Update 4: Mr Fang A. Wong, from the department of NY, is duly elected the new National Commander of the American Legion. Here he is being administered the oath of office.
Update 3: In keeping with the tradition of the last day of the convention, they've just nominated the next National Commander- and this is quite a fest. Balloons, bands, even a Chinese dragon has marched thru. No campaign like this that I've ever seen. One for the books- and I highly doubt they've ever had a dragon march thru the convention! They're trying to get the convention back to order... good luck with that when a 100-pc marching band is on the move thru it...
Update 2: Another bit on internals; but this is getting interesting. This one has to do with the Defense Business Board's recommendations on changing the retirement structure of the military. This has brought some of the most strongly-worded sentiment out of the people here yet. They are not roiling against change in THEIR retirement- they have theirs. Interrupting/changing it for those currently serving has them riled. As it should. If you want to pick a fight with veterans, this isn't one that will go quietly into the shadows.
Update 1: Rep Bachmann is here- supposedly, had an 'accident' on the way here to the meeting. She's 'stumping' a bit, and has been up for a lengthy talk. She's hitting on everything, and there is quite a media contingent here to cover it. ''The American Debt is our most serious national security issue'' is what she's quoting from ADM Mullen, CJCS, and that our debt payments go to building/purchasing the aircraft carrier that the Chinese just acquired. Also, that the US must be the leader in manufacturing again, and that we need to bring those skills and jobs back. She's hit on about every issue you can imagine up here- borders, security, debt, jobs, all of it. ''Killing bin Laden did not win the war on terror'' she says, and that we still have a challenge ahead as there are those who still want to do harm to the US. Actions in Afghanistan must be made on MILITARY consideration, not political. She says she will stand with Israel, and against a nuclear Iran.
Today is the last day of the convention- yeah, I get it. You're happy, and I'll be on my way home soon. What does this all mean?
It means I'll have a post up today going over what all of this means to you veterans out there. After sitting thru all this, and discussing with guests and chiefs of the Legion, the picture is now focused, and I can connect all the dots. That I will do on here, and on a post I'll compose for another site as well.
Today's business is primarily 'inside baseball' stuff for the Legion as they close up business for the year. Primarily, these are the adoption of resolutions but also includes electing the next Commander. Additionally, we do have a few key guests coming in, to include Michele Bachmann, the Rep from Minnesota who is running for President. I'll update these, as before, during the presentations.
Back at it yet again- Legion in Minneapolis for Wednesday
Posted By Mr Wolf
Update 7: Bill Simon, CEO of Walmart US. Imagine, you're the CEO of one of America's largest companies. Here to 'ask something of the Legion'. He served, and says it left a lasting impression on him. One surprising statement- how people line up at midnight at the end of the month, to shop for food at midnight when the electronic benefits hit their cards, and they can get formula and diapers. Says the economy is bad- not Pearl Harbor or 9/11 bad, but it's 'man made' problems. They are solvable. He says they will open 100 new stores, hire 15k new employees, and concentrate on veterans. Claims that they are the largest employer of veterans in the US (likely, given that they are so large. However, I know Home Depot and others do as well.) He introduced a former Army captain that served in Iraq who manages a store in Streamwood, IL and does very well. Says they love veterans- they are smart, educated, and team players. Have performance under stress in their backgrounds. They have a website, www.careerswithamission.com, that allows veterans to get into their job pipeline quicker.
Update 6: Rep Nancy Pelosi is here to address us. Surprisingly, she's a fairly strong vet supporter, whatever you may think of the rest of her politics. (go back to my previous post on how they can support vets and yet look at legislation that destroys the rest of the country. The response is somewhat tepid, but polite. She's congratulating Chet Edwards, former congressman, for his distinguished service medal. So far, she's only thanking others for stuff they've done. Yes, Chet was a Democrat. She's now estolling the 'call to service' of the Legion, and its members. She's now talking about Marine Capt. Brian Stand, and how he 'won' a Silver Star for his actions. Capt Stand wanted to find a way to honor those who fell, and served with him. She's showing how this work is in conjunction with the 'Hire Heroes Act' that is going forward. Also, how 'we' have demanded that the USG use it's contract power to work to hire veteran companies in contracting (as it should). Another act, the 'Make It In America' act, works to prevent jobs from going overseas- 'green energy' jobs. (Well, we know how well THAT works.) As I expected, she's going into President Obama's initiatives, and how his are 'better public policy' going forward. She's the third person this morning that has mentioned 'moving America forward' in her comments. 'America's veterans will not be short-changed' in fixing our budget, she says. And, addressing how 'we will not be whole until every American who fought overseas can come home and have a job.' It's going to be interesting how these comments will fit in with the rest of the agenda they have once they return to work after the Labor Day break.
