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.

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The clock is ticking. The 72 hour countdown to the vote on the healthcare bill has begun, with zero hour being 2pm EST on Sunday.

Democrats are rounding up as much support for the bill as they can, with President Obama attempting to convince Democratic Congressional Representatives that their political future lies in the passing of the bill.

The Washington Post has released a great chart that shows how Congress voted on the original bill in November, and where they stand now. Being a Michigan resident, I’m focusing on Michigan.

The chart shows all fifteen Representatives from the State of Michigan. The first column indicates where the Rep stands as of today. The second column shows how they voted on November 7th.

The votes are split by party. All seven Republicans are against the bill, and seven of the eight Democrats are for the bill.

There is one Democrat from Michigan who remains undecided on the issue. That would be Bart Stupak of District 1, from the Upper Peninsula. Stupak is a staunch Pro-Life advocate, and has stated that he will not vote for the bill unless his amendment to prohibit federal funding of abortion is included in the bill. The Stupak Amendment is not being viewed favorably by many Pro-Choice Democrats, and could be the weak link in this bill’s potential passage.

One thing that strikes me as odd is that no candidate, with the exception of Stupak, has changed their stance on this bill since it has been redrafted. The original Senate Bill is 2409 pages. The new Amendment, dated March 18, 2010, is an additional 153 pages. There are other documents as well to be considered, including the Reconciliation Act prepared by the Congressional Committe on the Budget, another 445 pages.

Nothing in any of this caused anyone to change their minds??? Well, if they haven’t read it, I guess it wouldn’t.

Fear not, however. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has graciously arranged for the public to have 72 hours to digest this 3000+ page nightmare.

Oh, and if you thought all this reform was strictly about Healthcare, think again.

There are several sections relating to education reform as well. To be honest, the Amendment is so convoluted and filled with “strike subparagraph x of section xxx and insert blah blah blah”  that my head is currently throbbing just trying to read it.

On initial review, I gleaned that the Amendment is pumping more money into grants for students, schools, and teachers. There are several revisions to the Pell Grant. The Amendment also includes changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Now I’m not saying Education Reform is a bad thing, and it certainly could use some reform, but does it need to be dealt with in a healthcare bill???

In the Marine Corps, we have an expression that I will attempt to clean up for those of a more “genteel” nature. It involves cramming 10 pounds of “waste product” into a 2 pound sack. The analogy seems fitting for this bill as well.

Healthcare reform is needed. But not just any reform. We need clear, concise, well thought out reform. Most importantly, it needs to be reform that we can AFFORD as a nation. The current bill is a runaway train of Progressive ideology, and it needs to be stopped.

Call your Representatives today, and urge them to vote no this weekend. Pray that this will even come up for a vote.

Call your Congressman!Across the nation today, people are blowing the phones off the hook, reaching out to their Congressional Representatives and urging them to vote “NO” on the proposed Healthcare Bill. Fortunately for me, here in West Michigan, I already know where my Congressman stands.

Democrats are launching a major push to pull in the votes they need to push this thing through. According to an article in the Telegraph, President Obama has even gone so far as to threaten to withdraw support for Democrats who don’t vote yes on the bill. A one-night presidential appearance can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds for a campaign. By threatening to not do tis for Democratic candidates who oppose him, Obama has drawn a line in the sand, essentially saying, “You’re either with me, or against me.”

This may seem a bit heavy-handed to some, but it’s been a trademark of this issue since it started over a year ago. No one can agree on all the aspects of this convoluted and all-encompassing bill. Many government representatives have suggested starting the process over, removing the controversial pieces, and trying to pass reform in smaller bites, more palatable to the American people. President Obama refuses to budge, however. He wants it all, and he wants it now.

That’s the part that frustrates me the most. This is no longer an issue of what is good for the United States. It’s all about who is going to win. This issue has consumed this administration, to the detriment of other issues facing our nation. Compromise isn’t even in the picture anymore. The administration is so obsessed with the idea of being the “Champions of Healthcare Reform” that they are deaf to the pleas of the American people to slow down and do this right. It’s become one big contest of egos in Washington.

The craziest thing of all is that NO ONE, from either political party, actually likes this bill “as written”. Everyone knows it’s garbage, can’t pay for itself, and is full of special interest payoffs. Where the parties truly differ is that the leading Democrats are desperate to pass SOMETHING, and the Republicans (along with some Democratic hold-outs) would rather take the time to work reform through in steps. I’m again reminded of the lesson I try to teach my kids: “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

Instead, Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid continue to push this bill, essentially saying to the House opposition, “Just vote yes, and we’ll fix it later.”

Our only hope is to contact our Congressional leaders to remind them that they represent the will of the people, and that we do not want this bill. West Michigan is fortunate to have a leader like Congressman Pete Hoekstra in Washington right now, working to rally support against the bill. Pete Hoekstra  has made plain his thoughts on the bill, and his continued determination to see this bill defeated. Hoekstra is conveying the message to fight against this bill every way he can, to include social media venues like Facebook and Twitter.

