Band of Brothers Archive:

Monday, March 13, 2006

Band of Brothers: Firing Back with Our Own Ad

Posted by DavidNYC

If you haven't heard of "Midwest Heroes" or seen their ads, prepare to get pretty steamed. Their "Remember" ad recycles two of the most insidious - and most widely discredited - right-wing talking points on the war in Iraq: First, that we're "making great progress" in Iraq and second, that we had to go to war with Saddam because he was backing Al Qaeda and, of course, was responsible for 9/11. Midwest Heroes tries to insulate itself from criticism by having veterans and the family members of dead soldiers speak, but it won't fly - not least because they've openly lied about who's in their ads.

Turns out one of the "mothers" extolling her "son's" sacrifice is actually the poor guy's step-mom. Warrant Officer Erik Kesterson's real mother is a Gold Star mom who is opposed to the war. In their ad, MH conviently leaves out this fact, but on their website, they actually refer to Erik's step-mom as his mom. They haven't even had the sense - or decency - to change it. You won't be surprised at all to learn that some of the people behind this new group hail from the original Swift Boat vets (including GOP Court Street lawyer Ben Ginsburg).

Recycled, discredited talking points. Phony testimonials. Hiding behind the uniform. Par for the course for the GOP - which is why we're firing back. Band of Brothers has put together its first ad, which you can view here. The online version is in long form - there's a shorter, made-for-TV version as well. It consists entirely of Fighting Dems explaining what they stand for and why they've joined this battle. Needless to say, there's no bullshit here - it's just veterans telling the truth.

We'd be grateful for your feedback (be honest!). If you want to help get this ad on the air, you can donate here.

(Thanks to Hesiod for his invaluable series of muck-raking diaries on Midwest Heroes.)

Posted at 05:50 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Band of Brothers | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Friday, February 17, 2006

Band of Brothers: Can We Get This Story on the Yahoo Reco List?

Posted by DavidNYC

People are always trying to get on the recommended list at DailyKos. I want to try something different, just to see how much influence a smallish blog can have. This AFP story on Yahoo mentions the Band of Brothers and discusses the Fighting Dem phenomenon pretty favorably. (Though why they pulled text from our website instead of contacting us for a direct quote, I'll never know.) In any event, Yahoo has its own recommended list, available here.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the aforementioned story, you'll see some red stars in an area which says, "Recommend This Story." Please, if you would, give this story 5 stars, and let's see what happens. Yahoo's reco list clearly is unweighted - that is, a 5.0 rating based on 10 votes is better than a 4.9 rating based on 100 votes. But maybe we can get this story on there.

As I say, this isn't really about getting this particular story on the Yahoo reco list (though that would be nice). I'm more interested in seeing if the readers of a blog like this can actually affect that standings on that list. So if you'd help out, I'd be grateful. And if you happen to spot the story on the reco list later, please let us know in comments.

Posted at 12:15 AM in Band of Brothers | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

CO-05: Hefley (R) Retiring - Band of Brothers' Fawcett Ready to Go

Posted by DavidNYC

Republican Rep. Joel Hefley (CO-05) announced today that he is retiring. That makes him the second Republican to announce a retirement this week (the first was Bill Jenkins, TN-01). Both districts are very conservative, but CO-05 is different. For one, we actually have a Dem already running. And for another, he happens to be a member of the Band of Brothers, Lt. Col. Jay Fawcett.

Lt. Col. Fawcett is a graduate of the Air Force Academy. He also earned a Bronze Star for his service during the Gulf War. I should add that Fawcett was also at the Band of Brothers rally in DC last week.

Now, this is a very Republican district, as I say - it went for Bush 66-33, which makes it roughly OH-02 territory. However, Hefley's retirement is the perfect illustration of why you run candidates in every district, no matter how hopeless the territory might seem at first blush.

• First off, open seats are always easier to win. Especially in a difficult district, it's a major plus. Sometimes, retirements are announced after filing deadlines have passed because some states allow late candidate substitution, but not late candidate filings. If you don't have someone already running, you're completely out of luck.

• Second, even though Fawcett still faces a tremendously uphill challenge, the fact that it's now an open seat race affects how the media will cover the campaign. With an open seat, the media are more likely to portray the race as a genuine challenge. That frame is more interesting for reporters, and Hefley's retirement lets them buy into it. A gadfly nipping at an entrenched incumbent is a boring story. An open seat always carries the chance for an upset.

• Third, it also means that Fawcett is likely to get a lot more media attention, which translates into greater name recognition should he want to run for office again later.

