The American Legion Riders met their yearly goal of 450k. Yeah, and then some. A BUNCH of 'then some'. In fact, they are likely to supersede last year's total. This is after many posts came forward during a part of the convention today with their donations that were collected over the last year.
So far, they have raised $591,592.00 in donations for the Legacy Foundation, which helps to give funds for the education costs of the children of fallen servicemembers.
Way to go guys, way to go. So makes the ride worthwhile...
Dr. Eduardo Dolhun of Stanford reached out to TR to provide security
for this mission. The emphasis on security is highlighted by the recent
order by the Taliban to attack foreign aid workers. The team is
composed of veterans - former Army SF, former Navy Seals, former Army Infantry, and
Dr. Dolhun has a proprietary oral rehydration solution (ORS) called
Drip Drop that is used to treat cholera, dehydration, and disease. TR is
going to remote areas to, not only deliver the ORS solution, but train
people how to make it with locally available resources. Indigenizing the
solution is the end goal of this mission, so that those that TR trains are less
of a burden on the already stretched thin government and NGOs. Dolhun is
Mayo Clinic trained and educated, and he deployed with TR in Haiti. He
is an expert at treating cholera so TR's mission matches up well with the
conditions on the ground. TR is carrying enough solution to treat up
to 8,000 refugees. Dolhun wants to identify a solid partner on the
ground so more ORS can be shipped in after TR's departure.
I believe that Hugh Hewitt will have an exclusive with Team Rubicon who will be on his show live from Pakistan.
Mr. Gibbs says, "I don't think that there's any doubt as candidate Obama said that adding 20,000 men and women into Iraq would improve the security situation..."
Perhaps, Mr. Gibbs, but he also said:
“I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” - Senator Barrak Obama in response to the PSOTUS. (January 10, 2007 on MSNBC)
So I officially have doubts, Mr. Gibbs.
Jonn Lilyea at This Ain't Hell said about the exchange, "We already know the answers, but the Obama Administration is clearly frightened by the answers."
Update: Here is the video of the President and what he said as a candidate:
To anyone following the news, it is unsurprising to find out that "Call me Senator!" Boxer is in a tight re-election campaign this year. So, it's hardly surprising to find her apparently implying that she will put the purchase of more Boeing C-17s (produced in her area) into the defense appropriations bill.
Even when the Secretary of Defense has already said, multiple times, that they don't want anymore. In point of fact, the SecDef has even indicated that the White House will and should veto any legislation with that included.
Bringing home the bacon has always been job one for far too many Congressmen. Some in DC consider this just more of the typical budget "game" where DoD doesn't ask for something needed as they know members of Congress will add it without being asked and they can claim pro-forma innocence. This latest attempt, however, smacks of a certain amount of desperation on Senator Ma'am's part, however.
The problem with bringing home the bacon (or playing "typical" budget games), especially during a tight election like this, is that it can do real harm. It can block much needed competition (and there is competition both domestic and foreign in this class). It can and does pull funds away from other areas of airlift, some of which the military may consider more needed and a higher priority.
I'm working on a longer piece, and trying to even get a comment from Gates on this, but this serves as a start. It also sets forth my question: is the sizzling sound being heard the bacon cooking, or the re-election chances of Senator Boxer.
UPDATE 7: Coming up is Rep Boehner (R-Ohio) who will be addressing the Legion. His remarks are highly anticipated, as he'll be addressing what the Prez is supposed to be talking about tonight. We have advance comments (see Greyhawk/Mudville Gazette here) and I'll have reactions by the crowd and any 'deviations' from his prepared comments at that time.
1335 local time- He's up now- will be listening and capturing his comments after. Oh, and before I forget- Sen Feingold (D-WI) was up just as we went to lunch. 'Tepid' would be a generous description of his reception.
So far, he's following the script verbatim... so much so they put up a teleprompter just for his appearance.
Right down the script. But I do hope they are carried across the nation....good applause, and frequently too. Better than Feingold's for certain.
* Of particular note- including the Ft Hood attack in a string of 'terrorist attacks' on US soil. Something the administration, as well as DoD, has not done.
UPDATE 6: Wow- what a day. Now we have Sec'y Shinseki, Dept. of Veterans Affairs. He was a keynote speaker at the convention last year as well. Paraphrasing comments below:
-DVA relationship with AL has never been stronger, or more important
-Going to tell us what was accomplished, not so much where headed in next year [a farewell? -Mr]
-Congress and Mr. Obama has increased funding, appropriately.