Update 5: Rep Jeff Miller of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and Chairman of the committee, is now addressing. He works closely with Sec'y Shinseki, as you can imagine. He opens his comments with how, 2 days after the Chinook attack that took the 30 forces out, he was on the tarmac in Baghram at the memorial ceremony that occurred there. He's the first Republican to address the Legion so far. He's talking about trimming the budget, and that 1.2 trillion needs cut asap, but 'the miltary and the veterans that have served it will remain one of the highest priorites we have'. He's now onto the 'veterans back to work' line as well. 'No veteran who returns from service deserves to be standing in an unemployment line'. Another nice platitude that, given the economy, is not likely to work well. He terms this the 'VOW Act' (Veterans Opportunity to Work). He does, rightly, state that 'government does NOT creat jobs, but the environment for jobs.' The website for this info is www.veterans.house.gov.
Update 4: Sec'y Shinseki is now preparing to address the Legion. This is the third address I've heard from him at the Legion. As TAH says, he's the king of the Black Beret. Seems he cannot get by that little 'misfit'. OOH- someone misspelled his name on the slide in front of the entire floor. Oops! (they spelled it 'Shineski') I'm waiting to hear something 'new' - he's pushing the Presidents effort to give tax credits for hiring vets- of about 9k per person from what was said here. He's pushing a veteran's preference in hiring initiative. To hire/train 100k vets into the workforce; and to increase the percentage of veterans hired at VA to 40% of all hires. He wants to continue reducing VA backlog of cases, get more homeless vets off the street, and get more and better care for vets with PTSD and TBI. 5 new VA hospitals under construction, and 30 new patient facilities. He's rattling off stuff faster than we can keep up with and track as to what he's saying. I'm going to have to get his prepared remarks, plus notes, to get this tracked and on here... UPDATE: he claims that by 2015, they will have that 'visual' of homeless vets sleeping on grates 'gone'. This one, I don't believe. While it's a very noble goal, and is needed, one has to remember that many, if not most, of those 'homeless vets' have two problems- one is many are not even VETS. They only claim it in order to try to build sympathy and get money. Second, many have such problems with substance abuse and mental health, they cannot adequately be helped. VA is developing 5 core new values: Integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence (I CARE). These ideals is where he's trying to steer the VA.
Update 3: They are playing a video provided by SecState Hillary Clinton. She could not join the convention, but sent a video to address the floor with. She's thanking the soldiers, and the Legion, for their service and dedication. A short video.
Next, is the US Chamber of Commerce. A retired Marine LtCol - Kevin Schmiegel is the representative. He served 20 years active duty, and retired 2 years ago. Says he still misses it (that, I can understand) and understand what the Legion means. Says he is here to describe a program on what IS being done to help those coming home- 'Hiring Our Heros'. To help in 100 communities across the country. He cites 12m veterans in the workforce; 1m are unemployed. 160k leave the service and return to the workforce EVERY year- not counting the reserve forces that return from deployments. The unemployment rate for current vets is 13.4%. If that rate is as 'different' as the overall unemployment rate, then we're looking at a better than 17% rate for Iraq/Afghanistan veterans (some sources say the overall rate is not 9.1 but 13.4%) Veterans have directly transferable skills, too. The chamber, he says, has a civic responsibility to ensure veterans get employed. They've conducted 19 fairs across the country, of the 100 communities planned. They do plan to be in the 81 other cities by next March. Chicago had 1200 veterans, and placed 200 of them. Better than nothing, but not quite enough especially in a large city. They are working on plans to expand it to several hundred cities by 2012 and thru 2013.
