Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How long will you take this crap?

New York’s 20th Congressional District had a special election to replace its US Representative. It was held this month (April 2009). It is politically significant in some ways, but there is controversy as to who won. As of this writing, it is still a very close vote.

But this special election in New York is even more significant in another arena – politicians and lawyers (often the same) at several levels of government, both State and Federal, did everything they could, to deny the right to vote for deployed military personnel who were legitimately registered to vote in that district. But that wasn’t enough. Some of the military personnel from that district who were deployed, managed to overcome the serious obstacles placed in the way of their votes, and actually managed to get their votes to their voting supervisors in time – and an army of lawyers is hard at work trying to figure out how those votes might be ignored.

Look it up. If you’re reading this, you can do an internet search and find credible articles that explain the details. Make sure you note how the ballots weren’t printed until it was already far too late to get them to personnel in combat zones. Don’t miss the vote by the NY State Elections Board where four politicians couldn’t agree to extend the time for receiving military absentee ballots. And be sure to read how the Dept of Justice, sued NY to force them to extend that same deadline – it is generally accepted that 45 days is the absolute minimum turnaround time for absentee ballots – NY was only allowing 23. So I’ll bet you’ll be surprised when you read that the Dept of Justice only asked in their lawsuit that NY should be ordered to extend the time limit to allow a 30 day turnaround. – that’s right, the DoJ only asked for an extension of seven stinking days – when the politician-lawyers at DoJ knew full well that the minimum they should have asked for was a 22 day extension.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We need military personnel to get involved in the electoral process, and we need it for two reasons.
1. First – If military personnel vote, they will have clout with the political parties. Until they vote, the parties will continue to ignore the needs of the military. Oh sure, they’ll get you bullets and send you into harm’s way. But then, while you’re deployed, they’ll still float bills that pretend to make you pay for health care for your service related injuries.
2. Second – When military personnel get engaged, and see broken things, they fix them. Maybe, by engaging in the political process, our brothers and sisters in arms will see how broken our political system is – and decide to fix it by running for office. Hell, we could send a ton of politician-lawyers to the unemployment offices. That alone would improve our government.

Next I’ll hear from politicians and lawyers who claim that not all politicos and lawyers are skunks, and not all of our military veterans are saints. Both observations are true. But allow me an analogical turn here to explain how I use those premises to arrive at my simple conclusion. Lets say there are two barrels of apples in a store. One is full of great looking red apples, but probably has a few bad ones mixed in. The other is a stinking, slimy, pot of gooey rotten apples, but the store owner assures you that a customer took a great looking apple out of that barrel a while back. Now those politician-lawyer apologists want me to stick my arm, up to my shoulder, into that barrel of crap, to see if I can find one more good apple in the bottom of the barrel. Not a chance in hell.

I know what soldiers do. I know they aren’t saints. I sure wasn’t. But I do know this for a fact – we Americans trust our military, and our military has earned that trust. I have no trouble concluding that we can pick an apple from the barrel of great looking apples with a high degree of confidence – and no, we won’t get a saint – but we are a lot less likely to get slimed.

My question is simply this –
HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING TO PUT UP WITH THIS CRAP?

Soldiers – Are you going to allow politicians to deny your right to vote – then try not to count your votes when you manage to get a ballot in?
Families and Friends – Are you going to allow politicians to walk all over the rights of your sons, daughters, spouses, buddies?
Veterans – Are you going to allow politicians to mistreat another generation of your brothers and sisters in arms?
Citizens – Are you going to allow politicians to spend trillions on welfare and utopian social engineering, yet cut services for the men and women who defend your very lives, and liberties?

The overwhelming majority of politicians are lawyers. And while some small percentage of them are veterans, its not enough. I say, the sooner we change that balance, and get more veterans to enter politics, the better off we’ll be.

But it can’t happen unless we help our military vote and become engaged in the political process. If they vote, they have clout and the political parties will be forced to pay attention to them. When they participate, they’ll quickly seize on the fact that they could do a much better job.

So, donate your time, money, energy – to Count US In. We’re engaged in a really dirty fight right now, to get the States to allow our military to vote – then count those votes when they get them.
We need volunteers, so sign up to help us organize campaigns for military voting law reform in your State.
We need money, so send Count US In a donation (tax deductible – at least for now).
We need a voice, so pass the word about Count US In. Invite us to talk at your meeting. Talk about Count US In instead of dissing your neighbor at the Little League game. And most importantly, tell anyone you know in the military, to use the Count US In website as a voting resource (
www.countusin.us ).

Help your military vote – because they deserve your support.