• Fourth, the GOP will waste money on a big primary here. (CO's primary is Aug. 8th.) It could also get very negative and ugly - Republican hopefuls will really be hungry for a potentially safe lifetime seat. This possibility increases the chance of a Dem upset.

• And fifth, if it looks like there's even a shadow of a possibility that Fawcett pulls off an upset here, the GOP may be forced to commit resources to defend this seat. Of course, that's not a heartening scenario for Fawcett, but it does mean that $100K of Republican money spent in CO-05 isn't being spent elsewhere. And there is a possible flipside to this: The GOP, with 231 seats open all at once, may not have the resources to defend CO-05 in the same way it (embarrassingly) had to do in OH-02. This could allow Fawcett to sneak in under the radar.

The bottom line is, Hefley's retirement is nothing but good news for us - and the fact that Fawcett's already running makes it even better news. Just like that, this race just got a lot more interesting.

Posted at 12:10 AM in 2006 Elections - House, Band of Brothers, Colorado | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Kerry and Clark Coming TONIGHT!

Posted by DavidNYC

Today's Band of Brothers event on the mall was AMAZING. Sen. Cleland was absolutely inspiring. And it was just tremendous to see so many Fighting Dems arrayed together. I'll have some pictures later.

But I also wanted to tell you some very exciting news: Two more veterans are coming to tonight's fundraiser at the Frederick Douglass House. You may have heard of them: John Kerry and Wesley Clark. I'm tremendously excited. If you were wavering about coming, now you have no excuses! See you there!

UPDATE: Wow! What an exhilirating day. Tonight's event was great. Tim has an awesome post up at the DNC blog on the rally this morning, complete with pics and video.

Posted at 01:48 PM in Activism, Band of Brothers | Comments (2) | TrackBack (3) | Technorati

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Support Max Cleland & the Band of Brothers in DC Tomorrow

Posted by DavidNYC

For all you DC-area folks, a reminder:

Rally with Sen. Max Cleland & Forty Fighting Dem Candidates

When: 10am, Wednesday, February 8th
Where: 7th st. SW betw. Madison Dr. & Jefferson Dr., on the National Mall

As I've said before, if you're angry about the swiftboating of Rep. Murtha, the lack of body armor for our troops, cuts in veterans benefits, and the simple, undeniable fact that George Bush has made us less safe, this is your chance to help make a difference. Let's make this a major media event and make sure these issues stay on the table throughout the 2006 elections and beyond.

(P.S. Please note the location change. This rally will be held on the Mall, not at the Capitol.)

Posted at 04:28 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Activism, Band of Brothers | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1) | Technorati

Monday, February 06, 2006

Band of Brothers: Feb. 8th Reminder

Posted by DavidNYC

10am, 7th st. NW betw. Madison & Jefferson: Come support Sen. Max Cleland and over forty Fighting Dems running for the House. Fight back against GOP swiftboating. Fight for better body armor for the troops. This will be a major media event, and, of course, it's free. Please note the location change. This rally will no longer be on the Capitol steps - it's now on the mall.

6pm: Frederick Douglass House: Join us for a fundraiser to support all of these candidates. We're no longer able to sell tickets online, but you can purchase them at the door. (Contribution levels start at $100.) Meet-n-greet with dozens of veterans, all of whom have great stories to tell.

Posted at 02:27 PM in Band of Brothers | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1) | Technorati

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Band of Brothers: Chris Carney is Coming on Feb. 8th. Are You?

Posted by DavidNYC

From Lt. Commander Chris Carney, running in PA-10:

Next Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., Chris Carney, democratic candidate for Congress, will stand with over 40 fellow veterans on the Capitol West Lawn to call for a change of direction in Washington.

Today Chris Carney issued this statement:

Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy take a simple oath: Do not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do. Those are the values we learn and live by when we fight for our country. Those are the values that we will take to Washington.

Our band of brothers and sisters is leading the charge to empty the sewers of Washington. We will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do.

It is time for change of direction in Washington, time for Americans to stand proud again. The bribery, the money laundering, and the high crimes of the highly placed cannot continue.

We are talking about reform on a personal scale. We need the right people in Washington–people who can tell right from wrong, and honorable from dishonorable.

Without the right people, all the rules and reforms in the world will amount to nothing. I will make the 10th District proud of its representation in Washington.

Chris Carney will be there on Feb. 8th. Will you?

Posted at 10:16 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Band of Brothers, Pennsylvania | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

The Band of Brothers WANTS YOU!