Update 2: Cong. Tim Walz is here addressing- seems the only 'legion' here is the legion of politicos who want to address the convention. He's talking about visiting Walter Reed and the soldiers there. Rep. Walz is a retired Sergeant Major, and how, during the visit, a soldier commented "sorry to hear about your demotion to Congress, sir..'' He's getting animated about conduct in the Congress, and how they need to hold themselves to a higher standard. A standard the Legion and our veterans hold themselves to. ''We could not hold a vote today and agree it's Wednesday.'' Well, one problem is, this Congressman is the one with a bit of an 'exaggerated' record- claiming to 'serve supporting Afghanistan' when he was serving, actually, in Italy. Great service, but he treads a thin line on what he says...
Update 1: Ms Godin, the Holocaust survivor is speaking now. Survivor of both the camps and a death march, she's now relating what she saw as a young girl at the time. Speaking of the ghettos, of preparing, somehow, for the family to be separated. She was in 4 different labor camps, after losing her father during the 'kinder selection', when they pulled children out away from families.
Original Post: We're here again, in the giant hall of the convention center in Minneapolis. Today, as in yesterday, we'll have live-blogging as it happens. Also like yesterday, we'll have a plethora of speakers and visitors coming in to address the convention. Scheduled is Rep. Nancy Pelosi later this morning. Another interesting one will be Holocaust survivor Nesse Godin, who should provide an interesting talk. Visiting us again will be Sec'y Eric Shinseki, who makes his annual appearance to report on DVA changes.
Miss America Needs Help! Last night, we were at a reception for the Commander when I had a chance to chat with Miss America Teresa Scanlan. I asked her if she had been overseas to see the troops in either Iraq or Afghanistan yet. She told me that no, they had not even scheduled anything, and wasn't aware of any request to do so. Ok guys, here is your chance- I imagine ONE unit over there is willing to 'sponsor' a visit by such a lovely lady as Miss America! Who's gonna step up? I have escorted 2 Miss Americas in theater, and arrange visits for them to troops. It's worth it.
LIVE Blogging from Legion Convention- President's Speech
Posted By Mr Wolf
NOTE: I've added pictures from yesterday into the post in an update
Now, back to our 'normal' updates...
Update 10: Our final update of the day, I've been watching the procession of the 'lesser politicos' take the stage- from the Governor of Minnisota to the Mayor of Minneapolis, and others. To me, the most important one after the President's address was the presentation of the Legion Riders' checks to the Legacy Fund- and to date, total $632,666 in collections this year! That's an enormous amount in such an economy. I shudder to think what it would be in one that was near-normal.
I promise to have pictures and videos added here shortly to go along with the updates. I have quite a few to put up. Again, be sure to see TAH for other updates as Jonn posts them...
Update 9: Congressman Keith Ellison, from Minnesota has now taken the podium. Oh, and boy, did they change that podium quickly. Previously, they had the Presidents podium up for the morning, and now, they have the 'normal' one for the remaining speakers. Interesting. Rep Ellison speaks on those who want to become Americans, and how veterans have protected those people to have that chance. How each that enjoy that right owes a debt to veterans for that chance. (While I realize that no politician will stand up here and say much against Legion and Legion supporters, I still have to question how they can be in favor of so much that is in direct conflict with these ideals and still say 'thank you' to us for what we've done, and will do. Can someone explain this to me?)
Update 8: Here we go- Sen Al Franken is up. This should be good. Mentions sponsoring service dog act, one of his first pieces of legislation. His remarks are not 'sharp'- he seems off his game for some reason, and very unenthusiastic. I have to hand it to Sen Franken- I've been with him when he's toured Iraq, and met him on his way thru Kuwait a few times prior to his becoming a Senator. He does support veterans, that much I know. Its a puzzle how they can support veterans, while supporting things that undermine them in other ways. He's no Blue-Dog type. He does pass a good joke from a wounded warrior- one who lost his leg in an IED attack, and was missing a leg. He mentions how he asked how the soldier was doing, and the soldier replies, 'well sir, I just came in here for a vasectomy...' BA-doomp boomp...
He now quotes Reagan- and how in 1985 he said those who died gave up two lives- they one they were living, and the one they would have lived. It is a poingnant quote and quite appropriate.