Do that, and I promise you – someday, you’ll go to vote, and you’ll have a soldier, sailor, airman or marine on the ballot for some post. And you’ll smile. Because when that day comes, you won’t ever again have to stick your arm in that barrel of crap.

Carry on.
Don

Small Print
Don Johnson and Count US In want all our military personnel to exercise their right to vote, and we want their families, friends and other veterans to help motivate and facilitate those votes. We also want everyone to kick around a politician about once a week – especially State politicians who are primarily responsible for voting laws. Your comments, suggestions, donations, and input are welcome at www.countusin.us . You say you’re a lawyer or politician and you wanna kick Don’s butt? He laughs at you – your soft hands and skinny arms – and your silly pin striped suit. But, make a large enough donation to Count US In, and he might apologize. Not really.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A message from Allen West: Our Spokesman

A Message from Allen West, Spokesman: Count US In

Greetings to all of our outstanding service men and women who stand guard on Freedom’s ramparts protecting our American way of life. I am truly honored to have been selected as the National spokesman for Count US In, a non-profit, non-partisan organization formed to help YOU vote and make your voice heard in Washington (www.countusin.us).

I cannot stress enough the importance for those who support and defend our Constitution to be involved in electing representatives to uphold our Constitution. We as current service members and Veterans must remain engaged in our American political process. Our America is a Republic which means the elected officials are responsible to the people, who should determine the role of its government.


All of us, current and former members of our Armed Forces, must know the issues and ensure our voices are heard. Below are a few items currently on the Hill in which you may have interest. If you have other issues or concerns to discuss, please let us know so we can help provide information about them.
Defense Spending:
see
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/03/17/gates_readies_big_cuts_in_weapons

The Blair-Holt Firearms Bill which affects current and future gun owners.
See
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-45

A very crucial situation was just presented regarding health insurance and coverage for the military and shows the power of the veterans’ voice. The American Legion made a statement on this item as did other veterans’ organizations like the DAV, and the White House tabled the proposal in response to this strong stand. This just shows IF you make your voice heard--directly to your President:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ and to Your elected representatives, you too can be the agent for change. (see http://ourvoice.legion.org/story/1448/legion-white-house-dont-bill-our-heroes and http://www.dav.org/news/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=117)


We entreat you to please pay attention to these issues—and all issues that affect your life and livelihood and contact your representative in the US Congress and Senator to let your insights be known. If you don’t know who your reps are, visit http://www.countusin.us/index_files/Election_resources.htm or
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials/. We’ll try to keep you informed on pressing issues.

Your vote is your voice—the elections may take place in 2010, but now is the time to let your elected officials know where you stand and how you want them to represent you—if they don’t, then you vote them OUT!

Again, it is an honor and one I take very seriously to "stay on the wall" and provide over-watch for all of you deployed and retired. I will send out these occasional notes as necessary.
Steadfast and Loyal
LTC(R) Allen B West

Join Count US In in their fight for democracy here at home.

Preparing for the 2010 Vote

March, 2009


I just got an email from one of our volunteers. She’s going to start organizing to support military voting at a military base. Her question was basically “Where do I start?” It so happens that she is a member of one of the local political parties, and volunteers there often. She’s politically active, in other words. You’d expect that from someone who is volunteering to help military personnel become informed on voting issues (both local and national), and also to help them cast their votes. This is downright Jeffersonian, and altogether commendable.


So, our incipient volunteer went to her local political party headquarters to find out where to get started in getting military people into the voting process. Why? Because she naively thought political parties are supposed to care – about the process, and about our servicemen. Here’s an excerpt from her email to me:
The (party) chair did not have any suggestions as it is so hard to keep track of military coming and going from different states and cities….


This illustrates a great truth, in just one phrase – And it doesn’t matter which political party our volunteer is affiliated with. It is this – None of our political parties give a flying f#@% about military voters. (Politically Correct Caveat - My comments are not meant to demean “flying f#@%s” as a group. Most “flying f#@%s” are loyal, hardworking Americans. I myself, have several friends who are “flying f#@%s”, and one who is a flaming “flying f#@%”).


“But Don”, you say, “Surely the conservatives love our soldiers.” In truth, I really think every red-blooded American loves our servicemen. But here’s where I make you face the cold hard facts – the real truth of the matter is – if you don’t vote, you are invisible to any of the political parties – military personnel don’t vote, so the parties don’t care – at all.


