on my blog.

Great achievements have been made in the fight to preserve and respect life, but there is so much more to be done. The next step I see is electing a Senate that will pass the prolife bills that the House is already passing. This should be something we’re all thinking about come this November. In the meantime, find out where your current Senator stands on prolife issues, and let them know your thoughts!

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OK, so the Michigan Primary is less than 18 hours away, and at least three people today told me they still don’t know who all is running in the race tomorrow. They’ve been saved face-to-face, now for the rest of you.

You just need to remember three names: Jay, Jon, and Pete.

Jay Riemersma is the BEST choice for the 2nd District U.S. House of Representatives seat.

Jay Riemersma for Congress

Jon Bumstead is the RIGHT choice for 100th District State Representative.

Pete Hoekstra is the ONLY choice for our next Governor of Michigan.

I’ve been blogging about these guys since February. Here are some links to related blogs:

Election 2010 Final Four

Jay Riemersma is Raising the Bar in the 2nd District Congressional Race

90 Minutes with Jon Bumstead

60 Minutes with Jay Riemersma

There’s a bit to chew on before heading to the polls tomorrow morning! Not sure where to go to vote? You can look up polling locations here!

Oh, and if you’re in Hart Township, vote for Tim White for Precinct Delegate in Oceana County! Thanks!

President Barack Obama is in Michigan today to promote the ground breaking for the LG Chem battery plant in Holland. The President is lauding the ground breaking as a sign that the Stimulus Package is working, and creating jobs. But at what cost?

Without question, Michigan NEEDS jobs. With unemployment in the state currently lingering around an astounding 14%, some would say that we need to do anything to bring jobs to Michigan. There are others, however, who disagree.

According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Michigan taxpayers will write $100 Million in checks to the Korean battery maker. From the article:

Last week the the Michigan Economic Development Corp. upped the ante on a $100 million “refundable” business tax credit approved by the state House and Senate for a subsidiary of the South Korean battery maker LG Chem. The MEDC in effect converted the credit into an outright cash subsidy from Michigan taxpayers by granting the firm’s 120-acre plant site in Holland “renaissance zone” status for 15 years.

The legislation authorizing the credit, Senate Bill 466 sponsored by Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, was passed last year. This spring, the firm was also approved for a federal “stimulus” grant of $151 million for the plant, the cost of which is pegged by various sources at between $244 million and $303 million. Essentially, taxpayers are all but giving the Korean manufacturer a brand new factory.

The Mackinac Center isn’t the only one questioning the price tag on these jobs.

In an article published today by the Wall Street Journal, Congressional candidate Jay Riemersma (R- Holland) stated, “”This is one instance where you can see job creating coming from it (the stimulus), but again…at what cost?” Riemersma went on to add, “People don’t want government stimulus and government spending…In their mind we’re mortgaging their future and their grandchildren’s future.”

The Heritage Foundation makes the argument that Obama’s Stimulus Plan is a failure, and the LG Battery Plant is a prime example. According to the article:

“Specifically, this factory is being subsidized by $151 million of stimulus funds from an even larger $2 billion honey pot of stimulus money set aside for electric car battery investments. This one plant is expected to employ 300 workers. That works out to more than $500,000 per job created. $500,000 per job. This plant, in a nutshell, explains why the President’s stimulus plan has been an objective failure.

In plain English, does it really make sense to pay 100x the annual salary of a new job? That’s assuming that the average employee would make $50,000 per year, which I suspect is unlikely. At what point do we say, “Gee, we probably shouldn’t be spending $100 to make $1?” It just doesn’t make sense.

$500,000 per job? That makes about as much sense as The Michigan Film Tax Credit, which is supported by Michigan State Representative Bill Huizenga (R-Holland), another Congressional candidate for Michigan’s 2nd District seat. The Film Incentive is another attempt by government to buy jobs for Michigan, and another example that begs the question of when is the price for new jobs too high? The Film Incentive grants ridiculous amounts of money to filmmakers who shoot in Michigan. To learn more, check out this video.

Rather than buying jobs for Michigan, we should be focusing on repealing punitive businesses taxes, removing cumbersome regulations, and making Michigan more attractive to business in a way that is sustainable and beneficial to the employer, the employee, and the state.

It’s time to elect officials who get the idea that wasting money is a bad thing. We need officials who are ready to do the hard work it will take to convince businesses to invest in Michigan. Officials who understand that the key to long-term, sustained economic growth lies in fixing the root of the problem: our tax code and business regulations.

People like Jay Riemersma for Congress, Pete Hoekstra for Governor, and Jon Bumstead for the 100th District State Representative.

These are the men I’m supporting this August 3rd. I hope you’ll get out and do the same. It’s time to fix the problem.


With just 62 days left before the August 3rd Michigan Primary elections, the 2nd District Congressional race is heating up.

Jay Riemersma is making an impressive showing, and recent polling indicates Riemersma is leading in most of the district’s 11 counties.