Congressman Bart Stupak (D) from the Upper Peninsula could really use your calls of support right now. Stupak has jumped in front of this freight train, along with a few of his Democrat colleagues in Congress. Stupak is against the bill because he believes that the bill will open the door to federal funding of abortion. A staunch Pro-Life advocate, Stupak finds the bill unconscionable, and is holding strong despite the threats being lobbed at him by the White House. Stay strong Bart!

Michigan has a total of 15 Congressional Representatives in Washington (8 Democrats and 7 Republicans). I know these two men are against the bill, but it doesn’t hurt to call and let them know we appreciate it! I urge you to call the other members of Congress and tell them how you feel about the bill, too.

For a list of Congressional Representatives and how to contact them, visit the Contacting Congress website.

Last night I attended another Lincoln Day Dinner. This time our host was the Mason County Republican Party, and I attended as a guest of Pete Hoekstra’s Campaign.

Last night, the main speakers were the Congressional Candidates for Michigan’s 2nd District. Six candidates were in attendance, and took their turns giving their backgrounds and their beliefs. This is a great place to start looking for contrast among the candidates.

Two of the candidates are existing politicians from the Michigan State Government. Sen Wayne Kuipers and Rep Bill Huizenga have both represented their districts in Lansing, and have experience in the political world. I haven’t personally agreed with some of the decisions they have made while in office, but they do undoubtedly have the experience. Unfortunately for them, there is a wide current of public sentiment that is not happy with the current state of affairs, and political experience may do them more harm than good.

Next were two new candidates that I hadn’t seen prior to last night. One was a self-professed “Tea-Party Republican” from Honor, Michigan who was plainly uncomfortable speaking in public, and did little to instill any excitement in me.

The other was actually so far left in his views that I honestly can’t remember his name. His stance is one of “open-mindedness,” and he believes that we should look to foreign publications and opinions for guidance on forming our policies here in the U.S. To that I give an emphatic “HELL NO”. He, too, was low on the motivational scale.

Then there’s Bill Cooper, the successful business entrepreneur from Fruitport. Bill is undoubtedly business savvy, and I would not hesitate to hire him to run a business for me. Beyond that, Bill has had little to nothing to say on any other issues. Personally, I’m looking for a leader with a wider range of capabilities. Bill would be a great business advisor to someone in office, but I’m just not convinced where he stands on the other issues.

Finally, there’s Jay Riemersma, former NFL Player and Chair of the Family Readiness Council. Jay exudes energy and confidence. Confidence, as opposed to arrogance. Jay has true leadership qualities: the ability to consider both sides of an argument, the moral strength to stick to his principles and beliefs, and the humility to know that he is a position of service, beholden to the people. He is the only candidate as of yet to state that the reason he is running is to “Give back to the community.”

It’s Jay’s personal beliefs, principles similar to my own, that make him stand out among the crowd in my eyes. He doesn’t dance around issues. He can tackle challenges head on, and he’s not afraid of a little friction. He believes in true fiscal conservatism, and he knows that more government is not the answer to America’s troubles. Jay believes we need a strong military, and that we need to provide our troops with the support they need.

One of the Marine Corps’ (pronounced “core”, NOT “corpse” thank you very much!) key Leadership Principles is “Know Yourself and Seek Self Improvement.” Jay spends a lot of time staying abreast of current events and issues. On the rare occassions I have caught him on a subject he didn’t know about, he acknowledged it and sought to learn more about the subject. This kind of humility is uncommon, and a trait essential to true leaders.

While some candidates have attempted to portray Jay as the “Dumb Jock”, the truth of the matter is that Jay has a degree from the University of Michigan, is articulate, and very capable of communicating with others.

It’s pretty obvious that I support and have publicly endorsed Jay. My intent here is to give you an idea WHY. Many of the other candidates are respectable men, and in theory are capable of filling the position. When it comes time to cast my ballot on August 3rd, however, I can only choose one, and I want the BEST choice to win. THAT’S why I choose Jay Riemersma for Congress. Jay has the strength and fortitude to lead in Washington, and we need strength and leadership now more than ever.

To find out more about Jay Riemersma, visit his website www.votejr.com.

You can also contact me for more information. I’m looking for others to help spread the word about Jay, and I could use your help. You can find my contact info at my website www.timwhitehomes.com. Comments here are great way to reach me, as well.

90 Minutes with Jon Bumstead

February 17, 2010

The elections this year may just be the most important election of our lives. Michigan’s economy is in a deplorable state, unemployment is the worst in the nation, and Michigan needs jobs. Our current elected leaders just haven’t done what’s best for Michigan.

This November, there are several seats up for grabs in Lansing, and a Congressional seat in Washington. I’ve been spending a lot of time researching the candidates in each race, and have even interviewed or talked with those I favored.

What I’ve done is sought out candidates whose moral, spiritual, and economic beliefs fall in line with my own, and I evaluated their leadership ability and their willingness to serve the people.

Today I clinched my pick for the 100th District State Representative Seat.