Let me repeat that – there is no military vote. Right now, today, our soldiers can’t vote. According to a recent Pew study, over half the States have what amount to impenetrable barriers to voting by our servicemen and women. Since they can’t vote, they have no voice. No voice means our servicemen and women are politically useless to the parties and politicians (except for the photo every one of them has in their election brochure and in their office). Since there is no military vote, the politicians devote their efforts to groups that do vote, however poor that voting record is – since it is sure to be better than the military voting record.


It’s a conundrum. Our fighting force can’t vote, so they have no clout, so the politicians feel no obligation to pass meaningful voting legislation to help them vote.


But, there is a way out. You just have to get enough votes turned in, regardless of the obstacles, to show you are a force. It doesn’t matter what you vote for, or what candidate you support. If military ballots show up at the polls in any numbers at all, every politician worth his earmarks will bend over backwards to pander to you. They just can’t help themselves – they’ll do damn near anything for a vote.


One of the worst voting cohorts in our society is the 18-24 age group. Yet the political parties move mountains to get the “youth vote”. Why aren’t they interested in the same cohort in the military? You guessed it. The military voting record is even worse. It’s only about a third of the horrible voting record of their civilian compatriots. All the civilian youth voter has to do is sober up by Tuesday to vote. For a serviceman to vote, he needs to move the heavens, the earth, ten layers of barnacle encrusted bureaucrats, and the US Snail.


But they can. They must. Count US In wants to help.


Count US In, along with friends, family and veterans organizations, is organizing right now for the 2010 elections. We want to help our servicemen break the code on the ridiculous Civil War technology (US Snail) they’re forced to use to vote today. We want to help bring military votes to the ballot boxes in November 2010, so they become a force to be reckoned with. If they vote, the parties and the politicians will not be able to ignore them. The parties think the military will all vote alike (what the hell do they know), but that doesn’t matter at all. If they see growing numbers of military votes, the military will become a force, and will have a voice. Having a voice means some encrusted bureaucrat at the Dept of Defense may spend an extra minute to get those deployment orders right this time – it means the Armed Services Committees will address soldier’s issues instead of just procurement issues – it means they’ll pay attention at Veteran’s Affairs after a soldier gets out of the service – it means all the parties will beat a path to the serviceman’s door. It means a lot – it means their rightful place at the table.


In our system, a vote means everything. If you don’t vote, you don’t matter. Right now the system is rigged to make our military fail at the ballot box. Let’s change that right now.



The election of 2010 is just around the corner. To influence State legislatures in time to force improved legislation, we need to mobilize NOW! To be represented, our military needs power. To get power, they have to vote. To vote, our military needs a grateful nation’s help.


But wait!!! There’s more!!! We want to Count YOU In! Get off your ass, and kick some politician around a bit. You pay that politician’s salary, so get your money’s worth. We’ll show you how, and it feels great. Then, we need you to support our troops with something besides a bumper sticker. To get all this started, just go to the Count US In website
www.countusin.us , and Volunteer, Donate, Call, Write, Tweet (@militaryvote).
Ruck the Vote!!!
Don

Small Print
Don Johnson and Count US In want all our military personnel to exercise their right to vote, and we want their families, friends and other veterans to help motivate and facilitate those votes. We also want everyone to kick around a politician about once a week – especially State politicians who are primarily responsible for voting laws. Your comments, suggestions, donations, and input are welcome at
www.countusin.us . If you are unfamiliar with the term Ruck the Vote, then you are a slacker and haven’t read all of Don’s rants – do your homework and read them at the website. Wanna kick my butt? Feel free to try to at the website

Get Military Votes IN, Get them Counted


Originally Published: January, 2009



We live – and if we hope to avoid an untimely Darwinian end – We learn.


What we did
During the run-up to the 2008 elections, Count US In pressed hard for publicity for the issues of minuscule military voter participation and simplification of the voting process so that military voting could even occur. As the election cycle got closer, we pushed for Veterans, Friends, and Family to mobilize and assist military voters in getting properly registered, voting, and in the processing of those votes.


What actually happened
A well-meaning but na├»ve press ignored our pleas for publicity until just before and just after the elections in November 2008. At the last second, when it would least help our cause, the media saw a story with human interest and pathos – Our Military Can’t Vote. Their interest lasted about 45 days in all, and ended abruptly just past the election. Since we didn’t get the publicity we needed early enough, we were not as successful as we hoped in organizing our grass roots support effort of Veterans, Family and Friends, and were unable to provide all the support we wanted to servicemen who came to us for information on the voting process, local candidates, and local issues.


What we have learned
What we learned from the 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections, is that military voters are disenfranchised, and no effective effort is being undertaken to change that. (Witness Sen. Cornyn's bill's failure, the Florida debacle with military absentee votes in 2000, tossing out military absentee votes in two DC area counties of Virginia, and possibly more of the same in the recount in Minnesota).