Jay aired the first television ad of the race a few weeks ago. The ad was well produced, catchy, and smart. In the ad, Jay reiterates his strong commitment to Conservative values, highlighting  his pro-life and pro-guns stance. You can see the video below:

Jay has also launched his “10,000 Doors in 2010” campaign. Riemersma plans to go door to door over the coming weeks, and spread his message to the people of the 2nd District. To date, Riemersma and his many volunteers have knocked on over 3,000 doors. Jay is averaging about 250 doors per day, and more on his “Super Saturdays.”

Jay Riemersma for Congress 2010

You can follow Jay's progress at http://www.votejr.com

I haven’t seen any other candidate in this race work so hard. If this kind of work ethic is indicative of how Jay will perform in Washington, then West Michigan will be well represented. It’s this kind of nose-to-the-grindstone spirit we need in Washington.

Riemersma’s success isn’t going unnoticed, either. Bill Huizenga is certainly feeling the pressure Jay has brought to the race, and the Huizenga Campaign’s low fundraising totals would seem to indicate that the Michigan legislator is losing ground to the former NFL football player. Other candidates, including Bill Cooper of Muskegon, have claimed that Jay’s career as a professional athlete does not qualify him to represent West Michigan in Congress.

Isn’t it odd, though, that they always fail to mention that Riemersma is a graduate of the University of Michigan? Last time I checked, that Big Ten school didn’t award degrees in football. Jay holds a BA in Communications from U of M, and communicating with the people of West Michigan is something he seems to be doing quite well.

And at the end of the day, that’s what a Congressman really needs to be. A communicator. It doesn’t do much good to have the greatest idea in the world if you can’t communicate that idea, make others understand it, and rally support behind the idea. Bill Cooper may be great at creating jobs, but can he convince other Congressmen to join up with him, garner support, and push that idea into law? Maybe, maybe not.

Jay Riemersma can. Jay has proven over the last several months that he is willing to do the hard work required to win. He’s proven throughout his professional career that he has the guts, discipline, and intestinal fortitude to see that the job gets done.

As a Marine, I know a bit about discipline, hard work, and perseverance. I see these qualities in Jay Riemersma, and that’s why I want him as our next Congressman, representing West Michigan in Washington.

The internet is abuzz with the story of a Marine in California who was recently asked to remove a Facebook group he created. Many people feel that the Marine’s First Amendment rights are being violated, and are even going so far as to claim that the Obama administration is attempting to silence the opposition.

You can read the articles as covered by Yahoo! and Fox News.

As a Marine currently serving in the Reserves, and active in local politics, this issue raised huge flags for me. I have authored several blogs promoting Republican candidates, am a member of the Republican Party, and have sponsored a Teenage Republican Chapter in my hometown. I have also expressed disagreement and outrage with the current administration. Could I be a potential violator of this directive?

In order to cover my six, I have researched the directive, how it applies to me, and how it applies to this case. DOD Directive 1344.10, dated February 19, 2008 Subject: Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, details what actions individual members of the Armed Forces CAN, and CANNOT engage in. You can read the directive HERE.

Sgt Stein made the mistake of naming the group “Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots.” By naming it so, he implies that the DOD sanctions it. By the rules, they have him dead to rights. In fact, if they so chose, he could be punished subject to the Universal Code of Military Justice under Article 92, “Failure to Obey Order or Regulation,” Chapter 47 of Reference (b).

Now, had he created a group called “Gary Stein and the Tea Party Patriots” or some such, and included a disclaimer that it reflects his opinions, and is not intended to reflect the views of the DOD, he would have been good to go, in my opinion.

We do indeed, have freedom of speech. We just have to be a but more cautious of how we wield it. You can find many a blog on my website that criticizes the current administration. However, I do have the disclaimer that the views portrayed are my own, and are not made as a representative of the USMC, the DOD, or any other agency. They are my beliefs, and mine alone.

When I attend political functions, campaign for a candidate, or work with the community, I do not do so in uniform. I won’t even wear a Marine sweatshirt. While my military service is often mentioned, I stress that I act in the capacity of a concerned citizen, NOT as a representative of the USMC.

I think I’m covered, but if the DOD or my chain of command wants to bring the matter up, I’m willing to defend my position. I would never want to use my uniform to gain political advantage. To do so would be, in my eyes, a discredit to all who have served before me.

I do, however, have a responsibility as a US citizen to be engaged in the political process. The leaders we elect have the power to make decisions that affect the lives of all of us. Those of us in the military are especially affected by the decisions of the POTUS. To sit back and not be involved seems a gross dereliction of my duty as a citizen, and as an NCO. I encourage everyone to get involved, regardless of their political party allegiance.

In closing, I’m glad this matter was brought up. Having read the Directive, I feel that I am acting completely within the guidelines of what the Secretary of Defense has laid out. I would encourage Sgt. Stein to continue to be involved in politics, and make his voice heard. I would just encourage him to do it within the rules laid out before us, and to do so in good taste.

In this case, I have to defend the actions of the Marine’s command. They made the right call, and handled the matter well. Sgt Stein was not punished, and only asked to remove the group from Facebook.