Posted by DavidNYC

Next week, something pretty unusual is going to take place in Washington, DC. Over forty veterans - all Democrats, all running for the House - will join forces to kick off the 2006 campaign season. There hasn't been a gathering like this since just after World War II. And here's what they'll be doing:

• Showing their unqualified support for their brother, Rep. John Murtha, in the face of despicable swift boat attacks.

• Developing a positive message to unite the Band of Brothers as a political force.

• Raising much-needed awareness on issues of importance to both veterans and troops.

Here's the key part for anyone reading this: We want you there, too. If you're anywhere in the DC area, and you're as outraged as I am about the attacks on Col. Murtha, the lack of body armor for our troops, cuts in veterans benefits, and the simple fact that the Bush presidency has made us less safe, less strong, and less secure, then join us on the steps of the US Capitol (west lawn) at 10am on Wednesday, February 8th.

Wait, it gets better: The keynote speaker for the event at the Capitol is none other than former Sen. Max Cleland, a true American hero in every sense of the word, and a man who knows a thing or two about campaigning as a veteran. There will be lots of cameras and lots of reporters, so it's crucial that we show our support. If you're free, come on by. And if you work in the area, take an early coffee break. It'll be well worth your while.

But if you can't join us in the morning (and even if you can), you have a second chance to meet all these veterans at a fundraiser at the Frederick Douglass House (320 A Street NE), from 6-8pm, also on Feb. 8th. This will be a lot more fun than your ordinary campaign fundraiser, where if you're lucky you get to talk to the candidate for 90 seconds. There will be dozens of candidates here to meet-n-greet, and all of them have interesting stories to tell.

To purchase tickets, go to the Band of Brothers ActBlue page. The contribution levels are:

Supporter - $5,000
Patron - $1,000
Sponsor - $500
Guest - $100

Your name will automatically be placed on the guest list.

I hope you can make it - either in the morning, evening, or both! And if you're a Swing State reader (which you are, since you're reading this right now), I'll be there, so please be sure to introduce yourself.

UPDATE: Tickets are now available only at the door - my apologies. If you already paid, though, you're fine.

Posted at 10:00 AM in 2006 Elections - House, Band of Brothers | Comments (6) | TrackBack (1) | Technorati

Friday, January 20, 2006

Murtha's Band of Brothers Falls In

Posted by DavidNYC

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: There's nothing like strength in numbers. Republican cowards are attempting to swiftboat Rep. John Murtha. We won't let it happen. Col. Murtha's fellow veterans are justly incensed - they know that if you attack one servicemember, you attack them all. And so, Murtha's Band of Brothers is making a tremendous show of force on his behalf. The message to would-be swiftboaters: If you falsely come after one of our number, you're gonna have to deal with an entire platoon of us:

Questioning the honor of a decorated American veteran like Congressman Murtha shows a lack of respect for the sacrifices made by all those who serve.

It is easy for cowards to attack the honorable service of veterans. All they need is a typewriter and a few leisurely hours. But, happily, the shrill attacks of partisan hacks are nothing to people like Jack Murtha.

It is not easy to toe the line, defending the American freedom for which so many have given what Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion.”

I condemn anyone or any group that challenges the sacred honor and sacrifice of my fellow veterans, whether they are Republican or Democrat, man or woman. The people of my district know that the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform is sacred.

Chris Carney
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (PA-10)

I will stand beside John Murtha, in front of him, and behind him whenever some Member of Congress, who has never worn the uniform of her country, calls him a coward.

As long as the Radical Right-highjacked Republican Party of Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff insists that the only way to discuss our nation’s involvement in Iraq is to call decorated Marines cowards, they demonstrate clearly that they have lost the legitimacy needed to govern.

A twice-awarded Purple Heart recipient need not prove to anyone — let alone someone who could not tell a Marine Colonel from Colonel Sanders — anything other than the ability to hold Patriotism above Partisanship.

Eric Massa
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (NY-29)

The partisan attacks on John Murtha by the chickenhawks of the radical right aptly demonstrates the hypocrisy of their failed leadership. Hiding behind the “support our troops” slogan, to send our sons and daughters to fight unnecessary wars, they attack real heroes who have served their country honorably and have been willing to sacrifice their own lives in the service of the United States of America. Demeaning John Murtha’s service is an affront to all American soldiers who have served in combat and especially to those who have been wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.

As an Airborne Ranger with two tours of combat service in Vietnam, I am offended beyond words. The actions of these political weasels are not only despicable, they are un-American.