We also learned that the media gives us play on the days before and after the elections (when it is least useful to the service members). We just feed them excitement for ratings, not for results.


What we’re going to do
We’re going to re-target. Our re-targeting effort will focus on amplifying our grass roots efforts. We need to help our troops participate under whatever system they face in their election districts—you need to vote where you live. And, we need to raise amazing amounts of hell at the local and State levels to get them to take extraordinary measures to count the votes of our servicemen and women. The system is flawed, there are lots of good people working on it, but it’s going to take time to move the bureaucracy off dead center. But, until then, the military still must vote to be heard!
We can’t organize this effort from the top down. We need a grass roots organization. So, here’s the plan. We’ll push for volunteers to be Election District Directors (EDD) – yes, we’ll come up with some other name for that post – don’t want any of the older vets thinking about some other dysfunction. All you gotta do to become one is raise that hand. These volunteers can raise $$ for Count US In within their districts, and we’ll try to use that to pay for things like mileage for EDDs (I know, change it).


Our goal is simple and clear – Get military votes in, then, get them counted.


The bottom line
Because of the low participation, the military vote is seen as inconsequential, so no one really cares about addressing the complex problems associated with straightening out the system. Yes, they pass laws which create more bureaucrats and do nothing to solve problems. Politicians just aren’t mission oriented – except for the mission of getting re-elected. You do the math. Do the party lawyers have a tendency (2000 in FL, 2004 in OH, 2008 in N VA and MN) to discount military absentee votes (from APO and FPO addresses)? Yes. But, there are so few votes that none of the parties really gives a damn.


So, for any politician to care about the military vote, we have to increase the number of votes. If we do that, one of the political parties will start to dance to your tune (whatever that is - I find I agree with soldiers much more often than I agree with lawyers). Mostly, politics is about money, but sometimes, the votes actually matter. In those cases, any bloc that delivers has power (examples - blacks, women, unions, the religious right—whatever). Just look at the party platforms and you can see how those voting blocs influence the party’s stand.


If the military voted, they'd have power. Unfortunately, they don't do either. They don’t vote, and therefore they don’t have power. Aren’t you ready to change that?


Can you become an EDD (yes, the name will change)?
Are you associated with a Veteran’s chapter that you are willing to recruit to our mission?
Do you know a soldier you want to help?
Want to help a relative who is in the service?
Count US In is “all in.”
The election of 2010 is just around the corner. To influence State legislatures in time to force improved legislation, we need to mobilize NOW! To be represented, our military needs power. To get power, they have to vote. To vote, our military needs your help.
We want to Count YOU In!
Volunteer, Donate, Call or Write. We need YOUR voice to be heard!
Ruck the Vote!!!
Don

Small Print
Don Johnson and Count US In want all our military personnel to exercise their right to vote, and we want their families, friends and other veterans to help motivate and facilitate those votes. Your comments, suggestions, donations, and input are welcome at
www.countusin.us . Count US In doesn’t care how you vote – we just want you to vote – period.
If you are unfamiliar with the term Ruck the Vote, then you are a slacker and haven’t read all of Don’s rants. Feel free to take Don to task in the blog at the website if you feel motivated to do so (which is of course, the whole point, isn’t it?)

Comment from a reader...

Don
You are certainly on the right track and trying to do the right thing.
Our family has been concerned with this question for several years.
We are a very political family. Four years ago our, equally active and political, daughter married her high school sweetheart shortly after he enlisted in the Air Force.
Trying to do the right thing they both applied for absentee ballots for all elections.
Almost immediately problems started. The assistant to the County Clerk who handles early and absentee voting to me "I don't mail out military absentee ballots because so many of them do not come back." That is probably a confession of a Federal felony.
Thanks to our daughter, we have learned why most of those ballots, for stateside based personnel and their families, may not be returned. To mail one back requires almost $2.00 postage.
First, this may be a violation of civil rights laws that prohibit requiring a citizen to pay to vote.
Second, it is a lot of money and many people do not have extra postage lying around.
Third, it often is not possible for military personnel to get access to postage.
Example, yesterday (Oct. 4, 2008) our son-in-law (Staff Sergeant USAF) was sent for desert/combat training in some God forsaken spot in Kansas preparatory to his deployment to Afghanistan. BTW, his third deployment. First, Iraq; second, Kuwait. No postage handy there.
So, our family being good citizens, we decided to do a little something about this.
My wife passed the hat and collected funds from members of her Twin Lakes Republican Women's Club of Baxter County, Arkansas.
I wrote a letter and printed many copies. My wife got a list of stateside military and sent the letter, with postage to the entire list. We encouraged the men and women to use the postage to return their ballot.
This is but a band-aid on a large problem.
What we want to do is fix the problem. But, now, our problem is finding where to start. We do not know who to address. Is it the Department of Defense; Postal Service; Congress; President; who?
The current situation is not right or American. No one should be denied the opportunity to vote. Most especially our military personnel.
Regards,
Frank G. Fusco (veteran USAF)
Mountain Home, Arkansas

He's not just President, He's your next boss


Originally published: August, 2008

OK, I’ll admit, I was drinking beer.

