I'm Mad As Hell!!

Yesterday, the President signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. At the White House signing, Obama drew attention to what the Kennedy Family has done in the name of service. While Ted Kennedy is known more for his fights for health care and being the “lion in the senate” he has also pushed to increase the budget for national service. We RPCVs wonder, however, when anyone will get around to the Peace Corps and increase our numbers, our budget.

MorePeaceCorps, which NPCA President Kevin Quigley reminded me recently was his idea, his campaign, have been collecting signatures from every congressman and congresswoman on Capital Hill. Daily I get reminders from the NPCA of how great they are doing on the Hill with their signature petition.

Nevertheless, when I spoke to the lovely Obama official camped out at Peace Corps HQ yesterday, she had yet to meet Kevin Quigley, and only had a vague idea of who he was!  What gives, Kevin? I know for a fact that Kevin is tight with Utah Republican, and former Peace Corps Deputy Director (now interim director) Jody Olsen, who has been kept behind at the agency to sign leave slips and hall passes, but Kevin, as the President and CEO of the NPCA, should be pounding on doors and shouting out the windows of the Peace Corps building. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”

Well, maybe Kevin never saw the movie.


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  • I listened to this story over and over on the news last night, but nothing made me madder than Gwen Ifill’s interview with the head of the Corporation for National Service. He (and I don’t even know his name) was going on about how America has a rich tradition of volunteerism and there is precedent for this among US presidents. He began with FDR inspiring the Greatest Generation to serve in WWII, and then went on to President Kennedy. I waited excitedly to hear the Peace Corps get its rightful mention on national TV…but it never came. The idiot fumbled around with his words, finally muttering something about how JFK in 1960, uh, um, called a new generation to volunteer service.

    My God, we didn’t get any money or help in the Ted Kennedy Act yesterday…but at least we could have gotten a few mentions! The PR would have been a great help in the absence of funding and attention from the Obama administration. If it weren’t for the Peace Corps’ track record of nearly half-century of success and the foundation that it laid for volunteerism both abroad and at home, maybe we wouldn’t be able to launch and rejuvenate domestic service programs today.

    Just my two cents…

    Heidi Thoren Ward (RPCV Kenya 88-90)

  • John, Your public vitriol about Jody Olsen is misplaced, inappropriate, inaccurate, and unattractive. Jody’s political affiliations have never been apparent to me (or relevant) at the agency. I have worked with her for six years at headquarters. You could not find a more decent, wholesome, intelligent, committed public servant and champion of the Peace Corps than Jody Olsen.

    Roger B. Hirschland (PCV Sierra Leone, 1965–67)

  • I don’t doubt that Jody Olsen, whom I have never met, has all the positive attributes stated by Roger Hirschland, and probably more. But any Administration’s political appointees are expected to publicly represent and pursue Administration policy with regard to their particular agency. An appointee who thinks such policy is wrong may in good conscience try to correct it (but sub rosa) or quit. In Olsen’s case, who knows what she really thought or did or accomplished? As we all know, the public record is only part of the story….
    For the near future, I think the Obama White House plate of priorities has no room for the PC. But who knows what’s going on back in the pantry?
    Jack Prebis, Ethiopia ’62-’64, ’65-’67.

  • I admire John for always cutting through the crap and expressing his indignation, yea rage, at the political babbling surrounding Peace Corps. If more of us got “mad as hell” more would get done.


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