Number one TV audience of the year. Epitome of anyone's career- to sing the National Anthem at the Big Game. Packers and the Steelers. Epic teams. And an audience to match watching it all.
And she totally blows it.
CAN ANYONE in Hollyweird possibly do it right? Do any of them give two shits about the USA? And what was with that Michael Douglas opening to the Super Bowl? Could that have possibly been any more Leftist? I thought it was going to be a Democrat Party advert at the beginning.
But anyway, it's a good game, Jimbo will be satiated (if it continues as such) and we'll all have commercials to talk about... and screwy singers.
Aguilera needs to take a lesson from this little girl-
I have reviewed the Political Action Committee (PAC) Board of Directors’ response to our request to rescind this year’ s Congressional endorsements. I disagree with their assessment.
It is now evident to most of the VFW leadership, both National and especially the departments, that the VFW has been subjected to extreme negative publicity throughout the nation, and the recent endorsement decisions have, in fact, harmed the VFW’ s reputation and future ability to fulfill our mission.
I cannot let this erosion of public support for our great organization continue. The apparent lack of the committee to address these concerns will lead to a proposal by me, as Commander-in-Chief, to amend the by-laws at the 112th National Convention for the purpose of dissolving the PAC. Meanwhile, under the authority granted to me as Commander-in-Chief in section 619 of the VFW National By-Laws and under section 620 of the Manual of Procedure, I am withdrawing all PAC appointments effective October 15, 2010.
Accordingly, I’ m asking the council for a vote of “ no confidence” in the VFW PAC as indicated on the enclosed ballot.
To: National Council of Administration From: Richard L. Eubank, Commander-in-Chief Date: October 14, 2010
This, after the Ladies Auxilery withdrew all funding support for the PAC (which, I'm told, is a good chunk of it) as well as cries from CO, FL, NY, TX and likely others to do something about the endorsements.
Accenting again the campaign focus she has placed on veterans' affairs, Sen. Barbara Boxer on Sunday formally opened a veterans' center at Pasadena City College and was later brought to tears by a forceful defense of her record by Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a highly decorated member of Congress.
Inouye joined Boxer for her formal endorsement by the political action committee of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, whose California chairman also praised Boxer's work on behalf of veterans.
...[A]sked after her speech about McCain's objection, Boxer merely smiled and replied: "I'm so excited to have the VFW endorsement. I couldn't be more thrilled."
Me neither. Not liking it at all. Neither, apparently, did anyone in the VFW.
Updates to follow, I'm sure... but this is great news! Still awaiting some interview with the PAC chairman. That would be interesting, for certain.
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.
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.
That's how long it has been since we've last communicated.
For some people, that's a lifetime. It's the lenght of some careers. Certainly the timespan of many military careers.
But, this is how long it has been since I'd last heard from Elizabeth. And thanks to a few of you readers who contacted me after my last post, we are now back in touch. I was kinda doubting it could happen, as I've tried, on and off, to find out about her over the years. But I was never able to gain much info, at least not enough to find out how she was doing or even where she was located.
A little background: Back in January 1986, I was a 'noobie' 2d LT joining the US Army Signal Corps. Reporting in to Ft Gordon, GA for the second time in my life (first was basic training and AIT there- yeah, that old.) Sitting in the small auditorium were a bunch of other newly-minted officers, all fresh out of either ROTC or OCS (no Acadamy grads- they wouldn't show up for a few more months). Here we were, ready to conquer the Army and the world.
'Beth' and I became friends in this class- best of friends at the time. Inseperable. She, a former NCO and Drill Instructor at Ft Jackson, was fresh out of OCS and all the worse for wear. (Apparently, it was a tough OCS class as one person that helped me locate her also said so.) Beth was one of the 'seniors' in the group- a bit older than the early twenty-somethings of the rest of us (except Mr Doty) and she had more military experience than most of the cadre we had. Being a former DI, she knew regs frontwards, backwards, sideways and every other ways. Carried herself that way too- a consumate soldier. But she was nervous about the academics involved, and needed some help. That is where I came in.
We started study groups, meetings, and anything else to get thru the two toughest parts of becoming a Signal Corps officer - math and electronics. Even now, raising these two subjects runs a chill up my spine. The EE/ME's in the group laughed it off- differential equations? Bah, to them. For those liberal arts majors? FUGGHEDABOUDIT. YOUGOTTABEKIDDINGRIGHT? But, together, we slogged through it.
She, on the other hand, kicked my ass. Handily. She asked if I wanted to go running with her on the 2d day of class. Me, fresh out of college and the PT scores to prove it, thought she was joking. See, Beth was a machine. Tough, strong (but extremely good looking and attractive) she was one of the top Army female runners- OVERALL. Boston Marathon participant. Could set a pace and keep it for weeks. Sprinter? Not a chance. Do a Forrest Gump across the US? Let's start now. But, she promised to 'hold back' and help me train up. That, she sure as hell did.