-In 2009, we had enhanced budget of 98 billion. Then started making a new framework for change to enhance access to benefits and services.
-The 2010 budget grew to 114 billion, one of the largest year-to-year increases in over 30 years. 2011 will give us 125 billion, an incredible increase even over the 2010 record increase.
-To accomplish what we need, we the DVA MUST be the, THE advocate for veterans and transform and fix problems that have plagued the department for decades. A sense of urgency to 'match the presidents commitment' is required to do this. New processes, new procedures that transform the agency.
-328,000 veterans are using the GI Bill and getting their education under the bill.
**See Greyhawk's capture of the new PTSD rules- these are a key change in the DVA definition of them. I think this will be one of the largest effects on the DVA than just about anything they face in the future.
-145m budget to break the backlog of cases via technology. This is one of the larger efforts- break this backlog we will
-One in six of American homeless are a veteran. One emphasis of the remaining time I have is to ELIMINATE [his emphasis] veteran homelessness in the next 5 years.
-40m granted to fund new state and national cemeteries across the nation. Total budget for the increase is 89m dollars.
UPDATE 5: Gates is up now. He's a bit more soft-spoken in person than his predecessor, that's for sure. Greyhawk is posting up comments as well- check there for more.
''Built on a swamp, still a swamp'' as he describes D.C.
He's an Eagle Scout (like Marines, no 'former' or ex-Eagle Scouts; I'm also one), strong supporter of Scouting, and is describing how important the Legion is to both Scouting and the military.
He's describing how the Legion helps those injured in time of duty- the example of a post in Florida who jumped in and helped re-vamp an injured soldiers home. Also describing an Army Captain who, after only a year in rehab after losing his left leg and right foot in AFG, rejoined the fight and patrolling after passing pre-deployment physical fitness tests. He's going on to describe the challenges facing us today- and why we need to face them. Effective tomorrow, he says, Iraqi Freedom becomes Operation New Dawn. Surprisingly, he describes the 'gains achieved in the last 3 1/2 years'. Read into that what you will. Says al Queda in Iraq has been 'cut off from its masters abroad'. It has been beaten but is not gone- reflect with pride what our troops and their Iraqi partners have done. We'll continue to support the Iraqi forces as they transition and train.
All of this has ''been purchased at a terrible cost'' in the blood, sweat, and tears of American servicemembers, and the terrible cost to the Iraqi people.
He is stumbling on some words now, as if his emotions in describing what our servicemembers have done is very difficult. He appears to truly care about his words.
He describes the total commitment in troops in AFG to include 150k plus 45k from our allies. This is quite a few- remember, just a few short years ago we were at 18k in country. Most of which were SOCOM.
We will be enforcing a hard line against corruption in the AFG gov't in order to build trust in their gov't again and build self-reliance. He states the drawdown next year will be gradual, and not a 'turn off the lights' movement next summer. States further that 'the Taliban will be surprised to find we are still very much in the fight'' in AFG.
The Taliban are a 'cruel and ruthless adversary', mentioning what they do to civilians. Over 150 Taliban commanders have been captured or killed in just the last 3 months. A tough, hard campaign, with rising casualties indicative of what we faced in Iraq. 3 1/2 years ago, many doubted and did not believe in our course in Iraq (talk to your boss, Mr. Sec'y?). But it is certainly worth the fight.
''We made the mistake of abandoning AFG 20 yrs ago when we pulled out and left the AFG to the Soviets.'' This is a surprising quote. Listing other countries around the world- ''we were dead wrong'' in those strategies of leaving them alone. Another strong statement that is surprising.
I am going to get the transcript of this for posting later- he's made some key statement, and I'm not able to type fast enough to keep up. I'll be sure to key in on them...
UPDATE 4: 4Troops is back on- I mean it- go listen. They are singing a medley of patriotic faves that will send chills up your spine. This place is on its feet and crazy- and that's something for a bunch of older-types. If you want live coverage views- go here.
UPDATE 3: Joining Mr Stein onstage is Sec'y Gates, who has just arrived. They, along with National Commander Clarence Hill, are awarding the Spirit of Service Awards to representatives of each of the services. More on the recipients and what the award is after they post it on the Legion site. Suffice to say, it's a VERY prestigious award to receive, especially when it's handed by the SecDef.
UPDATE 2: Ben Stein has just opened the convention. He still looks the same as ever. He was really nice to meet, VERY gracious, and most certainly a true patriot. More from him when I get the opportunity.