Update 7: Sen Nancy Klobuchar is speaking- and is addressing veterans issues. Speaking mainly on keeping vets off the streets and getting them a home. She says that many come home, shortchanged in benefits. What goes unsaid is- those benefits are 'shortchanged' not because there ARE NO benefits, but because the administration of the VA can't get its act together...what would they expect? I must say, it's hard to follow an act such as the POTUS speaking- the hall is far more empty than when the POTUS was in here.
I'm looking over the press updates across NYT, WaPo, and others, to see what they are saying about the presidents remarks. So far, only CNN and USA Today has covered it 'live' from here with bloggers. The rest have only published his prepared statements released by the WH press office. None seem to have been here to record what ACTUALLY happened and how it was received...
Updating: He's finished the stage meets, and is now walking the floor up front; many people have moved forward to greet/get a chance to shake his hands, but its not a bum-rush up. The SS is keeping people quite at bay for this. He's up in the front rows of the crowd- moving patiently down the row. He's being quite congenial to everyone here and appears to be enjoying himself. Had I been on stage, I'd likely have shook his hand, but I'm not making any move forward at this time. I might stand up if he walks by... but like any good soldier, that's respect for the position, right?
He has finished his remarks, shaking the hand of the Commander of the Legion again, and I must say- the applause was short, mild, and less than I would have considered for the CinC. The hall has fallen silent..totally, except for the organist who's playing music for the background. He's taking the time to shake the hand of everyone on stage now. He's crossing both sides of the stage, not missing anyone that I can see. He pledged to veterans in his closing that 'America will never leave your side- and will always appreciate you, and stand behind you..'
Does not want to do these things for veterans only when its easy, only when the US is flush with cash, but 'always'. Now mentions Frank Buckles, the last WWI veteran who died at 110, and his incredible life after the military. How he continued to give back even after turning 100. How he was a member of the Legion for 80 years.
'After a decade of war, need to concentrate on nation building here at home'. Now, brings in the line 'Moving America Forward'. That's a campaign reference, if you don't remember that one (google it). Wants to tap the talents of veterans, and help them find the jobs, and help with career development and job searches. To prepare for transition to civilian sector jobs. Wants to encourage private sector to emply '100k veterans and/or their spouses' for jobs, and has been working with VP Biden to push this. To give tax credits to those that hire vets, and more for those that hire wounded vets. Wants this to be at the top of the agenda when Congress returns from recess.
'The constant threat of IED's and the warfare they experience brings traumatic injury to our current generation, the 9/11 generation, of veterans.' He talks about TBI, and the need to help families care for those who have been injured. PTSD has also received mention, treating more and bringing in more counselors. Removing the stimitization of those that have TBI and PTSD. ''Americans did not die because they are weak, they died because they are warriors...doing what they needed to do.'' (good round of applause).
Mentions that 'because 3 diseases are presumed to be caused and related to exposure to Agent Orange- we are paying benefits on those... and for those from Desert Storm and the 9 diseases presumed to be caused by exposure (to what?-W) there..'' ''We will keep on it until we have an electronic medical card that you can keep for your lifetime''. Wants Shinseki to keep increasing what is need so that we dont' have to FIGHT for those benefits for which we've fought for. To end homelessnes for veterans, 'and for taking tens of thousands of homeless vets off the streets'.
Says its a moral obligation to take care of those who have served. That his budget he signed had the largest increase in veterans benefits ever. Tough choices as we 'put our fiscal house in order, we must NOT, will NOT, balance the budget on the backs of our veterans and those who have served (largest applause to this point, by far).
Promises to bring home 33k troops and more in the coming years... moving to a support role, letting the Afghans take over for their own security and growth. He says they have put an end to stop-loss, and reduced time in deployments. And says 'America's military is the best it's ever been'. Then goes on to say how we helped stop Gaddafi and liberate Libya. And pledges to 'keep our military the best trained and best equipped'.
The President is now talking about those who have served, and sacrificed in the war on terror. His speech, to this point, has been fairly good, better than I have expected. Given the audience, one would have to tread lightly, but the speech writer for this particular speech has done some homework. Even going so far as to give us credit for reducing violence. Think the press will pick up on it? Speaking of which, I'm going to peruse the press outlets after this, and see what they say, versus what I experienced here. He now mentions, of course, the Bin Laden takedown. He asks those who he call the '9/11 Generation' to stand and be recognized.