Terry F. Stulce
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (TN-03)

Read on for more. Over a dozen veterans have already spoken out on Murtha's behalf, and more are doing so every day. To add your voice to theirs, please consider signing our petition.

The bottom line is that John Murtha volunteered to serve in Vietnam — enough said!

Rick Penberthy
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (FL-05)

When they stoop to this level of slander, they only show how desperate they’ve become. They know they’ve made serious mistakes in Iraq but to cover up their own incompetence, they send out their proxies with outrageous lies about Congressman Murtha’s heroic military record.

However, the American people are fed up with gutter politics. They want the Bush Administration to show that they know what they’re doing in Iraq, that they know what’s going on in Iraq and that they have a realistic exit strategy instead of meaningless platitudes such as “We’ll stay until the job is done.”

Rich Sexton
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (NJ-03)

It is unfortunate that the Bush Administration and Republican Party leadership have decided to continue their war AGAINST the troops and veterans with their dishonorable attacks on John Murtha. From Lew Puller in the late ’70s, through John McCain and Al Gore in 2000, Max Cleland in 2002, John Kerry in 2004, and now John Murtha, the Republican Party has attacked the military record of its opponents without regard for their valiant service to their country.

A President who actively avoided serving in Vietnam now sees fit to attack a man who served heroically in several wars. Perhaps the saddest part of this is knowing that somewhere in Iraq right now there is a person serving their country with honor and distinction, and some day that service will be turned against them by the Republican Party if they should choose to be a Democrat. I call on Republican leaders to stop this Republican war on America’s veterans and instead to honor those who choose to serve their country!

Bill Winter
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (CO-06)

“Service is the rent we pay for room on this earth.” — Rep. Shirley Chisholm

John Murtha has served this country proudly in times of war and peace. Following the logic of the late Rep. Shirley Chisholm, John Murtha has paid enough rent for himself and a few more people. This recent attack reflects poorly on the respect we have today for service because it illuminates the amount of energy spent tearing down the character of a person who served rather than honoring courageous effort.

It’s time for an attitude adjustment in this country. We can no longer say we support the troops when they fight for this country on foreign soil but treat them like the enemy when they fight for this country at home.

Mishonda Baldwin
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (MD-03)

I agree with Congressman Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, who believes that we should remove our troops from Iraq as soon as possible. They are exhausted and demoralized. Rather than preventing violence, we have become a cause of the violence. If we withdraw, the insurgency will eventually quell, and the Iraqis will be free to manage and rule their own country. I advocate an immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, not only to prevent further loss of life but to stop the further depletion of our national resources and treasure and to restore America’s honor and prestige throughout the world.

John Wolfe
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (OH-13)

The attacks on the valor and sacrifice of John Murtha are an affront to every man and woman who has ever served this country. Like thousands of other veterans, I take the insults to John Murtha personally, and I am deeply angered.

Rick Cornstuble
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (IN-04)

Attacking the military record of an American soldier, by groups too cowardly to use their own voices in the attack, is a travesty. How anyone could ever deign to speak ill of another American’s sacrifice for their nation is beyond me, particular a soldier with the extensive military and bipartisan political record of John Murtha.

Anyone who does not immediately disavow support for such people and such heinous slurs is guilty of an obvious, despicable and disgusting lack of support for our troops and our veterans.

Dave Bruderly
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (FL-06)

Partisan and personal attacks by supporters of the war in Iraq against Jack Murtha should be viewed as validating his points. When people attack the messenger it is clear they have no ability to respond to the truth he is telling.

Rep. Murtha is a Marine and these attacks will be but pin-pricks for him. Still, the assault on a man’s combat record in service to policies created by those who avoided combat is the work of pygmies.

Anyone who served in Viet Nam knows that enlisted Marines earned every damn medal they got, and many they never received. If you have not stood up to the test you cannot judge others who have.

When we talk of “cowardice” we ought perhaps to consider the behavior of the Commander-in-Chief. President Bush, who has sent men and women into harm’s way, often underequipped, and asked them to sacrifice for our country has not, since 2003 even had the guts to speak before a hostile audience. I always believed that leaders lead by example.

Al Weed
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (VA-05)

Here we go again, armchair warriors launching obscene attacks on the heroism of people who have placed themselves in harm’s way. This time it’s the courage of Congressman John Murtha — one tough Marine.

This obscene attack sends a terrible message to all our service men and women, but especially those who are dying and being wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan this very day.

It is time for all Americans to denounce those who sully the Purple Heart and those who have earned it.