Here’s the setting – B concourse at Reagan Airport in DC, eating fish and chips (with waaaay too much garlic), and drinking some really good 20 oz beers. I’m hard into some people watching and the watching is great. Lots of very inappropriate muffin tops, several weird little pseudo-dogs in foo-foo outfits, and your usual heavyweights (man, are we putting on some weight, or what?)

In the midst of my people watching, I see this older guy stumbling a bit as he comes down the concourse. The old guy is wearing a t-shirt that says USAF, and there is a big guy with him who is obviously his son. The son looks like a slacker. I watch them go up to California Tortilla and order. The son pays, then does some of the condiment things for his dad. I reserve judgment on slacker-boy for the moment.

Now, getting off a flight and moving up the concourse, is a group of four real low-lifes. They have those goofy Capri pants on, flip flops, and buzz cuts. I pick them as some sort of counter-culture guys right away. Then, to my total amazement – right in front of me, they fall into a rank, and they all do a “pass-in-review” high five for some kid being wheeled down the concourse in a wheelchair. Apparently the kid can’t talk, but he sure can high five, and he smacks every hand the slackers hold out – all the while smiling like he was gonna bust his face. Then, the slackers turn and walk up the concourse and I notice they are all wearing digital camouflage day packs with name tapes on them. They are clearly soldiers, and I hastily and humbly revise my assessment.

So I get on my plane to Ft Lauderdale. I was a bit late because I was trying to brush the garlic out of my mouth (total waste of time). I get to my seat, and find I’m sitting next to USAF and his slacker son. Slacker son doesn’t waste any time and asks if I know anything about Ft Lauderdale – to which I respond in the affirmative. By the time we’re at cruising altitude, I learn that slacker kid paints cars in Maryland, and his dad hasn’t been doing too well since a mild stroke. So, slacker kid is taking his dad on a cruise – something USAF dad has wanted to do all his life. Seems slacker kid grew up all over the world like a typical military brat of his day, and thought he owed his dad something now that he was doing so well painting cars. Seems like the kid inherited a good bit of sense for what is right from his career USAF dad.

So what’s my point?
Simple.
Military folks do the right thing.

Yes, there are guys in the military who cheat on their wives. There are unhappy families and unhappy kids. Some guys get in trouble, and we’ve all done things we aren’t so damn proud of at some time or another.

But in general, military people are spring-loaded to do the right thing. Their moral compass points to within a few degrees either side of magnetic north, and they know which end of the pointer is the one that counts. Sure, we don’t always follow the arrow, but military folks get it right most of the time.

Because of that, I trust your judgment – and so do the overwhelming majority of your fellow Americans. But you are doing me, yourself, and all those admirers a huge disservice if you don’t express that judgment by voting. Your country wants you to exercise that higher level of judgment they credit you for, and express your opinion on the candidates that are running for elective office this year and every year. Historically, you do poorly in that regard (and yes, in my time, I admit I was a huge slacker on voting). But you are a new breed of military – as professional and upright as any the world has ever known – and much better informed and connected. And you need to do the right thing now. I challenge you to get informed about candidates and issues, and cast an informed vote.

Count US In is dedicated to finding out the information you need to get you to cast an informed vote. We’ll call on the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and even Veteran’s motorcycle clubs. We’ll use the vast resources of the League of Women’s Voters. We’ll enlist the aid of your local elections supervisor, who in most cases is looking for some way to contact you anyhow.

Yes, literally thousands of volunteers are standing by to help you find out about the race for School Board in the district where you are registered, but haven’t set foot in for the last 18 months. Don’t smirk – that School Board position is very important to the future or your kids. So is the position of Commander-in-Chief, and if you’ve been paying attention to AFRTS, you probably know that seat if up for grabs in November as well.

Other people in the US are electing a President.
You’re electing your next boss.