We are in a pause as the President prepares to enter.... more as we can get them...
President has arrived- and has been introduced by Legion Commander Foster. I will say his reception was mixed- a few cheers, huzzahs, and polite applause. His key points, applauded by a few. He comes across as trying to be warm, and receptive. He thanks the Legion for the partnership in taking care of veterans.
Next, he addresses Hurricane Irene- and those that need help in recovering. While it's for a national audience, it's not the job of the Legion.
Now, he talks about the 'backlog' in the Congress in moving forward with trying to achieve progress in 'saving America'. Funny now, he uses the Nazi control of the German congress now. To me, its' an oblique reference to our current congress- weirdly, its not one that would be totally appropriate.
He goes on to say that, our Vietnam Vets 'won the war, every single one of you', and 'welcome home'. It is a nice gesture that is nicely received by the audience. He is going thru each conflict- from the VN war, to Desert Storm, and now to 9/11. (as an aside- the rememberances and commemoration of 10 yrs is approaching... I'll have some links to what's going on around the nation soon).
Update 5:Miss America, Teresa Scanlan, is addressing the floor- and indeed what a lovely speaker she is. Very outspoken, beautiful, and graceful. She's been here several days, and I have passed her a few times, not realizing she truly was THE Miss America. She's not wearing the crown 24/7, at least not here. I thought she might have been a past Miss America rather than the current one. Her ambition? To become a lawyer, of course. Please, does anyone NOT want to become another unemployed lawyer?? The M-A website lists her age as 18, but that has to be quite old- she could easily pass for 24 or 25 (no, I'm not saying she's 'old' looking- just far more mature than just 18..)
Update 4: Next up is a really special speaker- Mr Nick DelCalzo, who you may recognize as the author/photographer of the book Medal of Honor-Portraits of Valor, and a photo book on Holocaust survivors, is presenting information on his next project, In Honored Glory which is a tribute to those who have served. It is also to inspire younger Americans to serve, and to show them who has served and how. A gifted photographer, find more information about it here: http://www.inhonoredglory.com/
Update 3: Up next is former Congressman Chet Edwards. He's receiving the Legion's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal. (Not to be confused with DoD's medal of the same name.) Mr Edwards is being recognized for his championing of veteran's issues. Two of which include raising money for veterans benefits, as well as helping re-write the GI bill for veterans and those in the services.
Update 2: "They don't care what you know, they just care what you stand for.. and we stand for a lot." - Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger, who is speaking at the convention currently. Wonderful speaker.
Update 1: Who needs politicians, anyway? There is an article up at Fox and others regarding the 'snub' the VFW is feeling because the administration isn't offering up any speakers. Apparently, they did, but the VFW turned them all down. All of this hubub may just be window dressing, if you recall the snafu of the VFW PAC in the runup to the 2010 electoral season. By this, I mean that most of those addressing the VFW this convention are Republican, while ALL, or nearly all, of the speakers addressing the Legion, are Democrats. This is certainly an interesting situation.
Sitting in Bloggers Row here in the convention center with Jonn from TAH; supposedly, Ed Morrisey from HotAir is supposed to join us, but no sight of him yet. Place is getting busy early and quickly. Magnetometers all over; lines queued up to get thru;
inspections that would make the TSA jealous. But no scanners? WTH?
I will make one observation- they have a room set aside for 'Law Enforcement' that's as big as any of the other breakout rooms in the building. Not that they don't deserve one mind you, but holy crap, how MANY do we have here? Oh right- we have a Special Guest coming in. Or two.
I just go back to my time in Baghdad, in a war zone, where few things were truly secure, and all the visits I handled, to include some serious 'visitors'. Not once was my weapon even mentioned, nor even glanced at; no one asked me to remove so much as a bullet. But here, in my own damn country, I've nearly got to strip just to get into a PATRIOTIC groups meeting. Respectful fellow, every one.
Sad, truly sad, what we've devolved into here in the USA...
Anyway, I digress. I'll post up vids and pics as they get developed. Videos likely much later today.
Be sure to see Jonn's posts over on TAH- and MOTHAX, from BurnPit, won't be with us today as he's getting ready to do some judicial stuff in PA. He gets the important stuff.
One of the highlights of every Legion convention is the parade. This year in Minneapolis was no exception!
