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WHEN IT COMES TO VETERANS, REPUBLICANS JUST PLAIN SUCK...

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I'm a member of my local post of the Disabled American Veterans. I joined because a friend of mine is the Commander and I am, after all, a disabled American veteran. DAV is right out there when it comes to championing veterans' rights and needs, but, beyond that, I completely disagree with their national policy of continuing to support this goober President and the Republican Party. I just don't get it and here's why.

Every year, the DAV publishes a list of how each member of the House and Senate voted on legislation considered necessary in order to adequately care for our veterans and soldiers on active duty, especially those now in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan. And when I went down this list, I was just...well, absolutely flabbergasted. I would have expected, given the Republicans' loud noises about supporting the troops and claiming that they care for America's veterans, that they do, in fact, put their money where their lying, corrupt mouths are. I would have thought that this would be the one area where Republicans and Democrats agree on most things. Wow, am I an idiot.

The DAV rates each member of Congress from 0 100 on supporting "the interests of American veterans." Zero is complete crap, one hundred is, man, you are "The Man," when it comes to veterans. I must have been smoking some good stuff when I was thinking these warm and fuzzy things about Republicans because, now that I'm not stoned, I have learned that I was more wrong than when George Bush was on that aircraft carrier and informed us that the war was over and that the "Mission [was] Accomplished." I looked down the DAV's list of Republicans and their ratings on veterans issues and I was overcome with revulsion, even for those like John McCain-who I used to respect-when I saw just how much these cretins do not care about veterans. As for John McCain, who, I might have considered voting for if he runs for President, his score for 2005 was...25, I swear to god. It took my breath away. This is the DAV, for crying out loud, informing us that when it comes to caring for American veterans, John McCain is a total sellout. And it gets much, much worse.

Stephen Buyer (that's "Boo-yay"), Republican Congressman from Indiana and Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs: 0. Buyer claims that if Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats take over the House and the Veterans' Affairs Committee, veterans will be screwed. You can read his vitriol on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee web site. Guess what, Mr. "Zero" Buyer? Nancy-girl was rated 100 by the DAV. Hah!! Larry Craig, Republican Senator from Idaho, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs: 42. Which is an improvement over Boo-yay, but still an unconscionable and unfathomable truth about Senator Craig.

In a nutshell, Republicans are not just unfriendly and openly hostile to veterans' issues, but they are clearly our enemies in this regard. It is reprehensible that the same people that continue to send our young men and women into battle, to be killed and maimed, actually couldn't give a damn less about these people once they return and need help with a myriad of well known problems facing returning combat veterans. The claim that they have expanded funding for the VA is simply a load. While there may be more money than six years ago, it is nowhere near enough to care for our veterans' needs and even the VA has said so. A high-level VA employee recently admitted that the provision of mental health services is dismal and waiting lists make access virtually non-existent for lengthy periods of time. Caseloads and the lack of employees make the benefits adjudication system slow, ponderous and often negligent in failing to render a correct decision. Appeals that go to the Board of Veterans Appeals can take two and three years to be decided. I just got one back that went to the Board in April 2004. In the meantime, the numbers of homeless veterans are increasing and the lack of adequate funding for programs for these men and women is reprehensible. A recent headline said, "VA Hopes to Increase Homeless Beds by 10,000," with the key word being, "Hopes." Given the Republicans' penchant for denying veterans' every possible need, I would say that hoping for better benefits is about as far as things will go if Republicans manage to retain control of the Congress.

There were 284 Republican congressmen and senators rated by the DAV for 2005. The highest score the DAV gave any Republican member of Congress was 83, and that was Arlen Specter, the Senator from Pennsylvania. I often wonder how he can be a Republican, since he disagrees with almost everything the Bush administration is doing and not doing. One Republican was rated at 60. There were six Republicans rated at 50. No Republican had a 100 rating, none were in the nineties and only one was in the eighties. None in the seventies, one at sixty and six at fifty. That's a total of eight Republicans-out of 284--who supported veterans' issues more than 50% of the time. That's 2.8% of all the Republicans in the Congress. Most disgusting, however, is this fact: 200 Republican got 0 ratings!! That's a big z-e-r-o. Yes, America, 70.4% of the Republican members of Congress got zero ratings from the DAV when it came to supporting matters of interest to America's men and women who have fought and given their blood for this country, time and time again.
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Now, let's go down the list of big fat zero's and see which of our favorite right-wing warmongers do not support veterans. Starting with the Republicans on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, I have already noted that Steve Buyer gets a great, stinking pile of zero. The following Republican members of the Committee had Zero: Terry Everett (AL), Cliff Stearns (FL), Dan Burton (IN), Jerry Moran (KS), Richard Baker (LA), Henry Brown (SC), Jeff Miller (FL), Jeb Bradley (NH), Ginny Brown-Waite (FL) and Michael Turner (OH). Then there's Dana Rohrbacher from California. Now, this guy is a total right-wing tool and supports everything warlike that Bush wants. Big fat O, when it comes to veterans. Duncan Hunter, another California nutjob, Zero. Katherine Harris of Florida, Bush's co-conspirator in the Florida election hijacking, she of recent face-job-fame, zero, zero, zero. Dennis "I Didn't Know He Was a Pedophile Until Last Week" Hastert...well, you figure it out.