But the process is confusing and you have other priorities. I understand that. But there is no shame in asking for a bit of help when you’re otherwise occupied with issues of equal or higher priority (such as survival). Come on. You wouldn’t fly an airplane without a checklist. You wouldn’t go on patrol without checking you buddy’s gear for him. You wouldn’t strap on a parachute without a JMPI. Hell, you don’t take a dump without someone covering your shiny fourth point of contact. So why the hell are you trying to do this voting thing on your own?

Let Count US In help. Send us a note, drop us a Tweet (@militaryvote). Tell us where you vote, and we’ll get some folks to push you info and run things down for you. We’ve got you covered on this side.

Your vote is your voice. Speak up.
Ruck the Vote!!!
Don


No Dog in this fight?


Originally published: April 15th, 2008

I was listening to a buddy talk about the primaries this last week. He’s a reservist here in Ft Lauderdale and was a Giuliani supporter. But, by the time the primaries got around to Florida, he’d switched to some other guy who dropped out too. Now he’s got to decide whether to vote for McCain or whoever wins the fight on the other side. His top two guys didn’t make it, so he said to me, “I’ve really got no dog in this fight.”

So, there I was flying somewhere – Middle seat, knee caps pressed firmly into the seat ahead, some five year old soccer player kicking the back of mine, and of course, the mom traveling with her squirmy/screamy one year old beside me (“Sir. I hope you don’t mind if I change Junior’s diaper right here. It’s so unsanitary in the restroom. Don’t you think?”).

Thinking about the upcoming presidential race was actually an improvement. At first, I was thinking along the lines of my buddy. “No dog in this fight”. But who is the “no dog” candidate? I even considered not voting at all, for a second (how hypocritical would that be – me asking you to vote, and not doing it myself – I might as well be a damn lawyer).

But I had an epiphany (look it up). Right there, between the tattoo on the back of my seat (the kid will grow up to be a clogger on that Irish thing, Stomp), the guy in front leaning his seat back (I think the right knee cap is actually cracked), the stewardess (yes, I’m that old) handing me my coffee at the same time the mom asks “Sir. Would you mind holding this dirty diaper a moment?” Yes my brothers and sisters, sitting right there in coach, with a crappy coffee in one hand, and a similar diaper in the other – I had a moment of absolute and stunning clarity.

I most certainly do have a dog in this fight – and so does every one of you.

It’s YOU – our American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

You are THE dog in this fight.

Now, as a member of the US Military, no matter where you’re stationed, what you do, or branch of service – you know something about fighting, and you’ve heard all the old saws.
Dress appropriately. Never to take a knife to a gunfight.
Use all the resources at hand because they can’t help you from that shelf.
There are only two places in a fight, and second place is unacceptable.

Well, in this seemingly endless election fight – and you are definitely in this fight – you need to bring the right weapons, use all your resources, and you absolutely, must, definitely, WIN.

- In this fight, your vote is the right weapon.
- Your brains will find you the resources you need.
(I humbly recommend Count US In at
www.countusin.us)
- And if you don’t vote, we’re gonna lose this fight.

It doesn’t matter one bit to me, who you vote for. But when you vote, and you MUST VOTE, you make a profound and serious statement. Millions of American veterans, I among them, know you better than we know our own families, and because we know you so well, we trust your judgment above all others. We’ve got our money on you, and we know you won’t let us down.

Ruck the Vote!!!
Don


Small Print
Don Johnson and Count US In want all our military personnel to exercise their right to vote, and we want our veterans to help motivate and facilitate in that regard. Your comments, suggestions, donations, and input are welcome at
info@countusin.us .

If you are unfamiliar with the term Ruck the Vote, then you are a slacker and haven’t read Don’s last rant. Feel free to take Don to task in the blog at the website if you feel motivated to do so (which is of course, the whole point, isn’t it?)

Making Every Vote Count


Originally written: December, 2007
Making Every Vote Count

I got an appointment with my local elections supervisor here in Ft Lauderdale Florida, Dr. Brenda C Snipes. The purpose of my visit (a month or so ago), was to tell her about Count US In, and to elicit some information from her on how Broward County handled absentee balloting. In a nutshell, I was impressed.

Broward County was one of the Florida counties that didn’t do right by our military voters in the 2000 national election. I’ve posted some links below that explain what happened for those of you who want a bit more info. The info comes from a guy named Capt. Samuel F. Wright, JAGC, USNR. . I’ve spoken to him, and read some of his work. I found him most credible—a retired military attorney who still practices law and still carries on the work of counting the military vote.

