GOP screws Veterans again - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

GOP screws Veterans again

Sanders meme-Feature

There’s a media storm getting whipped up from the vocal right that insists President Obama is “feckless” (Senator John McCain) and “weak and Indecisive” (Senator Lindsey Graham). Republican  Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan said Russian President Vladimir Putin was playing chess while President Obama was playing marbles.

My first question, kind of off topic, is: has Rep. Rogers ever played marbles? Sure, it’s a kid’s game, but if you know what the object of the game is, well then maybe it isn’t such a good analogy.

Screen shot from YouTube video

Screen shot from YouTube video

You see, the thing about chess is: often enough the game can end in a stalemate — a tie. In marbles, when the game ends, one of the players is the winner  — there can be no ties.

Makes you wonder of Rep. Rogers even knows how to play chess; I mean, really play chess. Not just know how the pieces move. Putin is sticking his “queen” in the Crimea and President Obama is positioning his pieces to … win?

So, these Republicans are out in the public, insulting their Commander-in-Chief, sending the message that still, after five years of Barack Obama being president, they still haven’t accepted that reality. What they’re looking for is another George Bush who will act unilaterally and send in the troops as the first diplomatic order of business — like President Bush did in Iraq. That ended well — for Iran’s mullahs.

Okay, it was the second diplomatic order of business. The first was sending in the U.N. weapons inspectors who found nothing to suggest Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or any immediate plans to create any. After the Bush Administration got the answer they weren’t looking for, they sent in the ground troops.

But that’s ancient history now, so why dwell on it? Because we, as the taxpayers (at least), and the family and friends of loved ones who served there; the thousands who were wounded while in Iraq; the families of the 4,000-plus men and women that died while fighting in Iraq — all of us deserve to know the truth about why we went to war with Iraq in 2003. It wasn’t about WMD or terrorism.

Watch the special report on MSNBC if you want to know why we invaded Iraq 11 years ago.

Back to the topic at hand: there were no such insults for President Bush when he watched Putin’s Russia invade Georgia in 2008. No hand wringing from Lindsey Graham, John McCain wasn’t out on the stumps demanding we send troops to save Tbilisi from the marching Russian horde. None of that. They didn’t even suggest Bush was weak for not responding to Russian aggression on a sovereign nation that wanted to be allied to the West. FoxNews pundit Katie Pavlich (among others) even went so far as to suggest it was Barack Obama’s fault Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. “George Bush was on his way out (of the presidency) and it looked like President Obama was on his way in.” So logically … well okay, not so logically … so it stands to reason Putin saw Obama becoming president in August 2008 and decided to invade Georgia.

The so-called conservatives don’t really think these things through when they spew it out on television. On August 7, 2008, when the Russians actually invaded Georgia, the U.S. presidency was still a toss up. Neither U.S. presidential candidate had been formally accepted as their parties’ nominees, the conventions hadn’t taken place yet and President Obama’s lead in the polls wasn’t enough to ensure his victory in November. So, to buy Pavlich’s argument we have to believe Vladimir Putin knew more about our political future than nearly everyone in the U.S. … maybe Putin is clairvoyant. That would certainly explain a lot.

What the Grahams and McCains want, but are too wimpy to come out and say directly, is for President Obama to send troops to the Ukraine, like right now.

The constant Obama bashing from the right is getting tiresome after five years; you’d think for once, this one time, the Obama haters would at least shut up if they couldn’t get behind the president’s diplomatic efforts to end the Russian plans for invading the Ukraine. Especially considering President Putin has pulled his troops back from Ukraine and said there was no need for Russia to invade. Or that diplomacy with the rest of Europe is building a consensus to isolate Russia from the rest of the world. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, said Putin was, “… living in another world.”

Former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. He thinks going to war in Iraq went so well we should do it again. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. He thinks going to war in Iraq went so well we should do it again.
(Photo via Wikipedia)

But no, their shrill cacophony continues unabated.