Jon Bumstead for 100th District Michigan State Representative

Photo courtesy of http://www.jonbumstead.com

Jon Bumstead of Newaygo sat with me today for about 90 minutes in my office. We shared our stories with each other, and I asked Jon where he stands on some of the issues Michigan is struggling with.

Jon agrees that what we really need to do in Michigan is get control of our spending, and reform our tax code to make Michigan more attractive to prospective businesses. We need less government interference in business.

Jon is pro-life, and a member of Newaygo United Methodist Church. Jon is a family man, with three kids, four grandchildren, and has been married for 23 years. He respects the importance of family.

One thing I always look for in a candidate is candor and work ethic. Jon has both. He knows where he stands, and he’s not afraid to let you know it. Jon has been a homebuilder and a firefighter, so he knows the value of a hard day’s work. Having been self employed, he knows first hand the struggles a small business owner deals with.

I support Jon, and will be voting for him in the Primaries this August. As always, I encourage you to do your own research and make your own opinion. For what it’s worth, though, I recommend Jon, and I think he’ll do an outstanding job for us in Lansing.

You can visit Jon’s website at www.jonbumstead.com

You can also find Jon on Facebook .

Get involved. Your future, and the future of West Michigan is at stake this year. If you’re not registered to vote, get out today and register. Help us get Michigan back on track, because Michigan is worth saving!

MCRP photo by Tim White

Photo by Tim White

Last night the Muskegon County Republican Party hosted the 2010 Lincoln Day Dinner, and in attendance were several of the key Republican candidates for the 2010 Elections. The event is a fundraiser for the Michigan GOP, and is held to honor the first Republican President,  Abraham Lincoln.

Pete Hoekstra, photo by Tim White

Guest Speaker, Congressman Pete Hoekstra (Photo by Tim White)

I attended the event as a guest of  Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Pete and his wife sat with us for dinner, and for the Congressional Candidate Panel that followed. I had the opportunity to speak with Pete, and I’m confident and hopeful that he will be our next Governor. I’ve been volunteering on Pete’s campaign for Governor since last summer.

Pete introduced the Republican Congressional Candidates there to speak that evening. Bill Cooper, Senator Wayne Kuipers, State Rep. Bill Huizenga, and Jay Riemersma. All four are hoping to replace Congressman Pete Hoekstra in Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District. Pete Hoekstra has held the seat for the better part of two decades, but is stepping out of that position to run for Governor.

The Panel of candidates fielded questions from the audience, and from the moderator, David Farhat. The questions included:

  1. What sets you apart from the other candidates?
  2. What should be done about the Asian Carp invasion of the Great Lakes?
  3. How do you feel about the Michigan Film Tax Incentive?
  4. How do you feel about the Michigan Business Tax?
Jay Riemersma, Bill Huizenga, Photo by Tim White

Jay Riemersma and Rep. Bill Huizenga (Photo by Tim White)

Jay Riemersma took the opportunity to remind everyone that both Kuipers and Huizenga had both been in office when the MBT was passed, and that BOTH gentlemen voted FOR the legislation. Riemersma went on to point out that, “The Michigan Business Tax has destroyed the entrepreneurial spirit in Michigan.” Huizenga, visibly flustered, attacked Jay’s lack of political experience, and protested that his record has been distorted. (Huizenga did indeed vote for the original draft of the  Bill, prior to the 22% surcharge being added.)

You can basically carve the four candidate options right in half at this point. Neither Riemersma nor Cooper have ever held public office. Both agree that sending more career politicians to Washington is not going to help fix the economy. Kuiper and Huizenga are both citing their experience in office as their strengths.

If the volume of the TEA Parties is any indication, it would seem the American people don’t really place a whole lot of weight on whether you’ve been in office or not. In fact, considering the shape the State of Michigan is in right now, it’s kind of like applying for a job at a cruise line and boasting that you were part of the navigation crew aboard the Titanic.

At the end of the night, the winner of the Straw Poll was announced. Jay Riemersma won the poll, indicating that when it comes time to put someone on the ballot, Jay has support in Muskegon County.

Jay Riemersma is a candidate that puts leadership and principle out front, and that’s what he’s counting on to get him elected. He cited the work of Pete Hoekstra over the years, and hopes to emulate what Pete has done, which is to stand up for the people, and be their voice in Washington. Jay demonstrated last night that he’s not afraid of a little confrontation, and if he sees something that’s out of bounds, he’s going to throw the flag.

Obama Bomb

I was driving east on Ocean Dr. in Hart, Michigan today when I saw this little gem sitting alongside the road. I had my camera with me, like any good realtor should, and I just couldn’t resist blogging about it.

Michigan is widely held to be a left leaning, liberal state. So much so, in fact, that Senator McCain’s campaign withdrew from the state early during the election runoffs of 2008. John, I think you gave up on us too quickly.

You see, there are strong pockets of conservatism in West Michigan. The recent Tea Parties have sounded a clarion call to the formerly “Silent Majority”, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these types of displays.

Even if you’re a liberal, you have to admit this is pretty clever.