But I don’t think we still have the problem of votes not being counted, at least not here in Broward County--at least not on Dr Snipes’ watch. Dr Snipes runs a tight ship even though she is pretty new to the election front. She was appointed to replace a supervisor who was fired, then was elected in her own right in 2004?. Taking point on absentee voting in Broward County is Mary Hall. Mary is a military spouse, and has relatives in the Navy now, so she has more than a little understanding of the problems the military faces in getting their votes in, and getting them counted--quite a respectable showing for our team here in this little part of the world.

Everything the two said during our visit was spot on. They want your votes. They take extraordinary care to ensure it gets processed properly, and they want to facilitate the exercise of your civic duty. I don’t know if other local election commissions have the same level of professionalism—and if they do, we want to hear about it. If they don’t, we’d like to help them.. But, for those of you who sent your votes in to Broward County, either by mail or fax (Broward doesn’t use email yet—only a handful of states do and only 25 use fax), you can be sure its going to be counted.

Now a word or two for those of you who didn’t vote: What the hell were you thinking?
America wants to know where you stand while you’re standing out there in the trenches, defending this, and other countries’ right to vote.

Don’t let us down on this. Count US In is dedicated to making sure your vote counts, and in the case of Broward County Florida, it does. We are developing an organization to check up on all the election commissions in the country, and we will keep after them.

Angelina Jolie determines troop surge is working!

Originally published: March, 2008

I’ve got some good news to pass on to you. If you haven’t heard this already, I’m sure it will give you a boost.

FLASH – Angelina Jolie has determined that The Surge is Working.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, your work is finally validated.

Of course, you would suppose that Ms. Jolie came to that decision after spending a lot of time with our troopers in Iraq – while they engaged the local leadership; trained and supported the Iraqi military and police; developed relationships with small businesses and in communities; and through the force of their message, trustworthiness, and conviction, have gotten the Iraqi population to close the door on the insurgents.

Well, that’s not the case, as far as this observer can tell. Actually, from her statements, it seems that she came to her evaluation through assessing that humanitarian organizations and NGOs were now more able to perform their work in Iraq. Well yes, I agree. The fact that these important organizations can now function is important, and symptomatic of marked improvement in Iraq.

I’m sure you’re as happy as I am, that the seemingly endless labors of the US brotherhood of arms has finally passed the “Hollywood” acid test. Forget the fact that American service members are providing the same heavy lifting so humanitarian organizations can do their good works in dozens of countries, on four continents every day. What more important validation could you possibly have, than that of someone who’s on the cover of every magazine at the grocery store checkout, and stars in the Tomb Raider movies? Well, the truth is, that Ms. Jolie is a real “get out and get dirty” humanitarian activist. What she says carries tremendous weight with that grocery store magazine crowd, and probably runs contrary to the views of the magazine publishing crowd.

I know you don’t need to be told the surge is working. I know you’ve been surging for better than three years. I know the most important humanitarian organization in Iraq has been plugging away there without recognition for years. I know this humanitarian organization has been doing the heavy lifting every day, and is directly responsible for creating the current environment without which, none of the other organizations could function. I know that organization is the US military as personified by every single service member who has been there.

Yes, the most important and effective Humanitarian Organization in Iraq – is YOU – the individual members of the United States Armed Forces. And not one of you needs the validation of anyone but the man or woman next to you, and the people you protect back home.

But thanks just the same, AJ.
Your heart’s in the right place.

Carry On.

Don Johnson, LTC USA (Ret), writes voting related commentary for Count US In whenever something in the political process motivates him to pull his fourth-point-of-contact up off his Barc-a-Lounger. You can find other examples of his commentary at
info@countusin.us in the “Listen Up” section. Count US In also has a blog, and you can take Don to task there, if you wish.

We want photos of our Troops voting!


Originally published: January 2008

If You’re Voting, Help Me.

I want a photo of you sitting on your tank, holding an absentee ballot that you’re about to drop off at the APO. OK, it doesn’t have to be a tank. I just want a few photos of service members holding some voting materials.

Count US In needs the photos. Count US In is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to getting more military personnel to participate in the voting process. This organization was started by a group of retirees, and we want your photos to use in a publicity campaign to get more of the military to vote.

Here’s the problem: Not many military personnel vote. Some don’t vote because they don’t have faith in the absentee voting system. They don’t think their votes will make it to the right place, or they don’t think their votes get counted. Some don’t vote because they don’t know the candidates. Some get lost in the absentee voting system. Some can’t make time.

What a crock. We need your help to get these troopers off their asses and get them involved in the voting process.

So, we’ll show some photos of military voters, and use the publicity to motivate others to vote. We’re also working to get some election supervisors to ceremonially register a military absentee ballot to officially open the vote count in their districts.