To lead effectively, a leader must have the trust of those who follow. Without trust, relationships will have no foundation, and efforts to achieve goals will be in vain. Trust is difficult to earn, yet is easily lost.

Washington has lost the trust of the people to whom they are beholden. Recent polls reflect this loss of trust, with a 75% disapproval rating of Congress. Three in every four Americans feel that their elected officials are not serving their interests. How did we get to such a state?

I believe that there is a disconnect between those in office, and the will of the people. In spite of the advances we have made in communication and technology, many members of Congress still seem to be out  of touch with the average American and their needs.

Another factor causing this breakdown in trust is a lack of transparency. So many meetings and a great part of the decision making process go on behind closed doors, outside of the view of the American people. Why the subterfuge? Why aren’t all debates held openly, if they have nothing to hide?

Most importantly, there is a lack of personal integrity and honor. Many elected officials have lost their sense of personal accountability. Rather than take responsibility for their failings, they attempt to shift blame onto others. This part of the “political game” needs to be removed like the cancer it is. Politics is not a game. It should not be treated as such. The arrogance being portrayed in Washington must be reined in. Representatives should worry less about promoting their own agendas, and advancing their careers, and worry more about serving the needs of the people.

Integrity is something missing in Washington today. In recent times, we have seen elected officials bend and twist the spirit of the law to achieve their desired end state. Though they acknowledge the dubious manner in which they proceed, they attempt to justify their positions by claiming that past Congresses have done the same thing, and feel that somehow this makes it acceptable. It does not.

Sadly, the spirit of common decency has all but fled the halls of Congress. What was once a league of distinguished gentleman has become tarnished with the shifting of blame and accusations against the character of fellow representatives. Bipartisan debate and good spirited cooperation are no longer the first means of resolving a difference of opinion.

If a leader is to build trust, he must hold himself to the highest of standards. The leader must lead by example, and oftentimes put aside his personal welfare for the goals of the people whom he leads. At times, the will of the people may not be his own. The leader must recognize his role as a servant to the people, and be prepared to represent the will of the people.

A leader needs to be honest and open with his constituency, in good times and bad. When a leader attempts to deceive the people, trust is undermined, and is nigh onto impossible to regain. If there is a cost to be paid to achieve some good, a leader should make those costs plain, and seek the counsel of his constituency. Regular contact and communication with the people of the district is vital, and must be maintained.

When trust is established, morale is enhanced, and motivation soon follows. History has shown that even in the darkest of times, a well motivated force, with high morale, can overcome great obstacles, and achieve victory. America can achieve the greatness we once had, but to begin, trust must be restored.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United State of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The American Flag

The Pledge of Allegiance. A pledge that dates back to 1892, albeit in a different wording. The original text by Francis Bellamy was designed to be used for any country, and did not include the words, “United States of America” or “Under God.”

It was in 1923 that the words “my flag” were replaced with “…the Flag of the United States of America” by the first National Flag Conference in Washington, D.C.

The words “under God” were added in 1954 by then President Eisenhower, who stated at the time, “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”

I think as a nation we would do well to look at the words of President Eisenhower today.

In the last 56 years, we seem to have forgotten the message he shared with us. Rather than reaffirming our religious faith, our nation seems hell bent on pushing religion farther and farther away. Schools that recite the Pledge in class are becoming fewer and fewer, and some groups want to remove the words “Under God” from the pledge.

There is a movement to remove “In God we Trust” from our currency. The movement was nearly successful, but failed for the time being. The fight was not without some gain on the part of those that would see us turn away from God, however. Instead of being on the face of the coin, the words “In God We Trust” are now engraved on the edges of some coins.

Some theories hold that the inscription was moved to the edge as a compromise. For those  that believe we should not have “In God We Trust” on our currency, the edge placement was a way of hiding the inscription, and is intended to mollify those of us that do want the inscription. God has literally been moved from the focal point of our sight. If you want to see the inscription, you have to look for it.
In 2007, there was a controversial printing error in which an unknown number of new dollar coins went into circulation without their edge inscriptions, including “In God We Trust,” according to an MSNBC news story. Some believe it was intentional, while the US Mint claims it was a mistake. I’m not proposing a conspiracy, but it’s worth mentioning that there are as many as 50,000 of these coins in circulation, lacking the inscription.
There is also a school of thought that the opponents of the inscription agreed to the edge placement because that is the first part of the coin to wear away as it is used in the marketplace. I think this is a perfect illustration of the erosion of our faith-based culture in America today.
This battle has long been a battle of small victories for the opposition. For every inch we give them, they will take a mile. Our betrayal of our servitude to a higher power will be our downfall. The opposition will win by one small battle at a time, until we are ultimately defeated.
You see, when we give ground on our principles, it becomes a slippery slope. When we agree to a compromise of principals, we are setting ourselves up to forsake those principles altogether. Just as our nation compromised on the placement of God in our currency, our adherence to our faith is in danger of being wore away.
President Eisenhower had the right idea. We need to continuously strengthen our spiritual weapons, for they will indeed be our last line of defense. We need to put God first. If we continue to ignore our moral compass, we are destined to follow the empires of the past, become divided, and fall.