Tag Archives: Veterans For America

Millions Of Dollars Versus Millions Of Voters

In a democracy, every person has a single vote. Unfortunately, what is becoming increasingly true is that someone with millions of dollars and the willingness to fund front groups has the ability to influence millions of votes.

Take the issue of the Iraq War – by any and every national poll, millions of Americans want the war to stop as they see through the lies that got us in the war, the lies that have kept us in the war and now with even the Iraqi leadership asking we leave, the vast majority of Americans see no reason to fund billions on dollars in war every month.

However, despite their wishes and their votes, the wishes of the people are countered by the wishes of the few, or in today’s example, the wishes of one, Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson is one of the very few wealthy “behind-the-scenes” manipulators that set up phony front groups and fund them with millions and millions of dollars to pollute our country’s discourse, smear people, spread fear and lies and the worst kinds of dirty stories.  Every politician knows that this ugliness could be directed at them if they dare try to fight this kind of power.

Where do these Republican, pro-war front groups get so much money?

Thomas B. Edsell’s July 25 post at Huffington Post, titled Sheldon Adelson: GOP’s Answer To George Soros? provides us with a few clues.

Sheldon Adelson, the 74-year-old casino billionaire who has become the third richest man in America and who has strong ties to the hard-line Likud Party in Israel, has emerged this year a major benefactor of the American right.

Adelson has been a major backer of right-wing Republicans, including Tom DeLay, and has given $2.9 million to a Newt Gingrich organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future.

And now, according to Edsell,

. . .Adelson, according to the National Journal, has begun channeling cash and fundraising support to Vets for Freedom, which is expected to use the influx of money to finance what it claims will be a multimillion dollar “Four Months For Victory” ad campaign.

Why does a wealthy Jewish casino owner, so rich that he is flown around in his own Boeing 767,  support a veteran’s organization?  Probably because Vets For Freedom isn’t really a veteran’s organization, but a Republican Party front group working to elect John McCain and keep the Iraq war going.

If Vets For Freedom was a veteran’s organization, they would be front and center in holding John McCain responsible for voting against the new G.I. Bill? But they didn’t say a word.

If Vets For Freedom was a veteran’s organization, they would be concerned with the hundreds of thousands of returning wounded warriors and their need for care and assistance? But they’re not.

In fact, Vets For Freedom has only one mission – build public support for continuing the war in Iraq and now it appears they really only have one donor – a hard line neoconservative who is determined to influence US foreign policy in the Middle East.  

Adelson is also a major funder of Freedom’s Watch, another Republican front group that exists solely to help wealthy individuals like Adelson get around campaign finance laws that are designed to protect our democracy from this kind of dollars-outweigh-votes corrupting influence.  

These organizations are allowed to take unlimited donations and not disclose donors because they are supposed to be educating the public about issues, not polluting our elections with ads that support or smear candidates.  But, of course, who in the Bush government is going to stop them from breaking our campaign finance laws to support Republicans and smear Democrats?

In Israel Adelson has purchased a newspaper that he uses to try to influence Israeli politics.  According to some, he inspires resentment and fear there. A recent New Yorker article about Adelson says,

“In Israel, where political, academic and business leaders tend to be outspoken, there is a striking reticence at the mention of Sheldon Adelson. Even people who are diametrically opposed to his politics refuse to be interviewed. ‘There is a discernible amount of self-censorship going on,’ the liberal Israeli-American writer Bernard Avishai said. ‘There is no ideological justification for what Sheldon is doing among the Israeli intelligentsia and a revulsion at an American weighing in so heavily on Israeli politics, in such a crude, reactionary way. But they won’t speak.'”  

Post-Script: As we were about to publish it, news comes that Sheldon Adelson has hired Karl Rove with a mid six figure deal to help run “Freedom’s Watch” another right wing front group.

Two New Reports Prove: Our Deployment Cycles Are A Recipe For Disaster.

Next week, General David Petraeus will travel to Capitol Hill and make his report to Congress on the war in Iraq.  If, as expected, he announces a pause in the withdrawal in troops from Iraq, our Congress must say “no” for the sake of our military and of our servicemembers.

We can not pause the withdrawal of our troops because we are seeing, everyday, the absolute devastation our wars, with frequent, long, often extended deployments, are having on our men and women in uniform.

How can we constantly churn our troops like this? How can we consciously compound the wounds of war? We are sending men and women back for fourth and fifth tours of duty when the Department of Defense, by its own estimation, says that with each additional tour, troops are 60% more likely to develop severe post-combat mental health issues.

Today, here at Veterans for America as part of our Wounded Warrior Outreach Program, we are releasing two very important reports. In fact, we are delivering these reports to every Senator and House Member on Capitol Hill so that they can be better informed when General Petraeus testifies and when they weigh all elements of Iraq policy.

Our first new report – The Consequences of Churning” – takes an in-depth, state-by-state look at the toll multiple deployments are taking on frontline Army units.

These units are going through high-intensity combat, are not getting adequate dwell time between tours, and are also being devastated by the fifteen month tours.

Our second new report — “Weekend Warriors to Frontline Soldiers” — examines the toll of repeated deployments on our National Guard, again breaking it down state-by-state.

Here we see that of the nearly 200,000 National Guard members that have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and almost half are returning with post-combat mental problems.

The problems of our troops are real and immediate, and they are getting worse.  The Soldiers who are seeing the most combat are also being sent back to Iraq and Afghanistan the greatest number of times.

As part of our Wounded Warrior Outreach Program, we traveled to Fort Drum in New York State and saw, first-hand, the devastation that is happening right now.  Devastation that gets worse with every tour, every deployment.

We are releasing these reports, and we have a simple message: enough is enough. The greatest threat to our military is the continued deployment of our troops under unfair conditions; it’s as simple as that. As Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said, “The well is deep, but it is not infinite…People are tired.”

The withdrawals must continue, our troops must come home, and we must be ready to help them.

We have to continue to assess how much help the 1.6 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan need and what assistance they will need in the future. We know the need will be great; it is our duty to be ready to answer the call of those who answered the call for us.