Why is this so important to Count US In?
Simply put, our country needs to hear military voices. You speak your minds through your ballots. Your opinions are important to Count US In, and to our country. Of course, military personnel who don’t vote are saying something too. They’re saying they don’t give a damn. We all know that’s not the case, so please help us get the rest of the force to vote.

DB Johnson
USA (Ret)

Post Election 2008 Notes

originally written: November 15, 2008

Post-election America may be issuing a sigh of relief—the hype is over, the ads, the constant chatter. For many military voters, the 2008 election was just another sham. Rhetoric, and lip service was paid to counting the military vote, but hundreds, if not thousands of military votes AGAIN went uncounted. For Count US In, a non-partisan, non-profit organization vested in educating and facilitating the military vote, our fight continues—AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!The bottom line, for the military voter, 2008 was no better than 2004—or post World War II. We are still mired in the untimely U.S. Postal Service in trying to communicate with continents around the world--on ballot requests, voting materials and returned ballots. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be comical. AND YOU CAN HELP!
Ballots lie uncounted in Virginia, Ohio and Hawaii—and who knows where else? The election offices defend their laws, but they defy the very laws that protect the military voters—those who are stationed around the world, fighting for the right to vote for others. AND THEY NEED YOUR SUPPORT!


The
National Defense Committee continues to work on the state and federal levels to change the bureaucratic systems that move slowly and laboriously in the face of change. The fight is noble, but the progress slow and Count US In seeks to be a catalyst for change NOW! AND WE NEED YOUR DOLLARS!

We need to reach out to the troops stationed here in bases across the country, to those around the world defending this country, to their families and friends who support their service and to the veterans who have paid their own dues in defense of the USA. NOW IT IS OUR TURN—AND WE NEED YOU TO JOIN US!

Count US In needs your donations TODAY so we can gear up for the fight ahead in 2010. Our outreach relies on your foresight and dollars so we can keep our team bringing in the pertinent resources, answering the needs of the military voters and providing the news and information to assist them in their efforts to vote.

Let’s not let another election pass without our military’s voice being heard. SEND YOU DONATIONS NOW—WHATEVER YOU CAN SPARE—TO LET THE U.S. TROOPS KNOW THAT YOU CARE THAT THEIR VOICE IS HEARD. LET US COUNT YOU IN!

So Mad I Could Spit!

So mad I could spit
Don Johnson, USA (Ret)
3 Nov 2006

I’m like a lot of other American voters. Since November 2004, I have on occasion, had second thoughts about my vote for President Bush in that election. The polls clearly show I’m not alone in this, and to some extent, I think that is to be expected considering the world situation, a lame duck administration, buyer’s remorse, and lots of other issues.

But this week, I can tell you that for me, all misgivings I ever had about that vote I cast in 2004 are laid to rest. I’ll never second guess that vote of mine again.
Yes, President Bush may not be glib, but Senator Kerry is an arrogant horse’s ass.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in that assessment. At the bottom of this rant, I have included a copy of a photo that may well be the most circulated photo in the world this week. It’s funny. It’s sharp. It pops Kerry right on his pompous butt. I wasn’t the least bit surprised to have it sent to me (80 times) while the news of Kerry’s comments was still breaking. That’s because most of you in today’s armed forces are probably more up to date on current events than I am. You certainly know much more than I do about the internet and how to exploit it for information and communication. So, I doubt there is one service member out there who hasn’t heard of Kerry’s comments. I’ll bet there are a dozen video shorts spoofing Kerry on the web already.

Makes you wonder a bit doesn’t it? How could a bunch of supposed slackers and underachievers be so wired into the culture of our society while they are slogging through every sandbox and mud puddle across the world? Well, I know the answer. We’ve never seen anything like you before. Your generation of service members amazes me. Joe Sixpack is literally in awe of you.

That leads me to the crux of my rant. You know what’s going on in the world and in our country. You know how to use the internet for information and communication. You are the best informed armed forces in our history. I implore you to stay abreast of the issues that make a difference to you during the upcoming election campaign. Make sure you’re registered to vote before any deployment. We here at Count US In will work tirelessly to make the entire voting process as smooth as possible. Ask us for help if you need it.

Then, on November 5, 2008, I ask you to cast your vote for your next Commander In Chief as well as your senator and congressmen, State and local officials, and even school board members. Yes, even local officials. After all, they affect the lives of your families every day. I urge you to make sure they know where you stand, and make sure they hear you.

You are our best and our brightest.
Where you stand matters to all of us.
Lead the way.
Vote.



ps I’d really like to give this unit and the composer of this photo credit.
Please email me if you know who put it together.
info@countusin.us