Here are some of the other members of the "Screw Veterans Caucus": Roy Blunt (wanted to be Speaker of the House); Peter King, who thinks we should lock up and spy on just about everyone; John Boehner, who also wanted to be Speaker of the House and is now the House Majority Leader and who knew about Mark Foley and did nothing ("Well, I told Hastert but I swear I don't want his job if we maintain control of the House and he's ousted. Really."); Tom Delay, the lying, corrupt, jeez, I could go on forever about this lowlife cretin, who got a zero and is a zero; Jim Sensenbrenner, running for reelection on this credo: "Solid Values, Trusted Judgment, Proven Leadership." Unless it relates to veterans, apparently. House Majority Whip, Roy Blunt, also a zero. And, finally, Henry Hyde, who is retiring, thank god, another Zero. None of this should be surprising when you look at how many of these anti-veteran scum ever served in the military.

Hastert seems to have avoided the draft and never volunteered. Tom DeLay also managed to avoid the draft and was quoted, thusly: "So many minority youths had volunteered ... that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like [my]self." Roy Blunt never served in the military. Dana Rohrbacher, likewise. Sensenbrenner, ditto. Then, there's Rick Santorum, the right-wing zealot who supports any insane issue put forth by his radical religious friends and thinks the war in Iraq is going well. Of course, he never served. So, none of this should really be surprising when trying to understand how so many Republicans could be anti-veteran. They were never in combat, many of them actively avoided serving their country and, so, they are as uncaring about America's veterans as they were about serving in the military. They will spend our children's future into the depths of hell to support sending them to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, but refuse to lift a finger to take care of them once they return. These bums have to go and here's why.

Recently, Republican Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut, locked in a tight race for reelection, commented that Ted Kennedy had run away after the infamous Chappaquiddick affair, which is true. Shays, however, ran away from his responsibility to his country and never served in the military. Ted Kennedy, on the other hand, served in the Army during the Korean War. His rating by the DAV on veterans' issues-a whopping 92. Barbara Boxer and her pal, Diane Feinstein, despised by Republicans as blatant liberals-they're with Ted at 92. And their buddy in the Congress, Nancy Pelosi, vilified every day by the Republicans, a perfect 100 rating. You go, girl. Even Joe Lieberman, who sounds like a Republican, got a 75, which was a higher rating than 99.9% of the Republicans.

Joe Biden gets a 92. Tom Harkin, another 92. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, the Illinois lefty Senators, both got 92. And Jesse Jackson's son, Jesse Louis Jackson, a big, fat 100. Lane Evans, a Vietnam vet and our hero on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, also 100. Evan Bayh, another well know liberal is another 92. And Mary Landrieu, whom Republicans have lambasted for her caustic and truthful responses to their handling of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is also a 92. John Kerry, who served heroically when he could have easily pulled a Delay and avoided service, a member of the 92 Club. Barney Frank, openly gay and one of the real consciences of the House, never served, but votes for veterans 100% of the time. In fact, nine of the twelve Democrats from Massachusetts were rated at 100 by the DAV. And, finally, Hillary Rodham Clinton, hated by the Republicans and their religious zealot minions, gets another 92.

I could go on with this list of Democrats who understand that veterans should be cared for as if they were all of our biological sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. Let's look at it this way-the DAV rated 239 Democrats on how they voted on veterans' issues in 2005. Of the 239 Democrats, 154 were rated by the DAV at 100. That's 64.4% of the Democrats in the Congress, versus 0% of the Republicans. Of the thirteen Democratic members of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee rated by the DAV in 2005, nine were rated at 100, three were at 80, and one was at 60, the lowest rating of any Democrat in the Congress. Of the twelve Republicans on the House Committee rated by the DAV, eleven were rated at zero and one was rated at 20. Thus, the average Democrat on the House Committee was rated at 92, while the average Republican was rated at 1.66. In the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Republican members were somewhat better than their House counterparts. The average score of the eight Republicans on the Senate Committee in 2005 was a lowly 40.7, while the five Democrats' and the one Independent's average was 92. In fact, every one of them was rated at 92.

In the end, if you're going to vote on November 7, please consider how the Republicans, en mass, have shown their complete lack of support for America's veterans. Let's send these scumbags back to the steaming piles from which they were hatched. As my old Grand Pappy used to say, "If it looks like a steaming pile, and it smells like a steaming pile, it is a steaming pile." George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the Republican Congress, who insist that we must "stay the course" in Iraq and Afghanistan, have completely left the course and crashed when it comes to caring for America's veterans. It's high time we changed the course and gave our veterans access to a better life.
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Stu Steinberg is a retired public defender, law school educator and capital defense investigator. He served for eighteen months in Vietnam as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist and was decorated for heroism, meritorious achievement in combat, (more...)
 

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