We had gorgeous weather- just cloudy enough to keep the bright sun away, and temps in the mid-70's. Cant ask for much better. After scouting out a good location along the route (a yearly task) we settled on, what else, an Irish-style pub called The Local. Outstanding food, great drinks, and prime parade-view location. What's not to like?
The parade was led by the Minnisota Corvair Club- which was especially fun since my very first car was a 1965 Corvair 140 (all you 'Vair phreaks will know what that means):
On of the highlights we saw was this adorable little girl who would run up and watch the parade- her name was Keira:
She seemed pretty enthusiastic about it all, and got waves from everyone in the parade, too! Here's the video:
Yours truly marched with the usual gang from China Post #1 (of which Matt, Jimbo and I are all members). No faces to protect the innocent and prevent the guilty from running:
Here's a few other videos from the parade- from the 'Vairs, to the Legion Ride for Recovery bikes (an AMAZING feat, and I'll have more on them later- its facinating) and one bizarro bike: made from the front end of an old Olds Toronado with a 455 engine in it..
It's been a typical weekend here, except for a couple of very special events- a 'range day' and a parade day.
On Saturday, one of our commenters on here, Old Trooper, invited us down to a friends farm for some re-arranging of the local flora and fauna, using some typical 'hillbilly weaponry' they had collected. This group, which calls themselves the 'Hillbilly Hunt Club' laid out some of the finest in can-killers you can imagine. Over on TAH, Jonn has put up a few pics of the event. Below, I'm going to post a few of the vids I took while we 'practiced'.
I can tell you this, it was well worth the time spent getting there and back. The farm area was gorgeous (brought back memories of my upbringing) and the hosts were spectacular. Just amazing people, all of them. Jonn, TSO and I all agreed it was something we wished we had all weekend to do.
First up: describing one of the unusual rounds we fired:
Next up, after laying out all the hardware, I had them explain what was there to us, and go thru each one individually. Amazing stuff, all of it:
Then, the next group of hardware:
Then, a little demo of some firepower- and some rock n' rollin':
Out of all of them, being able to fire some of the old Soviet-era stuff was most fun. I got to fire the XD-M as well, which is something I've been considering purchasing; my Glock 9-19 is fine, but the XD has a pretty good rep. I'd also like to pick up a Sig-Sauer similar to ones carried by PSD-types over in the box. The Mosine-Nagant was an interesting one, as it had a trigger pull longer than my arm and a heck of a kick to it, but you could see how it would be effective. Also, the PSL was a kicker too- it had a Romanian scope on it that had an excellent view on it, but the scope 'grid' was nearly impossible to decipher- No matter how I fired it, I could not figure out which was the 'reticle' you used to place on your target. It would take me a little more practice with it to master it. But loved firing it.
Oh, and that barn you see? Good thing that was there- it proved that TSO could hit the broadside of one from the OUTSIDE- even if it was just with a manually-thrown clay pidgeon disc.
Well, here we are on Day 2 of our visit to the Twin Cities for the Legion Convention. Last night, we had an opportunity to attend a Twins baseball game. It was one gorgeous night out, weather-wise. And given that the team is not exactly 'in contention' for any playoff spot, the attendance was fairly large. We snagged some tickets and headed into the oxygen-deprived rows at the very top and rear of the stadium. While we were enjoying the game, fellow blogger TSO found one of his friends in the owners box, adjacent to the stands where we were. So, you can kinda guess where we actually ended up for most of the game. Let me just say- owning a major league team gives you some pretty good spifs in your box... the pic above is the view from the rail.
Today, we are scheduled to do some shootin' and rowdyin' someplace nearby; a fellow compatriot has graciously set up a time at a range nearby- now, we just have to get a way TO the range. Fellow blogger and logistician Jonn from the TAH team supposedly has this rose pinned on him.
Today, I'm blogging from the Legion.org spot at the convention, where we are meeting Legionnaires and generally making contact with everyone we can. We are also reviewing the schedule that's coming up- and this week is pretty packed with guests. From Sen Al Franken, Rep Nancy 'SanFranNan' Pelosi, to President Obama, there is a litany of folks heading in. LTG Jack Stultz, a GO friend from back in Baghdad and Kuwait, will be addressing, as is Hon Shinseki, who seems to follow us from year to year wherever the convention is located. Another good speaker scheduled is Adm. Gary Bonelli, DepCdr of Special Warfare Command. Not sure what, exactly, he'd be allowed to talk about. Also, and this is Jonn's fave, Teresa Scanlan, our current Miss America, will be here as well.