UPDATE 1: 4Troops is singing- if you've not heard of these guys, you should take time to go listen. They can be found HERE. Some pipes on these folks, let me tell you.
Sitting here in the convention hall in Milwaukee with Greyhawk and MOTHAX covering the National Convention. This year, they've put us out on the 'floor' among the delegates; we're at a sort of 'press table' like we're some legitimate entity or something. Is this the bloggers arrival among the MSM?
It's a good 8,000 chairs in the main hall, filling quickly, and MOTHAX is boogieing to the polka playing. Feels like I'm stuck in an elevator... or a bad mall store. Be sure to check in over at BurnPit as well- I'll post updates there as well. Greyhawk will have commentary, and I'm betting he gets a fantastic interview or three as well. So check his. Me? I'm going for Ben Stein...
Former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker writes
in today's Washington Post:
...The exit of combat troops does not end the
post-1990, non-polar disorder that Hussein's invasion launched. He illustrated
an international paradigm shift; he did not create it. Nor does it mean
that Iraq is now "over." All of the momentous events of the past
7 1/2 years notwithstanding, Iraq is still at the beginning of its new
story, with a future that will be defined by events that have not yet taken
place. We have a vital strategic interest in the shape of that future:
a stable, pluralistic Iraq in close association with the United States
and the West can fundamentally reshape the map of the Middle East. An Iraq
that descends into chaos or a new autocracy will threaten the security
of the region and the United States...
Today, we'll get one helluva great speech from President Obama after his phone call to President Bush. President Obama will focus on the good work that the troops have done.
Many deserve credit for today. Among them are many who won't hear the President's speech.
Today should be Travis Patriquin Day. If you don't know about Travis, go here to read why there is a town square named after him in one of the most (formerly) dangerous cities in Iraq. There are a lot of debates about whether it was the Sunni awakening, the Marines tactics, General Petraeus' strategy, McMaster in Tal Afar, etc. for the turn around in Iraq.
But you can't really debate what Patriquin did. He was the ignition switch.
The momentum in the gun rights v. gun control battle is all on the side of the second amendment, but the anniversary of Katrina brought back some bad memories of police confiscating weapons. I was on Alyona's show today discussing this. And I would just like to say how professional and talented an interviewer Alyona is. It is obvious she spends hours prepping, and I have tremendous respect for her and the production staff. I usually have to spend a few minutes in the green room before each segment just psyching myself up to go out there. RT TV was nominated for the first ever Emmy for a Russian TV channel and I think it is a travesty that they didn't win.
OK there is no chance she will read this second paragraph right? Did I mention that one of her friends pointed out my posts here at BLACKFIVE to her. So she read this from the last time I was on the show.
Anyhow, here I am with the gun-hating, but wicked hot Alyona. Wait for
the end when I ask her to go shooting with me, I think she digs me.
She mentioned it after the segment, so I figgered I'd mess w/ her a bit. It's not my fault she's hot, and you can't blame her for digging me. Anyhow it is a fun show to do and she really is a good interviewer. Now let's talk gun grabbing.
I'm listening to the books on tape of Krakauer's telling of the Pat Tillman saga, and have a few observations:
1) The actor reading the book is equal parts wistful and ponderous, a perfect match for the writing style, which is mind-numbingly self important. I would have stopped listening were the material not so compelling.
2) Krakauer has a total hardon for Dubya and Dick Cheney, which makes about a third of the book useless.
3) Pat Tillman was a good man. Flawed, as we all are, but a good man. And an interesting one. The Uber Man, as Nietzsche defined him.
4) The Ranger Regiment was the wrong unit for Pat Tillman to serve in. Ranger units are good at what they do, but can be dangerously inflexible in their methods. As such they were unlikely to be able to make use of a man with Pat's talents. Or at least they were in 2003.
5) Pat's chain of command, all the way up to McChrystal and Abizaid, exercised poor judgment. It saddens me that in a time of war such marginal officers can be in command of such a talented and idealistic group of young soldiers.
6) Despite Krakauer's need to indict Dubya and Cheney for the coverup, he doesn't succeed. While there are plenty of good reasons to go after Dubya and Cheney, the stupidly conceived and badly managed coverup of Pat Tillman's friendly fire death is simply not one of them. The officers of the Ranger Regiment screwed this one up all by themselves. I hope they are as ashamed of themselves as I am of them.