By the end of the course, nearly 6 months later, I went from chump to champ as far as PT goes- my final run time was a 9:45 for the two miles- 100% of it due to her inspiration and friendship. And she made it thru all of the tests and coursework- and graduated with the class on time. It was tough for both of us, but damn, if we didnt' have the best time in the world.
To this day, I've never forgotten anyone in that course. My time with Beth was especially unforgettable. Everyone should have a time in their lives like we had- it can end up defining you. It certainly did me.
Today, she and her husband live in the Ft. Hood area. Many of you probably have passed her there. She's spent time in Iraq, as a civvie, and continues to support troops to this day. She still runs (even did a marathon in Kirkuk, of all places!) which shames me no end. I ran my last marathon in 1987 and I'm not about to re-try that at this point. I'm happy she took my call when her number was passed to me. And with ONE word, she knew who it was even after all those years. Good friends never, ever forget... and I know I won't.
To Jan, Matt, and Jeff- thanks for your help! Could not have done it without each of you. You've helped re-connect with an old friend. For that, you have my most heartfelt thanks. Thank you!
And to 'Beth'- who I hope is reading this today- here's to never losing touch for 24 years- ever again. And thank you for YOUR support of the troops.
Bless you all!
p.s. - still working on locating the other two (Craig and Jeff). Seems the phones are not the way to do it; and the emails listed are either not monitored, or getting thru. So I'm still trying...
UPDATE 1: It's incredible. After 24 years, I've found one of the people mentioned below. I'm not going to say WHICH one, just yet, but I wanted to let you know one has been 'found' and contact made. AND WHAT A SURPRISE IT WAS. Just. Incredible. And it was joyous. I"ll go into details soon; I'm still trying to make contact with the other two- we're REALLY close. Keep the info coming- all of it helps. AND TO THOSE WHO PROVIDED INFO- THANK YOU!
ORIGINAL POST: Well, I've been thinking about this post for some time. Knowing the power of the internetsington, I need to post a small request. I'm not gonna use Classmates or Find-A-Friend or any of that stuff, 'cause they just can't work right.
I need some help finding some old compatriots that have fallen off the map long ago. I'm hoping some of you can at least point me in the right direction. Or may have served with them. There are 3 that I'm hoping to get locales on:
1. Jeffery Bailes- this guy is hard to miss. He's about 6-ft 3, probably close to 230lbs by now, was bald before bald was bad. Medic type. Went to ROTC and Airborne with me, but left ROTC before commissioning. Went active duty before I was graduated. Not sure of his first assignment, but I believe it was Germany. But could be wrong. This would have been '85 til later time frame. I would believe he was a lifer. From Ohio
2. Craig Reardon- or Riordan. Don't remember exact spelling. Jungle Expert badge, wanted to go Public Affairs before even I knew what it was. SoCal guy- and TOTALLY SoCal. Skinny, but tough. Went thru some 'training' in Ft Lewis with me.
3. Elizabeth Peto - last but not least. OBC together- best of friends. Signal, former DI, and top marathon runner. Had a married name of Rickel at one point. Went to Signal Bn in Germany, and lost touch after a year there. Hungarian. One tough chick. She still owes me a pull-ring off my reserve parachute. I'll tell that story someday. Oh, her Hungarian name was Erzike. Muffed ABN school due to heights issues.
If anyone has served, or heard of them, write me at the.mr.wolf at the gmail dot com address.
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...
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...
Just a quick 'tease' on what's coming up this week while I'm at the convention. My second year covering it, and there are quite a few good interviews lined up. I'm also guest- blogging over at BurnPit at times as well.
For example- Ben Stein will be the MC for the convention; I will be chatting with him later on what he feels veterans should be concentrating on. He's a huge supporter, and hope to get him in a BlackFive t-shirt. Or quoting UJ 'Don't be a DouChe'.
First up this week will be Defense Sec'y Robert Gates; I hope to ask him questions on next steps in Iraq, and whether there are other 'hot spots' we may concentrate on now that Iraq has drawn down.
My big hope for the week is to get time with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who will be addressing the convention this year. Yeah. Me too.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also headline the list of guest speakers addressing the Legionnaires during the three-day event. Actor and economist Ben Stein will serve as master of ceremonies the first day.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, is expected to deliver a major speech in Milwaukee Tuesday on Iraq and national security issues to delegates to the 92nd American Legion National Convention
Other guest speakers at the Legion's convention include Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley; Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis.; Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis.; Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif.; and Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind.
If you have questions you think I should ask, just put them in the comments. I'll be sure to bring them up when I get in front of the VIP's.
Oh, and the Legion is getting ready to release a radio program next month- with two fantastic people running the program and working with guest speakers. Going to be a great show! I'll have more, and interviews, later...