I’ve always been a little leery of IAVA, right from the start. I personally like Paul Rieckhoff, and have friends who speak highly of him. I like the fact they stayed neutral on the war, instead advocating on behalf of veterans regardless of their position on the war. Well, today I’ve come to realize they are another hack organization masquerading as non-partisan.
A couple of months ago I met one of the IAVA reps, spoke with him and gave him my business card. About a week later I got a full package in the mail explaining the benefits of my having joined IAVA. I was shocked, since I never said I wanted to join, and had no interest in joining. But, hey, a veterans group looking out for the troops, I can stomach the fact I disagree on several issues and figured I wouldn’t raise a stink by demanding they remove me from the rolls immediately.
And I maintained that position right up until today when I got this absolutely absurd, biased and factually inaccurate “Congressional Report Card” email. My BS detector got off to a rip roaring start when I hovered over the link and found that it went to IAVA through “Democracy in Action.” For those not aware of this craptastic organization:
DemocracyInAction.org believes technology can be a decisive force for social change. We exist to empower those who share our values of ecological and social justice to advance the progressive agenda.
Great. So, while I paid no dues, as a Member in good standing of IAVA, I apparently support ecological and social justice initiatives in line with my progressive agenda. That sounds like me, doesn’t it?
My first look over the report card had me screaming “EPIC FAIL!!!” in my office.
I noticed some real “luminaries” in the veteran’s movement with solid voting scores: Baghdad Jim McDermott got an A. Maxine Waters got an A. Dennis Kucinich got an A. Jim Marshall (the guy who is in the Ranger Hall of Fame, visited the troops more than 99% of other Members of Congress, and who has an open door policy for veterans) well, he got a B. Duncan Hunter got a C.
So I start looking at the votes that went into compiling this steaming, fetid, fly-infested pile of [Democracy in Action]…
13 votes, with 4 of them being unanimous and 5 more passing with fewer than 15 “nay” votes.
Here’s a perfect example of one of the other votes that IAVA uses, the 286-140 vote in favor for “Funding Veterans’ Health Care, 2007.” Now, any rational person reading this far into the report would likely have a “holy shit” moment trying to figure out who the 140 sonsabitches were who voted against funding veterans health care. I mean really, how could you? Did you beat puppies on the way home and throw a cat in a blender too?
No, as a matter of fact, the damn bill was a continuing resolution. It didn’t specifically deal with veterans’ health care anymore than it dealt specifically with Health and Human Services funding or funding the Department of Justice. So, if I were a Congressman with an axe to grind with the Legal Services Corporation and I wanted to make it known, I would vote against this bill (which was going to pass regardless) and put out a press release that I felt we ought to stop wasting our money on such a useless organization. And IAVA would score me as voting against veterans. This reminds me of the old “Won’t you do it….for the childrens….”
How about another one, the “Expanded Veterans’ Benefits” vote… I don’t suggest looking it up on Thomas, no such thing exists. This vote was (according to IAVA) for the National Defense Authorization Bill for 2008. According to these luminaries citing to House Vote #1151, December 12, 2007:
As a part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2008, Congress included a number of improvements to veterans’ benefits. Perhaps most significantly, the 2008 NDAA extended the amount of time new veterans have to seek VA health care. Before the passage of this legislation, any veteran who did not seek care within two years of leaving the mili¬tary risked losing coverage altogether. The 2008 NDAA gave veterans five years to access care.
Call me a radical if you will (I can brave your slings and arrows) but I would say the most significant thing about the 2008 NDAA was actually keeping a military up and running. Don’t get me wrong, the extra 5 years for veterans is very nice, but if I am forced to chose between authorizing our military, and allowing us to get into VA facilities for 5 years, I think I will take the military. But, clearly IAVA was referring to this being the most significant of the veterans improvements; and JUST AS CLEARLY, this vote had very little to do with those improvements.
What is more is that the entire diatribe by IAVA is inaccurate. House Vote #1151 dealt with the NDAA for 2008, but was from the First Session of Congress, H.R. 1585. The one that became law was from the second session, and was HR 4986 and became Public Law No: 110-181. Now, the President vetoed the first one (1585) because of things that had nothing to do with veterans, instead it dealt with legal immunity for the Iraq Government. In other words, Vote #1151 didn’t grant ANY veterans five more years, it did however, bring about the untimely demise of a number of trees which the bill was written on and then unceremoniously stamped with the Presidential “get this crap off my desk” seal.
Incidentally, if IAVA meant to use roll call vote # 11 from 16 January instead of the #1151 that they did cite, please forward an apology to Representative Mike Michaud of Maine, the representative of my extended family in Bangor Maine. He voted Nay on the First, and Aye on the second. Since both had IDENTICAL provisions dealing with the 5 year provision, why is it that the geniuses in IAVA used the first vote that never became law, and ignored the second one?
OK, so putting aside the 9 overwhelming votes, and the two that don’t deal with what IAVA purports to show that they do, we are left with only 2 votes. And both of them are the GI Bill. And just to sweeten the pot, you get 2 extra points on this scorecard if you cosponsored the Bill. (Extra Points? Are you kidding me? I got extra points in 7th grade social studies for a diorama I did of Indians meeting Pilgrims, is this the same thing? Yeah, pretty much.)
Anyway, I will skip the GI Bill votes for now, and address those in part III to this trilogy. In Part II, I will look at how totally awesome Obama is, and now McCain is the suxor. Or, at least, that’s what the complete hacks at IAVA would have you believe.
If you take any voter guide seriously, you really need to look in the fine print. Look for IAVA’s scorecard on a TV near you, and laugh at how no one in the media bothered to research any of this crap.