Ed Morrisey, he of Hot Air fame, is tenatively scheduled to join us on the floor of the Convention Center on Tuesday. We'll be blogging live the whole week there.
Back at it again! Legion in the Twin Cities: Minneapolis
Posted By Mr Wolf
Here I am again- joining the American Legion at their national convention, this time from Minneapolis!
Yeah, you're right- I've not posted up much in some time, and there is a good reason for it, which I'll get into later. But for now, I'm going to be covering the Convention as in the past with my good friend MOTHAX from the Legion blog- and joining us here this year is Jonn from our buds at the farm team, ThisAintHell (TAH (c)) We have some cool stuff set up this year, including some distinguished guests exptected- to include the first visit by our CiC- President Obama. Given the hurricane prep that's going on, we'll see if he's able to keep his visit schedule.
This year, unlike last, I'm not able to join the Legion Ride going into the convention. Since I'm working from Tampa, going from Tampa to Indianapolis, then the long ride into Minneapolis, THEN BACK to Tampa, would have been far too much to do all at once. I'm not going to complain too much tho- word is from the riders is that they had 4 days of rain along the ride. THAT part I would not mind missing... But take a look at the link and see what a ride they had!
MOTHAX, Jonn and I will cover stories and events thru the next week. I'll post videos and pictures, and links to other events as they happen. During the key event speeches, I'll even live-post (is there such a thing? As opposed to live-blogging) directly from the floor. We have a lot to cover. B5 has graciously added a heading where you can find posts related to the Legion over in the sidebar- so be sure to stop by often.
Let us know if any of you are in Minny. We'll be here all week...
ps...oh, and for the post below- I'm 75% crazy, so B5 isn't quoting me...yet
I've written my first bit over at Big Peace on this subject- and going into further detail over why I think we should 'quit' the VFW over staying in to fight it. Suffice it to say- the organization is too bloated, too entrenched, and would take far too long to do it that way at this point. Removing their funding sources (dues/membership fees) goes a LOT farther, a lot FASTER than just waiting UNTIL A FRIGGIN' CONVENTION NEXT YEAR. This is what politicians do when they are resovled to maintain a position- toss that turd around until it no longer stinks.
Well VFW, this stinks now, its going to continue to rot, and we'd like a solution NOW.
Commander, resign. PAC leadership, step down. Waiting for a convention next year doesn't cut it.
Oh, and BTW, none of us have heard from you trying to explain yourselves (my email is in the sidebar- other authors do the same). Silence is golden, eh?
Above the line UPDATE 3:
First off, thank you to all who have written and commented on this topic. A nerve has been struck here, and it's important we understand exactly what is going on, and what has transpired in the last 24 hours. Keep up the pressure- it's working and getting noticed!
I've corresponded with several people on this, and yesterday, I received in my in-box a copy of a letter from the Florida Commander of the VFW to the National PAC Commander stating:
On behalf of the Department of Florida, I am writing to object to the manner in which the Veterans of Foreign Wars Political Action Committee made its endorsements for the United States Congress.
Yes. The Dept. of Florida is at odds with what has transpired at National. Think it's just the PAC they are concerned with? Think again- look at this closing line:
It is evident fromthe tone of the received emails that the VFW-PAC and by association the Veterans of Foreign Wars is not sewing the interests of some members and potential members. This regional firestorm could have been avoided if the PAC board and staff remembered the old adage that all politics are local.
I disagree with one element of this- it ain't regional. It's all over the US, from the emails and comments we've received here and at Ace o' Spades and This Ain't Hell and others. People.Are.Pissed. And like I stated below, the Allen West snub was the last straw. What's worse, he's not the only excellent candidate out there who happens to be a Vet. He's only one of the more visable and well-known guys. Here is the document in full: Download Dept of FL Response to PAC Endorsement (2). It is evident that the process is broken, that they won't listen, and most cerainly, they are after only one thing- money, and not the support for the vets and communities they purport to serve. To endorse some of the most VILE, anti-military politicians over stalwart veterans with REAL experience and community support is the worst. ADDED: 2 other reasons this isn't just a VFW-PAC problem- remember the DHS memo issue? Where they listed 'veterans' as possible security risks? And Obama's admin wanting to shave 540m off the budget by charging veterans for their health care? Where was the National on that? I'll remind you- supporting the administration, and not backing the local vet's who were extremely upset then, too.
