Well, I have some bad, though I must say, not totally unexpected news. Bob Earhart, the guy who is coordinating the Standdown for Okie Moron Department of Veterans Affairs (chant it OM........DVA), called me yesterday to tell me that there were some "big problems" with having you come for the Standdown and I needed to tell you not to come and cancel the hootenanny! And then he even had the nerve to say "I hope you can still get us together some other entertainers".
I told him "if you arenít good enough for them, then neither am I!" I was given no opportunity to say anything to those concerned, or for that matter, even told who it was that had a problem. It was not discussed by the ad hoc that was planning the Standdown -- and I don't think it is a coincidence that I was told the day after the last official committee meeting. Never mind that I had made a verbal contract with you at the behest of the planning committee. And I am sure you could use the money. Guess you get to watch the kids that weekend.
I am quite sure that nobody involved in the meetings is the culprit here. In fact, Major Joe Bob Hicks, of the OK natural guard, and a real died-in-the-wool fan of yours, and a for-real Country Joe Okie did a little intelligence work for me. He had just told me on Tuesday that one of their brigade commanders, a BG and a Country Joe fan, and CEO of CD Warehouse, was ready to fund the entire cost of the Hoot! Joe Bob said that when the director et al were informed of Gen. Grizzle's interest, someone said that "maybe we did not look into this well enough before making a decision." (ain't that the definition of knee-jerk?). Duh. And the world is round.
As I was heading down the hall to the meeting on Tuesday, I overheard one of the "good old boys" bending Bobs ear "this guy is a commie! He was part of the Chicago 8 or seven or whatever the hell they were." I feared for the worst, but when I asked Bob right after the meeting, he said that it was not a problem. I am afraid the problem is at the top -- the director is a complete doofus bureaucrat who wears knee pads so he can drop whenever the Sec of vets affairs or anyone from any of the big three vets organizations come in. And let's not forget the illustrious Gov. Frank Keating, who appoints all these suck asses, and who was part of COINTELPRO and fucked with anti-war protesters for the FBI. What the hell was I thinking??????
Just when I had about decided we had gotten past this sort of narrow minded red baiting, and come to some understanding that the war was a mistake from start to finish, up rears itís ugly head. I had hoped that we would not face the same kind of ignorance that perpetuated the war for the wrong reasons, and CAUSED the permanent disenfranchisement of the very same homeless they want to "serve" (maybe service is a better word) at the Standdown, and we wanted to raise money to help! It makes me sad. No, sick. And madder than hell.
Oklahoma usually comes in close to last in practically everything; why not in understanding and forgiveness? And what I had hoped would be another healing event for all of us, turns into a brand new open wound! It is beyond ignorance; it's just plain stupid. This is a situation that needs to be changed and they have pissed me off enough to cause me to do something. I will work as hard as it takes to change the makeup of the OK Vets Commission, now made up exclusively of candidates recommended by the big three, and appointed by the GOV, with approval by the senate. And only one third of it has to be Vietnam "era" vets. The rest can be whatever fat cat they come up with. I suspect they operate pretty fast and loose, what with the arrogance they display.
As a board member of Common Cause Oklahoma, I have plenty of good political connections, and I intend to ride extremely close heard on these rascals. They better not do anything that, as one of the best men I have ever worked for once said, "even has the appearance of impropriety". Vet friends who had been beat up by the same folks told me when I first got involved in the Standdown to beware. I guess I am still just as naive as I was when I thought I could make a difference in Vietnam!
And as I told Bob, they have made a big mistake. I never have been much of a veterans activist, but they have forced me into it! What most of them don't realize is that the US govt. spent lots of money training me to be a master of special operations and propaganda, and I intend to use that knowledge against these obstructionist bureaucrats. I will not stop until I get what I see as fair and equitable treatment for vets of all political persuasions.
And here is what I want in addition to changing the makeup and tenure of the Commission:
Standdown 2001 Hootenanny, with Country Joe, and as many "commies" as we can find! Because, as Pete Seeger once replied in answer to the old tired "are you a commie" question: "If you mean am I a communist like the Algonquin Indians, then the answer is yes." Me too.
In the mean time, I am going to see if we can go ahead and have a fundraiser for the homeless at the UU church or elsewhere on May 20. I haven't talked to Nancy for a couple days cause she has been at the OKC arts festival recruiting musicians! I wish we could just go ahead and bring you now, but I don't think that would be politically savvy right now. So we probably will go ahead and do something if we can, nd any funds we raise can go to Standdown. Fighting vinegar with honey!
I am not mad at Standdown, just the narrow-mindedness of the people who caused this. I will insure that any money we raise will not be controlled by anyone involved with this crap. Also, when you are in OKC in Oct. for the Nurse's convention, perhaps we could do a fundraiser at the UU or elsewhere on that Saturday night, if you are not already booked, if you are still in town, and not worn out too much. Maybe we could get the traveling wall here or something. And any money we raised could go to help homeless vets, and Standdown, if they are nice.
So, my Brother, we are not defeated! I take this as a temporary setback, but a real political win. You, Joe Bob and I are not the only ones who are going to be disappointed. I put out about 400 flyers at the VA hospital Tuesday and Nancy has talked to hundreds of musicians! They all were expecting you to be there too. And I am sure the homeless vets "grapevine" has spread the word far and wide by now. I am really sorry how this seems to be going.
PS. I read your Chicago testimony last night. You were right there too.
H O M E