These so-called patriots so cavalierly send other people’s children into harm’s way without proper equipment or planning. And then they have the nerve to denigrate their wounds. How dare they demean such courage and sacrifice!

Phil Avillo
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (PA-19)

Remember the disgraceful “Swift Boat” attacks on John Kerry’s wartime service? Well, this time it’s Rep. Jack Murtha who is the target of the sleazy attacks.

This is sick and sad.

I don’t completely agree with Jack Murtha’s approach on Iraq, but I understand where his frustration is coming from, and I have nothing but admiriation for his service both as a Marine and as a member of the Armed Services Committee. A man with Jack Murtha’s background deserves better than to be smeared by a group of Beltway apparatchiks who never wore a uniform once they got past Webelos or Brownies.

Peter Sullivan
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (NH-01)

The attempt to tarnish the military record of Jack Murtha and other Democratic veterans cheapens the long term value of military service for short the term partisan gain of Republican party hacks.

Military service is the highest calling of citizenship. Those who denigrate the heroic sacrifice of men like Max Cleland and others denigrate the service of all veterans past and present.

The great and lasting attraction of military service has always been the universal, apolitical affection and respect Americans have for those who serve.

Shame on those who politicize service and patriotism at a time when both Republicans and Democrats are dying on the field of battle.

Bryan Lentz
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (PA-07)

Posted at 07:08 PM in Band of Brothers, Democrats | TrackBack (1) | Technorati

Friday, January 13, 2006

Band of Brothers: Evaluating Races

Posted by DavidNYC

This is an auspicious time for veterans: There are now close to forty running for the House as Dems this year, with more filing each week. For an organization like Band of Brothers - tasked with helping these candidates - the sheer numbers present an unusual challenge. Every office-seeker, every district, every campaign is different. What might be useful to one candidate may not be so for another; what might resonate in one part of the country may be irrelevant in another.

Our mission, therefore, is to evaluate each race so that we can deploy our resources most efficiently. To that end, we're expanding and refining our list of questions that we ask of every candidate, opponent and district. We're talking questions ranging from the simple ("Has the candidate ever run for office before?") to the wonky (eg, nitty-gritty demographic data). This allows us to create a detailed dossier on each race so that we can maximize the effectiveness of our involvement, wherever we are asked to step in.

However, we don't purport to have all the answers - or in this case, rather, all the questions. So Band of Brothers is conducting a survey to see what kinds of questions you would ask regarding all these races. For now, we aren't looking to see which candidates are most popular, or which issues are most important. Rather, we want to hear what you would want to know about each and every Band of Brothers candidate, their likely Republican opponents, and the districts they are running in.

If you'd like to help us with this project, please click here. That link will take you to a simple web form where you can submit questions. (Just bear in mind that we are looking for questions that we'd ask about every race, not any specific race.) Thanks for your help!

Posted at 02:22 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Band of Brothers | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Atlantic Monthly on Fighting Dems

Posted by DavidNYC

Josh Green, writing in the Atlantic Monthly, has a piece up on veterans running for Congress as Dems. One thing he does, which I had not yet seen, is put the current phenomenon in historical context. Veterans have a long tradition of running for office, something which ebbed only after Vietnam. What's happening today is not an abberation but rather a return to that noble tradition of service.

(Via Hotline On Call.)

UPDATE: Grr. The original link I got from Hotline led to a full version of the article. Atlantic has asked me not to use that link - the new link instead goes to a truncated version (full version for subscribers only). I know that sort of thing is frustrating, and consequently I very rarely link to articles that are behind subscription firewalls. I wouldn't have done so in this case had I realized the problem. My apologies.

Posted at 03:40 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Band of Brothers | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Band of Brothers: Mission & Framing

Posted by DavidNYC

My post about the pending launch of Band of Brothers has received a very positive response, for which I'm grateful. A lot of e-mails and comments have raised some very thoughtful issues, so I wanted to continue the discussion.

First, I want to make one thing absolutely clear: Being a veteran does not automatically make you a good candidate, and I would never make such a claim. As I noted, there are lots of positives that veteran status does confer. But being a vet doesn't necessarily do any any of the following: make you a good speaker; give you name recognition; give you a "personal touch" when interacting with voters; help you cut good ads; or raise you money. In other words, all of the things which make for a good candidate on the campaign trail.

And that's precisely why Band of Brothers exists. Our goal is to help candidates who have a particular built-in positive - ie, veteran status - become excellent all-around candidates. Veteran status is only one element of a candidacy - albeit an important one. We're here to bolster all the other elements, and to provide a unifying umbrella to let veterans across the country speak together in one powerful voice.