John Bolton, the former Ambassador to the U.N., was on FoxNews last night telling Greta Van Susteren there would be no U.S. help for Ukraine until the U.S. had a “real president.” How does this clown have any credibility? He’s one of the people who pushed us into war with Iraq — lied to the American people about why we invaded Iraq. But then, it’s FoxNews, the mouthpiece of the insane right.

Put more American troops in harm’s way; that’s their idea of diplomacy. Have them come home to an under-funded veterans health care system after they are wounded.

Which brings me to the real topic. the Obama bashing and calls to start yet another war isn’t even the worst of their moral crimes. While trying to goad the president into another war the GOP had the opportunity in the Senate to show their solidarity with the men and women of our armed forces by passing a new veterans bill (S. 1982) that is supported by every veterans advocacy group in America. Instead, the bill “lost,” 56-41. That wasn’t 56 voting against the bill, those were the Senators that voted for the bill.

You see, the GOP filibusters everything now and they only needed 41 “Nay” votes to stop the bill from coming to a final vote. They screwed the veterans because Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, wouldn’t attach an amendment that would increase the sanctions against Iran.

After coming to an agreement with Iran in which they were giving up their nuclear weapons program, which they still claim they never had — the Iranian rulers aren’t aggrieved innocents, victimized by the West, let’s just be clear. But they did agree to change their nuclear program. You can read the details of the agreement HERE.

So, these GOP Senators, all but two of them, voted against increasing benefits for veterans because they couldn’t add an amendment to the bill that would kill the agreement the president achieved with Iran … which would then of course put us back on a path to war with Iran.

U.S. Marines and British troops in fire fight during Iraq War. (Photo is screen shot from YouTube video)

U.S. Marines and British troops in fire fight during Iraq War.
(Photo is screen shot from YouTube video)

On another website I was reading the comments from people who support the GOP’s efforts to screw the vets. One guy said they voted “Nay” because of what’s in the bill. Well, here’s what’s in the bill:

  • It would have restored cost-of-living increases for the pensions of future military retirees.
  • Expanded VA health care by creating 27 new medical facilities.
  • Pay for reproductive services for 2,300 troops wounded in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
  • And something new: It will expand compensation for family caregivers of disabled veterans. Right now the service is provided to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. This bill the GOP torpedoed would extend that to all veterans and their families.

That is what’s in the bill. It would cost 21 billion dollars over ten years, money the bill’s author, Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont, took from the Defense budget because the war in Iraq is over and our troops will be out of Afghanistan soon.

So the GOP tossed up their lame reasons for screwing the veterans, i.e. fiscal discipline, a trait they’ve never shown when they controlled the government.

It was a party line vote, a partisan attack using veterans as the weapon.

For years — decades — I’ve been baffled by the number of my fellow veterans who support the GOP. They have done very little for veterans. The only time the GOP wants to support the troops is when they send them off to war. After that the attitude is, “Fuck’em.”

Donald Rumsfeld meeting with Saddam Hussein on December 20, 1983 when the U.S. became allied with Iraq. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Donald Rumsfeld meeting with Saddam Hussein on December 20, 1983 when the U.S. became allied with Iraq.
(Photo via Wikipedia)

As you may recall in December 2004, when then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was in Iraq to speak with the troops, he got a tough question from a Tennessee national Guardsman, Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, “Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles? And why don’t we have those resources readily available to us?”

Rumsfeld replied, “It isn’t a matter of money. It isn’t a matter on the part of the army of desire. It’s a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, ah, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time. You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up.”

As long as the GOP can get the men and women into battle, that’s all that matters. The rest of it — “eh, we’ll get back to you on that.”

No, the two parties are not the same. One cares about the rank and file of America, the other does not and the GOP proved they care little or nothing for veterans when they voted to stop that bill.


About the author

Tim Forkes

Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality. Contact the author.
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