I'm going to be hitting up many more venues and outlets on this- stay tuned, and watch over at Big Peace, Ace, and Hugh Hewitt for more to come. I'll post more links as they come up. Keep the pressure on- we need to let them know that, in this electoral cycle, with the 'temperature' of the electorate being what it is, the status quo won't work. I'm calling it the VFW's version of the TEA Party, in a way. It is apparent that they have gone so far off-track at the national level, just like our elected officials, that they've lost touch with who really matters- local guys.
One other thing- I'm serious about burning my card if this doesn't get 'fixed'. And by 'fixed' I mean the endorsements pulled, and those at the top GONE. Both at the National level and the PAC. Taking it back won't work- it takes too long, and they will not change. Resignations and removals need to happen NOW. If anyone at the National level is reading, my contact info is in the sidebar.
This will not stand....
UPDATE 2 AT BOTTOM
Last night, we received an interesting email from Bev Perlson, who heads the Band of Mothers group. She's got an awesome email list that is good for keeping up on what's going on around the country.
His opponent? Democrat Ron Klein. WHO HAS NEVER SERVED IN UNIFORM.
You read THAT right, too.
People, I've been pissed before. Mad, even. Upset. But this? THIS is treasonous to me. For a 'so called' veterans organization to pick a NON-SERVING, NON-VETERAN over one of the MOST PROMISING veterans running in politics is heinous. Disturbing. And shows just how far off-track the VFW has become.
As you may recall, when I returned from Iraq one of the first things I did was join VFW and Legion as 'life members'. Now, it seems, the time has come to rip, burn, and toss my Lifetime Membership for the VFW. I feel like they have completely left us at the station here. Over at the Farm Team, Jonn Lilyea lays out just who the VFW has announced they are supporting:
Barbara Boxer, Alcee Hastings, Barbara Lee, Steny Hoyer, Barbara Mikulsky, Chris VanHollen, John Dingell, Chuckie Schumer, Pat Leahy and Patty Murray
In addition, they support Perlmutter over Bailey (former USAF) Frazier (former Navy) for Colorado; to their credit, they do support Mike Coffman (Marine) in his race in CO. But the rest of the list is disgusting. To me, it reads they are 'supporting' or 'endorsing' only those they see as WINNING. It appears they don't give a RATS ASS who supports vets or who WAS a vet.
I am asking all of you to join me in contacting the VFW to protest this development; supporting a non-vet over LTC West was the last straw.
Call the VFW at 1-202-544-5868. Email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh yeah, and before I forget- Remember when Obama wanted to charge wounded troops for medical care? VFW supported him on that, too. READ IT HERE.
VFW- we are done here. Fix it, or be gone as a veterans organization.
UPDATE 1: Keep hitting them- word is they are getting calls. Write. HIT THEM HARD. Given the climate that's out there, and what they are doing to veterans behind our backs, this should not stand. I suggest the following in any statements you send/make:
I, my membership, my money (the money I set aside to give to PACs) and every friend I can bring along are switching to the Legion. And I will be doing my damnedest to convince every veteran I know to do likewise.
I hate this- I know there are locals that do great things. But, if they are willing to sit by, and let their national organization do this over their objections, then they are complicit in it. I'd like to see the locals boot the national guys out. Really would.
UPDATE 2: Getting questions and emails on whether we realize there is a difference between VFW and VFW-PAC. Well, there is and there isn't. Let me just say this- if the local VFW chapters, to include the states, are willing to let National allow their PAC to push this type of agenda and these types of candidates, well, bad on them for just standing by. They should be rioting over it. Holding their dues payments where they can. Put pressure on National to adhere to what the LOCALS want, not what National may think 'is best'. Because to do otherwise is utter bullshiite.
To us, this is not an issue of VFW-PAC vs. VFW. They are the same- don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
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...
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
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Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
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Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
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Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
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A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.