Second, I wanted to address an issue of framing. The lazy media wants you to think that Dems are weak-kneed and wobbly on matters of national security. We all know that's bullshit. So it's important to stress that these fighting Dems are not "exceptions" to this pernicious media stereotype. These men and women are fighters precisely because they are Dems.

Hell, the Democrats have been fighting non-stop since FDR's time - fighting on behalf of the rights of the unrepresented, and fighting against entrenched interests who have a vested interest in preserving the status quo. We've fought - and continue to fight - on behalf of the elderly (Social Security), the disenfranched (the Voting Rights Act), the poor (Medicaid), and on and on. The Republicans, meanwhile, are only interested in more tax cuts. That's not fighting - that's just greed in action.

I don't want to make a facile comparison between political battles and a willingness to potentially sacrifice one's life in service to this country. But I can only imagine that a strong fighting spirit animates any veteran running for office. And that fighting spirit is right at home in the Democratic Party. We saw it with the fiery Paul Hackett, and I can bet you we're going to see it a lot more from 2006's Band of Brothers.

Posted at 01:41 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Band of Brothers | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Our Band of Brothers

Posted by DavidNYC

Since Paul Hackett's dazzling run in OH-02 over the summer, there's been a lot of talk about "Fighting Dems" - Democratic veterans of the armed forces running for office. (See here, here, and here for just a sampler.) To be sure, savvy observers - like the readers of this site - know that a resume burnished even with the sterling credential of military service is no silver bullet. But anyone with good political horse sense also knows that these veterans are a welcome addition to the nationwide Democratic team, for a number of reasons:

• Veterans' views on matters of war and national security are often accorded greater respect in the public sphere (whether fairly or unfairly). These issues are going to matter a whole hell of a lot in 2006, and we need candidates willing to engage - not avoid - this debate.

• The media typically adores veterans, especially the straight-talking kind. (Think Hackett & McCain.) Moreover, our lazy media has bought into the GOP's smear of the Dems as "weak on security" wholesale. It doesn't matter how sophisticated our think-tank-produced plans on foreign policy are - the media just doesn't care. But if you've worn a dogtag around your neck or have had ribbons pinned to your chest - now that is something the media can understand.

• The American people love our armed forces. The military always ranks at the very top when pollsters ask people how much confidence they have in various public institutions.

• Strength in numbers: It's a lot easier to Swift Boat a lone vet in isolation. While I put nothing past today's GOP, it's much harder to slander your opponents when you're talking about dozens and dozens of men and women across the country. And these guys, I can assure you, will fight back when attacked.

While I am sure we could think of many more positives that veterans bring to the campaign trail, it is that last point in particular which brings me to the main purpose of this post. I'm thrilled to let you all know that I'll be joining the board of a new PAC designed specifically to help veterans get elected as Dems. It's called Band of Brothers and already has some serious backing from major guys like Stan Greenberg, a top Democratic pollster and one-time advisor to Bill Clinton.

Band of Brothers will help all Dem veterans running for the House this cycle. While being a vet carries major positives, as I've counselled in the past, we've got to be realistic. Many if not most of these candidates have never held or run for office before. Few have any name recognition to speak of, or any pre-existing political organizations to rely on. And the DCCC can only do so much. But that's where Band of Brothers comes in.

As I say, it's about strength in numbers. BoB will provide not just money but also expertise and training. The goal is not only to elect individual candidates, but also to spark the development of a genuine Veterans Caucus in Congress - one which can speak forcefully on matters of defense while also working to strengthen our military and protect the often trampled-upon rights of veterans.

One exciting thing is that several big-name donors have offered to match early contributions (up to somewhere in the five figures, I am told). I won't be doing any kind of fundraising push right now, but if you're interested in giving, every dollar you contribute will automatically be doubled. That's some serious bang for the buck, and so I'm adding BoB to the Swing State Project's ActBlue page.

Band of Brothers will "officially" launch early next month, but you can preview the website and (constantly growing) candidate list right now. If you know of a Dem veteran running for the House who ought to be on that list but isn't, odds are they will be added very soon - but you can also send an e-mail, too.

I'm looking very forward to this project, and I'll be writing more about it going forward. And as always, if you have any thoughts, please post `em in the comments.

Posted at 10:00 AM in 2006 Elections - House, Band of Brothers | Comments (14) | TrackBack (3) | Technorati

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