22 March 2004

Thanks for serving, here's the bill


It happened after the first Gulf War. Some of the more than 250,000 reservists called up returned saddled with large child support arrearages they were unable to pay. As interest and penalties on the overdue support piled up, many spent years trying to dig themselves out of debt, while often facing unremitting government harassment. Some lost their driver’s licenses and business licenses. Others had their passports and bank accounts seized and their taxes intercepted. Some even faced jail.

Many reservists and guardsmen currently serving abroad are facing the same problem. Their child support obligations are based on their civilian pay, which is generally higher than active duty pay. When called up they are sometimes obligated to pay an impossibly high percentage of their income in child support. […]

Normally when an obligor loses his job or suffers a pay cut he can go to court and request a downward modification. However, since guardsmen and reservists are sometimes mobilized with as little as one day’s notice, few are able to obtain modifications before they leave. Worse, these soldiers cannot get relief when they return home because the federal Bradley amendment prevents judges from retroactively forgiving support.

Fortunately a workable solution to this problem was just introduced into the Illinois legislature by Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and Representative Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago). Senate Bill 2895 would require courts to modify the child support obligations of guardsmen and reservists stationed abroad by the same proportion that the soldier’s military pay falls below his civilian pay. The modification would be retroactive to the date the soldiers were called up to active duty, and the obligor would have six months from the date of his discharge from active duty to file for the reduction.

Missouri passed legislation to address this problem shortly before the first Gulf War, and the legislation has been effective in protecting fathers.

The child support snare faced by many reservists and guardsmen represents an avoidable and morally indefensible breach of faith with fathers who serve. All of us can agree that fathers should do right by their children. SB 2895 will ensure that the child support system does right by fathers.

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Fessing up is good for the soul and electoral prospects

A considerable number of Americans - including many in the pro-war camp - believe this administration has not been forthright enough about the reasons for the intelligence failure. What the president should have done, in my view, was give a talk to the American people a few months ago, tell them exactly what we had and hadn’t found, and explain that, although some of the intelligence turned out to be flawed, he still took the right decision in the circumstances. Bush made too much of the WMDs before the war as a casus belli not to confront this issue directly when it emerged we were wrong. Instead, he acted defensively. He first denied there was a problem, then he dismissed the problem, then he justified his actions regardless, without taking full responsibility for the errors. In a word, it made him look insecure and weak. Yes, there was a risk in fessing up directly to an intelligence failure. But it turns out that the risk of simply ducking and spinning was greater. The reason he has lost standing is because insecurity is not something people look for in a war leader. There were many times that Churchill had to tell Britons of mistakes or failures or difficulties. When confronted with errors of the kind that Bush’s intelligence made in Iraq, a good war leader steps up to the plate. When asked about the lack of stockpiles of WMDs as opposed to evidence of possible WMD programs, such a leader doesn’t irritatedly respond, “What’s the difference?” Part of the Aznar lesson is that people don’t like being bamboozled. If Bush doesn’t learn that soon, he may learn it the hard way in November.

Andrew Sullivan

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EU Parliment signs off on budget to hot for the auditors

[source, source, source]

[…] when the Budgetary aurthority of the EU, the Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee (COCOBU) passes the Commssion’s accounts for 2002 I am saddened but hardly suprised.

After all 2002 was the year in which Marta Andreasen spilt the beans on how much fraud was going on. The Commssion’s own audit body, the Court of Auditors refused to sign the accounts, but the Parliament with it’s blyth indifference to finacial control, graft and corruption just signs them off as if nothing has happened. I am sure that one or two of the members made comments about how the Commssion must tighten up it’s act, but unless and until the Parliament turns to them and tells them that it will not do, there will be no change.

When I interviewed Diemut Theato MEP, Chairman of that Committee, on this subject she put it in a nutshell for me. “European Parliamentarians have a duty to Europe, not just to their electors”, if they attack the Commission they undermmine the project, and that will never ever do.

It’s only money, after all, and someone else’s at that.

Posted by orbital at 12:31 AM | View 0 TrackBacks | Trackback URL

The importance of being politically correct


The UK’s Muslim News is reporting that Atlanta Plus, a feminist organization, is campaigning to have Muslim countries that don’t send female athletes barred from the Olympics for, effectively, ‘gender apartheid’ (South Africa was banned for years). The newspaper, of course, is predictably outraged, and, needless to say, descends into familiar ideological slime with suggestions of, wait for it, “cultural imperialism,” “racism” and “islamophobia.”

OK, so banning blacks from competing is wrong but banning women is just a cultural difference? If only the apartheid architects had used the multicultural terminology better!

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